Interview: Kevin Rutmanis

Trevor and I have heard a vast array of different musics, so bringing that mental pile of stored crap to a situation with no boundaries, it was destined to be at least interesting

As founder of noise rock legends Cows, Kevin Rutmanis cemented his place in alternative music history with albums like Daddy Has A Tail! and Cunning Stunts. Further to that, as well as being a member of both Tomahawk and the Melvins, he has never stopped making forward thinking music. This certainly continues today as Kevin prepares to release not one, but two new albums. Gavin Brown caught up with Kevin who talked about those albums, the new record from his band hepa.Titus and a collaborative effort between himself and Tomahawk band mate Trevor Dunn called Crackpot Whorehead as well as his storied career through music.

Echoes and Dust can also proudly give you an exclusive premier of the Crackpot Whorehead album ahead of its release, which you can find below the interview with Kevin.

E&D: The new hepa.Titus album UnEat is out very soon. Can you tell us about the album and what we can expect from it? 

Kevin: Hopefully, you can expect the funnest, as in “the most fun”, listening experience of a lifetime! Kind of a nice blend of catchy toetappers and ethereal clouds of wonder. I was shooting for cheerful weirdness

E&D: What has been the biggest influence musical or otherwise on the sound of UnEat?

Kevin: Well, I guess, the time that has elapsed in playing together evolves the more you do it. Also the pandemic provided lots of time to really bear down and try new things.  

E&D: Will hepa.Titus be playing live to support the new record?

Kevin: God willing!  The touring game is vastly different since the lockdown, and Im finding it difficult to get bookings

E&D: You also are releasing another new album with Trevor Dunn called Crackpot Whorehead on the same day. Can you tell us about that album and it’s creation?

Kevin: Similar to UnEat, we started to exchange riffs and arrangements via email and it grew from there.

E&D: What is the biggest influence in Crackpot Whorehead?

Kevin: Trevor and I have heard a vast array of different musics, so bringing that mental pile of stored crap to a situation with no boundaries, it was destined to be at least interesting.

E&D: Have you got plans to work with Trevor in the future and how did you originally start making music together?

Kevin: We originally did a 10″ before that, which was a goddam good time, and came out pretty sweet. So we decided to keep going! Two songs from the original 10″ are included and remixed on the LP. 

E&D: Were you working on both albums at the same time?

Kevin: I was indeed! I also recorded and released around 20 (?) 10″ lathecut clear vinyl records as Lords and Lady Kevin. That combo is Kevin, Gina (mow skwoz) and David Livingstone.

E&D: Did you always plan for the two records to come out on the same day?

Kevin: No, not at all. There was just such a long delay before the vinyl was pressed, because the plants were backed up from the shut down! So Jochen at Rock is Hell proposed releasing them both!

E&D: Are you constantly making music and what new music are you currently working on?

Kevin: Honestly, I really am. Nothing concrete just now, but writing, recording and god save us all, thinking!

E&D: What were some of the best memories you have with your time in Cows?

Kevin: Boy, I really like all of it…I guess touring and specifically planning and performing live!! There was always a pretty big X factor, where we weren’t positive what would happen once an audience was involved! We were heavily influenced by vaudeville!

E&D: How does it make you feel that Cows today are seen as very influential to a whole host of bands?

Kevin: It certainly pleases me! We worked really hard at all levels, so I’m glad I can say that I’m still satisfied with the results!

E&D: Would you ever consider getting the band back together, even just for a one off gig?

Kevin: We  did one a few years ago, with Paul Sanders on guitar (from Hammerhead, he was great!) which we called “COWZ”….I don’t know if that will ever happen again! 

E&D: What were some of your favourite moments from your time playing bass in the Melvins?

Kevin: Like the Cows, I pretty much enjoyed every aspect of the music, writing, rehearsing, recording and touring. Those guys taught me sooo much about all these different elements of being a rock combo! I was really lucky to be in the group! 

E&D: Do you still keep in touch with the members of the band?

Kevin: Absolutely! Those guys are valued friends! I speak with Shannon occasionally as well! I don’t know anyone else with as “unique” outlooks as all these guys!

E&D: How was the experience of working with Jello Biafra on the albums Never Breathe What You Can’t See and Sieg Howdy!?

Kevin: Again, I’ve been stupidly lucky! The people I’ve worked with. Believe it or not, Jello is EXTREMELY ECCENTRIC! He might say the same about me! I think my brother really enjoyed calling my house (back with landlines!) and asking Jello if I was there! 

E&D: Do you have fond memories of your time Tomahawk and the albums you made with the band?

Kevin: Yeah, another experience where I got to work with strong players that were so different to what I had done before….hearing Mike Patton sing some of my lyrics was certainly memorable! I asked him what the weird lyrics he was singing were (because I didn’t recognise them!), and he said “You wrote them, you freak!” I think it was the song ‘Rape This Day’.

E&D: How was it getting back together for a new Teenage Larvae album so many years after your first?

Kevin: I’ve never stopped interacting with David Livingstone, he’s a great friend and a great talent! So it was easy as pie!

E&D: Will the band do anything else again in the future?

Kevin: It’s kind of evolved into Lords and Lady Kevin, which works pretty much in the same way with the addition of my wife Gina (worlds most fucked up artist, MOW SKWOZ)……..but that doesn’t mean we’ll never use the Teenage Larvae name again! 

E&D: What have been some of the most memorable gigs that you have played in your array of bands?

Kevin: Sorry, but that’s an impossible question! I’ve played a big fat bunch of shows with a wide array of weirdos!…..let’s see what pops into my head. I know,…..I was handed a set list by Buzz right before going on stage before TOOL. I noticed a song title I’d never seen ‘Bulldozer’… I asked Buzz what song that was….”It’s in D” is all he said. I remember it being pretty good! Buzz even sang! We never “played” it again. 

E&D: Who are some of the biggest influence on your bass playing?

Kevin: There are many bass players I really admire, but it’s hard to know how much they influenced me.  Mostly because it would be outrageous for me to think I was as good as them! Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper is always the first one I think of. Lots of cool melodies and very little root notes to the guitar parts!  In spirit, the guitar player Davey Williams. He recently died.  His work was abstract and unpredictable. What I love the most about him, is no matter how out he gets, he somehow always manages to sound cheerful! It’s quite a feat…….I’m working on the same trick. 

E&D: What are some of your favourite ever albums released on Amphetamine Reptile?

Kevin: All the Hanmerheads, Melvins singles, Prick….I’m lovin Mr. Phylzzz. 

E&D: What have been some of your proudest moments in your music career so far?

Kevin: Pride is such a suckass illusion! I’m pretty pleased with almost all of it though! I’m amazed I’ve been allowed to do this, and for so long! I love it.

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