Freshly disinterred from the festering annals of Gary Steel’s back pages, yet another obscure interview that time forgot. Today, it’s a 1981 story about former La De Da’s guitarist, Kevin Borich.
With more than 15 years playing the great rock’n’roll game under his belt, guitarist Kevin Borich’s enthusiasm for the craft is surprisingly undiminished.
It has been a long, much-travelled road for Borich. He first made a name for himself in New Zealand’s fledgling but thriving ‘60s pop scene as part of chart toppers the La De Das. Along with the Fourmyula, they were the most popular local group of the late ‘60s. Not only were they one of the few to reach the Number 1 position on the charts but they have a clutch of classic singles to their name.
“In ’66 we went to Australia,” says Borich. “In ’69 we went to London and came back to Australia after a year.”
The group continued with a reduced radiance in Australia until ’76, when Borich, by that time the sole survivor of the original La De Das, renamed the then three-piece group the Kevin Borich Express.
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The La De Das name is carved for immortality as a classic pop band and Borich has evolved into a guitar hero. Since ’76 he has maintained a considerable cult following, toured arduously and released several albums.
Borich’s current tour of New Zealand is to promote the recently released Angels Hand album.
“It was recorded in London over a year ago – November ‘79”, Borich says. Various problems, combined with the fact that they financed it themselves, delayed-release in Australia until October last.
The trip to Britain resulted when they were invited to do a television show in Germany and thought they might as well go to London on the same trip.
“I wouldn’t live there though. It’s too cold. Everything’s so tight. There are a lot of economic problems, social problems. It is an exciting place but I don’t think I could handle living there.”
After the UK sojourn, Borich and the Express returned to Sydney where they are based.
“We did six nights a week for six months in Australia. We just came off a national tour there promoting the album,” Borich says. “You turn into a machine doing roadwork. I love doing it but…”
At present, Borich wants to settle and write new material. He is also enjoying doing session work, most recently with Todd Hunter, formerly of the highly regarded Dragon.
Presently tired of touring, Borich says he didn’t really want to come over – but now that he is here, he is looking forward to the tour.
Borich recently released a direct-to-disc album with bluesman Dutch Tilders called The Blues Had A Baby. This is a brave method to attempt, as the process dictates that the musicians get everything down right the first take.
The advantage of direct-to-disc is the improved sound quality. The disadvantage is that multitracking is not possible.
“There is quite a lot of pressure on direct-to-disc. I had to swap guitars during tracks because you just leave the machine running. And sometimes the machine would screw up. We just treated it like a gig but there was a lot of pressure to get it right at first.
“Multitracks were invented so that a musician can sit back and hear his music and be able to add something good here or there – like an artist with a paintbrush. Sit back and have a look.”
That is something you cannot do with direct-to-disc. In fact, on one place on the album, there is an inordinately long break between tracks where Borich says he was fumbling around trying to find the right guitar for the next track!
The Kevin Borich Express has a new lineup. Drummer Kerry Jacobsen joined only two weeks ago and bass guitarist Michael Deep joined last year.
The Kevin Borich Express plays at The Last Resort this Sunday.
Note: This wouldn’t have been an assignment that I was especially keen on. My interest in Borich really stems from his time in the La De Da’s, one of NZ’s finest pop bands. By the time of this interview in ’81, Borich was essentially a blues-rock guy and not doing anything too original.