|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS KENNY YOUNG
BANG! THERE iT iS!Back in the mid nineties, KENNY YOUNG was at a crossroads. Torn between family responsibilities and a life in rock n roll that wasnít paying all of the bills, YOUNG did what GEORGE THOROUGHGOOD sang about. He cut his hair and he got a real job. Once his two sons were old enough (and had demonstrated a certain amount of musical ability of their own) YOUNG stepped back into the light armed this time with the record deal that eluded him years earlier.
KENNY YOUNG TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT HiS EP THE KENNY YOUNG PROJECT
RETURNiNG TO MUSiC
AND TiPPiNG HiS HAT TO SOUTHERN ROCK
iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
KENNY YOUNG is a Jersey boy with a Southern twang and a fondness for rock n roll blasting from below the Mason-Dixon Line (THE ALLMAN BROTHERS and LYNYRD SKYNYRD). Such influences are not difficult to single out on his debut EP ĎTHE KENNY YOUNG PROJECTí (TOMMY NAPLES MUSIC) Ė a four-track collection with songs that speak of heartbreak, lifelong devotion and having a good time.
At the moment, YOUNG and his label are putting the finishing touches on a full length CD ďIt is unbelievable!Ē says YOUNG of being in the studio. ďEverybody in those sessions are just unbelievable players. Itís a far cry from the old garage days. To be in the studio in front of a mic and making suggestions to the band and all of a sudden Ďbang! Itís done!í I always thought I was a decent player but these guys rolled in and showed me.Ē
ROCKWIRED spoke with KENNY YOUNG over the phone. Here is how it went.
This EP that youíve released is a step in the right direction. Now that itís out there for people to hear, how do you feel about it?
I feel very happy. I think itís pretty cool. Iím completely overwhelmed by how the recording came out and the musicians that participated in the project and how the whole thing was arranged. So Iím very happy.
A full length LP is due out pretty soon. How far a long are you on that recording?
Itís just about done. We had a little bit of a mishap in the studio recently on the hard drive. Luckily, everything was recovered. It was definitely a fumble. It was even a little scary there at first but it did record everything so next week, we are going to start laying down the rest of the tracks.
Youíve got two covers on this forthcoming LP. Would you like to talk about them?
One is an older tune called WALK AWAY RENEE from the LEFT BANKE and the other one is MIDNGHT RIDER from THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. The reason we chose them is pretty obvious. Being a total Southern Rocker, Iíve always loved the ALLMAN BROTHERS and LYNYRD SKYNYRD and all that other stuff. Itís always kind of cool to redo all of that stuff but I like to give it more of a rock twist and give it a real kick in the pants. So that is going to be a little bit fun. WALK AWAY RENEE was a suggestion from the engineer on this album and I never really heard of the song until he brought it up. So I listened to it and I thought ĎÖthis is pretty cool!í From there I decided to do an updated version.
Youíve been away from music for a little while. How does it feel being back?
I love it. Once youíre a musician youíre always one. I had to take some time off to raise my kids and I didnít regret that one bit. I think I made the right choice but now that weíre into it and with help from TOM SMEAD from TOMMY NAPLES MUSIC, itís cool! I feel like this is what Iím supposed to be doing.
Talk about how music started for you.
My father plays guitar. Heís played all of his life and growing up I used to follow him around and then eventually I started jamming with him in my early teenage years. I even joined a band with him and we played everywhere in this area doing covers and from there, I got into songwriting and that just took it to a whole other level for me. Music has been with me my whole life just it is with my kids.
Going by what I hear and what I read about you, itís not hard to hear that strong southern rock influence. What was it that drew you to that sound?
Honestly, I donít know. I was raised around country music. That was a big thing in my family. I my teenage years, SKYNYRD was a big happening thing along with THE ALLMAN BROTHERS. I liked country and rock and Southern Rock always seemed to cross the barriers of both. I always enjoyed the musicianship of it. Thatís the reason Iíve got a twang in my voice.
I know and youíre from New Jersey. That is quite interesting! Explain how songwriting began.
It started when I was in my late teens. I was playing with my father and we had started our own cover band and to be honest with you, you can only play SWEET HOME ALABAMA so many times before it drives you nuts. At the time I was the guitar player and doing most of the lead work. I was always frustrated and bored with playing the same tunes over and over and just decided to write my own. It just took off from there.
And this was the band TRIBULATION?
And you were in that band with your father?
With my father and my brother.
What was that like? I couldnít imagine being in a band with my dad.
It had itís ups and downs but when it came to music we had a blast. It was great! You hit your personal things here and there but overall Iíve got to say it was great. It made me what I am today. It seems like you work harder when itís your family. You know what I mean? Iíve go no regrets. It was a great time.
When you introduced this material to the band, what was your hope? Was it to get a record label?
Back then, yes. We beat the bars so bad around here doing the cover scene and when people started responding to the original material more than the cover material, then it started leaning that way. No one ever had a problem with me writing songs for the band. After a while, everyone thought it was great. But a deal was what we were striving for back then.
Was there ever a moment where you felt like a record deal was right there in your grasp?
Oh yeah. Back in the mid nineties we had offers when we were gigging around the tri-state area. All of the offers came from all of these indie labels and back then you had to send out cassettes. These days itís completely different with the inter-net. In fact, itís a lot easier. Around that time, I had two little kids and I had to weight what the offer were in comparison to what I was making on my forty hour a week job. It wasnít panning out that good.
Talk about how easy or difficult it was to step away and play the family man and have the steady job.
It was very hard. It was solely my decision. I had two sons who did not ask to be brought into this world. I did that and it was my responsibility as a father. My wife and my kids came first and music was pushed back to playing every other weekend. It was kind of a hard change for me. There are no regrets. I did it for the right reasons. My kids have grown into great musicians themselves and it gave me time to write more material and when I did get back into doing it, I felt so much stronger it. It was difficult at first but Iím back into it. Thatís just what we do.
It sounds like your children were instrumental in bringing you back ot doing music. From what I understand, they are quite musical themselves.
Yes. It was kind of weird. When TOMMY NAPLES MUSIC made this offer to me, I was doing other things with other bands and helping people out with studio work. In the meantime, I was playing with my two sons. But my sons have turned out to be fine musicians. Iíd rather play out with them than anybody. They can rip it pretty good. They were a big influence on me getting back to doing music.
Itís headed up by TOM SMEAD who is really good guy. Heís a good engineer and he runs a recording studio here. Itís actually the only studio around here really. When he told me that he was going to start a label, it sort of went in one ear and out the other but he actually did get a label going. His label is very artist friendly. Heís very lenient and very smart and he provides all of the resources that we need. Heís a great man and great to work for. His dreams are to be great label and heís put a lot of faith in my music and I hope I donít let him down. His approach to it is really, really good. I donít think you could find this anywhere else.
Were the songs for the EP and the forthcoming LP written specifically for these projects or do they come from years ago?
Iím going to say that three-quarters of them were written years ago and Iíve got four newer tunes. Three of them were specifically for the album that weíre working on and one was just about prior to the time that I signed up with TOMMY NAPLES MUSIC and then Iíve got the two cover songs.
How does songwriting happen for you?
I love to jam and strum on the guitar and get some ideas down. A lot of it is pretty simple stuff. I know a lot of people and you hear their stories and things you read and things that you hear about. All of that pretty much inspires me. When youíre strumming around on the guitar, things just come out of it and when you get it, you go with it.
Iím going to name some songs off of the EP and Iíd like for you to talk about them. Letís start with KRAZY.
Itís a fun song and I thought Iíd put it out there for the pro-drinking people. I was sitting on my porch one morning and the song just came to me. The finniest thing about that song is that I wrote it wrong. It took my wife to point out to me that KRAZY wasnít spelled with a ĎKí.
WE WILL FIND LOVE AGAIN
That was written at a time when I was having some problems with a woman. It was kind of weird. We were doing this local radio show competition and we submitted some tunes form some previous stuff and a buddy of mine was really heartbroken over this girl and I had a limited amount of time to write a song and between talking to him and strumming up some licks for it and then Ėbang! There it was. After him, I had run into other people who had been through the same situation so Iím glad I wrote it down.
That was one of them intense tunes. My wife was on my mind a lot when I wrote that one. It started as a cool guitar riff and the lyrics just flowed after that.
Itís an older song from when I was playing with my dad and my brother. That song happened so fast. My brother had a little guitar riff and I wrote the chords and the lyrics and here we are.
Describe being in the studio with all of these great session players behind you.
It was great. The whole experience spoiled me bad. I wasnít used to that.
No one is - especially if they are indie artists.
It is unbelievable. Everybody in those sessions are just unbelievable players. Itís a far cry from the old garage days. To be in the studio in front of a mic and making suggestions to the band and all of a sudden Ďbang! Itís done!í I always thought I was a decent player but these guys rolled in and showed me.
What would you like someone to come away with after theyíve heard this EP?
Iíd just like for people to come away feeling happy. I donít get crazy writing songs. Itís simple down-to-earth stuff. The songs deal with every day things and stuff like that. I hope that if anyone hears these tunes that they are able to relate to them.