Kevin Kinney interview by Brian DeSpain
Americana Highways had a chance to chat with Kevn Kinney after his recent show at the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa in December. Kevn told us about some of his artwork and his new album in the works. Find out who’s on the album, and enjoy the chat!
American Highways: So how did you spend your time creatively during the pandemic when you weren’t touring?
Kevn Kinney: I did a lot of paintings, about twenty. Then I’ve done my podcast called Free Parking that’s every other Friday. And those episodes are all up on YouTube.
Then I made a record in Athens with David Barbe, another solo record called Think About It. The painting series is also called Think About It. There’s story art to Think About It. It starts out with a song “Think About It” and ends with a song “Stop Listen Think.”
AH: Who is on the album?
KK: Peter Buck is on the album, Brad [Morgan] the drummer for the Drive-By Truckers, and the bass player and drummer in Colonel Bruce’s jazz band. Laur Joametz from my band is on it. Peter Buck is on four songs. Berry Berry plays on the last song. The record probably will not come out until fall.
AH: That’s a nice collaboration. Did Buck come into Georgia for the session?
KK: He was in town already. We started it in January 2020 before the pandemic. He did all his parts. And then when the pandemic hit, we pieced it together. The jazz band members and Peter did basic tracks. Then when I had more songs, I had Brad with Drive-By Truckers, David Barbe on bass, Bill Berry did drums for one track. My brother – we have strings on it – Michel plays vibes and jazz guitar on one song.
It’s kind of a spoken word record. There’s some singing but it’s mostly spoken word-ish. Like low mass (laughter).
AH: With the pandemic, I’ve had artists, some, say it zapped their songwriting. Others, it gave them more time to write. How did it affect you?
KK: Well, it’s hard because you don’t want to write about it. I made a specific plan back in the 80s when I started, don’t sing about Ronald Reagan. He was president when I started. So I didn’t sing about him. Because in twenty years no one is going to know who he is.
So it is hard to avoid the [pandemic] issue. I don’t want to write about the pandemic and about masks and the politics of Trump. It’s a little bit tricky. I want to write about universal things. In doing so, two of the songs on the record, I wrote in 1985. They sound like I wrote it about what’s happening [now]. The song “Scarlet Butterfly” I redid it with Peter and Laur and Brad from Drive-By Truckers.
AH: It’s funny how previously written songs sound like they describe contemporary events. Gary Louris wrote a song ten years before putting it on his 2021 album Jump for Joy and it seems like a current events song because of that projection by listeners.
KK: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
And I’ve toured every month since 1985. So it was nice to have a break. Too nice. I walk my dogs every morning. We walk to Five Points.
AH: What’s the last music you’ve heard that has drawn your attention?
KK: Chuck Prophet. His latest album is really great.
Thanks for talking to us Kevn Kinney!
Find more information and music here: https://www.drivinncryin.com
Enjoy an earlier interview of Kevn Kinney, here: Interview: Kevn Kinney on Drivin N Cryin’s New Album, the Beatles, and Gardening
Find tour dates here: https://www.drivinncryin.com/kevn-solo