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Interview: Scott Carne

Kids In The Kitchen's frontman recalls: "It all happened really quickly"

Interview from January 2021

Between 1983 and 1988, Kids In The Kitchen were regulars on the ARIA chart, starting with top 10 debut single, "Change In Mood", and releasing two albums, Shine in 1985 and 1987's Terrain. Since 2006, singer Scott Carne has performed the band's hits as part of Absolutely 80s and, occasionally, with different Kids In The Kitchen line-ups. In this new interview, Scott reflects on their rapid rise.

How did the band get together? Did you all know each other?

Greg Dorman, the first guitarist, and I were living at Seaford at his mum’s house and we said, “Let’s put a band together.” We’d just come out of a drama and media course at TAFE in Box Hill — that’s where we met. Greg went to put an ad up at the local music shop and didn’t even get the chance to put the sign up because Craig Harnath, the bass player, who was looking for a local band to play with, was standing there, so we came together and had a play. That worked well, and Craig knew Bruce [Curnow], the drummer — they were at university together. I found the keyboard player, Greg Woodhead, through a friend of mine. From there, we rehearsed once a week and did a gig and our friends came along, then we did another gig. Then we said, “Let’s get a real gig,” so we did and the rest is history — three months later we had a record contract.

Scott Carne then and now.png

Was it as straightforward as that?

We were at the right place at the right time. We had some good songs — some of them were a bit embryonic and took on form as we played them. We got a manager at the second or third gig. There were gigs happening in the Melbourne CBD seven nights a week, and most would have three or four bands a night. We were one of those, starting from the bottom and working our way up. Within three months or so we got a record contact. Real Life released “Send Me An Angel” and it went right through the roof. and suddenly, A&R guys were trying to recruit the next one, so guys like us and Pseudo Echo got signed. Actually Pseudo Echo went on TV unsigned because Molly [Meldrum] liked them and they got a deal. It was a really great time in music — amongst all the pub rock of The Angels, there were these new wave bands born and they all had top 10 singles. It all happened really quickly.

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Kids In The Kitchen on Chart Beats

Did you face any pushback from the rockier end of the music industry, or from fans of pub rock bands like The Angels and Cold Chisel?

Their fans probably didn’t take us on with much credibility. You find out later on with a lot of them, they say, “I didn’t like you then but I really love the music now.” The old guard of The Angels and Cold Chisel, they pushed through, but certain bands of the pub rock era kind of felt that they were losing grip on their whole style and sound because it was being taken over by these keyboard-driven, heavily produced bands. The music press — other than Smash Hits, Rolling Stone and Juke weren’t favourable. They saw all of us as a bit of a flash in the pan. Rolling Stone would review your album and put you down for your music, and the very next review would be a Paul Kelly or Sunnyboys album and they’d be praising the bejesus out of them. It felt like we were not taken seriously. It didn’t affect us writing music but it did make us feel a little bit unloved in the industry.

You were 18 going on 19 in 1983. Did you have a backup plan?

No, I wasn’t thinking in terms of another career. I moved out of home pretty young — 16 and a half or something — and found music. I didn’t really listen to music at all until I was 14, then this kid at school turned me onto music. Prior to that, I was riding off-road motorcycles and stuff. It was a simpler time and you had hobbies, but there wasn’t much in the way of distractions. Music was a great escape for me and it was something I sort of tripped into. It could have been very different for me.

The ARIA chart began in 1983 and there were top 50 printouts in record stores. What was it like seeing "Change In Mood" go top 10 on that?

It was all quite bizarre. We released "Change In Mood" and had no idea it was going to do as well as it did. There was this show called Top 8 at 8 on 3XY and they’d play a new release and people would ring up and vote for it. I, along with my mum and hundreds of other friends, would ring up and go, “Play the Kids In The Kitchen song.” That helped it get played. And we got on Countdown. There were a lot of things aligning to make it happen and it ended up being a national top 10 hit. It was all surreal: “This is happening. Fuck me!” It was a pretty quick rise.

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