Singer Greg Kihn is still riding a wave of success in the wake of his latest release – ReKihndled.
Folks will remember the gifted Kihn from his heydey in the 1980s with such explosive hits such as the smash chart-toppers Jeopardy and The Breakup Song.
Fans can now get a whole new set of terrific tunes via ReKihndled.
Kihn holds nothing back in this superb collection, from the instantly-infectious The Life I Got and Big Pink Flamingos to the no-holds-barred fire of Cassandra. Other highlights include the rollicking, blues-tinged Brain Police, the sleek and stylish Never Too Late and the compelling and reflective sensibilities of I Wrote the Book.
“There was a lot of different material that we were throwing against the wall to see what would stick,” he explained during a recent interview. “And everybody – mostly the guys in the band – said, you know, this sounds like a Greg Kihn album, but it doesn’t sound like a Greg Kihn album from the eighties. It sounds like a Greg Kihn album right now.
“We were writing a lot of songs which are autobiographical in nature. And they really kind of wrote themselves. One of the things I’ve discovered about songwriting over the years, and I’ve been doing this since the 1970s, is that the main thing is the really good songs write themselves.”
He recalls writing his hit Jeopardy in about 15 minutes. “I was sitting in my living room and my buddy Steve Wright, the bass player, came out to my house. He had bought a new keyboard, and it had a drum machine in it. It was pretty cool. He started playing the riff that would become Jeopardy.
“I said, where did you get that? He said, ‘It just popped into my head’. So about a minute later, I started singing lines to Jeopardy. I don’t know where it came from – it was just floating around in the air. I reached out and grabbed it, and it was like I channeled the song, you know? It was the same thing for The Breakup Song.
“So as I look at this new album ReKihndled, most of the songs were written in that manner. It was so much fun, because it was liberating to me.”
Kihn had just spent about 18 years doing morning radio, and hadn’t really done an album in some time.
To be back in the studio was a delight. “Just to be unfettered and to be able to do whatever we wanted – it was very liberating. Once again, the songs that wrote themselves were the best ones. The ones that I was sweating over didn’t even make the album. So go figure,” he added with a laugh.
“That’s the magic of songwriting, when you can hit that stance again and again.”
First signed in 1973 to the now legendary record label Beserkley Records, Kihn was the focal point of a roster at that time that included Jonathan Richman, Earthquake and The Rubinoos – artists who all performed and recorded melodic pop with a strong 60s pop sensibility.
His groundbreaking video for Jeopardy became one of the first concept videos and was played extensively on MTV.
The Greg Kihn Band also spent much of the 80s touring with the likes of Journey, the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead and appearing on popular TV shows including Solid Gold, American Bandstand and Saturday Night Live.
He also carved out a very successful 16-year career as a top rated DJ on KUFX in San Jose, California, rising from a late night host to one of the top-rated morning jocks in his area in the nation’s fourth largest market before leaving the station in 2012.
For ReKihndled, he knew he was onto something special.
“I hadn’t been in the studio for years and years, and I didn’t really know what kind of album we would be doing until we started doing it.”
Sadly, the aforementioned Steve Wright passed away early this year.
Robert Berry came into the group, and then Kihn’s son, who had been in the band for several years, stepped forward, too. “He’s a great guitar player – a former student of Joe Satriani.
“This guy has been playing the guitar since he was 13 – I started him early. He’s a very, very gifted guitar player. It’s been a kick having my kid in the band. He grew up watching the band, so it was perfect.”
A new drummer also signed on – Dave Lauser, who was Sammy Hagar’s drummer.
It’s proven a winning mix indeed.
“That was it – this was the four guys against the world. We went into the studio. We had a deal going – when a guy had a new song, he had to play it.” The rule was, if no one like the piece it would be turfed.
“As it turned out, all the songs were really good. They were a lot of fun. I use the word liberating, but it really was liberating. There was no one looking over my shoulder telling me what kind of songs to write. It was very easy,” he said.
“It was a labour of love, and we just loved doing it.”
They already have three cuts in the can for the next project. “It probably won’t be out till next year, but we’re already working on it.”