THE DEAD END KIDZ (Lead Vocalist) / KICKASS FOREVER (Owner/Editor) – A Talk With JOHN ERIGO

Posted on August 07th. 2018

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


John Erigo

Hello there John thanks for reaching out to me again, I apologize for my delay in getting back to you but I’ve been very busy, no excuse, but the truth.  You remember a few months back you had done an interview for Metal To Infinity where we had discussed 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the Kiss album Love Gun, being the Kiss fan you and I are it’s always fun to talk about Kiss related stuff with you.  After the last interview you agreed to do a follow up interview and I’m glad it’s been a few months because quite a bit has happened since then including your launching of KICKASS FOREVER which I plan to discuss in this new interview. In regards to our KISS Fandom I’d like to also discuss 1978 marking the 40th anniversary of Kiss Meets The Phantom as well as to discuss KISS Alive II just a little.

 

Jason: Hello John and welcome once again to Metal To Infinity once again.  As many of our readers know you were previously the lead singer for the band The Dead End Kidz who is no longer active but you continue to have a huge Internet fan base. I know the band released 2 CDS so I have to ask you which of the Dead End Kidz CD is your favorite and why?

John: First of all, HELLO to the Metal To Infinity universe, hope everybody is good and rockin’!! Also, thanks again to you Jason for reaching out me to do this interview. Wow, a tough question right out of the gate, huh?! It’s really impossible to pick, ya know. The first one was really an exciting time for the band. We had been playing those songs for a year or 2 so we had them down really well. We actually recorded the first album for free and in a unique studio.

The building was one of the largest “free space” structures in the World, it was used to house the infamous Hindenberg zeppelin many years ago. It is a Military building, so we had to show credentials everyday. The building was converted into a vocational school, and one of the classes they teach there is sound recording and engineering. We had an “in” and took advantage of it! So we were able to record and mix our songs free as the class was “in session”. I’ll never forget asking the teacher “How many songs can we do?”. He replied “The class is only 2 and half ours a day, how many songs do you have?”.

I said “We have eight songs and we can play them live right now”. Teacher replied ” You think you can lay down rhythm tracks for 8 songs right now?” My reply was “watch!”. So we recorded and mixed 8 songs in 3 sessions, maybe 4 – basically everything was done live. When we did the second one it was a little more professional, and costly! LOL! But we feel we had become better songwriters so both albums are special and impossible to choose between for me.

 

Jason: I’ve asked you a few times in the past if you’ve ever given any thought to the band getting back together and while you’ve pretty much said never say never but you think because of the fact that all the members live so far away from one another that would make a Dead End Kidz Re-union a little hard. With that being said I have to ask if you’ve ever given any thought to a John Erigo solo album or do you think of yourself more of a band guy than a solo artist?

John: A solo album huh? The JE Experience…..I don’t know if the World could handle that!!!! LOL! I don’t feel I could do that because I don’t play any instruments, so the music would really be “written” by someone else and to me, that’s not really a “solo” album. I am more of a team player when it comes to creating music. In DEK I wrote all the lyrics except one song(ONE WAY RIDE, the lyrics were written by our bass player KEVIN EDELL)and I also act as kind of an arranger. Like I stated I don’t play an instrument but I do know how to connect to the song and sometimes I would make suggestions.

Let’s try that 4 times instead of 8, in this part, why don’t you try this or that – things like that, little nuances that change certain dynamics of the flow. I would be better off hooking up with a band that writes songs and if they would let me put my spin on them, and then continue to write new stuff with them, that’d be cool. But as of right now, as full time adventure, I don’t have anything lined up. As for a reunion of DEK………see my next answer!!!

The Dead End Kidz

Jason: Now as I mentioned while the Dead End Kidz have been inactive for a number of years the band continues to have a huge Internet fan base and I think you’re a big part of that because you are the one member of the band who continues to do everything in your power to keep the band’s name out where. Why is it so important for you to keep the name out there and make sure people never forget you were part of this band: The Dead End Kidz.

John: It has always been important to me because of all the hard work that was put into creating those songs. Hey, I was our biggest fan! LOL! So let me mention them here – Michael LoBianco, Thomas Mahalko, Kevin Edell and Scott Carlson. I think the music we made kind of stood the test of time, it doesn’t sound dated. There are more opportunities for bands to get there music out to the masses these days than ever before, so why let what we feel is good music be dormant? You don’t need to be an active band for your song to become a jingle, or in a movie, or in a commercial or whatever the case may be, you just need a good song!

Also, as you eluded to – never say never. I have always said that. Yes, we are geographically challenged but as long as we’re alive and able, there is always a chance of something happening. Recently 3/5th’s of the band were together and of course the subject came up – I miss this band, we should do SOMETHING! So for the first time publicly I can say that never say never is not just a catch phrase! There was a rumbling of enthusiasm amongst us so we shall see. A few gigs, perhaps even a new song or 2……..it’s all possible and was talked about. Stay tuned!!!!!

 

Jason: Since your last interview with us you have launched KICKASS FOREVER!  Please share with our readers on what KICKASS FOREVER is and why they might want to check it out John!

John: Yes, https://kickassforever.com/ is my new baby!!! I got together with some friends and asked them if they wanted to contribute a new idea I had  for a web site. It’s a site covering a wide variety of hard rock and heavy metal bands. Album reviews, concert reviews, interviews, videos, all sorts of fun stuff. I chose my friends because each of them has particular tastes and likes that I might not have. So we have Eric V handling the 80’s metal kind of stuff, Charle Florio who is a long time Thrash expert and Ed H who likes all kinds of music, but will be covering the really heavy stuff, even some Black Metal. I like a little of everything so together, we really can cover it all and with  experienced insight. When we become more established I would love to able to invite guest writers to do reviews but we’ll see what happens as things progress, for right now we have a few labels onboard that are sending us albums to review, it’s a fun time.

 

Jason: When you first launched KICKASS FOREVER you initially shot a video to announce the launching while it was pretty much just you talking a little bit about who you were and what your plans were for the site that initial video got a huge response. Were you surprised at what a huge response that initial video got?

John: Hey look, I am surprised when I get ANY response to anything I do! So yeah it was nice to see some people tuned it. It was a Facebook live video. I just wanted to do something different to announce the site was launched and show off the way cool logo we had made for us by a graphic artist I commissioned to do the art. is name is Brian Allen and you can see his art here https://www.flylanddesigns.com/ He did an amazing job for us! I didn’t really do much before the site was “live”, so that is why I wanted to do the video. It was pretty cool seeing the reaction so yeah, I was surprised!

 

Jason: I have to ask John being that initial video on KICKASS FOREVER got such a huge response do you plan to make more of those videos where you go on-line and speak to your KICKASS FOREVER audience?

John: Well, I think the video got the response it did because it was something different for me, I usually don’t do that kind of stuff when it involves myself. Especially live. Posting videos of me singing in the band is a different situation. But I do think it would be cool to do one every once in a while and not overdo it, ya know? Keep it special. I have flirted with the idea of doing album reviews on video instead of typing them out, so that might be in the future as well.

 

Jason: Very much like with The Dead End Kidz John I think so far you have been the face and voice for KICKASS FOREVER…Now while I know you are working with some other partners that you work with on the site how do you feel about being the public face/voice for the site as I have pointed out so far for the site?  I mean I know you’re working with other people John Erigo is the guy I think of when I hear KICKASS FOREVER. How do you feel about this and has this become an issue between you and your Partners?

John: No, no issues. Look, we all have lives and jobs and whatever else that takes up time in our daily life. That IS life, right? For me, I started the site, it was my idea, I invested the time and money to get it up and running. I am NOT a boss and nobody “works” for me. This site is done for the love of the music, and the passion of being more that just a fan. Every team needs a Captain, every Army needs a leader or there’s unorganized chaos. So if I am the voice and face of the site, it’s all good.

I’ll put in the brunt of the work, posting on social media, trying to make connections with bands, labels, management companies, whatever I can do to further the exposure of the site and make it better. All I ever asked of the other guys was to submit stuff when they wanted to. No deadlines, no pressure. This is meant to be fun. The ultimate goal is to make the readers informed. Whether it’s band you love or a band you never heard of, I want KICKASS FOREVER to be your go to site for the truth behind the music, not fluff or angst. I don’t care what band it is, if you’re a friend or a band I never heard of, your album has to bring it or else! Nobody gets a free pass here……nobody. Bottom line is we’re fans and we want nothing but the truth to the people who read our reviews!

 

Jason: Now John you have been on both sides as far as being a Musician and being a guy who supports other acts by writing CD reviews, concert reviews, starting fanzines, and now KICKASS FOREVER……Which do you prefer being the musician where other people write/review your music or having the opportunity to push other bands that you like?

John: Yeah it’s a unique thing ya know. I actually wrote 2 songs about this! There’s a song on the second album by THE DEAD END KIDZ and it’s called TAKE A SHOT. The premise of the song is that critics are often failed artists/athletes or whatever they are reviewing. They sit back and just love lashing out harsh reviews but is that because deep down inside the reviewer is just jealous of the person(s)they are reviewing? Ya know the guy who broke his leg in High School and didn’t make it to the NFL and now he is a journalist for a sports publication and just bashes guys.

Or the guy who played guitar and was the local hero but his band never made and all he does is rip other people’s music to shreds because he never made it…….so in the song I pose the question of why don’t you take a shot at being me, be in my place and see if you can do it. The other song was on our first album and it’s called THE OTHER SIDE, which is about being on the other side of the mic. It kind of compares both sides of being behind the mic and in the crowd. There’s no way to pick a side in this man, c’mon Jason! LOL! I do miss being in a band, playing gigs, creating and recording music but honestly I love doing what I am doing now too, with KICKASS FOREVER.

It’s equally as rewarding getting the word out to the masses about bands I like that most people don’t know about, and giving them the chance to discover new music they might not have before. KAF also gives me a chance to get closer to bands I like and people already know, and that is just getting started! So both sides of the mic are fun for me.

 

Jason: You just launched KF a few months back but what is something that you’ve really enjoyed covering on the site?

John: I like it all man, but something that I stressed to the guys before we started was NO album is off limits. Meaning doesn’t matter if it’s new or old, it can be reviewed. So I created a page on the site called RETRO REVIEWS. Right now I only had have time to do one, but I plan on really diving in and reviewing some older albums that younger fans might not know about, or I feel people need to know about! I did a review of the classic album FIRE DOWN UNDER by the band RIOT. There are SO many albums I would love to do so I will see what time allows me to do. That will be a fun section on our site for sure!

 

Jason: In regards to KICKASS FOREVER I’m sure you reach out to a lot of bands but I was curious if there are bands, labels, publicists who would like to work with you, have their bands featured on the site is that something you would encourage and if so what’s the best way to reach out to you?

John: YES, YES and YES!!!! We strongly encourage anyone involved with a band, whether you’re in the band or manage the band or drive the bus, whatever it is – if you know of a band that is out there making their own music and think they deserve exposure, yes please hunt me down, I am not hard to find! LOL! I am on social media under my name, John Erigo, or the site’s name, KICKASS FOREVER, or you can email me at: johnerigo@aol.com 

 

Jason: Last time we talked John because I know what a huge Kiss fan you are we talked a little bit about the fact that 2017 marked the 40th anniversary of Kiss’s 1977 album:  Love Gun. Also in 1977 Kiss released Kiss ALIVE II.

I have to ask you which do you prefer “Kiss Alive” or “Kiss Alive II”?

John: Jason you’re killing me with the choices dude! LOL! I was always a KISS ALIVE! lover. ALIVE II was great also but I think the first one was better. I loved the fact Alive II had new songs on it though, that was cool.

I also really was into KISS UNPLUGGED which was a live album, KISS ALIVE III was REALLY good too, and the Symphony one was enjoyable but for my KISS money, I go with ALIVE!.

 

Jason: Back in 1977 when Kiss released Kiss Alive II they were still playing many of the songs off Kiss Alive and that’s the reason they featured Side Four with the new studio tracks. When you first purchased Kiss ALIVE II how excited were you when your first purchased Kiss Alive II and found out you weren’t just getting another great live Kiss album but that the band had also recorded those new studio tracks that were featured on Kiss Alive II?

John: I thought it was great! I was still really young, I was only 13 years old at the time. But the new songs were really good. I thought that was a unique thing, but I am sure they could’ve played some other songs to fill up a side of an album. Either way it was new KISS and I was happy!

 

Jason: One thing Kiss fans did not know when Kiss Alive II was originally released back in 1977 was that it was Bob Kulick and not Ace Frehley who played on the new studio tracks with the exception of course of “Rocket Ride” which was of course an Ace Frehley song.  Does knowing this now change how you feel about Kiss Alive II?

John: Also, Anton Fig played on ROCKET RIDE as well. I mean when you’re a kid and you hear that ending mini drum solo of ROCKET RIDE you can’t make the connection that there’s no way Peter Criss could’ve played that! LOL! Just like when I heard TORPEDO GIRL on UNMASKED, the drumming in that song is a little different that what PC would play. Does it taint my view of the song, no not really. As we all got older and things like the truth creep out about who played what on each album, I think we all got desensitized to it.

It is hard for us to believe that Gene and Paul can sit in a recording studio behind the mixing board while other people play “their” parts on songs that wind up on the album. But in the end it is all about the songs. I fully understand why people get upset over this but it happened on almost every album since Alive!. So yeah it is kind of a weird situation to be in as a fan.

 

Jason: In regards to the new Kiss Alive II studio tracks which is your favorite and why?

John: ALL AMERICAN MAN and ROCKET RIDE because they rock the hardest and sound like KISS!!!! I liked all of them but those were my faves then and still are now.

 

Jason: 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the Classic 1978 Kiss Movie:  Kiss Meets The Phantom. My question is John what did you think of the movie the very first time you saw it and how do you think it has stood the test of time over the last 40 years?

John: When I first saw it, again, I was a kid so yeah it was great! I loved the concert scenes and wished there was more of them. As you get older things become more clearer I guess, so to me not that movie didn’t stand the test of time! LOL!

It’s a classic for us KISS fans but man, what were they thinking?! LOL! I admire them for trying but it could’ve been better. I would love to see the entire concerts released on DVD someday – KISSOLOGY 4 – Gene, are you listening? LOL!

 

Jason: One interesting thing about Kiss Meets The Phantom is that while Kiss Drummer:  peter Criss does appear in the film the dubbed another actor’s voice over Peter’s voice because he would not show up to correct some of the audio. I must admit that I never noticed this until Paul and Gene revealed this.  How about you and how do you feel about Peter acting in the film but having some other guy’s voice recorded over Peter’s voice?

John: I just thought he huffed too much cat nip – LOL! Again, at the time and being a kid I didn’t notice it, I really hadn’t heard his speaking voice too much at that point. But a few years later it was obvious something was not right there. The band were fighting a lot back then so it’s not a surprise that happened.

 

Jason: Another interesting fact since the film first came out in 1978 is that while Lead Guitarist: Ace Frehley does appear in the film he also has a stunt double who appears in many of his scenes because Ace failed to show up to film many of his scenes.  does knowing this change how you overall feel about the film?

John: Again, not a shock(me). Maybe he was spending too much time on Jendel and didn’t want to come back and finish the movie! LOL! No doesn’t change my feeling about the film because again, they were all at odds then, it was a really bad time for the band.

 

Jason: I have to ask after seeing Kiss Meets The Phantom did you ever hope that there might one day be a Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park II?

John: NO!!!!!!!!!! Give me KISS PLAYS A CONCERT AT THE PARK, that would’ve been all I needed!!!

 

Jason: Several years later the Movie:  Detroit Rock City which was a movie that was not based around Kiss, but rather based around a group of Kiss fans trying to get to a Kiss Concert I have to ask what are your thoughts on Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park VS. Detroit Rock City?

John: I liked DRC, I actually went and saw it in the theater on opening night – and I was basically alone! I was shocked more people didn’t see it/like it. I could relate to a lot of what those kids went through because after Alive II it was tough being a KISS fan. The movie, the solo albums, then the 3 clunker albums. that stretch between 1978-1981 was really rough. I really liked DRC, I thought it was funny.

 

Jason: John it was recently announced that in 2019 Kiss will launch another world tour which might end up being “The Real” Farewell tour.  As a Kiss fan what are your thoughts on this?

John: Well, I was mentally prepared for the original farewell tour. Nothing lasts forever right? What’s the old sports adage — Father Time is undefeated. So if this is really the end for Gene and Paul then so be it. It’s been an amazing run for all of us fans. If you would’ve told me when I was 12 years old listening to DESTROYER for the first time that I would still be able to go see a KISS concert 40 + years later I wouldn’t have believed you. We get spoiled, they have been apart of our lives for so long we take it for granted. For all of us KISS fanatics it’s not going to be easy but we have to realize that the day is coming. That’s life. We can’t thank them enough and we never want them to go, but we also have to respect their decision and just  say THANK YOU for all the years of rock n roll!!!!

 

Jason: In addition to KICKASS FOREVER do you have any other projects you’re currently involved with that you’d like to tell our readers about?

John: No not really. The web site does take up time, it hasn’t been easy. Working a full time job and currently coordinating a move to another State has been challenging, so there isn’t much time for more. Like I did mention earlier there might be some kind of action with THE DEAD END KIDZ but for now, it is all about KICKASS FOREVER!!! Thanks again to you Jason for reaching out to me and giving me this forum to share my love of hard rock, metal and of course KISS! Metal To Infinity staff and readers, thanks so much for all the support!!!!!!!!!

Jason: THANKS SO MUCH JOHN!