Back in 1992 Ugly Kid Joe released an album that became a huge success for them. The album was America’s Least Wanted and features many fan favourites like “Everything About You”, “Busy Bee”, “Neighbour” and their cover of “Cats in the Cradle”. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the album the band are touring across Australia in December to play the album in full. We caught up with lead singer Whitfield Crane to reflect on the album and talk about the tour.

SCENEzine
Firstly congrats on 25 years of America’s Least Wanted. Can you believe that long has gone by?

Whitfield Crane
No I’ve been doing interviews all day and I’ve not even really thought about that question. But it’s crazy it’s totally surreal. We were all around 23 or 24 when we were doing that run touring around the round. Literally it’s been 25 years since that moment. It’s surreal and a bit crazy for sure.

SCENEzine
When you think of 1992 what kind of memories flood back to you?

Whitfield Crane
We had come off the EP which was a big success. I think we had gone to England on it but we came back and the label wanted to get us in the studio to make more music so that they could put it in a record store. So we did that we went and made America’s Least Wanted with a producer named Mark Dodson whose one of my dear friends. I had a great experience with him making the record. Then we went on tour with Ozzy Osbourne and Motorhead as kids. We are all big Ozzy fans we love Black Sabbath and we love Motorhead. Imagine being kids and there are those dudes. There they are in the flesh, you could shake their hand or give them a hug. It was pretty cool. We had a tour bus and we had never had a tour bus before. It had a TV, a sink and a bathroom. Going from show to show we would get up to all kinds of shenanigans as you would imagine.

SCENEzine
Ugly Kid Joe never really were able to be boxed into a genre. How did you get away with creating your own sound when America likes to put bands in genres?

Whitfield Crane
Well we certainly didn’t choose that or think about it, at all. We were just kids that wanted to make music and get out there. It would be cool if we had a record deal even though we didn’t quite know what that meant. I had never been out of California or any of the guys. Funny enough when we went around the world we became friends with all the masters and our heroes like Ozzy, Motorhead and Van Halen. When we looked around at that time we were from a part of California that was a very strange place for a band to pop out of. So we had no peer group. So musically and just geographically for sure we have never and will never fit in anywhere. Funnily enough we are creating our own family now as you may or may not know we have Dallas Frasca coming out with us who has already toured with us in Europe. Tim McMillan is coming out with us, he’s already toured with us so we are kind of building our own community at this late stage. Back in the day it wasn’t thought out, it wasn’t conspired, it was a natural flow. It’s hard to explain it but we did get away with it.

SCENEzine
Is there much of a story behind how the lyrics came about for “Everything About You”?

Whitfield Crane
Klaus and I grew up with a guy named Farrell T Smith. His mums phone number to this day is 6503220607 her name is Andrea please call her and tell her I say hello. Anyways Farrell is one of the greatest cynics in the world to this day, he has no shame. So Klaus, Farrel and I were friends as kids. We were 13 year old boys going to kids parties, doing all those things that you would do at that age. Farrell was really good at hating everything about where we were from or any moment. It was funny and cynical and genius in a sense. He still has that exact chip on his shoulder. “Everything about You” is Farrell it’s about him and his outlook on life. Klaus uses people as muses like for instance the song “Neighbour” I had no idea but Klaus told me years later that songs about you. I’m like what it’s about me? He’s like yeah you’re the neighbour that no one wants. I’m like wow it’s totally true. Klaus was the primary songwriter on America’s Least Wanted. So imagine that, he writes what he sees around him I guess all artists do that in some capacity. So “Everything About You” is about Farrell T Smith and “Neighbour” which I’ve never said in interview in my life is about me.

SCENEzine
Was the video clip for “Everything About You” fun to make?

Whitfiled Crane
Yeah we made that on the cheap it was done for $5000. There was a thing back then called Head bangers ball. If you could get on that then maybe someone would know you had a band it was hard to get on there. Somehow we got on there and then it kind of just worked out. But making the video itself we lived in that town. That dog in the video just showed up. The director did a great job on it. It took us around the world. So it was fun and also surreal just like everything else.

SCENEzine
Was the choice to cover “Cats in the Cradle” on the album always going to happen or were other covers possible at the time of recording?

Whitfield Crane
Well when we were in the studio doing America’s Least Wanted we didn’t have enough songs to fill the album. That was the challenge. So I said hey why don’t we do this it was a song I liked. There was no purpose in it. It wasn’t supposed to be a single. It was just like lets fill the album with this particular song which means a lot to me and my childhood. So we did that and put a sitar on it, my friend Jenny sang on it which was fantastic. It worked out for us.

SCENEzine
How was the experience of playing “Cats in the Cradle” live with Amy Lee of Evanescence earlier this year?

Whitfield Crane
She’s great. I’ve always been a bit intimated by her because she’s just so bad ass. But Dave Fortman produced her so she came and said hi, she’s a southern gal and she’s really nice. I was like want to come sing with us and she said fuck yeah I’ll come sing with you. It was a big honour to play with her and she was the nicest person ever. It was great what a fun experience. Dave produced Evanescence and Dave is in Ugly Kid Joe so there were such common themes with the grouping of people. It was all natural it wasn’t a hustle we weren’t trying to get anything out of it. It was just a natural connection through music. It was a great experience we love Amy Lee.

SCENEzine
Do you think it’s kind of funny that “Panhandlin Prince” mentions Trump and now 25 years later he’s the president of America?

Whitfield Crane
I do think that’s amazing. I consider myself a wizard just because of that.

SCENEzine
Is it true that the America’s Least album cover was banned in some stores?

Whitfield Crane
Yeah it was banned in K Mart and anything like that. Like the weird bible belt places. Because of the fuck you finger and the defacing of the statue of liberty. They were not happy with that.

 

SCENEzine
Your playing the album in full throughout Australia in December. How did the Australian tour come about?

Whitfield Crane
Well the tour came about because of the obvious it’s the 25 year celebration of the record itself. We wanted to tour and it’s a hard to get those guys together in one room where they’ll do anything. I can get then to make a record but not tour together. Dave Fortman is so fucking good. So the celebration of the record got the band together and then for me I’ve just been spending a shit load of time in Australia. I lived in St Kilda in January for three months. I’ve been here in Fitzroy both are in Melbourne and I like it here. I would live here so I would call Australia without a doubt my second home or at least my home. So why not start the tour off here, grab some Australian kick ass bands and go take over Australia for nine days. That’s the vision.

SCENEine
Do you have a favourite Australian beer?

Whitfield Crane
Umm…Victorian Bitter. The green can VB.

SCENEzine
Your voice lately is sounding better than ever. Is there anything in particular you do to take care of it?

Whitfield Crane
Gratitude and sleep, for real.

SCENEzine
What do you like to do when you aren’t on tour?

Whitfield Crane
I like to create so for instance I’ve just created a band called Yellowcake in Melbourne Australia with the guitar player for Dallas Frasca. It’s four songs it sounds like Black Sabbath meets Kyuss. When I lived in Italy I created something with the orchestral community there and sang in a orchestra. It was called orchestra of doom we sold out a show at the third oldest opera house in Verona. We had the most bad ass young conductor who transposed old school Ozzy Osbourne Black Sabbath songs into baroque music and we fucking crushed it. So I like to that kind of stuff. I’m always looking to create. If I’m not going to create I want my feet in the sand. If my feet aren’t in the sand I wouldn’t mind being on a snowboard. I like the sun and I like just moving around I don’t have a firm address. I just have a passport, a credit card and a backpack. I just cruise around whatever turns me on I embrace it.

(interview by Christian Ross)

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