Ed Kuepper continues his year of activity celebrating four decades since the release of The Saints’ iconic (I’m) Stranded, with an all new set of Solo and By Request shows.
Speaking with Glam’s Music Editor Dazz Hassan, Kuepper is as laid back as ever despite being a constant force in music for over forty years. With an impressive legacy in bands like seminal punk pioneers The Saints, The Laughing Clowns, and of course the soundtrack to Last Cab To Darwin, Kuepper isn’t fazed by the accolades, instead continually focussing on his music as his life’s passion. “If people don’t bring up the ‘legacy’ stuff I don’t really think about it at all, maybe if The Saints had of become as big as INXS for example, we might be more conscious of it because of the recognition,” he adds.
As they say, timing is everything. And certainly in the case of Kuepper and The Saints, their ‘screw you’ sound arrived just in time for them to get noticed.
“We were around just before the UK punk scene and although I never really associated us with that genre, we wouldn’t have received the attention that we did had it not been for the punk invasion that was to come. It was probably one of the first times in Australian music history that an Aussie band was at the forefront of things, rather than following what was happening overseas,” says Kuepper.
The Saints played with some of the biggest names in punk rock of the day like the Buzzcocks and The Ramones among others, and whilst surreal to many, it was part of the course for Kuepper. “I can’t emphasize enough how much thought went into that band, and to be honest we weren’t really in awe of The Ramones or Talking Heads. They weren’t something we aspired to be although they were our competition. I see it differently, it’s possibly because we started in 1973 and punk really hit in 1978. The Saints had already broken up after 3 albums. There’s a slight feeling of disconnect with what came after that. I wasn’t interested in punk anymore…actually I wasn’t that interested in the first place. I don’t want to be egotistical but I had a strong sense that we were doing was actually quite good.” Ed says that it’s an interesting afterthought regarding those earlier experiences that might make a chapter or two of his new book which will be out sometime in the near future!
Post The Saints, Kuepper embarked on several projects including the Laughing Clowns, The Aints, and numerous solo projects in what he himself refers to as ‘music that I wrote that was driven by a desire to expand what I do and follow ideas where I felt they should go. Possibly to my commercial detriment, I might had made more money had I been so inclined, but it was better artistically for me.’
He’s happy with what he has achieved creatively though, and so he should be after 50 odd albums!
“I’m never 100% happy with anything I do, and I suppose if you do become 100% happy with an entire album then it’s probably time to stop, but I’m reasonably happy with those achievements.”
We drift off the topic of music momentarily, and I am keen to know more about Ed Kuepper the man, not the musician. Born in Bremen, West Germany 60 something years ago, Kuepper is a philosophical soul who thinks through his responses, and avoids hyperbole with a vengeance. I wonder if he’s somewhat mellowed in his more distinguished years, and so I simply ask him where he’s at in his life right now.
“I feel that there’s something changing, I can’t pinpoint it but I’m certainly not in a bad place. It’s a mysterious thing that feels like the ending of an era of sorts. I’m still working through that. Once the book starts to come together more I might have a better idea, hopefully!”
Ah yes, a book on Ed’s life, for a diehard Saints fan this is a dream come true. ‘How long until this will be published’, I ask?
“I remember talking to Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens) a few years ago about his book, and it took years to complete, so who knows, hopefully mine is quicker. Hopefully it will start to take shape very soon.”
No doubt it will be a great read, and I for one can’t wait for it to hit the shelves.
I push Kuepper again for something deep within, and given his penchance for writing the question is put to him what else he is hoping to achieve before possibly retiring.
“Creating music is the only real consistent aspect of my life since I wanted to do it, before I was a teenager. I was writing songs as a kid so I’ve always pursued music. One thing I’d like to do is try to remember the songs I wrote as a kid. I plan to do something with them and incorporate them in what I’m working on. The lyrics might be a little weak but they’re melodically OK. It will be a nice side project to the book, if that makes sense.”
Perfect sense indeed.
The final thing I have to ask Ed Kuepper is if we’ll ever get to see The Saints reunite once again. “We’re not on particularly good terms, that ship has sailed. It’s sad but true- just one of those things so it’s very unlikely.”
At least we’ll have the pleasure of Ed up close and personal here in Adelaide- he’s at the Gov this Friday so get on down and hear a real music legend do his thing!
By Dazz Hassan
Friday 13th January 2017
The Gov, Adelaide SA
Tickets $33.00 + bf available from thegov.com.au