Destroy All Lines and Chugg Entertainment during December this year are bringing over Ugly Kid Joe (UKJ) to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of America’s Least Wanted. The band will be playing the whole album in its entirety as well as other classics from their discography.
The release of America’s Least Wanted in 1992 cannot really be understated. The album was released at a time when heavy metal had just started to hit a decline and Pearl Jam and Nirvana just started to raise their collective grunge heads. Heavy metal had also started to hit such extreme heights with the black metal movement creeping in to the industry door, and UKJ sat somewhere in the middle. America’s Least Wanted had the traditional metal overtones and nuances, but it also embodied the recklessness of punk and the strong melodies of power pop. A lethal combination at this time! The album hit the international stage on the back of the debut single, ‘Everything About You‘, with its open verses, catchy chorus and crescendo ending. A perfect power pop single and the single and album, America’s Least Wanted, sold in excess of five million copies world wide.
From this launching pad the band played arenas around the world and supported acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Van Halen and Guns n’ Roses. I got to see them live in 1993, on the America’s Least Wanted Tour at the Newcastle Workers Club in NSW Australia and they were very impressive; a part from the spitting in each other’s mouths, I didn’t get that! They played to a packed house, were very energetic, and very tight. UKJ have been over here a few times since then, and every time I have seen them they haven’t let me down. But this time around, on the back of the 25th Anniversary of America’s Least Wanted, I am confident that we are in for something special!
I was lucky to sit down with Whitfield Crane, vocalist and founding member, to discuss UKJ and the upcoming Australian tour…
Whitfield how does it feel for you to reflect upon the fact that America’s Least Wanted is twenty five years old?
“It is surreal, I have been doing interviews for the last two hours and people have been asking me this and you know it is something that I have never fully thought about. It is amazing that we are all still alive and that we can play music together. We only just finished a tour together two months ago, and it is just great to be together. We haven’t had the synergy of the original line up until now, and it is great. We were all twenty four when on tour for this album, you know it is a lifetime ago and we are happy to all be here and doing it again”
The album became so huge, so quickly, did you as a band feel this was going to happen, that you had something special or was it a complete shock?
“It was shock one hundred percent! We were just excited to have a label and to play. We just hung out and had fun, you know, skating and playing, drinking beer and burning sofas, that’s what we did. Somehow we got a deal and we weren’t sure what that was really. We did an EP and it just went from there. The label wanted us to do a full length album and we didn’t have enough songs to finish a record that is why we played Cats in the Cradle. You know this song took off because a radio station in Texas kept playing it! We didn’t know we were recording a hit!! Man, a complete shock, amazing time and situation.”
Thinking back to this time for the band, what things stand out in your mind?
“Touring with Ozzy and Motorhead, you know to twenty thousand people a night all summer long. We had never been on a tour bus before and we got to meet Ozzy and we were friends with Lemmy! That was a great summer and we were so excited to go out and play with our heroes. I had posters of them on my wall at home and here we are playing with them in arenas. Amazing, amazing time.”
Your second album, Menace to Sobriety, was such a solid follow up and was critically acclaimed as well, why don’t you think it reached the heights of America’s Least Wanted?
“Grunge. Really it was the scene developing at the time and the album didn’t fit, commercially. But we made a great record and that is the main thing. If you are a musician and you are creating a record, this is what is important. You know I love our whole back catalogue and I can say openly just how proud I am of it. You know the statistics of getting it in this business is so rare and statistically impossible when you look at it. We are a band who has had amazing success and we don’t take any of it for granted.”
I’d like to reflect a little on your career, with two of your projects outside of UKJ now. What can you tell us about your time in Medication (1999-2003) with ex-Machine Head Guitarist Logan Mader? I read so much about this project initially and then it just fell away from the press.
“I was in Life of Agony and I met Logan and Roy from Soulfly and we all toured together on a festival. At the end of the tour they were both out of Soulfly and so we moved in together and we sat and made music and the Ep and debut album were so strong. I don’t think the second album compared to the first but it was cool and a great experience.”
Now to Another Animal (2006-2008), your project with members from Godsmack, how did this come about?
“That was all of the members of Godsmack minus the singer. They called me to sing on a record as they wanted to do something different. I had never met these guys before this and we did an awesome album. I have really great memories of this time. Actually at the moment I am in Australia with another band, Yellowcake, and we have made a four song EP and it is sludgy and gnarly, it is very Sabbath. We recorded it here in Australia and we have had a number of guest musicians play on it, like Ross Wilson. This should be coming out soon.
I have also recently come off recording Orchestra of Doom, in Italy Verona. I sung with an orchestra, it was Sabbath songs transposed to baroque music. Hopefully there will be a DVD in a few months. I have been very busy lately.”
UKJ reformed in 2010, how does it feel to be working together again? Your releases of Stairway to Hell and Uglier than They Used to Be are both strong releases.
“Yeah it is great. We never hated each other you know it just happened back then. It was very natural in the sense that it was all of us again. One of the coolest things about it was that Dave (guitars) had morphed into this amazing producer and he is really good at it. We made our music and we hadn’t been a band for fifteen years so it was really nice and very positive. AS I said earlier we are blessed to be able to do all of this again.”
To move on to the Australian tour specifically in December, what should fans expect?
“A kick arse rock show! Nothing more, and nothing less. We are pumped to be coming back over here and we won’t be letting anyone down.”
Are there any surprises during the show? Or anything about the show that you are excited about?
“Well playing the whole album is exciting in itself. We will do something different every night, so there will be definite surprises in there. We will do whatever we want it will be a community of musicians playing for everyone. This will be a show not to miss, I assure you.”
How have you found the audience reactions when touring Australia in the past?
“They are passionate and fun with a lot of energy with no shame. These are all the best qualities in an audience and this is what we get when we are here! I love playing in Australia and I am excited to be coming back and showcasing our debut album.”
Finally, would you like to leave a message for your Australian fan base leading up to the tour in a few months?
“This is Whitefield Crane and funny enough I am in Fitzroy Melbourne as I speak. I have been here twice this year recording a new project. I love Australia and it is my second home. I am looking forward to seeing all of our fans in December for the twenty five anniversary of America’s Least Wanted and I know that no one will be disappointed with the shows. See you all in December!”
It was a real pleasure to have this opportunity and talk with Whitfield and from the course of the interview it is easy to see that he hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm for UKJ and America’s Least Wanted, despite him touring forty nine this year, and the album being released when he was twenty four. This is a tour not to be missed! Tickets are on sale now at www.tickets.destroyalllines.com and tour dates are as follows
Ugly Kid Joe – 2017 Australian Tour
Sunday 3 December – Manning Bar, Sydney 18+
Monday 4 December – The Zoo, Brisbane – 18+
Wednesday 6 December – Capitol, Perth – 18+
Thursday 7 December – Fowlers, Adelaide – 18+
Saturday 9 December – Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne – 18+