2010 sees the 25th anniversary of iconic summer anthem, ‘Walking On Sunshine’, and to celebrate, Kimberley Rew, musician and songwriter with Katrina and the Waves, will be releasing a brand new version of the song, featuring the Soweto Gospel Choir. We managed to catch up with him, in the midst of a promotional blitz for this and other Katrina and the Waves re-issues!
1. Did you ever think ‘Walking on Sunshine’ would become such an iconic song, when you first wrote/recorded it?
In those days I used to write songs all the time- didn’t imagine one (and one only) would become well known and the subject of discussion! On the other hand, we knew Walking on Sunshine was one of the better songs, it received a great production from Pat Collier and Scott Litt, someone chose it for the first single, it was summer- the list goes on!
2. As ‘Walking On Sunshine’ is such an anthem, do you a) ever get bored of performing it? b) feel any pressure to live up to it when you write new material? And c) ever feel your other material gets overshadowed by it?
Katrina and the Waves is of course defunct, which means I have to sing it myself now, which I admit I don’t very often. But it seems impossible for me or the audience to get bored with it. If you love making music, which I do, you just keep making it anyway! But it would be much harder for me to do that now without the security of having had the success when I was young.
3. When ‘Walking on Sunshine’ was released it made an impact across the world, how would you compare the task of making it in other countries then, to what it is in today’s music scene?
Funnily enough we did make it in other countries rather than where we lived, here in the UK (although half of us were American), and toured pretty much constantly round Germany and Scandinavia in particular, whereas here we had to settle for a single pocket of loyalty at the Mean Fiddler which used to be in Harlesden, North London, for some reason! I’m sure if you asked a young band if it’s harder to succeed now than in the 1980s they’d say yes.
4. What do you think it would take for Britain to win Eurovision again, given that current tactics haven’t had much success?
I’ve won Eurovision, but I don’t know how to win Eurovision! In 1997 the system was that anyone could send a cassette to the BBC, Terry Wogan would play the best on the radio, then listeners would vote. So we sent in an unreleased song we had ‘knocking around’ (rather than my attempting to write a ‘purpose built’ song). In fact I subsequently tried again twice, and Katrina once, but we didn’t get as far as being selected to go forward to the competition itself.
5. What have you all been up too since the band broke up, have you any projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Katrina has never stopped gigging, particularly Eurovision related events, as well as being a DJ and in a stage musical. She has an album of her original songs, and is just releasing her first live album. I had a great reunion with my first band, Robyn Hitchcock’s Soft Boys, and recorded four solo albums, the latest of which, the Safest Place, you can find on I-Tunes. I’m constantly gigging around my home town of Cambridge, with my wife and musical partner Lee. Plus don’t forget 2010 sees the rerelease of all the early Waves albums and of the 25th anniversary of ‘Walking on Sunshine’.
6. Do you see Katrina and The Waves ever releasing new material, or performing together again?
We all have our own lives now, and are very happy!
7. Besides your own successes in the 80’s and 90’s, what else will you remember those eras for?
It’s funny, but what I seem to remember is people being very image conscious and cool, though pushy underneath, and it’s a great relief now that we’ve all calmed down.
8. After working with the Soweto Gospel Choir, is there anyone else you’d like to record/perform with as a band, or within your solo projects?
I’m very lucky because I’ve been able to make music with some wonderful people- a monster rhythm section in Alex and Vince, Katrina who is an awesome singer, Robyn Hitchcock who is a genius, and of course my beautiful wife Lee!
9. Why do you think we still continue to embrace all things retro to such a large degree? Is there anything you can’t imagine coming back into fashion/favour?
When I was young rock and roll was very new, everything that happened, for example The Beatles, came as a completely new experience, and there was thus a huge generation gap- I remember thinking that writers like Johnny Mercer were very old hat, though now I love him. Since then, there hasn’t been another generation gap, in the sense of new music being in a completely different category to the old stuff, and every style I can think of has been revived.
10. Finally, if you weren’t involved in music, what would you like to be doing?
Again I’m lucky, because I can more or less do what I want (for a 58 year old!). But if the music stopped now I’d miss it terribly- but of course it won’t!
A big thank you to Kimberley Rew for taking time out to chat to music.co.uk. Don’t forget the re-issued ‘Walking On Sunshine’ will be available from May 24th, and there are various other tracks being re-released both from the band, and Kimberley himself. Click Here to listen to some of them, or visit http://www.katrinaandthewaves.net for more information.