A hard driving beat with brains is the consensus about Wire Train. With their Felliniesque video / single, “I’ll Do You” clearing the tracks, the San Francisco based band recently finished a sell-out tour with Big Country and is enjoying cannonball chart action with their first album In A Chamber.
While it’s true guitarist/singer/songwriter Kurt Herr wasn’t into music at all until 1980, once he decided to lay the rails for Wire train by mastering the guitar, things moved fast. “I learned the guitar as quickly as I did because I really wanted to,” Kurt says simply. Moving from New York to San Francisco, he met a lanky international poetry student named Kevin Hunter. “When I met Kurt,” Kevin recalls, “I asked him two questions: Did he play music? And did he want to be in a band. His answer to both questions was ‘no’.”
Despite this ironic exchange, Kevin and Kurt began writing and singing together. Eventually the band was solidified by the entrances of Anders Rundblad, a Swedish bass player from the group Mötvind; and drummer Federico Gil-Sola, an Argentine musician with a long history of rock bands before emigrating to America. When legal hassles ensued when they adopted the name The Renegades, Kevin and Kurt remembered a song they used to sing called Wire Train. “We decided to go with that name instead, ” Kurt explains. “There’s a small, wonderful label up North called 415. They have a distribution deal with Columbia Records so we got the best of both worlds,” he says referring to the attention they get from a small label like 415 without losing the clout of a powerful distributor like CBS. “This way we don’t get lost at Columbia because of Michael Jackson.”
“I know our album isn’t simple,” Kevin admits. “One of the things that makes people unhappy is that they expect everything to be laid out for them. That’s not the way it is. Things aren’t pat and well organised. Life is full of subtleties. We want people to go beyond the elusiveness of the song and hear what’s really being said.” It should come as no surprise however that a lyricist who had two short novels published by the time he was sixteen and often inundated himself with the works of Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Allen Ginsburg isn’t going to put things forth simply!
“The ideas that run through my head can’t be stated in non-poetic forms,” Kevin muses. I wouldn’t call it poetry myself. I call it a use of language outside the norm that expresses an idea more successfully than just stating the idea.” For Kevin and Kurt, song writing is a delicate process. To Kevin’s unique language, Kurt adds, “the complementary tones and rhythms. I look to the emotion of what Kevin has written and try to express that in emotional tones,” Kurt analyses.
“It’s like adding another texture to a dream, ” Kevin says. “Out of this dream emerges the song. All our songs are like young children, brought up properly for their own individuality. Wire Train deals with the intensity and integrity of real emotion. We defend that with our lives!”