MATT KRAMER - Return Of The Lizard!
[Rock Hard - 03.04.12 14:11:51]

by Carl Begai


Ten years ago Saigon Kick released an album entitled Water that stopped their rise to fame in its tracks, Yes, there were two albums that followed – Devil In The Details and Bastards – But the new – age flavored Water pretty much spelled the end for a band genius by the cerebral metal crowd, largely because singer Matt Kramer and his charismatic attitude were not part of the equation, Kramer chose to leave Saigon Kick following "The Lizard" album when it became clear that guitarist/co-songwriter Jason Bieler intended to cash in on the success of their runaway hit single ‘Love is on the way’, and has since been biding his time, carrying out various musical experiments that have finally resulted in an album he stands behind 110%.

Kramer’s first – and definitely not his last solo album is called "War & Peas", and it’s a trip that many Saigon Kick fans aren’t expecting. There are a few Kick-isms to be heard, but "War & Peas" is a hard edged yet casual, dressed down affair, delving into the realms of David Bowie, T-Rex and Mott The Hoople. All well and good, but what happened with Saigon Kick?

"The whole Saigon Kick thing, it was a very abusive band," says Kramer. "Jason decided he wanted to be Prince; he wanted to be the lead singer and produce everything. The guy is an egomaniac and an asshole, and he wanted all the credit for himself. That’s what ruined the band; that and the manager stealing everyone else’s money. Plus, I didn’t want to go from rocking out to these flowery prom-night love songs, which was Jason’s vision. That’s what happened to Saigon Kick and I have no problem talking about it because I left the band with ten dollars in my pocket. I had to work really damn hard to get back on my feet."

Even so, Saigon Kick became a benchmark for Kramer, which is why we haven’t heard from him in a decade. He has a couple of projects behind him that could have taken off, but the lack of chemistry held him back.
"I had a band called Coma with Harry Cody from Shotgun Messiah, but I didn’t feel that it was up to par with the Saigon Kick material, and I didn’t feel that it had the brotherhood thing that I’d thought Saigon Kick had. It was an awakening when I realized that Saigon Kick had been my special little band. I completely left rock n roll for a couple of years and started a stoner Beatles jazz band, and that changed me, so by the time I got back to doing rock it was fresh for me. Doing "War & Peas", I decided to take the essence of the ‘70s bands like Sweet and T-Rex and add a heavy edge to it."

"War & Peas" features a mixture of old and new tunes from Kramer, including a few penned with guitarist George Lynch (who does not play on the album ), Kramer explains…

"The songs ‘Silence’ and ‘Change’ were written with Coma, right after I left Saigon Kick. The three tunes I did with George, they were written about two years ago; it was a weird experience, George had a weird Limp Bizkit trance band going, and I was interested because it wasn’t a metal project, though it was a bit too machine-oriented, it was called Stonehouse, we wrote four or five songs, but ‘If God Could Hear Me Now’ was the breaker. He wanted me to sing the chorus in a typical high register, but I kept it low because I thought it sounded better, he said I’d ruin the song. I refused to change it, and that was the end of the band. I was kind of surprised when he put Stonehouse out, so I included some of the songs on "War & Peas" sort of as a way to redeem them."

I just really tried to go for the art of trash on this album," Kramer says, "It’s like, you see a model that can wear anything on a runway, but when she goes out she can wear beat up jeans and still look amazing. That’s what the vibe on this record is all about, if it has anything really unique about it, it’s that it dives into Sister’s of Mercy, Bowie, The Cure, Iggy Pop, but it hits with a horsepower that the music of those artists don’t have. This is me in my hotrod, trying to get back to what I like about rock ‘n’ roll."

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