themusic.com.au: King Salami and the Cumberland Three interview
There hasn't been a huge number of food-related musical stories of late. This, of course, must be taken with grain of salt (ahem) though; The Smashing Pumpkins recently stopped by the country, for one. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are set to make an appearance at Big Day Out, for another. But what about the chilled-out novelty that was Nilsson with Cocounut? Where's the headlines that hearken back to Mama Cass choking on a turkey sandwich (which, depending on your opinion, is true or utter bullshit)? Well fear no more: King Salami & The Cumberland Three are here to fulfil all your culinary/auditory hybrid needs.
One of London's current premier ska/punk bands, Salami & The Cumberland Three have a backstory that finely suits there crazy, rabble-rousing sound. Forming in 2006, the band was the varied and inspired combination of one Japanese, one French, one Spanish and one Caribbean musician; otherwise known as Kamikaze St Vincent, Eric Baconstrip, Pepe Ronnie and King Salami himself, respectively. So yes, the infatuation with smallgoods does go beyond the band's moniker. They ultimately fused Japanese gogo, Spanish instrumental, European pop and Carribean rhythm into one hell of a party-rocking sound. There's everything you'd expect in there; the old American punk sound of The Stooges and the MC5, The British wave of The Clash and the Sex Pistols, with just enough Elvis swagger to top it all off.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with the raspy-voiced and fine-dancing leadman, King Salami, prior to their upcoming Australian tour and just as their latest album, Fourteen Blazin' Bangers!, makes it's way to stereos around the country. Of course, the obvious question has to be put forward; what's with the name? “We just love sausages,” the frontman says with affable succinctness. Fair enough. It's the first question they're constantly asked in every interview, and it's an answer that can't really be argued with. As the group call to fans to “Do The Wurst” at gigs, it's obvious that despite their fun, party-down facade, they really do love sausages. The rest of the interview isn't neccesarily so straightforward. “We went through New Scotland Yard's most wanted list and picked the most dangerous musicians known to the authorities,” Salami throws out when asked just how such an eclectic group of musicians got together. In the world of London's undying punk scene, it may be closer to the truth than you may initially suspect. They are part of a breed of neo-punk bands sweeping the edges of ska, soul and funk.
“It's been good for a while; a few of the UK party bands are in the same kind of orbit and like each other's styles,” Salami explains when asked just how fervent the party scene in London is at the moment. “As for the reforming bands, everyone's at it, so the ones that have aged well are appealing to both the original fans plus the youngsters who weren't born first time around. Luckily there'll always be people up for a good time.” King Salami & The Cumberland Three have been lucky enough to break free of that (arguably) underground London scene, and have spent years touring around the world, bringing the party to anyone and everyone that just feels like getting down to some food-themed craziness. All over Europe, Japan, South America, and now Australia; there's not too many places these guys won't play. “It seems to be a constant, people are all dancing and jumping around to the salami sound wherever we play,” Salami answers on how worldwide reception is to the group. “But it was quite funny and surprising last time when we played in China, in this great club in Wuhan, where suddenly all the audience started to do the conga dance! Maybe that's just the way they do it there.”
Touring, of course, is just one element of the formula; sharing the stage with other like-minded musicians is the other half. Not being hugely knowledgeable on the ongoing vibe of the rockabilly and punk circuits, this scribe asks Salami to rattle off a few of his favourite bands to play with. The answer is something you may want to write down – they're all equally as crazy as Salami & The Cumberland Three, I assure you. “Thee Vicars, The Masonics, Sundae Kups, Fabulous Penetrators, Luxury Condo, Urban Voodoo Machine….” Salami energetically lists before giving the lowdown on a recent tour the band played on. “We did a Japan tour recently with this amazing Tokyo band called The Minnesota Voodoo Men, and every night was such a party,” he say excitedly. “We would swap instruments and swap band members during the set and things like that… [It was] so much fun with these guys!”
With a sound that arouses images of late night gogo parties, beehive hairdos and swingin' your arms up and down, King Salami & The Cumberland Three have seemed to inject the old, swinging sound with newfound energy. And crowds have reciprocated; a usual King Salami gig is full of rockabillys, punks and swingers, all looking to break it down in their leathers and fluoro bangles. What does Salami think about bringing a long-resigned style back to the surface? “The eternal question,” he deadpans. “Why did Hendrix and Led Zeppelin sound so right in the '90s? Why mod in the late seventies, etc. but then sound out of place just a few years later? The person who can predict that is going to be very rich.” No matter what you think of how they've resurrected what many may assume as a dead art, King Salami & The Dirty Three are here for two simple reasons; to get you partying, and to share their love of some good old sausage. “Pretty much a bit of everything; a-sides, b-sides, album tracks, unreleased stuff, sometimes a one-off cover for a particular country or show,” Salami explains of what punters can expect, before throwing in one more cheeky dig: “And Maurice Bejart does our choreography.”
During the research for this story, this scribe became interested heavily in the sausage angle of the band (of course, why not?). In doing so, a certain San Franciscan restaurant was found to share the same name as Salami. Just a coincidence, or maybe a shared perspective? “We didn't!” Salami admits when it's put forward to him. “We get the feeling that's a loaded question?”