Kid Congo Powers, the premier voodoo guitarist for seminal sexy, swampy bands like Gun Club, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and The Cramps, Powers is a restless aesthete whose earlier solo efforts explored and mixed genres. He has also played with the Divine Horsemen, the Angels of Light, Die Haut, and Knoxville Girls. Born in La Puente, California, Powers is a second generation Mexican American. His earliest childhood influences were the Southern California Chicano rock band Thee Midniters. In 1976, he was president of The Ramones fan club, then ran a fanzine for The Screamers.
After traveling to London and New York City he returned to L.A. and in 1979 met Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Pierce taught him to play guitar using open tuning, and they formed The Creeping Ritual, which became The Gun Club. Powers left that group before their recording debut, instead joining New York-based band The Cramps in December 1980. Powers rejoined the Gun Club briefly in 1983, touring with Pierce’s band in Australia the following year, and then again between 1985 and 1988.
Powers joined Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Berlin, Germany, September 1986 for several albums and corresponding tours. Powers recorded the Tender Prey and The Good Son albums with Cave and his band, and he said in early 2015 that he “loved” the “primaeval element of rock’n’roll” that they had a firm grasp of. During April 1990, it was amicably decided with Nick Cave that he leave The Bad Seeds and concentrate on The Gun Club, which he had reconvened with Jeffery Lee Pierce during downtime in 1989.
For The Pink Monkey Birds, whose name Kid credits to inspiration from David Bowie, Powers initially collaborated with New York City guitarist Jack Martin, who he has also collaborated with for the Congo Norvell and Knoxville Girls projects.Later, Powers recruited Kiki Solis on bass, Ron Miller on drums, and Jesse Roberts on guitar and keyboards. The band moved to In The Red Records and released the much acclaimed debut studio album, Dracula Boots, which was called a “return to form.”
Dracula Boots consists of numerous genres, including southern soul, 60s Chicano rock, and psychedelic imagery, a stripped-down, no-frills set of volcanic songs. British magazine N.M.E. wrote: “In short, on Dracula Boots Kid Congo Powers has once again found the juicy jugular of soul-fired, funked-up rock’n’roll. You’d be foolish not to take a bite.”
In 2011, Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds released their second album, Gorilla Rose, which was also on the In The Red Records label. Eamon Carr of The Dublin Evening Herald said of Gorilla Rose, “Having a working band is paying off. Gorilla Rose elevates seedy go-go weirdness to the level of high art.
They stil touring around the world while recording more Lp’s
Kid Congo Powers was profiled by Vogue in late April 2016 while promoting his band’s fourth album.In the interview, he was noted for his iconic sense of punk style and he mentions the aesthetic importance of tying the look of the band to match the music.
“For me, the whole art of being a band—and I do think it’s an art—is to create a whole world, a whole language, that is every aspect. The Gun Club, we kind of made it up as we went along, but what I learned from The Cramps and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is that they created a whole uncompromising world, and it’s all kind of sprung out of that. You want to communicate with people, and I think through all aesthetics—artwork, the look, and music—you get to keep your world, and you get to let people enter your world and live in your world with you”
1981 The Cramps – Psychedelic Jungle
1983 The Cramps – Smell of Female
1984 The Gun Club – The Las Vegas Story
1987 The Gun Club – Mother Juno
1990 The Gun Club – Pastoral Hide and Seek
1991 The Gun Club – Divinity EP
1985 The Fur Bible EP
1988 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
1990 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – The Good Son
1988 Barry Adamson – Moss Side Story
1994 Congo Norvell – Music to Remember Him By
1998 Mark Eitzel – Caught in a Trap and I Can’t Back Out ‘Cause I Love You Too Much, Baby
2005 Kid Congo Powers – Solo Cholo
2006 Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Philosophy and Underwear
2006 Madrugada – Live at Oslo Spektrum [DVD]
2009 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds – Dracula Boots
2011 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds – Gorilla Rose
2013 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds – Haunted Head
2016 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds – La Araña Es La Vida
2021 Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds – Swing From The Sean DeLea
1987 Wings of Desire
1999 Modern Young Man (film short)
2000 Once and Future Queen
2000 Hair Burners
2022 The Resort (TV Series)