Defying The Categories
Scene Magazine, May 12-18, 1988
By Mark Holan
Transcribed by Robert Ferent
8 Cover Image


Kevin McMahon has never been into doing things the easy way. When McMahon's band, Lucky Pierre, was first playing out in the late 70's, it was de rigeur for McMahon to maintain a rigid composure and try to ring out every last drop of emotion from every song he performed. These days, however, McMahon is much more laid back. It's not "laid back" in the sense of being mellow. It's more of an emotional maturity that comes with age.

Of all the bands to come out of the Cleveland/Akron music scene in the late 70's and early 80's, Lucky Pierre had the most modern approach to music. While band like the Wild Giraffes and the Generators put more energy into their music, Lucky Pierre's (and therefore McMahon's) approach centered around the use of words as a way of taking off on emotional flights pf fancy. McMahon's best songs captured a sort of cryptic message filtered through a kaleidoscope.

But like most of the other bands around at that time, Lucky Pierre dissolved due to a lack of interest from all parties involved. McMahon went to San Francisco, and bassist Tom Lash, drummer Dave Zima and guitarist Denis DeVito pursued their own directions on the music scene. Every once in a while we'd hear about McMahon's whereabouts and doings.

Now, some five years since such Lucky Pierre singles as "Fans And Cameras" comes COMMUNIQUE, a five-song album that refreshes our memories as to just how good a songwriter Kevin McMahon has always been. The tough, psychoanalytical outlook of "Analyst Says" gives way to the sparse musical backing and vulnerable emotionalism of "Man Against The Wall." In between, there's the rollicking title track and the breakneck sentiments of "Tough." Using drummer Dave Zima and guitarist John Guiciardo on most of the tracks, McMahon has succeeded in bringing Lucky Pierre into th elate 80's, poised for the 90's.

"There really isn't anything brand new on the record," McMahon says. "I just felt like doing some of the older things that were knocking around in my head for so long."

Having lived in San Francisco for the most part of the last three years, McMahon has a renewed enthusiasm for Cleveland and what ti has to offer an original band. Before settling in San Francisco, however, he took an extended vacation to Europe.

"I figured I would do that when I was 30," he explains. "I figured that by then I would have a band that was on the road, and I would be able to go to Europe. But it didn't work out that way, so I just said 'I'm 30, it's time to go.'"

While visiting Paris, McMahon had an experience that made him think about Cleveland and the once-burgeoning original music scene. "I was in Paris, and I went into a music store to look for a magazine that would have what was going on in the clubs around town. I started talking to a guy, and he asked me where I was from. I said 'Cleveland,' and he said, 'The Rock 'n' Roll Capitol of the World? Why would you want to move here. That's the Rock 'n' Roll Capitol of the World.' This was before we got the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, too. it just knocked me out that this guy in Paris would have heard about Cleveland being this hub of rock 'n' roll."

The new Lucky Pierre - Zima, Lash, keyboardist Trent Reznor, guitarist Rick Christyson and McMahon - will be making on of their infrequent live appearances at Peabody's Down Under this Saturday, May 14. McMahon's thinking is that playing out two or three times a week at the same clubs doesn't achieve anything. the Peabody's gig this weekend will be their last one until sometime in June.

"I don't want to burn out on it," McMahon says. "I don't want the audience to burn out on it, either. It'll be just three or four more jobs. Once at the Phantasy, once at Peabody's and that kinda thing for two or three months. I also want to do some out-of-town gigs, too."

Keeping that balance between familiarity and contempt is what is first and foremost on McMahon's mind these days. Now that he can see things from a new perspective, he's ready to do things his way - again.