Steve Whiteman Q&A
Kix has long been a quiet phenomenon. Maryland heroes and loved by hundreds of thousands worldwide, yet tragically overlooked by much of the mainstream masses. The Kix sound is a feel good mash-up of bands like Aerosmith and AC/DC, with no shortage of tongue-in-cheek humor from frontman, Steve Whiteman.
This September the band released its first ever live CD/DVD set, Live in Baltimore. Featuring tracks from all but its final pre-hiatus studio album, Live In Baltimore captures the rawness and energy of every Kix show. This week, Metalholic sat down with Whiteman to talk about the recording, a potential new studio album, his connection to Halestorm, and where he stands politically heading into the November election.
The band was founded as early as 1977, but did not become Kix until 1980, releasing its debut self-titled album in 1981. It would be the band’s 1988 release, Blow My Fuse which brought a wider spread fame for the quintet which saw them finally playing on arena tours and finding heavy rotation om MTV.
Whiteman joined the band in 1978 when it was still called, The Shooze. Steve holds a special place in my heart as the first real interview I ever did, some 25 years ago. So it was a pleasure to catch up with him after all this time.
The most important topic of the day was the band’s new CD/DVD, Live in Baltimore which the band recorded at Rams Head:
“That room has turned into our new Baltimore Hammerjack’s. It was like the club on the east coast for a while and we were like the house band. So when they tore that down to make the Ravens parking lot, the next natural segue was Rams Head: Big beautiful room, state of the art production, nice big stage, holds a couple thousand people, so it worked perfectly. So when we decided to shoot the DVD there, we had no idea how it was going to turn out, but the guys were professional and great at what they were doing and they blew us away with their efforts. It was too good to let just go by the wayside, so we worked diligently to get this thing out to the people.”
Live In Baltimore showcases Kix at their best; live, raw and in the moment. No overdubs and fancy production, just the way it should be.
“That’s the only way I felt it should have been done,” agreed Whiteman. “Anyone can go in and polish a turd and make it shine. If we had areas of the show where we weren’t perfect or bad vocal notes, so be it. That’s what you get during a live show.”
Whiteman has always had a distinctive voice and has taken his gift and worked as a vocal trainer over the years. One of those students was a young Lzzy Hale of Halestorm whose powerful vocals are the driving force behind her band’s music. Steve shared how he came to work with her:
“Yeah, Lzzy came to me when she was about 13 or 14 years old and I was teaching vocal training up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She came around with her mom and dad, and they had already determined they were going to be in music. So, I started working with Lzzy for about a year and she had all the tools, she had all stuff. She just didn’t quite know how to put the power behind it and how to protect herself, and things like that. And that’s what we worked on together and it really paid off because she’s amazing.”
It has now been 17 years since the last Kix studio album, and Whiteman talked about the rumor that they might record a new one for Frontiers records:
“That was a the bug in the ear deal. [Frontiers] wanted to get on board with this DVD, and they also are really pushing for a new Kix studio album. My band, Funny Money was just in the process of preparing for a new CD, so we kind of held off so we could have some material lying around. Our bass player, mark has been writing, Brian Forsythe has been writing, so we’ve got a lot of material we’re going through right now. We want to make sure that it’s going to be worthy of what Kix fans would expect. So if we can come up with 10-12 strong tunes, we’ll try and get something out next year.”
Former bassist, Donnie Purnell, who is the only member not still in the band, was the creative songwriting force in Kix, along with songwriters Taylor Rhodes and Bob Halligan. I asked Whiteman how that would change the dynamic of making anew Kix record:
“Even though Donnie was the main songwriter, we all still wrote. But his stuff was just strong. And he was the leader of the band, and the controller of the band, so getting songs past him was quite a chore. And we were always proud of the records that we made with his music on them. Since leaving Kix in 95, having that freedom to write showed that all of us could actually write, we just weren’t given the opportunity. And we’re trying to get Taylor Rhodes involved in this because Taylor was a producer on the Hotwire album. I think it’s important to have somebody that worked with the sound, worked with the band, that would have an outside opinion of what he feels would make a strong Kix album.”
Catch our full interview with Steve Whiteman below and get your eyes and ears on Kix– Live in Baltimore.