Q&A Scene: Ken Stewart ~ MR BLONDE

Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?
Yeah so the new single “In a Faze” out on Sept 18. I’ve had the track mastered and the video looks really great. It’s pretty exciting as it's Mr Blonde’s first single in nearly 20 years. I’ve been doing heaps of other music projects but it just felt like the right time to drop a new Blonde song only finished a few weeks ago. The reaction has been really positive. It’s got a nice uplifting vibe so hopefully the track and video will make people smile and think of the good times. 

What’s your favourite work at this point in time? 
I’m really enjoying getting back into the recording studio with my band which is just super creative fun and cool hanging out with like minded friends. But also in the quiet moments writing songs the way I used to, on a dusty old acoustic guitar on the couch. Just letting songs form and then taking them to the band where they add their magic. In saying that I’ve been doing stacks of electronic music with Mr Blonde’s first drummer and we’ve got a label that we’re releasing music through via Frozen Cut Crab Recordings. But that’s another story.
How would you describe your sound in food form anwhy? 
Well that’s a great question in a previous band we signed for 6 figures on the balcony of Bondi’s Ravesis and I ordered a Bloody Mary! So maybe there was some celery in there… and oh and tomatoes. 
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
I guess a good one is recording our first ever single “Sunday” for $350 at Damien Gerards Studio and it smashing Triple J’s Hottest 100, and really setting us up with a record company Polydor, and professional management and bookers. It was all pretty weird though because at the time I was working for EMI Music. I’d been writing loads of songs and playing gigs, recording and pitching my music to all the majors and independent record labels. And then it was on! Polydor offered us a record deal and Polygram Publishing wanted the song writing as well. 
Funny I used to go to AnR meetings with Polydor while working at EMI. In my lunchtimes obviously! But I’d have to park my EMI number plated company car a good few blocks away from the Poly HQ. The plate I had was EMI013 which incidentally… sums it up. 
Things finally got to a head when I would be walking past certain EMI execs offices, to hear their dissatisfaction that an EMI employee was experiencing significant airplay with an opposing record company, at the probable expense of an EMI artist. I actually heard one in particular shouting at his staff: “Well if Ken can get high rotation on Triple J why can’t we!!!”. I left a few weeks later.
What, or who, inspires you?
I think maybe my kids these days. I love my two girls Cassidy and Skye they give me a solid family base. It’s funny I really had no interest in music when they were little I think I just fully focussed on learning about parenthood. It’s way harder than music! My wife is amazing she gives me space to play music now and have guitars and amps cluttering up the house. It feels good the kids are a bit older now and have been to gigs, but if I’m playing when their shows are on I’m in big trouble!

Which song do you wish you wrote?
How long have you got? I think I look at artists like Burt Bacharach, The Carpenters, Beatles, The Walker Brothers omg I’ll stop now. Oh and the Sex Pistols. But Burt was a God if you check out the songs he has written it’s the soundtrack to our lives. A favourite is “This Guys in Love With You”. But check out his song credits it’s incredible. I saw him with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at a vineyard in Hunter Valley ages back and it was awe inspiring.
What’s next for you?
Keep writing and recording music. Mr Blonde at one point was playing 150 plus gigs a year. It would be cool to play some more shows to support the new tracks but who knows when that will happen? In the mean time I’m using the free time to get creative, write music, record and get happening for 2021.   
What’s your scene?
Well I miss Melbourne that’s for sure I love Melbourne. Mr Blonde were staples at The Espy, Prince of Wales, The Ev, Punters, UNI gigs, indie club nites, under age shows, the list goes on. We played maybe 40 tours. Loved our ABC Recovery performances as well live TV at 7am after a big show the night before. Ouch!  
More about MR BLONDE:
Mr Blonde have come to the airwaves with this power pop epic, reminiscent of their Triple J ruling days. Sugar coated lyrics disguise a super well produced catchy tune, think Blur, Oasis, Brit Pop in general and coming in at 2mins42secs this is a winner.

The track is about the way we humans get caught up in the complicated maze we inhabit.  From social media interaction through to rapid changes in technology. Our cultural norms are bombarded with aggressively targeted consumerism.  That’s the verse the chorus is a call to arms, to “stick it where the sun don’t shine.”

Complete with the signature Mr Blonde sound: jangly pop guitars, groovy bass, swirling hammond keyboards and a melodic vocal to sing to the stars.  The song wasn’t so much “written” but was an ear worm without guitars.  Ken couldn’t stop singing it, so finished the track to save his sanity.

Recorded at Big Studios in Crows Nest Sydney with tracking and mixing completed at Burning Boat Studios in Melbourne. Mixed by Steve Melville. Mastered by King Willy in Launceston

Forget all the Mr Blonde “burst onto the scene” rhetoric there is a real story of how this band formed out of a dodgy terrace in Woolloomooloo.  Two true believers in English Indie music decided to have a crack, spending evenings and weekends fine tuning raucous, pop driven riffs with motor-beat drumming, and guitars laden with distortion and reverb.

Songs were written, relentless rehearsals, early gigs at The Sando, The Hoey, Metro then interstate and beyond to touring mayhem, festivals, music videos and TV shows.

Perhaps the infamous line from Spinal Tap: “have a good time all the time” resonated a little too strongly for Mr Blonde. Their first single Sunday swung into high rotation at Triple J and set the band up for what was to follow. Relentless touring and ridiculous surreal moments spaced out between hundreds of amazing gigs and the best time of our lives. Fall off a cliff… fast forward to the first Mr Blonde single for 25 years “In a Faze”.


In A Faze is OUT NOW via MGM


Connect with Mr Blonde

About Mary Boukouvalas 1539 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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