Rudy Tambala on pioneers A.R. Kane’s present and future

From la Zancadilla, we have always cited A.R. Kane as one of the eighties’ best kept secret. After two decades without them, Rudy Tambala had decided give new life to his most beloved creature. One that, like we could verify in their summer’s gigs, had left behind nostalgia and typical revival. Instead of it, the impression was like a second birth. A renewed reformulation of A.R.Kane’s theories and methods that consolidate their come back as the most exciting and justified in this decade. Rudy Tambala talks in exclusive with La Zancadilla about the A.R. Kane’s present, future and many more things.

Which was the motivation to comeback after so much time?

RT. Promoters and fans alike have been reaching out to us through social media, and last year the promoters for the Supernormal festival in Oxfordshire, England, and the MIDI festival in Hyeres, France, asked us to play. At first I was doubtful, but the SN guys gave me so much support, I felt confident we could do it, and that the time was right. Also, I have been raising a family, working my ass off – now it’s time to be youthful again, to play. I never stopped making music, just never did it live or produced record releases. The flame never died. Now it is a bloody firestorm.

Rudy Tambala Kumu Festival 2 - photo by Tanel Tero
Rudy tambala at Kumu Festival. Photo by Tanel Tero.

RT. No, not really. I miss Alex, I told him I was planning to go live and he was cool with that, I asked him if he wanted to join and he said ‘No thanks’. That was that. For a day or two I considered and thought “you know, the music is what’s important, not some old ideas.” If Alex decides to come back, that’s cool with me. I do not know if he still does music, although I cannot imagine him not doing music. With respect to new recordings I am still not sure as to whether or not they are A.R.Kane songs. I do not have the answer yet. I will record, share, and discuss.

Since your comeback, how it was to redefine the line-up of the group? How it changed your eighties’ songs?

RT. Last year we tried to replicate the recordings – we had 7 people and we made a good, accurate sound, but it was not how I saw things moving forward. I wanted something that was true for me now, simpler,easier to shape and control; to recreate the original songs for just 3 people; 3 guitars, 2 or 3 voices, two synths, and Ableton for beats and basslines. I wanted a live sound. I also want to compose new songs, for this new line-up. Now it is with my sister Maggie taking main vocals and guitar, and a young cat named Andy Taylor on guitar and a Korg Micro – he is a neighbor and my daughter Alice’s’ good friend. I operate the PC and Have a Roland JDXi synth and new guitar fx. At first I dominated, but as time progressed the guys found their own sound, and we merged into a proper band, of individuals, working as one and separate. I live on a farm and we hang out there and jam, and write, and have a groovy time, with family and friends around. It is a goodness, and I am so happy and grateful to be able to do this, like this. I think we have a good sound now – live – different to the original KANE, but most similar to the ‘69’period. I may re-introduce live drums and bass at some point, but it is a question of finding compatible musicians. Not so easy. The computer rarely misses a beat, and never answers back. We perform the old songs in a way that works for the 3 of us, and we work at the limits of our ability, and a little beyond. We have reworked ‘WOGS’ several times, and are still trying to get it right. ‘LFOS’ is a different vibe completely, almost embarrassingly pop. ‘When you’re Sad’ has the classic rock pop sound, but with a synth intro like a slow Joy Division meets Beach House. It’s all up for grabs, anything can happen. The new songs and old fit together perfectly well, within out live shows.

Kumu ÖÖ
Kumu Festival. Photo by Mattias Malk.

RT. Oops, I seemed to have answered this already, by coincidence. As I said, we change stuff around – at the farm we try out new ideas, and go with whatever feels right, and good. If Anita (my wife) gives me a look, then we don’t do that, and another look, and we do. We have  a guitar-driven house track, a new one called ‘SloRidr’ – we played it in London in a small club and the crowd went crazy and started dancing their asses off. That was a surprise.

Did you feel new things about the old songs when you translate it to new line-up? It really sounds like something new.

RT. New things and old things. Sometimes I see what originally influenced us. ‘When you’re Sad’, people said it was Jesus and Mary Chain, but I now remember it was more Joy Division ‘Atmosphere’ and Buddy Holly and Velvet Underground. With Andy and Maggie bringing in their flavours and with me now 30 years older, with a whole lifetime behind me, it is not surprising that the songs have a new interpretation. I guess the thing is that they were ‘pop’ songs, not just a tissue of sound effects. As such, they can be re-invented, a way that suits us today. We are considering recording our live set, with the new versions, and releasing it, as the new A.R.Kane first recording. We will see.

Considering that Maggie is the vocalist of the band, there will be some song in your next gigs of Sufi’s catalogue?

RT. We did one Sufi song but it did not work alongside the Kane songs. A different feeling, more trip hop, less … psychedelic, less full of prismatic colour. The new songs in the live set- ‘So Blue’, ‘Sweet Dreams’, ‘3 Blind Mice’ – they have evolved alongside the original Kane songs and have the right feeling. They are not Sufi, they are Kane. Maybe M.R.Kane?

How it changed the composition process with the new line-up?

RT. I write most of the songs. Andy is a consummate composer but still a little shy, although he is contributing more, especially on the keyboard. Maggie is just starting to write on guitar, and has produced some magical chords that we will use. I write all lyrics still. I tend to write and share via the web, then we meet and play with the basic idea, see where it goes. Keep it or kill it. Sometimes, with some songs, it had that telepathic feeling, like with Alex – that I value greatly, that is a real indicator of rightness.

A.R.Kane Primavera - credit Dom Manley
Primavera Sound. Photo by Dom Manley.

And in concert?

RT. I like the compact, portable nature of our current line-up. I would like to have someone on Ableton and 2nd keyboard, so that I could concentrate on guitar, but it works well for now. I think we work best in smaller clubs and enclosed spaces – the big festival stages are fine, but they lack the intimate intensity I want to achieve, the union and circuit with the audience. This may shape where we play next year.

Had you thought how will be the first record of A.R. Kane after the comeback?

RT. As mentioned, we may first record our live set. We are also talking to a really cool producer about making a record this winter, in the US. When we get the right music label to support us then we will do this. An initial EP, songs from the live set, then an album next year, and more shows. We have discussed crowd-sourcing, but I do not really want to manage that process. I start demoing next week, so things may happen quickly. We have deliberately not demo’d, as we wanted to play the songs live, make them strong, before committing them to tape, or disk, or memory chips, or light waves, or mutated DNA strands, or, or, or…

Main photo by Matt Condon