INTERVIEW: Kurt Maloo interview, Double

INTERVIEW: Kurt Maloo interview, Double

Double were a obscure delightsome musical force that were born in the late 80’s releasing one of the great unsung albums of the period Blue plus singles including the timeless The Captain Of Her Heart, plus Woman Of The World and Devil’s Ball.

Whilst one half of the duo keyboardist Felix Haug sadly passed away in 2003, vocalist and guitarist Kurt Maloo is still creating new music. Gigslutz interviews Kurt to rewind the clock, looking back on his time in Double and what he’s up top at present:

Can you please tell me some details of your upbringing?

I was born in Zurich, Switzerland as an only child. My father was a selfmade man who grew up in France. He worked as a photographer, but moved to Switzerland, together with his mother, at the beginning of WWII. There he got to know my mother, took evening classes to become a financial officer and ended up as a banker.

What was the first music you can remember hearing?

78rpm shelac disks from my mother playing In The Mood by Glenn Miller. Then I got my own first 7“ Day-oh by Harry Belafonte.

What was the first serious music you can remember hearing?

I used to hear a lot of Herb Alpert in the kitchen radio, while my mother wanted to dance with me to, but as serious I considered the album Rubber Soul of the Beatles, I got for Christmas in the year of its release.

When did you first start to sing?

I was the leader of a school band called Poor Boys. No one wanted to sing, so I got the job, besides playing the guitar. We played songs like Twist and Shout by the Beatles and Route 66 by the Rolling Stones. Later I learned the guitar solo in NSU by The Cream.

Double Discography | Discogs

What about playing the guitar, who influenced you to start playing?

Definitely The Beatles, but when I heard Rubber Soul and tried to play along, I realized my skills were not good enough. That‘s when I took classes for a year or two. Later I worked in my summer holidays to get money for an electric guitar, because I heard Jimi Hendrix and it blew me away.

Were you in any bands prior to Double?

After school bands I was a founding member of a 9 piece art-punk band called Troppo. Then I met Felix Haug at a jam session and I asked him to join me in the trio Ping Pong.

How did Double form?

When the bass player left Ping Pong, Felix and I rebranded the remains to Double.

How did songs come together for the band?

I used to write all the songs, but when Felix came up with the piano melody that later became the trademark of The Captain Of Her Heart, I immediately knew we had to work it out and include the result in our first album Blue.

Who were the bands musical influences?

We both adored everything from Miles Davis. At the early 80s I listened to a wide range of music from Funkadelic to Dean Martin. I think the album Blue is just the essence of our musical preferences, adapted to pop songs.

Double debut album Blue is a thing of wonder. Can you please let me know how the material came together for the album and why you chose to sign for Polydor?

We first signed to Metronome, Germany. We released three maxi singles prior to the album Blue. Naningo, Rangoon Moon and Woman of the World. Rangoon Moon and Woman of the World in different versions. After Woman of the World sold 25‘000 copies in Germany, the record company gave us money for an album. Metronome was part of the Polygram family and when the album took off they wanted us to move to Polydor International in London.

The Captain Of Her Heart. What is this song about and how did it come to fruition?

Felix was always holding on to the blackbird version of the story. He was jamming on the piano with windows wide open, when a blackbird joined him insistently singing its typical two notes (e – g – e – g). So he picked them up and elaborated a melody based on the blackbirds singing. Wonderful story anyway.

The lyrics came to my mind rather quickly and more or less from the unconscious. Analysing them later I must have been fascinated by the very moment the woman decided to stop waiting for something she knew that was lost. It’s about facing the truth.

Woman Of The World. What is this song about and how did it come to fruition?

It‘s a hymn on elegant women, or those who play elegant for fun. When I saw an old movie called Hellzapoppin I was intrigued by the conga-dance and it‘s rhythm.

Your Prayer Takes Me Off. What is this song about and how did it come to fruition?

The Prayer is ecstasy. It‘s sexual and reverberates my love for 70s funk music.

Did Double play lots of live gigs around this time?

While Felix and I played a lot of gigs with Ping Pong, we actually never toured with Double. It has several reasons. One was the stage anxiety of Felix, but also the tight PR schedule and the pressure to record a second album.

Were you pleased with reception the band received including making TV appearances?

We should have toured, no question. The immediate feedback from a live audience is incomparable.

How did Felix Haug feel about the success the band were receiving?

He was more confident in composing and arranging when we recorded DOU3LE.

Are you aware The Captain Of Her Heart DJ Alfredo, the original Balearic DJ, plays the song in his set?

No, but I‘m glad he does 🙂

What happened with Dou3le, the follow up to Blue?

It still sold very well, but the single Devils Ball only went to 78 in the UK charts and didn‘t get radio airplay in the U.S., mainly due to the distorted e-violin. It didn’t fit any format. There‘s a re-work from 2006 on my album Loopy Avenue without the violin and it‘s doing much better than the original version.

Was there a vision you and Felix had to write a different sounding album to Blue?

Felix wanted to create more cinematic soundscapes, while I wanted to return to sophisticated pop songs like on Blue. Our differences escalated when we recorded a third album and led to the split of Double.

Devil’s Ball. What is this song about and how did it come to fruition?

It‘s about inner devils who have their ball, giving me a hard time.

Following this album the band seemingly went their separate ways, but you and Felix did record a 3rd album. Why wasn’t this released? What tracks were to be featured on the album?

When we realized we couldn‘t agree musically anymore, we called it a day. This gave us the ability to stay friends. I was living in Paris at the time and Felix was still in Switzerland. The only song from the unfinished third album that came to life on my solo album Single was End of The Season, a song I‘ve written in 1987.

After a number of years apart you and Felix reunited to compose some tracks and release them which you then worked again on to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Double. Sadly Felix passed away and you released the material on one of your solo albums. Was it enjoyable working with Felix?

Not really. He wasn‘t happy in the studio. He missed his family and knew there was no way back eventually. Funny enough the only song he contributed was a very uplifting one, Shoobedoobedoo!

Will there be any of those original demos from those sessions ever make an appearance?

I don‘t think so.

When you look back on the work of Double what are you most proud of?

The way we were working. Trying out, being open and following the flow. No musical boundaries. If the song worked for us, it was fine.

Musically what are you doing at present?

I released an EP called Off the Record, Vol. 1. Songs I wrote without a concept. A little bit like with Double. Let‘s see if there will be a volume 2 and 3.

Finally, what’s on your turntable at present?

Some classical music and jazz from the early 60s.


Kurt Maloo can be found via his website

Matt Mead

Matt Mead

Freelance writer who likes anything with heart and soul