Sean Kelly, Lead Vocalist and Guitarist of Canadian Rock Band, Crash Kelly
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan
Venue: Dressing Room, Sheffield Corporation Nightclub
Date: 19th September, 2003
Glenn: Why did you decide to call the band 'Crash Kelly'?
Sean: Well Crash Kelly, I take that from my Uncle. My Uncle, Orville Kelly, his nickname was Crash Kelly - he was a professional hockey player and he got the nickname because he was such a demon on the ice - he was a bit of a Wildman but in his personal life he was a really good, kind hearted guy. He lived a dichotomy, you know. A wild man on the ice and after the game he had like a quiet home-life - so he was a great guy and he passed away a few years ago so it's a tribute to him.
Sean: Yeah, Yeah.
Glenn: Who would you say your main influences have been and why because I can hear quite a bit of T-Rex and some of the 80's stuff in your music?
Sean: I'd say especially because of this tour 'Thin Lizzy'; 'T-Rex'; Hanoi Rocks; definitely the early Sunset Strip bands like early Motley Crue; early Van Halen things like that. It was weird because my older sister had a record collection with a lot of the 70's Glam bands in it so I got to listen to that when I was quite young but then when I went through my own musical development a lot of the music in the 80's was happening and I realised that the music on a Motley Crue record sounded quite similar to some of the other sounds so I kind of started at one point, went forward and back again. It's sort of a cycle between the 70's Glam and the 80's Hard Rock.
Glenn: What was it about that style of music?
Sean: It was everything. It was being a ten year old kid in a small town, skinny, not the best hockey player, maybe not the coolest kid but when I listened to that stuff it made me feel ten feet tall and bullet-proof. It was really the music - I mean, I'm a sucker for a good hook and a good pop song with an attitude and that music had that.
Glenn: How's the tour been so far with 'The Quireboys'?
Sean: It's been amazing. It's far exceeded what I thought it would be in terms of the respect that they've given us - they've treated us like gold and it was my dream come true to come to England - and then to come to England and play with some of my heroes - I love that band. I used to play Quireboys cover songs when I was starting out when I was a kid so it's just been amazing and I mean, what with their album coming out on September 8th it all just - it was the perfect opportunity.
Glenn: Do you have any good tour stories so far involving 'The Quireboys'?
Sean: Well, tonight there's gonna be kind of a special thing - we are getting a couple of the guys to jam a song that we recorded. We're releasing a single 'Waiting for an alibi' - the Thin Lizzy cover. We recorded it yesterday and it turns out the guy who's playing drums tonight for 'The Quireboys' is Michael Lee (ex-The Little Angels) who also drums with Thin Lizzy so he's getting up to play.
Glenn: So it's not Jason Bonham?
Sean: No. Jason Bonham didn't end up doing the tour but oddly enough, Michael Lee also plays with (Jimmy) Page and (Robert) Plant - so that thing was meant to be. (Laughs)
Glenn: What would you say is your favourite material on the album 'Penny Pills'?
Sean: My favourite song on the album?
Sean: Well you know it's like having ten children and trying to pick which one you love best. Right now the song that came across the best for me in what I was trying to do was 'Love me electric' because I think it's one where the lyric and the concept really fits the production style. Ky had a lot to do with that too. Ky Anto co-produced the record with me and he plays guitar in 'Robin Black and the Intergalactic Rock Stars'.
Glenn: That's where I've seen him before.
Sean: Yeah. We sort of really worked on getting that authentic sound to replicate the vibe of what it's all about. 'Love me electric's' the kind I'm kind of diggin' right now and '11 Cigarettes' I dig - it came off very well.
Glenn: Yeah - I like that one - it's the one with the story about the Hanoi Record isn't it?
Sean: Yeah and I use it to introduce the song every night but what happened was that when I was a kid, I was going out with this girl and my parents really wanted me to have a break from this girl. They thought we were too serious. They took me on a trip to the (United) States and I found a 12" yellow vinyl edition of 'Don't you ever leave me' by Hanoi Rocks. That was our song you know - it's us. I brought it back home and basically she didn't understand the words too well because she was off with another bloke when I came home but I always say that, you know, my heart kneeled but I didn't get the record back but we did get another record out of it so it came out in the wash.
Glenn: Did you ever get to tell Michael Monroe that story?
Sean: No but oddly enough Ky plays guitar with Michael Monroe but especially between Ky and I since he was at the beginning of the sessions. We have all these weird little synergies that happen with artists that we've always grown up appreciating like we always said, Everytime that we've gotten into a scrape on this tour and there's been a few, it's always been. 'Thanks Phil (Lynott of Thin Lizzy) and right from recording that Thin Lizzy tune, you know, some run-ins with the authorities and other issues it's always been Phil watching over us making sure that everything is OK and Nigel Moog is my hero. (Nigel from the Quireboys walks in). Hi Nige, how you goin' alright?
Glenn: Why did you decide to choose 'TB Records' for the UK distribution?
Sean: Because they're the label right now that's trying to keep 'Rock 'n' Roll' alive and they understood it as fans, not just as someone who thought they could make money off it so it was a no-brainer.
Glenn: Yeah - they've just signed signed up 'Tigertailz'.
Sean: Well actually, Steevi Jaimz (lead vocalist) and Joolz (Guitarist) from Tigertailz came to sing backgrounds on our version of 'Waitin'for an alibi' so we were hanging out with them last night.
Glenn: What are your future plans right now?
Sean: We are gonna go back to Canada, do some touring, do the video for our first single and then come over in November with Enuff Znuff.
Glenn: Actually, I've heard they are gonna be coming over.
Sean: Yeah, yeah.
Glenn: Will there be a new album coming out very shortly?
Sean: Well it's all written so we've just gotta record it. We'll put out the single in November, tour that, record the new album and then we'll be back over, probably in the Summer with the new record - so it's a plan.
Glenn: That's it. You've got like ten standard songs and you've got an instrumental - why the instrumental and why did you call it 'Something Hollywood'?
Sean: Well the reason we called it 'Something Hollywood' is because when we were in pre-production, Ky and I were talking and I said, "You know what, this has like a real 'Sunset Sunstrip' feel to it". He goes, "Yeah, it's like 'Something Hollywood' and it was like (clicks his fingers), " 'Something Hollywood' that's what it is". Originally, I was gonna put vocals on it but it just sounded great as an instrumental so I added a couple more guitar solos and 'badda-bing, badda-boom, we're off'.
Glenn: Yeah, yeah - The band Rainbow, they've been some sort of influence on you haven't they?
Sean: Oh for sure. Well it's funny because I really like older Rainbow to tell you the truth but it was a song (Since you've been gone) I always liked and thought it should be re-done properly so that's why we gave it a crack.
Glenn: I've never actually heard it sung in the baritone register before - it's usually the top tenor squealing that you get used to.
Sean: That's right. Well the idea was to try and make it sound like Ace Frehley singing a Rainbow song - that was exactly the idea because God bless Graham Bonnett but I'm never gonna sing like him.
Glenn: Yeah I can sing it like you do - but the Graham Bonnet way - it's like 'No Way' (It's too high).
Sean: Yeah, it's a whole different ball-wax!!
Glenn: How's the scene in Canada for Rock music right now?
Sean: It's good you know - you've got bands like 'Robin Black (and the Intergalactic Rock Stars) and others that are trying to bring Rock 'n' Roll back and keep the fires burning and yeah the fans have been really receptive too. More receptive here (in the UK) but we're working on it.
Glenn: Would you say that there's a difference between a city in Canada to one in the USA with regard to Rock Music?
Sean: Well no because we are becoming so rapidly simulated with US culturing in Canada that it's becoming harder to differentiate. However, I noticed in the UK there's still people who come to actually listen to music and support a scene and that's something that's been lacking, I find, from where I come from.
Glenn: Yeah. How was the Limelight in Crewe because I look after a Motorhead tribute band called 'Motorheadache' who are playing there on 11th January, 2004.
Sean: Oh ok - Oh Limelight was great. It was probably the highlight of the tour so far. The crowd was super responsive and there was a really good vibe and it was one of those nights when everything sort of aligned.
Glenn: Have there been others that have stood out much?
Sean: Well the first one in Rock City, Nottingham because it was my first ever time in the UK and getting up there and playing with a band that I really respect and having the album come out on TB Records here. It was a dream come true.
Glenn: Has it taken a lot of pre- planning in order for you to do this tour?
Sean: No it kind of came up quickly because what happened was is that I sent Nigel from The Quireboys a CD because initially I wanted him to hear the band. He happened to like it and recommended us for the tour so it just worked out well. So we re-scheduled the album and The Quireboys have been very helpful.
Glenn: Where did the picture come from on the front of the 'Penny Pills' CD because it looks really cool?
Glenn: You look at that and you think, 'this is gonna be like T-Rex'.
Sean: It was just a shot. I was just playing at a gig and a friend of mine from Vancouver was taking some pictures of the show and just caught it. It was just an image that I thought summed up the music therein, you know?
Glenn: Yeah. I was meaning to ask you, I was looking at the thank-you list and I don't know if it's a coincidence or not but there's someone called 'Kerry Kelly'.
Sean: That's my sister.
Sean: It's not Keri Kelli the guitar player. My sister's done a lot more for me than that guy. (Laughing). I don't know him.
Glenn: Got ya. In the song, 'I wanna be like you', who is that person? Where does that story come from?
Sean: Well the whole thing is, it's actually a song where the last is spent and a lot of people don't realise that. There's a lyric that says, "I got holes in my jeans, and that's the holes in my head and holes in my heart are flowing fast and glowing red" as in Communist so basically what it means is that it's a song about people who have so much and still want so much more when other people have so little. So the person is anybody who lives only for their own capital gains as opposed to the good of many. It doesn't really come across when you're singing it in a glam rock style but deep down that's what it means.
Glenn: Cool - we'll wrap it up about now (since Crash Kelly have to soundcheck). Thanks for the Interview
Sean: Ok man, cheers.
Big thank-you's go to the Quireboys Tour Manager, Darren and Mark @ TB Records, Mark Hobson and Gaynor at The Corporation, Crash Kelly and The Quireboys plus Alex Kotziamanis.