I’m of course talking about Kenickie. And everyone who loved Kenickie. And everyone, really.
(“We were Kenickie – a Bunch of Fuckwits” was Lauren’s final words at their final Astoria gig. Which I was at and talked nonsense to TV people outside before and cried afterwards. I recall in some pub, the Kenickie internet mob gathered around, with tears creeping into most people’s eyes. And then – I believe – Rob said “I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really rather sad”. Which made everyone mock Rob, because he was – indeed – sad. And lamentation was averted. Oh, those the-nineties.)
They’re 10 years dead today. I’m ashamed I didn’t realise before proxymoron on twitter mentioned it. Minutes later, KenickieUberFan RobRizzo sends a facebook message out asking how people are celebrating it. Hepton wimped out of laying a wreath outside the Astoria. LAZY! LAZY!
Me, I just put on Kenickie’s At The Club and lsten to it while cooking some chili for the lady who’s out at poetry stuff, finish the final Crown of Destruction script and then write this.
Kenickie were the last one of those bands for me.
I was, as Tim from Ash (is Foxy! – Kenickie Ed) noted on the radio after reading Phonogram recently, one of those scary fans. But I was aware of it – and, frankly, awareness that liking a band this much was really fucki’ scary was one of the things that was common in Kenickie fandom. Hell, I ran a Kenickie fansite for those few short years and I actively avoided as much contact with them as possible for that reason. I was scary! Stay out the way as much as possible!
(I mostly succeeded, bar an interview and a few hellos. Though was in some fanzine convention quiz team thing on Lauren and Pete’s team once. Or at least, I think so. This was when Mira Manga slapped me, so much of that day is in a bit of a fuzz.)
So Kenickie then. They were the last one of those sorts of bands. Those sorts. It’s not about intensity of emotional response to music. Every couple of months I’ll get a song which suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world (and I wouldn’t be writing Phonogram if that wasn’t true. I suspect the second that stops becoming true is the second I stop writing the bloody thing). What I’m talking about is a larger intensity – as in everything connected to the band burns with a bright light. Liking the band means everything. It’s about being a fan, in that “atic” sense. It’s been a while, but it’s like a religion. Except the hymns are better.
I believed in Kenkie. They spoke to the small decent things in humans and pop-music. They were, as I believe Simon Price noted, indie-kids who realised that being indie-kids was a pretty shit thing to be. And it is, and we knew it, and they reached and failed and loved and got whatever love leads to.
Heh. It’s at times like this I wish I had the pages of my Great Lost Fanzine, Darcy’s On The Pull Issue “U”. That had about fourteen pages on Kenickie, including at least one large essay about why they were so important. By which I mean, important to me. Christ – I was reading the Gamer forum today, and the thread about the problems with the Top 100, around them changing it from “Best games ever” to “our favourite games ever”. And I had to resist just noting that the second someone tried to sell you a best list where best doesn’t equal favourite, they’re trying to bullshit you. And, for me, Kenickie were both about Subjective Love of Life, and – so – justified my wholly subjective love of them.
I’m not even going to try to listen to my copy of Get In! – all my Kenickie singles are scratched to fuck, but it’s especially – but returning to At The Club after so many years pulls me in half a dozen ways. Bits remain – I was always the sort who thought Kenickie as a singles band who were never really served by their singles. Nightlife, In Your Car and – that big old albatross – Punka were brash and fun, but were never really showed why they were special. It was all in the album tracks, the B-sides and… well, the exception was always Millionaire Sweeper’s be-my-baby-driven downbeat Lauren lyric of teenage pregnancy, which remains atmospheric and painfully sad (All those kisses that “ache like blisters waiting to get burst”. Didn’t Get It when it came out, admitedly, but that’s fine too – I like that I can grow into stuff. Even the GO OUT! RIGHT NO! PARTY! singles were kind of outstripped by Classy driving that into psychopathy with its making things out of sin/blood and human skin-isms.
Still – the stuff I adored remains adorable. People We Want makes me think of whether we did actually become the People We Want. I dunno. The difference between first hearing it on the album in an American Bedsit and in a North London flat seems a world away – but I can see the route along, and the mix of lust and doom still means the world to me. How I Was Made was the point where Kenickie graduated from a pop-crush to proper devotion when I realised it was on the flipside to Come OUt 2nite. I hadn’t played it for a few months, assuming that the B-side couldn’t be any good. And when it hit me in a Stafford room, I played it dozens of times in a row, recognising the catholic self-loathing all too well.
(God: that Lauren and Marie were – in their differing ways – all-so-clearly Catholic was another reason I loved them, though I don’t think I ever admited it until now. Actually, was Marie? I forget. Marie should have been Norse.)
Oh – and Robot Song, which still punches aboves its weight in terms of construction and lyrical conceit: and the loneliness in invulnerability throughout is something that’s so rarely captured in a pop-record.
So, yeah. They changed my life, and only for the better. That’s all you can hope to recieve for a band. And I’m grateful, you know?
Anyway – Ben Hall has lobbed some Kenickie Live MP3s onto his own 10 year Kenickie post, and they’re entirely loveable. Especially worth listening to the version of I Would Fix You. I like the recorded version well enough, but there’s a fragility to those early live preformances of the song which I really miss from it.