By Brandon Hanks
The build up for Kiss Kiss Bang’s CD release show has been insane for fans of the hometown guys in Kiss Kiss Bang. The highly anticipated debut album Open Wide, which dropped May 20th, was celebrated at the Spillway Bar & Grill in Bowling Green, KY. The madness began with the launch of the official KKB merch table, along with tables from support acts Memory and Despite The Fallen. We got the party started right while fans purchased their merchandise and the first band was about to take the Spillway Bar & Grill stage!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kiss Kiss Bang, let me tell you a little something about these guys. They have been seething to get this opportunity; to play a hometown show for the people of Bowling Green, and to show them that there is no where else they would rather play this show. In fact, guitarist Malcolm Warren had an offer to travel to LA and audition for a signed band, and he naturally took the offer.
“I got there three days before my audition, and ended up meeting some musician friends and hung out on the sunset strip,” said Warren. “It was fun, but I realized that my heart was still in Kentucky with Kiss Kiss Bang. So I went back home and not two weeks later we were jamming and writing again in my basement and I knew from the moment we hit that first note again that Kiss Kiss Bang was the band I would play in forever.”
The guys in Kiss Kiss Bang have been getting the word out on social media for months now and talking to fans, and potential fans from all over the country, to get the word out about this debut album. They even stopped in the Spillway to grab some wings and drinks while checking out the big banner that was adorned out front of the venue the week of the show.
As I approached the eve of this release show, I talked to fans of the local rockers and family as well to get a sense of what this road has been like leading up to the night they would unleash this album, which as some of you may know is not easy when you are funding and producing on your own. A lot of planning and self-funding goes into this, as well as self-sacrifice and painstaking time and focus.
As the bands started to arrive and get settled in, they got their sound-checks in and talked to the light and sound engineers to make sure everything was ready for the event of the summer. First up on the Spillway stage was local band Memory. Vocalist Jay Willis dug in and with the first chord of their song “Oak,” they began their set with power vocals likened to that of Levi Benton from Miss May I. The band thrashed on stage to get the crowd warmed up for more killer tunes and a night that this town would soon not forget. They would tear through three more songs to get to their closer called “Entitlement,” which would serve as a reminder that Memory should not be overlooked in the future! Memory just released an audio video for their track “Oak,” which you can check out here.
Taking the Spillway stage next was Despite The Fallen. The guys Cody Gabehart, Todd Hogan, Mason Kesslar, Adam Melson, and Sam Trulock began their set with “Gravity.” Vocalist Cody was calling his shots with the now awakened crowd as his voice hit each one of us in the gut with grit and clean choruses that are comparable to the original Evans Blue lineup. Guitarist Mason Kesslar went for the gnarly solo right at the end of their song “Isolated” to get the crowd rowdy and ready for Kiss Kiss Bang.
The moment felt like anyone could imagine; after all the blood, sweat, and frustration of recording a record, the guys took the stage and right away commanding it like they had been playing for 10+ years. Opening the night up like a fresh beer, they played “This Life,” a song that gives listeners what they need to know about the night, whether it came from gut-busting drumming a la Corban Burke to powerhouse riffs that would make Dimebag Darrell proud, and a bass line so sick that would bring a rare smile to bassist Justin Chancellor of Tool. Leading this dynamic and adrenaline fueled crew is Trevor Smith with his Layne Stanley-like gruff, power, and deep seeded solos, as well as a style that he has developed with the advice of Mark Tremonti himself.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThis band had everyone by the ears from the first chord and didn’t let up. Guitarist Malcolm Warren was involving the fans all night long with his inviting solos and gift of attracting the audience by a simple wave up of his hands! You could tell this night was important and it gave the guys the validation that a musician is looking for, but from the right people: the fans. Seeking validation isn’t something that KKB is known for needing but as anyone would tell you that night on May 20th at the Spillway Bar & Grill, they got just that and MORE!
The night went on as in any show, but the band had to take a moment to commemorate the loss of a very important part of our music family: Chris Cornell, lead singer and all around iconic voice of bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. KKB said “Hello To Heaven” with a touching and heartfelt tribute from KKB lead singer Trevor Smith, as he sang his favorite song by Mr. Cornell called “I Am The Highway” by Chris’ band Audioslave. The guys gave the moment to the man above for 15 beautiful seconds before getting back into the set.
They rounded out the night with their first track on their debut album called “Are You High?” and left everything on that stage. Despite running out of guitar pics, the band thanked the crowd as it was a night that they will never forget on their start to a future on the rock ’n’ roll highway ahead. Go buy this album and support local music. You just never know where that band may end up!
See the rest of the gallery here.
Kiss Kiss Bang’s set list in order of performance:
Don’t You think
Supa Fine Shugga
I Am The Highway
Wait For You
Sea Of Sorrow
Story Of My Life
How I feel
Are You High?
The guys will be adding more tour dates very soon. Go like their Facebook page, tell them what you think of their efforts in Open Wide, and buy that album on Amazon and iTunes!
The night before the show I sat down with lead singer Trevor Smith of Kiss Kiss Bang to discuss the album and journey to the night that would culminate all their hard work and dedication to this event and their debut album. Below is the interview with frontman Trevor Smith of Kiss Kiss Bang.