This is part of a series of interviews with several Eastern Iowa musicians who have been playing music in this area for about 40 years. These guys are personal friends of mine and they have put together an exciting new band called The BarnRockers. These interviews will all be exploring the pre-BarnRockers experience of these fine musicians. This is number 3 of six. I hope you enjoy the interviews with this talented bunch of guys. If you ever get a chance to see the BarnRockers play make sure you tell them you read their interview on Independent Midwest Music.com.
Billy Rose: I want to start from the beginning. How old were you when you started playing guitar?
Kevin Kash: I was almost fifteen. I guess I was fourteen when I first started.
Billy Rose: So what was it that made you want to play guitar?
Kevin Kash: I actually had a cousin named Chuck Soenksen who was playing drums. We’d get together and listen to records and he was always playing and I kinda got the bug from doing that. I took up guitar then and we eventually got a band going.
Billy Rose: So in the beginning did you take lessons or did you teach yourself?
Kevin Kash: Well I took lessons for a couple months. I learned how to read music a little bit. But mainly I taught myself.
Billy Rose: So you and your cousin started a band. What was the name of the band?
Kevin Kash: Uh, the first real name we had was Wicked Luster. Then that band turned into a band called Rocks. We used to play around Clinton a lot, the Quad Cities; we used to play Hal’s Lounge. We played quite a bit.
Billy Rose: So who was in that band?
Kevin Kash: Myself and Chuck and Greg Fier, a guy named John Henson that was in the band originally before it became Rocks and the bass player was Phil Gervais, a real good bass player.
Billy Rose: So you and Greg Fier have been playing together for a long time. How old was Greg when he started playing with the band?
Kevin Kash: He must have been probably eighteen. I think he was still in high school. I was a year ahead of him. I graduated in ’79. Yeah Greg and I have played together for a long time. Off and on.
Billy Rose: After Rocks. What happened?
Kevin Kash: I guess I quit that band. I got a call from Dave Schneider to put something together with him and Bing, Bob Hoffman and Dan Charmin who played with the Great Plains band. Dave and Bing were playing with the Ric Pike Band and that was kinda falling apart. So we got together and that turned into Dave and The Rave. We did that for a few years.
Billy Rose: So how did you meet Dave and Bing and those guys?
Kevin Kash: Just from going out and listening to them and I got up and sat in on a couple songs every now and then. Same way with Great Plains I used go out and listen to them.
Billy Rose: What guitar players did you like when you first started playing?
Kevin Kash: Jimi Hendrix to start with I really got into him. When I first started out I was listening to some pretty heavy stuff. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the guitar player with Alice Copper, I thought there was some good stuff there. When I was about sixteen I bought a Muddy Waters record and an Allman Brothers record on the same day. I started getting some other influences.
Billy Rose: Where did the country stuff come in?
Kevin Kash: Oh I heard that stuff around the house. I used to watch Hee Haw, The Porter Wagoner Show and stuff like that. I used to watch that stuff a lot to see the guitar players. My mom had a Johnny Cash record. Greatest Hits or something that was really cool. It was on the Sun label and everything. I still have that.
Billy Rose: So does your mom wonder what ever happened to that record? (laughs)
Kevin Kash: (laughs) Yeah, I’m sure. I always loved the way that stuff sounded. I loved Hank Williams too.
Billy Rose: So from Dave and The Rave, where did you go?
Kevin Kash: Then came The Unidynes.
Billy Rose: Dave Schneider said when Jack (Schmalfeldt) came back to town; you and Jack would sit in your room and play blues all night long.
Kevin Kash: Yeah, I had a room that was pretty cool place to sit and listen and play music. Jack and I liked a lot of the same stuff. Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Elmore James. We were very much into that. We started playing together and both wanted to do the same thing.
Billy Rose: So was that the beginning of The Unidynes?
Kevin Kash: Yeah! Me and Jack and Evan Vulich would sit and jam and that was the origins of the band.
Billy Rose: When you started The Unidynes did you have any idea what and where the band was going to go?
Kevin Kash: I thought we could be really good. Especially when we hooked up with Bingo (Dave Layton). It was going good with Evan but he decided he didn’t want to go out and play. By that time Dave (Schneider) was playing with us. We wanted to have a good hardcore blues type band. The foundation anyway and rock it up a little. Then Dave and Jack started writing songs and we did mostly original stuff.
Billy Rose: When you recorded at Junior’s Motel, was that the first time you ever recorded?
Kevin Kash: Yep, it was for me anyway.
Billy Rose: So was it a learning experience?
Kevin Kash: Oh yeah! Junior was great to work with. I learned a lot. We were there for two days. It was live in the studio with a couple overdubs. Where we fixed my mistakes (laughs).
Billy Rose: What do you think of the group of guys in this band (BarnRockers) as musicians?
Kevin Kash: They’re great! Nice group of guys who know their stuff. Ken is great; I like JC’s stuff a lot, good singer and guitar player. Bingo is phenomenal, he’s a great musician.
As a band we’re gonna take it one step at time. Maybe record some tunes and see what happens.