Vinnie Vincent on the phone
By: Stig Karlsen
From: ‘Kiss Army Norway Magazine’ #3 – 1996.
On Monday the 12th of February Kiss Army Norway was treated to a phone call from Vinnie Vincent himself. He called us to tell a little about the past with Kiss and about the future plans for Vinnie Vincent. At 6.15 p.m. (CET) did the phone ring. I was informed about the call, so you might understand that I was very exited as I picked up the phone
VINNIE: Hello Stig, its Vinnie. How are you doing?
KAN.: I'm doing fine! How are you?
VINNIE: I’m fine, very very fine.
K.A.N.: It’s great to hear from you again!
VINNIE: Thank you very much. Thank you so much.
After a short informal chat, was it time to do the interview….
K.A.N.: So, should we just start with the questions?
VINNIE: Ooh yeah!
K.A.N.: It’s been a while since we have heard any news about Vinnie Vincent. What have you been doing lately?
VINNIE: Yeah! It’s been a while. Well I'm about to release a CD called “Guitarmageddon” And Its a real masterpiece I think. Its very much along the same line as my first Invasion record. It has the original invasion vocalist. I think it is the definitive guitar record, because its wild and its sexy, its over the top, and it has a lots of great songs on it. I'm really proud of the record. Its going to be released on my own record-label; Metaluna, and I will bring a four song EP with me for the conventions. So this will be the first time that the fans will be able to buy the record. The album will be released in late summer.
K.A.N.: We are looking forward to that!
VINNIE: Yeah I hope so, because this album is truly one of the hottest returns to the rock scene in many years!!
K.A.N.: You told about the tittle for the record, but do you have any cool song tittles that you can give away now?
VINNIE: Oh god. I always hesitate to give the song tittles out, because I like to keep it as a surprise. I will tell you closer to the Kiss convention tour.
K.A.N.: Can you please tell us about your band-mates and songwriters for this record?
VINNIE: Let me try to get this right. I have a way of making records that works for me. When I try to bring in other people to make my music, you know, it doesn’t work right. So I always try to stay as self-contained as possible. So what that means is that I write all the songs, because I know what kind of music that I like and that is best for me. I don’t bring in any other writers and I produce the album myself, because I know how I want the music to come out. I have also found a singer that sings my material that’s best for my songs. I use the same Invasion vocalist from my first solo album, because his voice really does fit the material that I write. And then what I do is that I get a drummer and put it together. But I play all the guitars, I play the bass, I arrange it, I produce it and I mix it. Its really done within myself. Its easier for me to have full control of my music.
K.A.N.: Will it be a single and a video for the album?
VINNIE: I’m not going to do a video yet. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I don’t like a lot of promotion, I would rather get to the real true fans and have them to enjoy the music. Let it grow very slow and very simple. I would rather be more real this time. When the time is right I would produce singles and videos. You know the big business part of it is good, but this time I want to be more honest. Its always honest, but I want this to be a lot more simple. I want it to be like; here is the EP, here is the album. I want to reach the fans that really want my music. That’s what this is aimed for. This is not aimed for all the magazines and TV-shows. I want this to be about the music. And the fans that know me will know my music. I want it to be word of mouth. I want one person to say; hey have you heard the new Vinnie Vincent record, I got to get it. That’s what is important to me right now, and I would like to keep it that way.
K.A.N.: Lets go back to the days even before Kiss. You have played and recorded material with Dan Hartman and a group called Treasure. You have also played on a Bangles tune. Can you please tell us a little about that?
VINNIE: I’m surprised that you know all these things…Wow…
One of my first bands was Treasure and it was a very exiting time for me because the singer and keyboard player Felix Cavarie was one of my idols, because when I grew up in the 60s he had a band that I was a huge fan of. Dan Hartman was a very special talent and I had a lot of respect for him. I joined him at a time when he was putting together a rock group, but he also liked to play disco music, so he recorded a disco song called Instant Replay. It turned out to be a hit all over the world. He then canceled the rock group, and said; “look I got to go out and play Television-shows all over the world, because my record is a hit”. So he asked me if I could come to Europe and lip-synch on TV-shows with him. So I did, and it was a lot of fun, we had a ball. That was the first time that I were in Europe. It was in 1978. Then we did TV-shows in the USA, and it lasted for about six months. We did one album together and it was a very nice experience. And with The Bangles….You know I have always loved pop music. Bangles were a really good band. I don’t remember where I met them, but I think it was at an autograph signing in Los Angeles. I asked them if they would like to get together to write. So we wrote a numbers of songs at my house, in my own studio. I wrote a song with Vicki Peterson called “Make A Play For Her Now”, and they picked that one for their album. They asked me to play guitar on it, so I did. I loved their band, so it was fantastic.
K.A.N.: Okay, lets talk about your first time with Kiss. Do you have any great stories that you would like to share with us?
VINNIE: You know, they are all great! To me it was incredible, because it was so great. I met Paul and Gene in late 1981 or in early 1981. And the way it begun was that I had a demo called “Back On The Streets”. I sang the song and I recorded a demo of it in 1980. I was very poor, so my wife and I had a small apartment and a wreck of a car. Anyway….I got a call that said that Ace had left Kiss and that they were auditioning people. But you know there was so many guitarists that wanted the job. So the chance to become the new Kiss guitarist was like a million to one. So it was very difficult to think that you were the person to do this. That you could be the one to be chosen…It was hard to believe. Even after all this years I think it’s strange. In 1980 I started to play with groups in Los Angeles and people started to hear about me, cause I played on different demos and etc. And there was a song writer that I started to write songs with. His name was Adam Mitchell and we wrote a song called “Tears” at that time. Adam started to write with Gene Simmons. So, Adam heard my version of the song “Back On The Streets”, and he said to Gene; “you got to meet my friend Vinnie, he would be really good for you to work with, because I heard a song called Back On The Streets, and you got to hear that song. He’s a great guitar player also, so you have to meet him.” I thought it was so big that Adam worked with him. So I said to him…geeh…I would love to meet Gene. This would be fantastic, can I please meet him. So Gene went over to Adam’s house one day and Adam said come over. It must have been in late 1980 or early 1981. Ace was leaving the group, and I met Gene and we really hit it of. I really liked him, he's such a nice person. We talked and he said lets try to write together. And that is how it began. You know it was so amazing to meet up with him, because this was one of the biggest stars in the world.
K.A.N.: Were you a Kiss fan before you did enter the band?
VINNIE: How can I explain this? I was so impressed. Something is just awesome. You know when you see the “Empire State Building” or the painting; “Mona Lisa”. There is something you just can’t believe. Kiss was like one of the seven wonders of the world to me. So I met Gene, and I can’t explain how great that was. We started to write together and I was always very nervous, but we had a fantastic musical chemistry. It was truly fantastic. I don’t know how else to put it.
K.A.N.: But you are a very technical guitarist while Gene and Paul is much more straight ahead musicians. How was it to write songs with such a different guitarist as Paul?
VINNIE: You know, we are about the same age, and we like the same kind of music. We grew up with the same kind of bands, and we had the same influences. So even though I was technical and Paul wasn’t, it wasn’t really about guitar playing. It was about the songs that we grew up with and that we all loved. And it was about sharing the same musical style. You know, we all loved The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. So the chemistry was there and then it was easy to write.
K.A.N.: So what is your favorite song that you wrote with them?
VINNIE: A lot of these songs have different memories. The first song that Gene and I wrote together was Killer. And it has a lots of memories, because I wanted to prove to Gene that I was a good song writer, and that I was a value to Kiss. I wrote the song originally for Gene, and I asked him; what do you think? And then he made his changes, so we had sharing of the writing. So it is a lots of memories with each song. I Love it Loud was the second song that we wrote, and the memories that I have of that song is that we wrote it at Diana Ross’s house in California. To me its like the definitive Kiss song. There is a few songs that you hear, and you can say; that’s Kiss. Detroit Rock City, Lick It Up and I Love It Loud are such songs. I Love It Loud was really special to me because when we played in Rio, there was about 200.000 people in the audience, and from backstage could we hear the kids sing the intro to the song. It was amazing. I can’t never, ever explain to someone else how incredible that feeling was. Paul and I wrote some great songs, and Lick It Up is a great memory to me. Its a lots of songs that have memories that I can’t put into words.
K.A.N.: You all had a great time together, and a great musical chemistry,
but it was also some personal difficulties between you guys? What’s your side of that story?
VINNIE: I don’t think they were personal. I admire them. I really liked the company. We had a great time together, and I liked the friendship. I think we had respect for each other and I think we were really good friends. We had a lots of laughs and had a lots of fun. Its very good memories for me. The problems that I think we had was just in the business end. Many times when you have any kind of big business there is misunderstandings. The Beatles had misunderstandings. Its always something bad that comes with the good and we couldn’t really sort it out I guess. If I can put it that way. You know it caused some hurt feelings. No one escapes hurt feelings, it hits everybody, including me. But maybe someday it will be sorted out and maybe we work together again. Whenever Gene and Paul want me I will always be there for them.
K.A.N.: You wrote with them again in 1991 for the Revenge album. How did that come about?
VINNIE: We ran into each other at a recording studio in Los Angeles, and it was great to meet them again, so we wrote a couple of songs together and the chemistry was still there.
K.A.N.: It might not be easy to answer, but what is your best and worst memory from the days with Kiss?
VINNIE: Easy question! The best thing was to join the band, and the worst was to break up with them.
K.A.N.: After Kiss….you started Vinnie Vincent Invasion and had a fair success with your first album. What did happen to the band after the release of the second album All System Go?
VINNIE: After Kiss, I used a lot of my own money to record all the songs that was supposed to be my contributions for Animalize. “Boys Are Gonna Rock”, “Twisted”, “Animal” and those songs that I wrote while I still were in Kiss. I did write all the songs and arranged all the instruments. So it was a solo album, because it was all me. My manager at that time said that the music didn’t sounded as a solo artist, so he wanted it to be a band. And that didn’t worked for me, because I have this strong vision on how I want my music to be, I want full control over my music all the way. So we split up.
K.A.N.: You are the special guest on the European Kiss convention-tour this year? What do you expect of your fans, and what can the fans expect of you when you’re coming?
VINNIE: I want to come over and say hello to my fans, and have a great time I hope that we will have a great time together. I will be answering questions, sign autographs and I will also bring with me a lots of things for the people to see, and there will also be things to buy. I will bring guitar picks, photos that I took while I were in the band. A lots of cool things. I might also bring with me some photos that I took when we were in Rio in 1983.
K.A.N.: When can we expect to see you in Europe and Norway for concerts?
VINNIE: I will be on tour at the right time. When…I don’t know yet.
But I can tell you that it will be one hell of a show. It will be a lots theatrics for the show. So I hope to bring it over to Europe and Norway after the release of the new album. You know….I would love to come.
K.A.N.: We are looking forward to seeing you!
VINNIE: I’m looking forward to seeing you too, I’m looking forward to meet the fans. You know it is an honour to be a part of the Kiss history and the music that we created. It’s an honour for me, to have been a part of that group. It is very important in my life, it really has a special place in my life, and you know you can never help to feel that you’re a part of the Kiss family. I will always feel that I’m a part of Kiss, and they have my true support in whatever they do.
K.A.N.: I think ifs very nice that you don’t deny the time with Kiss, because many people that go from a band and start a solo carrier try to forget about the past.
VINNIE: No, the past was magical. It has some wonderful memories. It had foundation for me of what my present and my future is. If they ever want me or whenever they call me I would be there for them. And I would love to work with them again. We had a fantastic chemistry. I love working with Gene and Paul. We always make great music together.
That’s it from Vinnie himself Don’t miss the Kiss Expo in Oslo on the 3rd of April.
If you want to get to know Vinnie Vincent better, you should join his fan club. Details on how to join will follow. Look out!!!
Commander in chief - VVFF Army