Back and uglier than they used to be
Ugly Kid Joe have risen again from the Californian sunshine! They are back bringing you good vibes with their brand new album “Uglier than they used to be”, coming out on the 16th of October (via Metalville/UKJ Records). This is their first record in 19 years, containing 9 original tracks and 3 covers in collaboration with Phil Campbell (of Motorhead) and Australian singer Dallas Frasca. During their brief but sold out UK tour I spent some time on the tour bus chatting away with Klaus about musical influences, rap, NWA, surfing and partying. We will hopefully see them again in the summer for an extended tour and some festival appearances.
HMA: Tonight is the last night of your UK tour, how has it been so far and did you expect this turnout when nearly every venue was sold out?
Ugly Kid Joe – Klaus Eichstadt: I think half were sold out and the other half was pretty much full. In London, I knew the first show sold out pretty early. I didn’t know that I could do two shows in a row.
HMA: What brought you back together as a band, what made you decide to reform UKJ?
UKJ: Dave, one of our guitar players, went on to produce bands. Evanescence was his first big band. Then he did Slipknot, Gobsmack, all those, a bunch of other bands. Shannon, our drummer, went on after UKJ went on to join Gobsmack and has been their drummer for now 15 years or something. They ended up working in the studio and they were just talking because they were both in Ugly Kid Joe together. They said, “Why don’t we just get together with Klaus and Cordell, and go do a record with Dave,” because he’s a producer now. He has his own recording studio If we can just get ourselves there. They called me and Whit and said, “What about doing that?” Whit and I were both in California and we see each other all the time, We were snowboarding one time and we were like:
“Did Shannon call you yet?”
“Yeah, and Dave called me.”
“What did he say?”
“Yeah, they want to do a record.”
“Let’s do a record.”
So we started writing songs. Within six months we did the ‘Stairway to Hell EP’. We just released it on iTunes.
HMA: You were all for getting back together?
UKJ: Yeah. We’d always joked about it. Then we talked about it more. We thought we’d just do a tour or something, for fun. Then when they called us about doing a record we did that first. Then we did the EP, six songs, the ‘Stairway to Hell’. I mean, I guess I didn’t think it would happen for a long time and it wasn’t until that phone call where I was like, “Wow, okay. Let’s do it.”
HMA: You used crowd-funding (pledgemusic.com) to raise money to record the new album; was that a decision purely due to financial reasons or did it doubled as a protest against the music industry?
UKJ: NO, It wasn’t a protest. Actually, Whit and Gavin, our managers dreamed up the idea because Gavin had had such success in the past with it. Gavin had done a lot of stuff like that before and approached Whit about it and they conjured up the scheme about going to do a new album, first full length album, and did it one Pledge. It worked really well. We had like over 200%. It’s hard to get funding, first of all, and it’s not cheap to make a record. It’s cheaper than it was, but it’s reasonable you could get enough money from your fans. They’re just buying your stuff anyway. They’re just getting it earlier, or later I should say. They’re giving you the money but then they’re going to get something. It’s almost like you’re just pre-ordering stuff as a fan.
HMA: I believe as a fan you’re more involved as well like you’re a part of it.
UKJ: Exactly, we would film every day in the studio something and he would put it on our Pledge campaign. If you really got into it, you could watch every day what we were doing.
HMA: Okay. Wow. That’s nice, more and more bands should look into it.
UKJ: It’s the first time we had that into it.
HMA: About your new record “Uglier than they used to be” which are your expectations and what do you think of the response so far?
UKJ: I think for one thing we were surprised by the response with the Pledge campaign. We didn’t know it would do that well right from the beginning. We released it while we were on tour. So we were touring and the album came out so apparently, it’s in the charts somewhere.
HMA: It is number nine in the UK charts. Also, let’s never forget that your Debut EP had record sales.
UKJ: It was the highest selling debut EP of all time.
HMA: You can be proud, very be proud.
UKJ: Totally… World record!
HMA: Phil Campbell (Motorhead) is featured in 3 songs on your latest record; how the collaboration did come about?
UKJ: Yeah, we’ve known him, we actually met him back in… We toured with Ozzy and Motorhead back in 1992, right? Yeah. They were really, you know it was Ozzy headlining and then we and Motorhead were the opening bands and we always had our dressing rooms right next to each other so sometimes there would be like a weird curtain in between the dressing rooms and we were like let’s make one big dressing room. I don’t bite. We met them, since then, we’ve always been in touch with Lemmy and then oddly enough one of Phil’s assistants and one of his best friends, it’s a crazy story, happens to be a huge Ugly Kid Joe fan from Mexico, of all places. Now he’s in Sweden and he works for Motorhead and then Phil kept coming to our shows and we reunited here in the last three years. Phil would show up and we’d always ask if he wanted to play and he’d always say hell yes. Get on stage and play with us. He’s been with us at least three times in the last few years. Then when we were doing the record we actually covered ‘Ace of Spades’ so the original idea was to have Phil play the lead. We all text him and he’s really funny. He’s a really funny, nice guy. If you text him something, he’ll right away text you something back. We’ve all been in touch with him, one or the other, and White went ahead and asked him. He was like, “Yeah, I’ll play the lead on ‘Ace of Spades’ if you let me play some leads on your songs.” Of course! He ended up playing 1, 2, 3 leads I think. We didn’t want to push it. We thought it would be perfect for you to come and be a part of your song. He’s like, “I play that song all the time. Let me play something different.” We sent him three songs… and said do whatever you want with them.
HMA: How do you choose your covers?
UKJ: We just started doing that song one day, jamming just playing it. Sonny knew it already and I kind of watched him and then we all played it and then we just started playing it live. We liked playing it live. It’s a fun live song. It’s fast. It’s energetic. We didn’t think that at the end we’d be putting it on the record. We didn’t think that until we did the record. We said, “Why not?” For ‘Cats in the Cradle’ was a song that Whit grew up with as a kid that he always had known and the band he was in before Ugly Kid Joe would cover it and then we would cover it live but again, we never thought about doing it on the record. Then we were in the studio kind of fooling around, sitars and all kinds of cool stuff and we recorded it for the ‘America’s Least Wanted’. We didn’t think anything. It was one of the last songs that we really gave any thought to and it became a hit.
HMA: You have collaborated with great artists like Rob Halford and Lemmy as well as Campbell, is there any other big artists who you would like to collaborate with?
UKJ: There’s a lot. Of all bands, probably our favourite band across the board is AC/DC. They’re so hard to get. That might be pretty cool at some point just to even meet them. There’s so many. Ozzy would be rad to have him sing or something, also Van Halen.
HMA: Nice choices there. You have toured with Ozzy, Skid Row, Gn’R, Ozzy and Alice Cooper; do you have any memorable moments from these tours?
UKJ: Alice Cooper was a total gentleman. Really cool, really nice, really mellow. He’s had his days where he was crazy. Like really crazy now he’s older. He’s a very smart, really smart guy. He is super together like I said a total gentleman. Tour was great, every aspect of it even great catering, the whole thing. Skid Row guys were totally fun to hang out. We did a lot of parties.
HMA: Yeah, I know them well; they are super fun and outstanding dudes.
UKJ: Agree 100%
HMA: Moving from partying to artwork… Do you still use the same artists for the album cover?
UKJ: No. It’s actually kind of sad story. We actually had Moish Brenman. He did all our art. He did the Ugly Kid logo from day one. He did that back in 1991, 1990-1991 something like that. He did a lot of art for us for the first three years then he ended up moving and working for a skateboard company and kind of lost touch and over the years we did other art and whatnot, and when we started doing the last record they went through hell to try and track them down. He just couldn’t do it terms of time because he was working hard on another project. He’s got a kid now. He was just like, “I can’t.” We were like damn. We got this other guy and then this fan of ours just started drawing pictures from us just sending them to somebody, through Facebook, a really good artist. We were like, “Wow, this guy’s really great. You want to go for it?” He’s like, yeah. I’ll go for it. He ended up just doing all this shit, six different things by the end of the, the alternate cover, the tour thing. He did the AC/DC thing. He’s just been going off. Weirdly enough, because we’re trying this record, we were trying to do the cover like the first EP. We were trying to match it.
HMA: It is in fact very similar, that’s why I assumed it was the same artist
UKJ: Used to be, it’s us having come back from the dead. We’re paying homage to that original artwork which is Moish Brenman. Literally, while we’re in the process, I was in Mexico and I was getting artwork emailed to me. How does this? It looks great. Right in the middle of all that, as we’re trying to recreate this cover so to speak, I get an email from a friend saying that Moish died in his sleep. Literally the day I was looking at the artwork. It was just whoa. This is really bizarre. Right away we told the artist this just happens. He was like this is weird. He was doing the art, and it was originally by Moish so we put a memorandum for the new album for Moish Brenman. You can see his name in there.
HMA: That’s a lovely and respectful tribute.
UKJ: Tribute just to pay homage to our roots. Then of course when he passed away we were like this is heavier than we thought. We’re really, it’s bizarre right, recreating his art and he just passed away while we were doing it. It was a weird thing.
HMA: On a lighter note, ‘Everything about you’ was featured in Wayne’s World. Being at the time an iconic fun movie for metalheads, how did you take it and were you happy they used your song?
UKJ: I think we got paid like $200 or something. But then ‘Everything about You’ became kind of a hit on the radio and then we heard that your song is in this movie that is really popular. We didn’t really think much of it. We went to see it. I kind of liked it. I didn’t love it. It’s okay. I mean, I liked it. I should probably see it again it’s probably funnier than I thought. We watched it and we were so, “Where’s our song? Where’s our song?” We weren’t paying attention to the comedy so much.
HMA: There are very different sounds in UKJ; you have loads of different influences. Metal, funk, what kind of music and artist inspires you?
UKJ: I think starting out we were definitely huge heavy metal fans. Judas Priest, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, AC/DC, Motley Crue and all that, loved all that stuff. That’s something we all grew up doing. Then we got really into Red Hot Chili Peppers. That kind of made us want to go a little bit away from the glam metal thing and more into the quirky, whatever-the-fuck you call their stuff. To us, it’s real California because at that time in California, that was kind of a scene. Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, and bands like that, that we would go see live and live they were better than all the metal bands. Metal bands, let’s admit it. They kind of do the same thing, especially them in the 80s, like the leather and this and the whole thing. Then we’d come and see the Chili Peppers or Fishbone and we’re like oh my god. This is a whole other thing. If we can do that metal music would have that kind of vibe. Wear shorts, like we do anyway. Be ourselves and not have to wear leather and do all this crazy stuff.
HMA: Makeup and big hair.
UKJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got influenced really heavily and I think that scene, I should say is kind of southern California kind of funk, alternative, rock as Some of the Chili Pepper songs. I mean, ‘Backwoods’ is a heavy metal song.
HMA: Do you listen to any new bands? Do you like any new stuff?
UKJ: No. I don’t, really don’t.
HMA: It’s very different.
UKJ: Funny enough the guys from ‘Hailmary’ are our friends and didn’t even hear their music until after we’d already jammed with and they’ve played with us now. Last night… played the drums. The night before Mike played the guitar with us and Serg is doing a video for us now. All our crew knows them because they work for them. Finally, I went and looked up their music and I was totally blown away. They’re fucking killer. Holy shit, these guys are rad.
HMA: So you do listen to a bit of new bands?
UKJ: Only if I’m totally forced to because I’m actually friends with the guys. I better listen to their band so I know. Holy shit, so I really liked their stuff. Not the newest release, I haven’t heard the new one but the one they just released I think within the last two years. I don’t know. It’s the one just before. It was really good. That’s one of the only new bands I’ve heard in terms of rock. Of course, I love, I listen to everything. The hip hop stuff and the pop I really like. At home, I listen to the radio; I don’t listen to rock radio because I don’t think I really like any of the new bands really. I’m not really into the new metal thing, or whatever you want to call it. I just listen to old classic rock, like AC/DC and then I listen to new hip hop, pop, whatever it’s called. You know it’s like the guy raps and then the girl sings. NWA and gangster rap, that’s my favourite rap. If I would tell you my favourite rap is NWA and Ghetto Boys. Did you see the movie? (Straight Outta Compton)
HMA: Unfortunately is all the time we have, thank you so much for your time. ‘Uglier Than They Used ta Be’ is out now on Metalville/UKJ Records and you can grab yourself a copy via UKJ site www.uglykidjoe.net/buy-music
Interview by Manuela Mattera Photos by Andrea Saini – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.