I happen to enjoy a wide variety of music. But, my one true love is rock ‘n’ roll…and that’s exactly what Leanne Kingwell’s album, “Show Ya What,” is all about. This became a favorite of mine right off the bat. This is why I own a CD player because I know there are people out there who can still make a fun, kick-ass, rock ‘n’ roll album. This one’s a winner from start to finish. As soon as I heard the album, I thought, “Here’s an artist who really has a lot to say.” So, I decided to ask her a few questions in order to introduce her to you, the loyal reader, and this is how that conversation went.
Paul Autry: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself.
Leanne Kingwell: Okay. My name is Leanne Kingwell. I live in Melbourne, Australia. I have my own record label, Krill Records. I write, sing and record rock ’n’ roll songs.
Paul Autry: When did you decide to get into music?
Leanne Kingwell: It’s more like music decided to get into me. I grew up in a very strict Catholic household. My childhood was all about sports, study, and church. Listening to music was one of the few freedoms I thought I had. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t really important to me. I spent all my pocket money as a kid buying music. The first thing I did when I got an after-school part-time job was buy a Fender Squier Bullet guitar.
Paul Autry: You were in a band called Happy Gas Stare. Can you tell us a little about that?
Leanne Kingwell: It was my first band, a grunge/headbanger three-piece that I put together with a couple of guy friends from college in the mid-’90s. I played bass guitar and did vocal backups. We played campuses and dives around Melbourne doing original material written by the band and some Mudhoney and Suicidal Tendencies covers. We played a lot of gigs. Always got paid in beer. It was a great learning experience. Eventually, I started sharing lead vocal duties. We recorded a few songs and a couple of them found their way onto some German Hardcore/Grind compilations. We finally called it a day because the boys got into writing obtuse, Crowley-influenced lyrics which wasn’t my bag at all.
Paul Autry: After reading your bio, I noticed where it said that you took three years to put this release together. What took you so long?
Leanne Kingwell: Happy Gas Stare was about five years of constant gigging. When that folded I signed on as the lead singer of a Glam-Rock type outfit that was playing the bigger venues around town. This quickly morphed into a pop group with a major record company deal and a full-blown national tour. Being a corporate pop princess is so not me. I was constantly at loggerheads with my band and the record company over my image, my elocution, my aversion to spray tan, not to mention the material I actually wanted to write and record. The whole enchilada eventually self-destructed, which wasn’t a bad thing. Everything had been at full tilt for so long that I needed a time-out to get my life back on track and figure out what I really wanted to do with my music. Then how to actually do it. Lots of homework and trial and error demos went into making “Show Ya What” what it is.
Paul Autry: Let’s talk a bit about some of the songs on the album. Let’s start with “Look At My Life” since that’s the first one.
Leanne Kingwell: Hmmm. Okay. Here’s the truth… I wrote that song as a “fuck you” to everyone who ever tried to screw me over emotionally. Anyone who ever told me “that nice girls don’t play rock ’n’ roll“, or that hair, makeup, and compliance to pop music stereotypes is more important than the music you write.
Paul Autry: “Holding Your Gun.”
Leanne Kingwell: Waiting up all night for your guy to come home, worried sick that something really bad has happened to him. He boogies in at dawn, drunk, stoned doesn’t give a shit…tells you he’s been abducted by aliens. How many times has that happened to some poor deluded female? How many times has she wanted to get his shotgun out of the closet and metaphorically blow his ass into next week? C’mon now…be honest.
Paul Autry: “You Stink.”
Leanne Kingwell: The landlord is coming around to inspect your place, your folks are coming over for dinner and your fucking guy has been playing a three-day poker marathon with his buds. The place is littered with cigarette butts, upturned bongs, and beer cans and he’s crashed on the sofa smelling worse than a hibernating grizzly bear’s butt plug. You want him to wash up. He wants a blow job. Ain’t true romance grand.
Paul Autry: “Drop Your Pants.”
Leanne Kingwell: This is my “make love not war” song. I figure most arguments between couples come as a result of sexual tension. So fuck wasting all that time and energy feudin’ and fussin’ to eventually get down to the makeup sex. Just have the sex and get on with your life. Works for me.
Paul Autry: “Show Ya What.”
Leanne Kingwell: I wrote this song for a guy I knew who was involved with a chick who treated him like absolute crap. He’d bust his ass trying to do right by her and she’d lie cheat and steal off him every chance she got. It was a tragedy really. Good guys are a pretty scarce commodity on this planet. C’mon over here baby…I’ll show ya what you haven’t got.
Paul Autry: Can you tell us a little about your band?
Leanne Kingwell: I made a conscious decision to find the best session players I could for my album, regardless of looks, age, fashion, or popular expectations as to the type of band that should be backing me. They’re basically the same band I now take on the road with me. They might not look like the hippest looking outfit in the world but they lay down licks like no one else. Nothing beats experienced seasoned players. They’re awesome…I’m so glad I went that way.
Paul Autry: How would you describe your musical style?
Leanne Kingwell: Good ol’ beer and chicken wire Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Paul Autry: What are your influences?
Leanne Kingwell: As a young impressionable Catholic schoolgirl, I spent all my bread buying back-catalogs from the ’70s: The Clash, Sex Pistols, pre Soul Train Bowie, T Rex, AC/DC, Easybeats. I also dug the shit out of Velvet Underground (with and without Nico), Iggy and the Stooges, Georgia Satellites, and The Cramps. Lately, I’ve had a real thing for Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and other seminal blues rockers.
Paul Autry: What do you hope to accomplish with “Show Ya What?”
Leanne Kingwell: Purely and simply…I wanted to make an upbeat and honest rock ‘n’ roll record that takes you on an emotional ride without wallowing in life-is-fucked cynicism and secular progressive political correctness. Not very deep of me I know but…dammit… play my record loud, get drunk, dance, sing along, annoy the neighbors, trash the house, have a good time coz that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is for.
Paul Autry: How would you describe your live show?
Leanne Kingwell: Playing live is like prizefighting. You’ve gotta know your shit, practice a lot and give it everything you got when you’re out there. A live reviewer once wrote; “Kingwell’s kick-ass licks rock the house then pull it down around your ears.” I guess that’s what I try for…all kill no fill.
Paul Autry: What are your thoughts on file-sharing?
Leanne Kingwell: I think it’s good policy for an independent artist to allow for some free downloads. It helps to get them out there and established. But, at the risk of sounding like an asshole, it costs an artist like me money to make a record, and unless I can recoup I can’t make another one.
Paul Autry: What do you do when you’re not making music?
Leanne Kingwell: Research.
Paul Autry: What’s the music scene like in your area?
Leanne Kingwell: I have it on authority that Melbourne is one of the best live music cities in the world. Venues vary from small corner pubs where you get paid in beer to huge stadiums and festival shows. I recently played to twenty thousand people at a football arena.
Paul Autry: Final comments?
Leanne Kingwell: It’s never final till the fat lady sings and I’m going to the gym for a workout right now. Bye.