Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Catching up with Greg Kihn ahead of OSD

By Todd Houston

Photo courtesy of John Lappen

Rockford Rocked Interview: Greg Kihn! How are you doing Man?

Greg Kihn: Doing great Todd!

RRI: What’s going on with this Rick Springfield ‘Best in Show’ tour? You guys are going to be at Rockton’s Old Settlers Days Festival on June 16.

GK: Yes we are! Yeah it’s kind of interesting as I did some touring back in the ‘80s with Rick when “Jessie’s Girl” was out. We did a huge tour of Canada and across the USA. Women just love this guy! Back in the ‘80s with Rick if we played a venue that held 10,000 people, 9,999 were women! (laughs)

RRI: So Loverboy is on the tour as well?

GK: Yes, and Tommy Two Tone. These are some of my oldest friends really. I’ve played a million gigs with both of these bands throughout the years. It’s a nice little package and easy on everybody. Back in the old days it was always a lot of work to go out and tour but now it just seems fun.

RRI: You guys are no strangers to Rockford. I can remember when you played here with Starship. I believe it was Grace Slick’s 40th birthday.

GK: You bet. We toured with Starship, Journey, Boz Scaggs, you name it. For a while there we were America’s opening band! (laughs) Back in the early days the guys in Cheap Trick were good friends of mine. Between the two of us we opened for everyone! We were truly America’s favorite opening bands. I’m really looking forward to this time out on tour. We have a new album out called Rekihndled that’s doing pretty good. We’re also working on a bunch of new songs so who knows, we might have some ready to play by then.

RRI: It’s been about 20 years since your last album. What made you decide to start writing again?

GK: It’s interesting because I was on the radio for 18 years doing the morning show on KFOX radio in San Francisco. It was a lot of fun, Todd, but being on the radio meant that I couldn’t go out on the road and tour. So for 18 years I was juggling different balls and eventually they cut me loose but I had been yearning all this time to do another album. We started working on it immediately and I was surprised at how easy it was! We would sit down and come up with some licks and they would fly right into a song. My main message in life is that if it’s too hard don’t do it. Writing songs should be the easiest thing in the world you know? When we wrote the song “Jeopardy” I can remember my buddy Steve came over with a new Casio keyboard one day and he just started banging out the main riff and out of the clear blue sky I started singing “our loves in jeopardy”! The song wrote itself in about 15 minutes! And that’s how all the good ones are written.

RRI: You always have the coolest guitars Greg. You must be one of those guys that never sells anything. (laughs)

GK: It’s funny that you say that because I just did an interview with Vintage Guitar Magazine. I’ve always been a Fender Telecaster guy and have been the original owner of that sunburst Tele Custom that you see a lot on my albums since 1970. I’ve been through many phases though and
there was a time when I was crazy about the 12 string Rickenbacker electric. I got one of those 320 Rick 12 strings like the one the Byrds’ Jim Mcguinn used used but the problem was that the neck was too thin and I couldn’t get my Polish sausage-like fingers to play right on it! (laughs) So I ended up settling for a VOX Phantom 12 string because the neck was really wide. I still have all of my guitars.

RRI: Tell me the greatest thing about being a musician.

GK: Look, being a musician is a great job because you are doing things that are fun. Right? If it isn’t then you are probably in the wrong line of work. I’ll tell ya, none of the stuff that I have done in my life actually qualifies as real work. (laughs) I’m a lucky guy, I’ve been blessed with a great career.

RRI: Weird Al Yankovic did a parody of Jeopardy. What was it like working with him?

GK: Well you really haven’t arrived until Weird Al has done a parody of one of your songs. I remember the day he called me out of the clear blue sky and said, “hey listen I’ve got a parody that I want to do called ‘I lost on Jeopardy’” and he sang it for me over the phone. I said that’s great! So I went down and got to meet all the guys including Don Pardo (famous television show announcer). We shot the video and believe it or not that video was one of the very first “concept” videos to hit MTV. I had a hit twice with that song! Amazing.

RRI: Well hey I’m really looking forward to seeing the show on June 16 in Rockton. Like you said, Rick Springfield will be performing so there will be no shortage of cute girls in the audience.

GK: Yeah, for sure. So you’re going to be out at the gig?

RRI: Absolutely. I’ll be looming around backstage somewhere.

GK: Well look for me and we’ll hang out and chew the fat a bit! R.

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