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Charles Foster Kane: Take Five.

27 May 2002 | 12:00 am | Kane Barwick
Originally Appeared In

Workin' On The Kane Gang.

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Charles Foster Kane play The Healer on Friday.


Let’s not beat about the bush, eh. If you’ve no interest in that anglo-pop thing then you ought to look away right now. It’s about pop music being fey and a bit game. This brand of pop, the Charles Foster Kane brand, is not about men baring their teeth as though music was just another sport – another chance to impress the ladies. This is about soft cotton shirts and poetry and posing. It’s about the stage and its craft. With Charles Foster Kane it’s all in the performance, so if you can’t see ‘em you certainly can’t know ’em.

I couldn’t help but ask it, y’know, that question about the name, but Dane (of the O’Hara’s) shot me down when I tried: Which do you most identify with, Charles Foster Kane the character or Citizen Kane the film?

“Oh, I don’t know, it was just a drunken idea.”

Well there goes that piece of incisive journalism.

“The band was started by Andrew the keyboard player and myself. We were both playing in different bands at the time. This was about three years ago. So we went and did a little bit of poaching.”

How does one go about poaching a musician from another band?

“You use the line: Do you wanna jam with me?”

That line actually works?

“Yeah.”

So that initial band came together because you had the sound of your dream band in your head?

“Oh I suppose I had an idea where I wanted to go with the band.”

Did that stem from what you weren’t doing with your previous bands?

“Yeah it came from being frustrated with being in a band that lacked certain elements that I wanted. So I decided that the next time I put a band together it would have a fairly specific style, musically and visually.”

So your previous bands bare no resemblance to Charles Foster Kane?

“No none of us have done anything like Charles Foster Kane before.”

You’re all from standard indie rock backgrounds?

“Yeah, electronic indie pop and funk groups.”

Charles Foster Kane’s antithesis?

“Yeah. None of our respective bands sounded like we do now and I think that helped because it was all so new and quite exciting for the five of us.”

Was there a point, early on, when the five of you came together where you sat down and discussed the Charles Foster Kane aesthetic, in that the sound you have established doesn’t sound accidental?

“How we sound now is reasonably accidental, but we did go in with a plan. We tried to stick to that plan but in the end the songs had a sound that we had no real control over. So this is, basically, our take on pop.”

Okay, because, I had imagined that each of your songs is really quite considered in their arrangements, for instance.

“Well yeah we do spend a lot of time on the arrangements before we play them live. It’s certainly not a matter of somebody arriving with an acoustic guitar and saying ‘here’s the chords’. We’ve all been in bands like that before. But in this band we’ll all spend a lot of time looking at specific parts. We just rip each song to pieces, take it back to it’s core, and start layering all over again until we all hear what we like.”

Are you all pretty easy going about the give and take process of fine-tuning a song?

“I wouldn’t say easy going about it, no. People realise, I think, when they’re wrong. They may not realise it straight away but, myself included, eventually you have to admit ‘That bastard was right’.”

Sometimes that’s the only way to figure something out.

“Well that’s right, and in the end we don’t play a song until all five members are happy with it.”