[sic] Magazine

Interview – Kitchens Of Distinction

After almost twenty years of (non-acrimonious) separation, Kitchens Of Distinction return with a new album. It’s called Folly, a deliciously ironic title. More to the point, it is absolutely superb. Lead singer Patrick Fitzgerald (also of Stephenhero) took time out of a busy promotional schedule to talk to us, a) because he likes us and b) because we promised to lay off the boring “why won’t you tour?”, “why did you split/return?” generic guff that masquerades as an interview in todays times.

Hi Patrick. First off, are you well?

Patrick: Hi Brett, I’m well today thank you. Had an old kidney taken out in March, and all seems to have settled since then.

I want to talk straight away about the new album. It’s been a long while since Cowboys and Aliens. How do you think that your writing has changed in that time?

Patrick: I think I’ve got more precise. I don’t mind if I use a straight chord rather than seeking only difficult chords to play. I’ ll try not to do what I’ve done before, and I’m happy to go to more uncomfortable places, whether they’re more obtuse or even, dare I say, more cheesy.

I’ve got better at editing words, and I think I’ve removed myself more from the songs which has helped them find their own lives. This hopefully means that they’re more open to the possibility of the listener taking them on and applying their own interpretation.

Are you lyrics first, then melodies, or the opposite?

Patrick: Almost always music first, then the tune, and lastly the lyrics. Each part starts as the main tune, say the guitar, then I get a bass line which has to have a tune, and then the vocal which has to have a different better tune, and then I have to find words that not only fit that but sound good and mean stuff. Every time it feels like a stupid way of doing things, but it works for me.

Knowing from the outset that you wouldn’t tour Folly, did that allow you and Julian more freedom in how the songs were constructed? (Complexity etc)

Patrick: I think Julian had no qualms about its complexity. He saw that as integral. Why have a space when you can fill it in with a sparkly flourish? I think that’s what makes it in particular different to stephenhero records – the density and the obsessive attention to detail.

How soon could you tell Folly was shaping up to be something pretty good?

Patrick: I think it was when I got the first guitars from Julian, via email (!), for Oak Tree that I felt something spark. Ooh, I thought, this is nice. This is something I wouldn’t have done. It makes the song better. When the guitars wouldn’t stop coming I got a little scared. I had to give the lad a finishing date so he would stop.


Who do you listen to yourself these days? Also knowing the influence of Joyce, which contemporary authors do you favour and might influence your songwriting?

Patrick: 1/ The usual suspects : Nick Cave, pj Harvey, Scott Walker, Bonnie Prince Billie, Portishead etc etc, because their work is always interesting and usually astonishing.
2/ The less usual suspects: Perfume Genius, Richard Strauss, Tindersticks, John Adams, Schubert, Benjamin Britten, Patti Smith etc are on the car stereo frequently

Writers? I like Douglas Coupland and James Lear. I’ll always pick up my Frank O’hara poetry books just to make me sane again.

Talk a bit about the influence of Bowie if you don’t mind (Japan To Jupiter) His comeback year too, of course!

Patrick: And what a great record he’s made. When I first heard Where Are We Now? I was lying in bed watching the YouTube video totally blown away, and so delighted he’d written a great new song. Had to listen to it 4 times in a row. His influence on my youth is inestimable: for not just his music, but his outsiderness, his flirtation with sexuality, and his ability to mix dance music with that yearning quality that I seem to crave. We had ‘Heroes’ played at our civil partnership ceremony.

Critical reaction to Folly is almost universally, overwhelmingly positive. Remembering the way at least the music weeklies fell out of interest in the band around Cowboys, does this represent vindication in any way? Or does it say more about how the press has changed.

Patrick: I’ve no idea. The times dictate the atmosphere around a record don’t they? Cowboys landed, irrelevantly, in the midst of grunge domination. It’s very nice that time has made our music perhaps ‘fit’ better. I still think much of Cowboys is great. The nice reviews happened early on in Kitchens life. They petered out as these things do, when the band were perceived not to set fire to a trend. I’m very glad for the time and effort people are putting into their reviews of Folly – thank you folks!

Do you make music for yourselves Patrick? Do you, Dan and Julian listen to KOD records? And might I ask whether you have a favourite song on Folly?

Patrick: Oh lord, the music is written for an audience, not for ourselves. But it has to pass our stringent taste test first, hence only 10 songs. I’ll listen to an old record if I need to remember something about it – such as the quote from Under the Sky used at the end of No Longer Elastic. But really I’ve heard them all enough times in the making to not need to hear them again.

My favourite song on the new record is ‘Wolves/Crows’. I’d love to hear it loud and live with a troop of wild drummers beating out the march. It’s a favourite lyric.

We promised six questions but we snuck in nine. [sic] thanks Patrick, (plus Dan and Julian) for his time here. This is his second interview for [sic]. We won’t say we told you so but the last time we spoke I seem to recall him pouring cold water over any idea of a ‘comeback’. (As have pretty much everybody else we’ve interviewed. Yes that’s you Afghan Whigs) So dear listener, if there’s a band you’d like to see re-form, just let us know and we’ll interview them. It’ll be a done deal after that.

Folly is out today on 3 Loop Music and usual download outlets. It is fabulous.

Previous interview with Patrick

Folly reviewed

Stephenhero’s Apparition In The Woods reviewed

Kitchens OD Facebook

3 Loop Music