Greg will be fondly remembered as an 80’s music icon for his two catchy, chart-topping hits, “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em) in 1981 and the 1983 smash single, “Jeopardy,” which charted #2 on the Billboard Top 100. Kihn recently released his newest album, Rekihndled, his first new album in 21 years. As you can tell, Greg Kihn made a habit of releasing album titles using puns with his own name and some of those albums include: Kihnspiracy, Next of Kihn, RocKihnRoll, and Kihntagious. We spoke with Greg Kihn about his music career as well as his recent events in life and his music career that is to be…Kihntinued. Check out out interview below!
– Concert Confessions: You have your new album Rekihndled that just came out. Can you tell me a little about it?
Greg Kihn: You know, I was on the radio for the last 18 years doing the morning show at the KFOX radio show in San Jose. Then we moved up to San Francisco. So, really, for the last 18 years I’ve been getting up at 4 a.m. and doing the morning show and about four years ago they fired me and I just went back to what I was doing before which was to find lots of time to do projects that I really wanted to do. The first project that I really wanted to do was to make this album, Rekihndled. It was very fortuitous because my son is now the lead guitar player in the band and he’s a former student of Joe Satriani and he went to Berkeley school, music in Boston, and he graduated from CalArts in Valencia [California] a jazz guitar major. So this kid can really play, he’s very good and we got a new bass player by the name of Robert Berry. Robert owns the studio that we’ve been recording in, Soundtek Studios down in Campbell, California. It’s been wonderful because we go down there and we kick around song ideas that we rehearsed, but if something happens or we come up with something great, all we have to do is push the record button and we can record it. So, you know, it’s a wonderful situation because if we do something really cool, you know, anything could happen. It’s been a lot of fun working on the album and a lot of fun working with these musicians. I really love them a lot. But, you know, there were some other things I needed to do also. I’m a novel writer and I wrote two novels during the same period that I really wanted to get done. When you write a novel, it takes about a year. Anything could happen. So, we were just going along on our own pace and, you know, as things developed, it was really easy. I felt like it was something that I wanted to do and I’ve been holding it in for the last 18 years and now, finally, I can get it off my chest and it’s really been great. And then, of course, the touring goes with the album. We did a lot of touring this summer; we just wrapped up a big three-city tour there and I think we’re gonna take a little break and I think we’re probably going to be going back in the fall. There’s a lot of things going on. Oh, and here’s another thing. I’m proud of this one. We’re already working on the next album, believe it or not! We’ve got three songs recorded for the next album. So, I’m very happy about that.
CC: Wow, I can’t wait to hear it already.
GK: Yeah, man. I’m telling you, these albums are so much fun to make. When I was a full time musician, 20 years ago, I used to sweat and really worry about the albums. Then, as time went by, I just started to relax and I started writing things that made sense, that came to me, and really, it was the labor of love to work on that album. I can’t wait, obviously, for the next one. That’s even gonna be better.
– CC: How does it feel to be coming out with a new album after 21 years?
GK: It feels great. You know, I didn’t do anything for 21 years because I was getting up at 4 a.m. and you don’t really have much of a life. As soon as they cut me loose, I had nothing but time on my hands. The first thing I did was work on the album, then I started working on a couple of novels. It just felt like it was all planned in my head. It wasn’t, but it seemed like I had planned it all in my head. In all, really, it was very easy. I thought that it would be, you know, much more difficult to write the songs for the album. We wrote the songs very quickly; mostly in like 15-20. The first song that we recorded on the album was Big Pink Flamingos. I remember because my son came in, his name is Ry, he came in and said, “hey, check this out, dad!” and he started playing this riff that was gonna become, Big Pink Flamingos. Out of the clear blue sky, I don’t know where it came from, it just popped into my mind and I just started singing, Big Pink Flamingos. I don’t know where it came from and it was like I was channeling it from the air. It worked great, we wrote the song in like maybe half an hour and then we just started recording it right away. It was easy. I know it doesn’t seem posible, but it was easy.
– CC: How has the music world changed from what you remember, say 20-25 years ago, compared to now?
GK: Oh man, there’s nothing that’s the same. Let me put it that way. When I first started, a long, long time ago when my first album came out  and I just remember back in those days, the standard array was two track tape recorders and then you could balance the four tracks down to however many you wanted. That’s how we did the first album. Then, by the second or third album, 16 tracks had come into vogue. I remember the very machine that they got at Fantasy Studios. It was a 16-track, multi-track machine and it used these big two-inch tapes. You remember those two-inch tapes? They were huge.
CC: Uh, that was before my time [laughs]
GK: Ah, it probably was. Anyway, I remember when we started working with 16 tracks, I started saying to the guys, “You know, there’s no way we’re gonna use all these 16 tracks. There’s no way”. We were using four tracks up to this point. Little did I know, you could use 16 tracks on the drums alone, but, you know, as soon as you went to 32-track and 64-track, it was exponential and you could continue. To this day, now that digital has replaced analog and what used to be vacuum tubes that were attached to the tubes became solid-state circuitry. So, nowadays when you put something down on tape, you don’t even put it on tape. You record it to the computer and then you have complete control over it when it’s on the computer. I’m telling you, it’s amazing what they can do now, my god. They can make you sound like [Luciano] Pavarotti.
– CC: This change, has it affected you in a positive way, negative way, or nothing at all?
GK: You know, I think it’s a positive way because I’ve always loved to write songs and it was always a trial and error just to come up with the next song, but, I thought it was much easier because you could just turn on your computer and record your tracks. It was so much easier than, obviously, than tape passing over tape heads. Back in the old days, we used to do edits and the way we would do edits was we could cut the master tape. You would take the actual two-inch master and you’d cut it. Then you’d splice it back together again and it was amazing. Now to do that, you just have to press one button to edit anything and it’s amazing what they can do now because, wow, it wasn’t like that in my time. It would have made it easier for me to go in and do my songs because we didn’t have a lot of things that we had to worry about. We just recorded it and it felt right. To me, you have to always to keep looking ahead. Keep looking ahead for that next break-through. For that next really amazing thing that’s gonna happen with the recording industry because it’s only getting started. Imagine in ten years, my god, what will they be doing? It will be unbelievable.
– CC: With your new album out, can we expect a US tour soon?
GK: Well, we just finished a tour a few weeks ago and we were going all over the country. We went to Montana, we went to Denver, then we went back East, then we played a bunch of stuff in the Midwest. So we pretty much had a whole tour and then when it got done, we came back and took a little rest and we started working on the next album. I hear from the guys that they wanna get back on the road again. They just wanna go back asap. To them, it’s like summer camp. You’re gonna have fun, you’re gonna get on a bus and drive all over the country and it’s just a lot of fun.
– CC: What do you miss about the touring life?
GK: Ohhh, that’s a good question. Well, touring life is partying life, let’s face it. Back when I was a young fellow, I was a partying animal. That was back in the days of cocaine, marijuana, Jack Daniel’s. You name it, we were taking it and we were taking it everyday. We’d always go out and I don’t know what the hell we were thinking, but we had a lot of good times. We would go to these gigs, check out the crowd, and just have a great time. There wasn’t anything really bad about it, it was all very positive things.
– CC: What was your inspiration or reason for releasing an album after 21 years?
GK: Oh, good question. Well, you know, I had felt very guilty that I didn’t make an album for 20 years. I thought to myself, jeez, that’s kind of pushing it. My son, who was anxious to record and the others in the band, they wanted to get in there and record new material and I didn’t think it was gonna be so easy until we started working again. It turned out that everything we tried, worked. It’s amazing when you try something and it works. Over 20 years without an album and I started feeling very guilty about it. I thought, you know, this is my chosen profession, a musician. So, I gotta go out there and make another couple of albums. Not just one of two, but several. It’s the same thing with writing novels. You wanna get into it. You wanna sink your teeth into it. To me, the finest thing about being a songwriter is you got something new to record and it’s like, oh man, this is wonderful. These things happen; a lot of times they happen spontaneously, but they happen.
– CC: What bands would you want to tour with if you were given the chance to pick?
GK: Ohhh, that’s a really good question. Well, there’s a lot of my old friends like Cheap Trick, The Romantics, Steve Miller, The Doobie Brothers, and a lot of bands like that, that I’ve known for many years. What would I choose? The [Rolling] Stones because they’ve been around for so long? I’m sure they could teach me a thing or two. I like a lot of the new bands. Jack White and guys like that that are doing some exciting new music. Rock and roll has spread across the entire globe now. There’s rock and roll in every country regardless of what they speak and things like that. So it really is always evolving and it’s always being proven true again and again and that’s kind of where I’m at. I was lucky and I was also blessed.
– CC: Do you have any tips or advice for local bands and up and coming bands?
GK: I certainly do. First of all, when your’re writing songs, you should let the song write itself. Don’t get in the way of the song and don’t try to put a lot of things in there. Just let the song write itself. I always say be very truthful and don’t do anything that would spoil the song. I feel like the songs are our children, we have to treat them really well. Let me put it this way: It’s never been easy, but it’s been easier. I can go into studio any week, like this week, for instance, tomorrow I’ll go down to the studio and I’ll just kick a few song ideas and I’ll show the other guys and they’ll say, “Hey! I like that! Let’s try this!” and before you know it, we have a new song. It’s wonderful.
CC: I have a lot of friends that play locally in small clubs and whatnot so they love hearing advice from musicians that have been around for a long time.
GK: Yeah, you let the songs take care of themselves. Just enjoy yourselves and have a good time.
A link to Greg’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gregkihn/