His swaggering bravado and husky baritone have earned him comparisons to notorious rock idols like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Freddie Mercury – but Kelly Clipperton, magnetic frontman for Kelly And The Kellygirls, has got his own influential luminaries:
“Annie Lennox and Johnette Napolitano [of Concrete Blonde], ’cause they’ve worked outside the box and sang like it was the last breath they were afforded, and Madge ’cause I’ve always needed someone to dress like. I met Johnette once. I gave her a bird of paradise and told her she was the coolest person in the world,” says Clipperton, gagging. “She said she wasn’t and gave me a hug.”
Clipperton folded his previous band Merkury Burn and formed the new outfit in the spring of 2003. Since putting out their May, 2004 swing-pop/ska-rock debut, the band has played countless shows across Ontario, Quebec, New York City and California. The band has also put out a video for “Take Care Of Me” and has completed a new video for “Noise.”
The album impressed critics. “A horn-happy mélange of sweat and swagger infused with lounge lizard bravado,” wrote a reviewer in Out magazine this March. The reviewer also complimented Clipperton’s “debonair delivery in pure swankiness.”
“Swing Swing charted without much effort,” says Clipperton. “But MuchMusic rotates indie videos like George W does calisthenics. Now I must apply myself!”
So Kelly And The Kellygirls – Jennifer Gillmor (bassist of dropdeadbeats and Roach Motel fame), Michael J (trumpeter from Big Rude Jake), Amer Diab (guitarist), Jerry Pergolesi (drummer) and Shane Mackinnon (saxophone) – are stirring up lots of fanfare of their own.
Clipperton is writing more songs and working on a photography exhibit called Hogtown Hedonism (scheduled to run Aug 11-28 at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto).
“I’ve always been fascinated by ‘contingents,’ like the late ’70s Bromley contingent – Siouxsie, Sid Vicious, the rest – and I never felt I was part of one. I just looked around recently and realized I am. And I’m going to shoot it: actors, musicians, dancers, academics, politicians – Torontonians who’re forging similar paths, who’ve inspired me.”
Clipperton cites other inspirations: “Dunhills, whiskey and leave-in conditioner.” And onstage? “Other than the euphoric transcending connection with thousands, the fact that I burn several hundred calories each show.”
Makes sense, considering his biggest pet peeve is “slow stupid people in line-ups. I have the patience of a hooker on a slow night.”
And, to set the record straight…
Do blondes have more fun? “Bullshit. Most blondes just don’t know better and most brunettes are too burnt with envy and busy critiquing to have fun. I constantly rotate so as not to get pigeonholed.”
Is it love or lust at first sight? “Anyone who thinks love at first sight exists is clearly delusional and in need of corrective eyewear. Lust, of course. It should be termed, ‘Loins at first sight.'”
Ashlee versus Jessica Simpson? “Yuck, do I have to pick? No matter what curb you take it to, it’s still trash.”
Boxers versus briefs? “Neither. Though I’d like to see Gael Garcia Bernal in the latter.”
American Idol versus Canadian Idol? “That’s like embarrassing versus pathetic.”
Paris Hilton vs Pam Anderson? “Pam all the way! She’s Canadian and so nasty. She’s delicious.”
Madonna vs Courtney? “The bastard child of the two would rule the world.”
Three things one should never do on a first date? “Tell the truth, pay, drive.”
In the song “Carbonated Liplock,” Clipperton warns: “Living life as a modern vulture/ You need to choose your weapons carefully.” His own weapons? “Sarcasm. Wit. And the undaunted ability to always have a comeback,” he laughs.