Kid Confucius - Let There Be Soul
Sydneysiders Kid Confucius have found the new sound. Gone is the fusion of funk, hip hop and rock that made the group one of our country’s finest live acts – now it’s all about soul. And garage. 3D’s Cyclone chatted with frontman Andrew Guirguis about their new album.
It isn’t easy being the disciplinarian in a group. Kid Confucius’ ‘bandleader’ Andrew Guirguis has to mobilise – and motivate – eight musicians, including himself.
“Heaps of people always ask, ‘How do eight guys do anything, let alone tour and record and decide on anything-’” he laughs. “I guess where there’s a massive group of people, you’ve gotta have one or two who call the shots – and everyone else has to have faith and trust that the decisions that get made are for the good of everyone, and for the band. We’re lucky enough to have that kind of harmony.”
He’s not doing badly. The Sydneysiders – now joined by fresh-faced guitarist James Manson – are remarkably prolific, releasing three albums in as many years. The latest, The Let Go, again takes an audacious new direction as Kid Confucius revel in the grooviest funk-rock. They reunited with long-time producer Tony Buchen, the outfit utilising vintage recording equipment to get that “Rolling Stones-meets-Phil Spector” vibe.
Kid Confucius have always traversed soul, funk, hip hop and rock, but this foray into edgy, gritty garage soul apparently came after they began covering the likes of The Strokes last festival season. “This album is a departure for us, but it’s not as if we’ve gone and done this album and the next album we’re gonna go back to what we were doing,” Andrew says. “It’s a departure but also an arrival at a new destination. It’s almost where we wanna be – this is the sound that I think we can finally ‘own’ as a band.”
Indeed, the rhythm guitarist concedes that in the past Kid Confucius have succumbed to “emulating” others, rather than allowing their own sound to crystallise. “In some ways, this third album was about trying to come up with everything ourselves – like, ‘Let’s produce the drums and the vocal in a way that really has no direct influence, or inspiration, and let’s write songs that don’t have to be anything necessarily.’ They don’t have to be soul or they don’t have to be rock...”
That explains, too, why Kid Confucius settled on the title The Let Go. “We tried to just let the band be the band – and this is the sound that came out of it.” Since 2005’s eponymous debut, Kid Confucius have familiarised Australian audiences with a soulful ethos to the extent that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings can today sell out shows in an historically rock-centric nation. Nevertheless, the grassroots favourites are themselves overdue for some mainstream shine. If Guirguis feels frustrated, he’s not letting on. Happily, Kid Confucius received an encouraging response from radio to their recent single Good Luck. Andrew is more concerned that Kid Confucius deliver a real “alternative” to listeners. “I think every band would be lying if they said they didn’t wanna get to as many people as possible. For me, that’s the ultimate endgame – you just want as many people as physically possible to hear your music.”
And the guileful Guirguis points out that current Aussie electro chart-toppers The Presets were once “on the fringe”. “Who’s to know-” he speculates. “Maybe the soul-rock time will come! We’ll be there waiting.”
WHO: Kid Confucius
WHAT: The Let Go through Brighton Boulevard / Inertia / Play Annandale Hotel / Transit Bar, Canberra
WHEN: Out now / Saturday 29 November / Saturday 6 December