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 frank, no-nonsense and 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 session, although they eventually did one after asking Peel personally.
In 1990, they signed with A&M Records in the US, and went into the studio with acclaimed 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 honor 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, having decided to co-produce 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 label's meddling ultimately did nothing to help the album's dismal sales, and many fans were nonplussed with the results. When the album saw its US release in early 1995, it was met with an equally ambivalent reception, and 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 London-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 Cross.
Fitzgerald initially 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, although no recordings were ever released. Since 2000, he has been recording as Stephen Hero, and has put out several releases under that name.
Singles and EPs
|US Modern Rock|
|1991||"Drive That Fast"||#12||Strange Free World|
|1991||"Quick As Rainbows"||#18||Strange Free World|
|1992||"Smiling"||#15||The Death of Cool|
|1992||"4 Men"||#28||The Death of Cool|
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