In 2015 there aren’t many musicians releasing half-hour diatribes on the political self using the medium of hard rock. Liam Kenny may be an exception.
The White Man Is Oppressor, is an album that has Kenny exploring privilege, guilt, the personal and the patriarchal through music influenced by Aerosmith, Ramones and The Rolling Stones. It actually sounds a lot better than that sentence reads.
By his own accounts Kenny grew up in a comfortable middle class childhood in Adelaide. His father Chris Kenny, is a conservative commentator and former political advisor. Liam’s earliest musical memories were of listening to tapes his parents played in the car; Nirvana Unplugged, the best of Leonard Cohen, and REM albums.
The first music he bought was Silverchair and in high school he was listening to Smashing Pumpkins and Cypress Hill. “Your typical middle class sheltered Lollapalooza/Simpsons 'alternative' smorgasbord. Not that there's anything wrong with Cypress Hill," he says.
It was living in a share house in inner suburban Keswick that helped Kenny develop musically, socially and politically. It was a house surrounded by members of Adelaide’s music scene and it was here that he formed the indie band Bitch Prefect with friends Scott O’Hara and Pat Telfer. Kenny went on to play in a bunch of talented bands including Terrible Truths, Kitchens Floors, Peak Twins, The Friendsters and Fair Maiden.
But The White Man Is Oppressor is a solo affair. Guitars and vocals were recorded by Kenny at home with drums recorded later with the assistance of Lincoln Brown (Ghastly Spats, Housewives) and Tristan Price. It is bass-heavy and repetitive music which Kenny says, “should be enjoyed while contemplating one's place in an unacceptable world.”
Listen to "Border Festish" the first track from the tape and read a short interview with Kenny.
Noisey: ‘The White Man Is Oppressor’ is quite a direct title. You say the music should be enjoyed while contemplating one’s place in an unacceptable world. Where do you see your place at the moment?
Liam Kenny: Earth 1.0 is a cesspool of exploitation and domination for which the white man is responsible. As a member of this illustrious club I don't really know what to do about it. At the moment I attempt to educate myself and minimise my inevitable complicity. I like the ‘ugh’ and cough in the middle of the track. What did Lincoln and Tristan think of this?
They didn't mention it. They were probably distracted by my atrocious drumming. The repetitive nature and the guitar work sounds like Chrome. What music inspired this project?
Rock music of all kinds inspired this project. All your favourites.
“Border Fetish” sounds like it could be some commentary on Australia’s ridiculous and dangerous ‘border protection’ laws but you say it’s a metaphor for not leaving your home.
Yeah not sure if it's a metaphor actually, it's just about both things. I like the lyrics in this one. Hopefully you can hear them fairly clearly. They refer to Peter Dutton- at the time he was only the Health Minister, and now he's the Minister for Borders. Psychic. You cover the Ramones “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World”. The Ramones are portrayed as kind of cartoonish but this song is about Nazism. “I'm a shock trooper in a stupor Yes I am.”
Tommy Ramone died around the time I was recording most of this, so it was in my head for that reason. And the lyrics fit the theme of the album perfectly. The inseparability of the personal and political.
“The White Man Is Oppressor" will be released through Eternal Soundcheck in late 2015.