Clanger interview: Spear of Destiny’s Kirk Brandon

Kirk Brandon’s Spear of Destiny will be returning to Esquires this Saturday, performing the classic One Eyed Jacks album in full.

The one and only Milky put some questions to the main man..

Milky: Where do you find the energy? I was gonna leave it at that, but… between dates with The Pack, Theatre of Hate (TOH) and Spear (+Dead Men Walking (DMW) ?) you’re always on the go.  Some “heritage”

 bands are playing weekend tours but you… you Sir, still go on big ass-winding tours. You love it, you must. Is it a case of loyalty to your fans or an addiction? What gives Spear of Desinty (SoD) energy?

Kirk: Since they replaced my heart with a Titanium one I’ve had a new lease of life so, thanks NHS! [Kirk had heart surgery in 2011 – Ed]

It’s a brilliant wonderful thing to do in a very lucky life. SODs energy is internally generated, the chaps create it as much as me. As for ‘heritage’, someone pointedly said recently to me, it’s a life’s legacy, writing, creating, recording etc.

Milky: How is touring now different to the earlier days… less drinking? One of the reasons I love seeing heritage (last time I’m saying that word) bands is that most of them can actually f***ing play now. Keeps you fit though… is it a case of if you stopped, there’d be a gigantic gap and you wouldn’t know how to fill it?

Kirk: I didn’t really drink until I was 30, after being laid up for best part of a year in mothballs. The chaps though are devout followers of imbibing and laughter at one and all’s expense. It’s a lot of fun.

As for if I stopped, I simply wish, as I told my surgeon, ‘I wish to continue’. He agreed and said ‘carry on!’  Touring alongside writing is the life’s blood.

Milky: 35 year old album tour, that’s MAD, THIRTY FVE YEARS, how do you get your head round this? Was the decision to re-record it based on getting the sound of the band now rather than correcting past mistakes?

Kirk: A lot of the sounds were edged towards pop on the original (which was the company’s directive to the producer), whereas we wanted a much more rock album. Hopefully we’ve done it justice and given it a new lease of life with more guitar. And, a lifetimes experience. Giving the singing its gravitas.

Milky: Back in the day…did you ever imagine doing this 35 years later? I remember being at gigs when I was 18/19 and seeing these two old codgers at the back. I said to my mate – look at them old gits…well, that’s me now! If you love music then age means nuffink! So… 35 years go past – where did they go? How do the Stones keep going?

Kirk: I never imagined doing it past say, 30. I assumed I’d be dead. If fact I am. I simply refuse to acknowledge it.

Milky: Tinnitus – I suffer from… got some specially moulded ear-plugs, too late really but at least it gives me some protection now. Were you a wise fella who plugged up all those years ago?

Kirk: No. I was the muppet standing in front of the Marshalls 100s and Fender twins being shredded daily.

My ears ‘sing’ constantly. If they indeed stop singing that’s a heads up that I am now ready for a pine suit and the pizza oven.

Milky: The music biz(zzzzz) is so different now from when you started, does it feel freeing to no longer be a record label slave, doing things your way without answering to suits? Must be good to not be trapped in a cycle of tour/single/tour/album/tour. I do miss 12” records though and the extended versions bands would put out. 

Kirk: Regrettably as most artists know, the record companies own the tapes/digital recordings and can endlessly re license them and not involve the artist whatsoever. As a yardstick, Spotify pay artists a royalty of 0.0025 per play. This is a very grey area that’s needs a clarification from a Law Court that it is right, fair and fitting to be paid the shavings off a farthing.

Milky: Playing live, are your songs quite fluid, some nights do you just lock into something and ride it out or do you stay. I’m just interested in whether some nights you go off script a little – keep people guessing.

Kirk: The same song two nights running will always have a different ‘feel’ it’s my belief. Barring train wrecks we attempt to keep to the script. Saves nerves, erectile dysfunction and violence.

Milky: How do you pick a set, there must be certain songs the audience demands to hear – how do you balance servicing the fans whilst keeping things fresh (from tour to tour)

Kirk: I’ve always had a policy of playing new songs. The 80s did end. But you have to be mindful of the very people who put you up on a stage, so, you have to include music that is hard wired into people’s memories. It’s only fair.  

Milky: You’ve had enough now, I can sense it.. so I’ll wrap it up. The Price You Pay is my favourite album, it’s full of love, anger, pain, but… that’s not a question – music today, I don’t get much sense of legacy, long-lasting-ness – its more disposable get rich quick stuff, but bands such as SoD have passion and an availability to their fanbase. Thanks for retaining this hunger/desire – are there any bands you’ve heard lately that you see a little bit of TOH or SoD in?

Kirk: I’m waiting for someone to convince me totally of their belief. It takes many forms. On a recent American tour, all the support bands were excellent at what it was they are doing.

It takes imagination, religious commitment and luck.  They are out there….

Spear of Destiny are at Bedford Esquires on Saturday 14 September 8pm.

Tickets are £19

Editor of The Bedford Clanger, organiser behind BedPop, an events manager and a freelance copywriter

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