Kevin Rowland from Dexys
Midnight Runners has a fanatical fanbase all around the world and he should be used to attention.
But just before his special performance with The Killers [Swedish Rock-Steady
band A.K.A. "The Club Killers", not to be confused with the American Rock group
of the same name.] he’s still pathologically nervous.
a floor down, at the cash desk of a vegetarian restaurant on the Katarina Bangata in Stockholm, stands a man not quite fitting
in among the rest of the clientele. He politely asks for the ingredients of the Indonesian stew. If you pretend that the rest
of the guests weren’t there, it looks like a scene from the MASH cafeteria. Kevin Rowland is dressed in an American
military uniform. Green military jacket, matching trousers and cap, together with a pair of new Red Wing-boots. Somewhere
between Hawkeye and Klinger. And clothes is also one of the first subjects he wants to discuss, just like it always is.
What kind of clothes are you into?
In Kevin’s world,
as obvious an icebreaker as which records you like or if you have seen any good
movies lately. Both of us have just read British fashion journalist Robert Elms’
superb biography on his wardrobe through three centuries, and we seem to get stuck far too long in a discussion on the
For the first time ever, it’s an almost
relaxed Kevin Rowland sitting opposite me. He is in the
process of learning this whole relaxation thing.
It’s very hard, he says
so scared that I plan my every move" was one of the most powerful lyrics from one of the new songs (Manhood)
he played on the DMR-tour two years ago. Always scared shitless. Driven by paranoia and self-loathing.
Most people associate Dexys with the hits Geno and Come on Eileen. But hidden underneath there
was always something deeper; a darkness and a frightening frankness about his own mental shortcomings. This
is why Rowland has got a fanatical fanbase dispersed over small colonies all around the world, and we all
see Dexys third album, "Don’t Stand Me Down", and "My Beauty" Rowland’s open
sore for a solo album, as some of the greatest moments in the 50 years of pop music history. And
now he is in Stockholm for two shows together with Swedish rocksteady band Killers.
It’s not easy, he says, I’m such a control freak and the only way of getting through this is
constantly reminding myself this is The Killers’ show and I’m just a guest. As you know, I have
a way of wanting to be in total control.
this is the first time you’re giving shows where you’re not?
Yeah, but I’m so worried about my voice. I haven’t performed in two years and I’m scared
it won’t suffice. Well, I sung once before an audience since then. At a gala night in Liverpool with
a reunited Deaf School, a band which meant a tremendous lot to me during the 70’s. It feels really
good doing these shows with The Killers though. For several reasons. First and foremost because they are a powerful and unique
band with a vision of their own, one that I cannot change much. That’s forcing me to accept this isn’t
just my show.
But still you’re nervous?
Pathologically nervous! I can’t eat prior to a show, I can’t talk to other people. I have to
sit quiet and alone in a room, just breathing. That’s the only way for me to prepare to give as much
of myself as possible.
You’ve made a new album, haven’t you?
Yes a whole new album is written. I’ve recorded demos for all the songs. Now if only someone would
want to distribute it.
are the songs about?
- About love, about relationships. That’s a subject I’ve
never really written about before. Mostly because I’ve been single for the greater part of my life,
I’ve never had any insight in the subject. But over the last two years I have, and now I have things
to say about things I’ve never heard anyone expressing in music before.
Is it important to have something new to say?
Yes, anything else would be pointless. Singing about nothing just for singing’s sake, I can’t
do it. Why should I perform my old songs if I don’t feel they mean something for me right now? Many
of my songs I can’t perform because of that exact reason. If what’s in them is too far from the
person I am today, I just can’t do it.
That’s why you’re changing the lyrics every time you do an old song?
- Yeah, I’ve got to express what I feel and make the lyrics relevant for myself.
Anything else would be unacceptable.
Kevin’s favourite album: Van Morrison’s live-record
"It’s Too Late To Stop Now"
- It has a feeling and a musical flow which I have never been able to capture in
a studio. I tried to capture it on 'Don’t Stand Me Down' but I didn’t quite succeed.
On the other hand, no one else has managed either.
By Swedish journalist Andres
Lokko (translation by Aron Willhammar)