Monday, January 23, 2012

James Hager (PodKISSt, E.P.E., interview


PodKISSt, your KISS podcast (natch), ranks a close second on my favorite podcasts list. Really good stuff. What were the circumstances that led you and your PodKISSt co-hosts Gary Shaller and Ken Mills to create it back in 2007?

I'm really glad that you dig the show! In late 2006 or early 2007, Gary hit me up. He said that since the previous KISS podcast has ceased updating with new episodes, we should get together and host our own. He thought that I brought a unique perspective to the show by only being 20 years old at the time and a fan for so short of a time. We went to our buddy Tony who, at the time, owned and he was more than happy to host it for us (check out my and Tony's other project, Ken came along a bit later. Starting with the second show, I believe, Ken did all of the artwork. Starting within the first 10 episodes or so, Ken started contributing material. Eventually, Ken became a full fledged member of the show and today, he's kinda taken over the position of "co-host" while I've kinda slid to the background and contribute when I have time.

What sort of criteria do you and your co-hosts use in determining the content for each episode of PodKISSt?

Honestly, there isn't much criteria. We make sure we'll have something to talk about and that we think someone will listen. One of the most important things we make sure of is that the topic is more positive than negative. There is too much negativity within the KISS Army. We don't wanna contribute to that.

What are some of your favorite PodKISSt episodes and why?

I've always been a fan of the episodes that focus more on the music and the episodes where we play rarities. Any of the shows where we dissect an album are incredible. I also really enjoy the first Christmas episode. Wiggy FTW!

You've had several special guests on the PodKISSt. How much of a challenge has it been for you and/or your co-hosts to get people to appear on the show?

It's been a great challenge to get some folks on the show. HOWEVER, one of the greater tasks is making sure that all of us co-hosts are available to record the same interviews at the same time. I had to call in to work to interview Ace.

Who have been some of your favorite special guests and why?

Ace, Tommy, Eric and Bruce are obvious choices. A somewhat less obvious choice is Tod Howarth of Frehley's Comet fame. He was awesome. In preparation for the interview, he asked me what my favorite Comet song was. I told him "Calling To You" and he sent us an exclusive acoustic version of this song recorded just for our show. That was incredible.

When and how did you become a KISS fan?

I became a fan in the 7th grade around September of 1998. I had a friend at school that was a hardcore fan and I was anything but. I remember actually making fun of him for it. He sent me home with a VHS tape of the abbreviated VH1 version of X-treme Close-Up hosted by Sebastian Bach. I heard clips of "Watchin' You" from Winterland 1975, "100,000 Years" from Cobo Hall 1976 and "I Stole Your Love" from Magic Mountain 1977. I was instantly hooked. My mom and dad dismissed it as a phase. I was 12 then and I'll be 26 next month. That's a helluva phase.

What are some of your favorite KISS albums/songs and why?

My favorite song by far is "Black Diamond". To me, that is the definitive KISS song. It has been performed by every lineup and sang by every drummer and Paul. If any KISS song can show the evolution of the band, it's "Black Diamond". If you've ever seen Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, they do a video collage of "Seek and Destroy" (which, strangely enough, is my favorite Metallica song) over the years. I would love to see something similar for "Black Diamond".

My favorite album is Psycho Circus, probably because it was my first. Other favorites include Destroyer, Creatures Of The Night, Revenge and Unplugged. My least favorite is, easily, Animalize. What a turd.

Do you have a favorite KISS member or members? If so, who and why?

I'd have to go with Peter Criss and the two Erics. I am a singing drummer myself (like my band E.P.E. on Facebook! ) and these guys are the biggest source of inspiration to me. We are about to record our debut album after 8+ years together. I intend to thank all 3 in the liner notes.

How many times have you seen KISS in concert, what were some of your favorite KISS concerts/tours and why?

I have seen them twice. The first time was in Nashville on the Alive 35 tour (we detail my first show on a PodKISSt episode - check it out!) The second time was in Cincinnati on the Hottest Show on Earth Tour. Both were great times!

What are some of your other favorite bands/artists besides KISS and why?

I love a wide variety of music. I'm a big Rob/White Zombie fan. Def Leppard and Queen are two of my favorites as well. Pink Floyd is fantastic. My favorite band out there right now is easily The Black Keys. If any you classic rock or blues fans are looking for something new, check the Keys out. Don't just listen to the last two albums (Brothers and El Camino). Dig further. Jam out to Rubber Factory. You won't be sorry!

Feel free to discuss and/or shamelessly plug any of your other endeavors here.

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Make sure to continue listening to PodKISSt!!!

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