August 7th, 2014
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently conducted an interview with KIX guitarist Brian “Damage” Forsythe. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Icon Vs. Icon: KIX came out of the Baltimore music scene and had a lot of success locally as a bar band before branching out nationally. Was that transition from local scene band to national band a big transition?
Forsythe: Not really. We used to do one-off shows a lot, even in the early days, around the Baltimore/D.C. area. Occasionally, we would get thrown on to a show. I don’t even think our record was out yet in 1981 and we got thrown onto the JUDAS PRIEST/IRON MAIDEN show at the Baltimore Civic Center. We always had these opportunities to do bigger shows like that but our very first official tour was with TRIUMPH. That was different because it wasn’t our crowd. Around Baltimore, everyone knew who we were, so it was easy. We jumped on the TRIUMPH tour and our first show was in Seattle. Nobody knew who we were and it was a total mismatch. We shouldn’t have been opening for TRIUMPH. [laughs] We came out there and their crowd had no idea what to think. Of course, we went straight from the bars to that. Steve [Whiteman] is up there doing his whole “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” thing and trying to do the whole club act. We actually ended up getting booed off the stage. That was a little rough. [laughs]
Icon Vs. Icon: Obviously, KIX has been at it for a long time with great success along the way. There was a point where you had a hiatus. What brought the band back together and lit the fire on bringing some new material to life?
Forsythe: That is a good question. It was kind of a long process. When we initially got back together, it was kind of funny. You see, I live out here in Los Angeles now, and those guys are still on the East Coast. Ronnie had his band and Steve had his band. They would do shows together and at the end of the night Ronnie would get up with Steve and Jimmy and they would play a few KIX songs. It would go over really well. At one point, Steve called me and said, “Would you be interested in making a surprise appearance and jumping up on stage with us?” I remember the initial plan for the one show we were going to do didn’t work out for some reason but it got us talking. We said, “Maybe we should just put the band back together, play a few shows and see how it goes.” That is exactly what happened in 2003. Of course, it worked and it was like jumping back on the bicycle. It felt like we had never left. From there, we were just going to do the local thing to make a little bit of money and have some fun. It just kept growing! We thought it would just fizzle out after a few shows but it didn’t. A few years into it I started looking around at booking agents. We found this guy, Sullivan Bigg, at Bigg Time Entertainment. He happened to be a huge KIX fan. When I called him, he was so excited and said, “I would love to book you guys.” We let him do it. That was even slower because Steve was a little hesitant. He was a little worried about his voice and wasn’t sure if he could do it. Once we got going and tested the waters outside the Baltimore area, we found out there were people still interested and everything took off from there! People kept asking us about doing a new record and at first we didn’t think we were going to do one. We were just going to play the old stuff and have fun with it. The longer it went, we started thinking more about it. [laughs] What really got it happening was the fact we did the live DVD. Frontiers Records put that out and as part of the contract they asked us to do a new studio record. That is what got us working on it.
Icon Vs. Icon: What were your expectations or goals when it came to creating [the new KIX album] “Rock Your Face Off”?
Forsythe: It was interesting, because when we first thought about doing the record, everyone really threw in all their ideas. We had a big pile of songs. It started out with just Mark Schenker and me together weeding through all of the songs. We didn’t want to come out with something that sounded completely different from the way we used to sound. We wanted to keep it KIX-like, so we weeded through all the songs and found the ones that were closest or those we could tweak to make them sound KIX-like. That was really how it started. I think I was more concerned than anybody, so I was trying to keep everybody on direction. There is a lot of stuff that happened, musical changes, between the time we broke up and got back together. So much happened in the 1990s and early 2000s and there we a lot of new influences there. I was worried because I didn’t want to come out sounding like one of these new bands because that is not KIX. That was really the goal, keeping the spirit of KIX alive.
Icon Vs. Icon: Where do you see KIX heading in the future? Is “Rock Your Face Off” more than just a one-off?
Forsythe: That is a good question. I don’t know. I was thinking about that this morning, as a matter of fact. The way the music industry is, I don’t even know how it works anymore, as far as radio or any of that. I am sort of just in a place where I am excited to just wait and see what happens. I don’t know. Maybe we will get a tour or one of the songs might take off but do things like that even happen anymore? [laughs] I am just going to keep an open mind and whatever comes, I am open to it.
Icon Vs. Icon: Is there still musical ground you’re interested in exploring as an artist?
Forsythe: I don’t know. [laughs] It’s weird. I love country music, which is kind of weird seeing as where I come from! I have always been a big southern rock fan, as well as a country fan. The older I get, the more I appreciate it, especially the guitar players. There are some great country players. As far as being a guitar player, I would love to get more into that just to do it. It amazes me how some of these guys play. When it comes to playing, I have to admit, I am a little lazy. [laughs] Sometimes I won’t even play my guitar unless I absolutely have to, which is really bad. [laughs] It would be nice to get into something and become obsessed with it like I did when I was younger. Maybe it is the country thing! It would be a lot of fun to learn to play like that! I can sort of fake it a little here and there but it would really be nice to get into another style and pursue it.
Read the entire interview at Icon Vs. Icon.