King Adora Interview
Before King Adora's recent gig at the Islington Academy
2, Clive Drew caught up with frontman Maxi Browne.
In the smallest, airless dressing room imaginable sits Maxi Browne,
lead singer and principal songwriter of the UK's leading purveyors of
glam King Adora. Despite it being late afternoon, Maxi is bedecked in
a leopardskin jacket, a skinny-fit t-shirt so small it exposes his midriff
and a pair of flared jeans complete with metal bell-like decorations
on either side. His eyes display a smattering of black eyeliner. Browne
fiddles nervously with his packet of Marlboro Reds as he prepares to
spill the beans on KA's new musical direction, band split rumours and
those Manics comparisons.
CD: Your new single Drag has just been released, what's the song
MB: Drag's kind of a modern day version of what the Kinks did with Lola;
that whole one person by day, another by night has always fascinated
me. I just developed it into a disturbing love story and a celebration
CD: The single has a more back-to-basics, stripped down sound than
previously heard on KA material is that intentional?
MB: Yeah, we wanted it to sound like that, and we wanted something musically
that would fit the song's lyrics. It has a very glammy, T-Rex style
element to it, so in that respect it was definitely intentional.
CD: Do you feel that you've progressed as a songwriter?
MB: Well I hope so, yeah! Obviously, we had a lot of trouble getting
the album out after all the stuff that happened to us, but it'll be
better once it comes out, because everyone will know the songs. People
are always going to go a bit more mental for the older songs, but we're
just going to have to live with that.
CD: A lot of the fans have downloaded new material from the internet.
What do you feel about this?
MB: I haven't got a problem with it to be honest. With my experience
of major record companies, if they're getting f*cked because of it,
CD: With the benefit of hindsight, would you have done things with Vibrate
MB: Certain things, yeah. I probably would have used different recording
techniques, possibly included a couple of different songs, some songs
I didn't feel were that strong, and the artwork I absolutely loathed.
Hindsight's a wonderful thing.
CD: What songs didn't you feel were as strong from that album?
MB: Maybe songs like Whether and Aftertime could have been brought out
better. They're both good songs, but I feel they could have been made
a lot heavier, I don't feel the guy who produced it really got to grips
with those songs.
CD: How did the band form originally?
MB: Just through various dodgy, sleazy backstreet clubs across Birmingham
and the Midlands. There's not very many places to go if you want to
get dressed up and have a good time without getting killed, so we just
kind of bumped into each other in these little places. We just very
quickly connected together.
CD: What were your early influences?
MB: It's funny as it's the big thing now, but stuff like Guns 'n' Roses,
Motley Crüe, Alice Cooper, a bit of T-Rex, Bowie, Blondie. Anyone
who had something a bit exciting about them and who were a bit different
to the rest of the crowd.
CD: Do you get pissed off with the constant Manics' comparisons?
MB: It's kind of alright in one way as I presume people are comparing
us to the early Manics, which was when they looked good and sounded
good. It's just the fact that they had a similar dossier when they started
as we do now. When they started, they just wanted to be different and
stand out from the crowd, and then along came Mansun, who wanted to
do that as well, and then it's us carrying it on.
CD: What do you think about Mansun splitting?
MB: I think it's very sad, but at the same time you can't force these
things, you're only as strong as the game that you're in. I saw them
twice on their last tour, and they just didn't look comfortable and
if you feel like that there's no point carrying on. It sounds horrible
but with Suede splitting as well it's much better for us!
CD: There's a whole load of new glam bands at the moment like Miss Black
America and The Glitterati. What do you make of them?
MB: Well The Glitterati are great and we're really pleased to have them
on the tour, but at the same time you've got to have substance as well
as an image, otherwise you just make yourself look like a comedy routine.
CD: You've finished recording your second album (due for release in
February), how's it differ from your debut?
MB: The only way I can describe it is that it's where we were with Vibrate
You, but where we are now. It's basically a natural progression.
CD: You've mentioned that 2002 was a very bad year for the band,
how close did you come to splitting?
MB: I think the question is more how each of us personally came to hitting
walls. I don't think the band was ever in question as it's what really
pulled each of us individually out of it. A lot of bad things happened,
and we all tried to deal with it on our own, but eventually we found
ourselves to be more resilient than we thought, and it kind of made
CD: Do you have favourite King Adora songs?
MB: Obviously, I prefer playing new songs like Drag and stuff we've
just written like Asleep, which we're playing tonight, but I still love
playing stuff like Smoulder as well. We've replaced Born To Lose with
Kamikaze for this tour as we're trying to balance out the new songs
with the old songs.
CD: What do you think of the influx of NME-friendly bands such as the
Strokes and the Libertines?
MB: I suppose Melody Maker used to hype us to a certain extent, but
the NME's a bit of a laugh mag really and no one really takes it seriously
anymore. The Strokes had to really come back and make a better record
than the White Stripes, which they didn't so they're in a wee bit of
trouble now, but they still sell records because of the hype. It just
annoys me the way the music press can make or break a band.
CD: This time three years ago you were in a way the darlings of
the music press, why do you think your perception has changed?
MB: Well because you get dropped, and it's probably a bit political
as well. I mean because we did so much for Melody Maker, I think when
it went under, the NME just though "F*ck all you lot". If
we went to Number 2 in the charts their going to be our best mates again,
it's just very plastic and very fake. At the end of the day, it's just
people who go to gigs and that's how you build a fanbase and that's
how you do well. Other than that, if we get some good write-ups and
get to meet some good journalists then good, but it's just a bonus.
CD: You've been involved in an anti-racism campaign in conjunction
with R*E*P*E*A*T fanzine. Tell us about it.
MB: Caffy, our press officer got us involved in it, and although we're
a band who aren't forthrightly political, there are still causes that
we know are very important. Certainly the subject of racism is something
I don't think this country's moved forward on, and I feel it's hidden
back which makes it worse in a way. It's just something we wanted to
get involved with and help fund. Looking the way we do we get a lot
of crap anyway, so any kind of bigotry annoys us, but obviously racism's
the number one issue.