INTERVIEW WITH ADAM MITCHELL

BY ANGELA MONGER (March 16, 1999)

Angela: Basically you wrote songs on four albums with KISS. You wrote "Partners In Crime" and "I'm A Legend Tonight" on Killers which came out in 1981; "Creatures Of The Night", "Keep Me Comin'", and "Danger" on Creatures Of The Night which came out in 1982.

Adam: Right.

Angela: "Crazy, Crazy Nights", "Iíll Fight Hell To Hold You", "When Your Walls Come Down" off of Crazy Nights which came out in 1987.

Adam: Right.

Angela: "Little Caesar" off Hot In The Shade in 1989.

Adam: That's right.

Angela: Did I leave anything out?

Adam: No. Gene and I have written songs on other records that he's produced. Like we wrote a lot of songs on EZO, that Japanese band that was so great. We wrote five songs on that I think.

Angela: You also co-wrote "Legends Never Die" with Gene on the Wendy O. Williams album WOW ?

Adam: That's right, yeah.

Angela: And Eric, Paul, and Ace played some on that album and Vinnie Vincent wrote some songs on it as well?

Adam: That's right.

Angela: What other projects have you worked on with Gene?

Adam: We did Black And Blue.

Angela: With Tommy Thayer?

Adam: With Tommy, yeah. And I wrote...I think King Cobra also did the song "Legends Never Die". Vinnie and I wrote a big hit single for John Waite, "Tears".

Angela: That's the song that Peter Criss also did.

Adam: And Peter also did that, right.

Angela: His version is absolutely awesome. I love it.

Adam: A bunch of people did that one. I wrote for Hurricane. I don't know if you know Hurricane or not. I wrote "Ten Thousand Years." Bruce and I wrote a song, "Silent Rage", for another band Gene was producing.

Angela: When did you start writing with KISS and how did that come about?

Adam: I started with them in 1981 or something like that. It came about because when I was doing my solo record on Warner Brothers, the guy who ended up producing Creatures Of The Night and a few other records, Michael James Jackson, he happened to be in the same recording studio but in the next room doing another band. He came in, he heard my songs, and he really liked my songs. This was about 1977. Three years later, he's producing KISS and they wanted to start doing some cowriting and he remembered my songs and how much he liked them and he suggested me. So Gene came over to my house and we wrote a couple of songs and they turned out pretty well and Paul asked how it was writing with me and Gene gave me a passing grade as it were. So Paul came over next and I started writing with Paul. I think the first song we wrote was "Partners In Crime". And we just kind of all hit it off. I mean both personally and musically. I met Eric of course just around that time. I got Vinnie the job with the band. They were looking for a guitar player at the time that I was working with them but that was slightly later. On the first record, the guitars were all played by different people.

Angela: This would be on Creatures Of The Night?

Adam: Creatures Of The Night, yeah. I played on the actual song "Creatures Of The Night". I played in the middle and the end. All kinds of different guitar players played on that. Ace, however, was not one of them even though his face is on the cover. Anyway we just kind of hit it off. Paul and I were both single at the time so we started hanging out a lot. You know, going to the movies, clubs, whatever, guitar shows, music stores. All sorts of stuff. So we just kind of hit it off so I just kind of became part of the extended family if you like.

Angela: Part of the KISS family.

Adam: Yeah.

Angela: What was it like to write and work with Eric and KISS?

Adam: Well, with Eric especially, it was always so much fun. I mean Eric had absolutely the world's greatest sense of humor. He was so funny. You couldn't be around Eric for ten minutes without laughing at his jokes. I mean he was such a great guy. He was such a great guy. I really miss him a lot. We always had a lot of fun and Eric and I sang well together particularly. We had a really good blend when we sang. He was really easy to write with. He knew what he did well and he knew what other people did well. It was real easy to write with him. He would usually come up with a little idea that needed fleshing out somewhat and we'd sit and just start putting it all together. Gene and Paul are also both fun to write with in different ways. They're just a great bunch of guys. They're all very talented in their own ways.

Angela: You mentioned playing and singing with KISS. Can you kind of elaborate on that a little bit?

Adam: Well you know we would sing of course a lot particularly when we were doing the demos. We'd all go in the studio. The first demos we did were in my studio because I had a studio in Hollywood. We would just do all the playing or sometimes we would do the drum machine. Paul and I would just sit and play and sing all the parts and sing the backgrounds. By the time we were doing Creatures...or the next record, maybe Crazy Nights or something...we did all the demos in a full blown studio. So I would go and sing backgrounds with them and all that sort of stuff too. As I said I played on Creatures, the record. It was just always fun. I mean the thing I remember the most was that we just laughed all the time. Everybody has a great sense of humor in the band. It was always fun. We'd go bowling a lot. What a thing to do. Gene would rent a whole bowling alley and we'd all go bowling. They're just a fun bunch of guys to be around. But writing and playing with them, I'm really glad I've done it. I mean it's a great thing to have done and it's kind of a different experience from just the normal stuff. They're a great, great band. They played here in Nashville about three or four weeks ago. Maybe six weeks ago now. I went backstage after the show was over and we're just sitting around the dressing room eating and talking. The thing that impressed me the most was how much they still cared about putting on the best show they possibly can. I mean Gene was asking me, just so sincerely, "Was it good? Did you think it was any good? Did the kids seem to like it?" I mean after all this time and all the thousands of shows they've done and you couldn't get to be any bigger than they are, they still really, really care about putting on a great show. And I thought that was pretty impressive.

Angela: That's definitely one of the things that makes the fans love them. The fact that they care about us.

Adam: They really do. Believe me I know a lot of rock stars and I've been backstage in a lot of dressing rooms in the exact same situation where they just didn't care. As long as I've known these guys it`s really nice to see how much they genuinely still care about doing this.

Angela: How did you become involved with Ericís Rockheads project?

Adam: Eric wrote stuff that was always slightly different. He listened to a lot of different kinds of music. He listened to black music a lot, all kinds of different things. Because I had written songs for all kinds of other people, and he and I were real close friends, he would just naturally play me anything he was doing and he told me he had this idea for a cartoon show and he showed me the characters which I thought were just great. Just really great. And he was trying to get the cartoon show off the ground at that time. And that, by the way, is something we're gonna do later on this year.

Angela: Is Hanna-Barbera still interested?

Adam: Yeah they're still interested. Who knows where it will actually end up. In any case he showed me these characters and he said he wanted to write some songs for them and would I be interested. I said "Yeah. This is a great idea." I loved to help Eric in anything he would do. We just sat down and started writing songs. It just turned out great. We went in the studio with Bruce on the demo because Bruce is just an awesome player. He and Bruce and I would get together and write and then go in the studio and do the demo. It turned out great and I'm just really happy that this CD is finally coming out.

Angela: It was basically you, Eric Carr, and Bruce Kulick who were involved in this?

Adam: That's right. One song was written by another guy, a friend of Eric's, who I did not know.

Angela: Jonathan Daniels who wrote "Nasty Boys"?

Adam: That's right. I never met Jonathan. We did all of it. We went in and we sang all the backgrounds and just kind of put it together.

Angela: When did you and Bruce Kulick get together on trying to make this a reality?

Adam: Well it was actually Eric's sister, Loretta, who called us up, sometime before Christmas maybe, only in the last few months. We had known about it but you move on. When Eric couldn't get the show off the ground you move on with your life. You've got other things to take care of and a lot of songs to write. Keith and Loretta contacted Bruce at some point a few months ago because Keith had known about the Rockheads music we'd done and he'd heard it and he said...Keith had just done a couple of big records himself...and he said he'd love to put this out on his label. So that's kind of what got it all rolling.

Angela: He does the Rock Hard Records label?

Adam: That's right, yeah. We, of course said "Hey yeah of course. This is great." So we started looking around. We have a second record of Eric's material too that's gonna come out later this summer.

Angela: This is going to be the full length CD that will have these four songs on it?

Adam: Yeah but it's going to have a ton of other songs on it.

Angela: Basically it will be a compilation of pre-KISS demos of Eric's...?

Adam: No, no, no. It's not that at all. It's not pre-KISS demos of Eric's. It's other stuff, other songs that Eric wrote while in KISS. Other material.

Angela: Unreleased KISS demos.

Adam: Yeah, exactly. But it's all Eric's.

Angela: So basically it'll be a CD that's got these four songs on it and stuff that he wrote while he was in KISS.

Adam: There's some other killer songs. Oh there's some killer songs.

Angela: I'm rather surprised some of this stuff never got out on bootleg CDs

Adam: Yeah, exactly. We held a pretty close lid on it. There's only three people who had a copy. In fact there's only two people who had a copy. That was me and Bruce had some of it and his sister had some of it.

Angela: I believe Keith also told me there was video footage?

Adam: Yeah, there's video footage. We're gonna put that together. That's also stuff that no one's ever seen. Some of the songs on the record later this summer...absolutely killer. There's one ballad called "Somebody's Waiting" that is so great. It's like just my favorite thing he's ever done.

Angela: Considering that "Tiara" took my heart I bet this will too. I'm a big sucker for ballads.

Adam: Yeah this one's great. You're gonna love it. It's really good. It's every bit as good as "Tiara". It's really good. So we're gonna do that and we just discovered a whole bunch of other stuff. Drum tracks of Eric's and a lot of funny stuff he does in the studio. Quite a bit of stuff there.

Angela: And this stuff will see the light of day?

Adam: Yeah.

Angela: Cool. Talking about the Rockheads...Psycho Circus, the comic book series... is definitely a big hit. Is there any chance of maybe having a comic book series like that based on the Rockheads?

Adam: Yeah there is. That's something again we're gonna wait on until we find out where this is gonna be done as far as the animation is concerned and that's something we're not gonna nail down until we've worked on the record for a while. Our first priority is getting the record out to the fans right now. Once we've done that and we can feel we've done a good job on that then we'll turn our attention to that. Sometime later this summer or fall we'll do that and when that happens then very probably...we've been approached already about the comic book thing and when that happens we'll definitely look at the Rockheads comic.

Angela: Also something I had mentioned to the Carr family in e-mail, is there a possibility of maybe developing a computer game based on the Rockheads kind of like what KISS is doing?

Adam: Yeah, that would happen if the cartoon series...the TV series...is a big hit. Then that'll happen. Otherwise it's very difficult. It's so money intensive to get something like that off the ground. If the cartoon is a hit then we can do something with it.

Angela: Some folks on various lists had supplied me with questions so here are some of them. Did Eric ever mention which, if any, KISS songs he enjoyed playing the most?

Adam: Wow, well I'll tell you something. I don't know that he ever mentioned it to me but I know for sure some that he enjoyed playing the most and some that we got the best drum sound on. Definitely "Keep Me Comin'". The drum sound on that is absolutely huge. And I know that the drum sounds on Creatures were his favorite.

Angela: Basically Creatures was probably his favorite album?

Adam: I think in a way, yeah. I know he loved the drum sounds on it because they were so huge. I happen to remember that because I remember we had him in a big storage room. It wasn't even in the regular part of the recording studio. He was in this big concrete storage room. We had him all lined up in there. I can see him like it happened yesterday. I can see him so clearly just wailing away. Eric's drum solo was always my favorite part of the show. Always. I just loved his solo.

Angela: What did Eric dislike most about being in KISS, if anything?

Adam: Well probably nothing more than anybody else who's in any band. You gotta realize being in a band is like being married to three other people at the same time.

Angela: Like a four way marriage?

Adam: It's just like that. You know there's always disagreements about "I think the song should go this way". There's a million things that can get under your skin especially if you're on the road touring constantly. That wears you down. Probably just the same things that happen to everyone else in a band. That happened to me in a band. It can drive you crazy sometimes. There's more involved than just being in a band.

Angela: How do you and Eric's family feel about the way Eric was treated in KISS and how his memory has been treated?

Adam: Well officially by KISS I don't know. I know Gene and Paul liked Eric very much. How he was treated by KISS at the time? I think really what has happened there is when Eric got sick it was just a particularly bad time for the band. It was an important time for the band and they really had to make decisions about what they were going to do and they didn't know if Eric was going to get better or what. They had a lot of stuff that they were planning. You gotta remember being in KISS, being Gene and Paul, it's not that Gene and Paul could do whatever they liked. They have a certain responsibility to the fans and to the record company which ultimately ends up being responsible to their fans about "we gotta get this record out", "we gotta get this done", "we got tours". Sometimes there are no easy decisions. Certainly in Eric's case that was one of those decisions. There's just no easy decision you can make. You got a guy here who is seriously ill and you're not sure that he's gonna get better and whether you like it or not you start talking about replacing him. Because had it not been for the illness of course, Eric would never have been out of the band because he was just fabulous. He was a great, great drummer for KISS and in many ways I think the best drummer for KISS. Even though Peter was the original drummer and there's a certain chemistry with Ace and Peter back in the band, in many ways Eric was my favorite drummer. I think Gene and Paul were just suddenly in a very difficult position that they were totally unprepared for. You just don't ever expect something like this is going to happen.

Angela: I feel that a lot of people get down on Gene and Paul about the business angle and the Jewish business stereotype. I don't think people realize that a band is first and foremost a business and that it's very important and very good if you have two individuals in the band who pay attention to the business angle.

Adam: Exactly. If the band were all made up of Aces and Peters it wouldn't happen. If there's no business there's no band. If the band isn't successful the fans would never get to hear them. That's just the way it is.

Angela: It's very important to have one or two people in the band having some control over their band. You have to look at it from their angle too.

Adam: That's right. Somebody has to lead the band in the right direction. You can hardly fault Gene and Paul for going in the direction they went. The band is not only successful for them but as I say ultimately this is about the fans and that's where it's most successful. I think with Eric's thing would they have done things differently? With hindsight, probably, but we're all human beings and we don't have the benefit of hindsight when it's all happening.

Angela: In the last page of issue #15 of the Psycho Circus comic book we see the Fox. His appearance was requested by the readers. How do you and his family feel about both the appearance and the insistent request that he be included?

Adam: I haven't talked to the family about this particular issue. I don't mean the issue of the comic book. I mean the issue of him appearing but I'm sure the family's very happy. And I know the fans loved Eric. He really had a special place in their hearts and I'm not surprised in the least that they wanted to see him in the comic book because Eric was a great guy. He was just a great guy and I'm very sorry he's gone. I miss him every day and I'm glad to see him getting honored any way he can be.

Angela: I also understand there is a big push to get Todd McFarlane to develop a Fox action figure. Perhaps eventually a Fox car.

Adam: I don't know if you'll see the car but it's certainly possible you'll see the action figure and again that's something that can only happen at the right time. Timing is everything. You can only do so many things at once and that's just as true of Gene and Paul as it is of anyone else.

Angela: Did Eric record two songs called "Rock Me Slowly" and "Wet And Wild" that are supposed to be from "Flasher"?

Adam: No. That wasn't him.

Angela: With Eric having so much talent with his drumming, his drawing, and his songwriting, did he ever feel that he was "held back" on doing other ventures because of Gene and Paul?

Adam: Doing other ventures? No. I think he felt he was held back from doing as much as he would like to in KISS. You'll hear that same complaint from anybody who's ever played in any band unless they happen to be the lead guy. Most players who are not the main writers in any band never feel that their songs...look at George Harrison of the Beatles. I'm sure he never got enough George Harrison songs on a record to suit him because he had Lennon and McCartney to deal with and I think something of that is true with KISS. Gene and Paul were doing the bulk of the writing and it was their band. Bear in mind having gone through the experience of Ace and Peter they were so burned by that...they wanted to be careful about what happened in the band after that. I'm sure Eric would have liked more songs on KISS records but did they hold him back from doing other projects? Not that I remember. I don't remember that Eric had that many other projects that he wanted to do. He did The Rockheads. They had no objection to that.

Angela: Ace wanted Eric to perform on one of his solo albums and Gene and Paul wouldn't let him. How did this affect him?

Adam: I don't remember that. If it happened then I didn't know about it. It rings some kind of dim bell but it's so long ago. If they didn't want him to do it...I don't suppose it was that big of a deal. Playing on Ace's record...he might have wanted to do it but it wouldn't have been a big deal. If he had an opportunity to play with Elton John and they wouldn't let him or something he might have really wanted to do, he probably realized that for whatever reason that's the way it is. I don't even remember that happened. It's possible but it doesn't ring a bell.

Angela: What is your opinion on Vinnie Vincent and what was it like to work with him?

Adam: I got Vinnie the job in KISS. I was the one who told Gene about him when they were looking for a guitar player because I had already been working with Vinnie. Vinnie, musically, is enormously talented. Very, very talented musically. The stuff Vinnie did writing wise for KISS and the stuff he and I wrote together was very good. Very talented writer.

Angela: Have you worked with Ace and Peter?

Adam: No I never have. Never worked with them. I've only met each of them once. They've just never been part of the orbit when I was working with KISS.

Angela: Another question that came up is if you were in any way involved with Paulís solo tour he did in 1989?

Adam: Only in so far as that Paul and I had written a song for Cher around about that time and I did go to several of his solo performances. I can't remember the songs he did but I'm sure he did some of the songs that he and I wrote. I saw the tour a couple of times and we certainly talked about it a lot because as I said we were hanging around a lot.

Angela: Did any well known guitarists audition for Ace's spot when he left KISS?

Adam: There were a lot of guitar players they auditioned. Mark who played in Mister Mister played on Creatures as well. He did the solo on Creatures. Robin Ford who's a very famous jazz guitar player came in and I don't know if they ever kept any of his stuff. As far as auditioned for the job in the band, like somebody major from another band? I don't think so, no. I don't know for certain but I'd be surprised if they would have someone famous from some other band come in to be in KISS. Highly unlikely.

Angela: Do you foresee working with KISS in the future?

Adam: Yeah, probably. I've been really busy doing other things and for contractual reasons I haven't worked on the last couple of records but I might on the next one. Gene and I have some business in other areas. As I say they're still among my closest friends and I talk to them all the time. Yeah, it's possible, it's possible. I'm producing a lot of records right now so I'm very busy but on the next record, if they ask me, I may do it if for no other reason, just for the fun ot it.

Angela: Adam thank you for your time.

Adam: Thank you.