Home ] Bennet ] Fin ] The Family Cat ] Possible Additions ] Telescopes Homepage ] The Belltower ] Thousand Yard Stare ] [ Top (Band) ] Strangelove ] Compulsion ] Silverfish Home Page ]
5:30 ] Becketts ] Midway Still ]

Kinky Machine


ED SAYS - Lots of junk on the web, this is (big shock) a tip, needs sorting!

I've stuck this page into 3 chunks, this one and

Glam rock provided inspiration for London's Kinky Machine, formed in 1990 by vocalist/guitarist Louis Elliot, guitarist John Bull, bassist Malcolm Pardon and drummer Julian Fenton. The band has released two albums on MCA, including Gouache & Ink on Livestock, Private Collection (1993). ~ John Bush, All Music Guide

(NOTE - This is wrong, Gouache And Ink On Livestock is the name of the picture on the eponymous debut LP....Ed)

Louis Eliot first started turning the heads of New Musical Express and Melody Maker readers back in the early '90s . . . okay, 1992, if you want to get precise . . . as a member of the British band Kinky Machine. When the Machine began to break down, Eliot kept on keepin' on with fellow member Johnny Bull (guitar), forming Rialto, a band that manages to incorporate a variety of sounds ranging anywhere from Britpop to new wave to the epic soundtrack work of John Barry and Ennio Morricone. The result . . . ? Well, for one thing, they're very big in Korea, thank you very much. The band's sophomore effort, Night On Earth, has finally made it to into US record stores after an interminable delay (it was released in the UK in July of last year), and Eliot was willing to have a noontime chat with PopMatters on that topic and several others.

PopMatters: So, are you pleasantly surprised that (Night on Earth) has finally come out in America?

Louis Eliot: I am, yeah! It took awhile!

PM: Were you beginning to wonder if it ever would?

LE: Well, I thought it should've done, but I don't spend too long thinking about that side of things. I leave that to management. I'm more into making the records and making the music . . . but if it means we'll get a chance to play (in the States), that's fantastic.

PM: I understand you were originally supposed to play the International Pop Overthrow in Chicago.

LE: We were going to do that, yeah, but the idea was to see if anything else would pop up to build a tour out of it, 'cause coming out just for that one gig didn't really make a lot of sense. I'm still hoping we'll get to come out.

PM: My friend David (Medsker, a PopMatters music critic), who lives in Chicago, wants me to make sure that you make it there at some point in the future.

LE: I wish we could! I'm keeping my fingers crossed . . .

PM: Have you ever actually toured the States before?

LE: Not actually toured, no. We've only played Los Angeles and New York so far, in fact. So we're very interested in those middle bits...

PM: So are you still "big in Korea"? And how does one end up being "big in Korea," anyway?

LE: Well, I think they must have impeccable taste! (laughs) I really don't know what happened. I presume that someone at the label liked it, they played it someone else who liked it, who in turn plays it on the radio, and, essentially, it just snowballed. Things like that simply gain momentum and get a life of their own. But they really went for the band over there, and it's great. It's so different over there than it is for us at home; we've had much greater success there than here. We've had a few hits here, and we did Top of the Pops and all the shows we'd dreamt of doing since we were kids, but, in Korea, it's screaming kids meeting us at the airport! So we do play big gigs in Korea . . . arenas, even. Much bigger (venues) than the ones we're headlining in the UK.

PM: Do you consider yourselves to be a Britpop band? Or what DO you consider yourselves to be?

LE: Night on Earth is quite electronic, I feel. I don't know what other people mean by Britpop, really, but I suppose there's a melodic sensibility that's quite British that's on the record . . . but I don't know; when I hear "Britpop", I think Blur and Oasis, and I certainly don't think we fit in with that. It's really just a label over here, and it's irrelevant now. We have a pop element in that there's a lot of melody to our music, but that's about it, really.

PM: Rialto has a lot of the swagger and drama of Pulp, but I've seen a lot of pieces that comment on your being inspired by film composers like, say, John Barry.

LE: There's definitely some influence from soundtracks, but, also, with (Night On Earth), there was also quit a bit of New Order and Depeche Mode playing around in our subconscious.

PM: Were they artists you listened to when growing up?

LE: I was into New Order, and Johnny (Bull), who produced the album and plays guitar, he was into Depeche Mode. I definitely think that some of the bands that we grew up listening to manifested themselves in the record. For instance, someone pointed out to me that some of the tracks on the album sound like the Psychedelic Furs, and there was a band that, well, I hadn't thought about 'em in years. But, then, I recalled that I was quite a fan in my teens, so there you go.

PM: How did you hook up with Eagle Records in the first place?

LE: We've been on quite a few labels, and, of course, when you leave one, other appear and say they're interested . . . and they were one of the ones who showed up after we were dropped by Warners. They said, "We really like the band, and we want to get behind you guys." They were really straight talking, and it just felt like they'd be the best place.

PM: Have you been pleased with the amount of publicity they've provided the album?

LE: I feel as though they've done pretty good. I mean, they're not a major label that really throws everything at the wall, so to speak, but, in a way, that's quite a relief, because that can feel a bit . . . I dunno. Sometimes, you can have too much of that.

PM: Like, you begin to feel like you might not be able to live up to all the hype?

LE: Something like that, I suppose.

PM: What was the deal with Gimme Music? (The Internet-based label released an EP by Rialto between the band's two full-length releases.) When they first came into being, with both Rialto and Echo & The Bunnymen on the roster, it seemed like, hey, here's this great new label with incredible potential . . . but, then, nothing.

LE: I don't know what it was like in the States, but here, there was a sudden rush of dot.com companies. There was this rush of excitement, but a lot of the companies didn't get all of the backing that they were initially promised, and that's what happened to Gimme Music. I think whoever was financing (the company) backed out mid-stream.

PM: Do you still get people asking about Kinky Machine?

LE: (Laughs) I think we're more popular now than when we were around to begin with. He had a cult following at the time, but we never made it into the top 40 in England. I suppose it's nice that there are still people who have fond memories of our work, but quite a lot of people discovered us as a result of Rialto.

PM: Has there been any talk of re-issuing the (Kinky Machine) albums?

LE: No, it hasn't gotten to that point . . . though I understand there's a brisk trading of Kinky Machine releases through the Internet. They probably only go for a pittance, though.

PM: How did Rialto come about in the first place?

LE: Well, when Kinky Machine disintegrated me and Johnny wanted to continue working together, so it was really just a matter of disappearing off together. We got a reel-to-reel 8-track recorder, then a 16-track, and we were just sort of messing around in Johnny's flat and developing a new sound. We found our bass player because he'd been bouncing around a lot of bands; he was a great bass player, did great harmonies, and he had wonderful taste in music, but he was terrible at choosing bands (to play with). We didn't know him very well, but we said, "You should join our band." But I guess he thought he were slagging off his band, so it took awhile to get him down to play with us. Pete (Cuthbert, our drummer) we got out of a Melody Maker advert. We just thought about it and said, well, it could take a year, but we'll put an ad in, we'll audition people, and we'll find the right guy. And we did. And it did take about a year! It wasn't, like, shit, we need a drummer next week.

PM: It must've been nice to have that kind of luxury.

LE: Absolutely! Well, when Kinky Machine disintegrated, we were still signed to the label, so we still had some finances; we didn't have to rush out and get another job right away.

PM: What was the last gig you attended?

LE: Hmmm. The last gig would've been the Vines. They're really good. They're Australian, a guitar band, and they're very melodic. They're Beatles-y . . . but with a Nirvana edge. They sound like lots of your favorite bands . . . well, my favorite bands, anyway: the Clash, Nirvana, the Beatles . . . lots of great bands.

PM: And the last album you bought?

LE: Well, lately, I've been listening to Smog's album, Knock, Knock . . . but the last record I bought was, erm, Magical Mystery Tour. I bought it last week, second hand. I was burgled at end of last year, you see, and loads of CDs got nicked. It was such a drag when I went to replace them, because you see a stack of CDs on your shelf, and you just don't think of how much they cost 'til you have to 'em back . . .

PM: So you said you're working on some new songs . . .?

LE: Yeah, right now, I'm working on some solo acoustic stuff, and it's going down very well.

PM: Is that something you'd also release through Eagle?

LE: Well, I haven't actually got a deal for it at the moment; I haven't played it to anyone in that way yet. I'm really just doing some little shows in London, a few outside of London, without really trying to grab a deal yet. I thought I'd just sort of let it develop a little bit before I start trying to get people interested.

PM: Is Rialto still attached to Eagle? In other words, would any future albums come out on the label, or was it a one-album deal, or . . . ?

LE: It was a one-album deal, actually, but we're still within that deal. It really just depends on what happens. If things are going well with Rialto, then we all have a really good time and like making music together, so I'll be right there alongside the rest of them . . . but I also like keeping busy. So it depends on what's going on. I'm sort of keeping it on hold because I don't want it to get in the way . . . but it might be nice to do something on my own, then make another Rialto album in a year or two.

PM: Well, may the next Rialto album, whenever it comes out, come out more quickly in the US this time!

LE: (Laughs) Most definitely!

— 27 April 2002

Louis Elliot and Jonny Bull began their Brit-pop ventures in fall 1991 under the guise of Kinky Machine. With a dedicated, albeit small cult following, they broke into the U.K. Top Ten in 1992 and added a Manic Street Preachers tour to their credentials. 1993 brought a debut album and a 1995 sophomore effort, Bent; however, their style decreased in rarity as acts like Elastica exploded internationally. This, fueled by management and label woes, caused Kinky Machine to dissipate. Early in 1997 Bull and Elliot, along with the latter's old friend and bassist Julian Taylor, drummer Pete Cuthbert, and Toby Hounsham, who responded to an advertisement placed in the Melody Maker, rejoined and formed Rialto. Their unusual name is traced back to a local U.K. (now bankrupt) theater chain. This cinematic reference is consistent with Elliot's fascination with films, soundtracks and scores, as they admit to being heavily influenced by cinema. They cite industry giants such as Elvis Costello, Lloyd Cole, Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith, Brian Wilson, Ennio Morricone and John Barry as influences and objects of their musical admiration.
Second drummer Anthony Christmas is a major contributor to this band's unusual sound, following the musical footsteps of Phil Spector and Adam and the Ants with two simultaneous, equi-balanced drummers. Given an eight-track home studio by their recording company, they emerged late in 1997 (under Bull's production talents and Elliot's lyrical guidance) with a new, innovative signature sound and contagious tunes chock full of script-like, empathetic tales.

In 1997 they produced their first singles, "When We're Together" and "Untouchable." The latter was re-released in January 1998; it quickly penetrated the Top 20 and was soon accompanied by their next single, "Dream Another Dream." Despite their proven success and much anticipated arrival of their self-titled debut album, East-West Records dropped them. China Records, the label under which Morcheeba rose to fame, released Rialto's album in July 1998. The six-track Girl on a Train followed two years later, receiving accolades from NME and Q. By the time Rialto gathered to make a second album, Hounsham had left the group. Rialto was now a four-piece and they spent most of 2001 perfecting electronic sounds for Night on Earth, which was issued in March 2002.

Night on Earth may be Rialto's sophomore effort, but, in truth, the movers behind this British band have been involved in the Brit-pop music scene for a decade now. Louis Elliot and Jonny Bull started Kinky Machine, which as its name suggested owed a thing or too to the influence of The Kinks. Slightly preceding the mid-'90s Brit-pop movement (i.e. Blur, Oasis, Elastica . . . um . . . Menswear), Kinky Machine managed a small cult following releasing two albums in the process but due to management and label difficulty would not achieved a fraction of the success its peers would and by 1997 was no more.

Rising from the ashes of Kinky Machine, Elliot and Bull together with Julian Taylor and Anthony Christmas formed Rialto, taking its name from a defunct UK theatre chain. This cinematic theme would inform much of its musical direction as the traces of the soundtrack work of the masters, like Ennio Morricone and John Barry, made themselves felt in Rialto's music.

Despite assembling a engaging debut album, Rialto was to encounter the same problems as its predecessor as the band would be dropped by East-West Records just before the release of that eponymous debut. All the more frustrating for the band was the fact that the initial singles ("When We're Together" and "Untouchable") had been well received, both commercially and critically. Finally, China Records would release the album in mid-1998 and would ultimately find great success in, of all places, South Korea, where Rialto were received as stars.

With a sartorial splendour and sonic sensibility that recalls Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, Rialto 'borrows' heavily from the New Romantics of the 1990s -- Duran Duran, Ultravox and Spandau Ballet -- albeit with an updated rhythmic foundation. This is especially evident on Night on Earth with the use of drum & bass complements to tracks like "London Crawling" and "Anything Could Happen". The former features an enchanting chorus grappling as it does with an unrestrained rhythm which highlights its tension and release whilst the latter marries dramatic Phil Spector flourishes with a kitschy disco beat.

Elsewhere, "Anyone Out There?" evokes Duran Duran's debut album headily, "Catherine Wheel" is a chamber pop nugget buoyed by its John Barry styled arrangement. "Idiot Twin" emphasizes Rialto's '80s electro-pop debt further with a distinct nod towards the Human League. "Shatterproof" is a timeless glam classic dressed in New Romantic clothes and "Three Ring Circus" surprises with a discernible 1960s Bee Gees influence that casts a spell that is almost too gorgeous not to succumb to.

Cruelly ignored in the current scheme of things, Rialto at least demands respect for being anarchic classicists in the best sense and instills a distinct implication of class so sorely absent in this day and age.

Interesting Things Found on the Elastica Website:

June 5 and 12 1993 : Elastica support Kinky Machine at the Bedford "Esquires Club" and Aldershot. John Mulvey reviews Aldershot gig for the NME.