Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hard at it - interview with Adam Kotz from Case Hardin

AN acclaimed British alt country band with extensive local roots, Case Hardin are playing ACE Space in Newbury on Friday, July 20. CATRIONA REEVES spoke to band member, Newbury resident, actor, musician and ACE Space chairman ADAM KOTZ about the band and his many other hats.

CATRIONA REEVES: Case Hardin are definitely making waves on the alt country scene, with your latest album Every Dirty Mirror receiving excellent reviews and national BBC radio airplay. How would you describe the band’s sound?

ADAM KOTZ: The band was formed by Pete Gow - who until recently lived in Thatcham - who writes songs that echo the best of the American alt country scene, and artists like Springsteen and Steve Earle, but mixes it all up with a highly original British take.

We’ve played in the current line-up [Pete, Adam, Tim Emery, Andy Bastow and Jim Maving] for more than three years now, and we seem to able to take on different styles from stomping rock to ballads and story songs - as we hope the album shows.

CR: Pete’s job as a TV journalist has taken him to war zones in Iraq and Libya in recent years. Do his songs relate to these experiences?

AK: Some do directly, others more obliquely; but he also writes beautifully about lost love and hard drinking.

CR: What is your role in the band?

AK: Well, I weave my mandolin and banjo through the tunes, as well as singing backing and some lead vocals.

CR: Have you always combined being an actor with making music?

AK: Not always. I’ve played on and off in bands in between acting jobs but it’s particularly great when the two combine. For example, I started playing mandolin while playing the music teacher in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the National Theatre in the ’90s. I’ve sung and rocked my way through a fair few theatre and TV shows as well, and written music as well – I even wrote a TV theme song back in the ’80s! My first job was the TV play Oi For England, about a skinhead band.

CR: You’ve done a lot of screen work, haven’t you?
AK: I’ve done a lot of theatre too, particularly at the National and with Cheek By Jowl, and I’d love to do more, I miss it, but it’s harder to fit in with family life.

The most well known films are probably The Last King of Scotland [he played Gillian Anderson’s husband - or, as Adam puts it, “I think you’ll find she played my wife”] and Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching, and, yes, I’ve done quite a bit of TV too.

As it happens, I’ve just finished being in Henry IV Pt 2 in the new BBC Shakespeare Hollow Crown season  - that was great, swords, horses and lots of shouting. I play Lord Hastings, a rebel who gets his comeuppance.

That was followed by a lovely one-off play for CBBC and a spy drama for Channel 4, so the variety continues.

CR: I’ve noticed that if you turn up in a murder mystery, it inevitably means that you will turn out to be the murderer or a victim - or, on one occasion, both...

AK: Sometimes I am a bright red herring, and I have had my moments as a law enforcer. In Touching Evil I kicked in doors and arrested people - at least until I went off the rails and killed a few people. OK, you may have a point!

CR: So where does ACE Space fit in to all this?

AK: I knew the old RAFA Hall in St Nicholas Road from hiring it myself, and found out it was going to close down. Luckily, the idea to save it drew in a terrific bunch of local volunteers, and we’ve improved it and kept it running as part-village hall, part-arts workshop ever since. We have had great backing from Greenham Common Trust, and donations along the way from Sovereign, MicroFocus, Newbury Town and West Berkshire councils among others.

Especially, we have had amazing support from the many local people who hire the place, come to our events and tell us they like what we are doing. Have a look at – we are always happy to welcome new people.

CR: Who else is involved in the gig?

AK: We’ve got support from Des Simmons and the Hired Hands. Des is a great local musician with a great band. Sticks and Strings’ Rick Green is opening the show, and is also well known in these parts. All of us play original music with real heart.

For ACE Space, it is the last event before our summer lay-off after a busy year so we hope people will come to help us celebrate that and enjoy a great night of live music.

Ticket for Case Hardin at ACE Space on Friday, July 20, are £5 in advance (£6 on the door) from Hogan Music in Craven Road and Jacqui’s in Blenheim Road, or call 07905 590 214 to reserve. Doors open at 7.30pm.

  • First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, July 12, 2012

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