Kix 1989 interview
While rooting around in the garage this Father’s Day looking for old photos and feeling nostalgic, I ran across a copy of the magazine I first cut my teeth on; The Informant. It was 25 years ago that my mentor Andy Hernandez gave me my first article to write, and here I am a quarter century later, still plugging away. Among the back issues I unearthed my very first interview from March 1989 with Kix frontman Steve Whiteman.
For those that recall, 1989 was the year the highly under-recognized band from Baltimore finally get a bit of notoriety on the strength of its fourth album, “Blow My Fuse“. At the time, The Informant was strictly a local rag, catering to what was then a huge scene, but somehow I wrangled a national act and I was like a kid in the proverbial candy store hell-bent on taking the mag to Creem proportions…or at least Hit Parader. Kix had been on the road with Ratt and Britny Fox when they broke off for a headline gig in the Bay Area.
I have since interviewed more than 1000 artists, and people often ask me why I never seem nervous, and I attribute much of that to Steve Whiteman. From the moment I stepped onto the Kix tour bus outside The Omni in Oakland, California; tape recorder and a list of weak questions in hand, he made me feel like I belonged. He reminded me that we’re all just regular people regardless of what we do.
Kix is finally in the studio recording a new album, but let us take a jump back nearly a quarter century as I talk to Steve during the band’s heyday.
You guys have been on the road for almost a year now, right?
“About 10 years! (laughs) Seriously, 10 years, but since the album came out in September, we haven’t been home.”
You are currently on tour with Ratt and Britny Fox. What are they like on the road?
“They’re great! They’re friendly as hell. Every night we stay at a town and we all get together and drink like mad men. Everybody on the tour is really cool. I was impressed because I didn’t know what to expect, never having done an extensive arena tour. I didn’t know what it would be like dealing with the people that have been doing it for quite a while, but the first day Stephen [Pearcy], Robbin [Crosby] and Bobby [Blotzer] all came into the dressing room and said ‘We’re glad to have you on board. We’re fans,’ and that kind of thing. They would always come into our dressing room and then tear it up and leave.” (laughs)
“Yeah, that’s what they’re supposed to do. They screw around with the openers. The guys in Britny Fox are cool too. Really nice guys.”
How do you feel about headlining a club as opposed to opening in an arena?
“I’d much rather be opening on the arena tour. We’ve been playing clubs for 10 years and the chance to get out of them and into the real world of rock n’ roll and play in front of eight to ten thousand people a night is a trip. Tonight will be fun because we haven’t done it for two months, but I don’t want to have to return to clubs for a living anymore. (laughs) I’ve had enough.”
In a club you get a chance to do some of the older material because of the extra time.
“Yeah. We went from doing a 90 minute show to 30 minutes. That’s all we have on this slot. But it doesn’t matter cause you go out and rock those people for half an hour and you give it all you’ve got, and they’re gonna remember that. The record is still selling really well because of this tour.”
What’s the next video from “Blow My Fuse“?
“We’re going to Los Angeles tomorrow to start shooting ‘Get It While It’s Hot’. We want to hold ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’. We feel we haven’t established what kind of energy the band portrays on stage. We want to make sure that’s established and then do ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’.”
Donnie Purnell wrote “Don’t Close Your Eyes” with Bob Halligan. That’s an interesting song.
“Yeah, it’s a good song because it’s telling people ‘don’t do it,’ as opposed to kids getting the message: ‘I can’t go on like this so I’ll just kill myself.’ It’s saying don’t do it, there’s a lot to live for.”
You co-wote a couple of the tracks on the album; “Piece of the Pie” and…
“‘Red Lite, Green Lite’… We worked on them down in Los Angeles. Donnie and I went there to do some writing. It’s fun to write with other people because we’re on our fourth album and we wanted to, not change, but have different ideas come in. It worked because it’s still Kix music, but it has a twist in it here and there because of someone else’s idea.”
There was a healthy gap between “Midnite Dynamite” and “Blow My Fuse“. Is there a reason?
“We toured non-stop after ‘Midnite Dynamite‘ for two and a half years and in the meantime we were looking for management. We were also waiting for Tom Werman to get done producing Ted [Nugent], Motley Crue, and Poison. That’s the reason for the big slag between records. This is actually the most successful album we’ve ever had. It’s not like there were masses of people out there waiting for the fourth Kix album. So we knew we could take our time with it and make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle were put together right this time.”
Kix is notorious as a great live band and you’ve got classic rock anthem songs. Why does everybody seem to overlook you?
“Well up until this album you never read about us in Hit Parader, Circus, or any of the rock rags. You never saw us on MTV unless you were up until five in the morning, and you never heard us on the radio. So not being in the public ear or eye unless I were to come knock on your door and say ‘Hi, I’m Steve Whiteman. We’re the band and we’re gonna play on the hood of your car… Do you wanna come out and watch? But we don’t have time to do that. There has been a lack of exposure and lack of airplay. Serious lack!”
Are you working on material for the next album?
“A little bit. We’ve laid down some riffs, bu we’re on the road until June probably. Once we get off the road we’ll put the new songs together.”
Who are your musical influences?
“That’s easy; Aerosmtih, AC/DC, The Stones and Led Zeppelin. I loved Kiss and Alice Cooper, and I loved Grand Funk Railroad when I was a toddler.”
I noticed you play harmonica.
“Yeah, I really like that. Now the guy in Britny Fox is learning to play and I taught Mickey Finn [Jet Boy] how to play. I like it. It’s a new twist.”
Last question: Is 1989 the year for Kix?
“I think so. I think the record company is determined to break us on this album. They feel they’ve got a good product to work with and we’re more than willing to work as hard as we have to, and do whatever we have to do.”
Steve was correct, though the high was short-lived. Grunge arrived shortly thereafter and decimated the genre. Still the band never quit or gave up, and a quarter century later, they are set to return with what will no doubt be another fantastic album.
You can check out our 2013 interview with Steve here.