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Dead Men Walking - Interview

  by Andrew Twambley

published: 23 / 12 / 2021



Dead Men Walking - Interview

Kirk Brandon is a well-known name because he has been around forever, although in a multiple of different guises. Whether it be as leader of Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate, The Pack or more lately Dead Men Walking, you always know that he will deliver quality and that his live presence will be memorable. I mention Dead Men Walking as if it is a recent venture, but it has been going, in one form or another for twenty years. We spoke to Kirk about his numerous ventures, being in a supergroup, how he keeps going ….and why Dead Men Walking's recent tour included Fleetwood, a place some would describe as “the end of the earth.” PB: In doing my research, it became apparent how difficult it would be to know where to start with you because you run in so many different directions. So, let’s start with the current Dead Men Walking tour. How did Dead Men Walking begin all those years ago? It’s been forever now, hasn’t it? KB: It was an idea dragged up by Mike Peters and myself in Manchester one night. I was there with Billy Duffy and the idea was to take it back to just playing acoustic, which was how the songs were written. That was the concept, and the idea was to take it round the clubs and see where it ended up...and that’s exactly what we did [Laughs]. PB: You had some monumental guest artists on your first few tours, like Mick Jones, Glen Matlock and even Captain Sensible. How did you manage to do that? How did you manage to persuade them to buy into the concept? KB: Yeah, we did. It was just people that came along at the time. We initially had Brian Setzer, from the Stray Cats, who came down in LA and so did Lemmy. Standing next to Brian and standing next to Lemmy on stage, that was a great moment, although I had known Lemmy a long time from back in the 70s. We had some great people turn up over the years, Mick Jones from The Clash joined us for a few gigs. I had met them in the 1980s. PB: Now we are on to Dead Men Walking version 2 if you can call it that? KB: I would probably say Dead Men Walking 3. PB Is that a fixed line up going forward now with Jake Burns and Segs and Ruffy from The Ruts? KB: I hope so. The Ruts gave Theatre of Hate their first ever tour and we supported them round the country. Jake’s been around for a long time and I used to live with Ali McMordie from The Stiffs. There was a whole load of us living in a house from Stiff Little Fingers....a long, long time ago! We all kind of go way back one way or another. PB: I note with great personal interest that Dead Men Walking are playing a gig next week at the Marine Hall in Fleetwood. KB: Yes. PB: Now the last time I was at the Marine Hall in Fleetwood I was collecting my A-level results in 1976 as I went to school in Fleetwood. KB: Oh my God! (Laughs) PB: It puts me at the same age as you really. Have you ever been to Fleetwood? KB: Yeah, I did an acoustic gig down there with my cello player about five years ago. In fact that was quite a special gig. I actually liked it up there. I know people say it’s like a forgotten part of England but it’s still a nice place, I think. PB: When I was there it was known as the end of the earth because there is sea on three and a half sides of it. You can’t go anywhere else but go for a swim. Historically Fleetwood was designed as a mini Paris if you didn’t know that. KB: Really? PB: It was all built around a central hub and it’s a place where Queen Victoria used to go for her holidays. KB: Ah, man. That’s brilliant. PB: The North Euston Hotel is opposite your theatre and that’s where she used to go and stay when she came to go to the seaside. Do you ever stand up during Dead Men Walking gigs or do you always sit down on your chairs? KB: In previous editions we stood up, I don’t mind standing up. It, gives me a bit of freedom but we took a vote on it and the guys preferred to sit so I said, “Okay, whatever you want.” PB: All four of you tend to move around in your other identities quite a lot. I saw The Ruts a couple of weeks ago in Liverpool and they never stood still. KB: Yeah, they’re great, aren’t they? They’re really great. PB: Terrific. Just as good as they were forty years ago. KB: Yeah it’s amazing. PB: Dead Men Walking are often referred to in the press as a supergroup. How do you feel about mixing with the likes of Cream, Blind Faith and the Three Tenors? KB: I have got no illusions, I don’t feel as if I am in a supergroup or anything like that, I just play music and enjoy myself, just the same as I have ever done. I wouldn’t allow myself to delude myself. I'm not suffering any delusions. PB: Between the four of you, you’ve got a massive back catalogue of big songs. How do you choose which you are going to play? Do you fight about it? KB: No, it’s just whoever wants to bring whatever to the table,. We’ll learn it, go through it and play it or don’t play it. PB: You could have got a potential five hour gig there, longer than one of Rick Wakeman’s concerts. KB: Ha, well obviously it’s not that long but also we are doing four new songs. We’re coming to promote this album we recorded in lockdown and will be playing four new songs from it. It’s collaboration stuff, so people will get a chance to hear that and to see what we do as a unit. PB: 'Freedom, It Ain't on the Rise', your new album, exhibits a really refreshing sound. It contains some reworks of classics as well as the new songs. How do you choose the tracks to go on there? KB: It’s everybody’s choice. It’s like “what do you want to do”. PB: There are some surprising versions of some classics on there. I didn’t recognise your version of Stiff Little Fingers' 'Wasted Life' until it was three quarters of the way through. KB: It’s radically different. If you want to hear Jake Burns just shouting his head off and buzz saw guitars, then you go to a Fingers gig but this is Jake as an artist portraying the songs in a different light and some of it is really sensitive material what he's done. So this is him. This is not the rock band steaming away, bish, bash, bosh, you know? He’s quite an intense and serious artist. He covers some pretty edgy kind of stuff. PB: He does, he does. KB: He really does. His bravery was never in question. PB: This might sound a bit like a fan boy comment, as it’s not really a question, but my favourite song on the whole album is 'You’ll Never Take Me Alive. That’s a great version of that song. Not radically different from the original….just reworked. KB: Okay, thank you. PB: That should be a single. KB: We’ll see what going to happen there, see where it going to get released. We are just releasing it on the road at the moment so you come along to the gigs and buy it, or get it from the website. I am pretty sure we can get a release in America. PB: Excellent. Talking about America, I see you have got a massive US tour booked next year. Where does all your energy come from? KB: Well, you can either sit in and watch some weird game show where people take their clothes off [Laughs] or go on tour. What’s it called? 'Naked Attraction' or something like that? You can either watch 'Naked Attraction' or get on the road. PB: There are about forty dates on there. I mean you and I are no longer eighteen. How can you even foresee doing forty nights, and a gig more or less every other night? KB: Well, I can tell you on that one, because it’s a fantastic tour. First off, it’s three bands that are headlining in their own right - Theatre of Hate, Chameleons and The Mission, so I think it’s going to be like forty-five minutes from each band as opposed to an hour and twenty minutes for each. We won’t be flogging ourselves to death. So it’s like a tag team almost but it will be easier, says he….. I daresay by the time I get there it won’t be that easy [Laughs]. PB: You tend to tour with about four different bands, The Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny, Dead Men Walking and as a solo act. How do you decide which one to launch at any one time? KB: The Theatre of Hate is basically down to the availability of people. I decide it’s tour time for say a couple of weeks in December. I call around and ask “Can you do it?" "Yes, I can do it”, whereas on other occasions it is "No, I can’t" so it all depends on who is free. . PB: Have you ever thought of reforming The Pack? KB: The Pack? We did a handful of show some years back but there is only me and John left from the original band. John’s brother, Simon. the guitar player, died tragically, but I did get someone to replace him, a guy I know from years ago. His real name was Warren Wilson, but everyone calls him Waz. He is a sensational guitar player and weirdly enough he actually sounds like Simon, which is really odd, but it was never really The Pack. PB: When I was researching You Tube for The Pack I came across an interview of you on You Tube from about 1980, when you looked about thirteen years old, and you said something like your main aim in The Pack was to try and get arrested. Did you ever get arrested? KB: I was just fucking about, you know, just having a laugh (Laughs). PB: Tell me this! How’s your hearing these days? Mine is not what it was. All I get is ringing in my ears all day long? What about you? KB: Mine? It’s alright. It’s not bad. I say that because I'm lying [Laughs]. Fucking racket. If there is not all this hissing going on then there are super high frequencies and the left ear is much worse than the right, but it just goes on and on. PB: Going back in history, not as far as The Pack though, Theatre of Hate had a massive album with 'Westworld', and an association with the legendary Mick Jones who produced it. You seemed to be on the verge of absolutely massiveness. What happened to it all? KB: What happened to it? It’s difficult to say really. That’s a whole story. I don’t know whether I could sum that up. A lot of things, a hell of a lot of things. PB: People, people maybe? KB: Yeah, people and the management. It went through the roof. It took off like a rocket and came straight back down again. That’s a long story. PB: Okay. Finally, You once described yourself as “ rebel without a brain”. Is that just as funny line or was it true.? KB: I just described myself as brainless [laughs]. PB: You did say rebel without a brain. KB: [Laughs] PB: I saw it on You Tube it must be true. KB: Honest to God, it’s true [laughs]. I describe myself as silly [laughs]. PB: Thanks very much, Kirk, it was a great pleasure to speak to you. Glad you have still got your humour. Photos by Andrew Twambley www.twambley.com



Band Links:-
https://deadmenwalkingband.com
https://www.facebook.com/DeadMenWalkingband
https://twitter.com/kirkbrandon


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intro

Kirk Brandon talks to Andrew Twambley about the latest line-up of his punk supergroup Dead Men Walking, their new album 'Freedom, It Ain't On the Rise' and playing Fleetwood



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