KIDD COMET

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

KIDD COMET

The first time I saw and read about KIDD COMET was about 9 months ago, when I received Bam Magazine from L.A. When my eyes caught Casey and Co. I was sure that this band was just my cup of tea. I contacted the band and soon received a copy of their debut EP, and a real killer it turned out to be KIDD COMET plays glam with so much power that it puts most other bands of their ilk to shame. I would compare them to early CRUE with a touch of POISON and WHITE LION thrown in for good measure. But to find out more about the KIDD COMET glam clan let’s bring in vocalist Casey Lee Michaels.
Casey, when was the band formed? Tell our readers how it all started?

“Well, in early 1988, I contacted a friend who lived in Los Angeles and ran a musician’s referral service. Ronny (North, guitar) had been playing around with some half-assed rock outfit called JADE, who seemed to have a lot of money but little else. Out of 200 prospective guitarists I chose Ronny and took his photo and bio to the band. We made the necessary phone calls, set up the meeting and exchanged tapes.”

So, who are your influences? “The band holds great respect for and is influenced by too many factors to really bother putting into words, but speaking strictly in the genre of rock music, there is definitely a common KISS bond within the group. I always thought Paul Stanley was the epitome of what a rockstar should be: a great songwriter, great vocalist, and a fantastic stage performer – not to mention that he looks and acts the part.”

How did you come up with the name KIDD COMET? “Comic books were my means of escape as I was growing up, and KIDD COMET was a character I created. Batman had his Robin, Captain America had Bucky etc, so KIDD COMET was the ultimate sidekick, except there was never a partner. The first night we met (the band) we hit it off right away and when the topic of group name came up, I offered KIDD COMET.”

You have just recorded your debut EP, could you tell us more about It? “The debut EP is called, “Kiss….Kiss….Bang! Bang!”, which includes the title track plus, “When it’s Over”’ about a psychotic’s obsession with a girl, “Ignite The Nile”’ which is about an experience I had when I first moved into Hollywood, and “Learn To Live” which offers a story line loosely based on a girlfriend of mine who moved to Hollywood to seek fame and reached a little too far.”

How would you describe your music? “It’s story board rock’n’roll, there’s no deep messages here. It’s escapism. It’s something to help take you away from the boredom of everyday life. It’s something that says ‘It’s Okay To Be You!’. That’s certainly nothing new, it is what it is, a product that gives you KIDD COMET seven days a week, every week.”

How much gigging does the band do? “We try to play out as often as possible, but at the same time you don’t want to flood the market. We’ll do the strip twice a month and concentrate on other venues, it’s a big world out there and L.A. is a very small needle in a very large haystack, an important little needle, but ultimately rock fans are everywhere!

Are you getting interest from any major labels? “Ah yes! The big LA myth. Of course we’ve had our fair share of labels offering us the dotted line, but we’re looking at the big picture – the take two steps back before you shoot picture. We’re in it for the long run, not to be someone’s tax write-off. Demo deals are not record deals, and record deals only count when you’re three records down and still selling strong with a point figure that allows the band to earn a living and not just the record company counting profits. To say the band doesn’t have the material is incorrect – we do. We’re just waiting for the right deal, we want full artistic freedom. KIDD COMET is not a ‘fad’ band. I don’t think you’ll ever see a KIDD COMET rap album!”

Well, as you can see, Casey has certainly got his head screwed on right, and he is ably supported by three talented musicians, namely Ronnie North (guitar), Mark Blaso (bass) and the recently recruited Denny Foxx (drums), and with the right breaks KIDD COMET could well be a name that’s on the tips of everyone’s tongue come the end of the year.

T.N.T.

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

T.N.T. are one of those groups that most people have heard something by, but know little about. The band’s third album “Tell No Tales” released in 1987 caused something of a stir as guitarist Ronnie Le Tekro did some extraordinary things with his Kramer guitar and vocalist Tony Harnell pitched himself almost as high as an early ‘70’s Geddy Lee.

Prior to that attention grabbing album T.N.T. had already released two albums which saw them struggling to find a style and an image that they could expand on, and live with. Formed in 1982 by Le Tekro and three other Norwegians the band recorded a self-titled debut album in their first year, before the line-up began to change and gradually resemble that of today. Bassist Morty Black joined in 1983 and the band took the bold and necessary step of recruiting an American vocalist Tony Harnell arrived in Norway just in time to contribute to the band’s second album “Knights Of The New Thunder” – which was largely instrumental in forcing T.N.T. to the very front of the Scandinavian music scene. This was their first album for Polygram, doing well not only in Norway (where it went Silver) but, also in the States.

As mentioned earlier it was the band’s third album “Tell No Tales” which really put T.N.T. on the proverbial map. Gone, by this time was the Norse Viking look that had characterised the band in their early days and in was a stylish, clear as a bell sound and look. The album spawned two hit singles “Ten Thousand Lovers (In One)” and “Everyone’s A Star” with the help of their videos introduced many new MTV fans to the band.

T.N.T’s line up was consolidated in 1988 with the addition of drummer Ken Odiin, who apart from being a long-time friend of Blacks also engineered some of the band’s earlier demos.

Now, in early 1989 T.N.T are back with an excellent new album, a settled line-up, and a desire to adopt a much higher profile. Vocalist Tony Harnell spoke to me from Phonogram’s U.S. office on a day where rain was pouring outside both our windows. “Ah, it’s real ugly outside Dave, I’m glad I’m indoors.”

Me too, So tell me about the new album. How do you think you’ve progressed from “Tell No Tales”? “Well, I think that this album is another change in the band’s career, I would even say that it is as significant a step forward as “Tell…” was from “Knights of The New Thunder”. We’ve grown in every way, musically, lyrically, and socially. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is with the vocal melodies and with the contribution that Ken has made. We’ve become much tighter now, I’m really happy about it all”

“Intuition” continues the trend that you set on your last album, that of being very positive and optimistic – which would presumably appeal to the many Christian fans out there, have you tried to cultivate that appeal? “Not really, but if we appeal to them then that’s fine. Our message is one with a general humanitarian outlook – it’s not driven at any particular religion, it’s just a basic feeling that we have about the way we like to live. We have had a lot of feedback on it though I must admit. There are a lot of subliminal messages in there, and I’m not sure how much they would be into the band if they were to study it in depth, although there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. We aren’t trying to please any particular group of people, we just feel there is enough negativity around, so if we can be positive then that’s a plus for us.”

In one sense you seem to have gone for a more ‘mainstream’ approach on this album in that there aren’t any instrumentals (there were three on the last album) yet you have included something as ‘off the wall’ as “Ordinary Lover” why? “Ha! WeII, Ronni wrote the song about a year ago and we keep joking around with it, playing it at parties and stuff. Everyone seemed to think it was a kind of novelty so we tried to reproduce that in the studio, we got Ronnie really drunk and made him sing it – it’s his lead vocal debut. We had everyone singing the backing vocals on it Me, Ken, Joe Lynn Turner, Morty, and all the crew and our friends, so you can imagine it was pretty funny.”

The Introduction “A Nation Free” is a little strange. What can you tell me about that? “It’s about the whole World. Basically what it’s saying is say your prayers tonight, which is not so much religious as just hope for the best y’know? Chase your dreams, hold your head high, it’s personal but it’s also about wanting World peace and stuff like that”.

I wondered if it was about Norway for example because other bands like STAGE DOLLS and even FATE felt that there was a close knit community there among the musicians, would you agree? “yeah, I guess there is. I know that it seems to be a bit more between the Norwegian bands because there is a bit of rivalry between bands from Sweden and those from Norway at the moment – it’s something we all try and laugh off though. I mean I know that Ronni was partying with Yngwie the other week and they have become good friends. I’d like to play some more in Sweden because they are a great untapped audience, it’s just a case of getting over there but, we will do soon.”

Talking of the band’s homeland, you excepted, did you have any intentions when you joined of continuing that Norse Viking theme? “You know that was just something that when I joined I just went along with because that was pretty much where the songs were at then. What they did was they took me up into the mountains and showed me some castles and stuff to get me into the mood! After that album though I thought it had run its course and I wanted to move towards writing about more real life issues. When I say that I must add that I don’t like bands that write about reality, but dwell on the negative stuff, to me that’s harmful – whether you’re singing or just living out that kind of attitude. So what I’ve bled to focus on is a mixture of reality and fantasy, but with an emphasis on the positive side of things…”

Having said that though, Tony, does that mean that you don’t sympathise with bands like OZZY OSBOURNE and JUDAS PRIEST who, after writing about the negative side of things have been accused of causing suicides etc? “No. My feeling is that everybody has a good head on their shoulders (with a few exceptions), and I think we all agree on this, that whether they were listening to PRIEST or to God, then I think those people would have done what they did irrespective of what they were listening to – maybe those people just needed an excuse to snap, and that was a convenient one.”

We mentioned image before, in terms of the band’s old look, so what are you trying to emphasise nowadays? “I think we’re just trying to be ourselves – I think that is the most important thing. We’re trying to let our fans see that we’re a real band who write about real issues. We still feel that we’re a new rock n’ roll band because although we have had some success there’s still a lot of people that haven’t seen or even heard of us.

“At our shows we seem to attract a good cross-section of fans – women, rockers, you know the sort. Sometimes I think that the real heavy fans shy away from us – but to do that they have obviously never seen us live. I mean when people like that do take the time to listen to us I know that they get turned onto it ‘cos it is heavy, and it’s intense.”

What was it like working with Joe Lynn Turner then? “It was unbelievable. I mean I’ve admired him for years – when I was in a band playing cover versions in Philly and New York I used to sing all his RAINBOW stuff, I’ve just been a fan of his since I was about nineteen years old I guess. Just to stand next to him and sing all the harmonies with him it was amazing. He taught me so much about how to best do the backing vocals. I’d done them all on the previous two albums, and I thought they were O.K. but I really wanted some more. He showed me a lot of new harmonies, and how to do them a lot quicker. He’s just like a machine, he’ll find the melody then he’ll just do it, he is brilliant. He has such a rich voice, and I think that the bottom end harmonies this time are much fuller thanks to him.”

What made you choose to work with Bjorn Nessjoe again? “Erm, ‘cos he’s good! Ha! Seriously though he just seems to get a sound that just fits us – we’re not looking to sound like all the other bands out there. We don’t sit back and say let’s sell eight million records next time, go get Bruce Fairbairn and Desmond Child y’know? It’s O.K. if one or two bands do it but now that everyone’s having a go there’s soon not gonna be a lot of difference between them all. As a band we all felt that we wanted to keep our own identity, and I think with Bjorn we can do that”

Would you agree that your live profile has been pretty low, and are you going to change that? “Yeah, we are gonna try and change that with this album. We’ve had some real bad luck with some of the tours that we were gonna do, or were doing y’know. Our goal now is to play as much as possible – on the last two albums we were taken off the road before we really wanted to come off. We are a good live band, but that is something that people will just have to accept for now, until they get chance to see us. We’re looking at three options right now as to when and where we’ll be touring. One of the options is to open for a big band in the States, which is the record Company’s intention with this album. But, the band are mostly European and so we all want to do another European tour, and I especially want to do more British dates than the Marquee slot we did last time.”

O.K. then Tony, does your “Intuition” tell you that this is going to be the album that’s gonna ‘make It’ for you, or do you foresee another one first? “My intuition tells me that this is the one, I’m not gonna jinx it though, so I have to say that it feels very good, that the record company are giving one hundred percent – it’s kinda frustrating because In the past we’ve always done what was expected of us, then fallen foul to outside forces or something. This time though I think we’ll be able to see it through, we’ll play all the shows we need to play, and really give it all we’ve got. We’ve some great plans to do some ‘proper’ videos this time and we’re all really excited about it all.”

Well, there you have it, if you’ve never heard T.N.T. do yourself a favour and grab a copy of “Intuition” – it can’t be wrong after all.

NO EXCUSE

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

NO EXCUSE


Out of all the female fronted rock bands populating this Earth, and there’s ahealthy plethora of ‘em, Britain hasn’t really managed to make much of a mark. Following the aggressive and totally unjustified vilification of once proud acts such as GIRLSCHOOL and ROCK GODDESS (and don’t forget both of these bands reached their peak by headlining Hammersmith Odeon) Britain has been totally unable to respond to a market thoroughly ignored. Seems to be that if your band just so happens to be led by a member of the fairer sex then kiss goodbye to success, the obvious preoccupation press-wise for the singer becoming doubly exaggerated and thus doubly lethal for the band in question. The rock press has never truly taken female fronted acts seriously.
NO EXCUSE are a London based band with a female singer – one Sue Hunt. The remainder comprising of drummer Andy Lloyd, bassist Alex Poray and lead guitarist Richard Scott.

NO EXCUSE came my way via an impressively packaged demo, far superior to the run of the mill shoddy efforts I generally receive from British acts. No sellotape encrusted second hand brown envelope, no photocopy or Polaroid out of focus snap either. Truth be told, it made a pleasant change to obtain something that had had a bit of thought and care put into it.

For a band with only a handful of club dates to their credit NO EXCUSE have achieved a great deal. They feature on two New Renaissance compilation albums, namely “Guitar Mania” and “Ladykillers 2”.

The band’s sound is difficult to define, there are marked VAN HALEN leanings which I pointed out in the demo review, but this doesn’t distract in any way from the remarkable power and maturity of their material. Guitarist Richard Scott is an extremely accomplished and adept player who utilizes Jazz chops and even a dash of Hendrix, anything to make that NO EXCUSE sound ‘different’.

It wasn’t too long ago that NO EXCUSE nearly lost their guitarist when SABBAT ‘borrowed’ Richard for their UK tour, and were subsequently so impressed they tried to half-inch the man. I asked Sue how that situation developed.

“SABBAT’s producer Roy Roland had worked with Richard for quite some time,” she told me. “And when SABBAT decided they needed another guitarist for live work to reproduce the album properly onstage, Roy immediately suggested Richard to them. NO EXCUSE weren’t really doing much at that particular time, so we had a band meeting and decided It would be OK. Richard had a great time on tour and SABBAT made it obvious they were very impressed with his playing. In fact, they were so impressed that at the end of the tour they asked him to join on a full time basis.”

Were the band worried about losing Richard at that juncture? “Not really,” Sue admits with confidence. “Richard felt he had to decline the offer immediately opting to stick with NO EXCUSE. Joining SABBAT would obviously have been a big boost to Richard’s career in the short term, but we’re all convinced NO EXCUSE will make it, so in the long run it’s better to stick with this band. We’re all totally committed to NO EXCUSE. Everyone has put so much hard work into this band it would be just silly to waste it. Also, when the SABBAT offer came, NO EXCUSE were starting to generate some interest Obviously it was very flattering for Richard, but he said ‘No thanks’ straight away.”

The band’s biography claims Sue only recently discovered she could sing. Listening to the tape makes that rather hard to believe, as Sue is in possession of a rich and magnificently powerful voice which belies the biogs assertion that it is only a newly found talent. Is it true? “Well, I have had a few vocal training lessons,” Sue admits a bit sheepishly before adding that, “they were only because people had pointed out that I wasn’t using my voice properly. I thought about it and realised it would be stupid to ruin my voice even before I’d started sol got a few lessons in which were invaluable. I’d advise elf budding vocalists to sort some lessons or some kind of training out, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later on! It’s really basic stuff like breathing control and posture, but it’s so important”

When did Sue find out she could sing? “When I lived up North I would go along to see a local band rehearse and they asked me to have a go at singing for them. I’d never really sang before, but after one song I really got into it. ft didn’t take too long for me to decide that I’d like to make a profession out of it.”

How would Sue describe NO EXCUSE’s music? “Well, we didn’t have thoughts about how it would turn out, although it was obvious that with Richard’s style of playing it wouldn’t be regular rock music, I can see what you mean about the VAN HALEN comparison. It’s more in that mould of experimental rock. We just try to write good songs with a good catchy chorus. Having said that though we’ve no intentions of sounding American in anyway. I’m glad that we’ve got a musical identity, everyone who’s heard us says that we’re not a regular rock band.”

What about the age old maxim that a female fronted rock band just isn’t
going to make it big time? “Well, this is a band first and foremost” Sue states resolutely. “NO EXCUSE is not ‘The Sue Hunt Band’. I think there have been a few bands recently who have used a girl singer to get them some press, but it always backfired. Having said that there have been some good bands like NIKKI BROOKS and WILD! That’s one of the reasons I asked you to use a band shot as opposed to a single shot of me for this interview. NO EXCUSE is a band with equal members.”

How’s it going on the gig scene? “We’re getting our hands on as many gigs as we can in London and we hope to branch out further into the country as soon as we can. The London club scene is pretty tight to get into unfortunately. We’ve been booked alongside pop hands and all sorts, but as long as we get the opportunity to play in front of people it doesn’t matter. We’re starting to pick up interest from record companies and we’ve had a few people down to our gigs – including KeIv Hellrazer!”

FORTUNE

METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989

FORTUNE

With an average age of 19, Boston based FORTUNE are a hard rocking sextet who look to be going places. Featuring Bob Vase (vocals), Pete DiStefano and Bill Plourde (guitars), Kevin Belanger (bass), Dave Vargas (drums) and Jeremy Heussi (keyboards), FORTUNE fall into the commercial end of the rock spectrum blending bluesy rock’n’roll with textured harmonized AOR with a pomp edge.

“The Wolf Will Survive”, which was featured on last year’s Flaid Report “Hard Hitters” CD, a promotion compilation disc that is circulated to all the album-orientated rock stations across the US, is a mixture of WHITESNAKE and STRYPER, whilst “Open Your Eyes” is more in the Y&T mould, oozing plenty of melody.

The ballad, “All I Can Do ls Dream” is pretty dreary and is by far the worst track on the four-song demo, but things are re-adjusted with “Don’t Lose Faith”, a powerful rocker similar to STRYPER but much heavier.

Definitely a band to watch, FORTUNE have already had label interest, and hopefully it won’t be too long before they get their inkings on a record contract.
BERNARD DOE