'Anything possible’ for Kvaran band
By Constance Crump
Some bands sound as if they’ve never played together before. Others play the exact arrangements every night for 30 years. The Ragnar Kvaran Group wants their credo to be “Anything is possible at any given moment.”
“There’s a natural way to do tunes, the obvious rhythms,” says the band leader and co-songwriter, Ragnar Kvaran.
“Normally, we try to work against those rhythms. Most of our songs aren’t built on a traditional hook or catch chorus, or centered on pop values. But the band covers a lot of territory.” The group’s philosophy has led it to the top of the Ann Arbor New Wave heap, and its members look forward to national breakout soon.
KVARAN, a native of Iceland, was inspired to form his own group several years ago after hearing performances by a number of Detroit New Wave and No Wave bands. Working with the Infidels, he-cut a single, “French Vanilla,” backed with “It’s All Different Now,” on his own label, Stigmata Records.
His own band gradually coalesced into its present configuration: Terry Vogel, vocals and lead guitar, Kurt Browne, bass, Dave Whipple, drums and Kvaran, guitar and lead vocals. Vogel and Kvaran share the main songwriting duties/pleasures. Whiple and Browne also contribute tunes, although not yet for pressing.
The present band has played together about a year, mainly in Detroit and Ann Arbor New Wave clubs. Members organized October’s New Wave Festival at the Star Bar in Ann Arbor — among the most successful events ever held at the bar. The band cut a single, ’’Desperate Characters/Perfect World,” also on Stigmata.
A GIG at the prestigious CBGB’s in New York City during the summer of 1980 crystallized the band’s ambition to try for national recognition. About the same time, “It’s All Different Now” was picked up by Ambition Records for release with a dozen other singles by national and international New Wave bands under the title, “Declaration of Independants.”
To date, the LP has sold over 15,000 copies – a very respectable showing – and has been reviewed favorably in the New Wave press.
The band’s current project is a six-song extended play record, “Wrecked on Love,” a 12-inch disk scheduled for release in early April. The Kvarans get a little help from their friends on the record, which features cameo appearances by Ron Asheton of Destroy All Monsters and Lindsay Tomasikof Trees.
Tonight the Ragnar Kvaran Group will play a benefit for the Equal Rights Amendment in the Michigan Union Ballroom. The Kvarans will be sharing the bill with the Flexibles and Gary Pryka and the Scales. Action is slated to start at 9:30 p.m.
THE BENEFIT is sponsored by Students for ERA. According to the band’s manager, Alan Goldsmith, the Kvarans see their political commitment as a major expression of “New Wave-ism.” Social consciousness sets the band apart from “capitalist pig rock and roll stars,” he said.
Other upcoming gigs include, Lilly’s in Detroit, the first weekend in February, the WCBN Benefit Concert Feb. 15 and the Blind Pig in late February.