Me: Hey Kurt! How are you? Please introduce yourself and members of The Kurt Baker Band. Tell our readers a brief history of the band – what year was the band formed, which releases came out so far, what do you do now, what are your plans for the future etc.?
Kurt: Hey there! I’m doing just dandy! I’m a bit hungover.. went to a wedding last night and had a lot to drink! It was fun! Well, to start... my name is Kurt and I love to have a good time all the time, and play the rock n’ roll music! I have a bunch of great guys in my band.. Geoff Useless plays guitar, Josh Malia also plays guitar, Kris “Fingers” Rodgers tickles the keys and Craig Sala hits the drums.. Everybody has been and still play in some great groups, and they also play in mine! I started the solo career after the Leftovers split in 2010.. I released a fun Cover EP of new wave songs called “Got It Covered” and did a European tour with a group called Radio Days from Italy, who were my baking band. After I returned from Europe I recorded a new record with my current line up and some other friends including Wyatt Funderburk and Mike Byrne of the Methadones. The new record will be out this fall and will be titled “Rockin’ For A Living”!
Me: There are many fans of The Leftovers in Russia. What are the main reasons of breaking up of The Leftovers?
Kurt: As much as I really didn’t want the Leftovers to end, it had to happen. The other members were not committed enough to do this as a full time band.. Our drummer Adam moved to Los Angles and our two guitar players decided to focus on other non-musical interests. I only wanna rock n’ roll everyday, so I had to continue on as a solo artist. Originally the Leftovers hadn’t broken up when I released “Got It Covered”, so that is why I released it under the solo name, but I’ve continued down that path. I still play many of the old Leftovers songs in my sets because I think they are still fun to play and people want to hear them.. and musically, the style is not a drastic difference to what I play now. Also, with my new group, we are much more together and stronger musicians, which results in the old tunes sounding just as good, if not better.
Me: What means years spent in The Leftovers for you? Do you communicate with guys from The Leftovers now?
Kurt: The Leftovers were a band for almost 8 years. We formed when we were 15 years old and in High School. To take the band as far as we did was almost incredible.. High School bands don’t usually last to long. We were all really good friends at the time. We are no longer as close as we used to be, but every now and then we still talk.
Me: «On The Move» was the key point of The Leftovers history, wasn’t it? This album was getting attention from all over the world probably. “Eager To Please” came a way much different from “On The Move” On this album you will increasingly come to power-pop aesthetics instead of speedy pop punk. Your music had become a lot of melodic. As for me, “Eager To Please” remind me The Rubinoos in their best so much. I really enjoy this record. As for you do you love both these albums equally? There are people in Russia, who was waiting for second album as continuation of “On The Move” but got something else. What’s for USA? Had been changed attitude of fans to group after releasing second album? Tell your opinion about these albums.
Kurt: “On the Move” was our breakthrough album, for sure. It was a record that I still am very very happy about. We had a great time recording and writing that record and it really shows. With “Eager to Please” we wanted to try something totally different.. A lot of it has to do with the production. If we had scaled back on the pop elements of the production and just recorded it raw, it would have sounded much more like “On the Move”, but at the time, we felt like it would be great to try a new sound. We definitely got some flack for not making another Speedy Pop Punk record, but I think it is silly to keep on making the same sounding record over and over. Fans of “On the Move” will always be able to listen to it and enjoy it.. I feel we also made some new fans with “Eager to Please” and we got to work with great people on that record.. Kim from the Muffs, Bret from the Donnas.. even Parry Gripp from Nerf Herder. It was a big production for sure.. Both records have their own personality, and I’m proud of them both. My new record will have elements of both those past records, and a new sound too.
Me: Tell please about yourself. How early your love for music was manifested? What music did you listen in childhood? Have your tastes changed now? What are the most memorable concerts in which you attended as a spectator?
Kurt: I’ve always known that I wanted to be a performer.. I feel so comfortable on stage and playing my music. I think I first knew about my love for music when I heard the Beatles “Rubber Soul” when I was five years old. My uncle put the cassette tape on and I was automatically transfixed on the sound. The Beatles are still my favorite band.. I grew up listening to old 60’s music while my friends we all listen to current pop and rock.. the current stuff did nothing for me. I later would get in Punk Rock and all other kinds of music, but starting off it was all about the oldies.. I think that shows in my songwriting. I’ve been to a few amazing concerts.. but I think my all time favorite was seeing the Swedish rock n’ roll band The Hellacopters in Boston in 2007. It was their final US tour and they were absolutely stunning.. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. My jaw was on the floor the entire time.. they sounded so good. It was over in a flash. Also, seeing Cheap Trick and Squeeze last summer was a blast.
Me: You worked with such outstanding people, as both Jon Rubin and Coz Canler. What are your impressions of the work and communicate with them?
Kurt: Coz Canler was such a rad dude.. we went and got subway sandwiches with him. The Romantics are one of my top favorite bands, and once he plugged into his amp to record on the track “Untouchable”, it sounded EXACTLY like the Romantics.. he has an unmistakable tone. He also doesn’t play with a guitar pick, which is pretty fucking cool. Jon Rubin was also a really awesome guy.. great vocalist. I got to write a tune called “Can’t Have Her Back” with Tommy from the Rubinoos. They released it on their latest record, and I also recorded a version that i’ll be putting on my new record.
Me: Your songs - about love. And what is your opinion about politics? What do you think about Barack Obama?
Kurt: I’m very interested in politics.. thought I feel that politics in America is pretty fucked. Especially right now.. The Governor of my state of Maine is a Tea Party candidate and he is scum in my mind. Very backward thinking conservative politics is not going to get us anywhere and does nothing for humanity. I’m very much a democratic socialist thinker when it comes to politics. I feel that in America we think of “Capitalism” as a form of “Democracy” and that is 100% bullshit. “Capitalism” is a form of business and does nothing for the majority of people that live in America. Our country is controlled by a tiny tiny percent of the right high class elite, who don’t give a shit about anybody except for themselves.. and why should they care about people below them? They have so much money that they don’t need to worry about anything.. and yet they are the ones in control. As much as I am critical of our country and the politics, we are fortunate to live in a political climate where we can voice our opinions. I feel like Barack Obama is a good president, though it has been hard for him to pass much of his legislation because of the Conservative and Right Wing politicians that are in control on the US House and Senate parts of our Government. I’ve never been a huge fan of overtly political music, like Anti-Flag.. it’s the same kind of thing as Religious music.. I hate when people get to preachy about their beliefs, so I stick to writing about everyday live and i’m just really into Girls and partying. I like to preach about having a good time and making out with hot chicks! haha!
Me: What are you trying to convey to the listener of music? What means the music in your life?
Kurt: Music is everything for me.. it is there when your happy and when your sad. So many emotions can be expressed through Music.. it’s really a special thing. But for my own personal music, I feel like it’s important to convey a sense of positivity in my music. I’m not a negative person, and I don’t want my music to be negative either. If i’m going to release a song into the world, it should represent who I am.. and so I want people to hear my music, smile and dance, because that’s what I like to do!
Me: Are you Mr. Nostalgic? What means this feeling for you?
Kurt: I wouldn’t say i’m Mr. Nostalgic, but I certainly would have loved to be around in the 60’s or 70’s.. I feel like I was born in the wrong generation. But as of currently, I’m having fun in the moment.. it’s no good to dwell in the past.. focus on having a good time right now and into the future!
Me: You sure are huge fan of power pop music. What do you especially appreciate in the power pop music? What new power-pop (pop) bands you like? What are the contemporary group, you are very fond of?
Kurt: I love all kinds of Power Pop. I guess I just think it’s the perfect kind of music, but for some reason it’s really not popular anymore. It’s the best form of rock n’ roll.. it’s catchy, it’s upbeat and it fun. Who doesn’t like those elements in music? I’m pretty much an old school Power Pop junkie.. but one of the best Power Pop groups going right now are The Radio Days from Italy. I my be biased because they are my friends, but they are really top fuckin’ notch!
Me: What are your Top-5 (10 or something) all times favorites records?
Kurt: Hahahah, this is such a hard question for me to answer because it changes from day to day. However on the list will always be records by the Beatles, Beach Boys and the Ramones.
Me: What do you do outside the group, a hobby? Do you work somewhere?
Kurt: I work at a library, shelving books! It’s a really easy job and I’ve had it for many many years now. I’ve stayed at the library all these years because they let me take time off to travel and to tour, and always let me come back to work. It’s a pretty interesting place.. Libraries. Especially the one that I work at because it is in the center of town and we always have wild and crazy people coming in and causing a scene. I once walked in on a couple sexing it up in the bathroom.. and the bathrooms aren’t the cleanest! Gross! I really love collecting records.. I guess that would be a hobby of mine. I spend most of my paycheck from work on records and nachos. I love eating food.
Me: What are your favorites movies/books/writers?
Kurt: I love movies like Mary Poppins, Dumb and Dumber, Billy Madison, Tom Jones (old movie).. but my all time favorite movie is That Thing You Do! Raold Dahl and Kurt Vonnegut are two of my favorite authors.. I like all kinds of books.. but mostly I love Biographies on musicians, artist and movie stars. Interesting stuff
Me: You seem very cheerful person. Very difficult for me to imagine you sad. What inspires you most in this life?
Kurt: It’s easy for a lot of people to feel sad or negative about things, but it’s hard to justify being so down in the dumps when all we know is that we’ve got one life to live.. so might as well make the most out of it. I try to stay happy and positive because it makes me feel good, but obviously you can’t be like that all the time... but what really inspires me in life is to play music and bring good vibes to everybody around.. I don’t wanna sound like a hippie, but it just feels great to laugh and smile and I try and do it often.
Me: What are the associations you have with the word Russia? What do you know about this country? Have you heard any bands from here?
Kurt: Well, I don’t know much about Russia except that it’s a really really large place.. I know that you guys have some really nice Vodka, soup and potato like dumplings. I’ve never been to Russia before, but it sounds like it could be a great party. This one time I saw a group called the Red Elvis’s.. they put on a crazy show! Really enjoyed them.. I think they are from your country. Also, there is this group from my town that are comprised of three English Teachers that went to Russia to teach. They found out about this group called Kino. They loved the band so much that when they returned the the States they formed a Kino tribute group called Kino Proby. They play all their songs and put on a real fun show... A lot of Russians in my town love to go see them and sing along.. I heard that they were one of the first Rock bands to come out of Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed.
Me: You’ll take part in Insubordination Fest this year again. Tell about fest and you feelings connected with it.
Kurt: I love Insub Fest. We’ve been doing it every year, though this will be my first time as a solo act. I’m excited to play my new tunes for the old Leftovers fans, and hopefully they will dig it! It’s always a party for sure.. lots of friends, beer and great music. This year it’s back at the Ottobar in Baltimore, which is a way cooler club than the place they held it the past 3 years. I can’t wait!
Me: What do you think about alcohol? Which of the Alco prefer?
Kurt: Alcohol and me are really good friends... we hang out almost every night! I’m a big fan of Beer, Wine, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, Rum and Tequila!
Me: Yes or not: Love will save the world
Kurt: Ya Dude!
Me: What cities and countries where you have not been very would like to go?
Kurt: I’ve been to almost all the major cities in America, except for New Orleans. I’d really love to check out that town. Internationally speaking, it would be such a pleasure to travel to countries like Japan and Australia.. and in Europe, Sweden and Norway... let’s not forget Russia too!
Me: What do you most value in people? What are the qualities you do not like them?
Kurt: I really like motivated, funny, interesting people. Boring people are kinda of a drag.. but the people I don’t care for the most are self-centered egotistical assholes! Assholes suck! If your a dick, I probably won’t wanna party with you!
Me: How do you feel about the sport?
Kurt: The Sport! Well, i’ve never been much of an athlete. I tried swimming for awhile, but everybody would point and laugh at me.. I think it was the way my swimsuit fit. I tried basketball when I was younger too.. but I’ve always been really bad at most any sport I’ve taken part in. I think stickin’ to the music is the best plan for me!
Me: The guys from Russia loves your hair very much! How long you has a this hairstyle?
Kurt: I started growing out my hair long in High School.. The big fro look was pretty wild for me, and I just kind of got lazy and never got my hair cut. But now, i’ve been getting my hair trimmed up a bit because i’ve started to grow bald! It’s almost scary!
Me: Describe in few words the current state of punk-scene.
Kurt: Well, I don’t care for much of the current punk music. A lot of bands just do a bunch of yelling together and no really harmonies or good melodies.. it’s like really crappy sounding Dillinger Four. But oh well! To each his own!
Me: Do you agree with the assertion - who does not like Ramones - not punk?
Kurt: If you don’t like the Ramones, not only are you not punk, but you pretty much suck.. because the Ramones are the best!
Me: If given the opportunity, who would be chosen to be in the accompaniment - Chuck Berry or Brian Wilson?
Kurt: Tough question! Chuck Berry is a hilarious dude.. but also kind of a pervert! Have you heard about his sex tapes? You can buy it on DVD in germany.. Nasty stuff! I’d probably love to be around Brian.. or to play music with him. He’s old and a vegetable, but still a great man and wonderful musician.. he’s a huge influence on me! I’m sure we could talk about good steak and Four Freshman records!
Me: Come on, I will name a few groups, you will tell about relation to them - well there favorite albums, songs, maybe some curious facts relating to that group ... So - XTC, The Dickies, Nick Lowe, Lesley Gore, The Laughing Dogs.
Kurt: Well, you’ve mentioned some GREAT bands.. I love XTC a lot, I usually play their tune “Statue of Liberty” all the time whenever I DJ dance parties.. and their track “Mayor of Simpleton” may be one of my favorite tracks of them.. they did a 60’s styled psychedelic group called the Dukes of the Stratosphere, who did a killer track called “Vanishing Girl”. The Dickies are definitely one of my favorite punk groups after the Ramones.. “Dawn of the Dickies” is classic...every song is perfect! I always enjoyed their pop sensibility. Lesley Gore is totally one of my favorite 60’s female vocalist.. Quincy Jones produced most of her recordings.. great sounding stuff! The Laughing Dogs are a highly underrated group.. the first record is a favorite of mine and our keyboard player “Fingers” Rodgers!
Me: What are your favorite The Beach Boys albums?
Kurt: I really love “Summer Days (and Summer Nights!)”, “Sunflower”, and “Love You”. All very different records.. all amazing!
Me: Finally, tell a few words to Russian fans.
Kurt: Thank so much for diggin’ my music.. Soon i’ll travel to your country to play some rock n’ roll.. we can chug vodka and beers! It will be a party, I can’t wait!