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Going Behind the Kit with Kenney Jones of the Small Faces and The Who (Q&A)

Going Behind the Kit with Kenney Jones of the Small Faces and The Who (Q&A)

Kenney Jones photograph: Mike Garden

Drummer Kenney Jones’ tenure with The Small Faces, The Faces and The Who showcased a musician whose explosive drumming prowess lit the fuse for such timeless classics as “Tin Soldier,” “Maggie May,” “You Wear It Well” “You Better You Bet” and “Eminence Front.” Kenney’s authored a current guide, Let The Good Occasions Roll: My Life in the Small Faces, Faces and The Who, which chronicles his fifty yr plus life in the rock and roll trenches.

Whereas Kenney’s work in The Faces and The Who is far admired, it’s his revolutionary work with the Small Faces that set his profession into movement and it’s the short-lived profession of that band we focus upon in our interview with the British rock legend.

Rock Cellar: How did being mods come into performs for the Small Faces?

Kenney Jones: We have been all mods earlier than we have been in the Small Faces. We had all recognized individually with what we needed to be earlier than we had truly met. It was completely superb that once we all ran into one another we had completely comparable trend senses, comparable outlook — as a result of we have been the first younger era after the conflict.

I keep in mind rising up as a child in black and white. And actually, everyone wore black and white, and we have been the individuals to put on colour, and it was superb. We began to put on all these brilliant issues, and it was all proper to dye your hair then. So much of mods truly dyed their hair blonde. It wasn’t referred to as dyed, it was referred to as bleaching your hair then.


Small Faces courtesy of Gary Borress collectionSmall Faces courtesy of Gary Borress assortment

Rock Cellar: What do you keep in mind about the first Small Faces album on Decca?

Kenney Jones: I keep in mind doing it in IBC Studios, Portland Place, and Glyn Johns was an engineer there, and the desk he was utilizing had nice massive knobs, faders, on it. Nice desk, huge previous valve desk. We recorded it very quickly in any respect, we simply performed. Did one or two takes, and we have been gone. “All or Nothing” was additionally recorded there.

Rock Cellar: What do you assume of some of your early hits that Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane didn’t write, like “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”?

Kenney Jones: I don’t assume I hate it. I hate what it stands for.

We had “Whatcha Gonna Do About It”, written by Ian Samwell, and that was successful. So we stated, “We’re gonna write the next one,” and it was referred to as “I Got Mine.” It was nice, and it was a flop. So Don Arden stated, “I’m not gonna risk you guys having a flop again,” so he introduced in Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman, two scorching songwriters, and they wrote this track. And Kenny Lynch — he’s an expensive good friend of mine now, and I all the time remind him what he stated to me. We have been recording “Sha-La-La-La-Lee,” and Kenny Lynch got here out, and it’s the solely time anybody’s ever advised me what to play. He got here out and stated “Don’t play anything you can’t mime to.” And I went, “Awww, fuck that,” however I all the time keep in mind that and I all the time remind him of it.

Rock Cellar: How did you are feeling when “All or Nothing” reached primary in 1966?

Kenney Jones: It was a tremendous feeling. It was historical past. We had a joint No. 1 with the Beatles at one level. I’ll always remember on Prime of the Pops, it was a joint No. 1 and that they had our footage on display collectively, like reduce in half. Half my face and half of Ringo’s. I’ve nonetheless received an image of it someplace — it was unbelievable.

Rock Cellar: How did issues change for the Small Faces with the transfer from Decca to Quick Data underneath the steerage of Rolling Stones supervisor Andrew Loog Oldham?

Kenney Jones: What occurred was we got extra studio time to do what we needed. Andrew Oldham would simply encourage us to remain and play and do what we would like so we did. We had much more time to only experiment.

Rock Cellar: As soon as the band moved over to Speedy Data, with Glyn Johns overseeing the periods, you started to make use of Olympic Studios as a sonic workshop to hash out concepts and document new music.

Kenney Jones: In Olympic Studios there was an echo chamber room with one speaker and a mike. Glyn and I used to adore it. We used to go down there and reposition it and come again up and feed it via the desk and you’d get this pretty ambient sound. That’s how Glyn obtained that nice huge sustained snare and tom tom sound, which is incredible and we have been the first to try this.

Rock Cellar: In what method did Glyn Johns contribute to the band’s sound?

Kenney Jones: We had the luck of working with Glyn Johns as an engineer and he progressed with the sound — new tape machines, extra toys. I hated hanging about in the studio so I’d be downstairs engaged on my mini outdoors the studio 9 occasions out of ten as a result of I hated ready about. And a roadie would come down and say, ‘Right, okay, Steve’s obtained it down now, you possibly can come up and do the drums now’ and half the time I by no means even heard the track. We’d simply run by means of it a few times and we’d get it.”

Rock Cellar: What made The Small Faces stand proud of your fellow British rock brethren?

Kenney Jones: One factor I like about The Small Faces is the preparations are so totally different and so good. Some individuals name us a rock and roll band. Nicely, we by no means ever performed rock and roll. We wrote songs and we performed them.

We didn’t have a rock and roll type. We have been distinctive. It’s a bit like The Beatles; they weren’t a rock and roll band. Rock was a component that was a thread that ran by way of what we have been doing however primarily the songs have been model new, recent and creative. 

Rock Cellar: For me, “Tin Soldier” is one of the most enjoyable singles ever recorded.

Kenney Jones:Each time I feel of “Tin Soldier” I mechanically assume of “Here Comes the Nice,” as a result of they’re very comparable in phrases of association and sound, aspect stick and full-on drums. Many of the songs we recorded round the similar time have an identical thread operating by way of them. The great point is that we by no means over-questioned or over-arranged something. It was simply, that’ll work, and that’s nice.

Every thing was finished in the first or second take.

Rock Cellar: How would you describe your drum type with The Small Faces?

Kenney Jones: My fashion on these data at the time was very massive and dynamic orchestral Phil Spector sort of drum sounds and fills. I’d picked up stuff subconsciously from doing periods with huge bands in order that’s mirrored on a music like “Green Circles.”

Rock Cellar: The Marriott/Lane music, “Itchycoo Park,” was the band’s solely hit in the United States.

Kenney Jones: Hitler’s bombs fell on our road so my playground was the bomb ruins. I simply performed on all these things, I by no means questioned it, simply had an exquisite time enjoying on all this rubble.

There have been rather a lot of stinging nettles that grew there, and you’d have on brief trousers, and they’d sting your legs and you’d get all itchycoo. Everyplace had its personal “Itchycoo Park,” actually. It confirmed a unique aspect of Steve’s expertise.

The great point was you knew when he sang like that it wasn’t for lengthy earlier than he actually hammered it down. I feel Steve had an incredible voice in the songs with out the energy behind it as properly.  One of my favourite tracks is one which didn’t come out underneath our identify, funnily sufficient — it’s P.P. Arnold’s “(If You Think You’re) Groovy.” I feel a Small Faces model with Steve singing it does exist. I feel I’ve heard it.

One of us might have a replica mendacity round someplace; I’d need to search for that. I assumed Steve and Ronnie have been actually sort to provide that music to her, as a result of it might’ve been an enormous hit for the Small Faces. I didn’t thoughts — I performed on it, nevertheless it was all accidentally. All of us glided by the studio collectively, and Pat and her band have been doing it. And all of the sudden, the drummer couldn’t get it proper. I imply, don’t get me flawed, he was a terrific drummer, however for some purpose it simply wasn’t understanding. So I used to be in the sales space with Glyn Johns, and Steve was making an attempt to point out him the best way to play it, and I went on the mike and stated “Here, if you’ll just do it like — well, I’ll just come down and show you.”

So I acquired on the package, and confirmed him, and keep in mind, I’d by no means performed the track earlier than. And he discovered it, and then they got here to a different level the place it simply wasn’t proper so I confirmed him one other half. And in the finish he stated, “Come on, you just play it,” and I stated, “No, that’s not right, you play it,” and everyone else chimed in, so in the finish I simply performed it. It wound up being the entire Small Faces on that minimize.

Rock Cellar: Talking of America, the Small Faces by no means made it over right here to play reside exhibits. Wanting again, was that a mistake?

Kenney Jones: I bitterly remorse we by no means conquered America. We have been watching The Beatles do it, The Stones, The Who and The Kinks. We should always have been alongside there. If we’d have gone to America we might have made it huge and in all probability stayed collectively and our music would have modified for the higher in America.

All we needed to do was get rid of our teenybopper picture and we might have finished in America.

Rock Cellar: “I’m Only Dreaming” is a Small Faces monitor that had an enormous affect on the ’70s energy pop band Raspberries.

Kenney Jones: I keep in mind on “I’m Only Dreaming” all of us received bits of pins and paper and caught it on the piano hammers, and that’s how we acquired the impact on the piano. I didn’t solely play drums on the data; I performed my drum stool with brushes. I performed on “If I Were a Carpenter” — we have been all sitting round and enjoying it, and it didn’t sound correct on the drum package, so I began enjoying on the drum stool with brushes — the stool was fairly tough.

And I stated to Glyn Johns, “All right, mike it,” and that’s how I did it. I additionally performed Andy Fairweather Low’s guitar case on “La Booga Rooga.”

Rock Cellar: The Small Faces and Faces have been inducted into The Rock & Roll Corridor Of Fame concurrently. How did the success of The Faces in the U.S. lead others to get turned onto the Small Faces?

Kenney Jones: I feel when the Faces first went over to America, individuals needed to know extra about us and did their homework and realized three of us have been in the Small Faces. So in some ways the Faces put the Small Faces on the map in America.

Rock Cellar: If the Small Faces had stayed collectively and Steve hadn’t left, what course musically do you assume you’d have gone in?

Kenney Jones: I feel we might have been messing round with the similar music we performed between us all. As a brand new instrument got here out, we might have been utilizing it to our benefit. Who is aware of? I feel we might have carried out fantastic stuff! I feel the Britpop motion now are doing it for us. They’re taking the greatest ele­ments of Small Faces, and they’re making a brand new taste of ice cream.

Rock Cellar: Are you flattered by the respect the band will get now?

Kenney Jones: I can see so much of bands, lots of drummers, enjoying like me, which is actual­ly unusual. I’m extremely flattered, and I can see similarities in Ronnie, Steve and Mac in the look of the bands now.

Of all the bands in the ’60s, the biggest-hyped bands have been the Stones and the Beatles, principally, however we have been proper there and we have been fairly huge at the time. The report firm stored releasing these poppy re­cords — nevertheless it was our fault, we wrote them. So no one would take heed to the album tracks, and the album tracks have been bloody nice. We have been lots heavier band than individuals gave us credit score for, however we might by no means lose that pop picture — which, funnily sufficient, I’m truly fairly proud of now, as a result of there’s power in the pop aspect of music.

I feel it’s truly been abundantly clear now, individuals have truly realized it’s not simply pop, it’s only a business document. Pop is only a time period and you’ll be able to truly nonetheless be heavy underneath that label.

Rock Cellar: What’s the legacy of the Small Faces?

Kenney Jones: We have been method earlier than our time. When younger individuals uncover the Small Faces at the moment I’m happy to know the songs stand the check of time. And that isn’t shocking, as the songs had nice significant content material. The songs inform the fact and the proof lies in the songs, the performances and the creativity of the band.

None of us knew how good and forward of our time we have been.