Loud and Proud Records

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I just laugh to myself as I think about the “art” of waiting; because it is truly that…an art form. As I sit here, at my age, and think about the longest wait in my life, it was merely 364 days until that new GI Joe showed up under my Christmas tree (Thank You, Santa). But then, I remember…I’ve actually waited patiently for over 7300 days for something just as significant. Something so comforting that not even that hand-knit wool sweater from Grandma could compare. Something so invigorating, that not even a few unnoticed nips at the eggnog would even dare. Something so incredibly, motherfucking, cocksucking, knobby-kneed, hairy-legged, prickly-prickly, tick bitch looking incredible…that even a late 40′s scumbag like me would risk his life and limb to stand in line at the local record store to down right fist fight for a copy…..something so comforting that only the Dirty Boys Of The Underground could satisfy…a new KIX album! Well, here it is….Christmas in July, motherfuckers, 7300 days after we’ve heard a peep of new music out of them; and KIX are back to Rock Your Face Off! Away-Team caught up with bassist Mark Schenker to get the skinny on what the past 7300 days have held secret for so long in the KIX camp and why this legendary 80′s musical force is still relevant enough to put out their first new album of music in 20-years to an audience that’s been force-fed earfuls of cookie-cutter crap in the interim. It’s no bars, down and dirty and brutally honest…just what you’d expect from a guy who went from “fan to man” while those 20-years ticked by. What’s it like to watch your childhood heroes rock a stage…while you’re standing two feet from them? Let’s find out….

An Away-Team Exclusive With KIX Bassist

Mark Schenker

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Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Away-Team:  “Hey buddy, I’ve got so much to discuss here with this being the first inkling of KIX music the world has heard in the past twenty years (chuckles), but there’s just so much to talk about, man, let’s just jump right in, okay?”

Mark:  “Go, man….”

Away-Team:  “Roger that…So, twenty years… a new KIX record with all new music: Why?  I mean, us fans love the nostalgia, the tried and true…just good ol’ KIX, man.  You know?”

Mark:  “I hear you, but Craig, you know this about me…I am the biggest KIX fan ever!  I grew up listening to and idolizing those guys.  You know this.  The fans DO want to hear new KIX music.  I’m serious.  I want to hear my favorite band put out new music.  The fans agree!  They tell us all the time.  People do want a new KIX album and I’m here to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud than to be a part of giving it to them.”

Away-Team: “Now, just for the record, I wasn’t saying new music from KIX wouldn’t be cool as hell, but with you, Jimmy and Steve doing FUNNY MONEY (http://www.FunnyMoneyBand.com), Ronnie doing The Blues Vultures (http://www.BluesVultures.com), and Brian in Rhino Bucket (http://www.RhinoBucket.com), it’s not like the fans weren’t hearing cool new music from their heroes. I mean, new music is great, but I’m simply saying, you didn’t have to do it and you would have still had the fans in droves.”

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Photo Credit: Nadine Joy

Mark: “You’re probably right on the money, but as much as we’ve enjoyed the KIX fan support of our other bands, this was still way bigger than just KIX. This was about fans that we have all over the world who have been supporting us since the day the band went on hiatus back in ’95. This was a give-back to the fans that have loved and supported Steve, Ronnie, Brian and Jimmy for all these years. You know, I include myself in that fan base as well. I wanted to hear this record too!!!”

Away-Team: “So why not release it way back during the first of the reunion shows, in like 2003?”

Mark: “Good point, but none of us were sure if it was not just going to be a quick, one or two off, you know? We had no idea when all this started back up that it was going to be accepted like this or blow up the way it did. Once it became apparent that people were still coming to the shows, supporting us the way they did, we realized this was more than just playing a few shows and calling it a day. New music was something that the fans wanted; they love Steve, Jimmy, Ronnie and Brian! I mean, I count myself in that fan base…I love these guys too. And I’m not just saying that because they’re my friends and I get the chance to play in a band with them all…I love these guys and I love the whole KIX vibe, I always have! This album is for people like me, you…everyone who loved these guys in the 80’s and still love them 30-plus years later.”

Away-Team:  “Well, let’s talk about the new record; it’s called Rock Your Face Off, and it’s a smoker, man! [Editor’s Note: See Bam-Bam’s review of the album here: http://www.away-team.com/metal/2014/07/11/cd-review-kix-rock-face-off/]

Mark: “Thanks, man. We’re pretty proud of it. I think it will be exactly what the fans are looking for. I mean, it’s got Ronnie and Brian’s fantastic guitar solos all over the place, Jimmy Chocolate, my favorite drummer in the world, just slingin’ lumber and then Steve’s voice; it still sounds amazing. The guy is a force of nature.”

Away-Team: “Yeah, he’s ‘okay’! (laughter all around) Seriously though, I remember you telling me a while back that the album was in the can last year. Why is it being released like, almost a year later?”

Mark: “We had some legal loose-ends to tie up. The release date was set for exactly 3-months from the time we signed the deal with our label [Loud & Proud Records], and we couldn’t legally do that until we were out of our old deal, so it took a ridiculous amount of behind the scenes work to get everything taken care of. We actually finished recording it all back in, like the end of October of last year.”

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Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

 

Away-Team: “And I am not sure how many people know this or not, but you are kind of an accomplished producer who did both the FUNNY MONEY albums Skin To Skin and Stick-It as well. You’ve worked alongside Beau Hill (Warrant, Winger, Ratt, early KIX) on some of that stuff too. Why didn’t you double-duty on this one?”

Mark: “As much as I would have loved to be the one to produce the new KIX album, we needed to bring in someone who knew and was intimately familiar with the KIX sound from the inside and someone who could possibly contribute to the writing process as well. It was actually Brian that came up with the idea to use Taylor Rhodes. A lot of KIX fans may not know this, but he was the obvious choice because he worked on Blow My Fuse and Hotwire, he co-wrote like a lot of the big KIX fan-favorite hits, not to mention he wrote Aerosmith’s “Cryin” and a ton of other big songs that still get played…we didn’t know if he’d do it or not, but Brian hit him up to ask and courted him so to speak he came up from Nashville and stayed at my house during the whole demoing and recording process…”

Away-Team: “Which, I’d like to add, your house is like also a state-of-the-art recording facility that basically allows you to live there when it’s not humming with sound, so I’m sure there were many late nights when you two probably hopped out of bed and ran down the hall to the control room and tracked ideas as they streamed through your heads, right? (laughs)”

Mark: “Oh man, totally! That guy is just awesome! I mean, we had a few things that I had done with outside writers like “You’re Gone”“Wheels In Motion”“Rock-N-Roll Showdown”…and then Steve had some really great stuff he was working on with “Tail On The Wag”“Inside Outside Inn”…I mean, we all had a ton of ideas and completed songs so when Taylor showed up, it got real serious, real quick. We had like 30 song in fairly complete form that were all decent demos and he just came in and said, “Yep”, “Nope”, “This is good”, “No way”…there’s no grey area with him, man…it’s all cut and dry. Taylor came up with a better bridge and the whoa whoas for a song I wrote with another writer called “Love Me With Your Top Down”, which is the first single…”

Away-Team: “A very good choice, I might add….”

Mark: “Thanks, bro! We think so too. I actually loved “Rollin’ In Honey”, but everyone pretty much agreed that “Top Down” was the one to launch first, so that decision was pretty easy. At first the title track was going to be the single but we’re saving that one!”

Kix Group Shot

Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Away-Team: “Did you engineer the record? I know you couldn’t just sit still in that studio, bro. I’ve known you too long to see that happening. (laughter)”

Mark: “Yeah, I engineered the guitars, bass and vocals – everything but the drums. We had a good friend of ours, Scott Spellbring, record and engineer the drums at his studio in Fairfax, Virginia. It was Cue Studios and they had all the awesome mics, the great room…we recorded in the “Red Room” there, everything we possibly needed to record drums for album quality. Scott did an awesome job, which was great because I had enough on my plate with the rest of the stuff, so it just worked out better doing it that way. But everything else was done in my studio.”

Away-Team: “Did that make it easier for the whole band to be a part of the writing process on this one? I mean, this was totally a communal effort, right?”

Mark: “Absolutely! I think it would be more accurate to call it the “creative process”. We all took part in the entire creative process from the beginning. There were some songs that we had that I thought were really great that I just loved and we tried to sell those over and over to Taylor, but they just weren’t KIX songs. As it turns out he was right. So, the creative process was an all-around band effort when deciding the songs we were going to present to Taylor, the writing, the performance…it was a total band effort with Taylor absolutely being that 6th member!”

Away-Team: “How about the running order of the tracks, bro? I mean, I’m probably not alone when I say that the first two KIX albums [Self-Titled and Cool Kids] were just very well put together. The song order JUST MADE SENSE! Everything flowed, everything rocked….total bombast from start to finish. Did you guys go for this when figuring out the running order?”

Mark: “(laughs) Well, I’ll tell you, I think we all knew that “Wheels [In Motion]” was going to be the opener because Tom Lipsky from our record label loved that song as well and we all thought it was just the perfect kickoff to a new album, so that one was pretty much set from the beginning. Steve actually, he creates the setlist when we perform live, and all of us usually banter back and forth over email about the order the songs are going to be played in a live setting, so Steve, he came up with an album order that he liked and Taylor, he came up with an order that he liked from riding around in his car in Nashville listening to the tracks over and over, and like Taylor is intense…he either does it full-on 10 or he doesn’t even bother which is why I think he and I got along so well so fast (laughs), so Taylor had this killer running order, and the funny thing is…it just so happened, that Taylor’s order….and keep in mind, he hadn’t even seen Steve’s email with his choice of running order…both of them pretty much had the exact same running order list that became what you guys are going to hear on the album! There was like maybe only two or three songs that were slightly different but in the same section, and Steve liked Taylor’s better, so we pretty much went with Taylor’s order. It was weird!”

Away-Team: “All meant to be, I guess…you can’t argue with lucky situations in this business, you know what I mean?”

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Photo Credit: Mark Weiss

Mark: “So true, Craig. Very, very true. Happy accidents. This whole thing has just been a lucky situation for me, man. I can’t tell you how crazy it all is. I get to see one of my favorite bands in the world, every time they play live….with the best seat in the house. It’s just amazing! Sometimes, when I’m like playing a groove and Steve’s doing his thing with the audience, I just stand there…even after 11-12 years in the band, two feet from the guy and I’m like, ‘That’s Steve Whiteman. And behind me is fucking Jimmy “Chocolate” [Chalfant]…oh, and there’s Ronnie and Brian running around playing some fierce motherfucking guitar’…it’s just amazing, man. And like I said at the very beginning, I think the rest of the fans feel that way too. These guys are loved the world over. They’re just great people, great musicians, and the fans can’t get enough of them. You’re right. This business is crazy like that and I can’t believe sometimes that I get to be a part of all this. I feel like some sort of radio contest winner every night we play! Now, I’m in the band…I get to be a part of it all and still see these guys play their asses off every night…with the best seat in the joint!  (we both crack up laughing)”

Away-Team: “Nice, brother.  I’m proud of you.  Hey, before we wrap it up, let’s talk about what you’re listening to nowadays.  I know you and I have always talked “new music” with each other for years; shit that rocks, stuff with great production, odd-ball crap…what are you listening to these days?”

Mark:  “Oh gosh!  It depends on what kind of mood I’m in, you know?  I’m a music teacher as well for a school called Bach To Rock in McLean, Virginia, and I get to hear all these new bands that my students turn me on to.  I mean, it’s really weird because I’m a bass player and I spend most of my time teaching guitar. They give me all the hard rock and metal kids! (laughs)  So, I hear a lot of different styles.  I mean, I love Avenged Sevenfold as far as the heavy stuff goes.  And I’ve been a huge fan of Bullet For My Valentine for a while.  Those guys just write great music and that dude can sing his ass off, they are cocky as fuck live, they know how good they are and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, and I love his voice!  I’m also really into this new band Blackberry Smoke that Brian [“Damage” Forsythe] turned me on to.  I know everyone compares them to Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I have no problem with that…I love Skynyrd and these guys are projecting similar, swampy kind of thick ass vibe as well.  And of course, as far as bass stuff goes, I’ve always been a huge Billy Sheehan fan and he and Ritchie Kotzen have this band The Winery Dogs along with Mike Portnoy on drums and they’re just earth shattering, they make you wanna sell your instruments and go sell oranges or something!  I just wanna hang it up after seeing them! I really like Asking Alexandria too.  They’re really heavy with a lot of attitude and I love that!  I also love Brad Paisley as far as Country music goes because he’s a great guitarist and I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but he won a Grammy Award for his vocals, man.  He’s got a killer voice!  I even like the band FUN, hell, Steve likes FUN, I’ll pretty much go see anything live, even saw Christina Perri recently but don’t print that! (laughs).  Good music is good music, right?  I may not go buy all their records, but I’ll go see them live and support them.  This kind of thing inspires me and makes me know I still need to go practice my ass off! (laughs)”

Away-Team:  “I hear you, loud and clear.  You said it best; “Good Music is Good Music”.  So, in conclusion, is there any message from Mark Schenker and the KIX army that you want to say to the fans, the people you adore, the ones who can’t wait to get this record and have something else to add to their long-standing KIX collections?”

Mark:  “Yeah, I kinda touched on it at the beginning of the interview, but my personal message to the KIX fans is that I am just really happy that you get to hear your favorite KIX guys play new music.  I really am.  I’m the biggest KIX fan that just accidentally happens to be in the band, so I’m really excited that we all get to enjoy this together, Craig.  You, me, the fans…get ready…here it comes….”

Away-Team:  “You’re coming to Rock Our Face Off!!! (laughs)”

Mark:  “You bet!”

Away-Team:  “Thanks, buddy.  You know I’m real proud of you and can’t wait to see the band enjoy their much deserved success, albeit even if it’s 35-years later than it should have been!  Give em’ hell, bro!”

Mark:  “Thanks, Craig…we’ll see you guys, as they say in KIX world, coming soon to a dump near you!!”

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Photo Credit: Marcy Royce

And so ended a conversation that could have continued for another two hours considering Mark is an encyclopedia of Recording Production knowledge, Music History and every strange topic you’d ever imagine from The Discovery Channel – Mark’s close friends actually call him “Mark-ipedia” – because he seems to know something about everything! Check out the boys on the road as they bust out in support of Rock Your Face Off (Loud & Proud Records) which will hit stores and online retail outlets on August 5th. Head over to http://www.KixBand.com for all the tour schedules and more, and “Like” them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialKIX. A special thanks to Amanda Cagan at ABC Publicity for all the love getting this interview set up, and to the gang at Loud & Proud Records for their support of the staff here at Away-Team.

The Winery Dogs_PromoJuly 31, 2013 –THE WINERY DOGS (@TheWineryDogs) is sending a huge thank you to their loyal fans in North America for giving their critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album a strong debut on the Billboard charts. Not only did it explode onto the “Top Rock Chart” at #5, it also opens on the “Top 200 Albums” chart at #27.

The power trio–Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big) and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison)—self-produced THE WINERY DOGS, which was released July 23 on Loud & Proud Records. The album has been hailed as “…one of the most intriguing releases of the year” by Loudwire.com, and in a recent reader’s poll on Revolver magazine’s website, fans called it their “Album of the Week.”

Success hasn’t been limited to the U.S. shores. THE WINERY DOGS recently kicked off their first-ever tour in Japan and South America to sold-out crowds wherever they played. After one more stop in Buenos Aires on August 1, they’ll head home for their first U.S. shows, starting August 3 in New York City at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. While they’re in town, THE WINERY DOGS will appear on “The Artie Lange Show,” which will air Monday, August 5 at 10pm ET on DirectTV and is streamed live on the show’s website. On Tuesday, August 6 at 7pm, the band will take part in an in-store signing session at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ. For more information, visit www.vvinyl.com.

Once the first leg of their U.S. trek concludes on August 8, Portnoy, Sheehan and Kotzen will take a much-deserved break before heading back overseas for their first shows in Europe throughout most of September, which will include stops in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The U.S. tour will start up again on October 3 in Agoura Hills, CA at the Canyon Club.

Meanwhile, THE WINERY DOGS will guest on the nationally syndicated radio show, “Rockline,” with host Bob Coburn on Wednesday, August 14 at 8:30pm PT/11:30pm ET. Fans are encouraged to speak with the band that night by calling 1-800-344-ROCK (7625). The show will be streamed on Rocklineradio.com for two weeks beginning the afternoon after the live broadcast.

Check out THE WINERY DOGS at any of the following U.S. tour stops:

DATE                      CITY                                             VENUE

Sat 8/3               New York, NY                     B.B. King Blues Club and Grill
Sun 8/4             Lancaster, PA                      Chameleon Club
Tue 8/6              Fords, NJ                             Vintage Vinyl (in-store)
Wed 8/7            Newton, NJ                          The Newton Theater
Thu 8/8             Chicago, IL                            Reggie’s Rock Club
Thu 10/3           Agoura Hills, CA                 Canyon Club
Fri 10/4              Las Vegas, NV                     Vamp’d
Sat 10/5              San Diego, CA                     Romana Mainstage
Sun 10/6    San Juan Capistrano, CA        Coach House
Tue 10/8        Sacramento, CA                     Harlow’s
Wed 10/9        San Francisco, CA               Yoshi’s