When punk rock emerged in the 70s, it was easy to identify. Set against the popular folk, British pop rock, and Southern rock sounds surrounding the generation's hippie movement; punk was raw, dirty, and loud. Bands and fans were easily identified by sound and style. Though some fans debate if the movement began in the US or the UK, there is no doubt London was a contender for the origins of punk.
Punk has come a long way since the early years and not everyone agrees with the drift. Today, many bands have the look of early punk rockers but often the sound would not be recognizable as punk to fans of the original music.
All photos are courtesty of Ryan Jacobson Art
So when we were taking in the shows at this year's Warped Tour, imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon a set with songs containing a sharp staccato of lyrics and instrument. The entire band exuded a maniacal energy that mesmerized the audience.
At the end of the set, the lead singer announced:
Thank you everyone! We're The Kenneths, the last punk band in London!
Certainly a bold statement and one that we had to learn more about.
Interviewing The Kenneths is not an easy assignment. Mainly because it involves corralling lead singer Josh Weller, a task with all the ease of herding kittens. While drummer Aicha Djidjelli and guitarist Lewis Maynard juggle the tasks of signing autographs and easing away for a chat, Josh stares intently at his phone before looking up as though startled and running across the crowd of fans to jump on stage with Alvarez Kings. Aicha and Lewis look on patiently, as though this is nothing new in their world.
When Josh returns, he jumps right into the interview.... by turning his recorder on his bandmates and firing off questions.
(Josh wielding the recorder) So, Lewis, who are your main musical influences?
Lewis - Thanks for the question, Josh. I'm going to go two each. I'll go for The Clash and The Misfits.
Aicha - Cool, I would say Television and The Cars.
Josh - I'm going with Stiff Little Fingers and Descendents.
Aicha - I knew you would say that!
Lewis - Great choices, guys!
Aicha - Great choices!
Josh was willing to allow me to continue the questioning but his playful banter never receded.
You guys just put out two albums back to back while getting ready for the tour. How hard was that?
Josh - Well, when you don't really care if your output is good, you can put out as many CDs as you want. It was quick, but to be honest...
Aicha - We recorded everything in 5 days
Josh - Yeah, we didn't know what we were gonna do when we started. So, we were just like let's record and EP. So, we did the EP and then we got booked for Warped Tour very, very quickly. We've only been together 7 months! And in March, our manager was just like, 'Oh, well just go do another EP'. So then we spent 10 days in a room and wrote 10 songs. We're recorded all 10 and 5 are on this EP. So, it was pretty much just a Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am.
Are you basically you're manager's favorite people? He comes up with 30 million things for you to do and you just say Sure?
Josh - I wish he would come up with 30 million things for us to do. He went 'Do a CD and go on Warped Tour'. So that's what we did.
Aicha - Yeah, that's it. So, that's what we've done.
Do you have anything lined up for after the tour?
Aicha - Lots of gigs, hopefully. We're just trying to pin down a good tour at the moment.
Lewis - We're trying to figure out coming back in September or October. Trying to find a good band to tour with.
Dream band to tour with?
Aicha - Green Day?
Josh (laughing) - Really?!
Aicha - I dunno!
Josh - I think Green Day in the mid 90s. Suppose that would be like touring with U2 now. It would be fucking horrible. Sorry, I just slagged off Green Day. You know what, make a good album Green Day! Then we'll like you again!
Aicha - Who then?
Josh - I'd love to tour with Rise Against or The Hives. Beastie Boys probably aren't going to be touring again. So that sucks. Descendents.
Aicha - I'd like to tour with The Strokes.
Josh - Yeah...ummm... fuck, I dunno. Any punk band.
Would you want to do another tour like this one?
Lewis - Yeah, fuck yeah.
Josh - Hell yeah. We'd come back next year if they asked us. We'd probably bring at least one crew member though. To make things a little easier.
It is hard when you are working the tour. You don't get to enjoy it like an attending fan.
Josh - Yeah. I haven't been able to see any of the headliners yet.
Aicha - Nope. None of us have.
Lewis - I've seen one other band on another stage.
Josh - It's like a one night stand, every day. You come in, do what you need to do, try to find a shower, and leave.
Have you had a chance to look around in any of the cities, yet?
Josh - No. Like here, we only got in 20 minutes before doors. (points to Alvarez Kings) We got held up at immigration for 4 hours because of these motherfuckers right here. Alvarez Kings. I'll go on record and say it, Alvarez Kings are a nightmare to tour with! It's very hard to get in to this country. Those guys are mean! Not to us. They were nice to us.
Aicha - (Laughing at Josh's rant) - I didn't see anyone. I stayed in my bunk.
Lewis - Yeah, we slept through it.
Where else have you travelled?
Josh - As a band, nowhere.
Aicha - Up and down the UK.
You'll be ready after this. Touring Japan and Australia...
Josh - We're ready now. Let's go
So, at the end of your set, you declared The Kenneths the last punk band in London. That's a bold statement. Care to elaborate?
Josh - That was pretty bold. We are a punk band and we are from London. We are definitely the only punk band from London on THIS tour.
The Kenneths should not have any trouble finding their next tour, considering Alternative Press Magazine just awarded the band the 2015 APMA for Best Newcomer. (They were also nominated for Best EP) With songs like What Happened To Radio, they are bringing the Ramones sound to a new generation.
Josh is also running a weekly podcast tracking their adventures on this year's Warped Tour. You can also check out a sample of their work in the video below!
What do you think about the evolution of modern music? Should new bands continue to change the scene or return to the classic sounds? Leave your feedback in the comments below!