Jez Strode Interview
KajaFax Interviews Jez Strode (2010)
How was it for you getting back with the band for the Wavendon shows and the tour, any discomfort or just like slipping back into something comfortable?
It was a very comfortable experience, just like wearing an old warm favourite jumper from years ago possibly better than the first time round, I think this is something to do with age you know. Now pass me my Pipe and slippers!
How do the fans of 2009/2010 compare with those of 1983 and do you spot faces now that you know saw the band back then?
The fans are just as enthusiastic as the first time around but have a sense for the music and not just us as members of the band and the 80’s image fashion thing. Yes we do bump into many faces from the past. It is a very rewarding to give new music and live concerts which many people though they would never see again, including me!
At what stage did it all really come together again properly for the five piece, was there a time even recently where you thought it would never happen again?
I first got a call ‘right out of the blue’ from a man call Bradley Snelling said that he wanted to get the band back together, I was flabbergasted to say the least, I think he had already spoken to Limahl and he was considering his decision at that point. Enough time had past for everyone to see things differently and once the paperwork had being sorted with the help of Bradley the way was open for us all to meet up again.
Were you disappointed to not feature on the ‘Gone to the Moon’ album and would you be happy to play any of those tracks live as a five piece? Do you ever listen to the album and think yeah I could have played that?
This album was recorded before Limahl and myself were approached to reform the band. The drummer that played on the album was Jonathan Atkinson a very accomplished session musician and a great guy. His style is stamped on most of the tracks but I wouldn’t mind having a go at ‘Rocket Boy’ as I really like the energy created in the track. I cracked up when I saw Nick’s web cam video typically Nick’s ‘madness.’ I think his straight jacket was released just for this filming.
Have you thought about the set for Rewind yet, any surprises for us or do you think fans could influence the set?
At this stage we have not confirmed what tracks we will play but as we have not been together for a while we haven’t had chance to work on anything new.
If you were offered a trip back to USA or Japan would you take the opportunity and play out there again?
Yes most definitely, USA we never played live and Japan, even though we toured there twice it was without Limahl so this would be a ‘first’ as well. Obviously the package has to be right to make it a goer.
Will the band be back in the studio together laying down some new material this year and is it true that you have your own studio?
This I cannot tell at the moment because no decision has been made although it has been discussed.
Would there be any chance of previously unreleased material such as demos and outtakes making it onto the website, regardless of quality?
I do have a few odd pieces of audio and video, which may be released from time to time so stay tuned as they say. Also lots and lots of photos.
We know you have a video of the pre-EMI Embassy Club gig and that audio from the gig also exists, what would it take to get this put together and put out there, can you see this realistically happening?
I have worked on two songs from the video ‘White Feathers’ and ‘Lies and Promises’ The tape is not so good quality and sometimes stopped here and there but the audio was recorded on to a compact cassette and had to be synced up with the video taken on a hand held Handy cam. The person who took the footage was Engineer/Producer Femi Jiya who worked with us on a couple of tracks such as “Take another view”.
Do you collect Kajagoogoo collectables yourself, anything super rare in the loft to send us wildly jealous!?
I have kept a few a items from the past, things I have worn and items that fans have made for me such as a wooden pencil case type box from a Japanese fan, with ‘yours truly’ yes my face carved on the top.
Do you change your drum kit pieces often or tend to stick with the same tried and tested setup?
I’m using the ROLAND TD20 electronic kit, which gives me most of the sounds we used first time around and is great for practicing at any hour of the day. Yes I am so considerate to my neighbours.
It looks like a tough slog drumming through an entire gig, have you got a gym routine to supplement this or is the drumming enough to keep the arms strong enough?
I don’t go to the gym or do any extra physical exercise, I stopped playing football a couple of years ago as I had a couple of injuries (back and knee) but I may start running again if I can make the time. There is a lot of physical exercise in the job I do and I am always on the go, but I don’t think I could ever put any weight on, as I am the same weight as I was at 17 years.175 pounds, as for metric 80 kilos.
What does 2010 hold for you personally, what do you get up to professionally when you’re not working with the band, are you still running the equipment hire company?
Yes, we all have ‘day jobs’ as I am writing this my company is at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Knightsbridge London supplying the audio feeds etc for live video link conferencing to the USA. Kajagoogoo have some live 80’s festival dates in 2010, which we all enjoy coming back together for.
What sort of music do you listen to yourself and do you ever stick on any Art Nouveau or KajaGooGoo stuff at home for a listen?
I am stuck in a 60s 70s 80s time warp when it comes to music over many genres with too many artists to mention. But what the heck hear we go. Favorite Guitarist ‘Johnny Winter’(Rhythm & Blues) Johnny Guitar Watson (Funk) George Benson (smooth soul),Doobie Brothers(with the 2 drummers wow) Michaell Mcdonald (best singer,no one sounds like him) Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)( best ever solo singer/songwriter) Elton John best singer/songwriter(with Bernie) Pink Floyd (best underground band) Taking Heads (best ‘new wave’ band) Devo , Bill Nelson, (big influence on Art Nouveau) Stranglers, Clash (punk) Janis Joplin (Amy eat your heart out) Police (Stuart Copeland so original) Average White Band (best soul/funk band) Stevie Wonder (class act) Electric Light Orchestra (best pop band),Hoosiers (new ELO) Roxy Music, Madonna (hell of an artist) Nat King Cole (best traditional singer) Blue Oyster Cult (70s Rock) Led Zeppelin (best ever rock band) Black Sabbath (nearly turned me Goth!) Donald Fagan, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Edgar winter, Rick Derringer, Grace Jones, Green Day, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker, John Barry (best theme music) Level 42, Luther Vandross, Maroon 5, Mavin Gaye, Michael Jackson (best all time pop performer), Nickleback, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carlos Santana, The Tubes, Bowie, Lady Ga Ga ……….and many more.
What hobbies and interests do you have outside of the music?
Apart from my lovely family. Just call me Mr DIY, I like making things mostly from wood, which can be anything from flooring and fitted cupboards to radiator covers and skirting boards, I even make my own furniture. I dream about buying a plot of land designing my own house and doing a self-build from scratch. I do still enjoy a game of football; Goalkeeper is my position.’ back of the stage back of the pitch ‘! I also watch ‘Chelsea’ when I can. Other interests Music (of course), skiing and History.
What sort of priority does the band have for you now, after the tour of 2009 can you envisage the band going back on the road anytime soon in the UK even for individual shows? Is it difficult to get all five members in sync for such events?
It is not easy for us all with many other commitments but I don’t think there would ever come a time that we would say that we would never play again. If the offers are right.’ Have band will travel’.
The fans have loved 2009 with the band and we all thank you for being open for talking with us at the shows and playing us the music we love. Is there any message you’d like to send out to the fans?
If we all stay fit and healthy perhaps we can be playing for the next 25 years! Bring your kids.
Thanks for all your support over the years .