The Kid Slender ensemble will boast two guitars. Or guitarists. Two Kid Slenders if you will. Or should that be Kids Slender? The author is as big a fan of compound plurals as he is nouns of assemblage – The Dandy Warhols scored high Slender points for the introduction to their debut album’s side 1 track 1. “Get ready for a massive concussion of rock’n’roll…” which begs the question; (actually I don’t know if that’s the correct use of a semi-colon but while we’re discussing grammar, y’know…) what do you call an assembly of Kids Slender? I’m wagering an apology, or maybe a diet. Possibly an incompetence. Back to the real world. As is or will become apparent I came of rock’n’roll age in the period immediately after punk and so have a tendency to gravitate towards music with a little dirt under the fingernails. What I believe is often called the back-line will be supported by a no-nonsense acoustic guitar in the style of Johnny Cash or the Everley Brothers. John Peel often argued Lonnie Donegan’s place as the unsung pioneer of British rock’n’roll and while I still remain unmoved by much of his gear, his “Cumberland Gap” comes pretty close to the sound I’m after – a kind of beligerent folk music as practiced by people who have been unable to afford new guitar strings for some time.
On to the lead guitar (and I use the adjective cautiously. My talent for shredding is only marginally sharper than my ear for singing). Here too will I be seeking inspiration from music’s Mesozoic era with a rockabilly twang filtered through a surfing sensibility and refined by post punk rambunctiousness. As a steppin’ out teenager in the late 70s, the Old Grey Whistle Test provided the only non-chart TV coverage and, for those of us with paper rounds to deliver, a marginally earlier evening alternative to John Peel. It was, however, the fact that the programme was at this time followed by late night repeats of the Twilight Zone (sod it. The residents of Hollycroft will just have to wait for their copies of Peoples Friend and Dalton’s Weekly) that to this day colours my tastes a light shade of cosmic. It was an era not without a fair degree of sci-fi spaceyness from the technologically friendly Kraftwerk to the dayglo humour of X-Ray Spex but it was (to return once again to Athens, Georgia) the B-52s who caught my ears, stole my heart, electrified my hips and sent a Van Der Graaf shock through my quasi Don King hairdo. They may even have made my backbone slip, I forget. Even now they are the only band from my musical infancy that I can listen to, not with nostalgia but with a fresh sense of awe and not a little terror and are still the perfect bridge between Bob Harris and Rod Serling.
Rod Serling was already an experienced radio and TV screenwriter before embarking on the Twilight Zone as a means to write about the subjects he wanted without falling foul of censorship demands from corporate sponsors. In 1959 B-movie sci-fi was the genre that sold and this then became the backdrop for his ruminations on racism, inequality and gender norms. At risk of sounding grand (or as we east-midlanders say, “up me own arse”), this is the combination of high ideals in a popular format that I aspire to. It’s certainly what I believe the B-52’s achieved and I find myself getting resentful on their behalf when they’re dismissed as a frivolous party band. Kid Slender will not be resorting to frivolity but will I hope retain a sense of humour. Indeed, if what I’m planning sees the light of day, a sense of humour may be essential.