Kino – Interview with Pete Trewavas
Kino’s debut album Picture appeared back in 2003, combining the talents of John Mitchell, John Beck, Pete Trewavas and Chris Maitland whose contribution to various other bands is well documented. The two Johns followed up by resurrecting It Bites, Maitland went his own way and Trewavas returned to his Marillion roots. Now after 13 years their reworking of what people call pop sensibilities by extending into musically adventurous expanses all topped off with a familiar Mitchell touch, Mitchell and Trewavas have returned with Radio Voltaire (album review here). We had the chance to fire a few questions at Pete Trewavas just after the album release.
Louder Than War: It’s good to see Kino back doing something. Was it a surprise when you and John finally made plans late last year or something that was always knocking around?
Pete Trewavas: It was a bit out of the blue. We were due to meet up at the Prog awards but he called me a while before that and broached the subject. We then got a plan together and between us made the thing happen.
LTW: Thomas Waber at Inside Out seems to be quite active in getting people together and initiating things too doesn’t he?
PT: Yes it was Thomas that introduced me to John Mitchell as a musical partner in the first place. After Neal Morse left Transatlantic I suggested I’d like to work with John Beck, and Thomas got me together with both as they were tentatively starting work on an album together. It was actually JM and myself who spent the best part of a year with me to-ing and fro-ing between my place and John’s to get a lot of the music together for that album.
LTW: So with John M having fingers in a few pies, what makes what you do with him into Kino rather than it just coming out like FROST or It Bites or Arena or Lonely Robot (which seems to be the closest relative to Kino)?
PT: It’s the relationship between the two of us mostly. But Kino has a definite remit. The ethos of Kino as a musical entity is to be an intelligent melody driven musical force. It’s all about placing the subject matter inside a good solid song base. In many people’s eyes to call music Pop music is to cheapen it, but a good song is a good song and there have been many great examples of such, from pretty much all genres.
LTW: John has talked about you fetching along some material for the album. What form was that in and was it something that wasn’t suitable or worth hanging onto for another of your bands (TA / Marillion / Edisons)?
PT: As a writer and creative person, I’m always coming up with music or words and so I end up with lots of ideas for musical starting points or even finished songs. I contributed three songs to this album. Keep The Faith, written for my sons, when they were younger, Out Of Time, which was an idea I had and finished writing it on the way to John’s place and I also had I Don’t Know Why, which I’ve had for a long time. About 13 years in fact.
LTW: I Don’t Know Why was also left over from just after the first album too wasn’t it according to a new press release?
PT: Yes, it was written just towards the end of the first Kino album and I remember playing it to John at the time, on his lovely grand piano. But we never got round to the second album, until now. So here it is.
LTW: You also have a few fingers in a few pies – Marillion obviously the day job -but with Kino, Edisons Lighthouse and the occasional trip with Transatlantic, how do they all differ?
PT: Well they all have different skills and music ideals so I chop and change with each different thing. Edison’s Children for example is much more Floyd based for a lot of its inspiration with folk elements from the likes of Dan Fogelberg and then we have a dark rock side to us as well.
I play lots of guitar with EC and generally the engineer, programmer and we both share the vocals.so it’s very much full for me. Transatlantic is a kind of Progressive version of The Who. We are full on and it’s technically more challenging for me than most things I get in to.
Marillion is about creating atmospheres moods and events. Steve H likes to question what people think about issues of the day and also how people tick. We create emotion and feeling. The music is a part of that obviously but it’s about communicating with people rather than playing songs. If that makes sense.
LTW: Was this the first time you’ve done something with Craig Blundell? And did you actually get to play together or were your parts done separately?
PT: Sadly our performances were recorded separately. I played live with Craig at a charity concert with John Mitchel and Jem Godfrey, which was a lot of fun. We played a combination of Frost and Kino songs. I had a terrific time and have been good friends with Craig and Jem ever since, along with John obviously.
LTW: John is a quick worker and things came together pretty quickly apparently – was that because the time available was short, or just that things clicked?
PT: I would probably say time was short, but of course it does help when you work well together. The timing only worked because we knew we could just about deliver on time. I can and have worked quickly but John is very good at getting things down and recorded easily and quickly.
LTW: John has talked of Radio Voltaire being just an album with no guarantee of playing live. Is that something that feels a bit strange, just doing a studio project?
PT: I would love to play live as would John, but sadly our schedules are both pretty frantic and it seems no window of opportunity will make itself available for all of us to be free.
LTW: And finally, not so much a question, but good luck with the Marillion tour – a slight change of venues this time around; a bit bigger and mainly (if not all) seated….any reason behind this apart from the number of letters in PROG magazine from fans who find it difficult to stand for a long time?
PT: We as Marillion spent many years playing around the Independent music venue circuit, which is mostly made up of rock clubs. Rock clubs and rock venues are great and we have had a lot of really memorable show at these places, however I think a lot of our audience would like to see us in a slightly posher setting. The RAH for example. I joke about this but what we found and probably already knew, was that a lot of fans don’t want to go to a rock venue, they want a different experience, a more glamorous setting. We are also seeing more people coming along who don’t normally go to see bands or specifically us, but because we are playing up the road in their local theatre it’s a good night out.
LTW: As a long term Marillo fan from the Manchester area, what is it about Manchester and Marillion that the gigs in town always seem to be religious experiences?
PT: Manchester is a special place for me. Both my parents are from Sale, my Grandfather was Town Clerk of Stretford and of course Manchester United (my team) are from there. But for us as a band there is a special place in the hearts of the people of Manchester and we feel the same. We often have the best show of a tour or run of dates up there. It often coincides with the end of a tour which might have something to do with it.
Kino have a page on the Inside Out website
Interview and live photo by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He can be found on Facebook and his website is www.michaelainscoephotography.co.uk