Interview By Robert Cavuoto
Mark Schenker of KIX discusses new Documentary: Can’t Stop the Show: The Return of KIX…
KIX will be releasing Can’t Stop the Show: The Return of KIX, a two-disc DVD/CD set on October 21, 2016 via Loud & Proud Records. The set contains a 71-minute in-depth look into KIX’s decision to record their 2014 release Rock Your Face Off, some dynamite live video footage, and a CD with 12 songs performed live; Can’t Stop the Show Live.
Steve Whiteman [vocals], Brian “Damage” Forsythe [guitar], Mark Schenker [bass], Ronnie “10/10” Younkins [guitar] and Jimmy “Chocolate” Chalfant [drums] are interviewed in the documentary along with Nuno Bettencourt, Lzzy Hale, Jeff LaBar, Share Ross, and Shannon Larkin. It also includes a rare appearance by producer Taylor Rhodes [Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, KIX’s Hot Wire.
I spoke to bassist, Mark Schenker, about the documentary, the band’s initial concern to making new music, and what lies on the horizon for the band
Robert Cavuoto: After watching your DVD Can’t Stop the Show: The Return of KIX, what was the band’s hesitation to recording their 2014 CD, Rock Your Face Off without former bassist and songwriter, Donnie Purnell?
Mark Schenker: There was a certain level of excellence that KIX achieved with their records in the past. A concern was that the songs and their production quality might not be able to match what was previously done in the past. Nobody wanted to put out something that couldn’t stand up to the old material; otherwise we would just be wasting our time and disappointing the fans. One thing we don’t want to do is disappoint the fans with our live show or anything else that we do. In the DVD Steve alluded to the concern you mention but I think it was just how everyone felt at the time before producer Taylor Rhodes was involved. Taylor had written 13 to 14 KIX songs, including “Cold Blood.” If anyone knows what KIX music is, it’s him. He was brought in to bridge the gap between the old and the new as well as to help steer the direction of the music. The band has never made a KIX record without Donnie and weren’t sure how it was going to work out. In the past they didn’t have an opinion, now they did. We all trusted Taylor and knew what he was capable of.
Robert: My impression after watching the DVD that you were the catalyst to making that Rock Your Face Off?
Mark Schenker: I guess so [laughing]. I think we all had that bug in our ear from the fans about when we were going to make new music? We never had a good answer. For me, once I start thinking about things, I tend to find ways to make them happen. I’m an optimist and hard worker who is used to figuring ways to make creative things come to fruition. I was the cheerleader trying to convince them to do it [laughing]. I’m making it sound more juvenile than it was, but I certainly brought up ways that it could be done. We have solid songwriting capabilities within the band; it was just a matter of getting those guys comfortable with the idea and finding a good record label like we did in Loud and Proud.
Robert: I have to believe that when the band gets together anything they write would sound like KIX?
Mark Schenker: Here is an example, “All the Right Things”, which I initially had written for myself had a drop D tuning, didn’t have a guitar solo, and was more of a metal song. The chorus, verses, and story was good enough to stand on its own. I’m not against guitar solos but was trying to challenge myself and do different things with my writing. When I shared it with Brian he thought it was a good song but too heavy for KIX. We tuned it to E and made the riff more KIX like and added the slide guitar as Brian is a tremendous slide player. That’s how it went from a metal song to a KIX song. “Wheels in Motion” was a song that also started out in drop D – the band was like, “KIX really doesn’t do drop D.” [Laughing]. I wrote “Love Me with Your Top Down” with a friend which had a regular guitar solo. Taylor wrote the bridge and thought the guitar solo needed to be more thematic for KIX. So we came up with a repetitive themed solo with a riff at the end that Ronnie made it his own. Those are good examples where songs that didn’t sound like KIX could be KIX-like if we made some tweaks and all four guys play on it.
Robert: Tell me about the inspiration behind the documentary. The band must have thought that something special was going on during the recording of the CD in 2014.
Mark Schenker: In the big picture it was a special thing because it was the first album in 20 years. At the same time a film maker got in touch with Brian and asked if he can film us while we were in the studio recording. My vision from that was that we would have a bunch of You Tube clips to create a buzz about the new CD. It soon became apparent that that we had more of a story to tell and this would be a documentary, so we rearranged the video clips in a more logical order with storytelling in mind. That’s how it evolved.
Robert: Interspersed between the interviews there are live video performances but only for the new KIX songs. Is there a reason why there weren’t any older songs on the DVD?
Mark Schenker: Here is the reason. In order to use those older KIX songs you have to get the sync rights from the original songwriters to use in live concert footage. We weren’t able to secure them. We ran into the same thing with the Live in Baltimore CD/DVD from 2012, the label put it out illegally and that is the reason we didn’t do our new record with them. Getting all the rights to the old songs to sync to a live video wasn’t something we were interested in doing. It would have taken more time and money. We really didn’t feel like we needed those older songs to add to the story because it was about the return of KIX not a documentary about what KIX did in the old days. All of those factors played into not making the focus of this documentary about a live show.
There are plenty of DVD extras like a full length interview with Taylor and a longer interview Nuno Bettencourt – who knew he was such a rabid fan of the band? There is a 12 song live CD where we picked up six of the new song live from the DVD, some KIX classics, and a few of the songs that were on the import version of Rock Your Face Off. The live CD turned out really well. The guitarist on the Cool Kids LP CD, Brad Divens, is now a world renowned mixing engineer and he mixed our live CD. That’s an interesting KIX tie.
Robert: What lies on the horizon for KIX?
Mark Schenker: We have a good booking agent so we are working quite a bit. We have the Monster of Rock Cruise coming up and bunch of shows leading into the Winter. We will probably look at gathering new material for a record in the Spring of the New Year. We are not in a big hurry as the album cycle isn’t what it used to be. All we care about is having great songs for the fans. We are doing another record and we are going to do it right. Taylor expressed an interest in working with us again so we are really happy.