Interview with 60's Texan garage rockers KENNY & THE KASUALS.....
Kenny Daniel & his band 'The Kasuals' are a prime example of everything that was great about the garage rock era of the mid-late 60's & the domino effect from American rock n' roll to the British Invasion to the garage rock explosion & a burgeoning Texas psych scene. I interviewed a bunch of bands from Lenny Kaye's Nuggets box-set compilation for a 2-page fanzine article, a lot of it was hardly used, so this is as good a place as any to let it loose.
Others with The Remains, Electric Prunes & The Monks will no doubt get scooped out sometime soon. I love the stories of these bands, often similar, always entertaining-spark of inspiration, local dancehall perspiration, a lucky break/stroke of genius, the AM radio hit, a shot at the ball-park, then a one-way ticket to Palookaville via some screwjob manager, wrong turns, or #gulp# ...the draftboard. But they got their taste, and, thanks to Lenny Kaye, the mythical status of these bands stabs at the big time grows with every passing year.
'Things Are Gettin Better' by Kenny & The Kasuals(Mark Records,1966)
When did the idea of starting a band come from for you? Why did you want to do it?
My dad played big band music in the 1930s. He was a drummer and wanted me to be either a drummer or trombone player. He loved Glenn Miller and met him in England during the war. It was in Bushey Creek Park when he took Glenns picture with his brownie camera and Glenn got on a plane and was never seen again. I still have that picture and it is noted as the last picture ever taken of Glenn Miller.
So following in my Dads footsteps I played drums in the early 50s and was damn good at it. Then one evening a new television show came on the TV called "The Ozzie and Harriet Show" & Ricky Nelson ended the show playing an acoustic guitar and singing one of his songs.
Ricky Nelson performs 'Lonesome Town' on 'The Ozzie & Harriet Show' in 1958:
That was it for me, thats who I wanted to be. From then on I was practicing guitar and singing my own tunes. This was late 50s. I guess I was 13 or 14 years old. I talked my friend Tommy Nichols into taking guitar lessons with me and after we could play a few Chuck Berry songs and wrote a few of our own we started a band called "The Illusions Combo"
What was it about the rock sound that grabbed you away from Jazz?
Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly...the beat, the melodies...How could you not start moving around? The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Zombies, the clothes, the hair...I can't put into words what it mean't & still means. Everything about it.... and I knew this is what I was going to do.
The prevailing feeling of anyone can do it, seemed pretty strong, if not the whole idea of garage rock. There seemed to be a feeling of instancy, and a lack of fear or calculation, no video's or PR campaigns, and a lot of confidence in that being right. The music business has changed a little don't you think? In some ways maybe not...
In the beginning anyone could do it because no-one was doing it anyway. So no matter what you did or sounded like was ok because there was nothing to compare it to. Thats why in the 60's we did lots of covers. Even Jimmy Vaughn ( The Chessman) Stevie Rays brother, did covers, his thing was CREAM...He played just like Eric Clapton. To work alot you had to play the popular songs so kids would come see you. We did more covers than our own music for that reason. When we did play an original song, we never announced that it was one of our songs. That would have put a stigma on the song and fans would think that it wasnt as good as the hits on the radio. You are never a star in your home town. After playing the original song people would go wild and ask who does that song ? We would just keep playing..They knew then....
The music biz was changing real fast. The 50's music was like organized and disciplined, 60's garage rock was like guerrilla warfare, came out of nowhere and caused riots and confusion. You have to remember that drugs were becoming a very big part of this culture. Openly used and considered OK.
Getting a hit must have been the major deal for a band in your position at the time. "Journey To Tyme" was a big hit in Texas for you, what opportunities & experiances did it open up for you?
Didnt think about it much. My girlfriend at the time would freak out when it came on the radio and she would say "aren't you excited about hearing your song on the radio" , and I would say " yes" and thats it...It was exciting however it was strange at the time. It did not open any doors locally and there was no big cash bonus or anything like that..In fact its more exciting now...We wrote that song in 30 minutes...I would think, how could it be any good? We all wrote it however Mark and Jerry got the credit, which was fine with everyone. We never thought it would become a hit...go figure. I thought we had better songs...
'Journey To Tyme' by Kenny & The Kasuals(Mark Records,1966)
Do you have any memories of the first time you heard your band on the radio?
Back then we could take a record to the radio station, give it to them thru the window and they would play it for us. We would sit in the car,in the parking lot and listen to it, not even thinking that thousands of people were also listening to it...We would laugh and talk about who was to loud or not loud enough and about the mix of the tune...
The draft was a major cause of a lot of bands ending around that time, it also seems, with hindsight, a sort of ending of that mid-60's youthful innocence & swagger, was this the case with Kenny & The Kasuals? What do you think would have happened to The Kasuals if the war hadn't happened?
I was drafted in 1968 and that is what broke up the band. When I returned the music scene had changed a lot. The theme was progressive county rock. Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Loggins and Messina, stuff like that..I formed a band called "Summerfield" and we played everywhere. Opened for all the biggies from 1972 to 1975. We did lots of originals and some rock and roll. We opened for Pure Prairie League, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Little Feet, Nittly Gritty Dirt Band, Leon Russell, Willy Nelson, played all Willy's famous picnics, Waylon Jennings, John Sebastian, you know, the lovin spoonful guy. Poco, Loggins and Messina, and the list went on....
In 1977 we went to California and played with Fleetwood Mac, Doobie Bros., and tried to get into the L.A. scene. Didnt work out, probably because my old manager, Mark Lee, wanted to put the Kasuals back together. And we did. Began a campaign to bring back the magic of the Kasuals. We started touring again throughout the U.S.. Our music then was due to the craze going on. "PUNK" We recorded "Garage Kings" and became punks for a bit, then decided in the early 80's this was not our bag.
We would have been famous all over the world and could have been today if it werent for our selfish manager at the time...but thats another story...
'Come Tomorrow' by Kenny & The Kasuals(Mark Records,1966)