Monday, June 4, 2012

Mike Campion (Rock And Roll Over, Gene's Addiction, That 80z Band) interview


How old were you when you first started listening to music and what were the first bands/artists that you listened to?

My mom used to always listen to The Beatles, Wings and lots of '70s era stuff when I was very little. My dad listened to OUTLAW country (Willie, Waylon, etc.) and my sister was listening to all sorts of stuff. So I was always surrounded by music but I got into KISS, Electric Light Orchestra and STYX in the late '70s when I was still under 10 years old and from there, I fell in love with hard rock!

How old were you when you first started playing a musical instrument and what was the first instrument that you played?

I was about 14 years old when me and two friends decided to start a band. Out of the 3 guys, I was the one left with buying the bass and learning it. Darren Freeze picked the drums and Andres Tucker chose lead guitar, so my dad bought me a cheap Peavey Bass and a GORILLA Bass Combo amp that I broke 10 minutes after getting it. Eventually, my dad bought me a Peavey Combo amp and we used that as a bass amp and vocal PA for several parties and rehearsals. We jammed in Andres' garage and after about a year, we could actually play a song or two.

Why did you choose that particular instrument?

Out of process of elimination. For whatever reason, I wound up picking last and that's what was left to choose from.

As a musician, who are some of your influences and why?

Bassists. I always loved Gene Simmons' style of playing, his walks, the way he played with a pick and held the bass almost like a weapon. I've always liked bassists who sing, so Gene, Jack Blades (Night Ranger), Doug Pinnick (King's X), Chip (Enuff Z'nuff), etc. I tried to model myself after those kinds of guys - strapped bass on low and played with a pick. Never could play with fingers. I can but I don't like it.

Discuss your KISS tribute bands Rock And Roll Over and Gene's Addiction.

I have done the KISS tribute thing since 1995. I can remember wanting to do a KISS tribute band back in the '80s in high school and the local clubs said that it would never work and that no one wants to see that. Long before the internet and any social media or anything. I was not aware of any KISS tributes out there, I just knew that I would wanna see it done. I joined a band called The Band Not Formerly Known As KISS in '95 and we played a few years with no makeup and finally put makeup on and wore business suits for a few years. In 2000, we played at Six Flags and we had to make costumes, so we used the advance from Six Flags to make our own costumes. We played the entire month of October at Six Flags in Houston, Texas (Astroworld) for Fright Night and that was an eye opening experience. Six Flags really invested in that show and we had professional pyro each night and concussions. Big giant fireworks going off behind us, confetti blowing at the end of each show. It was very cool!

I did a version of Gene's Addiction back in 2001 and it wasn't what I wanted, so I stopped doing it until around 2009. Gready Hunter joined me and he recruited two of the best musicians in the world (no kidding!), Michael Emerson and Kevin Coffey, and we went to work rehearsing and putting a show together. Gene's Addiction is not about just playing the songs and dressing up, it's an idea. What if Gene was to do a solo show or a Vegas style show? What would it look like if he wore the costume/makeup and had a kick ass band supporting him? Over time, the show became what it is - very in your face but totally nails the persona of The Demon! We do some obscure Gene tunes and various KISS tunes but also work in other covers by Stone Temple Pilots, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, etc. and it all fits. We have headlined House of Blues, Kemah Boardwalk, played live for Fox News, Clear Channel Radio, Cox Radio and lots more. It is a product that we pull out now for special occasions. We are actually doing a show in Clear Lake, TX on 7/7/12 with a Mötley Crüe tribute band at Scout Bar - first time that we will do the full show in quite some time. Very excited about that!

Rock And Roll Over was a product of former members of Texas based Destroyer and Love Gun out of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I was asked to join the band in the middle of 2011 and I did several shows with them. This is a full on classic style KISS tribute. I was unable to do some shows in late 2011 and Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys/Broken Teeth (and tons more bands) played The Demon for several shows. Rock And Roll Over got chosen in the top 20 of the KISS Off finals in January of 2012 and made the top 4 to compete in Vegas for the best KISS tribute band in the world. Tommy Thayer was one of the 3 judges and we played last and really blew the roof off the place but the winner wound up being Mr. Speed from Ohio. The other two bands were from Australia and Hungary respectively. It was an amazing experience and a pleasure to take part in the first event like that of any kind in KISStory! Rock And Roll Over really took off after this event and has played House Of Blues venues in Ohio, Illinois, Texas (Dallas and Houston) and has been asked to play in New Orleans and Cincinnati. We have done shows in Dallas, Abilene, Grapevine, El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Laredo and many more Texas cities as well as shows in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Rock And Roll Over continues to be asked to do more shows that we are able to do since I am in other bands and the guys in that band also play in a Def Leppard tribute. Both bands are lots of fun and they keep all of us very busy with shows.

What are some of your favorite KISS songs to play and why?

I love all the KISS tunes. Of course, the ones we don't HAVE to play, I enjoy working into the set. But when it's all said and done, I enjoy the ones that get the best crowd reaction. "Rock And Roll All Nite" always goes over well. I have played that song more times by far than any other song but it never fails!

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

I love Destroyer. Revenge is one of my all time faves. I really like what Bob Ezrin is able to get out of Gene and Paul. I would've loved it if Ezrin worked with the reunited lineup again in '98/'99 but it wasn't to be. Revenge was very meat and potatoes KISS!

Have any of the members of KISS given you any feedback on Rock And Roll Over and/or Gene's Addiction? If so, what did they say?

Tommy Thayer had quite a bit to say to us. All positive stuff in Vegas. I won't go into too much here but I will say that he was extremely complimentary and it was eye opening as to how things really work. I have met most of the guys in KISS and former KISS: Gene several times, Paul a few times, Ace once, Eric Singer several times, Tommy Thayer several times, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr. I've never met Peter or Mark. I did not get much feedback from Gene or Paul on the band. Gene did ask for a Gene's Addiction shirt and he was given one backstage in Houston by a friend of ours. Gene likes that kind of stuff. Paul basically told me to "do a good job" when we do the KISS tribute.

Discuss your '80s tribute band, That 80z Band.

That 80z Band is a party band. I sing lead and I am not a lead singer by any stretch of the imagination. The guys in the band (Jarod Frank-STIKK on drumz, Jason Gardner-Sleazy on lead guitar and Keaton Branch-Slikk on bass) are great musicians. Keaton is probably one of the best bass players I know. They all break the songs down and learn it the right way. We all dress up and put on an '80s party when we play. This band has really taken off in the last 6 months and has tons of shows booked over the next two months. We have played House of Blues, Kemah Boardwalk and various clubs in town. Lots of fun and just a non-stop party.

We'll be playing Rock The Dock at Kemah Boardwalk on June 21st!

Do you play or have you played in any other bands (tribute or original)? If so, please discuss.

In the past, I have done a Motley Crue tribute but I have always just done the KISS one consistently. Not sure how much longer I will do it or be able to do it but each year, it keeps getting better and makes it harder to shelve.

I have played in various other bands. I play guitar in a local cover band called C.O.D. and it's just a fun bar band. We goof off and just put on a fun event. Just 4 guys that like to mess around and pretend to play. I played in Monster Rodd back in the early 2000s with Scott Dalhover of Dangerous Toys fame and we recorded some tunes and played in Austin, Houston, Beaumont and Dallas but it was short lived.

What's your advice to young people who are considering pursuing careers in some capacity in the entertainment industry?

Like many people have said, the music business is not just about the music or your capabilities/talent. It's a business first & foremost and you better have a business sense if you plan on getting ahead. Not that I am ahead but in my small dealings, the business side is tough and you better be smart or you will get taken advantage of, pissed on, used and taken for granted. Be your own champion, put a REAL value on your talent/skills/trade and learn to negotiate and sell yourself.

Feel free to discuss any of your other endeavors here.

Thanks so much for the interest in me and my projects! I am touched!

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