Kidd Havok isn't necessarily a new band. In fact, they've been pounding the pavement since the glam glory days of the 1980s. Time passed and a record deal eluded the talented Floridians. Now, the band finally has a proper release in Roll The Dice on the Suncity Records inprint. Bring Back Glam! recently spoke with guitarist Scot Marcs about the band, their future and the problem with downloading music. Transcription follows.
Bring Back Glam!: Tell me all about your band Kidd Havok.
Scot Marcs: We started as a band called Scrooge in the mid 80s and we replaced the singer, and since he had the band name (Scrooge) tattooed on his arm, we changed our name to Kidd Havok. We picked up Johnny B. (vocals) at that point who had actually done a ton of video work for us, and was in another local band that was doing pretty well. We thought he’d be a perfect fit, so we grabbed him and it worked out really well. Songwriting came in right away and everything kind of fell into place. We did what every band did back then: up and down the east coast. One nighters. Any club that would let us play. We did the ten song cassette that we sold a little over 7,000 copies out of the back of a van. Then we took a break. It was 1994, everyone was done, burnt out. Everyone wanted to kind of find a life I guess. Johnny B. and I stayed together, still wrote stuff. Everyone else joined cover bands but me. I just couldn’t join the ranks of the cover band – couldn’t bring myself to it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. David Morris (of Suncity Records) bought our cassette off eBay, paid a stupid amount of money for it, and it still had a phone number on it. One of the guys still had the same phone number, so he (Morris) called us and it kind of got us back rolling again. It was weird because we’d gotten some invitations locally (West Palm Beach) to play again, and we were always like “maybe.” So we got together with Tommy (Pinello) who was the original bass player before Shawn (St. Pierre) and Robbie (Barone, drums) who’s been with us pretty much since the jump. We did a great reunion show: 500 people packed inside a little club. Things started mounting up. Rob is a fireman and paramedic and he can’t travel and do those sorts of things with his job. So we picked up Jim McCourt, who’s been playing with me in my solo guitar thing and we sort of rolled from there. We just wrapped up the Poison dates in West Palm Beach and Tampa. West Palm was crazy. Right now we’re trying to book a tour.
BBG: Tell me more about playing with Poison.
SM: The Tampa gig we ended up getting last second, so it was sort of chaotic. The West Palm show – that’s our hometown. We got to play second on the big stage and we got to headline the second stage. It was cool. There were about 2,000 people. Tampa was tough because of crazy rain. When we went on there we played to about three people and those three turned into maybe 300 just because it was pouring. In West Palm we had great weather. It was cool because we saw a couple guys from RATT and Vains of Jenna check out our show. It was fun playing in our own town and we got to pass out like 2,000 tickets, so we called up anyone we ever owed a favor to and gave them free tickets. We had good local press…just to see everyone again was great. RATT played amazing, Vains of Jenna are really cool and Poison is Poison. I saw them when they were still playing in clubs, I don’t think they’ve ever had a bad night.
BBG: You say you couldn’t bring yourself to play in cover bands. Did you leave music or have you always played professionally?
SM: I went into the other side of the business for awhile, the retail side. I’ve always played. I taught and I’ve had a home studio. I’ve done solo stuff and I’ve done a couple guitar competitions. I played in some other bands, but I wasn’t into it as much. A lot of guys get sucked into whatever is popular and what has to be done – whatever the current trend. You know, I’ve been playing this type of music since I was a kid and I’ll be playing it until I’m done. If it’s popular, great. If it’s not, then it won’t be. It’s funny, back in 1993 a very big management company put an offer on the table for us: change this, change that. They were going to take away everything we did and who we were…it felt wrong, so we passed. It was the right thing for us at the time.
BBG: Are the songs on Roll The Dice all classic material?
SM: The only thing that is new on that release is a live guitar solo. We were actually setting sound up in the studio, and I did a solo thing we’ve been doing live forever. We recorded it. David from Suncity wanted a bunch of stuff to put the disc together. They (the label) had the entire original cassette remastered and wanted to add some bonus material. What we decided is that instead of adding bonus material, is we’ll give them another CD. So Roll The Dice is the original 10 songs with a live studio two-track solo. The rest of the new stuff…will be on the next CD.
BBG: So this means you’ll be with Suncity for your second album?
SM: Well, we owe them the second CD. That’s definitely going to happen. We had a lot of management people coming to the two Poison shows. They’re (the label) doing a good job in the sense they are getting us a lot of press. We’re in iTunes, Sony, Napster…every major download site and let’s face it: nobody in America is buying CDs anyway. People download music. I think me and maybe three of my friends still want the physical CD.
BBG: I want the physical CD.
SM: Then you’re number four.
BBG: I like to have something tangible to look at while the music is playing.
SM: Absolutely! Plus, I like all the extras like the DVDs and the artwork. It’s kind of a sad trend. At our merchandise table at the Poison show, everybody just wanted to know where they could download the songs.
BBG: Well, people really want to know where to steal music.
SM: Our lawyer told us we had 26,000 downloads over one weekend from some torrent site.
BBG: Are your torn over this?
SM: At first I was pissed. I mean, I was woken up first thing in the morning and told “Good news and bad news.” Good news is that you have 26,000 downloads and the bad news is that they were all stolen. So, in one sense it means people like the music and they’re going after it. In another, it costs musicians money. Small bands have to have day jobs and go into their own pocket to tour and do these things. It sucks…if people really want to see live music continue, on any scale, fans are going to have to buy some stuff.
BBG: Do you have any more details on your second CD?
SM: Tentatively, it’s going to be called Dirty Money. It’s going to have a whole drug-gambling theme to it.
BBG: When will that be released?
SM: I don’t know. If it was up to Suncity, it would be out by January but I don’t think they’ll get it in time. The songs are written and we’re ready to record. The biggest thing we’re wrestling with is that my studio is set up to do instrumental stuff. We’re trying to save as much money as possible. There’s a couple things…we might go to a different studio to do the drums, then record the rest back at my house. I produced and engineered the last disc and I’ll do that again. Not because of ego: it’s just cheaper and easier. We’re kind of quick. We know what we want, we do it and we go home. We’re also not going to ProTools it to death. What you’ll hear is what we’re really playing.
BBG: A lot of young people are into 80s rock right now. What do you think about that?
SM: As long as they’re into it to be into and not to take the piss out of it, I’m cool. There’s one band – I can’t think of their name right now – they’re always making fun of it. They don’t realize in the next 15 years that their music will be made fun of by their kids too. The thing we wrestle with is image. You don’t want to be older and look stupid. I look at the guys from Vains of Jenna. They’re cool and they’re living it but I’ve already done that once. Which way we go with it…we’re experimenting. I loved talking to the kids (at the Poison shows). They knew about Guns n’ Roses, Faster Pussycat the other bands. They went back and got into it. I was telling kids, “Don’t forget, there’s Hanoi Rocks and all sorts of amazing bands that you’ve got to look at.” Hopefully, as you say, we’ll bring it back. Make it strong again.
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