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Kitchens of Distinction (sometimes shortened colloquially to KOD) were a three-person alternative rock band formed in Tootingmarker, South Londonmarker, Englandmarker, active from 1986 to 1996.


Dan Goodwin (drums) met Julian Swales (guitar) at college in 1980, and Swales met Patrick Fitzgerald (vocals/bass guitar) at a party in 1985. The trio began rehearsing together that same year, taking their name from a company of the same name that specialised in home decor and kitchen and plumbing fixtures, after Swales spotted one of their advertisements on the side of a bus while riding his bike. The Kitchens' first single, "The Last Gasp Death Shuffle" (which featured Swales on lead vocals and bass, as well as guitar, was recorded in just one day on an eight-track in a Kenningtonmarker basement, and was released in December 1987 on the band's own Gold Rush Records. It was named a single of the week in the NME,, and led to the band signing with the UK indie label One Little Indian Records; it was around this time that Fitzgerald, a medical doctor, put his career on hold to devote himself fully to the band. Their first singles for One Little Indian, 1988's "Prize" and 1989's "The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule" made it onto the "NME Writers' 100 Best Indie Singles Ever" list, published July 25, 1992.

Their first full-length album, Love Is Hell, was released in April 1989. Fitzgerald's impassioned, wordy, often bluntly-personal vocals careened over what sounded like a mass of swirling guitars, though the band only had one guitarist. Swales' chiming, effects-laden style of playing drew him comparisons to the guitarists of The Chameleons, Cocteau Twins, and A R Kane. KOD's melodic yet abstract sound was a precursor to the shoegazing scene of the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Despite the promising start, the band faced a subdued reception from the mainstream music industry, generally due to their lyrical content. For instance, "Margaret's Injection," on the 1989 Elephantine EP, was a fantasy about killing then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Also, Fitzgerald was openly gay, and his lyrics dealt with that topic in a non-vulgar way, especially on tracks like "Prize" and "Within the Daze of Passion". Even the more indie-focused television programs like Snub TV and Rapido failed to give them much coverage, although Snub TV played the video for their 1991 single "Drive That Fast". Likewise, they were not offered a John Peel radio session, although they eventually did get one after asking Peel personally, following a Glastonburymarker performance which he appreciated.

Kitchens of Distinction sometimes performed "secret" gigs under the alter ego Toilets of Destruction. An example was at The Bull & Gate in Kentish Townmarker on August 6, 1990, where the band appeared in drag and played ABBA, David Bowie, and Bauhaus covers.

In 1990, they signed with A&M Records in the US, and went into the studio with producer Hugh Jones (Simple Minds, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Undertones). Their second album, Strange Free World, was released in February 1991, and spawned some moderately-successful singles in "Drive That Fast" and "Quick as Rainbows", both of which were very well-received by college radio in the US. The band went back into the studio in 1992, again with Jones at the helm, and their album The Death of Cool came out in August of that year; it was named in honour of the passing of Miles Davis, who had released an influential album titled The Birth of the Cool in 1950. A&M balked at the band's choice of "Breathing Fear" for the first single, due to its touchy subject matter (gay bashing), so "Smiling" became the album's initial single in the US. The band toured extensively, including a high-profile slot opening for their US labelmate Suzanne Vega, whose album 99.9F° came out within a few weeks of theirs.

Later in 1993, KOD began work on their fourth album, co-producing it themselves with engineer Pete Bartlett. One Little Indian rejected the album twice, and eventually, both label and band agreed to bring in up-and-coming producer Pascal Gabriel to work on a couple of tracks. One of the label's complaints about the album as the band originally submitted it was that they felt it lacked a potential hit single, so Gabriel produced a new song ("Come on Now") that the band had written after the rest of the album had already been recorded; Gabriel also remixed two of the album's other tracks (the opener "Sand on Fire" and first single "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye"). The resulting album, Cowboys and Aliens, was released in the UK in October 1994, and although the band admitted that they enjoyed working with Gabriel, the changes did nothing to help the album's dismal sales. When the album saw its US release in early 1995, it was largely ignored by the same alternative rock radio and media that had championed them just a few years before. By the end of 1995, both A&M and OLI had dropped the band.

Shortening their name to "Kitchens O.D." and signing to the Londonmarker-based indie label Fierce Panda Records, they issued a single, "Feel My Genie" in May 1996, which was named Melody Maker's "Single of the Week", but they officially disbanded that summer after a farewell gig at London's Kings Crossmarker.

Post dissolution

Fitzgerald continued to record and release music under the name Fruit (not to be confused with the Australian band of the same name), a project that also featured guest vocals from Miki Berenyi of Lush and Isabel Monteiro of Drugstore. He also formed Lost Girls, a project with 4AD recording artist Heidi Berry - one single, Needle's Eye was released. Since 2000, he has been recording as Stephen Hero/Stephenhero - - and has put out several releases under that name. The latest is 'Apparition in the Woods', released November 2009.

Despite rumours of a collaboration with Terry Bickers (of The House of Love and Levitation), Swales moved into writing scores for film, theatre, and dance.




Best-of compilation

Singles and EPs

  • "The Last Gasp Death Shuffle"/"Escape" single (December 1987, Gold Rush)
  • "Prize" single (October 1988, One Little Indian Records)
  • "The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule" single (May 1989, One Little Indian)
  • "Elephantine" EP (October 1989, One Little Indian)
  • "Quick as Rainbows" single (March 1990, One Little Indian)
  • "Drive That Fast" single (January 1991, One Little Indian) (UK #93)
  • "Breathing Fear" single (May 1992, One Little Indian)
  • "When in Heaven" single (August 1992, One Little Indian)
  • "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye" (September 1994, One Little Indian)
  • "Feel My Genie"/"To Love a Star" (as "Kitchens O.D.") (May 1996, Fierce Panda)

Promotional releases

  • "Gorgeous Love" EP (1990, A&M)
  • "Innocent" 3-inch CD single (1991, Rough Trade)
  • "4 Men" EP (1992, A&M)
  • "Smiling" (1992, A&M)
  • "Cowboys and Aliens" EP (1994, One Little Indian)

Non-album tracks

Cover songs

  • "The White Horses" (1994; B-side to the UK single of "Now It's Time to Say Goodbye" and the US single for the song "Cowboys and Aliens")
    • Kitchens covered the theme song from the 1960s television series The White Horses (originally performed by Jackie Lee; it was a UK top 10 hit during April 1968). Featuring a rare lead vocal by Swales, it was first included on a free cassette given away with a UK music paper before being issued as a B-side.

Charting singles

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Modern Rock
1991 "Drive That Fast" 12 Strange Free World
"Quick as Rainbows" 18
1992 "Smiling" 15 The Death of Cool
"4 Men" 28


  1. One Little Indian - KOD bio
  2. Kitchens of Distinction bio on
  3. Patrick states in the liner notes for Capsule: The Best of KOD 1988-94 (pg. 4, in the notes for "Prize") that he was unable to learn the bassline soon enough to record the song, and Julian sang it instead.
  4. Strong, Martin C.:"The Great Alternative & Indie Discography", 1999, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  5. The Death of Cool - Kitchens of Distinction - Biography
  6. Indie Hits "K" - Kitchens of Distinction
  7. Kitchens of Distinction bio on
  8. The Death of Cool - Kitchens of Distinction - Interviews ("Protection as Purpose" section)
  9. One Little Indian - KOD bio (bottom of page)

External links

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