One of the most successful (and nicest) people I know personally has got to be Cap’n Kirk Douglas. He was one of the many gifted musicians I met from the eclectic original players of Long Island’s East end when I went to Stony Brook University.
In my experience Kirk was always friendly and approachable, hes was welcoming of a newcomer and impressed me even then with his amazing guitar abilities. I was lucky enough to even jam with him a bunch of times. Obviously, I had my work cut out for me just keeping up. You could tell then there was something about him that set him apart musically from others. To me it seemed amazing competence and chameleon-like ability to play the right way for whatever role he took in any project.
Because at that time there were probably a dozen decent original acts from a pool of like 30 super talented people. I fooled them into thinking I was good enough to play with them and it was pretty great. It was a great time of expansion in my own musical life. Getting away from Queens for a while paid off creatively.
These days, as guitar player for The Roots he’s in many Americans living rooms weeknights laying it down with a variety of beautiful guitars. Last night I saw the first Hundred Watt Heart show. It was as at times as heavy as the single I had downloaded on the way. Guitar Driven is one way to put it.
Having only the Roots to go on I decided to do some preparation. I downloaded “I Used to be in a Circus”, the only available track as the record, Turbulent Times, only dropped today.
The song was great and honestly not what I had expected. You can hear it for yourself, but what caught my eye was what Google Music showed as the “related Artist”; Black Sabbath. The tile next to it was from Black Sabbath Volume 4, so its the older Sabbath that seems focus of the comparison
After seeing the show I sort of concur.
Some things that back up the Sabbath allusion would possibly be Kirk’s riff driven and solid. He has some Sabbath-like traits in his song writing. His vocal delivery was right on and full voiced. He delivered as hard as Ozzy in his prime (on a good night).
There’s a whole lot more to it than just that, but its not a bad thing to be compared to by any long shot. So I’m not the only one who sees something in this record.
Now, having now listened to the whole album I can see where the reviewer came up with the comparison Some of the songs have a Sabbath-like vibe and similar tone and heaviness, but Hundred Watt Heart, by intent, covers a lot more musical ground. For one thing, they don’t seem to have set out to sound like Black Sabbath at all. The similarity is Organic and stems from Kirk’s influences having some overlap with Tony Iommi’s is my guess. And while its easy and fun to compare bands, Hundred Watt Heart is actually unique. With the quality of pop music seeming to be trending down, here’s a listenable and sincere album that starts with an admission – These are in fact Turbulent Times. Why pretend things are great?
Its a solid and interesting guitar album and the songs are catch-y as Hell. While appealing and beautifully melodic, it’s confident and solid all the way around. I love the single ‘I Used to Be in a Circus” and ‘Uma’, with it’s blistering solo and brooding lyrics, might just be my favorite. It may just sound a bit like original Black Sabbath as well, but in the best possible way. To take it a step further, as a Black Sabbath fan myself, I found myself taking to this album in a big way.
Back to the show;
An hour and 3 el presidente beers after hitting Billyburg I was immersed in what Kirk accurately described as a sonic bath. I was pumped for the whole high energy performance. It’s hard believe 3 guys made all that noise. Mark Kelley (bassist for The Roots) and Ricc Sheridan (drummer for Earl Greyhound) join him on the record and this show.
First off – SEE THIS BAND! I hate everything and I even enjoyed it.
While I would not go so far as to say he sounds like Black Sabbath and the lyrical topics seem quite different from what I’ve heard so far, I can see how the critic who made the comparison came up with it. Unassuming and powerful would how I would describe the show. No punches pulled, mostly non stop music, though he did generously acknowledge the audience a few times. The club was packed and the energy was great. The band didn’t disappoint.
Hundred Watt Heart is a live show well worth seeing. Kirk’s vocals are right on as is his playing. Not to mention, he’s still a man of the people, the price of the show was completely affordable. Music came before money and I for one appreciated it. His A-List supporting cast on bass and drums was amazing. And lets talk about New York here for a second – Having an affordable but high quality evening out in a city that EATS money is not an everyday thing.
Considering there wasn’t a bad place to watch in Williamsburg’s interesting “Baby’s All Right” it was even that much more intimate. It also featured a super cool stage. You can only hope this show comes to your town. Hundred Watt Heart was amazing live.
I’m sure when more critics hear and review it we’ll get different comparisons, but I was lucky enough to get Kirk to agree to give me a clean reaction about the Sabbath comparison on audio and he was kind enough to agree. So I didn’t tell him what the comparison was, just that it sort of surprised me.
Still, I have to thank Kirk for being completely cool about this request for a reaction. No one respects Bloggers anymore, there’s been too many bad, biased and dishonest ones. Hey, I swim with sharks, right? He could’ve just said no and that would have been just fine; but he’s always been an open and friendly guy so I was comfortable asking him to give his reaction. It was a lot easier in fact than getting the audio on youtube. The video is what it is. Its about what he said.
So here’s Cap’n Kirk Douglas, leader of Hundred Watt Heart, reacting to being compared to Black Sabbath. Its rough, but you can clearly hear us. Not a youtube expert yet.
So there you have it, Kirk’s reaction and a great little Ozzy story you wont find elsewhere.
Here’s a longer interview with the band from Relix –