He might be closing in on 60, but the punk spirit is still strong in Chip Kinman. When the Georgia Straight tracks down the man who brought Everly Brothers harmony to hardcore in the Dils and who essentially invented the cowpunk genre with Rank and File, he and his Ford Madox Ford bandmates are deep in Amish country, en route to the Canadian border and plotting a minor act of mischief.
Asked what he can see from the tour van, Kinman replies, “Buggies. Buggies, horses, and Amish people. It’s pretty cool. We were trying to get a Ford Madox Ford sticker onto one of the buggies to take a picture of it, but that’s probably not a wise thing to do.”
He’s right; those people have pitchforks, although no mob is going to run Ford Madox Ford off the stage. After 10 years away from music, Kinman is making a glorious noise in a band that, for once, does not include his brother Tony, but that does feature his fret-king son, Dewey Peek. And if the singer-guitarist has chosen a curious time to make a comeback, with the music industry in tatters, he’s unapologetic about his reason why.
“It’s what I do, and it’s really what I’ve always done,” he says. “I did take a break: I got married, and had to figure out another way to make a living. As a bachelor, music was working out for me, but once I had a family and everything, I had to step up. But everything’s cool now, and actually my wife’s been encouraging me.”
The Los Angeles resident’s return began when he took Peek to Austin, where Rank and File had been based during the 1980s. “I wanted to show him another scene, ’cause he had a band in Los Angeles,” Kinman explains. “So we went out there, and I was invited to do a couple of shows, and we got up on-stage and I did some singing and I went, ‘Fuck, yeah! That’s right; now I remember!’ And then we came back and started Ford Madox Ford. We’ve been playing for about a year.”
This time around, Kinman’s roots style of choice is the blues—although the garage-steeped Ford Madox Ford sounds more like some Nuggets-era throwback than Mississippi legend T-Model Ford. The link, he explains, is the streak of wry nihilism that runs through the work of country-blues pioneers like Skip James and Son House and that can also be heard in Ford Madox Ford’s debut single, which pairs cranky anthem “Expect It” with giddy rave-up “Before the Fall”.
“I recognize that connection, and I went for it,” Kinman says. “It’s really been something, trying to figure this out and pull it off, which I think we have. I had to ask myself, ‘What do I have to bring to the blues?’ And I think the single is a great clarion call. It’s really something new. We’re not hippie blues; we’re not old guys in aloha shirts; we’re not White Stripe–ing it; we’re not Stevie Ray Vaughan–ing it. It’s really kind of a new thing, and that’s always been my bag: the new thing.”
Ford Madox Ford plays the WISE Hall on Friday (July 22).