I see walls/But these walls aren’t in my way.
May 5, 2018 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Tony Kinman, Southern California “cowpunk” pioneer who defied musical boundaries, dies. With his brother Chip, Kinman formed a series of influential bands. First was the Dils, a late-70s SoCal punk mainstay (“I Hate the Rich” and “You’re Not Blank” were the two sides of their debut 7-inch). In 1980 they started Rank & File, a country-tinged outfit based in Austin, TX (here they are on Thicke of the Night with Alan Thicke in 1983, performing “Amanda Ruth” and “The Conductor Wore Black”). Later projects included Blackbird (sample cuts: “Big Train”, “Quicksand”) and Cowboy Nation (seen here on Art Fein’s Poker Party). Happy trails, pardner. BONUS: 2001 Tony Kinman interview.
posted by Lyme Drop (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by limeonaire at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by evilDoug at 12:30 PM on May 5, 2018

ah, I remember Rank & File

posted by thelonius at 1:06 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by ryanshepard at 1:10 PM on May 5, 2018


Damn. I had the pleasure of seeing them a lot while they were in Austin. I think just about everyone had a copy of their albums Sundown and the later Long, Gone Dead. Then they went off to LA to become stars and disappeared.

One of my all time favorite songs; Lucky Day, was sung by Tony and seems befitting as a memorial.
posted by jabo at 1:11 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by Smart Dalek at 2:19 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by bjgeiger at 2:31 PM on May 5, 2018

Weird, I always see Rank and File albums but I always associated them differently than what they were, which to me sounds like a hybrid of The Long Ryders and The Meat Puppets, both of which I love. I'll have to check all of this out now.

posted by rhizome at 2:42 PM on May 5, 2018

I played "I hate the rich" off a Jon Savage produced compilation just last week. Which led me to all sorts of thoughts on our current situation. RIP Tony.
posted by andreap at 2:59 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by lapolla at 3:34 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by DaddyNewt at 3:53 PM on May 5, 2018


that first Rank + File album Sundown was essential to my musical evolution. Country and Western, and I liked it. Anything became possible.

Lucky Day sounds pretty good right now.
posted by philip-random at 4:12 PM on May 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wasn't old enough to see The DIls, but I was fortunate to see the Kinmans in various combinations in LA over the years - my fave maybe the times they just performed as "The Kinman Brothers" (Dennis Duck from The Dream Syndicate was on drums) and just played whatever the hell they felt like doing.

Perfect Sound Forever interviewed Tony in February of this year. The last few paragraphs on Blackbird are the best:

Q: You were in that band Blackbird that definitely falls into that category... and was completely different from all of the other stuff we've talked about... and may have been the only band in history to put out three different self-titled albums. What were you guys thinking?

TK: When Blackbird first started there was a big article about us in the L.A. Times, a big review... this was right after Rank and File. The review said "this stuff is really good but these guys have got to know that they're committing career suicide." (laughs)

Q: For people who may not know, how would you describe Blackbird's music?

TK: Blackbird was all about sound. We called it "sonic sludge." It was still the kinds of songs we were writing, poppy songs, we can't ever really get away from writing pop songs, you know verse chorus verse chorus kind of stuff. We just used a drum machine and a really distorted guitar, and it was really a mess but to this day, I think it was the most fun I ever had in a band. Because we really just did not give a shit. We didn't give a damn about anything. There was a guy who thought he could be our manager and he thought he'd be able to get us a record deal, so we said "sure, hang out, do whatever you want..." We were ready to play this club, Rail's in LA, and he said "oh I've invited some industry people down tonight" and then starts asking us not to do certain songs! Because they were some of the more extreme ones. So of course when we ended up playing that night, we ended up only playing two songs in our entire set, and they were both really long version of songs he had asked us not to play. (laughs) It was awesome. That's why we were doing that band, to have fun. In the end, it's all about having fun.

Rest in power
posted by quartzcity at 4:23 PM on May 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

In this world of mine/nothing ever lasts.
A sad day indeed.
posted by gtrwolf at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

now more than ever

posted by multics at 5:26 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Eponymous song "Rank and File" really got the dance floor hoppin' at good parties.
posted by ovvl at 7:21 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by talking leaf at 9:18 PM on May 5, 2018

Of course, none of my favorite Rank & File songs are available for linkage/streaking, but damn. A strong part of my musical education as a kid songwriter. Thanks for all the music...
posted by mykescipark at 1:13 AM on May 6, 2018

[....and that’s streaming obvs. wtf late nite phone thumbs]
posted by mykescipark at 7:27 AM on May 6, 2018

posted by Devoidoid at 8:22 AM on May 7, 2018

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