People don’t go around kicking fires unless they’ve got a bit about them – or, perhaps, clinically insane. Don’t mess with fire, kids. So, with a name like Kick Up The Fire, you expect a band to have a bit about them – and the London garage punk trio that assumed this moniker most certainly do.
For example, the band describe their latest single Movers & Shakers as being about the “absolute political clusterfuck” in the United Kingdom. This, for anyone outside the UK, is particularly apt given our newly “elected” Prime Minister is a man who can be best be described as a nincompoop and for whom the phrase “a blithering idiot” is being kind. More on that in a moment.
The east London trio is formed of childhood pals Andrew and Kenny, who played in various bands together growing up, and Thom, who Kenny met while working in a cinema bar. As Kenny tells us: “It used to get pretty quiet in there so we used to spend hours on end lying around, dodging work and listening to albums. Forming a band was kind of logical and it all came together pretty organically from there.”
They have since honed a funky, lively garage punk sound, which Kenny describes as such: “The underlying basis is dirty and high-energy straight-up rock. But with our latest material we’ve gone big on sounds that we think are much more cinematic than that might suggest. We’ve drawn heavily on soundtracks from old Westerns, surf and I guess Tarantino movies, but we still really wanted to retain a focus on having a danceable rhythm section, so that is still very much in the mix too.”
The latest offering of this is the aforementioned Movers & Shakers, which was released early last month. It opens up with drawn-out guitar chords then a cool little darting riff leads into a verse of impassioned vocals “There’s no future we’ll drink it instead, We shared a dream but now we’re loaded with debt, Tonight’s poison brings flammable breath, Once so secure now forever a mess” over more drawn-out chords and a bouncy bassline, then a distant high-pitched cry pre-empts the final line “We’ll dance ’til the death.”
The lively riff kicks back in under repeats of “The roof’s spinning, the room’s spinning around, We’ll dance ’til the death,” which give way to a fun little guitar solo. A second verse kicks into a chorus of “Movers and shakers, dreamers, heartbreakers, They gave up just to see where it would take us, Snake oil salesmen and pirate smiles, They keep it moving and they keep this party spinning, Around and around and around and around.”
Another little guitar solo takes over, with celebratory sounding noises in the background, then the opening riff returns under repeats of “The room’s spinning around” to bring us to a fun ending. Check it out in the video below:
On the new track, Kenny tells us: “We describe it as being a song about parties that spiral out of control while the world around them burns to the ground. It’s about the absolute political clusterfuck that is the so-called United Kingdom. A country taken over by populist charlatans who peddle lowest-common-denominator xenophobia to further their own careers and inflate their own bank balances. It’s about the absolute dereliction of duty by the two biggest political parties in the country.”
But, as Kenny tells us, the song very nearly didn’t happen at all: “It’s often the unsung heroes who make records happen,” he said. “There was a moment in RAK Studios towards the end of the session when I – and I’m pretty sure we all – genuinely feared things were going south.
“Jim (Lowe, producer) was everything you could possibly want in that moment: brutally honest in the most constructive way possible. But a huge amount of respect to our sound engineer Nathan who stuck through it all and put everything back together just when we thought we were ready to call it in. You don’t hear enough about people like Nathan. You don’t often read about who engineered on what record. But without him, there would be no Movers & Shakers.”
Despite their edgy rocky sound, Kick Up The Fire’s musical influences may come as a bit of a surprise. As Kenny tells us: “They aren’t necessarily the artists we sound most similar to. On a personal note, I don’t remember a time before I loved Bruce Springsteen. I could reel off a huge list of artists that we’ve wanted to emulate in one way or another. Some huge names – Rage Against The Machine, At The Drive-In, The Strokes – and other less mainstream acts, like Cursive, Q and Not U or The International Noise Conspiracy. I don’t really know that we sound anything like any of those artists though. You just try to borrow little ideas and themes here and there.”
And on what inspires their music, Kenny explains: “Music has always been an incredibly empowering tool for political expression and dissent. I was raised by Scottish parents in Italy. Anybody familiar with those two countries will understand why it was inevitable that I would become politically passionate and opinionated.
“So it’s either a case of ranting at a bunch of strangers or channelling that into something that’s a lot more productive, rewarding and hopefully engaging. I suppose like many people the three of us have always wanted to emulate people we look up to, and for us they happened to be musical artists.”
There’s plenty more to come from the band, who are focused on recording and have a whole album’s worth of tracks just ready to be laid down, so you can rest assured the fires will continue to be kicked up for some time yet.