2017-08-01 / Features

Interview with LOVE GUN: KISS TRIBUTE BAND ON STAGE

By Kristina Wright

KISS is a band that everyone has had some interaction with in their lifetime. I mean, who doesn’t want to “Rock and Roll All Nite” in “Detroit Rock City”? Who doesn’t have “Great Expectations” when they are “Calling Dr. Love”?

Love Gun: KISS Tribute Band is a fantastic quadruplet who believes in all that is KISS. Members decided to show their support by carrying on the legacy the only way they know how, in performing the art of show business. Members are Paul “Frehley,” James “Simmons.” Russ “Stanley” and Junior “Chris.”

We had a moment to sit down with the guys before their show in Milton at the Historic Imogene Theatre on June 22.

“So, let’s start off by asking, why KISS? What inspired you to pay homage to this band?

Paul Frehley: “Because everyone is happy to see KISS arrive. What other band can you choose that has explosions, pyrotechnics, fire? If you’re going to do a band, KISS is the one to do, because you can go all the way.”

James Simmons: “It had to be KISS. Kiss was my Beatles. They were the reason I got into music in the first place. I loved the music, the show, the whole spectacle. They’ve been my favorite band since 5 years old. Many probably thought I would outgrow it, but if anything, it’s gotten worse. The love of KISS has grown over the years and not weakened. What better way to experience a KISS show, than put on a KISS show? As fans, it’s a dream come true. Not only do we get to participate, but we get to put the show on.”

Russ Stanley: “I’m a lifelong KISS fan, so there’s no other band in the world that I would invest this type of time and energy into, and it’s very rewarding. We do it in a small part for ourselves, but also for all the fans. It’s so rewarding to see them have a good time seeing KISS. Up close and personal in the front row, catching Love Gun guitar picks. That’s what it’s all about.”

Junior Chris: “This is the ultimate show. Everybody had a preconceived notion of KISS, with the costume and the make-up, and they know the songs. The truth is, they show up for gigs. You play in bands, and most of the time you’re playing to tables and chairs. You dress up like KISS, people show up.”

“What was your inspiration for choosing your instrument, and how old were you when you picked it up?”

Paul Frehley: “My first loves were Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin. I knew that when I was 14 years old, I was going to have to be involved in music, in bands, playing rock. I got my degree in Classical Guitar, just so I could rock harder. I first go into KISS thanks to these guys. They were looking for a new Frehley. I said “Do you play in front of crowds? Do I get to dress up, have fun, have people go nuts?” They said, ‘Yeah.’ I said,’ I’m in. I’ll learn any song you want me to do.’ They said, ‘Great. You’re our Ace.’ I started learning the material, getting into the catalogue and realizing how great this band really is.”

James Simmons: “My biggest influence was definitely KISS, but I was also heavily into Black Sabbath, Quiet Riot, ’70s and ’80s hard rock and metal. Strangely enough, also into New Wave. The Cure, The Church. I’m a huge Flock of Seagulls fan. But I always returned to KISS. I was 10 years old when I picked up the guitar, but as a kid I would always catch myself playing the bass parts. About eight years ago, I saw Russ put out the ad looking for a Gene, and I thought “I have to do this.” I was lucky, I made it.

Russ Stanley: “I kind of went down a different path. I always thought being in a band and playing an instrument would be way too hard. I first became a KISS fan in 1975, so I’m the oldest here. When I heard “Alive,” it was a game changer. I waited a long time before I started picking up a guitar. Forming a KISS tribute band and being on stage with these guys has been a dream come true.

Junior Chris: “Well, I started playing drums in high school in the marching band around 1980 when MTV kicked off. I got turned onto Van Halen and Motley Crue and Iron Maiden. KISS was just that band from the ’70s. I never paid attention. Ironically, the bands that I was listening to were heavily influenced by KISS. About three years ago, I answered a Craigslist ad for a KISS tribute band, and I thought “That could be fun.” I really didn’t think I was going to get it, that there was a way bigger KISS fan out there. Now,look at me. It’s been good. Our schedule is good, we’re all professionals, we all have day gigs. These guys are great. We’re having fun, and there are a lot of parallels. We have a show in Milton on the 22nd of July and then a cruise in New Orleans coming up. There’s something for everyone; bring the kids.”

These guys have the stage props, pyrotechnics, fire-breathing big hair, make-up and Russ even breaks a guitar every show! Junior hands out roses to all the ladies, as well.

If you’re in the New Orleans area in the fall, check out the KISS Kruise VII Pre-Sail Party at the Howlin’ Wolf on Saturday, Nov 4.

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