Blog Entry, 11.21.10
Front Row Bar & Grill
A bittersweet feeling came over me as we loaded the show in to the Front Row Bar & Grill last night. I had a lot to live up to since our last show where I felt as though I fell short of my own expectations of myself. So with three weeks rest we were looking forward to ending our 2010 schedule of shows on a really high note. We hadn't performed at this venue all year so we were excited about the turn out and how well we would be received.
A great crowd of fans met us right around 10:15 PM for the start of the show. A host of camera phones were held high to capture miniature images of us as we tore into "Detroit Rock City". Only a few familiar faces were among the multitude of faces that were staring back at us. It's a great feeling to know that we're still pulling in new fans with each show. We added a few extra songs to the first set after realizing that we needed to fill up some extra time. We chose "C'mon And Love Me" and "Rip It Out" to fill that void. We were really on with the music. The stage dimensions didn't offer us much room to move about so we collectively kept things pretty simple as far as the antics went. But that 's not to say that we took it easy by any stretch.
During the break we met with many fans to talk about KISS and our performance. Thanks to those that took time to speak with us and share their stories and opinions of how they felt we were performing. The second set flowed just as well as the first. Stand out tracks included "Crazy, Crazy Nights", "Modern Day Delilah" and "Hard Luck Woman". Andrew suggested having more of free flow to the set list for this show, almost a fan selected set if you will. But that tends to leave us too open, especially if they request a song that we don't know. The show concluded with "Lick It Up" into "Black Diamond" into "Rock And Roll All Nite". The remaining fans gave us a great memory as they lent their voices to the chorus of "Rock And Roll All Nite" with great passion. We'll be returning to the Front Row in 2011. We'll look forward to seeing as many of you there as well as other shows throughout the year.
Thanks once again to everyone that helped us in some way in 2010. Each and every one of you that took time to attend one of our shows really played a tremendous role in the success of our tribute. We can't thank you all enough. Let's look forward to creating even better memories the next time that we see each other. Have a great holiday season and keep rocking.
Blog Entry, 10.30.10
Slim & Chubby's
Two nights in a row have never really had an effect on us. Until this past weekend. After performing in Toledo on Friday night we came home early Saturday morning while most of you were sound asleep. After a minimal amount of sleep by some of us we were right back en route to Slim & Chubby's in Strongsville for what we hoped would be a Halloween party unlike any other. Unfortunately, we found just another Saturday night show waiting for us, no costume contest and no ghouls or goblins in sight. Thankfully we had a crowd as the poster advertising our show inside the club had the wrong date for our show and pictured a version of the band that hasn't performed together in over 2 years. Yikes!
We hit the stage at 10:30 PM and everything seemed to be status quo. I was somewhat concerned going into this show for one reason. I had been fighting off some sort of bug throughout the week and really felt as though I would prevail as the show went on. But that just wouldn't be the case. So for the first time in over 16 years I had succumbed to the weakness of my vocal chords for the entire second set. But this would prove to be a positive turnabout for us as a band in the end. Joe, Rob and Andrew stepped up and took it upon themselves to carry the load, allowing me to concentrate on my guitar parts while we gave the "Paul Stanley" songs a break for the entire second set. Of course it seemed unorthodox to hear so many tracks from Ace, Gene and Peter but in the end it was more about the band than it was about the individual members within. I announced to the crowd that I was unable to sing and in true KISS Army fashion they cheered me on and completely understood. I was moved by their display of appreciation and vowed to make it up to them in 2011.
We finished with a flurry just after 1:30 AM and breathed a sigh of relief. I always tell the guys that shows like these are the ones that build character and I'm sure that we are stronger as a result. You always want to give your all and if for any reason you feel that that has been compromised it leaves you feeling just a little empty inside. We will return even stronger in 2011 and we will continue to build upon the reputation of being a solid and passionate tribute to the legend that is KISS.
Blog Entry, 10.09.10
The Sly Fox
As our schedule of shows for 2010 nears its finale we took our tribute one more time to the Sly Fox in N.Olmsted, Ohio last night. Dusk was slowly settling over the western suburb of Cleveland as we pulled in to begin our set up. Strands of orange colored lights hung from beams that surrounded the bar and large black spiders watched us carry our gear in from the back entrance likes guests to a Halloween party. A small number of patrons were already inside, some of which were setting up for a surprise birthday party providing us as the main attraction.
Our show began right around 10:30 PM and the crowd had more than doubled in size from an hour earlier during our sound check. Many watched from a safe distance but a few dared to move close enough for it to resemble a real rock and roll show. I was excited because during our sound check we met our new sound man at the Sly Fox whose name is Rod. We were told that he had a lot of experience and he backed it up. This was by far the best club sound I have heard in 16 years. So we began as is more than often the case with "Detroit Rock City" and from the opening notes everything just felt right. Before long sweat was trailing off of our arms and heads as we poured our emotions into our character portrayals. Tracks such as "Modern Day Delilah" and "2000 Man" evoked solid responses from the crowd. A select few didn't let their inhibitions get the better of them and they responded to us more passionately as the night drew on. With time and our enthusiasm working against each other for the first half of the show we needed to add a few additional songs to the set. They included "Got to Choose" and a song that we had yet to perform as it was still in the early stages of its development. But having tried it during sound check I asked the crowd if they would mind hearing it before any one else. That song was "Crazy, Crazy Nights"! We really gave it our best attempt and it really was a lot of fun to perform. The reaction from the crowd was definitive?the song is here to stay. We'll fine tune it and make it everything that you would hope it to be from here on out.
The second half of the show was every bit a compliment to the first half that we could hope for. The crowd loosened up quite a bit more and crept toward the front of the stage with a nervous trepidation. All of the usual tricks were displayed throughout the show including gobs of blood and ascending billows of smoke. The ghost of Peter's 1975 drum solo rose from Andrew's kit during his solo and I even resurrected Paul's 1984 intro to "Black Diamond" from Animalize Live Uncensored to close out the show.
In the end it was evident that we had conquered another attempt at paying tribute to KISS from the heart. The fans were more than appreciative and the club has already agreed to have us return for 3 dates in 2011. I would say that is what you call getting it done. We can't wait to return?we'll look forward to seeing you there too!
Blog Entry, 09.26.10
Geneva Grape Jamboree
Our 2010 festival season came to a close last night in Geneva, Ohio. Thankfully all of our hard work throughout the year paid off as the festival witnessed the largest crowd for a Sunday night performance in their 40+ year history. Now for the dirt on the event.
We arrived at 10 AM for our load-in and set up. Even at this early hour of the day people had already started to gather in the streets lining the curbs with their chairs for the 2 PM parade. Vendors were side by side for as far as the eye could see offering everything that's become standard cuisine at an event such as this. Due to the overwhelming number of events that share the stage with us throughout the day we were unable to perform our normal sound check in advance of the show. So we through caution to the wind and hoped for the best. Throughout the afternoon we split our time in the basement of the Northwest Bank which acted as our dressing room for the day. With the cool, crisp air outside it provided the perfect refuge for us just to kick back and share some laughs or catch a nap as Andrew and Miah (that's Joe's daughter) so customarily do.
After a delicious dinner at 5 PM we took our places to begin our make-up process. Since our dressing room also doubled as the catering room for the day we soon realized why it was so flippin' hot in there. With all of the burners on under the trays of food creating the increase in temperature Joe cooly extinguished the flames and the room settled down to a more comfortable setting. By 7 PM we were ready to go. Our escorts had arrived to walk us to the stage seeing as were half a block away to begin with. We passed a few familiar faces along the way and made it to the stage to a huge crowd. Darkness enveloped the night sky and the familiar riff of "Detroit Rock City" washed over the asphalt and concrete of the small Geneva street. Fans were lined up all around the stage, some pressed up so tightly that we could barely see their faces. Performing without a sound check is sort of like sky diving without a reserve parachute. You hope that everything will go as planned. Aside from some minor tuning issues we made it through without too many problems. The crowd had taken on that all too familiar trait with us...one of disbelief and curiosity. Not quite sure if it's ok to let loose too early in the show because many of them have never seen or heard anything at their festival quite like us before. By the halfway point of the show we could sense that we were winning them over. Songs like "Lick It Up" and "I Love It Loud" kicked things into another gear. Even with the temperatures falling into the low 60's the crowd was getting warmed up and we were responding. Joe's smoker didn't cooperate in "Shock Me" and Rob once again choked back extra blood after Andrew's drum solo in "God Of Thunder". As the show climaxed with "Rock And Roll All Nite" the crowd and the band were one. Once again we had rocked and conquered another small town with our show.
The response was so overwhelming that the crowd demanded an encore. So with the approval of the festival committee we extended our show by one song. Not sure of what to play we heard a few requests from the fans and decided upon a Gene Simmons classic "Christine Sixteen". After it was all over we met with many fans at the back of the stage for photos and autographs, signing everything from our t-shirts to small scraps of paper. Geneva, Ohio is known for it's vast array of winery's and it's festival is known for it's stomping of grapes. Now it's also known for MR.SPEED coming to town and stomping out KISS classics for 2 hours on a Sunday night in 2010. We hope to return and look forward to the opportunity.
Blog Entry, 09.18.10
Uncertainty met us at the front door of Stir Cleveland last night for our first show at this new local spot. Upon entering the room I couldn't help but feel as though this had the potential to be a great rock club. By that I mean that the room is very open with a balcony that overlooks the stage and the sight lines are the best wherever you may be sitting. But this was a case of first impressions being misleading.
Our normal load-in process was complete by 6:00 PM and the sound man for the show had not arrived. Turns out there wasn't a sound man showing up for the show! So before I would let panic settle in I got with our contact at the club and he hastily arranged for someone to come and work the show with us. It was so last minute that I never even got the guys name that showed up. By now our show time was rapidly approaching. We were scheduled to hit the stage at 9:00 PM and play until 1 AM. Due to this small set back we finally took the stage a little after 9:30 PM to a modest crowd of locals that had gathered. There were a few fans that actually showed up to see us and I judged this by one guy wearing a KISS t-shirt. Our first set was a rough one. It wasn't as if things were falling apart musically but more so that we were playing our hearts out and the crowd seemed less than interested. So we finished the first set and regrouped in the dressing room. After taking the stage for the second set we seemed to have hit our stride. It took a lot more work but the people that were in the club were much more receptive to what we were doing and completely having a good time.
By the end of the show the crowd had diminished quite a bit but we gave it everything that we had. Rob commented to me that we can't always hit a home run so to speak every where we go. But I disagree. I expect the four of us to approach every show with the same passion and energy no matter if we're playing for 100 people or 4,000 people. I do know that when we have shows such as this one that you can bet when we arrive at next week's Geneva Grape Jamboree that those fans won't know what hit them. So in the end I'll take from this show that it was a warm up for our next performance and make sure that we're more than hungry come next Sunday night.
Blog Entry, 09.12.10
I couldn't wait to get home to tell you all about our amazing night with KISS. The band was here in Cleveland tonight as part of their "Hottest Show On Earth" tour so of course we were there. Thanks to many of you that recognized us and came up to take photos or just to say "hello".
Over the past few months I had been speaking with our friend Keith from www.kissonline.com. Keith was kind enough to arrange a "meet and greet" for us with KISS at one of the cities along the tour that we would be attending. It just so happened that we would get that chance in our hometown of Cleveland. So we pulled out the make up and got made up for the show. We arrived just before 6:00 PM where I introduced myself to Dean Snowden. Dean handles the meet and greet's for KISS. We were given a time and place to meet a little later on for out time with the band. So we entered the gates at Blossom Music Center and made a quick stop at the first merchandise stand that we came to. Moving on to our seats we stopped and took photos with many fans along the way. At 7:30 we once again met up with Keith and were then led to a back stage area beneath the stage. As we approached a roped off area where our meeting would take place the familiar sounds of KISS' "Sonic Boom" could be heard resonating from within the tent. We waited only a short while before the music was turned up and KISS entered the room. We were part of a small group that was assembled to meet the band prior to the actual meet and greet that the band offers through their web site. During our time we would be allowed 2 photos with the band. We couldn't wait. After a few of Eric's family had taken a photo it was our turn.
It is always a very surreal moment for me when I get this chance. I approached them first starting with Gene. He eyed me up and down with a sly grin smiled his approval of our outfits. I thanked him for including us in his episode of "Family Jewels". I then said "hello" to Eric who responded by saying "MR.SPEED"! Then it was on to Paul who looked at me and said "my replacement". How cool, right? Then I finished up with Tommy. I thanked Tommy for playing to us two weeks earlier in Chicago and for throwing guitar picks to us throughout the show. He remembered that we were there and turning away from him I found myself face to face with Paul again. I could only thank Paul for all of the years of inspiration and he too thanked me in return while mentioning that he too remembered seeing me at the show in Chicago. At this point we were gathered together for our photos and as of this writing I hope that they turned out. You hope and pray for the best when moments like this come along in your life.
Just like that it was over. Another magical moment in our history as a tribute to KISS was created. We'll post as many photos as we possibly can to let you all in to our incredible night with KISS. After all of that we then watched the show and were treated to another amazing performance. Stand out moments for me are Gene's blood routine with the bell and spot light as well as Tommy and Eric's dual solo spot in "Shock Me". Not many shows remain on the tour so if you get the chance to go do it...you will not be disappointed.
We want to thank Keith Leroux and Dean Snowden for helping us to once again realize why it is that we love KISS so much. We really put our hearts and souls into what we do and it's the absolute best when we get a few moments to stand in the shadows of our heroes and tell them "thanks".
Blog Entry, 8.20.10
Rally in the Alley
Friday night in Medina, Ohio! Man, it was a hot one! We rolled in to the square in Medina right around 2:00 PM but unfortunately we couldn't set up when we arrived. So we stood around in the midday sun waiting for our chance to set up our show. Today's show was going to be just a bit different for us as we were about to unveil another new addition to our back line. Two lighted staircases! We were really excited about this new stage prop and curious as to how the fans would receive them within the context of our show. I have to be honest with you that after we had a chance to meet with a few fans after the show the answer was clear. All of our hard work and determination once again paid off...they loved them! We're still working out the transportation of the stairs so that they arrive at and depart from each show safely and well protected. But that will come with time. We're just thrilled that we can give you...the fans...more of what you expect from a KISS tribute show.
Now, on to the show. We started the show at 7:30 PM and ran through about 12 songs just to warm up the crowd for a full 90-minute set later at 9:30 PM. We played an exciting set of classics and even mixed in "Say Yeah" from Sonic Boom which we hadn't done live in quite some time. The capacity crowd in the alley was pressed right up against the stage as Rob glared into their eyes for his blood spitting routine just before "God of Thunder". Andrew kept them all pounding their fists in the air with an energetic drum solo which featured crowd participation and tips of the hat to Peter's "KISS ALIVE" solo from 1975. As the set rolled on Joe stumbled from stage left to stage right then unleashed a billow of smoke on the young rockers in the first row. We drew the crowd even more as the set came to a close. I split the crowd into two with my intro to "Black Diamond". I had them compete with one another for bragging rights to hear which side could respond the loudest. In the end...they all won.
We closed the show with "Rock and Roll All Nite" which is only fitting in true KISS-style. Even before I had the chance to warm the crowd up for the audience participation section they responded enthusiastically with the chorus all on their own. For us that's an amazing feeling. Hearing so many voices singing back at us in unison always lifts our spirits as our shows come to an end. I can only imagine how it must be for KISS each and every night of their tours. We want to thank everyone at the Main Street Cafe for giving us another shot at bringing classic KISS once again to the streets of Medina. We will look forward to returning in 2011...if you can get there next year we'd love to have you...you won't be disappointed.
Blog Entry, 7.24.10
Slim & Chubby's
It's the same 'ol...same 'ol situation. Slim & Chubby's in Strongsville, Ohio last night was the next stop on our "Live & Loud" tour. The blistering heat may have been responsible for keeping some of the normal crowd away but for those that did show up we gave them one hell of a show. Of course club shows are always about the music. We hit the stage at 10:30 PM to "Detroit Rock City" while the reserved and smaller than usual crowd voiced their approval. Coming off of our marathon performance last week in New York state we wanted to make sure that we kept our focus on the music and the mannerisms.
Standout songs for me last night were "Modern Day Delilah" and "Heaven's on Fire". We hadn't done that song in quite some time and there was a real strong energy with both of them. We really do wish that we could play every song that you want to hear but it's just not possible. Andrew does a good job trying to mix it up with each show...hoping to give everyone something that they are hoping to hear. It's also important for us to play songs that we enjoy playing. Joe and Rob both did very well with their respective solos, trying to dig deeper into their characters to convey the illusion. The first set was a great example of all of our hard work and experience really hitting the mark.
With the second set we pulled some deeper tracks from the KISS catalog such as "Ladies Room" and "Rocket Ride". Of course we kept the casual fan embraced with "Deuce" and "New York Groove" so that would still feel a part of the show. But to be honest we do hope that if we play something that maybe isn't too familiar to some fans that it might intrigue them to want to hear it again and maybe even purchase the record that it came from. The show was a very good one, we played well and really enjoyed ourselves. Those die hard fans that remained finished the show with us with real passion. We'll take last nights energy with us to Cadillac for next weekends show. That is where real KISS history still rides the wind in the town that KISS built.
Blog Entry, 7.03.10
First Town Days Festival
Having not performed at the First Town Days Festival in 2009 we were excited about our return trip on Saturday. This would be our third performance there in the past 5 years and we packed extra hopes that it would be the best of the three by far. Another outdoor show would provide another chance for Mother Nature to tease us with her sense of humor. However, she must have just felt like leaving everything alone and just giving us the chance to enjoy a scorching hot summer's day because that's exactly what we got. New Philadelphia, Ohio sits quietly just off of I-77 and is an easy drive from where we live. Unless of course you're traveling with Rob...now, on with the show.
Everything was ready to go by 5:45 PM. The stage was set, the sound check was complete and the crowd had already begun to find their places on the midway in front of the stage. So the four of us slipped away into the recreation center which would serve as our dressing room for the show. The cool air conditioning made our pre-show prep extremely comfortable but we knew that the mid-day sun would still be waiting for us when we arrived back at the stage. We all got right to work and in no time at all we were being whisked away on two golf carts right down the center of the midway towards the stage. Normally this would not be the course of action that we would take but Sam, the festival President wanted to create a larger sense of excitement by letting the people at the festival see us on our way to the stage. At the stage we were met by another wide-eyed and curious gathering of KISS fans and spectators alike. Everything was ready to go.
Our intro CD faded and I ripped into the opening riff of "Deuce". We never looked back. Cameras and phones were flashing beneath the stage. Each one capturing it's own moment to remember. Parents held children on their shoulders, some even wearing the make up design of their favorite KISS character. Each one of us was giving it everything we had. Sweat was pouring off of our extremities with every movement that we made. There really aren't too many better feelings in the world than for a band like ours to connect with a crowd at a show. Darkness tightened its grip on the midway and the crowd began to swell from every direction. Two stand out moments in the show for me were "Tears Are Falling" and "Modern Day Delilah". I felt that we really played them both well and the crowd was feeling the vibe too. The others stepped up their games as well. Joe provided another well played solo in "Shock Me" and Rob covered his axe bass with a mouthful of saliva and blood. Andrew's drum solo pushed the show into overdrive as we headed towards the big finish. We had hoped to complete the entire show by 10:00 PM and count down to the celebratory fireworks display that many were there to see. However, we missed it by one song so we paused for the fireworks and picked back up after they were complete. The fireworks display was really amazing and we knew that we had to provide an ending that would compliment it just right. So we thought that we would add "Rip It Out" before we led everyone along with "Rock And Roll All Nite". As you can possibly imagine by this time the crowd was worked into quite a frenzy and when we asked them to respond with a little participation they certainly didn't let us down. Collectively we all did our part to write another chapter in the history of the First Town Days Festival as well as the history of another staged destroyed by the conviction of MR.SPEED.
After meeting with fans for photos and autographs we made the short drive back to the recreation center to get cleaned up. Sam and I drove together and he asked me "So, I've got this idea for next year..." To which I curiously looked at him and asked if he meant it. He replied that "I'll catch hell if I don't bring you back"! For us there isn't any better compensation than to be invited back to an event the following year even before we've had a chance to get out of our costumes. He continued "What if we put you on a float in the parade and bring you in on Friday night"? So it looks very good for us that we'll be returning there in 2011.
Thanks to everyone at the First Town Days Festival for giving us another chance and for making us feel so welcome. We'll see you next year.
Blog Entry, 6.11.10
Rock the Lock
They say good things come to those who wait. I have to admit that Friday nights show was just that...well worth the wait! As I've mentioned in the past we all become amateur meteorologists when the summer schedule kicks into gear. Each time that we have an outdoor show we tend to pay particular attention to the weather surrounding the date. Early reports had the threat of rain ever present into the evening hours in downtown Akron but once again the rock and roll gods were smiling on us. The rain never came and the show was amazing.
I want to make sure that I thank everyone at 97.5 WONE for all of their support. This was our third performance at the event and by far the best of the three for sure. I'd also like to thank the staff at the Akron Civic Theater and Lock 3 Live. They really do put on a family friendly event better than anyone that we work with and we appreciate the luxuries that they afford us even for just one night.
We arrived shortly after 3 PM for our standard load-in and set up. By 5 PM we were able to begin our sound check. We had 30 minutes to check all of the instruments and vocals and even run through a few songs to make sure that things would sound just right. Typically we start the sound check process with the drums. Now they have to check each one depending on how many the drummer has. ANDREW HAS 1O! Remember that I said we only had 30 minutes to complete the sound check all together? The drums took 23 of the 30 minutes! That left 5 seconds each for Joe, Rob and myself to get our levels and the remaining few minutes to play two songs. I hope that you can detect my sarcastic overtones with this paragraph as we all found it extremely entertaining being a part of the worlds longest drum check in history! In the end everything came together and we only needed a few minor tweaks of the gear throughout the show.
As entertainers we long for shows like this. Once we emerged from our dressing room beneath the majestic Akron Civic Theater and made "the Elvis walk" toward the stage we could sense that this night would be one that we wouldn't soon forget. The crowd that had gathered in Lock 3 Park was eager to let loose. Before we even made it to the stage fans were calling out our character names. By 8:30 we were in place and our intro gave way to the ever confident opening riff of "Deuce". From the very first notes that poured from our amplifiers the response from the crowd was deafening. Only one other show, that being last September in Cadillac, Michigan could compare to the passionate response from the fans cheering us on. We used every bit of the 80' wide stage to our advantage. Some moments would prove to be triumphant and others would prove to be humbling (that being when I caught a cable on stage and pin balled between two monitors ultimately hitting the deck unable to stop my momentum). The first of our two sets was a true test of stamina and endurance. Sweat rained off of our bodies like that of a late April shower. Outstretched hands of the fans in the first row all the way to the very back displayed complete appreciation for our efforts. Joe's guitar solo during "Shock Me" electrified the crowd as smoke billowed vertically engulfing his face. Rob stood center stage before "God of Thunder" shielding his eyes from the bright lights overhead only to spew a mouthful of crimson saliva and blood across the strings of his axe bass. Andrew made thunderous use of his entire kit, hitting them with a controlled assault that tore flesh on his fingers in the process. These are the shows that we never want to end. I can attest that the happiness on the faces in the crowd will linger with me for some time. It didn't matter whether they were four or fifty-four one thing was true, there was a true connection between the crowd and the stage and everyone knew it.
A point that I would love to mention is that for the first time in 13 years I was able to have both of my sons present at one of our shows. It was really a special moment for me as they are both becoming more interested in music as they grow. So I took them to the park on Thursday evening to show them where we would performing the following evening. My older son mentioned that the place didn't look that big. Stunned by his comment I merely said "just wait". As they sat on stage during the show it became very evident to them that they had a lot to learn about first impressions. The crowd of nearly 4,000 never wavered and hung in there with us until the very end. This in itself is a true testament to the connection that was made between the crowd and the stage on Friday night.
If you were there we want you to know how much your time meant to us. You helped to create another chapter in our history that we'll want to revisit over and over again. If you missed it...shame on you for six weeks. We'll be rocking all summer long so make every effort to come out and see us. Bring the kids, bring a friend, bring your love of KISS and we'll create a memory for you to remember.
Blog Entry, 6.05.10
The Sly Fox
Amazingly another four months has passed us by. Winter is a memory and summer, or at least the humidity of summer has us in its grip. So we packed up the show and headed for the Sly Fox for our second show there this year. We've been performing at the Sly Fox for years now and we've become very comfortable with the club and the fans that repeatedly show up there to rock with us. By 8 PM we had the show set up and just before 9 PM we began our make-up preparation. For the past two years we've been working with Dave as our sound man at the club but tonight we were pleased to see Mike, the original sound man that we began working with when we first started playing there a few years ago. After our sound check we realized what we had been missing by not having Mike behind the board at our shows. It's always rewarding to be able to hear our vocals more clearly and to have fans tell us how good we sound at the end of the show. It's no coincidence.
On with the show. An enthusiastic but not SRO crowd met us as we took the stage for the following 3 hours. The energy that we felt during our sound check carried through to the beginning of our first set. We found a good formula with "Detroit Rock City" into "Cold Gin" and then "Strutter". Harnessing the excitement and keeping the tempo consistent is the trick. The fans in front of the stage were really into our set. We didn't break out any real surprises for this show but I felt that we played really well. Of course we weren't perfect with every song but that's the beauty of rock and roll. As much as we tried to control the tempo as I mentioned we ended up adding 3 extra songs to the first set in order to keep us where we needed to be time wise. Those of you who are "Ace" fans would have loved hearing "Rip It Out" and "Talk To Me" as two of the last minute additions to the set. We ended the first set with "Love Gun", "Beth" and "Shout it out Loud". During the break we met with fans both new and old. The mix of fans that had seen us before to those that had not was pretty even.
Our second set began with "Deuce" and we didn't look back until after 1:30 AM when the the last notes of "Rock and Roll All Nite" were absorbed into the walls. This ended up being the perfect show for us to use as a warm up to next week's show in Akron. We'd like to encourage as many of you as we can to come out to Rock The Lock and help us to fill the streets of downtown Akron with the passion and energy of classic KISS!
Blog Entry, 5.22.10
Quaker Steak & Lube
Fate revealed an ominous grin last evening for our performance at the Quaker Steak & Lube in Shefflied, Ohio. Announced as a typical performance we were in fact hired to grant the wish by a local fan's wife as a surprise birthday gift. Upon our arrival we weren't quite sure if the weather would cooperate for us as the area had been hit by intermittent rain showers throughout the morning. But in typical rock and roll fashion the skies cleared up and revealed as Andrew likes to call "the rock and roll blue" umbrella that would serve as the backdrop for the early evening performance. This is especially key as the show would take place outdoors in the parking lot of the establishment.
Working once again with our sound man Steve Sigl and his son Andy we knew that we would be pleased with the overall sonic assault. We ran through our sound check by performing "Detroit Rock City", "Talk To Me" and "Hotter Than Hell". As soon the sound check was completed we ascended a back stair case to the room that would serve as our dressing area for the show. What we didn't expect is that the temperature in the room would feel as though it was hovering around 100 degrees! We quickly remedied the situation by taking over a small office space that luckily had an air conditioner built in so we could cool the room down enough to apply our make up. You might be surprised to hear how many places hire us and never give a second thought to the fact that this one aspect of our preparation is extremely critical in getting our make up just right. In record time we were all finished and in costume ready to go. The show was about to start.
We made our way to the stage to find a decent crowd that was waiting for us. By this time all of the secrecy behind the surprise event was revealed and we were truly proud to be a part of Mike's big day. Once again Brandy we applaud your efforts with a big rock and roll chord! As the sun disappeared over the roof of the Quaker Steak & Lube we hit the stage with "Deuce". Even with the amount of people that were there it took some time for them to loosen up and realize that it was alright to have a good time. One by one hesitation gave way to fascination and the crowd drew closer to the front of the stage. No one song seemed to be a stand out favorite, each recalling a memory for those who sang along. More than half way through the set we brought Mike on stage and led the crowd in an acapella version of "Happy Birthday" as Andrew presented him with a show used drum head signed with a personal message from the four of us. As the show drew near to its end the crowd had truly settled in and began shouting out songs for us to play. We didn't disappoint. "Love Gun", "God Of Thunder", "Shock Me" and even "Modern Day Delilah" spewed from the PA speakers that stood guard at the front of the stage. Another dedication to our troops before "Rock and Roll All Nite" brought everyone to their feet. Feeling as though we had finally won the crowd over I decided to join them to try to get a sense of what they were experiencing. So I walked out into the middle of the crowd and sang along with them as Rob, Joe and Andrew kept things rolling on stage. This really seemed to be just what the night needed to bring the whole event to perfect end.
If you were there, thanks for showing up. If you missed it, don't make the same mistake twice. Next stop...the Sly Fox on June 5th! See you there!
Blog Entry, 5.09.10
Return to the Recording Studio
Yesterday afternoon we once again slipped into AudioWorks Studio outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Our goal was to capture three more classic KISS tracks to use for promotional purposes. Leading up the session we discussed what tracks we would record and over a series of rehearsals we decided upon "Black Diamond", "Calling Dr.Love" and "Shock Me".
Based on what we learned with our first session back in February we wanted to push ourselves just a little bit more with this session. The songs weren't so much the challenge but we wanted to make sure that everyone in the band had a chance to shine with a lead vocal. We were excited about the opportunity and in the end it turned out to be more than we were expecting.
As I mentioned the music really came together quite well for us. Of course we didn't use the first take of any of the songs but it didn't take more than two takes to get it right. The interesting dynamic to this process is when we perform "live" we have a lot going on stage. We're moving here and there and pointing here and wiggling there. But in the studio we perform the songs musically without any vocals, keeping time so that we don't miss a cue. Once the music is done we then record the vocals. Of course any sour notes are sweetened up with additional takes with every effort being to not sterilize anything too much. Each one of us took turns re-recording a few minor parts. For me I tackled a new intro to "Black Diamond" ala "Double Platinum". I am really pleased with the way that leads off the track.
All in all we spent over 6 hours having a really great time. That's two hours longer than our first session in February. We haven't heard the finished product yet but we should within a few days. Once we have the tracks you'll be able to access them on our "Promo" page along with the "Detroit Rock City", "Shout it out Loud" and "Modern Day Delilah". We also managed to capture the session with still photos and even some video. We'll hope to add these images to our site very soon.
Blog Entry, 4.16.10
Friday night in Toledo can only mean one thing, it's time to rock and roll. Without question the best place for us to be is the Omni. I've said it before and I'll say it again...the people of Toledo have rock and roll running through their veins. Every time we show up at this place it just gets better and better.
Our trip began in it's usual style...with Joe and Rob traveling together and Andrew and I traveling together. As we pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards the Ohio Turnpike a driver in another vehicle next to us pulls up and starts yelling at us "you're trailer door is open"! We thought "whatever...no it's not". We immediately thought of that scene in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". So we pull over and discover that he was right, our trailer door was open a bit and here we were about to start traveling at 70 miles per hour down the highway with our door open! After securing the door and wondering if we should tell anyone about it we shrugged it off with a few good laughs. We rolled into town around 3 PM and got right to work. This particular occasion was a little different in that we didn't have the MR.SPEED road crew with us. Many of you may know that Joe and Ann are expecting their first child so Ann was resting at home for this show. Tina had come down with a virus earlier in the week and sadly this would be the first show that she's ever missed since we met...that's 13 years! Fortunately for us we have back up. Our friends Jeff and Kelly from Michigan made the trip along with Andrew's childhood friend Anthony from New Jersey. So we pressed them into duty right away upon their arrival and to everyone's credit we didn't miss a beat.
By 5 PM we began our sound check. We decided to try another new song, one that this version of the band has never done before and that song is "Psycho Circus". I was able to stretch my voice a little with this and to be honest with having only practiced this one twice at rehearsal it sounded pretty good. So we decided that we would replace "100,000 Years" with it for the show. By 7 PM a line of fans had started to form outside the main door of the club. Within a half hour their was a great crowd inside taking their places around the bar and the stage. Disappearing to our dressing area shortly before 8 PM we sensed that this was going to be another incredible night for us at the Omni. Soon after we were escorted down a back staircase and through the parking lot to the stage door. This little maneuver helps to keep the mystique alive so that we don't have to walk through the crowd. We hit the stage unleashing "Deuce" and the crowd went crazy. It's amazing to me how much they appreciate a good band and great tunes at this place. The sea of faces were everything that we dream of as a band. Their smiles and gestures (many of which were just like Paul and Gene would do) kept us entertained all night long. The guys seemed to be really into their characters a little more and I'm sure having the larger than normal stage was the reason. Joe's guitar solo during "Shock Me" was the highlight for me. He incorporated two new effects into it which gave it new life. This new approach to his solo seemed to elevate his game and that's what we strive to deliver with each show. We packed the set list with all of the classic tunes, make up and non-make up era alike. We even added "I Love it Loud" which wasn't in the set because I thought this guy in front of me who was screaming for it all night long was going to come out of his skin if we didn't play it! The show climaxed with another terrific version of "Rock and Roll All Nite". The crowd response was as loud as we could have hoped it to be.
We typically meet with fans for up to an hour after each show at the Omni but this time would be an exception. I announced from the stage that due to Tina's illness and that I wanted to get home to be with her that we wouldn't be meeting after this show. But that next time, and it looks like we'll be back in November, that we'll make up for the lost opportunity then. The fans were very understanding and that just adds to why they are so special to us. We'll see everyone again very soon. In the meantime we'll hope to have you catch another show on our summer tour...it's going to be hotter than hell!
Blog Entry, 4.10.10
The Breakfast Club
Every time we arrive at a place where we've never performed we have a sense of apprehension of the unknown. At the same time we're excited about the possibilities that lie just inside the door. In our minds we were ready for the show tonight. Andrew had assembled a classic selection of tracks that blended classic and current KISS into a 2-hour onslaught for the ears. After preparing the stage and completing our sound check we took a few moments to enjoy some laughs while watching 80's rock videos on a large video screen above the stage.
We then descended to the depths of this hauntingly revered club on the west side of town. Quite a few of our musical inspirations in one form or another have stepped onto the same stage that now held our backline. Many autographed images also adorn the stairwell that leads to the dressing room that was our safe haven for the 90-minutes leading up to the show. As we climbed the stairs shortly before 10:30 PM we took a few moments to pose with Karen for a few band images, trying to capture a moment that might serve us online. We never really know what to expect as we approach the stage for a show in regards to the size of the crowd that waits for our arrival. With this being our first time in this place we were thrilled to feel the heat of a 150 or more eagerly awaiting our presence. There were many KISS t-shirts on those in the crowd worn by many fans that we had never seen before. As I've mentioned in the past this is always a testament to what we're doing that we can appeal to new fans with every show.
The music began with "Deuce" and after some minor bass guitar problems the show flowed very effortlessly. I didn't feel that the PA was very kind to us or maybe we were too loud on stage. You want to find a good balance between the two so that the music sounds as good as it possibly can. Once again we mixed in two tracks from "Sonic Boom" to the set those being "Modern Day Delilah" and "When Lightning Strikes". Another cut that we dusted off was "Rock Soldiers" from Ace's Frehley's Comet days of the 80's. There really seemed to be a good energy between the crowd and the stage with just about every song that we performed getting a good response from the fans. One fan in particular took many moments to shout out what he personally wanted to hear which by my standards would have been a tremendous KISS tribute show. We heard suggestions such as "She's So European" and "Dark Light". I wonder what the mystery fans online that comment on our songs outside of the box would think about that guys tribute if he had one? We will continue to push the envelope and try songs that challenge us instead of only playing the songs that every other KISS tribute plays night in and night out. More of the classics like "Love Gun" and "Black Diamond", "God of Thunder" and "Shock Me" poured from the PA. As the songs faded from the set list and the show came to an end we felt as if once again we had accomplished our goal. We came, we saw and we rocked for KISS.
We'll be back to the Breakfast Club two more times by years end. We'll look forward to building on our reputation at this club and winning over more and more fans in the process.
Blog Entry, 3.28.10
2010 Cleveland KISS Expo
Just when we thought that the Indy Expo was going to satisfy our thirst for everything KISS we climbed on stage at the Cleveland Expo the very next week. The Cleveland event was by all intents and purposes supposed to be smaller than the Indy event but in the end proved to be just as successful. This year's event was held at the Holiday Inn on Rockside Road which was an all new location.
We arrived at 8 AM on the day of the event and commenced with our load-in. The ballroom was very spacious and offered us more than enough room to set up our show. In about an hour's time we had our backline completed and Steve our sound man was putting the final touches on the sound and lighting for the show. Most of the vendors were busy filling their tables with KISS collectibles both old and new. Before long we began our sound check with "Modern Day Delilah" and "New York Groove". As far as we were concerned we were ready to go.
So we spent the next few hours meeting with fellow fans and chatting with a few friends that had arrived for the day's festivities. The biggest surprise for me was running into my high school bass player from Pittsburgh. Nick and I had not seen each other in 8 years so it sure was great to see him if only for a short while. Joe was once again very busy painting kids faces next to our merchandise table. What's funny for me is when I see a child that has his face painted and I think to myself that "wow, that kid's make up looks really good" and then I realized that Joe did it! Andrew had set up a table to finish selling off the majority of his KISS collection and to his amazement had done so within the first hour after the doors were open. I took my camera and tried to capture some images of the fans that had shown up, especially the kids.
By mid-afternoon it was time for us to get ready for the show. So we all gathered in our hotel room and by 5:00 PM were back in the ballroom ready to rock. The fans waited patiently for us to arrive and were anxious for us to hit the stage. So after a few photos with some fans and a brief encounter with Bruce and a photo with him on the stage we grabbed our guitars and dimmed the lights. As promised we began the show with side one of "ALIVE". But prior to the show as we walked around the room many fans approached us and asked if we were going to play anything else besides "ALIVE". So we thought "why not...let's do what the fans are asking for". So the fans began suggesting songs for us to perform and in all honesty the improvisation was just as effective as following a script. We really mixed it up with songs from just about every KISS album there is. Even pulling a few tracks from "Sonic Boom" which once again included "All for the Glory", "I'm An Animal" and "When Lightning Strikes". The crowds at expos never cease to amaze us. There isn't a better gathering of pure emotion and energy for KISS in one place than when we're performing at an expo. It's great to see the faces on the young children and the adults as they relive their childhood memories in their minds as we play the songs that accompanied those special years.
As the day came to a close and we celebrated it's finale with "Rock and Roll All Nite" it was very clear that KISS and the legend that they have created our very much alive here in Cleveland. In my opinion the Cleveland Expo has no where to go but up and I beleive that it will become one of the "must attend" events on the expo circuit for years to come. It all starts with each one of you. So make plans next year to be a part of it...and we'll look forward to seeing many of you on our summer stretch of dates that are increasing by the day. Check our "Tour" page for up to the minute additions and get ready to "Say Yeah" to MR.SPEED.
Blog Entry, 3.21.10
2010 Indianapolis KISS Expo
It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone. But with that passing year we once again find ourselves back in Indianapolis as an invited guest at the annual KISS Expo that is held there. When I received the email asking if we wanted to perform at the event I immediately thought of how we could make our performance stand out like we had last year. If you remember we performed the entire "Hotter than Hell" album from cover to cover. So this year would be no exception. The decision was really rather simple?this year it would be "Dressed to Kill".
So for two months leading up to the event we dug deep into the grooves of that classic KISS album from March of 1975. To our credit we perform quite a few of the songs on a regular basis but there were a handful that we had never even tried before. So the rehearsals took on a whole new meaning again for us as we had something to prove to the fans as well as ourselves. Each of us looked at the songs differently from one another. When we approach a new song we want to make sure that it's performed with conviction and not just to say that we did it. So each week we would tackle another new song and work on it until we felt that it was receiving the respect that it deserved. It really was a great process to go through and in the end I think that we really accomplished what we had set out to do. That is, take the fans back to that magical time before anyone knew about Cadillac, MI and even before the world was questioning "who the best really was" with the release of "ALIVE!". The stand out track for me was "Anything for My Baby".
As an added bonus we also gave the fans an added surprise by pulling 5 songs from "Sonic Boom". Of course there was "Modern Day Delilah" which has been a part of our live show since October of 2009. But we wanted to show that we could do justice to a few others as well. Those songs ended up being "All for the Glory", "I'm An Animal", "When Lightning Strikes" and "Say Yeah". As much as we loved playing all of "Dressed to Kill" I have to be honest and say that playing these five songs was exceptionally fun for me. It's easy to play the songs that the fans know like the back of their hands but what makes it more satisfying for me is to win them over with tracks that they might not be so familiar with. As fans we assume that everyone at an expo has "Sonic Boom" but we're playing for the fans that might not have it. I play those songs so that those fans will say to themselves "hey, that song was really good, what album is that from"? Understand that we're also playing those songs for the fans that do have "Sonic Boom" and when they hear us perform them they say "that sounded just like the record"! In the end I felt that we hit a home run with our overall performance. Many fans complimented us on the show and thanked us for taking them back to 1975 when their stereo needle was scratching the grooves in the latest KISS record that they had just snuck into their bedroom to hear.
Overall the expo was a tremendous amount of fun. We met up with many fans that have seen us many times over. We took time to expand upon our own collections by getting all caught up in the spending of hard earned money at the numerous vendor tables throughout the room. We even had time to capture a special moment with Eric Singer as we posed for a photo prior to our performance with him at his table. Eric was extremely kind to us and to all of the fans. He loved our version of "All for the Glory" which for any KISS tribute would be exactly what they would hope to hear. He even asked me why I cut my hair. If we end up there again next year one thing is for sure?Indy will not disappoint us. They truly do love their KISS!
Blog Entry, 3.06.10
Slim & Chubby's
The second stop on our "LIVE & LOUD" tour once again took us to Strongsville, Ohio and to Slim & Chubby's. We were really excited about the show. The weather had broken and we anticipated a good crowd. Our sixth sense was right on the money. We had a great turnout for the show and once again a lot of new faces that made up the crowd. We typically begin the show right around 10:30 PM and each time we prepare at a show the crowd shows up earlier and earlier to get a good spot. This show was no exception. The pre-show prep went really well and after sound check and our band meal we moved upstairs to begin the make-up process.
Our pre-show time together is always spent having a lot of laughs at each others expense. We also chat about KISS, our jobs and what ever else might be on our minds. Once everyone is ready to go we get our customary "Elvis-walk" to the stage with Chubby. He leads us to the stage and the awaiting anticipation of the 200+ fans. I always love the beginning of the show because the emotional release between the band and the crowd helps to fuel the electricity in the air. We packed this show full of all of the classics, from "Detroit Rock City" to "New York Groove" and "God of Thunder". We sometimes get the itch to try a new song or two whenever possible and on this night we pulled out all the stops. We gave the fans "She" and "100,000 Years" as well as two gems from Sonic Boom! I won't tell you what they were seeing as we're due to unveil them in two weeks at the Indy KISS Expo or you might try youtube and see if anyone caught them on tape. Those particular songs didn't get the best reaction that we could have wanted but they sure were a lot of fun to play.
The show finished with "Lick it Up" into "Black Diamond" and then "Rock and Roll All Nite". A true testament to our conviction is the fact that many stayed the whole night with us and gave us another great memory to hold on to until the next show. We'll continue to promise to give you the best show possible as long as you promise to keep coming back to see us. Make sure that when you do you bring a friend or two. We'll see you all real soon. Until then...never stop rocking!
Blog Entry, 2.13.10
The Sly Fox
Well we heard that you missed us...so we're back. The time off that we had seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye with the holidays and New Year. In those few shorts weeks we managed to begin work on a number of new songs and even get into a local studio to record. But the one thing that we thrive on is the live performance and being out there with the fans.
Starting off our 2010 "Live & Loud" tour at the Sly Fox provided us with the perfect atmosphere to get things rolling again. We knew that the show would be well attended and we were right. We also knew that the reaction from the fans would be just what we were hoping for and they did not disappoint us. I've said it before and it remains true, each time we perform it's great to see all of the new faces in the crowd along with the familiar ones that we recognize from show to show. The ones that had not seen us before clearly outnumbered those who had so that only goes to serve our growing fan base here in our hometown.
As you might expect we dusted off all of the usual classics to start the show beginning with "Detroit Rock City". The familiar opening riff felt very comfortable and we knew that there was no turning back. As is usually the case it took Dave a few songs to "dial us in" if you will to get the sound to where we were happy with it. For some unknown reason Rob usually gets the better mix on stage and I'm still trying to figure out how that keeps happening. For the most part we were happy with the majority of the songs that we performed with the exception of one that is newer to us. That song is "100,000 Years". We had been working on an arrangement of this song at rehearsal and in the end it was painfully obvious to us that there is still a lot of work to be done. I can't blame us for trying but we've always believed that until a song is absolutely ready to be played "live" that we keep it under wraps. So we'll get back at it soon and make sure that in a few weeks we're focused on giving that particular song the respect that it deserves. It seemed that the fans were really hungry for the classic sounds that they were familiar with and so we replaced "Say Yeah" with "Watchin You" at the request of one particular fan who insisted that we play it. It shows our diversity that we can change gears like that on the fly especially if it means that someone will leave happier that they heard us play something that they wanted to hear. I'm not sure what they says for the rest of the set list that we performed but in the end it worked out for us all.
The second set seemed to have a better flow to it and the timing worked out quite well. The time off didn't seem to hinder us in any way and the fans reaction drove us to keep the pedal to the metal. We ended the show with "Lick it Up" into "Black Diamond" and then "Rock And Roll All Nite". Like clockwork the interaction between the fans and the stage created a tremendous thunder within the room. Overall we were very satisfied with our performance and in my mind I know we're capable of pushing ourselves to be even better the next time out. We'll look forward to seeing as many of you as we can at one or many of our upcoming shows this year.
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