Konrad Kinard is back from wherever the hell he’s been with new single War is Family.
No spring chicken, Kinard was launched in the same year the Sputnik was launched; War is Family he describes as being about growing up in the weirdness that was cold-war Texas in the 60s, with the Vietnam war playing on the TV that was on through dinner, gulping down food while in the background young men died in a pointless war on the other side of the world.
Plus the Cuban Missle Crisis – when the world seemed as at no other time on the very brink of all-out war.
Plus the assisinations. After JFK, there was Malcolm X. After him there was Martin Luther King. Then Bobby Kennedy. Kinard describes a society “full of strife…kept scared shitless so that the military-industrial complex could build more bombs, keeping everyone terrified – even though life was actually good, there was plenty of money and the quality of living was high”.
It’s about the media – how it intercedes with and takes over all our lives
War is Family is about watching death and destruction while eating at night and living” under the pressure of annihiliation without seeing the monster”, all while witnessing the destruction of his family…watching his own father – a doctor, who was set to be the president’s emergency doctor if the government had to flee Washington and move to the nuclear bunker built down the road from Kinard’s childhood home – rip everyone apart under his own stress, at the same time building a bomb shelter under his home, everyone scared to death, with a constant onslaught of propaganda about the communist “red terror”.
It’s also, Kinard says, about the media – how it intercedes with and takes over all our lives, pushing and pulling us as it wants. Terrifying us when we need to be terrified; subduing us when we need to be subdued; calming us when we need to be calmed.
Kinard also sees Trump’s presidency as the death throes of the cold war.
Didn’t the cold war end in 1990, I ask him?
“The cold war ends when the mentality ends…maybe when all the people who lived through that time get too old, go away. At the end of the 80s suddenly the Soviet Union died, the curtain came down, and the Russians – who had always been this constant menace, the ones who would kill us with missiles – suddenly became our friends. It had just been the Russian government after all. All good – but now suddenly the Russians are the enemy again.”
The track itself, although it sounds like a live recording, was put together piecemeal: Konrad recorded the voice and piano in the Berlin recording studio Andere Baustellen with Boris Wilsdorf, the man responsible for recording and sound engineering Einsturzende Neubauten, the revolutionary and highly influential experimental band around Blixa Bargeld (who was a long-time member of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). “The vocal’s really rough, because I hadn’t sung for a while and then also my father had just died and all this stuff was coming up from somewhere” says Kinard.
This track stayed in storage until Kinard performed the song some years later in the Bradford Cathedral in the UK, where it was reimagined by the impressive line-up of musicians he was playing with, including BJ Cole on steel guitar (BJ Cole has played with such people as Elton John (Tiny Dancer), Joan Armitrading, David Sylvian, Depeche Mode, Beck, Bjork, Sting, John Cale and more, with Sting declaring him “the best pedal steel player in the world”.
BJ Cole (brian eno, sting, bjork etc) on pedal steel
Other outstanding musicians that Kinard put together include Taro Kinard on marching drums, Eleanora Rosca on cello and Hearn Gadbois on percussion.
recorded with Boris wilsdorf (einstürzende neubauten etc)
Because Covid, Kinard then wrote out the music parts and sent them to the various musicians, scattered as they were from Prague to New York, and everyone recorded their parts in their own studios (or living rooms). The result was sent to old conspirator, NY legendery engineer and producer Bryce Goggin.
Kinard knew and worked with Bryce Goggin back in the 80s and 90s in New York, who used to engineer at the 80s studio Baby Monster, where everyone went: Sonic Youth to Swans to Billy Joel and Carly Simon, to name a few. These days Googin runs Trout Studios.
mixed by bryce goggin in ny (anthony and the johnsons etc)
Goggin ripped everything apart, cut it up and put it back together again. Kinard added some basslines, got his son (mainly a ragtime pianist) to play “death drums” and loved it.
The single War Is Family is available on all streaming platforms and iTunes.