For the first time ever, Ugly Kid Joe will be celebrating the 25 year anniversary and performing Americas Least Wanted in its entirety, and Australia will be the first in the world to hear it as they kick off a National tour this December. It’s time to re-live the simpler times and embrace this wonderfully cathartic wrecking ball of rock ‘n’ roll energy, and if there’s one band that can start a party that everyone will remember, it has to be Ugly Kid Joe. Whitfield Crane spoke to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour which includes Adelaide rock city.
Was it always the intention at some point to commemorate the twenty fifth anniversary of America’s Least Wanted?
I don’t know if we thought of it like that, we’re sitting around talking and someone says can you believe it’s been twenty five years and I’m like wow is that true? Twenty five years on that record, wow! Yeah, we should celebrate it with the people who dig it. I’m actually in Australia right now living in Fitzroy, Melbourne and we’re going to do this tour. For me, it’s like why don’t we start here. Why wouldn’t we start in Australia? We are so excited about playing in Adelaide, why wouldn’t anyone play in Adelaide? In general, the Australian people and the vibe here is so cool… we’re excited that we’re going to do it.
What brought you to making the decision to live in Australia?
I travel a lot, two years ago I was living in Italy, five years ago I was living in Costa Rica. I go and see what I like, meet people I like and go and be creative there. In Australia is not dissimiliar from where I was living in California. It is similar but you guys have a swing here, cool music scene and cool, cool, people, great food and you can have a beer and smoke a cigarette at the same time if you wanted. It’s not just one idiosyncratic thing, I love Australia, even as a young kid when I would go on tour and want to see the world, be inside of it!
Has being in Australia helped you be more creative?
Sure, I’m always writing in my head and I don’t always write it down on a piece of paper. I’m writing in my head all day long and I’m always writing new Ugly Kid Joe stuff. As far as my Australian experiences go I have started a band with my mate Jeff Curran called Yellow Cake. Jeff Curran plays guitar in Dallas Frasca who will be on the tour with Ugly Kid Joe. Yellow Cake is grungy, edgy, it’s like Sabbath and really cool. We tracked that record in Hothouse Studios in St Kilda in like four days.
Do you get the feeling of being nostalgic when you revisit this classic album?
Just the band being back together in general, we hadn’t played music together in over fifteen years. Putting the band back together in pieces, the whole band didn’t just reappear, now we are just off tour in Europe for two and a half months and Dave Fortman came back and there’s the original line up, the front four of 1992. Nostalgia is one word, surreal is another word, familiar is another word, and natural is another word. We toured that record for two and a half years, we were blown out, lost our minds, we were kids and we didn’t have another record after that. It feels good in the sense that music brings people together, it is nostalgic!
Do you have a lot of great memories from that period of time or is it a blur when you look back?
It is both certainly, it is a blurry memory! Before that record came out I had never been out of California and had no reason to leave California. All of a sudden music took us away, we were just kids in a garage band. We had never been on a tour bus before, never! I had seen tour buses in the movies and always wondered what it looks like then all of a sudden we’re in a tour bus. All sudden you’re outside of California, outside the United States, in Sweden, very cool but very blurry! At twenty four we were going to do all the things you should do at twenty four. Blurry but a great blur!
When you made that record did you have the feeling that you were on a winner?
I will give you a firm No! Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or any band… when you’re making a record, you’re just making a record! Especially at that age, we were coming off a very successful EP the pressure was on to get a record done. You’re in there, you’re having a moment and Cats In The Cradle ended up on that record. There was no thought process, we certainly didn’t know and still don’t know, I still don’t know anything. I don’t listen to that record all day and we didn’t know anything. Sometimes you can chase things and chase what someone else wants or you’re what you think someone else wants but all we knew was just being us. We had never been in the studio that long before in my life, I was a lifesaver, I was uncomfortable. We weren’t thinking about it too much and it just happened. There’s timing, MTV and all that.
Are there any plans to re-release America’s Least Wanted as a deluxe edition to commemorate the occasion?
We’re talking about that now, it’s a hard one because we don’t even own our own album. We would have to go to Universal who own the album. What I would like to do, we did this on the last tour in Europe, is make my own bootlegs and I went through the whole Ugly Kid Joe back catalogue and bootlegged our own songs and made killer artwork that says official bootleg. Sometimes you can’t get the rights to your own songs, which is just wrong. I was thinking about vinyl but I was thinking about just stealing it from them and making it myself then putting it out.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Ugly Kid Joe on the following dates…