Written By: TIFFANY MITCHELL
I have rewritten this sentence a million times. I still can’t find the words to explain the sheer excitement I felt when Shockwave Magazine shared a few moments speaking with Mark Schenker and Brian Forsythe, of the one and only band, Kix. It still feels unreal to me when I think about it. Mark and Brian were just the coolest, chillest guys you could ever meet. Talking with them about their new album and how they have seemed to stay on top no matter how much time has passed, made me realize that passion for what you love is what fuels your success. These guys, this band, called Kix, are freakin’ timeless.
Shockwave Magazine: This is Tiffany and Tom with Shockwave Magazine. I have Kix here. Introduce yourselves please.
Mark Schenker: Hi, It’s Mark from Kix.
Brian Forsythe: And its Brian.
Mark: Brian is hiding in a soda can.
Tiffany: How has everything been going? How is the tour?
Mark: Are we on tour?
Tiffany: Yeah, well I consider it a tour.
Brian: Well, it’s pretty much nonstop. It never stops.
Mark: Yeah we play somewhere different, pretty much every weekend, and this is our last week, and then we’re off for like a month.
Brian: So it does stop. Sorry I lied.
Mark: Yeah, for like a whole month, hopefully.
Brian: I have Rhino Bucket next week so…
Mark to Brian: Oh, so you have to play the Lucky Strike thing.
Tom: You guys start off 2017 up at the Chameleon Club for two nights?
Mark: So yeah, and then we do The Monsters of Rock Cruise out of Tampa in the first week of February.
Tom: So you get to enjoy the sea for 7 days.
Mark: Well actually, it’s kind of weird. It’s like they block out seven days, and you spend a whole day on the boat, like getting on the boat, and spend a whole day getting off the boat. So it’s really only five days. So they tell you, you get to be on vacation for a whole week. No, two days really suck and the rest of it is cool.
Tom: You know it could be worse. From what I hear all the cruise ships that come out of Baltimore, in the first 24 hours of the trip, is really just getting out of the Chesapeake Bay.
Mark: Oh yeah, it takes forever. Your 9800 miles north of here, and you’re going ten miles an hour. So it takes a considerable amount of time.
Tom: You get to see Maryland and Virginia for the first day and the last day.
Mark: Yeah, you’re on both sides of the big mud puddle.
Tiffany: How does it feel to play back in Baltimore?
Brian: It always feels good. I mean, this is always like the highlight shows. We do this in September too. Two shows every year, you know it’s guaranteed pretty much a sellout crowd.
Mark: All our friends come out and our families are able to come out. Yeah, so it’s like hometown shows make it easy for our friends to come out and see us.
Brian: The crowd is always awesome.
Tom: So I saw in the documentary video that they interviewed Kevin Butler from Hammerjacks. You guys pretty stoked about Hammerjacks opening up next year?
Mark: Yeah, I mean he’s been working on it a long time. I am really impressed with his fortitude to just keep plugging away and getting it done. I mean he’s had several locations, and he’s been working on it forever, and you know most people would have given up by now. It looks like he’s finally got everything in place and it’s finally going to happen. So even if he has another delay, it wouldn’t surprise me if he just was like, well I’ll figure out another way to do it. But yeah, I know a couple of people who are involved, and on the project I’m working on with him, and it seems to be going really well, and a lot of people are looking forward to it.
Tom: I know we are. I moved up here in ’88, right at the height of everything, and after its demise it was kind of sad because it was kind of the focal point until Rams Head came along.
Tiffany: So it’s been almost 20 since you guys put out an album. Why now? Why decide to put out something now?
Brian: Well, when we first got back together in 2003, it was sort of just to do some gigs and have some fun. We never realized it was going to take off like this again, and once it got up and running, we were doing like the Rocklahoma stuff, and people started asking us if we were going to do another record. At first it was like nah, you know, we don’t want to complicate things. But the longer it went, the more we started thinking about it. Mark can probably explain it better, but sort of, that Live In Baltimore dvd …
Mark: Yeah we had a contractual obligation, which was the only way we could get the Live In Baltimore dvd released, was through another record company. They said well, if we do this, we want you to do a studio album, and we thought, okay, we’ll do it. Not really knowing if we would or not, and what are we going to do if we don’t do it. So as it turns out, we had the mindset that we were going to do it as a result of putting out the Live In Baltimore dvd. We were like, we can do it. So we ended up signing with Loud & Proud, before the record came out, well sort of while we were working on the record I guess. So we got involved with Loud & Proud, and Kix had put out Show Business through the president of Loud & Proud. Tom Lipski had another record label back in the day called CMC records, and Kix put out Show Business on that label. I was signed with Tom Lipski in a management deal, and he had always told me, hey, keep me posted in what you do. He was with Roadrunner for a while, and our G.M. Madelyn Scarpulla was with Roadrunner, and she had actually co-managed Kix at one point. So it’s a very incestuous relationship we have with Loud & Proud. So it was easy for us get involved with Loud & Proud and put the record out through them. To have somebody that we trusted, and that we knew, was going to work as hard as we worked on the record. Some other labels that are out there are putting out records from bands from our genre, and they just sort of put them out. The other label was like that. Just put it out there and pump it for a month, and then that is the end of the story. But you know with Loud & Proud, we’ve had an extremely long tail on both of our products. We just put out a new documentary dvd, and so the promo is a lot more intense than it was with the last label, and some of the other labels that are putting out, like I said, bands from our era. So we’re really happy about it. We’re happy to do these kind of interviews, and there was a really good positive avenue to put the record out in, and people we knew were involved in it, and people that we trusted were involved in it, on the label side. So trust is a big deal for us. So that’s how it sort of came about.
Tiffany: You guys all contributed and wrote for the album.
Mark: Sure we did. Yeah, we really we never talked about it ahead of time, that it was going to happen. It was like, everybody put in songs. Brian had somehow, by some magic, got Taylor Rhodes involved. Taylor had produced Hot Wire and wrote a bunch of songs on Blow My Fuse. I think he wrote one or two songs on Show Business, maybe a couple, anyways. Taylor was very involved in what the sound of Kix is. So right when Brian got him involved, we had a big pile of songs and Taylor was able to sort through it like, no, no, yes and so that’s kind of how we started it. I don’t know if it would have been quite as easy if Taylor wasn’t involved. Taylor made it very easy to stay on track and not get sidetracked. At times he’s very focused, other times he’s not.
Tiffany: Why did you decide to do a dvd/cd combo? Why add the documentary?
Mark: That’s actually our G.M. at the label, Madelyn’s fault. We don’t want to say fault. We like to say idea, it was her brilliant idea. So my idea was just to put out the dvd, and I had been chasing after out G.M. Madelyn for a long time, trying to get her to watch this footage. She would say OK, I’ll watch it this week. Then two weeks later, I would ask her if she watched it, and she would say, Oh, I forgot, I was watching the pigeons in Central Park. So finally she watched it and she sent me an email, and she was like, hey, I think this can really be something. I’m like, yeah no duh, that’s what I’ve been telling you. Madelyn says, let’s do something with this, it will be great. She got all pumped up, and sort of energized the whole project, and was like, but we can’t just put out a dvd. We have to put something else in there to make it more attractive. She said, let’s do a live cd. I’m like, no, I don’t want to do that. So she has a way of tabling things that make things look very, very attractive. So by the end of many conversations we had about it, I was pumped up and thought a live cd will be kick ass. We could do most of the songs on Rock Your Face Off. Then I brought it to the band, and they were all like, oh no, not another live cd. But you know, it’s really sort of just like a bonus thing with the documentary dvd, and it’s not the primary focus. So it’s kind of neat plus for the fans to hear half of the songs off the Rock Your Face Off, on a current, live cd. So we had Brad Divens, who was in Wrathchild America, who was in Kix for the “Cool Kids” album. He’s actually the mixer on the record, so there’s a big Kix tie in there. Brad really enjoyed mixing the record and he did a fantastic job with it. It’s a great sounding live record, we’re really proud of it, and we’re glad that Brad got involved in it and made it really a worthwhile project, for sure.
Tiffany: The album debuted at #1 on Amazon’s “Hard Rock and Metal” chart, in the Top 50 on Billboard’s “Top 200 Albums” chart, #5 on the “Independent Albums” chart, #11 on the “Top Internet” chart, #17 on the “Top Rock Albums” chart, #27 on the “Indy/Small Chain Core Stores” chart and #33 on the “Physical” chart. That’s like, woah!
Mark: Yeah, not bad at all. We had no idea, we didn’t expect it. Yeah that was Rock Your Face Off. Yeah we also hit number one on the Billboard Chart. It debuted at number three and then it went to number one. Then who came out? Motley came out with a dvd, and cleared the table. We haven’t hit too many foul balls lately. So, like I was saying earlier, it’s not just us; we have a good record label who cares about the things that they put out, and they have ways of helping you be successful. So it has a lot to do with the fans, because the fans actually put the money out for the product. It really helps to have a label that cares about the material that they put out, and knows how to get it into the right places where our fans will see it and notice it. Even people who are fans of other bands, we get sort of a cross-pollination there. And it’s good to have people who you don’t have to worry about that aspect of your creative output. You just create the stuff and hopefully it gets into the right hands, and it does, it’s happened twice now. So you know it’s a pretty good batting average. But yeah, now watch number three will be a big bomb.
Tiffany to Brian: How did you get the nickname “Damage?”
Brian: I actually got that name during the “Midnight Dynamite” recording.
Mark: Beau Hill right?
Mark: Yeah, Beau kind of coined that. I would show up to the studio with a really bad hangover. So I would be laying on the couch in front of the mixing console. So Beau’s nickname for me then was “Brain” but, with the letters I and the A reversed. So he would call me Brain anyway. And then one day I’m lying there moaning and groaning on that couch, and he goes, we should just call you “brain damage.”
Mark: So every time I still see Beau, to this day, he says, how’s Brain Damage doing? And then he laughs.
Tiffany to Mark: You need a nickname now.
Mark: I don’t know, I think I have one, but they won’t tell me what it is.
Brian: Yes we do, it’s Markipedia.
Tiffany: You heard that first here guys, it’s Markipedia.
Tom: I guess there was a comment on the DVD about the sales for the current songs, and the difference between, back in the 80’s when you strived for 200 to 300,000 in sales and gold records, and now it’s a totally different world. How do you gauge your success, as far as, we’re doing well? Is it a packed house here in Baltimore?
Mark: Well, we have always had packed houses before we put anything out, so that’s really sort of a non-factor, I think that, you know, everything scales. So if you’re selling 200 or 300,000 back in the day, you know that the scale is just less, so it’s not like we’re selling 2,000 and Motley Crew is still selling 500,000. It’s not like that, so everybody’s numbers went down the same amount. So you’re still in the same race. People are still running just as fast, so it’s all relative. It’s relative in the music business today. If you really look at things, and you’re a numbers person, you want to look at the number of sales that are out there. What we did with Rock Your Face Off and with the dvd, is equivalent to even more sales back in the 80’s, you know the late 80’s to early 90’s, when people did still buy physical products. I don’t really think it’s that much different. The audience is pretty much the same.
Brian: It’s more of a mental attitude.
Mark: It does help your mental attitude that’s for sure. I think that it scales really well. It’s still a good measure of how well you’re doing, within the people who give a shit about your band.
Tiffany: Plugs. Gotta give your plugs.
Mark: So to pick up your signed copy of Rock Your Face Off, go online to www.newburycomics.com and pick up a copy of Rock Your Face Off , that has a signed post card in it. It’s colored on both sides, signed by everybody in the band, and you can go to www.newburycomics.com to buy an unsigned version of Rock Your Face off as well. You can also pick up a copy of Rock Your Face Off at Best Buy and a lot of retail outlets that are carrying it. And you can obviously get it on Amazon. Amazon has both products, the brand new dvd, Can’t Stop The Show-The Return of Kix, and we’re looking to get it on Netflix soon aren’t we? (speaking to Madelyn)
Madelyn: So it’s been pitched, we’re trying.
Mark: Check our website www.kix.band/tour for our latest tour dates, check us out on Instagram:@kixband and Twitter is@ and Facebook is/OfficialKIX. Oh, and follow me and Brian on Instagram: forsythe.brian and I’m @markschenker.
Tiffany: Ok guys, you heard that here, so go follow them.
You can hear the name Kix spoken in conversation to this day, whether you’re singing along to “Don’t Close Your Eyes” on 97 Underground, seeing an announcement of them playing a gig near you, or that guy/gal that walked past you wearing a Kix t-shirt. Kix will be a name that will live on forever and be known to every generation, past and present.