1985 marked the year that Patrick Fitzgerald (bass/vocals), Julian Swales (guitar) and Dan Godwin (drums) came together as the Kitchens of Distinction; named for a firm specializing in kitchen and plumbing fixtures seen adorning a bus advertisment.
With vastly disparate origins (Basle, Monmouthshire and Salamanca) the ‘Kitchens’ set out to take on the World from the very un-exotic base of Tooting, South London. Armed with an effects laden abstract style backing deep and thought-provoking lyrics their first single, ‘Last Gasp Death Shuffle’ was nominated Single of the Week by NME and the band soon found themselves signed to One Little Indian. Second single, ‘Prize’, was one of the first popular songs to tackle the subject of homosexuality and Patrick’s lyrics have often returned to the same subject over the years, most noticeably on the track ‘Breathing Fear’.
Across four studio albums and a ‘Best Of’ the Kitchens established themselves as one of the most articulate and poetic bands around but, whilst championed by the US college scene and having supporting the likes of Suzanne Vega, their exposure in the UK fell short of what should have been expected of such a unique set of musicians and songwriters.
Whilst Jonny Greenwood would come to cite the band’s last album ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ as the inspiration behind Radiohead’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’, the Kitchens’ time never would, in Patrick’s words, “eventually bastard well come” and following a brief incarnation as Kitchens O.D. (their last single ‘Feel My Genie’ being named Melody Maker Single of the Week) and playing some secret gigs as ‘Toilets of Destruction’, the band signed off in 1996 at a gig in London’s King’s Cross.
Following the break up of the Kitchens of Distinction Patrick has released music under the name of Fruit, in collaboration with Miki Berenyi (Lush) and Isabel Monteiro (Drugstore), and Lost Girls with Heidi Berry, before returning to his ‘day job’ as an GP. Despite a kidney transplant in 2008 he continues to release new music under the name StephenHero, an early James Joyce novel. His latest album ‘Apparition in the Woods’ is available on Ragoora Records (www.stephenhero.co.uk).
Patrick currently resides in Manchester, Julian lives in Brighton and Dan, Scotland.
“I’d seen someone get stabbed in Vauxhall, someone smash up a car in Brixton, and then these inadequate animals (a mother elephant shown on TV staying to die with her offspring) perform acts of love in Kenya. I thought, God that’s lovely, wouldn’t it be a fine thing, to be an elephant.”
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