BWW Interview: KEVIN MORRIS, DRUMMER WITH DR. FEELGOOD

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BWW Interview: KEVIN MORRIS, DRUMMER WITH DR. FEELGOODInterview conducted by Ray Smith, 5.30pm Thursday 19th April.

Ray Smith speaks with Kevin Morris, the drummer with Dr. Feelgood, coming soon to the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel.


Kevin Morris: Hello Ray.

Ray Smith: Hi Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Morris: I'm fine, you sound like you're in an echo chamber.

Ray Smith: Really? It's because my 'phone's on speaker I think. My natural reverb.

Laughter

Ray Smith: So, you have a tour coming up.

Kevin Morris: Yes

Ray Smith: What a tour, nine months!

Kevin Morris: Yeah, we're always on tour to be honest. We take a few breaks but the rest of the time we're out there somewhere.

Ray Smith: I didn't know that you worked so hard.

Laughter

Ray Smith: So is this going to be your first time to Australia with the band?

Kevin Morris: It's the first in 30 years. We came in '84, '85 and '87. It'll be exactly 30 years. May '87 was the last time we were out, so we're greatly looking forward to coming, see what's changed, and I'm sure there's going to be a lot of shiny new buildings that weren't there before.

Ray Smith: Yeah, one or two, one or two.

Laughter

Ray Smith: The band's been together forever. You started with them in Pig Boy Charlie, didn't you?

Kevin Morris: I did, yes, when I was still at school. They had a couple of drummers. I played in about three or four groups and, to be honest, I liked playing with Pig Boy Charlie because I liked the music, but they didn't have much work, they didn't do very much, so I moved on, but I always like the blues and rock and roll that they played.

Ray Smith: They would have been as young as you at the time, wouldn't they?

Kevin Morris: Oh yes, yes I was about fourteen, playing in pubs I really wasn't supposed to be in.

Ray Smith: You and Phil Mitchell are the longest standing members, aren't you?

Kevin Morris: We are yeah. I've gone from being the new boy to the old boy.

Ray Smith: So you and Phil have been working together for over thirty years.

Kevin Morris: Absolutely. Thirty-five years in June.

Ray Smith: That's incredible!

Kevin Morris: Yeah, it's turned into a proper job!

Ray Smith: Well, it will, eventually.

Laughter

Kevin Morris: When I started playing, one of the great things about being in a group was that you didn't have to have a proper job, but this became one.

Ray Smith: Just don't forget your superannuation.

Kevin Morris: That's right.

Ray Smith: I often get asked by my music students, "what makes a good rock band" and I've always given the same answer. "You need a good bass player, a good drummer and some ornaments."

Kevin Morris: You know I think that you're right and it's the rhythm section that's the foundation of the song.

I've been playing with Phil the bass player for many, many years so I like to feel that we're a strong foundation for the others to bounce off you know. The guitar player and the singer work very much off what we're doing, whether they realise it or not is a different story, but that's the fact.

Ray Smith: My thinking exactly, I'm just an ornament!

Laughter

Kevin Morris: I wouldn't put it quite like that, they're more than that, I mean Robert's (Kane) a great front man, he works very, very hard and he puts a lot into it.

Ray Smith: Indeed. I've seen some clips, but I've never seen him live, and he certainly works hard.

Kevin Morris: He does indeed, yeah.

Ray Smith: So the bass and the drums, that's where the marriage needs to be isn't it, and you two having worked together for so long, it must be just natural for you now.

Kevin Morris: Of course yeah, it's very natural.

Ray Smith: The first album for you and Phil would have been Doctors Orders, wouldn't it?

Kevin Morris: It was, yeah. We recorded it and then we went to Australia and when we got back it was mixed and ready to go out.

Ray Smith: So you toured without the new album.

Kevin Morris: We did. Some of the tracks from the album would have been in the live show for sure, but I can't remember which ones, but we toured off the back of that the following year for sure.

Ray Smith: It just seems unusual from my viewpoint to tour without a new product.

Kevin Morris: Well, we're on the road all the time, and in recent years there's been an awful lot of compilations, re-releases, box sets. There's stuff coming out all over the place. We just put our heads down and get on with it.

Ray Smith: So Steve Walwyn's first album with Dr. Feelgood would have been Live in London, wouldn't it?

Kevin Morris: It was yeah. We were in New Zealand in March '89 and, as we were flying home, very sadly, Gordon (Russel) the guitar player's baby died. It was a cot death and everybody said, "whatever you do, don't leave the group, don't get married, and don't move to France" and that's exactly what he did. So, we knew Steve and he stepped in quite easily, to be honest. Recently, Gordon's been doing some shows with us when Steve was on holiday, which was great.

Ray Smith: Robert Kane's first recording with you would have been Chessmaster, I guess.

Kevin Morris: It was yeah.

Ray Smith: That album was a bit of a change for you guys, wasn't it? It's essentially covers of recordings of blues classics from the Chess Studios catalogue.

Kevin Morris: Yeah it was just that we had the idea to explore the Chess catalogue and redo some of the songs, but in our own style, you know. We certainly chopped them about and we had great fun doing it, it was a good project.

Ray Smith: This was just after Lee (Brilleaux) died of course. Was the Chessmaster album planned before his death?

Kevin Morris: No. That was well after Lee's time.

Ray Smith: I've read a couple of articles about the Chessmasters album and there were comments saying, "why did Dr. Feelgood use Robert Kane? He's not really a blues singer", but he seems to cut it to me.

Kevin Morris: He just fitted in well on and off the stage. We're of an age now where you just have to get on with everybody and Robert fitted in so well and he's a nice guy.

Ray Smith: I have to ask the question, why are you calling the tour Milk and Alcohol? That's the song that Nick Lowe wrote with Gypie Mayo.

Kevin Morris: Yeah, Nick and Gypie Mayo. It was Jim's idea, the promoter of the tour. He said, "can we call it the Milk and Alcohol Tour" and I said, "yeah, fine". So, really, (laughter) you'd have to ask him. Obviously, it's one of our most well-known songs released as a single.

Ray Smith: It charted in the UK didn't it?

Kevin Morris: Absolutely, yeah, top ten.

Ray Smith: You should have called it, The Doctors Down Under Tour, I would have thought.

Laughter

Kevin Morris: Next time.

Ray Smith: So when you're not doing a tour like this, you are essentially playing all the time.

Kevin Morris: Yeah, we're always touring somewhere, but when we get some time off I like to play with my grandson, Teddy. I take him down the beach and we make sandcastles and things and that's very nice.

Ray Smith: You have side projects, too, don't you? Your own material. My understanding is that you play guitar to write your songs.

Kevin Morris: I do yeah, I'm not a very proficient guitarist, but I certainly enjoy writing songs. I put together an album a couple of years back. We just went into the studio and recorded some material that wasn't really Dr. Feelgood material. I did it with a group of friends and it was great fun.

Ray Smith: Is that We Are Infants, the Shaman Spirits album?

Kevin Morris: That's it yeah.

Ray Smith: Have you done any more work with them since that album?

Kevin Morris: No. We recorded the CD and there was an idea that we might do some live shows, but it's really difficult because everybody that I used are busy doing their own thing. Everybody is doing so much work that it's hard to pull everybody together. There's always a possibility that we might find the time in the future to do it and again. It was great fun just to do something different.

Ray Smith: Well, if you're going to pick some of the best players around, they're always going to be busy aren't they?

Kevin Morris: Exactly!

Laughter

Ray Smith: I'm looking forward to seeing your show in Adelaide on the 3rd of May at the Governor Hindmarsh Hotel.

Kevin Morris: Well make sure you come and say hello.

Ray Smith: I'll be sure to do that. I'd better let you go Kevin, it must be close to 9 o'clock there.

Kevin Morris: It is yeah, I've got to go down and see the bookkeeper.

Laughter

Ray Smith: Thanks so much for the chat, and I'll see you in Adelaide.

Kevin Morris: I'm looking forward to seeing you. Bye.



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