Q&A with prodigious songwriter, Kimberley Rew - an important and influential figure in new wave and alternative rock

"Thanks to recording, we can still hear the music of the past. In fact rock’n’roll (and jazz before it) wouldn’t have happened the way it did without the mass media. We can also recreate the music of any previous time by playing live, any night, any place, wherever there’s a stage, a microphone and an audience. This applies to equally to a classical orchestra or a rock power trio."

Kimberley Rew: The Spirit of Rock ’n’ Roll

A prodigious songwriter, Kimberley Rew wrote Walking On Sunshine, the huge worldwide hit for Katrina And The Waves. He’s also responsible for their Eurovision winning song Love Shine A Light. Other artists who have had success with Rew penned creations are The Bangles, who covered Going Down To Liverpool and Celine Dion with That’s Just the Woman in Me. Kim, who is also revered among guitarists for his driving and energetic playing style, is still writing and performing, with his wife Lee Cave-Berry as Kim & Lee. The latest 13-tracks album from Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry – AKA Kim & Lee titled “The Krelb”, and released in 2023. Kimberley Rew first came to notice in the late 1970s as a member of Robyn Hitchcock’s Soft Boys. In 1981 Rew made a solo single backed by American band the dBs before helping to form Katrina and the Waves, and writing 1985’s evergreen Walking on Sunshine (produced by Pat Collier and Scott Litt). The Bangles also recorded Rew’s Going Down to Liverpool.

(Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry / Photo by Dawn Bainbridge)

Katrina and the Waves toured opening for the Kinks, the Beach Boys, and Squeeze among many others. Rew concurrently guested with Ashley Hutchings, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Dawson and Boo Hewerdine. In 1997 Katrina and the Waves won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK with the Rew composition Love Shine a Light. In 1999 Rew rejoined Robyn Hitchcock for the Jewels for Sophia album and tours. In 2001 the Soft Boys reconvened to rerelease their Underwater Moonlight album (now hailed as a gem from the vaults), and to tour and record. Rew continues to write, record and gig with Kim & Lee. Rew says: "When music started, there was no separate band and no separate audience- everyone just banged rocks together. The whole cave was the rhythm section. I think that’s the true spirit of rock’n’roll. We’d like to stay true to it."

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Rock Culture influenced your views of the world? Where does your creative drive come from?

I was lucky enough to be born in 1951. The rock’n’roll explosion happened in 1956. They used to say the explosion continued until about 1958- more recently, as the decades have gone by, and nothing new has come along to overshadow this explosion, they have moved the end date of the explosion later and later to the point where the golden age now finishes somewhere in the 1980s, which puts me firmly inside the golden age!

I’ve always wanted to be a guitarist in a band. Again, I was lucky enough to be able to fulfil my dream.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? What moment changed your music life the most?

Like a lot of people, I want to be accepted, and if possible loved. Lots of bands entertain people and are popular. I’d like to be popular and easily understood- but I seem to have my own different sound, or my wife Lee Cave-Berry and I (we’ve been collaborating for 25 years) have our own collective sound. But we’re rooted in rock’n’roll tradition. So, can we sound reassuringly familiar and unique at the same time? One sound I like is a relatively clean electric guitar (with the right amount of bite from the amplifier). I like the whole band to be the rhythm section. When music started, there was no separate band and no separate audience- everyone just banged rocks together. The whole cave was the rhythm section. I think that’s the true spirit of rock’n’roll. We’d like to stay true to it.

"I was lucky enough to be born in 1951. The rock’n’roll explosion happened in 1956. They used to say the explosion continued until about 1958- more recently, as the decades have gone by, and nothing new has come along to overshadow this explosion, they have moved the end date of the explosion later and later to the point where the golden age now finishes somewhere in the 1980s, which puts me firmly inside the golden age!" (Katrina & The Waves, 1984 / Photo by John de la Cruz)

Why do you think that Katrina & The Waves and Walking On Sunshine continues to generate such a devoted following?

The song Walking on sunshine is what they call an ‘evergreen’- it’s firmly lodged in the public consciousness.

Are there any memories from gigs, tours, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Katrina and the Waves were often an opening act. My two favourite headlining bands were the Beach Boys and the Kinks.

Currently you’ve one release with Lee Cave-Berry. How did that relationship come about? Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album The Krelb?

The relationship with Lee and myself is that we fell in love and got married. We both sing and play instruments (that’s how we met) and it was natural to start collaborating. There are seven albums credited to Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry: Lend me your comb; Return of the comb; Tribute to the Troggs; Enjoy the rest of your day; Sunshine walkers- the best of Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave-Berry; Purple kittens; The Krelb.

I also appear on the album Spring Forward by Lee Cave-Berry. Lee also appears on these Kimberley Rew solo albums: Tunnel into summer; Great Central revisited; Essex hideaway; Ridgeway; The safest place; Strawberry fair; Technically closer than Tooting; Healing broadway; The next big adventure; Are we there yet daddy?; Miles of smiles.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Thanks to recording, we can still hear the music of the past. In fact rock’n’roll (and jazz before it) wouldn’t have happened the way it did without the mass media. We can also recreate the music of any previous time by playing live, any night, any place, wherever there’s a stage, a microphone and an audience. This applies to equally to a classical orchestra or a rock power trio.

"I’ve done what I wanted to do and not everybody gets a chance to do that. I hope I appreciate it."

(Photo: Kimberley Rew)

What were the reasons that made the UK - since the 1960 - to be the center of music researches and experiments?

Some of the greatest pop music comes from this island (who it first arrived there from the US) and I feel very proud to be part of that.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

I’ve done what I wanted to do and not everybody gets a chance to do that. I hope I appreciate it.

Kimberley Rew - Home

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