Reminiscing and Forecasting with Al Kash
Written by Rob Smittix on June 8, 2020
Al Kash is one of the Capital Region’s iconic musicians but as you may know, he didn’t get his start here. Today Al was kind enough to take time out of his quarantine to chat with us about his career path and what he’s got cooking on the burners.
RRX: So how you been?
AK: Well, starting to lose it a bit
RRX: That was me almost this entire time. Now each day I try to accomplish at last one thing.
AK: I’ve been doing one or two drum practices in my room every day, which has been really great. I’m going back to stuff… You know, you practice music and there’s a lot of stuff you just ignore because you don’t use it. So I’ve been practicing African stuff and working on different techniques I’ve ignored over the last few decades.
RRX: So definitely keeping yourself busy with the music. It’s driving me insane and I’m sure it is you too, that you just can’t jam with anyone.
AK: Oh my god yeah.
RRX: Now I’m familiar with much of what you have done musically but nobody knows it like you do. For the folks that don’t know who you are can you give us a little summary of your music career?
AK: Where do you want me to start? (laughs). We left NY when I was 14 by ship to Australia that was in 64′ and I turned 15 on the boat. One of my first friends over there was playing guitar in the apartment next to where we just moved and he said why don’t you play bass? I said, yeah okay, and I went to the music store. I don’t know why but I understood it. We both went to audition for a band; the singer’s girlfriend was the drummer but they had split up. So there was already a drum set sitting around. I sat down and just started playing and I thought, oh I like this better than bass. So I ended up taking over the monthly payments on what this guy bought the drums for. That’s how I started drumming.
RRX: And so glad you did. My brother and drummer Jay received lessons from you many years ago and we even had a couple of chances to share the stage with you, certainly a highlight in Smittix’s career. But besides us (laughs), you have had many amazing years as a professional musician, any wow moments you could share?
AK: In my early career in Australia, you could do three gigs in a 24 hour period. They had these rules, the bars and pubs had sessions. The clubs would be open at night time, like 10pm-3am or something like that. So you could end up doing an early, early session at a bar, a dinner session at another bar and a nightclub spot all within that day. So I grew up in that sort of climate.
There was a band called Tully, part of the house band in Sydney for Hair and the drummer was from Perth. I had sort of a mini-conversation/lesson with him. He was one of these phenomenal people that I admire. Tully was inspiration plus ya know? Another Australian band I was a part of in 1970 was Black Feather and we had Bon Scott on timbales and recorder.
RRX: That’s nuts just to have a name like Bon Scott work with you.
AK: Bon would come out to some of the gigs and he was a drummer also. I would say “play a few songs if you feel like it”. He would drum. It was original music, it was tough to invite people on stage.
AK: Then it was 73′, I was back on the West Coast in Perth and the band I was in, we opened up for The Stones, out in the Cricket Ground, which was great. There’s a live tape of that on YouTube but without sound.
RRX: Awww. So my brother told me a rumor I’ve heard for years. He told me that you broke some kind of record for playing drums for like 3 days straight or something?
AK: Oh, yeah. That 67′ or 68′. The band I was in The Down Home Group. In Perth at the time another band had held the Guinness Book of World Records for non-stop playing by Guinness rules; which allows you 5 minutes per hour break or you can accumulate your breaks and play 6 hours and have a half hour off. So anyway it was a friend’s band that played at this club we used to play and they just did it as a mark and played for 52 hours. Then I don’t know, it was three to six months later the band that I was in said let’s see if we can break their record. So we set it all up and we started Friday night and ended sometime Sunday but we played for 60 and 1/2 hours.
RRX: I couldn’t even imagine, I like to take a break after three songs at band practice.
AK: At one point when I was up there after God knows how many hours, I looked out and I thought I was looking at glass enclosing my part of the stage. Just my brain hallucinating on me.
RRX: Understandably so.
AK: So that’s been documented, I don’t think anyone was silly enough to try and beat that.
RRX: No way! So when this whole thing is over, what’s the first thing you want to do?
AK: Whelp, I’m involved in one, two, three CD’s we’re trying to wrap up at this moment. Some of the performance stuff needs to be done but mostly mixing and getting together and saying yeah that sounds great let’s do it. All that’s on hold.
RRX: It’s like your hands are tied.
AK: Yeah and this would be an answer to just sitting home on your ass. This would be great if Playing with Fire’s CD came out or… Nite Train’s CD is almost ready to be released. Leopard Society that whole CD is mixed in the art department. All that stuff would be my preference right now but it would be just incredible walk onto a stage with anyone at this point and say what song do you want to play?
RRX: I know. You know, a lot of people are doing these live streams, where they are performing from their houses.
AK: I actually have a different take on that. I’m not really that interested in seeing someone gather around with an acoustic guitar standing in their living room and singing; with all do respect. I wanna hear electric guitar with distortion and see people bouncing around.
RRX: Anything else been on your mind?
AK: I visited Australia this past August, I got to play with a lot of friends. One of them is a book publisher/musician guy. Numerous bands I played in are featured in a new book coming out called Way Out West. It’s Perth’s music scene from the 60’s and 70’s. That should be out any week.
My calendar was booked until September now everything is cancelled. Some places said we’re shifting those dates till 2021. I am hoping in the next few weeks we have some openings and something positive will transpire.