Red Kate
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Red Kate

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Kansas City, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Rock Punk

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"RED KATE: Unamerican Activities: LP"

August 23, 2016
The first thing that struck me about this release was Shaun Hamontree’s cover art depicting three children using a bomb as a piñata, an image which is immediately striking and thought provoking. That alone allowed me to enter the fray of Red Kate’s sophomore album with high hopes. The opener “You Don’t Speak for Me” didn’t disappoint, with plenty of vigor angrily highlighting the gap between those in power and the majority of the population. Although some songs lean towards a more rock’n’roll sound, there’s no lack of punch from start to finish either lyrically or musically. The final track is a really good version of “Heart of the City,” originally a Nick Lowe B side from the first record released on Stiff Records back in 1976. –Rich Cocksedge (Black Site, blacksiterecords@gmail.com, black-site.org) - Razorcake


"KC punk band Red Kate brings a harder, edgier sound to Center of the City Fest"

BY TIMOTHY FINN
tfinn@kcstar.com
The punk band Red Kate was started in 2007 by a trio of friends who’d been in several bands: lead singer L. Ron Drunkard, drummer Andrew Whelan and lead guitarist Scot Sperry. Rhythm guitarist Brad Huhmann joined the band a few months later, and in 2009 the band released “Little Red Songbook,” a demo EP.

“Scot and I grew up at (the Lawrence venue) the Outhouse and had been in Wayback Machine in Lawrence in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Drunkard said. “When I moved back to the area (from California), we decided to put a new project together

Sperry left the band in 2012, as Red Kate was working on “When the Troubles Come,” a full-length released on Replay Records. Desmond Poirier replaced Sperry; both appear on the recording.

In the meantime, the band has become a stalwart in the Kansas City punk scene, a status galvanized by “Unamerican Activities,” its latest full-length, released in April. It’s a dynamic collection of fierce but tuneful rock songs that evoke the sounds of punk rock from a few eras: ’70s groups like Radio Birdman and several ’80s punk and post-punk bands. The album was released on Black Site, a co-op label the band founded to focus on area punk and rock bands.

Saturday night, Red Kate will perform as part of the fifth annual Center of the City Fest, a three-day music festival that will showcase more than four dozen punk bands in Kansas City and surrounding regions. This year’s festival takes place Thursday through Saturday at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club, 3402 Main St.

Monday, Drunkard, Whelan and Poirier answered questions about Red Kate’s influences and its evolving sound.

What are the band’s primary influences or favorite bands?

Drunkard: Our influences come from everywhere: ’70s rock, ’80s punk — because that’s just when we grew up — old country, soul, but mostly good songwriting and bands that do it their own way and don’t give a (bleep) about what anyone thinks or what is the hip, cool sound of the moment.

How does the songwriting go?

Whelan: The writing process with us is a bit piecemeal. L. Ron handles most of the lyrics, but the music comes about in different ways. Occasionally L. Ron or (Poirier) will come to practice with a completed song, and we’ll have it up and running in a practice or two.

For the most part though, a new song will start with someone screwing around with a riff between songs at practice. It’ll catch another person’s ear, and then we’ll start messing with it. At that point the song either writes itself or we’ll bang away at the same riff for months until we figure out how to fix what isn’t right about it. L. Ron is especially good at not letting us drop a riff.

Drunkard: (The song) “You Ought to Know” is a great example of that process. We had one riff, the pre-chorus, but we kept hammering at it for weeks until the parts came together. It might be my favorite song on the record.

How has the music changed since you started?

Drunkard: Over the years our sound has gotten harder, faster and more focused. Edit, edit, edit. Cut the crap, you know? And recently we’ve been veering into more angular, post-punk sounds. Sharks have to keep moving.

Whelan: I think the new album definitely has a bit more of an edge to it than the last full-length, and anyone who’s seen us in the past year or so would be expecting that. It’s not something that we made a conscious effort to do. We kind of got to the amount of songs that we wanted to release and realized that many of them were a bit harder and faster.

Do you tour outside Kansas City much?

Drunkard: We do get out of town. It’s not easy as we’re all 9-to-5ers and some of us are married and/or with kids. We stick to what we call the “long weekends” circuit and cities where we have local connections with bands. The rock star ship sailed for us long ago (if it ever came into port). I have no interest in playing a Tuesday night in a town where I know no one.

How are the punk scenes elsewhere?

Drunkard: I think punk scenes in other towns might be more unified and maybe more open to outsiders, but it’s so hard to tell when you’re only there for a night and on your way. People generally treat out-of-town bands well, even if they may turn a cold shoulder to those in their own town. It’s hard to get an unbiased read.

Who/what do you tell people you sound like? Who/what do people tell you you sound like?

Drunkard: That’s a difficult question and not really for us to answer. We’re just a rock ’n’ roll band. Every person who writes about us lists a different set of bands we remind them of. I like that. It means we don’t sound like anybody specifically. So, this one’s up to you.

If Red Kate had a motto or a mission or philosophy, what would it be?

Drunkard: Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Poirier: Be your own hero. Do what you want to do. Help other people do that, too.

Whelan: Keep on keepin’ on. - Kansas City Star


"Music Review: Red Kate's 'unamerican activities'"

Red Kate
unamerican activities (Black Site Records)

As an impressionable teenager with blue liberty spikes, I cut my teeth on the Kansas City punk rock scene, practically living at El Torreon on the weekends. I was the chick in the pit, dodging elbows and mashing around with steel toes. It wasn't an evening if I didn't have a new bruise.

Fast forward to last year at an Agent Orange/Architects show when I decided to revisit those glory days. Now in high heels, I tore into the pit and was having a pretty great time until I felt my arm stop between two stocky dudes, heard a pop and weaseled my way off the floor to collapse in a chair with a dislocated shoulder.

I might be too old for the pit, but I’m not too old for a damn good punk record. And with unamerican activities, Red Kate has packed in all the nostalgia with none of the pain.

Together since 2007, the members of Red Kate know precisely what they’re doing on this polished record, its second full-length release and first on Black Site Records. The album incorporates elements of blues, classic punk and street punk to create a fresh, sophisticated sound.

Red Kate sets the tone with the workers’ anthem “Take It Back.” Andrew Whelan opens with spry eighth notes, which L. Ron Drunkard quickly coats with a fist-making bass line. Guitar feedback bleeds spontaneously over the uniform bass and drums. That's a classic move, but good punk is all about building anticipation, and after about 25 seconds the lead guitar and bass line mesh like blood and sweat in a bold, catchy compliment to Drunkard's vocals, which are Danzig-ish but richer in tone, with a more mellifluous range.
Most of the record deals with similar class struggles. Songs like “Punch the Clock,” “Better” and “You Don't Speak for Me” are anthems for card-carrying union members, their frustrations with the labor system clear in repeated choruses and screeching yet controlled guitar entries.

As in life, politics alternates with unrequited love in “Waited,” “On My Mind” and “She Doesn't Need Your Love,” a punk 'n roll corrido about a tough girl who's seen it all but “still she can't/ she won't/walk away” – an emotional reminder of how hard it is to leave the things that hurt us the most.

unamerican activities closes out with “Heart of the City,” in which the singer “has no place to go” and “just the shirt on my back” but manages to lean positive, as the drum beat and a Clash-like rhythm guitar keep time on his jaunt around the city. When the lead guitar’s not ripping out sharp riffs, Drunkard's vocal style harkens back to Lux Interior, breathy but punchy.

Red Kate's record brings back all the good, sweaty memories of being a kid at a punk club and filters it through the experience and knowledge of being grown-up, such as knowing when the time has come to let a new generation of pit queens get nosefuls of armpit funk.

Monique Gabrielle Salazar is a Kansas City freelance writer, artist and producer. She can be reached at mgswrites@gmail.com. - KCUR 89.3-FM


"Red Kate Releases “Unamerican Activities” This Weekend"

“Music that speaks to me motivates and agitates, makes you want to do something: dance, think, cry, protest, fight, be in a band.”

These sentiments from Red Kate’s frontman and bassist — who goes by the moniker of L. Ron Drunkard — get to the essence of what his band’s music is all about. And just from hearing the opening chords and swells of the group’s upcoming LP release “Unamerican Activities,” there’s an immediate sense of urgency and upheaval.

Fueled by subversive lyrics, bellicose guitars, a relentless rhythm section and a resolute work ethic, Red Kate has galvanized audiences in rock clubs and punk house basements for almost nine years.

“I feel like I’m back to what got me excited about rock ‘n’ roll and punk when I was young,” Drunkard says.

Since the group’s 2013 debut LP “When the Troubles Come” and its 2014 split 7-inch with The Bad Ideas, Red Kate has sharpened its musical focus.

“There’s a lot of really good, interesting punk music out there right now. It pushes us to test our comfort zones, which I think makes us write better songs.”

As a result of this, an evolving sense of collaboration (the band’s current lineup has been together since 2012) and working with engineer Duane Trower at Weights and Measures Soundlab, “Unamerican Activities” promises to be Red Kate’s strongest showing yet. If the album’s two lead tracks are any indication, this effort is edgier, tighter and has a forceful heft to it.

“It’s not something that we made a conscious effort to do. We got to the amount of songs we wanted to release and realized that many of them were a bit harder and faster,” explains drummer Andrew Whelan. “Maybe it’s the political climate of the last couple years.”

Though its music has an anarchistic punk bite and a rock ‘n’ roll grit to it, the group takes it a step further by embodying the working-class punk rock ethos in its approach and actions.

“You want support? You’ve got to give it,” says Drunkard. “A community of any sort requires reciprocity.”

That’s why Red Kate has launched Black Site, a nonprofit cooperative that will partner with local artists to facilitate music distribution and releases. Black Site will also be a resource for bands to network, promote one another and share contacts. Basically, it’s a tool to spur artistic development, established by a band with years of knowledge and experience.

“Unamerican Activities” will be the first record on the Black Site label. Drunkard states the importance of presenting music in a tangible format, in a time where the musical climate is flooded with digital releases. “It’s important for bands to have a lasting manifestation of their existence.”

With this release, Red Kate shows us exactly why it has staying power. “It makes you get off your ass and act,” Drunkard says. “Quit being a passive observer and consumer of culture and go do something, make something.”

Red Kate will be releasing “Unamerican Activities” this Saturday, April 2 at Davey’s Uptown, with support from The Bad Ideas, The Brannock Device and The Pedaljets.

— Michelle Bacon is a musician and writer dedicated to the Kansas City music community. As a staff member at Midwest Music Foundation, she advocates for and helps spotlight music in the area. She also plays with The Philistines and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma is 102 years old and by far the coolest person she knows. - 90.1-FM The Bridge


"VINYL REVIEW: RED KATE — UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES"

Kansas City political punks return with fiery sophomore LP
Black Site
The sophomore LP from Kansas City punks Red Kate is a series of songs decrying the rise of corporate interests by means of the declining working class. And for the most part, the 13 tracks on the quartet’s Unamerican Activities have a distinctly political bent born of a righteous indignation at what’s been done to the average person, and how politicians twist words to achieve less than honorable goals.

You feel it right from the start, with the anti-polemic “You Don’t Speak For Me” kicking off the first side in a furious screed against those very politicians who would attempt to deny the revolution; if they even see it coming at all. It continues on through the first side, with stops at songs like “I Got A Gun,” from the perspective of those hoodwinked and bamboozled by those who would take advantage, only to conclude with the fiery “Take It Back,” whose spoken word portion might be the blast which really ignites the album.

The sole missteps are “Her Lips Say Yes” and “Get Out,” which just seem like throwback rock ‘n’ rollers, out of step with the rest of the tracks. There’s also “On My Mind,” which is kind of along the lines of those two, but in a less overt manner, which works. It’s not as full of cocksure swagger, but still manages to convey a sense of romantic longing. Granted, it’s been released before, having come out on their 2014 split with fellow KC punk act the Bad Ideas, but it’s one of those songs that’s so perfectly written, another go isn’t anything with which to be upset.

Bonus points to Red Kate for their cover of Nick Lowe’s “Heart of the City,” which manages to be true to the pub rock roots of the original, while still picking up some of Red Kate’s angry fervor. It’s a nice counterpoint to the song which kicks off the second side, “You Ought to Know,” which presents a bit of a dark opinion of living in the urban core.

Sound Quality
Unamerican Activities is pressed on standard black vinyl, but it’s good and heavy. It’s a trifle over-whelming, and sounds a little blown out at times, but it works for the music being presented.

Packaging
The artwork by Shaun Hamontree is absolutely amazing. The cover design is simple and clean, and the red on black is eye-catching and distinctive. His illustrations on the printed inner jacket also look excellent, and both sides together would make a killer set of matched prints for someone’s record room. The way the liner notes and center labels on the LP tie into the Black Site label logo on the back of the jacket is just masterful, as well. It’s all a great bit of redacted documentation, looking like something acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request. - Modern Vinyl


"Red Kate: unamerican activities"

Red Kate is a Kansas City punk band whose heavily influenced by the British Pub Rock scene of the ’70s, which many consider to be the prototypical influence on early punk rock. The influence that British Pub Rock has had on Red Kate is apparent through much of the bluesy on unamerican activities.

Thematically, unamerican activities seems to be split in half. On side A, the songs are more socially and politically focused with “I Got a Gun,” and “You Don’t Speak For Me”, while side B has songs that center around relationships such as “I Want You,” and “She Doesn’t Need Your Love.”

Musically speaking, there are plenty of new ideas on this album. This doesn’t really matter, because unamerican activities is just a great collection of infectious and solidly-written punk rock songs. The guitars are especially impressive, maintaining the heavy usage of power chords in punk rock while at the same time adding bluesy licks and riffs. Despite having the aggressive tempos and distorted guitars, the choruses are often catchy and melodic.

Since all four members are credited with doing vocals, it is a little difficult to determine which member is singing on what song. However, the vocals on “You Don’t Speak for Me” and “I Got a Gun” sound more than a little reminiscent of the throaty barks of Glenn Danzig and Ian Mackaye. “Punch the Clock” is one of the few slower songs on the album with a clear nod towards The Doors in both the music and vocal delivery. Red Kate is another excellent exhibition of the great punk rock coming out of the Kansas City and Lawrence areas recently.

Recommended If You Like: Misfits, Eddie And The Hot Rods, The Stranglers, Dr. Feelgood, The Clash, The Sex Pistols

Recommended Tracks: 3 (I Got A Gun), 8 (On My Mind)

Do Not Play: 6 (Take It Back)

Written by Josh Gaston on 04/25/16 - KJHK 90.1-FM


"ALBUM REVIEW: RED KATE – “UNAMERICAN ACTIVITIES”"

There are few constants in this life, but one thing is for damn sure: Red Kate are never gonna stop fighting. The band is back with their nasty vocals and the gnarly squeal of guitars on unamerican activities, their follow-up to 2013’s When The Troubles Come. They sound a little more grizzled, but certainly no less mad than they have always been. Take a listen to the buzzy grunge of “Punch The Clock” which gives a hypnotic drone of monotony to recreate the work day that just will never end, but bursts forth with rallying lyrics (“But one of these days, boy/You’ll punch the boss instead”). They fire off on searing songs like “You Don’t Speak For Me” and “Get Out” and bring their tongue-in-cheek writing to the black humor of “I Got A Gun” (it’s only funny if we realize the reality of the situation Red Kate paints).

The energy the band brings has always been impressive and even with thirteen towering tracks on the record, the pulse is always high. “Better” and “Take It Back” are mosh-pit starters, while “You Ought To Know” is the perfect song to get the crowd shouting with the band; the call to open your eyes to the societal injustices happening every day. “On My Mind,” one of the singles from 2014’s split release with Kansas City’s The Bad Ideas makes an appearance towards the end of unamerican activities; a stellar foray into pop from the raucous group. They follow it with the bass shaking “I Want You” and the smashing beat of “She Doesn’t Need Your Love” before the twisting closer “Heart Of The City” leaves you writhing for more. Red Kate make the noise we need to hear. The reactionary force to the bullshit of everyday life.

Favorite Tracks: “On My Mind” & “I Want You”

by Nathan Cardiff - I Heart Local Music


Discography

LPs
When the Troubles Come (2013) - Replay Records
unamerican activities (2016) - Black Site
EPs
Red Kate/Bad Ideas split 7" (2014) - Mills Record Company




Photos

Bio

Red Kate is a no bullshit, class conscious punk rock and roll band from Kansas City, MO.  Their second LP, unamerican activities, was released on their newly formed cooperative label, Black Site.  The band’s sophomore effort is a hard, fast and angry polemic on the current state of affairs from the workplace to the streets, with a few “love” songs thrown in for good fun.

Formed in 2007 from the remnants of regional and national acts Truck Stop Love, Wayback Machine, Squadcar, and River City Revelators, Red Kate tips a cap to the beer soaked barroom floors of the 70s British Pub-Rock scene and the modern blues-punk sound that has since taken root in Midwest dive bars and basements.

Red Kate released its first LP, When the Troubles Come, on Replay Records in 2013 and a 7" split on Mills Record Company with fellow Kansas City punks, The Bad Ideas, in 2014.

A new split 7" with Lawrence, KS punks Stiff Middle Fingers will be released on Black Site in Spring 2017.

Black Site is a record label cooperative recently created in Kansas City by musicians interested in supporting regional punk and rock bands release their recordings on a physical medium.  With the world around us becoming a deluge of digital l’s and 0’s, transient as a trust fund crust punk on a cross country excursion, tangible art is critical to maintaining connections to our past, our sense of place, and who we are as a people.  Only WE can create the world we want to live in, and reciprocity and solidarity are the cornerstones of building long lasting, self-sustaining community power that pushes back against the commodification of culture.  Music is not a business; Punk is not a brand, and DIY is not a lifestyle to be consumed.  This is a way of life, and if we don’t hang together, we’ll surely hang alone.

Band Members