“SONG FOR EWE”
with JIM KIMBALL of
MULE, LAUGHING HYENAS, FOETUS & THE DENISON/KIMBALL TRIO
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today it’s a visceral thrill to have this guy onboard & on site. He’s from Ann Arbor where Iggy went to school, and he’s a punk drummer par excellence who’s been in loads of bands I’ve truly loved and still do. Main drummer in The Laughing Hyenas & founder of Mule, I wrote effusively about the latter when the original fanzine was active in the early 90s. They were not only on one of my fav labels Touch & Go (or at least their subsidiary Quarterstick) but they talked the talk and walked the walk very loudly, and with sharp angles. He’s also been the live drummer for JG Thirlwell’s group Foetus, and after Mac McNeilly left post in ’96, was a member of one of my all time fav bands The Jesus Lizard, recording with them on their album “Blue”. It’s scuba, punk and bulldog aficianado and drum tornado, the most excellent Jim Kimball!
I first knew of Jim through Mule, who I interviewed (speaking to his bandmate Kev Munroe who’d recently been bitten by a snake!) in this original edition of Velvet Sheep (number 17) from back in 1996. This issue of the zine was the one mentioned by John Peel, who also by association read out the line-up including Mule…
I loved the Led Zep meets Jesus Liz of Mule, and had the “Mule”, “If I Don’t Six” and “Wrung” records (or possibly on promo cassette from Rob Tennant at Touch & Go) which were both reviewed in the zine. I was also a big fan of the Jabberjaw comp which featured the irresistible song “Charger”. Jim Kimball founded Mule with Kev his ex Laughing Hyenas oppo, and although he left before “If I Don’t Six” I already knew the rolling and thunderous insistence of Kimball’s drum style was something to look out for…
…which I did when I bought (with my own supermarket shelf stacking money) rather than got promo of Kimball’s next venture with The Jesus Lizard’s Duane Denison. A trio with those two (that was the joke geddit?), how could you go wrong I opined? I was right. It was film noir score meets late night jazz club playing next door to Precinct 13 while there was an assault going down.
I got in touch with Duane Denison year before last (truly one of my all time rock heroes) to interview him, Mac & Wm. Sims to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Jesus Liz’ “Down”, an album that i loved and they hated it transpired. This interview on The Quietus website also mentioned Duane’s work with Jim Kimball as the DK3, where I asked if the more jazzy elements of “Down” (like “Low Rider”) had influenced the band having some more light amongst the shouty shade…
and of course DD chose his “song for ewe” as the first ever in the feature, when the zine was resurrected as a site last March.
I’d been looking for Jim Kimball for a while, and I thought I’d hit pay-dirt when I found someone of the name on Facebook with some mutual American punk friends. Turns out it wasn’t him, and he gets that a lot. But hoo-F-ray I found him, Jim aka James Kimball the real deal, Ann’s beating drum, the man behind a literal menagerie of bands ranging from Hyenas to a Mule, then a Lizard that walks on water. And it was only natural (to my relief and honour) that he should get involved with a Sheep of the Velvet kind. But first, from the man himself a quick update on what he’s been up to lately…
“This first part is just an update for you. What I’ve done in the past, and what I’ve been up to in the past year.
In 2015 I played drums on an original Score for the Independent horror/crime movie CHICAGO ROT. I also performed a song “live” in the movie.
I was an invited special guest to perform 2 pieces in The Devil’s Cabaret. A Play at the Redmoon Theater in Chicago. One piece was a improvised drums accompaniment with a Opera singer. The other was a song from the CHICAGO ROT Movie Score.
Also in 2015 I “acted” in a award winning Ryan Oliver directed Sci-fi music video for the well known Chicago rock band The Atlas Moth. The video was for the song “The 6th Passenger is Death”, and has been featured exclusively on The VICE music website.
Most of the past 10yrs I’ve been pursuing deep Technical scuba diving adventures in The Great Lakes. More than 400 dives on historic Shipwrecks in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. Working jobs as a scuba gear technician, tri-mix gas blender, PSI/PCI compressed gas cylinder inspector, and scuba shop manager.
You probably know about my musical history as a principal member of The LAUGHING HYENAS (the first 3 albums and singles), and as co-creator of MULE (first album and singles). I’m proud of the records I made with them and my other band with Duane Denison, The DK3(Denison Kimball Trio). I’m also thankful that I got to record and tour with The JESUS LIZARD and FOETUS, and other bands.”
Jim’s also kindly let me have some ace photos to use with the feature, many of which require/scream out for some explanation!
“The 2 bloody ones are from the music video I “acted” in in 2015″
“The one with the bourbon bottle (my favourite), my dog Ellie Mae and my fish in the background was taken recently in my apartment.”
“The nasty one is me on Halloween 2015, my self creation, a “burnt maggot face zombie “.”
“The scuba picture was taken of me last summer diving deep Shipwrecks 20miles off the coast of Michigan in Northern Lake Huron.”
“The one of me holding 6 inch mortars was taken on The 4th of July.”
“I forgot to mention that I’ve been involved with a once a year pyrotechnics team to do fireworks with the Copper Harbor Michigan fire department.”
“…and the last picture is me in April recording drums for the CHICAGO ROT Movie Score at Gravity Studios in Chicago. .with my beautiful bulldog Ellie Mae! 🙂 “
(fyi, the photo that heads this article is also here below is “Halloween 97 playing drums in the JESUS LIZARD…in Montreal”)
but without further ado, it’s time for Jim Kimball’s “song for ewe”…over to the man himself again…
“The song I have chosen is the 1960 version of the classic Thelonius Monk piece by The Buddy Rich Septet.. (there is a recording of it on YouTube).
Of course for me Buddy Rich is the greatest drummer ever! ..and maybe this song is not obscure…but this version may be.
When I was in 4th grade in the 1970’s and I wanted to start playing drums. My mom told me I should try listening to some of the great jazz drummers in addition to the rock drummers that inspired me to want to play drums. So I listened to many of her old jazz records and she steered me to the famous Gene Krupa/Buddy Rich and Max Roach/Buddy Rich drum battles. The 3 of them were huge inspirations to expand my musical horizons. The more I learned about Buddy Rich by seeing him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and even on The Muppet Show doing his “drum battle” with Animal…the more I was blown away by his incredible technique and explosive brash solos to match his “punk rock” personality!
I’ve been listening to a lot of these classic drummers again recently and I chose this song/performance over others because I love the beautiful vibraphone solo, the overall energy of the piece, and of course the drums. I really loved this melody when I played this chart in my highschool combo and the college jazz band I performed with in the early 1980’s.
I’m thankful that I got to see Buddy Rich perform in Ann Arbor Michigan October 3rd,1983. That was 4yrs before he died and he was still fantastic! There’s no way I could or ever will play on the level of HIS greatness…but very few drummers have completely consumed and blown me away everytime I watch and listen to them play! “
“Thanks again for asking me to do this. Let me know what you think. .take care. Talk to ya soon. Sincerely, James Kimball”
THANKS TO YOU JIM KIMBALL, YOU MADE THIS MAN/VELVET SHEEP VERY HAPPY. AND A GREAT CHOICE. CHEERS & KEEP IN TOUCH! (& DON’T GO)