Motor City Babylon
Legend Kim Fowley on life, death, Hollywood and the power and beauty of Detroit
Published: February 29, 2012
I completed the prose part of it in the hospital, dealing with blood, thunder and morphine. I’m using Iggy Pop as my muse. It’s like if Iggy was an author of books. And, of course, my poetry is beatnik because I come from that era. A lot are lyrics that bands I’ve worked with over the years were too afraid to record or were too stupid to realize how great they were. You were actually helpful when you were the editor of BAM and you let me write for BAM. You were a good editor.
You showed me how to make it more concise, the way it should’ve been. So, the book will be out in April to coincide with my European tour. I’ve had books out before, of course.
MT: You and I talked several times years ago about doing an autobiography.
Fowley: Well, I’ve been offered a lot of those kinds of things. But I figured I like the angle of the poetry book because I’ve been writing it for years. It’s my version of a diary, which I’ve been doing now for 55 years. And I’ve saved everything. So the poetry part was already written.
And then I’ve been in and out of cancer hospitals for surgery now for three and a half years. And so I would wait until the morphine was kicking in and I was bleeding into bags and delirious. And I would float away into prose.
MT: You and I used to also talk about a book of Kim Fowley stories, from ABBA to Zappa.
Fowley: Well, no one has asked for that yet. But this is basically about the mutilation of the music industry and the massacre of the movie business, which is now going on simultaneously. And I’m caught in the middle of it in a fucking sandwich. And the only way I could be sane there was by writing poetry. The sanity part never happened. But at least the poetry did. [laughs]
MT: What about current musical projects?
Fowley: Well, I have three companies. One of them is Flesharama, which is all-female artists. In addition to Snow Mercy and Black Room Doom, we also have Brianna Garcia. She’s actually from Detroit — what I hear is a dangerous part of Detroit called Redford. She’s a Jennifer Lopez version of Joe Strummer. And then we also have Double Love, which is one female George Michael and one female Eminem. And we have Versailles, who sounds like the Brill Building, like all the girl groups. And then there is this artist who’s quite famous in Europe called Noizee Noize. She’s a one-girl band. You see the guitar — but then you hear the bass and you feel the drums pounding before you realize just one girl with a Mohawk is doing it. And she’s
sitting right here with her dog. Say hello to Bill, Noizee.
Noizee: Hey, Bill!
Fowley: She has a new album coming out on April 1st, with a song, “Under Summer Skies,” co-written by Kim Fowley. And I’m going to be doing a remix of the song. I have so many projects, I can’t remember them all. But I also have Elmira, who is essentially a modern Cherie Currie. And there is a girl, who plays Michigan a lot, named Windy, who is a combination of Bridget Bardot and Mark Farner because she plays guitar like he does.
And then I have a company called Trasharama, which is Kim Fowley and rock bands, like Burning Bones and other groups. And then Flasharama is my R&B label, including Tiffany Grant who is a Mavis Staples version of Leonard Cohen. And then finally the fabulous Kendrick Dial, who is a social worker and comes across like the new Gil Scott Heron. So, I’m making plenty of music.
Plus, I’ve just written a new song with Joan Jett, which is the main song in the new Project Ash Zombie Cheerleader videogame for Warner Bros.! So what do you think of that? [chuckles]
That’s a mouthful, isn’t It?
MT: Jesus, Kim. You’ve got more going on than the major labels have going on these days.
Fowley: Well, I do acting as well. I’m in seven movies and three television programs that are being shown this year, including documentaries on Dick Dale, the Seeds, Bert Burns, the BMX Bandits, and even [Irish playwright] WB Yeats.
MT: So, tell us about what you’re going to be doing at Blowout.
Fowley: Well, Kim Fowley’s Psychedelic Dogs will feature Matt Smith [Outrageous Cherry], Troy Gregory [the Witches], John Nash [Electric 6], Bootsey X, and the Canyons of Your Mind horn section at the Polish National Alliance Hall, where we’ll be playing the same stage as the Dirtbombs. And then, to be exact, Kim Fowley’s Psychedelic Dogs, unplugged, will be playing the Blowout pre-party at the Magic Stick Garden Bowl on Wednesday. This is a reunion. I recorded with all of them in 1997, when we recorded the masterpiece, Michigan Babylon. Also, the unreleased gem, Culture of Despair. So we’ve already played together before and have done the hustle. We know how it works between us. We did each album in one day. We get along well.
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