Kid Congo Powers grew up in La Puente on a diet of rock & roll records and second run drive-in movies. He was mesmerized by David Bowie and the girls with their thick eyeliner and bouffants on his street. He could’ve only ended up as one thing: a musician.
Powers frequented Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco and was even the president of The Ramones’ West Coast fan club before co-founding The Gun Club. Now he’s out with a new book about his 40 plus years in the music biz called “Some New Kind of Kick”.
During his adolescence, Congo discovered David Bowie, androgyny and glam rock, and jumped in with both feet. “[Ziggy Stardust] was exactly how an adolescent kid feels at the time, you know? Like an alien from outer space. It was a complete identification analogy, and he gave the go-ahead to dress glam and feel that part of me and not be afraid of what that was.”
He says the punk scene in LA was far from glam rock, but it was inclusive to all. That especially includes the first wave of punk in the area.
“This was a voice for people who didn't fit in or who were trying to figure out who they were,” Powers shares. “Being queer, in any sense, was bucking the system. And to be a good punk rocker, you have to buck the system.”
Throughout this career, Congo’s worked with some of the most notable punk frontmen, from Jeffrey Lee Pierce (The Gun Club), to Lux Interior (The Cramps), to Nick Cave.
While outsiders thought of them as wild, he says working with eccentric singers was par for the course. “My normal day-to-day life was being with these, what people saw as extreme things. I just saw, maybe monsters? But very beautiful monsters.”
Today, his band Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds plays music to remember some of those beautiful monsters.
“I play Gun Club songs and Cramps songs in my set, because there is no one to play them anymore. So to me, it's a way to say hello to Jeffrey and say hello to Lux,” he notes of those lead singers’ past. “Plus it makes people happy.”