Review: KIX – 'Can’t Stop The Show: The Return Of KIX'

When platinum selling American hard rock outfit Kix decided to record their first album in close to 20 years, they chose to record the sessions for posterity, as well as the thought process that went into a “nostalgia” band making a new album. Along with interviews with the band members and industry players, there is also a healthy smattering of fellow musicians waxing lyrical about the boys from Maryland, all wrapped up in a bundle that also includes a live CD. This is fascinating. Not only is it an insight into how an album makes it from the studio into people’s hands, but also what a band that previously sold copious amounts of units makes of the current state of affairs within the music business. ‘Rock Your Face Off’ was released in 2014, and recorded in bassist Mark Schenker’s studio, instead of getting “heavily into debt” as vocalist Steve Whiteman describes the normal process, back in the day. Whiteman offers his opinion, saying, “It’s a hell of a lot cheaper, hell of a lot easier… and no debt”, which seems to be one of the biggest regrets bands have from the 80’s… paying back the record label for the privilege of recording their album. When asked why they were recording a new album, Whiteman is honest enough to admit, “Somebody paid us $1000 dollars to do it, so we did it!” before joking, “We’re whores… total whores!” Producer, Taylor Rhodes (who has worked with Aerosmith and Ozzy, amongst others) is hunted down by guitarist Brian Forsythe, in a vigorous example of online stalking that led to something other than a banning notice. Once he was assured that the band weren’t trying to be anything other than Kix, he was on board, Rhodes rightly showing distaste about bands trying to fit in by coming back with a new sound. Be proud of your past and the legacy left behind, don’t go changing just to be part of the new scene. “New guy”, Mark Schenker, seems to be the main protagonist in dragging the band back into the studio after decades. The cause of the hesitance being that the main songwriter, Donnie Purnell, was no longer in the band. With the songs in place, the band quickly fell back into their groove, and seemed to have a blast in the studio, especially dealing with the new technology used in the recording process. As well as the obligatory American DJs and TV hosts (of which, Eddie Trunk is the most recognisable), a few fellow musicians drop by to offer up their thoughts on the band. Nuno Bettencourt is highly complimentary, but the best insight is offered up by Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. She recalls a time when Halestorm opened up for Steve Whiteman when Kix were on hiatus, and the then 16 year old Hale speaking to the veteran for advice on warming up her voice, as she was amazed that Whiteman still sounded as powerful as ever. The net result from the conversation being that Whiteman was giving vocal lessons to students at the time, and Hale became his newest student. “We did 267 days on the road last year, and the only reason that I can still speak day after day is because of what I learned from Steve” says Hale, by way of tribute to Whiteman.
Kix were always one step ahead of so many other American rock bands coming through the ranks at the time. They didn’t want to be Van Halen, they didn’t try to match Eddie Van Halen. They played blues-based American rock ‘n’ roll. Whiteman has a gravelly voice that ‘Aerosmith-meets-AC/DC’ would be a decent description of, if you needed a starting point. The general consensus is that Kix are still standing out from other still-touring bands from the same era. The reason being that they have looked after themselves, not “fat with a bald head”, or as Rhodes says, “You see some bands, and it’s pretty sad to see. They look awful and they don’t play that great any more…” When ‘Rock Your Face Off’ was released in 2014, the album debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hard Rock and Metal Chart, as well as Top 50 in Billboard’s top 200 albums chart. Proof indeed that Kix made the correct decision in taking that $1000!. ‘Can’t Stop The Show: The Return Of KIX’ is available now through Loud & Proud records.   Review: Dave Stott

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