A person unfamiliar with Kitchens of Distinction might hear them today and mistake the swirling, moody melodies for Interpol, The Editors or a less synth-y She Wants Revenge. All the bands involved definitely wore their Joy Division/Ian Curtis influences on their collective sleeves, but Kitchens did it earlier and did it well.

Backed by a blast of Cocteau Twins-ish, effects-pedal laden guitars and muted, yet impassioned vocals, Kitchens of Distinction made a minor splash in the UK with their third indie single, the coincidentally titled “The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule”, a song that years later made the NME Writers’ 100 Best Indie Singles Ever list. A full album, 1989’s sublime Love Is Hell (finally released in the U.S. years later) followed.

Lead singer/bassist Patrick Fitzgerald was one of the precious few openly gay alternative rockers at the time, and while the band’s first efforts address this in a more obtuse manner, later songs and several interviews hit the “gay thing” head on, and that may have impeded their success. Or maybe America just wasn’t ready for shoegaze, since Catherine Wheel, Swervedriver, Ride, Slowdive, et al didn’t make much of a splash Stateside, either. As the man himself says:

“First the band name got in the way, then the gay issue. It became a huge red herring – a pink herring, in fact! The ‘gay thing’ insinuated the music was different to what it was. At the time, there were no gay men out in rock, and if you were gay, you obviously made dance music. It belittled what we were, which was, basically, drunken men with guitars!”

The band did grab some minor Modern Rock Radio airplay in the early ’90s with “Drive That Fast” and “Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye”, but Kitchens of Distinction were unable to withstand the onslaught of grunge and “alternative” rock and after a much more commercial sounding album, Cowboys and Angels, in 1995, the band called it a day, five years before Interpol made their sound very fashionable. A shame, really.

“The 3rd Time We Opened The Capsule” did not chart.

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