(From Kerrang, UK music weekly, 3 February 1990.)
In the Spring, Geffen will release "Last Decade, Dead
Century,", the debut album from New York act WARRIOR SOUL featuring "the first
hard rock music in a long time that has a mind to it, a brain to it". It's
eclectic, it's electric, but "dumb rock n' roll" it ain't.
While you're waiting to find out for ourselves just exactly what it's all about, why not fluff up the cushions, pump up your social conscience and sit down with MIKE GITTER as he explains how mainman KORY CLARKE has spent three years moving from "Performance art" poetry readings to fronting this exciting new quartet.
DATELINE NEW YORK
City: 1987. Rock bands are for cowards, and Kory Clarke ain't no coward. He stares intensely at the ever-present book he's always carrying onstage.
It's "performance art"
night at the Pyramid, a tiny transvestite bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side,
but for Kory it's annihilation time. Time to press the button for the few folks
gathered at the front of the stage. Time to make 'em think, feel,
There's no band to bludgeon 'em into aural submission, just Kory and his book. It's all he'll ever need.
Over the hi-fi emanates the sounds of marching feet, air-raid sirens and machine guns. He stares at the book again and lets it rip. Tonight's selection? A monologue from 'Café Flesh', the only porno flick that made him think...
"Oh no! Civilization's
foaming at the mouth again! Keep it in the cage, Bertha. He who makes a
beast of himself betrays the pain of being a man.
"You don't mind if I get profound, do you friends? I mean, what's happened to our little world? Desire's in chains. Eyes open, lovelies.
"Two little girls at play. The superpowers in their sweet, mad waltz of mutual deceit. An island heaven? But they can't see people. The skull in the cage, the skull in the cage knows that the bars are always behind the eyes.
"Still the sirens whine, still the pretty lovers wrangle. Kory loves them. For it is their very ignorance that makes them saintly.
"Why enough! Need is all you'll need to know, satisfaction guaranteed! Lie back here, honey thighs and mould into what you want to feel is almost in you!
Obliteration is not just the ticket, is the destination.
"Thank you, good night."
That's it, the way Warrior Soul began. Just a guy in
a seedy Lower Manhattan bar with a book of verse.
Friends, Warrior Soul have arrived, and rock n' roll's in for a well deserved beating. It's thinking man's rock music with a sound that underpins heavy riffs wedged somewhere betwixt Bachman Turner Overdrive, Killing Joke and the gloominess of the Doors with a genuine sense of urgency.
A sound as heavy as it is literate. Proof positive
that this subculture needn't lapse into Axl Rose-type racism or Sebastian
Bach-like anti-gay propaganda. Warrior Soul are rock with a conscience. God
bless 'em for that.
"This is the first hard rock music in a long time that
has a mind to it, that has a brain to it," states Clarke, "it's not just your
dick and your bitch.
That's why it's called Warrior Soul - it encompasses something deeper than those things."
Back at the Pyramid, the booking gal tells Kory, "Get
a band, dude."
Kory tells her: "Fuck you! I can't believe I still have to work in this dumb archaic culture to get a gig! Fuck you!
In six months, I'll have the best band in town!"
He storms out and calls everyone he knows that
might gig with him. He goes through a slew of people before settling on the line
-up of guitarist John Ricco, bassist Pete McClanahan and ex-Killing Joke man
Paul Ferguson on drums.
They play five gigs and walk away with contracts from
Geffen Records and Q-Prime Management (who also handle Metallica, Queensryche,
Def Leppard, Dan Reed Network...). All that for a little less than two year's
work? You must be doing something very, very right!
"I don't know why I've
been able to get away with so much," he chuckles. "Except for the fact that the
weirder something is perceived by the people at management and major labels, the
more they like it. It's more entertaining, more "art form" to them.
looking for something different and the only thing that's different that's not
"out there" is something that's really good in an art sense that can translate
into dumb rock n' roll- it's really hard to make that marriage.
"Morrison did it really well in an intellectual sense. Hendrix did it by bringing a street intellect to the music. The Beatles did it, the Velvet Underground did it, the Pistols did it in a Dada-ist/twisted sense by nobody's done it in a long, long time."
CLEARLY CLARKE and Warrior Soul want to shake
the foundations for real. They mean to kill rock's stupidity factor, disembowel
the ugly, shambling brute and give the world something with a lot more heart and
They're searching out a more compassionate, human rock. They just might be it's freest thinkers and brightest saviours.
"We've lived in a Mötley
Crüe/Heavy Metal atmosphere in this country for about five or six years and the
epitome of all that is Guns N' Roses.
How much worse do you get than Guns in that party-down, super basic, LA thing?
"A guy like the singer from Skid Row
with his comments about AIDS is a dummy, a total idiot. I think he's trying to
be real bad and beat Axl."
(Sabastian Bach wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan "AIDS Kills Fags Dead" but has since apologized and admitted that the "joke" was in poor taste.)
"Axl walked a line but that guy crosses it and it's not cool.
The more he talks, the more they let him talk the worse it's gonna get for
"If I was Scott McGhee (his manager), I would say to him, 'Don't talk. Here's a written statement we've prepared for you'. It's like they do for Dan Quayle..." (the notoriously absent-minded US vice president) "...He's just a dumb guy and there's getting to be too many dumb guys out there.
"If you take dumb rock n' roll any further - to the
point where it's becoming real racist, real homophobic, real dumb - then it has
reached it's pinnacle.
"It's time for a anew, responsible, more intelligent
approach to what's happening. Someone that doesn't gie a fuck about the labels
or what they think and just tells it like it is.
"I love Guns n' roses... but only after a few beers. That's the sort of band they are."
WARRIOR SOUL's debut album is brilliantly
titled 'Last Decade Dead Century'. It's politics, pure and simple, delivered
against the most skullcrushing of riffs.
Urgency is the keyword, with the opener, 'I See The Ruins' settling the bleak, ominous tone. 'We Cry Out' shimmers forth like U2's twisted Heavy Metal alter-ego whilst 'The Losers' makes a case for the homeless and lower classes of New York City.
Warrior Soul mainman Kory Clarke is the sort of guy
that would call himself street smart yet turn around and elevate himself to
Messianic proportions... keeping a straight face.
"A song like 'Blown Away In
The USA' is probably the most important song this decade about national debt and
Tokyo bond takeover of the country. It's so simple and so ass-kicking, I'd put
it up against any Guns song any day."
Ambitions certainly, but entirely
successful. So why "Last Decade Dead Century'?
"Hummm. It's the last decade
in a century where there's been more death, war and famine, than any other point
"There have never been the sort of mass killings like the ones
that have happened in the past hundreds years; Stalin, Hitler, all the African
shit wars. What the Japanese did to the Chinese in WWII I'm sure more will come
out of what happened in China last Summer...
"It's been a dead century and in
a lot of ways has been the ugliest, most horrible century I think man's ever
seen and this is the last decade of it and I want those images to comprise what
this records' about. It puts you in that point and makes you look forward. "I
think right now is a time when we're reflecting on things since we've moved so
fast from the beginning of the century. Now we're reaching a point where
everybody's learning what happened over the past hundred years. I'm expecting a
lot more progression this decade. And it's already happening with things like
the Berlin Wall coming down or all of Eastern Europe being forced to reconsider
their political systems. Does it make things more unstable? No, I don't think
so, I think it makes things a lot more normal.
"These changes aren't things
that have been happening quickly either. The people in those countries have been
waiting for a lifetime for the right to vote and choose. And even though they're
bound to find out that their multi-party systems are run by the same corporation
that really runs this country they still need to make a choice.
"y'know, you should ask a band like Warrant about that."
THIS BAND is just the latest chapter in Kory's ongoing saga. Hailing from Detroit Rock City, the real birthplace of American rock n' roll he's been playing the drums since the age of eight. He's studied with classically trained folk, joined a post-punk outfit called L-Seven with future members of the Laughing Hyenas and then split town for LA in search of the right gig. LA didn't quite work out so he came back east to New York City where he gigged with Raging Slab and Delight for a period before deciding to move upfront and become a lead singer.
"I thought the best way to do that, to become a
better frontperson would be to do my performance art," he recalls. "That way,
through being the only one onstage, I'd be able to get my purest art down - just
doing whatever I wanted to do without giving a fuck about getting signed.
"Have you heard 'Four More Years'? Okay, it's a performance art piece set
right in the middle of the album that in the purest sense is what Warrior Soul
came from. It's an ethic we've never since parted with.
"At the end of songs, I have one set of poetry running up the left side and then I kick in another one running up the right. When you listen to them both together, they're totally different but they translate into a musical montage with an entirely different meaning. I think that's so cool."
WHAT EFFECT would Kory like to see Warrior Soul have upon the uninitiated? How will they be remembered come the dawn of the next century? "The band that gave kids the news, plain and simple. Have you ever noticed how the news, the media just glosses shit over? So kids never pay attention and never know what's going on.
"Most people never know
about things like the Vatican laundering heroin money to fund
"I'm 28 years old and I think I've got no reason to lie. I'm not
a politician or a media person who gets paid to lie everyday, my motives
are a lot purer than that.
"This is my way of giving kids the news,
straight from the source. Really letting them know what's going on.
10 years, you'll be lucky if you can remember three bands that are around
now. I want Warrior Soul to be one of those bands."
See you next decade, Warrior Soul is bound to make a difference.