May is finally here and in a few short weeks, we will be enjoying the Lost at Sea ‘80s Beach Party on Catalina Island. Many of the bands performing hail from California, but Kon Kan is actually coming in from a whole other country!
Formed in Ontario, Canada, Kon Kan will give us a dance vibe that brings back so many memories. If you went to a club in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s, you heard the 1988 single “I Beg Your Pardon.” Barry Harris launched Kon Kan and Kevin Wynne came along to create the synth dance track responsible for the classic club song. In their short stint, they toured the world, picked up a Juno Award (think Canadian Grammys), and now they are back for more. OC Music News spoke to Wynne from his home in Canada to welcome him to the US for this awesome beach party.
Traci: Hey Kevin! Have you been in the US since COVID?
Kevin: Actually, no! The restrictions just eased up a little bit for us as of April 1st, and we don’t have to get tested to come back.
Traci: I’m glad you’ll be able to make it to Catalina then! How did you and Barry get Kon Kan going?
Kevin: Back in March of ‘88, a friend of mine, who was the keyboard player in my first band as a 15 year old, he had a studio and Barry started working with him in the studio on “I Beg Your Pardon.” At the time, I was doing something completely different; I was actually a television cameraman. I got this call from another friend of mine who was also in the studio and said, “Hey, there’s this guy here. He’s at Tom’s studio, and he’s looking for a vocalist and I think you’d be great for it. Why don’t you come up and give it a shot?” And I said, “Yeah, why not?” That was March of 1988, and that is the first time I met Barry. It worked out, obviously. And funny enough, it was a few months later, I think July-ish of that year, my friend Tom, who had the studio, called me up and says, “Hey, come on up. I’ve got a copy of your record.” I honestly said, “What record?” He said, “You remember that thing back a few months ago? Come and check it out.” So there it was. I went up and picked up a copy of the 12 inch off him. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Traci: I remember being in the club and hearing that song every time!
Kevin: It was a crazy roller coaster. Never in a million years did I expect what was about to come over the next 18 months. That record was just everywhere.
Traci: Did you guys tour with it?
Kevin: Yeah, we did some promo touring and real touring. Did a lot of clubs everywhere in the States. We went to Europe; we went to Asia, tons of places. That was the best part of the whole thing was the travel I got to do.
Traci: Now you’re going to come back and start it up again. Are you doing shows on the Lost ‘80s 20th Anniversary Tour?
Kevin: Right now, we’re doing Grand Prairie, Texas. We’re doing San Diego, the Mountain Winery, and Thunder Valley.
Traci: I know you took off from the band for a while and then reformed, I think 2013?
Kevin: Yeah, Barry and I reconnected around the 25th anniversary of “I Beg Your Pardon.” We got back together and actually went into the studio and I redid the vocals for “I Beg Your Pardon,” “Harry Houdini,” “Puss N’ Boots.” We had a bunch of new remixes done for the 25th anniversary. It was fun and we got some cool new mixes out of it, but we kind of went our separate ways again for a number of years. Then it was, I believe, 2019, Rob Juarez reached out with the idea of joining the Lost ‘80s. So here we are, three years later because of COVID. It delayed the whole getting on board the Lost ‘80s train, but last year when Rob called and talked about doing it this year, I didn’t hesitate for a second to say yes.
Traci: I saw you guys did a show last weekend. How was it?
Kevin: Fabulous! The response was fantastic. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Everything went great. We worked our butts off in rehearsal for a few months and it all came together just as I had hoped.
Traci: Who will you be bringing to Catalina?
Kevin: I’ve got my drummer, Antony Cook. He actually worked on some Kon Kan stuff with Barry, the third album, I believe. Antony has always been a good friend of mine as well and when all this started happening, I reached out to him. He was the first person on board. I’ve got Chrissy Lomax doing vocals and guitar with me. Chrissy was our Nancy Sinatra and Lynn Anderson back in the ‘80s when we toured, so I’m thrilled to have her back in the fold. Our keyboard player is Jeff Carter, and my bass player is Sandy Horne from The Spoons. They’re a legendary band here in Canada; they just celebrated their 40th anniversary and she’s awesome. So she’s playing bass and also doing vocals with me.
Traci: Do you have more shows coming up for Canadian fans?
Kevin: We are doing what is similar to your July 4th; July 1st here is Canada Day. We are playing a festival here in Canada on the second of July. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s still up in the air right now.
Traci: What do you do on the road to occupy the off time?
Kevin: I’m an explorer. No matter where I am, I love to go off the beaten path, eat where the locals eat, go to the clubs the locals go to.
Traci: Catalina is an interesting island to explore! I used to go as a kid, and so much of it has not changed. Plus, it will be interesting to have all of you ‘80s greats in one spot.
Kevin: Yeah, I can’t wait!
Prepare to catch the Canadians of Kon Kan along with A Flock of Seagulls, English Beat, Oingo Boingo Former Members, Missing Persons, Dramarama, The Untouchables, Annabella’s Bow Wow Wow, Wally Palmar of the Romantics, Tommy Tutone, Stacey Q, Naked Eyes, Josie Cotton, Shannon, Musical Youth, Trans-X, and Burning Sensations. Tickets are on sale now for the May 27-29 event. In addition to regular tickets, VIP and cabana passes are available, but hurry because they sold out in 2021!
If you can’t make it to Catalina, check out the Lost ‘80s Live 20th Anniversary Tour. The tour will travel across the US and musical acts vary by location, but it will give you the ‘80s you need in 2022.