So I floated this 13 Questions doubling back idea to Simon Kirk, and to be honest, he was apprehensive about it.
“Is this not dipping the toe into the waters of narcissism?” he wondered. It didn’t sit right with him for a couple of weeks, but after some gentle coercion, I managed to twist his arm.
“I guess it’s no different to musing people have on social media. The beauty about this is that it will be hidden away deep into the bowels of the internet and not on someone’s social media feeds. Plus, we’re not flat-earthers, so what could possibly go wrong?”
In the season of giving, we present an insight into the life of our very own Simon Kirk…
1. Where are you and what are you doing? How is that working out?
“Just got home from shopping in town. Suffice to say, a nightmare – non-existent social distancing and the general lack of consideration for others, you know how it goes. Managed to dip into Probe Records for my annual ‘buy myself something for Christmas’ which, as always, proved successful. Some Wrekmeister Harmonies and Dennis Wilson‘s Pacific Ocean Blue. Big Den, God rest his soul, was giving me the eye from the ‘Ws’ so how could I resist?
2. How have you been coping with the lockdown?
“Up and down. Good things have happened (Sun 13). Not so good things have happened (friends falling ill, other stuff), but that’s the way it’s been for the last three years, so it’s nothing really that new. I’d say I’m ahead of the curve with it all and a lot of positives have come out of this period, like massively cutting down on alcohol, I have a full-time job, great friends and my family are currently okay so I’m super thankful for these things.”
3. What do you have planned for Christmas?
“I don’t normally do Christmas. My family live in Australia so it’s generally a day spent with records and my nose in a book, but last year I visited some friends which was super nice of them to ask. This year, I’ll be reverting to old ways, so it’ll just be me, the record collection and probably a book alongside copious amounts of tea. Not very rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s the best way to avoid Chris Rea…”
4. Who is the nicest “celebrity” you’ve met?
“Ooo, tough one. You’re far more well-versed at meeting these types. I prefer to call them ‘heroes’, really. I met David Pajo (Slint/Tortoise et al) back in 2013 and he was super nice, so let’s say him. Chatted to him for an age then saw him again the next day and he collared me for another chat, which lasted just as long. A really lovely guy.”
5. Recommend one band or album that you think we should check out.
“That’s a pretty obvious one for me. Holy Sons. It received our inaugural album of the year, plus we got an exclusive interview with the brains behind the project, Emil Amos. I think his music is the most misunderstood of our generation. Maybe in my lifetime, actually. In my opinion, some of the best sounds committed to tape have been provided by him and anyone with a shred of curiosity should be getting involved with his music.”
6. When did you last consider quitting social media?
“I’m the opposite to you, Banjo. I never really started with it. I do the social media for the site but it’s a matter of posting then getting out. I seldom post stuff on my own “feeds”. Just share articles from here then leave.
“I get that people use it as a release to deal. In some instances, I liken it to someone turning to religion in their time of need, which I find quite ironic considering how we as human beings are supposed to be ‘connected’ more than ever, which is a total fallacy.
“The art of physical connection and conversation has receded dramatically and I blame social media for that. You can’t blame lockdown for that, either – it’s been happening for years. Will we get back to the basic instinct of picking up the phone and talking to someone? I see now that ‘voice notes’ are in vogue, so maybe that’s a step, but I doubt it.
“Then there are those who just use it to post complete and utter horseshit and I think it’s become quite a dangerous tool. Particularly during the second lockdown period. Twitter is enough to put someone in therapy for a couple of years. It’s like a cruel playground for adults.
“There are positives to it all, of course. From our perspective, the accessibility to reach out to artists and so forth is fantastic. There are no gatekeepers and the boundaries have well and truly been broken on that score where you can basically communicate with most people around the world, including your heroes.
“It’s not for me to judge someone’s preferences but on the whole it’s not my thing. It just feels like a massive time drain. The time spent scrolling down your feed each day must amount to months and months where you could actually be having a go at doing something creative.
“Again, though, live and let live – to me it just feels like a very strange and uncomfortable space to communicate in.”
7. What’s the best night out you’ve ever had?
“Too many to count. If you have a bad night out in Liverpool then you’re doing it wrong. Believe it or not, I didn’t party in my teens and didn’t much in my twenties, either. I’ve made up for that these last three years, which, on reflection, isn’t great – no one really wants to be a late bloomer in hedonism, but it’s probably down to personal circumstances more than anything. There’s more of a stable thing going on now and hopefully that will continue. Lockdown‘s been a good grounding for that.”
8. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?
“I don’t really know if there’s such a thing as a ‘guilty listening pleasure’. Everything you listen to can have an influence on what you do, whether it’s directly or on a subconscious level.
“I remember the first thing I listened to was Belinda Carlisle‘s Runaway Horses which was my mum’s first CD she ever bought when they first became the go-to medium during the late ’80s. It’s a clear memory so it’s obviously an influence of some sort. Same with my dad listening to this Aussie troubadour who spent his life touring around regional Australia playing in RSL clubs; an artist called Slim Dusty. My dad used to listen to his records after coming home after nights on the ale, like most Fridays. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked someone like, say, Wilco, had it not been for that? Who knows. I guess I try to take everything as an influence and see it as a positive rather than feeling guilty.”
9. What words of warning would you give your younger self?
“When you take a drag on a spliff and you don’t feel its instant effect, don’t keep smoking it. Massive life error, right there.”
10. When were you last told off?
“In my old job in Australia, so maybe five years ago? On the phone I got called a cunt by this irate customer. I couldn’t stop laughing because I blown away by the sheer audacity of his claim. Plus, the feeling was very much mutual, so…”
11. What has been your favourite decade for music?
“Don’t really have one. You phase on different bands from different decades. Whether it’s the ’60s, ’90s or whatever, there’s always something from each period that completely blows your mind. That’s essentially the reward of phasing. It’s a good feeling. Maybe the best [feeling], actually.
“The way we listen and consume music these days is totally different to how we did it years ago so I don’t know whether there’s a barometer to compare one decade with another, particularly where new music is concerned.
“I could be controversial and say this era right now, because there’s music getting released today that carries the same emotional weight it did when I was a kid. That’s the power of music. It has no currency and because of that I’m not sure I can quantify it to any specific decade.”
12. What band or record changed the course of your life?
“Definitely Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by the Smashing Pumpkins. Quite a clichéd response, but growing up that record was the only one I needed, so I guess that changed the course. These days, to think of someone only staying with one record for five or so years is absolute madness. But growing up without the internet, without any outside influences from siblings or like-minded friends, plus living in what was essentially a culturally barren landscape, that’s exactly how it was.
“I hadn’t listened to it in years because Adore seemed like such a vital and underappreciated work of theirs that and I’ve spent years trying to get past that point but failing. But I went back to it (Mellon Collie…) during lockdown, and it was incredible to rediscover that not only did it still hold up and evoke the same feelings I had as a kid, but the scope of the whole thing was beyond what I imagined 25 years on. That’s maybe why I didn’t go back to it because subconsciously I may have felt like it would have lost its impact, but it actually had the opposite effect, which basically enhances its status. If you’re looking at guitar music, it really does feel like the full package.
“Say what you like about Billy Corgan, (rightfully so), but it’s simply a work of art and it’s certainly a case of judging the music over the artist.”
13. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
“Well, as we have a little festive message cropping up around these parts tomorrow, I won’t say too much, other than the obvious. Thank you to all the readers, so far.
“This thing just started off as a bit of fun during lockdown and a way to do something positive, as an outlet when you’re feeling like shit and just trying to get through stuff. The fact that people have reached out to us with so much positivity makes it feels like it’s now becoming a ‘thing’.
“Just thinking about it, Banjo, we’ve not even seen each other since March, which makes this whole thing seem like some crazy fever dream! I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that we do this because music means everything to us. So for people to come here, read the content and actually feel something, whether it be positive or negative, means the world. So thank you!”