The Kontroversy was born in 1981 out of the ashes of Kansas City’s acclaimed The Leopards, a group which released three singles and a legendary LP (on their own Moon Records label and re-issued by Sing Sing in 2011), and opened for the Talking Heads Kansas City concert in 1979.
In January of 1981, Fred Prellberg approached Kevin Sanders with the idea of forming a band shortly after Kevin’s stint in The Leopards ended, and the band transplanted to California. With Kevin playing rhythm guitar and Fred on bass, they enlisted Kevin’s brother, Tim Sanders, to man the drums, and Barry Johnson to handle lead guitar duties. The completed line-up devotedly mined the then-rarefied repertoire of the British Invasion and American garage rock, immediately setting to work gigging and recording on Kevin’s 8-track in his basement.
Tossing the boys a bone, Kansas City’s legendary Titan Records in 1984 agreed to release an EP This, Then, Is…The Kontroversy, (Titan 8465), featuring Johnson’s successor on lead, Ken Carey. The blog BeatFor65 described the five-song EP as “a mixture of pop, surf and rock and roll, great guitars, and great tunes.” After the release of the EP, the band recorded several additional originals intended – at the time, for release, which were subsequently shelved - and seemingly forgotten.
Thirty years after disbanding in 1984, Kevin and Tim decided to reach out to their long-since relocated bass player to gauge his interest in re-forming the band for the purpose of recording a new album. Bolstered by several new Kevin Sanders originals and those previously unreleased tracks, the resultant album, Reprise (Ragged but Right RBR303), found the boys mining the same vein of 60s-era Rock ‘N’ Roll that inspired them to get together over 30 years ago. Indeed, all the elements that defined their sound back then were still intact, making it a Reprise that was quite aptly named.
The Kontroversy’s second album, released in August 2016, is a collection of songs from a musical written by Kevin. The musical, Armourdale, is based on true stories of events that occurred in the Armourdale district of Kansas City, Kansas, as told to Kevin by his parents, who grew up living across the street from each other. The story takes place from the height of the depression in the 1930s through 1951, when the worst flood in Kansas City's history destroyed the district.
With their strong melodies, unique chord progressions, and clever lyrics, The Kontroversy’s original songs, written by Kevin Sanders and Fred Prellberg, are influenced by the best of the 60s British Invasion and American rock bands, as well as Kevin’s interest in early 20th century American music. Their new Armourdale album is a big leap forward, moving beyond the garage band sound of their earlier recordings.