Monday, January 25, 2010
Getting to the nitty gritty: A conversation with Gary Kriss
I first became aware of the incredible music of Gary Kriss from his contributions to the soundtrack of award winning independent horror film Sphere of the Lycanthrope. I was immediately hooked by Gary’s back to basics, hard rockin’ sound. I recently had the pleasure to talk with Gary about his band Reckless, his music for Sphere, and more!
Tell us a little bit about the recording of your classic album, No Frills.
GK: RECKLESS was signed to Valentino / ATCO - Atlantic by Senior VP Phil "The Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla" Carson. Phil Carson also signed AC / DC, Bad Company, Twisted Sister, Yes, Foreigner, to name a few. Phil was on his way to Robert Plant’s house when he heard the RECKLESS demo; you know, the lead singer from LED ZEPPELIN. Phil dug the demo, and so did Robert. After getting a phone call from Phil in England, where he was based, I got a call from a JJ French, one of the TWISTEDS, about to take the stage on their "Stay Hungry" tour opening for Iron Maiden. JJ told me that Phil loved the demo and wanted JJ French and Mark Mendoza (TS) to produce our next demo and sign RECKLESS to his record label. Phil also made plans to see RECKLESS, in the states, because he was going to be on the road for a while, managing Jimmy Page’s band "THE FIRM".
The "NO FRILLS" album was recorded at Boogie Hotel, in Port Jefferson NY. The studio was once owned by FOGHAT and the mixing board was John Lennon’s from "Imagine". .......Talk about name-dropping; but this is really cool stuff!....... We lived there, in the studio, while we recorded the album, which was very cool. There was no set schedule - just inspiration - scantily clad inspiration -and there was plenty of that..... The album was mixed in L.A., where we shot our first video for our first single "Nitty Gritty", and mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC.
How did you and Reckless come to be involved with Sphere of the Lycanthrope?
GK: David Stay, Keith Grening and myself were long time friends - all with a variety of creative drives. David , acting and screen writing, Keith, writing and directing, and myself, writing music and performing live, as well as writing screen plays. The RECKLESS album, "NO FRILLS" was released on Valentino / ATCO-Atlantic Records shortly before the movie went into production. "NO FRILLS" was produced by two of the Twisted Sisters, Mark "The Animal" Mendoza, and JJ French.
Over the past 18 years, our careers and lives have bifurcated, some of us took the path less taken; but we all remained partners in crime. When David and Keith started the 'beginning -of- the-end' of post production for Sphere, it was pretty much a no-brainer that I should write the songs for the soundtrack. I was intimately involved with Sphere; I lived and breathed it.
What was the time frame like for your work on the film?
GK: I was working on the film while RECKLESS was touring and while I was writing new material. These new songs that I wrote, are on the soundtrack. "Sin City", "Ball Of Confusion, "Angelica", "She Looks Like Hell". "Voices In The Night" were written for the "NO FRILLS" album by myself and RECKLESS singer, Chris Cintron. The version of "VOICES" in SOTL was re-recorded while David Stay was finalizing the post production of Sphere.
That was a real coincidence.
The planets were beginning to align. I had just gotten RECKLESS back together. We had just returned from playing ROCKLAHOMA, a 5 day 80's music festival, for over 200,000 people in Oklahoma! Wicked cool! Everyone from Ratt, Poison, Skid Row to Lita Ford, Dokken, LA Guns and Queensryche. RECKLESS played on the final day, after Ace Frehley of KISS, and before TESLA. The weather was about 110 degrees and the rock chicks were all there, showin’ a lot of skin and doin’ what they do best..... but that’s another story!
I wanted to record a more current version of "Voices In The Night". I had some great new ideas for the song, and RECKLESS, at this point, is sounding better than ever. I hooked up with engineer / producer Chris Petro at URS Studios in New York, and RECKLESS was back in the studio. On my way to the studio one night, I got a call on my cell from David Stay, updating me on the 18 years of progress and talking about using my songs for the soundtrack. That was when I told him what I was doing with RECKLESS, in the studio at that very moment ! So we recorded "VOICES" with SOTL in mind, and I then wrote the music for all of the werewolf fighting scenes.
I have to admit, the songs in the film were KILLER! Will they be available to the public?
GK: Thanks for the props on the soundtrack! It was an amazing time! The Big Hair 80's.....For all of us with excessive personalities, it was just like being a kid in a candy shop, and nobody watching how much you took......I just had a flashback...L.A, 1990, Sunset Blvd, Seventh Veil... yea baby...you gotta love it...and that my friend, was, and still is, my inspiration....Back to the question... I am currently working on a distribution deal for the songs I wrote for Sphere. I'm also working on releasing another CD called " Pull Your Pants Down and Party", featuring the songs from SOTL plus 5 or 6 more tracks. If you dig the songs in the movie, then you'll want to own the RECKLESS CD, 'NO FRILLS", which is available at RETROSPECTRECORDS.COMhttp://www.retrospectrecords.com/products/reckless.html for 11.99 plus S&H, or you can get an autographed copy from me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the same price.
Has there been any talk of your involvement in the proposed sequel to Sphere of the Lycanthrope?
GK: Aaahhh yes. The sequel...David Stay is brilliant at getting the job done. I am anticipating a phone call from David with the green light. David Stay has a vision, and that vision includes Gary Kriss... and RECKLESS......I'm honored and proud to be a part of any project of David Stay’s.
Going back a bit. Who would you say is your greatest musical influence?
GK: Good question....I always believed that a rock concert was an event, a show, a carnival and a reason for the fans to get away from their daily 9 to 5 routine and become a part of something larger than life, to become a PART of the show. For one hour, have a kick-ass time and forget where your reality is; and join ours. I think Gene Simmons and KISS were a very strong influence on me. I remember as a kid, sneaking out of my room and hitching a ride to a KISS concert, watching Gene spit blood and breath fire; Ace, shooting flares out his smoking Les Paul, the androgynous Paul Stanley being Paul Stanley (whatever that is), and the Peter Criss’ drum kit swallowed by smoke and fire, reaching the sky, exploding the entire way up; and feeling like a part of something REALLY BIG! That is what RECKLESS brings to it's fans also. A private party that everyone is invited to. Get on board the freight train, cause it's leavin’ the station! We’ll rock your socks off and you'll sweat your ass off, all while having the time of your life!
Musically, of course there was Black Sabbath, AC / DC, Aerosmith, and Johnny Thunders and The New York Dolls. A down and dirty, gutter glitter feel for some raunch n roll. Ain’t nothin’ better than Street Metal!
For all of our musician readers...Tell us about your gear!
GK: Hey man, it's rock n roll - as long it was loud, it was good...and mine goes to 11! I was endorsed by Marshall Amplifiers. They were free, so they were great. I also like AMPEG power with SVT bottoms. And every now and again - I "KRANK" it up!. Don’t forget to add a few subs too. As far as basses, I've played and owned pretty much all there is, but my fave is my BC Rich Mockingbird original neck thru with GHS bass boomer medium gauge strings. The strings are an endorsement too and sound unbelievable on the Mock. Yea - some of you are goin’ it’s a piece of S#%', but dude, it sounds thunderous. I play left handed, so this bass was custom made for me. Listen to the bass track in "Voices In The Night" on the soundtrack, and then tell me what you think.
What was the craziest show you ever played?
GK: Dude - ALL the shows are wild - but the real madness and mayhem happen after the shows!
Any final message for the fans?
GK: The Fans are the reason I do what I do! I want to say THANK YOU to all our fans throughout the world -from the US to England; France, Belgium, and Germany, to Japan, Australia and Canada!
Believe in yourself and don’t let the bastards get you down.
Reach the unreachable - touch the untouchable - and think the unthinkable!
You, and only YOU, can make your dreams come true - You really can!
Don’t dream it - BE IT!
AWESOME! I want to thank Gary for being so gracious with his time and granting us an interview! I strongly urge everyone to check out http://www.retrospectrecords.com/products/reckless.html and order a copy of “NO FRILLS” today, you won’t regret it!