Interview: Mark Davis & Dave Fortman, Ugly Kid Joe

Davis/ Eichstadt/ Fortman/ Crane/ Crockett


As you're no doubt sick of reading, Ugly Kid Joe have very quickly won over much of Joe Public with their "slopped together" EP As Ugly As They Wanna Be, and an infuriatingly catchy single Everything About You, helped along, of course, by that youth cult comedy film, Wayne's World. Back in September, their first LP America's Least Wanted garnered a healthy amount of your hard-earned spondulicks.

Drummer Mark Davis, with his long dark hair and amiable grin, is the talkative one. New(ish) guitarist Dave Fortman by contrast, with his blonde, curly locks and blue eyes, shows a kind of dry, understated humour and even a trace of irony in his blood - untypically American some might argue.

I certainly had my reservations about their EP. Apart from the 'fun' single, the remaining songs were a slighltly jarring mixture of sub-Sabbath riffs, boisterous choruses and clumsy attempts at rap/funk. Both the band and record company had no initial plans to release the EP outside the US, and were pleasantly surprised at its success. However, the new LP is proof that the EP wasn't really representative of the band. Isn't that so, guys?

"No," replies Dave flatly.

"A little bit," reckons Mark. "Like the humour and the sarcasm, the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. We're into that 'cos of Klaus (Eichstadt, guitarist). He's into writing those type of lyrics. We don't write about sex, drugs, rock'n'roll or riding our Harleys, cos none of us do that."

Drugs and Harleys, maybe?! But Ugly Kid Joe in "we don't rock and are virgins" shocker - Not! They ain't a message band either. So, I guess tghat just leaves humour, violence, and Satanism then.

"Klaus is the type of person who's gotta fuck with everything," explains Mark. "It's like 'Bad Man in Disneyland.' He's tripping out on the idea of Disney masks. It's like the happiest place in the world and he's thinking whay if some madman, some psychotic dude just got loose. Just killed everybody!!!"


At this point, Cordell Crockett comes in, sporting a pair of snazzy green shorts. Talk gets round to Jehovah's Witnesses, as it does, which logically enough leads us into the dark realms of Satanism. I wouldn't exactly associated UKJ with the Dark Side.

"You've heard our album," laughs Mark. "It sounds really evil." He then starts rambling on about the weird, subliminal backward messages on the record. Not Satanic ones, mind, despite the title of one of the standout tracks, Goddamn Devil.

Appearing on the above track is none other than leather-clad biker man, the legendary Rob Halford. Other guests include a young female singer by the name of Jennifer Barry from a band called Halfway Home (on the Geffen label).

"You'll be hearing of them," Mark enthuses. "She has an incredible voice."

"She did Cats in the Cradle," elaborates Dave, "a song that I wrote, Busy Bee, Neighbour... She sings back up on that."

The current Meisterwerk is certainly more diverse and, er, mature, which is probably a lot more than many people were expecting. That, I suspect, is partly to do with the new kid in the Joe.

"I'm a songwriter in a whole different aspect," says Dave. "The record company already want to use the song I put on the album (Cats...) as a single, supposedly, but it's totally different to what they were doing before. It's like Country almost. I just add more of a bluesy style. But I think it was Whit's vision, mostly, to get me in the band from the beginning."

Dave tells me that the Joe will always see themselves as primarily a 'fun' band, though not to be confused with a novelty act. Whilst mark adds that he doesn't want to "get pulled away from the whole vibe to where it's not fun anymore." He continues, "We wanna keep that kinda street level type thing, 'cos that's what we are, a party band out of the garage."

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
May, 1993
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