Kix were a busy band during the decade that brought us the Rubik’s Cube, shoulder pads and various displays of big hair! They released their self-titled debut album in 1981 and their fourth studio album Blow My Fuse in 1988. Each consecutive studio album outshined the predecessor as the band became very adept at penning a catchy and fun rock songs. The quality exhibited on Midnite Dynamite from the title track at the beginning of the album, to the closing track, Sex demonstrated the band’s songwriting prowess. This is the story of a band who are back for a second slice of the rock n’ roll pie, and if their past is anything to go by, we’re all in for a treat.
Steve Whiteman, lead vocalist of Kix since they started, clearly defines the ambitions of the band in those critical early days. “Kix started out with the concept of doing originals, I mean we were a club cover band but we always wrote original music knowing that’s what it took to get a record deal.” Whiteman continues enthusiastically reflecting on the days they played intimate club shows. “We played the covers that brought the crowds in, and then we played our originals in between covers, and so the originals became so good that people didn’t know they were covers anymore. That’s when the record companies came sniffing around.” He then elaborates “1979 is when I joined the band, and we got signed in 1980, so it was, I was with them for just over a year and we had been writing together during that whole year and playing nonstop club circuit. Y’know we were one of the fortunate ones that got some record company attention and got a deal.”
Although Whiteman couldn’t recall the first song that he ever wrote, he was able to confirm that Love At First Sight was the first one that made it onto a Kix studio album. With this thought of songwriting in mind, Kix are no exception to the rule that every band has their inspirations and influences. “Being a cover band you play anything popular. So we played Foreigner, we played Deep Purple, we played Alice Cooper, we played Grand Funk, we played everything. As the music started to get more hard rock we found our niche was the harder stuff, so then AC/DC, Zeppelin, Stones, Aerosmith, that kinda stuff was what we were really good at and that seemed to be leading us in that direction.”
When you listen to each studio album, despite the fun lyrical content and the hook-laden music there remains a prominent growth taking place. “The first album really just came straight out of the bars, I mean it was written while we were doing sound checks and it was really an easy record to put together. The second album (Cool Kids) was pretty much really controlled by the record label. They made us use some outside material which we hated, they made us use a producer that was a wimpy pop producer, we wanted a hard rock producer. We were just being pushed by the record label, by the producer, by our management that time to make a record we didn’t really even wanna make or like.” In complete contrast to these insightful memories that were shared by Whiteman whilst discussing their second studio album, he followed his thoughts regarding the next one. “So I would say that the third album, the Midnite Dynamite album recorded with Beau Hill was a real delight for us and was one of the most fun records we ever made.”
Everything that we achieved to that point was down to our own blood, sweat and tears and refusal to say that we’re done.
One song on the Midnite Dynamite album that was an obvious choice for a single came in the shape of a power ballad called Walkin’ Away, but it never saw the light of day in that format. “Atlantic never really gave us any kind of push until the Blow My Fuse album. Everything that we achieved to that point was down to our own blood, sweat and tears and refusal to say that we’re done. If it wasn’t for us constantly touring and playing the clubs we wouldn’t have sold enough records that would have kept the label interested in us. So y’know, we pat ourselves on the back for never giving up.”
With Blow My Fuse, Atlantic certainly seemed to realize what a hot property Kix were as singles came out in the form of the anthemic Get It While It’s Hot, the solid Cold Blood, the title track and the popular ballad Don’t Close Your Eyes. After the success that came their way from the release of Blow My Fuse, the band went onto better things with the album Hot Wire which revealed a rockier sound with the guitars more prominent than ever. The sheer momentum brought on by their hard-working endeavors throughout the previous years had really paid dividends. The infectious chorus of their single Girl Money, the rampant title track offering up some shameless rock n’ roll energy, Cold Chills which made an appearance during the movie Wayne’s World and a potent ballad called Tear Down The Walls all compounded what fans already knew–Kix are a consistent, good quality rock band with personality!
Whiteman confesses, “We smelt the end coming on the Hot Wire album ‘cos after Blow My Fuse had hit we’d finally gotten out of the clubs and made it to the arenas, open for major bands, you know, did a real tour, took it to the next level finally.” He continues, “Once that money button is pushed by a label good things happen. You make real videos, you have radio people working on your behalf, and when we made Hot Wire, y’know, we felt we’d made a really strong record, a good follow-up record to Blow My Fuse. But the whole industry changed during the release of that record. The Seattle sound, the West Coast sound really came in, took over the airwaves and we smelt it at that point that this was done.”
“Atlantic once again did nothing with that record, so we wanted to get off of Atlantic and get onto a smaller label. So we got CMC interested and we put $how Bu$ine$$ out for one last try and we ran into the same brick walls that we did with Hot Wire. So we sort of knew it was over and rather than keep pounding it and try to make something that wasn’t there, we wanted to go out with our heads held high ‘cos we were proud of everything we’d done and we called it quits in 1996.” There is no room for doubting Whiteman’s credentials or commitment to this second go on the Kix musical journey. He had fronted the band solidly for seventeen years during that opening salvo of albums and live gigs, and as he says “I’ve never done anything but music, that’s the only thing I’m good at. I can’t fix cars, I suck at math, I can’t do anything else so music’s been my life and that’s the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
With the release of Live In Baltimore on both DVD and CD announcing their return to active duty, and their intention to release their next studio album in 2013, Kix are wanting both their fans and newcomers to join the party. “I’m not out there trying to be cool, I don’t expect everybody to adore me just because I’m in a band. I like to make people involved in the shows, I like to make them laugh, I like to get their attention and once I get their attention I have them in the palm of my hand. All that humor that I use has always been part of my show and it’s worked well over the years and I think it’s what set Kix apart from other bands.”
Regarding the new studio album, Whiteman reveals “I was writing a bunch of stuff ‘cos I tried to put out a new Funny Money CD like every couple of years. Mark [Schenker] our bass player was writing and Brian [Forsythe] had some stuff that he had just lying around and when this whole idea, this concept of a new Kix album was first popped around we all kind of stepped back, and like, can we really do this, I mean, without Donnie [Purnell] being involved ‘cos he was the main songwriter of the band? And we thought what have we got to lose by trying, so we’ve got about 25-30 songs at this point. We’re gonna throw them all into a pot and get them out one by one and work on them and see if we can’t come up with 10 or 12 really strong tracks that we’re proud of and we can call a Kix album.” When asked to give a possible name as producer for the new forthcoming album, Whiteman expressed interest in Taylor Rhodes who helmed production duties on their Hot Wire album. Prepare for a rock n’ roll overdose!