This Friday sees Battle Cattle celebrate the launch of their debut LP, 'Kenny's Not Dead', at Logo, with help from some friends from the North, Yantiao and Lowbow. While they don't by any means 'reinvent the wheel' (nor do they attempt or claim to), 'KND' comprises a strong set of songs that really work well live, an element they were keen to maintain on the recording itself.
Bassist Laurent told us more:
"We recorded during the October holidays at PK 14's rehearsal place with Yang Haisong (lead singer with PK 14). He really is a cool guy and very professional. Thankfully, he's a very patient guy because we made him make a lot of changes to the mix to make it sound raw. We were looking to record all the instruments together, live, so that we would not lose the live energy. The problem was that there are few places to do so in Shanghai (or we did not find one, at least). The only solution we thought of was YYT, but we do not like high stages, we prefer to play at ground level in shitty places. So PK14's rehearsal place seemed like a better deal.
"It took us about five days to record, but only the first three days were really productive. Then Alex spent two mornings recording second guitars, but finally we kept few of them and most of the songs have only one recorded guitar on them. On the last day, we just re-recorded 'Modern Mother', and went to eat some Yunnan noodles with Haisong at his favorite restaurant. Then, we went to see Carsick Cars at Old What, a really cool place - we had one of our best gig there two weeks later. Haisong was there too, I think he was relieved when he saw that people enjoyed it, some were even dancing and jumping around. That's the funny thing when you are recording, sometimes you have no idea if what you are doing is good or crap. It took us two days to realize that the version of 'Modern Mother' we recorded at first was complete crap…"
And of course, we've got some tracks for you:
'Joy of Immigration'
"This song is one of the only song that we did not write all together; Alex came with the riff and the chorus, we just added bass, drums and a bridge (because every song needs a bridge, eventually) and... voila, that was it. It's the story of migrant workers going to live in Paris, starting well, ending not so well. Money, life."
In the beginning, it was just a stupid song about going out to party and have fun. Now, when we sing it, it feels very second degree, because we all hate nightclubs. Well, everybody does, or everybody should. This song annoys me from time to time; it is one of the most catchy ones with 'Joy', but it can easily get on your nerves. My girlfriend hates it (she says you have bad taste for picking this one!).
"This is one of the first couple of songs we wrote, along with 'Ripped'. It's a song about bicycles and bicycle racers, though it's not that obvious. I was looking for lyrics when I saw a documentary about the rivalry between Raymond Poulidor and Jacques Anquetil, and the split in French society between the pro-Anquetil and the pro-Poulidor. I thought that was fun, plus every band needs a song about losers. Even better, about a winning losers: 'The more unlucky I was, the more the public liked me and the more money I earned'."
"This is the other 'one of the first couple of songs' we wrote. This is a very personal story for Alex, so I will not give you all the details. It is basically a story about getting drunk, doing stupid things and ending up at the hospital. Usual stuff."
So there you have it - head down to Logo on Friday to pick up a copy of the full, 14-track CD, and enjoy a great live line-up while you're about it.
And finally, the question on everyone's lips, surely: Who is Kenny and why is he not dead?
"Kenny's not dead, because the guy sleeping drunk on the sidewalk (on the album cover) is actually named Kenny. He is our Scottish mascot and first ever fan. You can hear him talking on the first track. He suggested the name Battle Cattle to us. The first track was recorded at the restaurant where he explained to Simon, Toshi and Sarah why we were named Battle Cattle. It is a very long story we had to cut it so that it fits…
"We thought it was fun to name the record, 'Kenny's Not Dead', cos' of South Park and Rock 'n' Roll being dead and all that."