Is there life after "Kiss"? There is if your name is Vinnie Vincent! The ex-lead guitarist of Kiss, left the group in 1984 to go it alone. His debut album on Chrysalis Records became the fastest selling album in the history of the record company.
"All Systems Go", Vinnie's second album, is slated for a January 1988 release date. We spoke to Vinnie recently about his career to date. We might mention that Vinnie is prohibited under a contractual agreement with Kiss, to mention their name in any interview he gives. Therefore, we will substitute the words, "the other band," when Vinnie refers to "Kiss."
Q. You've toned down your look this year, and gotten away from the 'glam" image. Why the change?
A. I think the music is doing most of the talking at this point of our career and my life. When that look was born, probably about 2 years ago, we were probably one of the first bands to come out. I think 'Poison' was following us. We wanted to pick up the vibe that was going on out here, and that really was the fibe. It was fun for us to come out with that, because it was new, but by the time we evolved and the tour went on, we seemed to evolve pretty much back to who we are. It just went the other way.
Q. A lot of guys dream of making the jump from a bar band to a recording/touring group, but along the way, the dream dies. How'd you keep your dream alive?
A. I'm a very obstinate person. Listen, there's times in everybody's life when you say, 'I guess it ain't gonna happen. I guess I've done everything I could.' I was at that point maybe 7 years ago. I was struggling, still on the streets, no money, no home, and really basically trying to make ends meet. The way I felt is, I'll take it as far as I can, and I'll take whatever abuse I gotta take. When you're one of a billion musicians living in the Los Angeles area, trying to do the same thing, it's one of those things; you could be doing it for nothing, or it could be right around the corner. You don't know.
Q. Do bad feelings exist between you and Gene Simmons?
A. There was some bad feelings. I had left. I decided that I needed to be in a situation that gave me the luxury to be able to do the kind of music I wanted, and play the way I wanted. If I'd stayed with 'the other band', it wouldn't have been fair to them. After 3 years in 'the other band' it was an inevitable thing at that point. I knew I had to go out there and search for what it was I was still looking for. I took probably the dice roll of my life by leaving 'the other band.' I basically didn't think I'd ever be heard of again. I wish them well in whatever they're doing. I know they're going to have a hit album with this record.
Q. Did Gene name you Vinnie Vincent?
A. Yes he did. That is the truth. You have to imagine where my head was at that time. I was in the framework of the idea of me joining 'the other band' was too big for anybody's imagination. That happens to other people. That doesn't happen to me. When they finally said you're in, I thought am I dreaming? Gene said, 'You know Vinnie Vincent would be a great name.' And I said, ‘Wow that is great!' (Laughs).
Q. A lot was made of the fact that you signed an eight album, 4 million dollar deal with Chrysalis. According to attorney Alan H. Siegel, author of "Breakin' InTo the Music Business," there are no million dollar deals, it's creative arithmetic. Vinnie, what do you say to that?
A. Well, let's put it this way, 4 million dollars was not in my pocket. It was not like someone wrote me out a check for 4 million dollars.That 4 million dollars basically spans the length of 8 records. You have a certain amount to deal with each record and to keep the band going. It's not where I walk away with that money. It definitely was one of the biggest deals in Chrysalis Records history.
Q. In one of your early press releases, it said, "Vinnie Vincent Invasion possesses the charisma and style that will quickly become a legend that a multitude of bands will try to follow." Do you know of any bands that are trying to copy your style?
A. I don't think were that big to have a multitude of bands realize who we are. We're still on our way up. I don't think we've made our statement yet. I don't get into questions like that because I just do what I do. If the fans feel I'm worthy of their buying my record or listening to my music. I'm a lucky guy.
Q. In the P.M.R.C. press kit, the song "Fits Like A Glove" from the "Lick It Up" album, in which you participated, has been identified as an example of a song containing explicitly sexual lyrics. I realize you did not write the song, Gene Simmons did, but has the song been properly tagged?
A. Gene's a pretty sexually active guy, and I think it kind of reflects his trip. Rock 'n' roll is an attitude. It's fun. It is sex. There's a lot of sex that goes on. The songs are sexual. You offend some people who are middle age and they don't quite understand, and they think you're evil. That's been going on since Frank Sinatra days, and it'll probably be going on forever. There's always going to be a generation gap. There's always going to be people who are afraid of what they don't understand. You can't please everybody. What I find so amazing about the P.M.R.C. is that these are people who literally have nothing better to do with their time than to go out and buy records and try to find something on these records. You gotta figure there's hundreds of thousands of rock 'n' roll acts out there. I wonder if these people buy all the records and try to find the ones that don't suit their children's morals. It's hysterical to me. From what I heard through the grapevine, Tipper Gore's daughter is actually a fan of ours. I've heard that from a few people. If it's true, I think it's pretty funny.
© Gary James All Rights Reserved
Commander in chief - VVFF Army