The Kabeedies like their food. I always seem to catch them when they’re tucking into or about to tuck into food. I joined them at Cardiff’s Ten Feet Tall just before four large bowls of pasta provided by the venue are served up for them. I leave them to eat, and return to see the band sitting around 4 empty plates. Dinner having been routinely scoffed, we go to the room at the top of Ten Feet Tall for a chat.
I first interviewed Katie and Roary around 3 years ago, before their first album, “Rumpus” was released. This month, they’ve now released their second album, “Soap” and I find all the band in good form, minus only their manager Craig (who also happens to be Roary’s dad), missing from this leg of the tour due to an, ahem injury to his leg. But, I asked, in what ways is this a different Kabeedies from the one back then?
Evan explained that things have definitely changed, “We’re not scrotty teenagers any more. Well, we’re scrotty, but not teenagers! We’ve grown up a bit.” Roary chipped in, “We’ve grown up musically, but not so much as people. We’re still making music to dance around to, but we’ve thought about things a bit more.” Evan finished off by saying, “Rather than just write some songs so we can go on tour and be idiots, we’ve thought, let’s try writing some actual songs!”
I think you can get the impression just from the answer to this question alone that The Kabeedies are a band that like to joke around. With Roary in his Compo hat, Evan with his white socks, and their affection for silly japes, they could easily be the new Monkees. At any venue they go to, seeking out the ItBox is first on the agenda, Roary says.
But when it comes to the slightly more serious business of releasing records, they’re proud that they’ve now released a record they’re pleased with, and “chuffed” to have landed up on Fierce Panda. Drummer, Fab says, “Because we took so much time over this one, it felt like we actually put ourselves into it, rather than just putting out a collection of songs; it was a whole package.” As for the achievement of being signed to a reputable label, Katie says, “So many people have come up to us and said, wow, you’re signed to Fierce Panda – that’s so cool!”
The first track on the album is “Hang Ups of The West”, and when I asked the band what they felt these hang ups were, they were inflamed, like an American flag burning in a Middle Eastern country!
Fab: “Western imperialism, consumerism, Americanisation, the raping of African materials, war for oil – it’s just endless. Capitalism in general really.” Despairingly, Katie asks why I had to ask, as it seems as if Fab could go on for some time, but in the end keeps things short. The Kabeedies may be a band that like to have fun, especially on stage, but despite their happy-go-lucky approach, there’s always something underneath in their lyrics, they say. Despite this, when they’re out touring, they like to try and forget about problems, although Katie’s it seems will never go away, as she points to the “three right here” – the other guys in the band!
You might think Katie’s role, to some extent then, is keeping the guys in check, but they also have the aforementioned Craig, their manager, to help with this. “Without him, we’d be buggered!” Katie exclaims, and it’s clear that, while many bands try to muddle on without a manager, for them, he is essential, helping them get radio pluggers for example, and get ahead in general in the music industry. Craig has also changed. He’s given up his business for one thing. Evan recalls the first tour, when things were a bit awkward, but now, “It’s exactly the same – it feels like we’re all his kids!” Fab corrects him: “It feels like he’s our son! He’s insane!” Roary recalls times they’ve crossed the channel into Europe, and it’s looked as if it’s Craig bringing his weird family with him, and the episode of Only Fools and Horses when Rodney won a trip abroad springs to mind. It is apparently untrue that Craig himself was in a band before though – there really was no Ralph and the Rat Repellants!
The Kabeedies have been compared to various bands such as Vampire Weekend and Bombay Bicycle Club. For me, they sound similar to 80s bands such as Bow Wow Wow and Haircut 100. But there is also the African Pop influence which I was keen to hear about. Evan explained, “We just started listening to it, and liking it, and it got in our heads.” Roary questioned if some people might think they were jumping on the bandwagon, and we all wondered if there was such a bandwagon. Perhaps it’s The Kabeedies who are driving it? “There are a lot of current European labels who are releasing Afrobeat. You only have to go into independent record shops and buy compilations and you’re immediately introduced to so many new artists.” Essentially, the band like the party vibe of this type of sound.
The Kabeedies tour a lot. Somehow, they still manage to fit in jobs around the band. Like any band, they’re hoping for the opportunity to give up work and concentrate on making music, but money’s still tight. Evan says he’s so skint, if he was on Deal or No Deal, he would just take the first offer, regardless of how much or how little it was! Generally, as Katie says, “we make money, but then we get rid of it.” Roary does say though that “for the first time ever, we’ve actually personally taken some money from the band” which is good to hear.
They must have made some cash when their track “Come On” was featured in an Xbox Kinnect advert, which I imagined must have been a bit surreal for them. “It was a bit random,” Roary says, although Katie disagreed, “It wasn’t completely random. Cherryade Records put out the single, and they’re very thorough in what they do. It went out around the world and some advertisers picked up on it.” “It was fairly random,” Roary reiterates! Funnily enough, in the interview I’d done with the band all those years ago, we’d discussed the possibility of their music being used in a TV advert. Back then, the band had said they would be happy to endorse most things, with some exceptions including Tampax, but now, they would even lend their music to such adverts – a sell-out surely?! Roary imagined The Kabeedies being used for a “Call of Duty” advert which might be a little incongruous, although apparently there are YouTube clips of people playing the game with The Kabeedies as a soundtrack. According to Katie, there are even Youtube clips of Kate Lawler stripping to the sound of The Kabeedies, which goes to show you can find anything on the internet! They still find it odd when out and about and their music comes on in Boots, for example.