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Kino

Thirteen years after the release of the debut album ‘Picture’ the moment has finally arrived, the second Kino album is there and is called ‘Radio Voltaire’. After a suggestion from the record label InsideOut, bandleader John Mitchell (Arenda) asked fellow musicians Pete Trawavas (Marillion) and John Beck (It Bites) to record a new Kino album. Drummer Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) was elsewhere occupied so Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson) was asked to step in. Many will call this line-up a supergroup but I was curious if Mitchell would agree with that term, somehow I was doubting that he would. I was also curious of Kino has a future or if we need to wait another thirteen years for a new album. So, I reached out to Mitchell and asked him some questions.

By: Leon | Archive under prog / sympho metal

Before we start I would like to congratulate you with the release of 'Radio Voltaire', I really enjoyed listening to it! I understand that you started the writing process late August, that means that you've had seven months to write, record and release the album. That's pretty quick for the music business' standards. How did you pull that off?
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think it was more like three months! If you do nothing except make music every day for three months, it really doesn't take long before you have an album sitting in your lap. The trick is the same trick which applies to any creative process, namely don't wait around for ideas to come. Sit in front of a musical instrument every day without fail and treat the process with discipline.

Your previous record 'Picture' was released thirteen(!) years ago and was received well by the critics, why did it take so long for you to come back together for another album?
Because it didn't really enter my mind to make another one full stop. I was thirty-one years old when we made the first one, and as much as a few people remember that album fondly at the time, it didn't really live up to my expectations as a workable 'project' in many ways. I was perhaps too naive at the time and my desire for Kino to be a full term going concern was entirely unrealistic. It was largely at the suggestion of the label that we went down this road at all and I certainly don't view the 'project' with anywhere near as much seriousness as I probably did back then. It was a fun album to make but I don't expect much more from it beyond that. I certainly don't expect us to jump on a tour bus and go whizzing round Europe together. Never say never, but that seems unlikely at present.

You've released (a lot of) other music in the meantime, would you say that this has influenced the writing for this album? Did you notice any differences in the sound?
Well I write the music that I write and everyone else brings their own sound and DNA into the mix which I guess makes the sound of Kino. Pete tends to write more up-tempo and uplifting music than me, mind you, he is an inherently more cheerful person than me, so that's to be expected…

'Radio Voltaire' is about a fictional radio station that is reporting the news the way Voltaire, an eighteenth century philosopher, would approve off. This means no political agenda but reporting nothing but the truth. I take it that you don't think that this happens now, even the likes of CNN or BBC, who are considered to be very reliable?
I think every news outlet has its own corrupt agenda. Media propaganda is not a new invention but it seems to me that bare faced public lying to 'we the people' is now the accepted norm. The biggest concern to me is that the leader of the western world seems utterly incapable of leadership in light of his chronic narcissism and self-contradiction. He shouldn't be allowed a Twitter account and at the very least it should be mediated. If you do research into extroverted ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’, Donald Trump is a textbook case study in motion.

Chris Maitland didn't join on drums like in 'Picture', but you found a great replacement in 'Craig Blundell'. From what I understand Christ left the group right after releasing 'Picture', did you ask him to re-join the group, or was it clear that someone else would need to be found?
Well it seemed logical to me. I've been working with Craig for the last ten years and I haven't worked with Chris since 2004/2005. Chris said he couldn't commit to the project at the time because he was offered a tour with We Will Rock You, the west end musical. Much as I was disappointed, I respected his decision. I tend to look forwards not backwards.

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I assume that going to Craig for drums was a very logical step, since he's played with John Mitchell in Frost* and Lonely Robot. Was it as easy as I make it seem, or did you consider other drummers?
There was another guy in the offing yes, a chap called Graham Brown who worked with me on Kim Seviour's album. He actually contributed drums to two songs before I got Craig in. Craig is a very busy guy, perhaps too busy…

You're referenced to as a supergroup by many, but I was wondering how you feel about the term 'upergroup'? Especially when used to describe Kino.
I loathe and detest that term. Too many bands who fall into that bracket do so in a cynical ploy to sell records to the various consolidated fan bases of the musicians involved. A musical group isn't a football team and chemistry isn't something you can invent. I'm very lucky that by and large, everyone I have ever worked with I have got along well with and had good musical chemistry with. Is Kino a supergroup? Probably not. Pete is the only one of us that has had anything like fame and fortune to the degree I associate with the term 'supergroup'. I'm glad I don't think of Kino as a supergroup as such collaborations normally churn out shit and sub par music :-)

Is there any chance of seeing Kino performing live on stage? Perhaps in the Netherlands even?
Possibly but probably not. It wasn't much of a success when we tried touring the first time round and I don't expect that it would be much different to that. At best, Kino has attracted a cult and underground enthusiasm over the years. Anyone who appreciates our music must realize they are in a minority!

What's next in your busy schedule? Is there a Kino album on the horizon or will we need to wait another thirteen years?
No, it will probably only be twelve and a half this time! As for what's next, I'm going sailing when the sun comes out.

A questions that I ask in all interviews is about streaming services, such as Spotify. It's not a secret that the revenue stream for the artist, through Spotify, is nearly inexistent and it begs the question if it makes sense to put your music on Spotify. There's no incentive for people to buy music when they can listen to the music for free. On the other hand, music has never been so accessible, it's much easier to get your music out there and find new fans. What do you think?
I think the public at large doesn't value music any more. Certainly not to the extent that they used to. People are spoilt. You wouldn't expect your plumbing to be fixed for free or a mechanic to fix your car for nothing so why should I spent my time making music so that people can acquire it for nothing. Everything creative or constructive in life has to have appropriate value placed on it. The day that I am not adequately remunerated for my time invested is the day that I go off to be a landscape gardener or something that people actually value. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I can't live on fresh air and good will and it requires the patronage of a record company to back me and if music continues down this long and steady decline, such things won't exist and my hand will be forced. Martin Orford had the right idea packing it in when he did. I respect him greatly for that.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Would you like to say something to our readers?
HELLO....and....GOODBYE :-)

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