“Now It’s Time For Me Ta Show Ya” – Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke on ‘The Space Age Playboys’
Written by Gaz Tidey
“Now It’s Time For Me Ta Show Ya” – Kory Clarke on ‘The Space Age Playboys’
It was the favourite album of Metallica’s Lar Ulrich, saw Warrior Soul play the legendary Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, and ushered in a whole new genre of music, “Acid Punk”. Gaz Tidey of Uber Rock, somehow, managed to corner livewire (possibly wired) frontman Kory Clarke to ask him of the story behind ‘The Space Age Playboys’ record, and how he feels about it over two decades later…..
Let’s begin where the tour cycle of 1993′s ‘Chill Pill’ ended and the thoughts of a new album began. Geffen Records were gone, the hair was gone; were you desperate to take a side-step in regards to Warrior Soul’s sound and image, rebooting almost to usher in a new era?
At the end of the ‘Chill Pill’ tour in the Winter of 1993 we took some time to get back in the studio for January 1994 and I just thought it would be cool to do something new. ‘Chill Pill’ should have been the last Warrior Soul album but because of negotiations too complicated to explain for this interview it didn’t work like that. I knew the sound that I needed to get back to doing high energy rock ‘n’ roll. It was another one of those time periods where future modernism was kicking up its heels so I decided the true way forward would be to work on a high energy album and come up with a new sound that no-one was doing. Early punk had been dead for years – the fashion, the attitude – so I thought that if I infused that with Chicago blues and just sped it up I could create something sort of like Hendrix did with the blues and change it, using psychedelic but fast – the base of Hendrix and the Acid sound which turned out to be Acid Punk. By the way, the hair wasn’t gone, it just looked different.
The band line-up changed too: was the recruitment of guitarist X-Factor and drummer Scott Dubois – joining yourself and long-term bass player Pete McClanahan – instrumental in fashioning a new Warrior Soul sound, or was it simply how things came together in the rehearsal space?
I started the sound with guitar player Alex Arandel, I told him the concept and he was up for the challenge. So we went in the studio – me on drums, him on guitar and Pete McClanahan on bass – underneath the Spiral Lounge in New York. We decked it out with oriental rugs and lamps and proceeded to shed for three months getting a lot of material done. Q Prime was not convinced with my demos so they gave me 24 hours to do a new one. We went into the studio next to their offices and I think I recorded 18 songs in one night, with me on drums. I had a hodge podge of 24 demos and I wanted to tighten it up so I booked a night in a 24 hour studio, went in, set up the drums and the guitar rigs. Mike Nueceter engineered it and recorded 10 songs or maybe more, tracked the guitars, bass and vocals and mixed. We had a master tape at 9am the next day, walked over to the tequila bar next to the office and waited for Q Prime to open their doors. I went upstairs and dropped the DATs off. They were sent to Chicago for Steve Albini to decide if I was punk enough, which I was not trying to be anyway. Seems like Q Prime always needed opinions to decide what was good. Steve Albini said it sucked but we ended proving him wrong.
The sonic shift, the aforementioned term “Acid Punk” being pointed in the band’s direction, was claimed to be partly down to the guitar of X-Factor…
X-Factor had nothing to do with it. He is hyper active and cool on stage but I pointed him in the right direction. When he ticked the right boxes then we moved forward. He seemed to understand this.
Did you feel that Acid Punk aptly described the Warrior Soul sound in ’94?
1994 did describe Warrior Soul of 1994. It was what I designed and invented. In the early days of 1980 I wanted to do psychedelic punk and I could never find the right vehicle to do it. I had the ‘look’ down but couldn’t find the inertia to move it forward in the musicians’ circles I was wandering in.
Just where did the album title, ‘The Space Age Playboys’, come from? You obviously liked it enough, following the disbanding of Warrior Soul, to use it as a new band name…
The Space Age Playboys – I was actually looking for another band name and listened to studio playbacks one night suddenly realizing my ‘granola-esque/hippy/organic/hemp furniture’ apartment seemed a bit antiquated in ’94, suddenly also realizing that just over the horizon, post-modernism was about to raise its ugly head again. So it was Space and Hugh Heffner… hence the name.
Why would you later use it as a band name as well as the album title?
Like I said ‘Chill Pill’ was to be the last Warrior Soul album and Space Age Playboys was to be the new band, but the new record company didn’t get it as usual. Because I was carrying on exactly in the same vein I thought that starting a band in Hollywood named The Space Age Playboys and signed to someone else would stick it to Geffen. I recorded it in my basement.
The album was released in the U.K., via Music For Nations, in 1994, yet didn’t hit shelves in North America until the following year – how much do you believe this staggered release affected the success of the record?
I don’t know – I don’t think it mattered at all really. I make good records and try to give guidance on how they should be marketed but no-one ever listens to me. If people don’t know how to sell them then they are not doing their job correctly. I wasn’t following the latest trend, I was setting it – influencing the entire Swedish nouveau rock?
The harshest of critics would label the album something of a flop, mainly due to the fact that many had Warrior Soul down as being the next band to break out big. How close did you truly feel at that point that you could take that massive step up?
I don’t know why anyone would consider it a flop when I sold more records in Europe with ‘The Space Age Playboys’ than any of my other first records. It was critically acclaimed and still sounds as fresh today as it did in 1995. Any critic who said that has to redefine what flop means. Probably most of those critics would be metal fans that thought Warrior Soul meant Heavy Metal, which it does not – it means an unrestricted genre of creativity within any music genre.
As a fan, it’s difficult to think that an album that features songs like ‘The Drug’ and ‘Let’s Get Wasted’ could ever be considered anything but an ass-kicking success. Lars Ulrich was a fan too, wasn’t he? The Metallica drummer claimed that ‘The Space Age Playboys’ was his favourite album at the time, right?
Correct. He liked us.
You got invited to play at the Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington in 1995, headlined by Metallica and featuring the likes of White Zombie, Slayer, Corrosion of Conformity and Machine Head, and also headlined the Kerrang! tour of the U.K. – would it be fair to say that the British Isles had your back while the U.S. needed a little more convincing?
The North East corridor of the USA understood Warrior Soul and the Space Age Playboys, the rest of the country had no clue as it simply wasn’t promoted: not on the radio, not in the stores, so no-one could know about it. The country is so vast there was no way of them knowing about it without promotion. The Internet did not exist as we know it today.
How were the shows in support of ‘The Space Age Playboys’? You added guitarist Peter Jay before heading out on tour in the U.K. and Europe – did you notice any particular confusion from the audience when faced with both a new sound and band line-up, or were they still simply dazzled by your pin-up looks?
I had more people in the audience across Europe that had never heard of Warrior Soul before but heard the album at a club, saw the video and/or were just curious about a band that seemed to be coming from Outer Space.
At what point during this time did you honestly realise that Warrior Soul was done?
I was actually at an Oasis show with Lars, and Pete McClanahan came up to me and said he just wanted to be a photogragher and not be in a band anymore. He said he was sorry and I had to reluctantly say “Hey, good luck!” I’d decided I was ready to do solo stuff at that point anyway.
You officially called time on the band when the other members quit following the last show in the September of 1995, but was the writing on the wall long before that moment?
No, I just thought perhaps it was time for me to go solo when it happened and perhaps I could take more different approaches to my music… and make some money. I always thought I would do more Warrior Soul albums down the road, though.
There have always been rumours of a rift between you and X-Factor, the guitarist pretty much neglecting to divulge details. If there was ever a time and place for someone to spill the beans then that would be right here, right now, surely?!
He’s an idiot!
You took around two years to form the Space Age Playboys band after the dissolution of Warrior Soul – did you feel particularly jaded after what had happened around the album of the same name?
No, I wanted to take the concept even further. It was still a valid concept. I wanted to fuck whores, do coke and act like a douchebag like all the other rock wankers! All those years of being a pious intellectual drove me insane and America didn’t care anyway. Basically, I had tried several different things in my solo career (that ended up being on the Opium Hotel records, etc.) and built a studio, got a synthesizer and wanted to find a bunch of crazy punk rock morons that would make a really fun band in Hollywood.
In hindsight, how do you feel about ‘The Space Age Playboys’ record now? How do you think the songs stand up two decades later? There’s even a band named after one of the songs – ‘Generation Graveyard’ – so there is a legacy here that perhaps seemed a long way off twenty years ago…
It’s one of my best works! Better than a whole lot of stuff that came before or since.
What are your hopes for this anniversary reissue of ‘The Space Age Playboys’? To get people listening to it again, or possibly for the first time? To get some deserved credit now the detritus of the music business of the Nineties has blown away? To just get paid?!
All of the above, haha! I’m thinking of restarting the SAP again. I am not only re-releasing, I will be touring and writing new songs…
[Kory Clarke with Gaz Tidey - September 2015]
Warrior Soul will play ‘Space Age Playboys’ in its entirety at London’s The Borderline on November 20th, 2015 – get more info HERE!