Regular readers of Pencilstorm know when it comes to covering the band KISS, we do not shy away from controversy. (Click here for 12 stories) But when Scott Carr and myself started discussing ways to evaluate the KISS non-makeup years, we knew we had to do better than a standard ranking by one guy. Remember that Cheap Trick list that one guy did? It was fun, like, 5 years ago, but times change. People deserve more in 2018. Hell, just the other day, some guy drove an electric car into space with most of its expensive booster rockets returning to Earth without crashing. That's some mind-blowing Jetsons stuff. Or as the Scientologists say, "Progress.".
So with fantasy baseball season coming up fast we thought, what if six guys had a fantasy draft pulling songs from the KISS records Lick It Up through Revenge, plus the two unreleased songs from Smashes, Trashes and Hits? Now, that would be interesting. Something never attempted before by mankind. How would random folks value this period in the band's history? Or shall I say......KISSTORY!!!
Hold on KISS Kruisers, I can hear you bitching....yes, we left off Carnival of Souls because everybody knows that's not a real record. The two people who have listened to that record can do a draft and we will be happy to publish the results on Pencilstorm.
Anyway, in pursuit of the truth, we set out to find a diverse group of owners. And when I say diverse, I mean it in the RUSH rock n roll definition: a bunch of white guys who don't spend five nights a week together in the same bar. Let's face it, white guys are pretty much the only demographic that sat through all of Hot in the Shade. After a lengthy vetting process conducted by a search committee, the following players were invited to join the league:
Matt Walters - I was christened a KISS fan at 3 in 1977 while living on Long Island by my then-16-year-old badass babysitter Donna Knappie. I would never be the same. After Peter and then Ace left, I lost interest, and I never really listened to the albums in the '80's until way later. The non-makeup era definitely has some of my least favorite albums, although I've grown to appreciate many of the songs on those albums over the years. I've seen KISS six times, including the Kiss Kruise III first night, considered one of the greatest and most surprising set-lists in KISStory. My KISS war-room is now in Oak Park IL, just outside of Chicago, complete with an acoustic guitar, KISS Alive Forever, and my trusty Ace solo album poster.
Scott Carr - You may know me from numerous music-related stories that have been featured on Pencil Storm, many of them about Kiss. I also play guitar in Radio Tramps, a very active cover band from Columbus, OH. When I'm not doing gigs with my band you can usually find me at Lost Weekend Records, an indie record store in Columbus.
My Kisstory dates all the way back to my youth when I first saw Kiss in concert during the Destroyer tour in July of 1976. From that day forward I have been a fan. The good, the bad and the ugly.....I've been there for it all. I saw Kiss a total of five times during the original make-up years and then numerous times during the non-makeup and reunion/farewell years. I've met all four original members of Kiss at different times over the years and have also met Eric Carr, Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer. I am hoping to meet the elusive Vinnie Vincent in June at a Kiss Expo in Nashville. 42 years om, I still love talking about and defending The Hottest Band In The World....KISS!
David Martin has seen Kiss perform live nine times and once asked Ace Frehley to autograph an empty McDonald's sack. He lives in Kansas City.
Colin Gawel - decided to give up a promising career in business for a nomadic life of rock n roll after being exposed to KISS Alive at the young age of 6. He thinks Paul Stanley's solo record is better than Ace's, saw every tour of the non-makeup era and is known to hijack random facebook threads and steer them into KISS conversations. He founded Pencilstorm for precisely this purpose.
Mike Lovins - plays in the band Bava Choco. Spends his spare time taking pictures of people wearing Vinnie Vincent t-shirts. Once spotted carrying a copy of Hot in the Shade around mid-town Manhattan for no apparent reason.
Jeremy Porter - KISS was the first band I discovered on my own, not through perusing my parents' record collection. Alive! was the first record I bought with my own money. Ace Frehley was the first rock star I ever wanted to be. My interest waned as the original four lineup dissipated and I discovered punk rock, but some 25 years later I found myself sucked into the Kiss "Unplugged" episode and I saw that there was greatness in the post-makeup era too, albeit a bit more diluted than on those classic albums. Fast forward another 23 years and I'm locked in my home office, picking songs in this fantasy draft, and remembering that time I spotted Bruce Kulick literally across the terminal at LAX and rushed over to introduce myself. "Who?" my wife asked innocently, trying to keep up. My drafting war room is in Detroit where I will be researching with my band: Jeremy Porter and The Tucos.
Up next: The draft lottery will be held Saturday February 10th at Cobo Hall in Detroit to determine the order of the draft. Stay tuned KISS nerds. - Colin Gawel