Catching Up With Steve Whiteman of Kix
Yea absolutely from day one of this band our objective our goal was to get out and get the crowd involved in our shows. That’s were all my goofy stories started from. I just tried to resonate with the Kix crowd by striking their sense of humor. Just tried to capture them to let them realize we are not just up here singing songs and expect them to instantly love us. I hate bands that just go up on stage and perform and expect the crowd to just eat their shit. Our objective has always been to grab them and make them part of the show. Give them the most energy that we have. Give them the best music that we have. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel special during the show and leave having experienced something awesome.
What do you think is the biggest difference between this record and the live album that was released in 1993?
There really isn’t much of a difference really. However the first one back in 93 was a planned release where “Live in Baltimore” was not. It was never a conscious effort to come up with a new live cd. We had a couple of guys come at us with an offer to record this live show we were doing at Rams Head in Baltimore. They were just trying to get their names out there and using us to do so. They came in and shot this video and when we started to look at it we were blown away by it because it was so damn good. It sounded good, it looked good we should really put this thing together, get it properly mixed and edited and get it out there. So it’s been a few years trying to get it done so when Frontiers Records came at us and offered us a deal we thought this is perfect. This is what we needed to do. The actual DVD was supposed to be just a single release but then they liked the idea of a live CD along with it in the package. It’s really not meant to compete with the 93 Live CD. That one stands on its own and we are really proud of it. Live In Baltimore CD portion is just an extension of the project that started as a single DVD project.
Speaking of extensions was getting Kix back together an extension of the contributions ex-band members were starting to make to your band Funny Money?
Yea it was. Funny Money had already been playing out for almost 7 years or so and Ronnie Yunkins band The Blues Vultures were actually opening for us at a club in Baltimore. For some reason his drummer bailed on him that night so Ronnie asked Jimmy (Chalfant) to help him out and play the gig. So we had The Blues Vultures with Ronnie and Jimmy and Funny Money with me, Jimmy and my bass player Mark (Schenker) so we had decided to give the crowd a mini Kix set at the end of the night. The place just went Ape Shit!! So we then thought we need to call Brian (Forsythe) and let’s get him involved in this and let’s see where it takes us. The first few years it just some Mid-Atlantic regional shows abut then we got a call from an agent In Los Angeles who convinced me that he could get Kix booked across the country. Little by little it’s turned into about 30 dates a year now.
Since Kix got back together again back in late 2003 to start playing some shows original bassist Donnie Purnell was not involved and continues to be uninvolved in the band. Given his creative contributions to your 6 studio records do you think long time fans care or even notice at all at this point?
I don’t have anybody coming up to me after gigs asking about him. The reason Donnie is not involved it was a group decision. He made things very difficult for the rest of us in the past and was very controlling. Having said that his contributions musically was one of the main reasons we went as far as we did. We had to pay dearly because of his constant demands on each of us and when we put Kix back together we wanted to go out and enjoy it and have fun and actually make money off of it. It was a joint decision to not have him along for the ride. To be honest we didn’t know if it would fly with the fans or not but again nobody has approached me disappointed or upset because Donnie is not a part of the band.
Funny Money was in many ways very similar to Kix in its no nonsense/tongue in cheek approach to songs lyrically. What is status of Funny Money currently?
Funny Money was my priority and my first writing vehicle in a band setting. I was really not allowed to write in Kix because Donnie controlled all of that. So when I started Funny Money the freedom of writing just rolled out of me. It was my total focus. But when the Kix gigs started to happen that focus shifted. Funny Money was playing for $1500.00 a night and now Kix is playing for between $15,000 to $20, 000 a night it’s a no brainer where my attention should be. Funny Money is taking a back seat right now to Kix. When Kix isn’t touring Funny Money will be. We play every weekend either it’s Kix or Funny Money. Not a weekend goes by that we are not out playing. A lot of people will ask me how I go back and forth playing before big ass crowds with Kix and the little club crowds with Funny Money. My stock answer is put me in front of a few people on the hood of a car and I’ll give you a show!
Since Funny Money played Kix songs in their set does Kix play Funny Money songs in their set? “Wrapped Around You” off “Back Again” is one my favorite Steve Whiteman tunes of all time.
No. The reason I played Kix songs in Funny Money was because of the fans. When I started Funny Money I tried not to relay on Kix music in the live set whatsoever. That failed miserably. People could not come watch me perform locally without hearing Kix songs. In order to get their attention I had to start implementing Kix music into the set. It has just evolved at this point where in a standard Funny Money set I do 50% Kix tunes and 50% Funny Money. Thanks for the kudos on “Wrapped Around You”. It gives me great satisfaction to hear fans reference the Funny Money albums as you have done. I worked very hard on those records and I’m still damn proud of them.
The majority of Kix touring has consisted mainly in the Northeast Mid-Atlantic area. With this new release what kind of touring can we expect from Kix for the remainder of 2012 and beyond?
I don’t think our touring schedule to going to alter that much. We have about another 10-15 shows booked for 2012. It’s going to depend I guess if this release gets any serious attention where we start to get additional offers. We don’t know what it’s going to do for numbers and it really wasn’t meant to be a conscious release so the whole project is running on the basis of let’s throw it out there and see what happens. If it gets us more dates and it sells really well and fans become more focused in on and more interested in Kix then it’s a win-win and if it doesn’t we still have got what we have been doing and working towards and we will still be happy doing it.
I noticed on the Kix website Carly Whiteman has been supporting on some Kix shows this year. My guess is that it’s not just a coincidence that she has the same last name as you right?
Your right it’s not a coincidence – that’s my daughter. We had an unfortunate situation where we had an opening act at a gig in Baltimore cancel recently because the singer tragically passed away so we need a support act on very short notice. My daughter had just started going out and playing an acoustic act just her singing with her guitar and her piano. I had seen her play a show recently and I was very proud of her and I thought that she could probably pull this off. I talked it over with the guys and they said let’s give her a shot. I then called the club owners and they agreed. She got her first taste of getting in front of a whole bunch of people and having some fun and she did great! She has a great voice. I ‘m not quite what direction she is going to go musically for now she is playing some classic rock covers and some newer stuff that she likes and she is just having fun with it right now with no pressure.
Do you think a Kix fan is different now in 2012 than a fan back in 1982 or do you appeal to the same type of person?
They are older and fatter now! I don’t really know. I think that fans do come out to the gigs now for nostalgia reasons. They remember our fun, our energy, our humor and fortunately we are still able to perform like that and put on shows like that. What I have noticed is that the older generation crowd is now bringing their children to our shows and turning their kids onto Kix music and they seem to be digging it too. We must be doing something right.
Will there be a new studio record for Kix in 2013?
We are currently working on that. Part of the deal with Frontiers for Live in Baltimore was for a new Kix studio album. I was already in the process of writing for a new Funny Money CD with Mark and Brian was also working on some new material so we will put all of these ideas into a pot and cook up some brand new Kix material. We want to make sure we come up with 10-12 really strong tracks that the fans are eager to hear and will be really excited about.
Kix used to play in Boston a lot back in the 1980’s and I was fortunate enough to see you perform on a few occasions. What memories do you have of The Channel?
That club was right on the water I remember it well. We used to love playing Boston we had rabid fans there. It was an extension of the New York club scene really. When we started to play L’Amours and the Cat Club a lot of people from Boston were coming to see us. The fans hooked us up with the club owners at The Channel and we built a whole new fan base up there.
Do you have a favorite tour or band that you played with during Kix’s arena runs of the late 80’s and early 90’s?
Our first arena tour was not only a career highlight for all of us bit for me personally it was a life highlight opening for Ratt and playing just ahead of Britny Fox. This was the first time we had a nice tour bus, to go to arenas every day and play in front of thousands of fans. RATT was the first band that had enough balls to take us out because many bands did not want to have to follow us after one of our shows because we got the fans so pumped up! Bands were intimated by our live show. RATT said yea man bring them on it will be a great package and it was for sure. It was a lot of fun and we had some great times with those guys. The guys from RATT were on Atlantic Records like ourselves and we hit it off immediately. Stephen (Pearcy) and Robbin (Crosby) were always in our dressing room hanging out and we also shared Beau Hill as a producer so we had a lot in common.
You have been a vocal coach and teacher over the years and recently Halestorm vocalist Lzzy Hale credits you with being extremely influential in her development as a vocalist. That must be very satisfying for you seeing one of your students have that much success in this business?
It is. I’m super proud of Lzzy. When she came to me she had all the talent in the world she wasn’t quite good at getting her voice out there yet. All I really did with her was develop some power, some strength some focus into her vocal cords. I worked with her I think for almost two years and she gives me way too much credit for what she has become in this business.
If I were to write the epitaph on Steve Whiteman’s tombstone how would you want it to read?
“Rocked His Ass Off Every Time He Hit The Stage”
Any lasting messages to your many fans Steve with the release of Live In Baltimore?
I’m hoping that our old fans in Boston that used to come out to the shows they watch the DVD and say these guys can still get it done and we need to get Kix back in Boston! It’s been too long..far too long. To fans everywhere Kix is back and we hope to hit more markets and play as many shows as the fans demand.