[sic] Magazine

Interview – Kitchens Of Distinction

[sic] Magazine’s Brett Spaceman and Jon Leonard sat down with former Kitchens front-man/bassist, Patrick Fitzgerald in his adopted Manchester to reflect upon those heady daze of Distinction and catch up with his current guise, the twilit and heartfelt Stephen Hero project:

Brett Spaceman: My early memories of Kitchens gigs have Julian crouched over his monitor with his back to the audience. Did this place more attention on you?

Patrick Fitzgerald: Ha – I think he was just shy! I had to sing and play bass so faced the front – I wanted to see which songs worked and which ones didn’t. The audience let you know very quickly.

Jon Leonard: We’ve picked The Death of Cool as our classic choice. Is that a fair pick? Do you have a personal preference?

Patrick: It changes from time to time. I most recently revisited Love is Hell and really enjoyed about half of it. Particularly In a Cave. Thinking of how to do it on piano. I tend to think all four albums have a quality to them that’s worth investigating. Death of Cool has very good musical memories, but it was probably the hardest lyrically – the words just took ages to come.

Brett: I have a US copy of Love is Hell with the Elephantine EP bundled with it. Is it cheating if I claim that as my favourite album?

Patrick: I think you’re allowed that one, they were written and recorded very closely together.

Jon: ‘The Death Of Cool’, for me, was the album which required the most work to enjoy. I didn’t appreciate it at first because everything seemed to be submerged in effects. Did you create it thinking of it as a grower?

Patrick: Some people think of it as Strange Free World part 2. As we were immersed in the thing we had no difficulty seeing it as accessible – even if it had three rather long tracks. I was very keen to have more low-end as I felt the bass was lacking on SFW. That may account for the murk. Julian wanted to take the guitar effects even further. Hence the swirl.


Brett: Do you accept the generic ‘Shoegaze’? Were the Kitchens Of Distinction ‘Shoegaze’? You were before House of Love weren’t you? Did you feel part of that scene?

Patrick: Hmm – I don’t think we were ever included in that world. Nothing against it – we did have maelstroms of guitars, but I guess we were more interested in the songs rather than just the sound of the thing.

Jon: There was always a distinct mixture of moods on ‘Death Of Cool’, with the gentle and romantic (‘Can’t Trust The Waves’, ‘Mad As Snow’) contrasting with the almost angry ‘Blue Pedal’ and ‘Gone World Gone’. Were these songs written at different times in your life?

Patrick: Cant trust – by Julian, and sang by the man. He even wrote most of the words. A bad time for him, lovingly expressed. Mad As Snow – music by Julian, eventually words by me but it took an age. The hardest one to write. Blue Pedal and Gone World Gone were inspired lyrically by Patti Smith/Ginsberg. The music for all the record was written quickly over a short period, 4 men excepted as this had been done years earlier.

Brett: Can I just say, Glittery Dust was one of THE classic b-sides.

Patrick: You can. Julian would disagree with you. He never liked it. I’d have had it on the album.

Jon: Was it a struggle to make your voice heard over the wall of guitars? Would this have influenced your Stephen Hero work which is noticeably less effects-heavy? (Brett – with 20:20 hindsight I see Goodbye Voyager as a pointer towards Stephen Hero. Fair?)

Patrick: Hmm – Goodbye Voyager – written pre-KOD. Maybe just going back to what I did before anyway. Singing over the guitars was never a struggle. Stephenhero is about what interests me, so less interest in that wall of noise thing. We had done it for 8 years and my right eardrum hurt!

Jon: Generally KOD had their own very defined sound yet one of your tracks ‘Anvil Dub’ (in fairness, a fantastic track in its own right) had a touch of AR Kane about it. Given that drummer Dan Goodwin has links with AR Kane, would it be fair to say they were an influence on this track? Did you intend it as a one-off so you could concentrate on your own sound thereafter?

Patrick: Dan and Julian knew AR Kane from days of old, so no surprise that there was some crossover. We played a couple of shows with them as a result. Anvil Dub was a mess about in rehearsals – with lyrics taking the piss out of our record company. We had been listening to a lot of dub – Lee Perry, Big Youth etc. I think we did some awful ‘experimental’ B sides, but Anvil Dub somehow got elevated above the shite-o-meter.

Brett: This is a difficult subject and one which you’re probably bored to tears with and yet I feel it hasn’t ever been dealt with anything other than superficially; – it has often been claimed that your openly gay lyrics ultimately held the band back. I have to challenge this as lazy journalism. Firstly, I can only recall ‘Breathing Fear’ and ‘Hammer’ that were actually expressly homosexual. Secondly, the Kitchens were hardly the first ever high-profile gay (fronted) band. ‘Prize’ was only a few years after Frankie after all?

Patrick: It was a rubbish time to come out – the height of AIDS hysteria, and those folk who went on to more commercial success but kept their sexuality secret may have been more astute. I just never thought it was a problem. Don’t care really, wouldn’t have it any other way.


I think you’re right though that it gets skirted around or used as an inappropriate reason for KOD not being stadium rock. But I can think of many bands in similar situations who also had their ambitions thwarted – and that had nothing to do with who they were snogging. How a band becomes huge is a mystery to pretty much everyone I think.

Jon: Certainly there are and were many gay musicians in the world. The music public is seemingly always in thrall to sexually ambiguous artists and androgyny. Why is it so different for openly gay performers?

Patrick: Fuck knows. I guess rock has a kind of machismo that doesn’t fit in with the idea of a gay man. Then along comes the singer from Judas Priest…and also the flirtation with gay is more appealing than the admission of it – Brett Anderson, Bowie, somehow that’s more acceptable. If I understood this I’d have a nice clear answer for you.

Brett: Did you ever regret the name Kitchens of Distinction?

Patrick: Every stinking day – as Lambchop would have it

Brett: Which was THE crowd favourite? Capsule?

Patrick: And Drive that Fast.

Brett: Oh yeah, of course. Drive That Fast is a cracker. Was ‘..capsule’ in any way linked to Bowie’s Space Oddity? Or was it a pill?

Patrick: It was Julian’s phrase and came from an odd dream he had involving said capsule.

Brett: Got to ask; WERE The Chameleons & Cocteau Twins an influence?

Patrick: Only got to hear (The) Chameleons after we split – Dan was a fan early on though. Yes to Cocteau Twins – we were very inspired by Treasure.

Brett (nodding): Wonderful album that

Jon: Have you been tempted to return to the medical profession?

Patrick: I’m now a GP. It pays the rent and for the record making.

Jon: Is your collaboration with Heidi Berry ever likely to be released?

Patrick: I hope so – it s shockingly 10 years since Lost Girls. We had an album’s worth of songs – perhaps I could release it on Ragoora now?

Jon: Were One Little Indian demanding a hit single? Did this ultimately lead to the label dropping you?

Patrick: You might say that. They thought all our records were commercial disasters. Even having a college number 1 in USA didn’t make them think we were useful in that respect. I have nothing nice to say about them.

Brett: So at what point does music cease to be a passion and become a relentless 9 to 5 occupation?

Patrick: Around 2003 when the money completely ran out.

Brett: What goes first, media interest or public support?

Patrick: They pretty much go together. Along with the loss of youth.

Brett: Remember the Popinjays? Wendy had a thing about you didn’t she? Or was that just a stunt?

Patrick: No – I never heard that one.

Brett: What are Julian and Dan up to these days?

Patrick: Julian writes music for TV and film.

Brett: I gather there is no chance of you guys playing again?

Patrick: What’s the point?

Brett: Do you hear imitators today though? When I first heard Interpol (Stella was a diver) I immediately thought of your ‘Quick as Rainbows’. The Twilight Sad are another band I hear strong Kitchens influences. Do you think you left a legacy?

Patrick: I like to think so, but then we were probably too small a band to have a big influence. Who knows? I like to think of it as inspiration rather than influence.

Jon: When I listened to your music it reminds me of a couple having a passionate argument at some beach spot in Northern England, with gale force winds and driving rain creating a tempestuous backdrop? What’s the most elaborate and also the most accurate description that you’ve heard attributed to your music?

Patrick: Yours will do! A Japanese fan wrote to us after Love is Hell: “when I listen to your music I get a strange free world”. Ergo…

Brett: Was Fruit (Patrick’s first solo project after KOD with many high-profile collaborators) just a way of letting your hair down and having some fun?

Patrick: Oh indeed. A way out of the gloom that the band had become.

Brett: Stephen Hero is your latest project. Isn’t that from Joyce?

Patrick: It does come from Joyce. Apparently he threw the script on the fire thinking it rubbish – retrieved by his wise wife. My music since KOD has teetered near the fireplace.

Brett: How would you contrast your Stephen Hero work with your earlier Kitchens guise?

Patrick: Much more my thing. Not a collaborative effort. Would like to now try the collaborative thing again.

Brett: As Jon touched upon earlier your voice carries these songs far more than older material. Are you becoming more confident as a singer?

Patrick: Ha – quite the opposite. But my friend/producer buddy Pascal Gabriel insists I put the vocals up loud when we’re mastering/mixing. I would never be so brave.

Brett: ’57 stars of the air almanac’ has some amazing reviews Uncut, Mojo, The Times… Can we expect a follow-up in 2009?

Patrick: It’s written. I now have to record it and give it a name. It’s entirely piano-based, with no drums, and probably will include a lot of other vocalists and strings. Should be quite different. 57 stars is my favourite so far.

57 stars.. albumBest of KOD

[sic] Magazine extends its thanks to Patrick Fitzgerald. 57 stars of the air almanac is available now on Ragoora as well as the KOD retrospective, Capsule on One Little Indian.

The Death Of Cool by Kitchens Of Distinction is our first in an on-going series of ‘Classic Albums Revisited’. In our opinion THESE are the records worthy of re-evaluation. These are music’s criminally neglected, underrated or overlooked gems.

The Death Of Cool classic album revisited here