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Beat Magazine (AUS), 10 April 2002
by Bronius Zumeris

One of the finer pleasures for many fans of Australian music is the certainty that Ed Kuepper will release at least one new record annually. And as his career enters a fourth decade, that makes for a lot of records. From the sonic blast of The Saints through to the more diverse Laughing Clowns and his own solo work, whether singularly or with bands (The Yard Goes On Forever, Oxley Creek Playboys, and now The Exploding Universe) he continues to explore sounds and harmonies and manages to distill things as well as he did when he started.

Beat: "Outtakes" is one of several records which feature songs which have appeared elsewhere in different form or have never been released. How do you determine what to include on record and what to leave in the vault?

Ed: It is interesting. I feel there are several versions of songs on the "Outtakes" album which are better than the one's we ended up including on records at various times. It is fairly subjective, but the criteria was to make a cohesive album of strong material.

Beat: But you do not shy away from including songs which are ostensibly left off centre like Okie From Muskogee?

Ed: [laughs] I find it a great song to soundcheck with and I used to force every band I had to soundcheck with it. It has a great lyric which can be played from pubs in Dubbo to the inner city and it goes down well everywhere. Most people take out of it what they want to. It was recorded around the time we where doing "Character Assassination" but never came out. So now is as good a time as any.

Beat: Given that there are seveal songs which exist in various recorded form, do you think there is material you have yet to fully get the nuances out of on record?

Ed: Well, yes. There are four or five versions of Eternally Yours which I have done and like re-doing every so often. I like the song and it lends itself to any appraoch I care to throw it into. But most of the songs are released in the way I am originally satisfied with and are unlikely to be given alternative treatments. But there are times when I produce one of my songs with other people singing them which puts into another category I think.

Beat: Maybe with the history of Eternally Yours and the nostalgia a lot of people are engaging in, could a Laughing Clowns reunion be in the offing?

Ed: Probably not. Some people are dead and others are not available for reunion type tours, so it is unlikely. I have considered playing the material myself in small doses rather than a Laughing Clowns show.

Beat: There is also continual reference made to the Ed Kuepper-Chris Bailey relationship every time you are in the same country. Do you think that sphere of interest should be laid to rest given that The Saints were just one chapter in an extensive career?

Ed: I know exactly what you mean. It was the first five years of me making music but a further twenty five years have elapsed. Bailey and I have talked about it and even though we have tentatively discussed a Saints reunion I believe it is unlikely. Several years ago I seriously considered a Laughing Clowns reunion, but life goes on and I can only devote so much time to trying to get a nostalgia thing satisfied. I would only do it if it went beyond a nostalgia type cash-in and was artistically satisfying as well. Speaking for myself, I can be into nostalgia as much as the next person but it cannot become the sole reason for doing something. It would be very easy for myself and Bailey to play the first three Saints albums but I would like to take things beyond that.

Beat: Objectively, over the journey is there material you are less than proud of?

Ed: I think that there are always things that you do which do not stand up against other things that you do, so I would have to agree. I stand by what I have done even though I am not as satisfied with some things as much as others. I am proud of The Saints records even though they had flaws. With the Laughing Clowns, some things did not head in the way I wanted them to and did not quite connect in the way they should. People often say The Saints had a tumultuous relationship but the Clowns made The Saints look like the three muskateers. We were also hampered by lack of finances. There are also songs in my solo career that did not quite hit it. Strangely, this changes over time and you do not realise how something did work and years later it becomes clear. Convesely, some things I did thinking they were good, I look back and am surprised I did it in the first place.

Beat: You have also re-released "Today Wonder". Any particular reason why it was released in favour of other records?

Ed: It was an important record for me and I believe started the second stage of my solo career after "Everybody's Got To". It started a different way of me doing things.

Beat: And what about The Exploding Universe?

Ed: Al Compton played with the Oxley Creek Playboys. Drummer Dave Aston and keyboardist Jim Gucci are new recruits.

Beat: Your wife continues to design your record covers yet "Outtakes" is quite at odds with anything she has previously done for you. A sort of buccaneers bordello.

Ed: [laughs] She it quite versatile and has a broad approach. That cover is part of a selection of paintings she is doing for an exhibition. I thought it was great and particularly appropriate given the full time of the album.

Beat: So what are currently occupying yourself with?

Ed: Well, apart from the definitive Laughing Clowns compilation, slated for release later this year, I am going on an Australian tour and then off to the studio to work on new material with The Exploding Universe.

See The Exploding Universe of Ed Kuepper at the Corner Hotel on Friday night April 12 with Silver Ray.


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