Brian Forsythe knows guitar. The experienced axeman has played for a variety of bands, but he's most famous for his work in Kix and Rhino Bucket. Today, both bands are creating a buzz in the music world: Kix is gearing up for a prime spot during Rocklahoma 2008 and Rhino Bucket is about to head back in the studio to record a new album. Bring Back Glam! recently chatted with Brian about Rocklahoma, Donnie Purnell and pesky royalty checks. Transcription follows:
Bring Back Glam!: You're in both Kix and Rhino Bucket these days.
Brian Forsythe: Yes, we have been working on a new Rhino Bucket record. We haven’t actually recorded anything yet. We’ve been writing songs, and doing demos.
BBG: How long have you been working on it then?
BF: Since October.
BBG: That’s not so long.
BF: No. We went on a road trip in October. Then, we just decided to start working on it. We’ve just been taking it easy and are kind of going at a slow pace.
BBG: Do you have any idea of when you’d like to get in the studio to really start recording?
BF: We are planning on the last week in March.
BBG: How many songs will be on the new Rhino Bucket CD?
BF: 10 or 11. We’re going to record a bunch and then release the best ones.
BBG: I assume Rhino Bucket will do a tour after the CD is complete?
BF: Maybe. Last year we did a tour…in October…the problem is…we never get any radio play. So some of the cities we go into …some of the cities are great, but other places, no one knew we were there. I think in our situation, it would be best to tour with a band that already has a crowd. Say, like Buckcherry or something.
BBG: Now you’re playing Rocklahoma with Kix. I presume you’re excited?
BG: Yeah. Rhino Bucket did it last year. We had a morning slot so it wasn’t peak. I was there in the evening…I saw what the peak crowd looked like. The time slot Kix has…the best time slot you could ask for.
BBG: You’re playing around 7 p.m.?
BF: Right around sundown.
BBG: How did the Kix reunion actually come together? Will you tour?
BF: We probably won’t do a full on tour. Probably just fly-in gigs. The booking agent we work with kind of specializes in that. He handles Great White and that’s the way they do it. They fly in, sort of do a warm-up date, then play the big festival show and maybe another date right after that…a couple hours away. Then, get on a plane and go home for the week. We have two weekend gigs before Rocklahoma to sort of warm-up for Rocklahoma. They are on the east coast. The June dates are in Long Island and New Jersey.
BBG: After you played with Rhino Bucket at Rocklahoma last year, did you think you had to get Kix on board?
BF: The funny thing is…W.A.S.P. dropped out at the last minute. A booking agent out here in L.A. called Steve (Whiteman, vocals) to see if we could fill the slot. So he (Steve) emailed all of us, but by the time we got back to him and he got back to the agent they (Rocklahoma organizers) had already filled the slot with Queensryche. So, we’d already had an offer last year. It was so last minute though. That was the problem. The booking agent was really trying to get us in there. Once Steve saw how excited we all were about it, he sort of put it out there, saying “We’ll, maybe next year we can and also play a few dates outside the Maryland area.” That’s what sparked the whole thing. We’ve been playing shows once a year in the Baltimore area since. It’s been really successful– and not just in Baltimore. Each year it gets bigger, so it’s been good.
BBG: Are you ever overwhelmed by your rabid east coast fans?
BF: (Laughs). Well, I’ve been experiencing it for a long time. Back in the Hammerjacks days it was insane.
BBG: A lot of those fans will be at Rocklahoma just to see you.
BF: A lot of fans haven’t had a chance to see us in a long time. Some have never seen us.
BBG: Do you have any plans to do a reissue of the Blow My Fuse video collection on DVD?
BF: Well, that was an Atlantic thing (editor's note: Kix was signed to Atlantic Records through the 1980s). We actually did put together our own little collection we’ve sold locally at shows. We may do something like that at Rocklahoma.
BBG: Is Kix on a label these days?
BF: No, Kix is not signed right now.
BBG: Do you want to get on a label so you can release a new album?
BF: Donnie (Purnell, bass) is not in the band anymore. He was the main songwriter. Personally…without Donnie…I don’t think it would be Kix. To do another record, Donnie would have to be involved. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
BBG: How long has it been since you’ve spoken to Donnie?
BF: Probably back in 2002 and it was great. We talked about old times and I like Donnie, he’s a nice guy. There was a problem between him and Steve – they were not speaking. When Steve talked to the rest of us about doing the Kix reunion…he said the only way he would do it was if Donnie wasn’t involved. Now, Donnie’s not speaking to any of us now.
BBG: Ok, so he was not invited to play Rocklahoma?
BBG: Does that make you sad?
BF: Well…in some ways. It would be really cool if it was the total, original band. I think Donnie was the reason the band was as successful as it was, but he was also the reason the band ended up falling apart at the end. He’s the reason I left. I just don’t know…bringing him in…I just don’t see how that could happen. There’s just too much history.
BBG: You and Donnie helped form the band in the late 70s.
BF: Yes. He, Ronnie (Younkins, guitar) and I. It was actually Ronnie and him…started out with a couple other guys. It didn’t work out and at some point they called me. We had a different drummer and singer when we started.
BBG: What was the name of your original singer?
BF: The "original original?" His name was Ed. I don’t even know his last name! We had three singers before Steve. The first guy was from Buffalo, so we called him “Buffalo Ed.” The second singer was a guy named Terry Brady – who played with Donnie back in the 70s in a band called Starship. That was a Glam cover band. So we got Terry Brady back in the band for awhile. Terry was married and settled down and he wasn’t ready to start over again. Then we got a third guy – I can’t remember his name – but he wasn’t very reliable so we had to let him go.
BBG: It’s wild to me you can’t remember the names!
BF: I know! Any other day I would…now that I want to think of it, I can’t remember.
BBG: When you flew back east for your first Kix show in about a decade…did you have any anticipation that maybe Kix would get going full-time again?
BF: We all sort of agreed beforehand that we were going do this to have fun. We wanted to have fun and make some money. Back in the 80s, we had some fame, but we never made any money. We made money playing, and we made a paycheck at the end of the week, but we never got that big payoff. We thought we would do these shows to get paid. We split the money and it’s been fun. That was the goal. I’ve always felt that if Donnie wasn’t involved, I wouldn’t want to record any more records. We have so many records to draw from – we can play forever!
BBG: Does Donnie own the band name?
BF: No, but we were all really worried about that when we first got back together. We thought “Oh no, what if he tries to sue us!” We checked and found out no one owned the name. So we bought the name.
BBG: No one owned the name?
BF: Yep, it was never registered.
BBG: You’re lucky Gene Simmons didn’t buy it! So now you share the name equally?
BBG: What year did you register your name?
BF: Probably around 2004.
BBG: So you had all those different managers back in the 80s and not one of them bothered to trademark your name? Geesh.
BBG: Now how is it that you ended up without money?
BF: In 1981, there was a crackdown after the big payola scandal of the late 70s. Right at the beginning of the 80s, the record companies were being safe. They were not handing out advances. They would advance your recording budget, but that was it. Our contract was based on vinyl and vinyl prices. There was no MTV, so we didn’t have a budget for videos. We paid for those videos. The label would front the money for the video and then take it back. We didn’t renegotiate our deal until 1988, right before Blow My Fuse. Our first three records were based on vinyl prices. It was really bad – just a bad deal anyway. None of us knew what we were doing. We were just so excited to have a record deal. We had a lawyer look at the contract…but I don’t know what happened. There are writer’s royalties, and the mechanical royalties that go to the band. The record company gets paid back through the mechanical until the bill (advancement) is paid off. Donnie was the main songwriter, so he was still getting his money. By the time we go to Blow My Fuse – our biggest selling record – we were two million dollars in debt. There was no way out. After I left the band I hired a lawyer to look into things to see if there were royalties we didn’t know about…turns out that contract we renegotiated in 1988 had a time limit on it, and after a certain number of years, it dropped back to the original deal. Blow My Fuse didn’t go platinum until 2001 or 2002…so a lot of the record sales happened after the deal reverted back.
BBG: So, do you get a royalty checks from time to time?
BF: I’ve never seen a check. Donnie probably still gets writer's royalty checks. The rest of the money is going back to the record company.
BBG: Did it ever occur to the rest of you to get more involved with the songwriting since you knew how the money was distributed?
BF: At the beginning, it was more of a band effort. I do have song writing credits on the first two records. As time went on, it was harder and harder to get any of our songs on the record. It was mostly Donnie. Steve put up the biggest fight, so he managed to get at least one song on each record. Donnie was such a better songwriter. For every 20 songs he would write, I would write one. We were working on his songs all the time and we never even had time to write our own stuff. I’ve learned from that. Now with Rhino Bucket, it’s a four way split with everything we do. Now, everybody writes songs and contributes.
BBG: Do you see royalties from Rhino Bucket?
BF: We haven’t sold enough records. I do get money from movies and T.V. stuff that we do. This is the first time in my career I’ve ever seen a B.M.I. check. Well, ok, maybe way back in the early days I may have gotten a couple checks. The biggest one was maybe $350. One time I remember getting one for $1.99. I could count the amount of checks I’ve received on one hand.
BBG: What are some songs I’m guaranteed to hear Kix play at Rocklahoma?
BF: I’ll bet you any money “Blow My Fuse.” “Cold Blood” will be in there and definitely “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” Possibly “Hot Wire.” I know what our main songs are. We’ll probably trim it down.
BBG: What about “Cold Shower?” That’s my favorite.
BF: Oh, we’ll definitely play that.
Photo credit: Brian Forsythe via Myspace.