THE DEAD END KIDZ – A Talk With JOHN ERIGO (Lead Vocals)

Posted on June 28th. 2017

Questionnaire by Jason Houston on behalf of METAL TO INFINITY WEBZINE BELGIUM

John Erigo

Jason: Hello John and welcome to Metal To Infinity.  I’d like to Thanks you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me and do this exclusive interview w/Metal To Infinity.

Last year I interviewed you for Destroyer40 which was an interview series where I spoke with Musicians such as yourself to talk about 2016 marking the 40th Anniversary of Kiss’s Landmark album:  DESTROYER. Anyone who heard that interview or knows you John knows what a huge Kiss fan you are.

Talk a little bit for our readers why Kiss had such a huge impact on you and talk about the role Kiss played in becoming a professional Musician yourself and eventually led you to form your own band The Dead End Kidz.

John: First of all let me say THANK YOU to you Jason, for remembering me, my band, and my love for KISS and all things hard rock & metal! I am sure most of your METAL TO INFINITY readers don’t know me or my old band, THE DEAD END KIDZ, so it’s a real honor for me to be interviewed here. As for KISS – they were my starting point into listening to heavier music in the 70’s. They were the first rock band I listened to. Growing up with parents that were a little older than most other kids’ parents, I had to find my own way to rock music.

My parents were from the Sinatra era while most other kids my age at the time had parents that listened to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other rock bands from the 60’s. I was mainly listening to the radio and had no elder to say “Hey, listen to this, it rocks!”. I kind of remember hearing ROCK N ROLL ALL NITE on the radio, and I remember liking it. It wasn’t until the day DESTROYER came out that I got to hear more of KISS. A friend of mine who lived down the block from me, was into music and got the album the day it came out. He called me up and said “I just listened to the new KISS album, you HAVE to hear it!”.

So later that day he came over and we sat and listened to the album. By the time DETROIT ROCK CITY was halfway over I was hooked! It was like the light shined down on me and I had a feeling inside that this was the music I had been waiting for, this was the band that was going to get me to stop listening to the radio and really take interest in a band. After checking out the album cover, I couldn’t believe they really looked like the painting…….

I was heavily into comic books too, so their look was SO appealing to me, it was the ultimate combination. It was like it was destined to come and find me! LOL! But unlike most musicians you hear say “That album made me pick up a guitar” of start towards becoming a musician, I never thought like that. I was more like “there’s NO WAY I could do that”. But eventually later on in life I did decide to give it a try and had a LOT of fun doing it.


Jason: In looking at your FACEBOOK page John I can see that you took a huge page out of the KISS Playbook not just musically but in what a great job you do in your effort to promote the Dead End Kidz.. Is there any truth to this and is the Dead End Kids being spelled The Dead End Kidz have anything with you being a Kiss fan?

John: We spelt it with a “Z” because we’re SO cool! LOL! Thanks for the kudos on the promoting – but the truth is that we were up and running for about a year or so and I stumbled upon another band, from the Philadelphia area, that had the same name. They had been around for a while but were not really together any more. They were doing like one-off/reunion type of gigs around that time. This was mid 1990’s so the internet was still kind of new-ish, I didn’t even have a computer I had something called WEBTV which allowed you to use email and surf the internet on a limited basis through your TV. Oh how times have changed! LOL! So any way yeah, I got an email from them, a threatening one at that. I kind of laughed it off at first but we decided to change the spelling to avoid confusion.

They were threatening legal action which was hilarious because neither band really made any money or had any kind of record deal, so I didn’t take it seriously. After emailing back n forth we mutually decided that if either band had made it to the “prize” of a recording contract, the other would change their name. We probably would’ve had to pay them because I think they had some kind of copyright on a logo with that name, something to that effect. So to answer your question, the KISS lightning bolt “S” ‘s did not influence our name or logo – ack! LOL!


Jason: Now while I know your band The Dead End Kidz has not been active for a number of years now you still continue to promote the band on FaceBook these days and because of that you seem to have a very loyal fanbase.  What do you attribute that loyal fan base to when it’s been a number of years now since the band has performed live or released any new music?

John: I don’t know how loyal they are because we still haven’t been paid! LOL! No only kidding… it blows me away how everyday there seems to be somebody new checking us out. I have a philosophy that when you’re an unsigned and virtually unknown band, and this quite obvious but, there will ALWAYS be more people who don’t know you exist, than people who do. Thanks to the internet and various websites and services (like REVERB NATION) a band like THE DEAD END KIDZ can continue to reach new people without spending any money and going broke. LOL!

We, the 5 of us, and let me tell you their names now —- Scott Carlson (guitars), Michael LoBianco (guitars), Thomas Mahalko (drums) and Kevin Edell (bass) – we all busted our collective asses writing the songs and perfecting them. We all had jobs and lives and things going on outside the band, so it was a sacrifice, a labor of love if you will…….and me personally, will not let that just go away because we’re not together any more. Our music has stood the test of time and I feel so proud of the music we made that I’d like to think that is the main reason for the loyalty to DEK.

There’s an honesty to our music, you can’t fake that. Our sound isn’t pigeon holed to one style, every song has its own sound and style while none stretch out too far away from the center of what we were, a rock band, a LOUD rock band! So thank you one and all. old fan or new fan, we all appreciate it equally!


The Dead End Kidz

Jason: Now while I understand that the Dead End Kidz split up a number of years ago and that the band members aren’t geographically in different location these days John I’d like to ask you if there’s ever been talk of the band getting back together?

John: Well not on any kind of permanent level, no. Scott is living in Maine, Mike is living in New Mexico, Kevin & Tommy still live in NY and I am in NJ. There’s always talk of doing a show or a jam when Mike comes back to NY to visit family, and we did do a gig in I think it was 2014 but Scott wasn’t there. We did a semi reunion show on my 50th birthday (no Mike or Scott) too. When I first moved to NJ I was looking for people to kind of re-form a new version but never found suitable musicians. So for right now, no plans.


Jason: John it seems like since the band has split up that you are the one band member who continues to promote the band and inner act with the band’s many fans all these years later. Talk a little bit about why after all these years you decided you’d be the one guy in the band to continue to promote the great music you guys released when the band is no longer making any new music or performing live? By the way great job John at the way you’ve appointed yourself to continue to promote your band and your music, I mean if you didn’t do so the Dead End Kidz might have been just another great band that came and went and was forgotten about. The band’s continued fan base has a lot to do with how dedicated you are to keep the Dead End Kidz name out there!

John: Well I was the one who did it all along, so why stop! LOL! I was always also acting like an agent, a publicist, a booking agent, a manager etc etc. It just comes natural to me, I don’t know. Before I was even in a band I was around bands, watching, listening, paying attention and taking mental notes. It didn’t matter if it was a band playing Madison Square Garden or band like RIOT playing a small club, I paid attention. Thank you again for your compliments, it means a lot to me! I think I was DEK’s biggest fan so I can’t stop – and people like you Jason are proof that it is paying off!


Jason: Now we’ve already talked about the fact that you were greatly influenced by Kiss and I know that Metallica is another band that had a huge influence on you. While both bands sounds nothing alike the both have the common factor that both bands are either loved or loathed by music fans.  Is that something you’d agree with?

John: Yes. Any time you reach such a high level of success, there are always a higher amount of people who want to cut you down. People (fans) don’t realize that as a band, there just no way you can be the same 25-35 years later on into your career – especially if you’re a huge success. when you’re young and poor and breaking your ass to make it, the music will reflect that. When you’re rich and famous you can not be as musically hungry, it’s just not possible! The bands that stand the test of time, a long time, will usually lose so many people along the way, but gain more newer fans as they keep going. That’s the true test. So yeah, I am sure there are tons of people who hopped onboard early on for both bands that have since jumped ship. It happens. You can’t please everyone all of the time, just not gonna happen.


Jason: Could you tell us the story of how you first became a Metallica fan? What was the first Metallica song you heard? The first Metallica album that really had a huge impact on you?

John: OK, before I dive into this, be prepared because you are about to get a TRUTH about the beginning of Metallica becoming a signed band! Like I had mentioned previously, I was around bands before I was ever in one. In or around the Summer of 1981 a  friend, Bob Muldwoney (RIP), and myself started what was known as a “fanzine”. An independent low or no budget publication. There was no internet, no home computers, no cell phones, shit, there wasn’t even MTV yet! So imagine how hard it was for 2 kids on Long Island to find out about new bands from all over the World? So we decided to start our own fanzine hoping other fans would write us and tell us about bands they have discovered.

We got the idea because we had seen several fanzines circulating, but those were all dedicated to ONE band (usually KISS). So I had the idea “why not do one of our own but about ALL the bands we like?!”. Sure, we had CIRCUS and CREEM magazine but they only covered the big bands we already knew about. So any way, we get up and running. My Dad making copies of the pages we typed and scotch taped pictures too, at his work place. The fanzine was called KICK ASS MONTHLY. So fast forward in time to where we had some popularity and things were going real good. Bob calls me one day and says ” I just got this demo in the mail – YOU HAVE TO HEAR IT!!!”.

So I raced over to his house and picked up the cassette tape. When I got home I didn’t have time to listen, so I gave it to my friend who’s family I was living with, and told him “Hey, Bob said this is great but I have to go out, give it a listen and let me know when I get home”. As soon as I get home my friend Ed is like – “You HAVE to listen to this!”. Damn, this must be really good. Sure enough it was NO LIFE TIL LEATHER demo by the- at the time – unknown band METALLICA. As I sat and listened I was saying to myself “What the f**k am I listening too?!?!?!”. It sounded SO heavy, almost too heavy! I was blown away, I really was. When I returned the tape to Bob a few days later we started talking about it.

We hadn’t really heard something that raw yet, it was like listening to ERUPTION the first time…….you knew you loved it, but what the Hell was it?! Shortly after that I was over Bob’s house again. Now what I am about to say is probably NOT in the history of heavy metal records, and I am sure there are 1000 different stories about how Metallica got “discovered”, but I can promise THIS is the truth and the way it really happened. I want my late friend to be properly credited!!!!!!!! Bob had the Metallica tape in his hand and said “I’m taking this to Johnny Z!”. Yes, Jon Zazula, at the time head of Megaforce Records.

An independent label started by Jon, who also owned a record shop called Rock n Roll heaven. Bob is the person who delivered the Metallica demo to Johhny Z by hand, and eventually led to Jonny bringing Metallica to the East Coast and signing them to a record deal. HISTORY! So yes, there was a huge impact made on me by Metallica from day one of hearing about them. Eventually I saw them open 2 shows for VENOM and while I was already friends with the band RAVEN, I got to see and hang out with Metallica on the KILL EM ALL FOR ONE tour. Ahhh, the good old days! I can’t remember how many times I have seen them altogether but at least 50 or 60 times.


Jason: I understand that years ago when you first became a Metallica fan that you actually ran your own Metallica fanzine. Can you talk a little bit about that?

John: I already kind of answered this question in the a previous one. It wasn’t a “Metallica” fanzine but it was a heavy metal fanzine – KICK ASS MONTHLY which eventually became KICK ASS MAGAZINE. yeah man, that was a blast, metal was all new and fresh and untainted by radio, MTV and hair metal! LOL!


John Erigo

Jason: Who’s your favorite Metallica member?

John: If I had to pick a fave I’d say James Hetfield. I really don’t have a fave when it comes to them, obviously Cliff was the coolest! I remember being around him, quiet but respected. he was an original metal bad-ass!


Jason: I have to ask you what your thoughts on the latest Metallica CD: Hardwired To Self Destruct?

John: I REALLY enjoy it! I loved DEATH MAGNETIC too. A return to their older style of writing too, which for me is always cool. I remember once James saying that every Metallica song was about “death”. I think they strayed from that for a while and got back to it with the last 2 albums – so good for them! The new songs sound killer live!


Jason: Have you seen Metallica live in the last few years?

John: Those f***ers haven’t done a proper USA tour in a long time, almost 10 years! So, in 2016,  I flew out to Minnesota to see them be the first rock band to play the brand new US Bank Stadium(home of the Minnesota Vikings – NFL team). When HARDWIRED was coming out, I got to see them play in NYC at Webster Hall – front row, crushed up against the stage! Insane! recently I caught 3 shows – Philadelphia & NJ – which were stadium shows, and also NY at Nassau Coliseum(indoors arena). band sounds great, new and old songs kicking ass side by side – METAL!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jason: Since the break up of The Dead End Kidz have you had any desire to form a new band or maybe consider recording some new music and release a John Erigo solo CD?  I ask because it seems like you have quite an internet fan base and that your fans would probably support any new music that you’d put out.

John: I think I already answered this but yes, of course! If I can find the right people yes, I would love to do something. maybe somebody reading this will want to help out – LOL! I couldn’t imagine doing a “solo” cd because I don’t write music, so that would feel too egotistical to call it that. We’ll see what the future holds for old JE – LOL!


Jason: Now John I know that it’s been a number of years since the Dead Ends Kidz last performed live but I saw on YOUTUBE some live Clips of you performing Kiss/Juda Priest/Thin Lizzy material at something called John Erigo’s Birthday. What exactly was that performance? When did it take place? When you consider doing such an event again?

John: It was my 50th Birthday Party/event. I was turning 50 and decided that instead of sitting around and stewing about being older and hitting that number, I wanted to rock! So i called upon 2 DEK members to see if they’d be up to it, Tommy & Kevin were both “in” right away! Put the word out and found 2 guitar player friends who were also into it. Arthur “Arty” Rice, who I knew through Kevin and have known for many years, and also Carl Jackubowsky. Carl, Kevin and I were in a band together after DEK had originally disbanded, that band was called COSMO’s MOON. We split the show up coming out and playing a bunch of cover tunes, then coming back later to end the night doing Mostly DEK originals with some DEK staple cover songs too – including NEW YORK GROOVE. Kevin’s cover band learnt a short set of Michael Schneker related songs which blew me away, and our good friends Discipline Theory did a short set also. It was a fun night, made me feel old when it was all said and done! LOL! I would love to do it again, that would be killer!


Jason: What are you doing these days John?

John: Online interviews for YOU!!!!!!! LOL! not much really – just living life as it come man, one day at a time brother. Working hard, and playing hard! Still go to a lot of concerts & movies. I like to spread the word via social media about lesser known bands that I discover too. The Kick Ass Monthly part of me is still going – I have turned a lot of people on to bands they normally wouldn’t have known existed, I have a knack for that. So even if you don’t like my old band but like hard rock & metal, you should all follow me on Facebook and join the JE rock n roll fun! LOL! Again Jason, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you remembering me and reaching out to me for the interview! Long live rock n roll!


Jason: Thanks again for doing this John.  Before we wrap this up is there anything else you’d like to say to all the Dead End Kidz/John Erigo fans out there and there are many, many of them out there?

John: Are there? LOL! hey man I am the same guy I was in 1981 when I started KAM with Bob, I LOVE this kind of music! I will do all I can to keep spreading the word about new bands, and info I get on older bands too. I would love for people to follow me on social media but also on youtube. I go to a lot of shows and usually post a few songs from each one – you can find me on there as JOHN8186 – the 8186 comes from on elf my fave bands of all time, LOUDNESS!

Any way again, thanks to jason for making this happen. Thanks to you, whomever you are, that is reading this—–us rockers have to stick together. We don’t all agree on everything, that would be unrealistic BUT — we all share a common love of harder and heavier music. keep that metal flame burning my brothers and sisters! You all rock and maybe one day I will return here in this forum with news of a new musical project, who knows???? Until then, keep kicking ass!!!!!!!!!!!!