Ken Fox – The Day Job, GPS, and Vintage KISS
Written by Art Fredette on September 28, 2019
The Fleshtones have been rocking the music scene since 1976. I recently had the good fortune of asking Ken Fox a few questions. Ken has been holding down the bass position with the band for almost 30 years and is, in my opinion, half of one of the greatest rhythm sections in rock and roll.
RRX: You have been with The Fleshtones since 1990. What was it like coming into a group that already had a long history? And what bands had you been in before joining The Fleshtones?
KF: I came into the Fleshtones in 1990 as a fan, so not only did I know what they were about and what to expect, but I had specific ideas of what I wanted to bring to the band.
Or bring BACK to the band as the case may be; I was a fan of their original bassist Jan Marek Pakulski and wanted to bring back some of the elements of his style that I felt had been missing from The Fleshtones. Plus, Pakulski was one of many influences on my style so it was pretty easy to step into his shoes fairly quickly, although there are still aspects of his playing that I’ll never figure out or be able to play. Zaremba will tell you that’s a blessing.
Before The Fleshtones, I played in a Toronto, Canada band, Raving Mojos, moved to New York and gigged around the East Side with a pre-fame Joan Osborne, then to Nashville to tour and record one LP with Jason and The Scorchers.
RRX: How does touring differ now than when you first started out?
KF: Touring has changed quite a lot since my joining the band, but the biggest changes have been internal; we’re in our 60’s now, not in our 20’s. And we still hit the stage as hard as ever. But when I think back on our offstage and pre/post show antics, I quite honestly don’t know how we did it! And I joined the band after they had supposedly left their wildest years behind them! Ah, youth. So the biggest change to touring is that we take better care of ourselves. And the invention of the GPS!
RRX: To most people around this, area you are known as a bass player but I have heard that actually you are also a master carpenter. How do you make the two jive?
KF: Ha! Master carpenter I will never be. More like a do-it-all, master of nothing! A handyman, basically. And it works perfectly with music. I’m self – employed and have no crew that depends on me; I work until it’s time to hit the road and then I put the tools down and get on the plane! And at the end of a tour, the best therapy is to come home and get a little dirt under my fingernails!
RRX: I myself am a KISS fan and I know you have an affinity for them also. My favorite song by them is “Strutter”. What is your favorite?
KF: I have a weird relationship with KISS. They were technically the first band I ever saw live. I saw them opening for The New York Dolls in 1973. I was 12 years old. That concert solidified what it was that I wanted to waste the rest of my life on.
But as with with a lot of childhood passions, I look back on Kiss with nostalgia more than anything, much like remembering the Hardy Boys books as exciting, Vincent Price movies as terrifying, and ingesting boatloads of sugar satisfying. I do still enjoy the first 4 lps to varying degrees, although as an adult songwriter and musician I realize they sound terrible, the songs are ridiculous and the playing grooveless… but I love it! In fact, answering this question makes me want to listen to Kiss right now! I think I’ll start with “Going Blind” off of the Hotter Than Hell LP.
RRX: Final question. People are saying that newer music doesn’t stand up. Do you agree? Is there a current band that excites you?
KF: It’s hard to say if new music “stands up”, because new music is not aimed at me. It’s aimed at the youth, so obviously it seems as if I’ve heard it all before because I HAVE heard it all before! I find it much more interesting to dive back into our musical past and exhume rather than listen to a current 25 year old sing to a 15 year old about text messaging and selfies.
That being said, I’ve been listening to Weyes Blood a lot these days, particularly her new LP. Titanic Rising. Khruangbin is an instrumental-ish band from Texas that I’ve been chilling out to and enjoying quite a bit.
Come see Ken and The Fleshtones, October 13th at the Hangar on the Hudson, 675 River Street in Troy ,4pm doors.
You will not be disappointed.