Caught in the Kross Fire
Gere's telling me the one about the guy who used to come into hospital with Barbie Doll heads stuck up his ass! No, it's not a joke. Just another anecdote-friendly piece of LA trivia. Gere Fennelly, the keyboardist, is "the sweetest," "most classically-trained," and, as she says herself, "The toughest bitch in the band."
"You're the only bitch in this band," Eddie Kurdziel, the bearded guitarist snipes as we drive through London's Kings Cross en route from hotel to the venue in Islington.Is that a little tension I detect beneath the jovial banter between these two comparatively new band members? Along with Brian Reitzell (drums), they've only been in the band for the last two or three years
The two original members, brothers Jeff (guitar/ vox) and Steve (bass) McDonald, started the band 14 years ago in their early teens. Later at the venue I ask them why.
"We just loved rock n' roll," Jeff explains in his rather camp, high-pitched voice. "It was kind of boring where we lived. We learnt that it was pretty easy to play guitar and even easier to write songs, so we met some other musicians from the early punk scene in LA."Nowadays the band's style is more of a glam-inflected, power-pop, fuzzy grunge thing, heavy on melody.
"It's pretty hard to tour and not be grungy," he tells me. "If you have the time to bathe, that's a luxury. It just transcends. It becomes an attitude."The Redds' new album, provisionally entitled Phaseshifter, is released this autumn along with a 'grunge-fest' of albums by other bands they're in danger of being lumped together with. I'm talking Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins! Is it a question of being squeezed out by the competition or jumping on the bandwagon?
"I don't know how it'll effect us, because at present we're still very underground, whereas those bands have reached the mainstream."What about the fact that the most successful American rock is in some way morose and menacing whilst Red Kross's music, despite its juicy riffing and twin guitar thrust, is unquestionably up-beat, laid-back, hippy, fey, and even a touch kitschy?
"There's a lot of aggressive music happening," Jeff admits. "It's a little boring after a while. Maybe a lot of European kids are just not comfortable in their jumpsuits."Cheer up, kids! No need to bleed - the Redd Kross are on their way.
Written for Riff Raff but unpublished