Cruel To Be Kind – Kindness Interview

Bringing empty threats, playful satire and the art of not talking

Everyone has an inner Phil Mitchell. “If I ever see it in print I’ll come to your house and break your legs,” says Adam Bainbridge, as I ask him why his sound is wrongly labelled as “scronk music” in an old review of a Philadelphia gig. His tone is joking, but it masks some genuine intent. My tibias may not be at risk, but he’d graze my knees if I crossed him. There’s no aggression to Adam, whose appearance matches that of a well-dressed spaghetti strand, but there’s strong beliefs fuelling him.

For one, he refuses to be marketed, and his health check of London’s music scene is frighteningly accurate: “London has that hungriness for music and pop culture and it’s great. It gives it a real energy, but it can be really disruptive. Sometimes people just forget to enjoy the music they’re making,” stated Adam, as he spiralled into a satirical example: “Hang on! DJ Jam Tart and Piece Of Toast are doing a collaboration? Better tweet that to death. We should get some PR on this right now! Let’s get the artwork sorted, and that’s before they’ve got their laptops out.”

His critique is matched with a firm belief of what he should be as an artist. If Adam weren’t so shaggy haired and softly spoken, you’d be forgiven for mistaking him as a seasoned D.I.Y punk veteran, “If I was a fan of this band, I wouldn’t want to see their face everywhere. I’d want a good video, good artwork, work really hard and do some good live stuff. People get caught up in that ‘sound of 2012’ stuff. ‘Oh it’s time to do my line with Topshop’, maybe a bike with Halfords and license my music to KFC, because this is how we make the big time.’”

It was two years ago that the former Hotpoint factory worker reluctantly surfaced. The solitary track ‘Swinging Party’ was released, a cover of a little known Replacements track, reimagined as a wonderful, galloping dose of lonely disco. Its effect on critics was contagious, and he was slapped with the aforementioned ‘sound of…’ label. That move was antithetical. No more was heard and no interviews were read. Like snow on wet ground, he disappeared quicker than he’d arrived.

“I read a few interviews done with people my age. Their answers are the same. The same things inspire people of my generation. Seventeen interviews blur into one. Yes, the bass guitar is funky, dancing is great, beans on toast are fantastic, and the BBC do some nice music documentaries. It’s just a bit bland. So I’d rather say nothing.” This silence gave Adam time to focus his energy, and it wasn’t long until Polydor had him sitting at a table with producer magnifique, Philippe Zdar. “It was like a Sliding Doors Gwyneth Paltrow movie, I had to romance him for nine months.”

In the head of Bainbridge lies a wealth of priceless schmaltz, waiting for its opportune moment to manifest as modern work. Zdar was tasked with the lobotomy. The resulting album is a consuming nostalgic piece. A swirling recognition of surreal memories you never had. So charmingly familiar, without ever being traceable, like a stranger with a friend’s eyes. Swooning guitar solos, hopping basslines, sampladelica from the D.C. go-go scene and lyrical funk are all vital ingredients in a rich concoction.

As a live force, Kindness is unpredictable, quite indicative of the album’s diversity. “I want our live performance to feel like it’s constantly on the verge of falling apart.” The band intentionally rehearses little, and admit to being notoriously shambolic, but all this plays out amidst a planned creative chaos. “Philippe used to say to me about Daft Punk, they’d really take a risk everytime they’d play. Some nights it was the most incredible live experience of your life, and sometimes they fucked up. If you saw them enough times, eventually they’d blow you away. That’s the risk I want to take.”

Words by Joe Zadeh

This feature appears in the April 2012 issue of Clash magazine, out 8th March. Find out more about the issue HERE.

Rufus is to appear at the Latitude festival which runs from 13th-15th July in Suffolk. Find out more about the line-up and get tickets HERE.

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