An Interview with Rich Kosak of the World’s Greatest KISS Tribute, Mr. Speed

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Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Rich Kosak, the founder, and de-facto frontman of the world’s greatest KISS tribute, Mr. Speed. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, the origins of Mr. Speed, how the band puts on such a world-class show, all things KISS, what’s next for Mr. Speed, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Speed, check out the band via their website. You can also learn more via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Rich. Cheers.

Andrew:
Rich, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Rich:
I’m honored to be able to share my thoughts and stories with you Andrew, this is a real pleasure for me. Over the past year or so I’ve been working with Mr. Speed each and every day trying to secure shows for our near future. The worldwide craziness has certainly changed the thought process for each and every one of us and only recently have things for us become a bit more “normal” if I may even use that term. Just before the pandemic took over we invested a lot of time, effort, and money in creating a brand new era, the Dynasty/Unmasked era of KISS for ourselves which was a true labor of love. We’re now able to finally share that new look with fans at our most recent shows which is very gratifying. I’ve also begun creating my own original music and have three songs finished which can be found on iTunes and Spotify. I’ve started reading more too which is something that I’ve never really been a fan of but quite a few of my musical heroes have memoirs out now and it’s been a real joy spending time learning more about them in their own words.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

Rich:
Music was always a part of my childhood and my life at home growing up. My Dad sang barbershop music for many years and my older brother Jerry would play albums in his room that would catch my attention down the hall in our home. The first album that I remember that glued me to my parent’s stereo console was Cat Stevens’s “Catch Bull At Four.” Soon after that, I heard the album Frampton Comes Alive and that was it. I would listen to that over and over and even recall coming home from Sunday morning mass and laying on the floor next to that same stereo console and listening to those songs. I sang in my grade school and high school choirs and as I got older there was always music swirling around the inside of my childhood home in one form or another.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences? What led you to pick up the guitar?

Rich:
As I mentioned my older brother Jerry began playing guitar so his love of the instrument permeated my senses around 1976. Peter Frampton was the first musician that I fell in love with and his “Frampton Comes Alive” album holds a very special place in my heart. I would sneak into my brother’s third-floor bedroom when he wasn’t around and plink around on his white Fender Strat pretending that I was a rock star. It was the winter of 1978 that I was gifted a black Fender Telecaster Deluxe, and an old Gibson amplifier, and my own journey began.

Andrew:
Let’s go back a bit. Take me through the formation of Mr. Speed, which for those that don’t know, is the premier KISS tribute band.

Rich:
The funny part about the formation of the band is that initially it was never even supposed to be a band. I met a guy at a record show that I regularly attended in my hometown of Pittsburgh one Sunday morning. He was leafing through a KISS-related book, and I happened by and made a comment over his left shoulder something to the effect of, “Oh, do you like KISS?” We struck up a conversation and continued hanging out for the remainder of the time at the record show. We soon became friends and began spending a lot of our free time together mostly playing guitar at his home on the east side of Pittsburgh. After about six months of getting together, and working on songs we thought to ourselves that what we had together sounded pretty solid and what would it hurt if we considered trying to put together a band by finding a bass player and a drummer. So, the search began, and here we are almost 28 years later finally enjoying the fruits of our hard work.

Andrew:
I’m a huge KISS fan myself. How far back do your origins with the band go? What led you to want to pay tribute to the band in the way that you have?

Rich:
To the best of my recollection, the very first time that I ever saw KISS was on The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, but it was on a Saturday afternoon while watching television when I saw the commercial for the KISS Radio, which combined the audio from KISS Alive II, and an exploding radio on the television screen, which needless to say, caught my attention. Those two moments combined certainly made me stand up, and take notice. Soon after, I became friends with a kid that had recently moved onto our block, whose name was Chris Teves. Chris and I began spending a lot of time together listening to records at each other’s homes. and the first time I went to his room. I saw the Spirit Of ’76 poster hanging on his closet door. So. after seeing both the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, and then the commercial for the KISS Radio, I felt as though I was being pulled in by the KISS tractor beam onto the Starship KISS!

Andrew:
Mr. Speed is well known for its spot-on performances. You guys are far beyond a simple cover band, and at a glance, you guys truly do emulate and look like KISS. What level of commitment does it require to put on the type of show that you do, and harness the aesthetic in the way that you have?

Rich:
It requires a lot of commitment from each one of us individually. First and foremost we’re KISS fans. We spent our lives listening to and seeing the band live in concert, hanging posters on our bedroom walls, buying magazines, and absorbing pretty much everything that we can about the band that we could afford. I take it very personally when someone loosely refers to us as a “cover band” because we’re not. Cover bands simply get on stage and perform other people’s music with jeans and t-shirts and more than likely a bandana tied to their head. We all have to start somewhere I get it but nowadays there is no reason why anyone that wants to consider calling themselves a “tribute” band can’t access every means necessary to do it the right way. Honestly, you can now buy KISS costumes and have them delivered to your doorstep! But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’ve seen the band 66 times in concert and I’ve watched my share of concert footage be it on videocassette, DVD, or in-person to be able to create my portrayal of Paul Stanley. It takes quite a commitment to make the fans believe that what they’re seeing is as close to what they know within our own physical means.

Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

Andrew:
One of the things I noticed was the set of Pearl drums your drummer is sporting these days, which perfectly resemble Peter Criss’ set from 1977-1979. Where did you find that kit? Is it original, or is it custom-made?

Quinton:
The drum set is custom; “Frankenstein’d,” if you will. It is a total 15 Piece Pearl Fiberglass Drum Kit, though the snare is a Keller Wood Shell. In its current state, the kit is 13 pieces as Peter had it for the Dynasty tour. There is a website, petercrissdrums.com, that I stumbled upon that offered up details regarding the specs of the drum kit, courtesy of Christopher Williams. The biggest piece of info was realizing the drum kit is gloss black and gold. From there, I began looking through Craigslist ads, and endless music resale sites to find all of the drums I needed, which came together very quickly! My father, Mark Kufahl, helped me patch, and drill holes I didn’t need, as well as helped me locate many of the drums and hardware I needed. Two drum sizes alluded me, however; two 14” wide by 12” depth drums; one a mounted tom and the other a floor tom. So, I asked around, and through trial and error, found Bill Bello of Bello Drum Co., who was able to create fiberglass drum replicas for me with the same shell thickness as my Pearl Fiberglass shells. The only difference was that he uses a white coating to seal his drums which are not the bare “tan” color that the Pearl shells have. So, I had to find a fiberglass paint in a similar color to the original Pearl shells to paint the inside of every drum so they would match. After that process, I was able to move forward in wrapping the drums with my friend, Jacob Adamczak, who was a graphic designer. We found a gloss gold vinyl, to wrap all of the drums. Then he was able to create many different sizes of gloss black stripes that we could easily apply and trim while referencing photos of Peter’s kit. Next, was the snare drum, made of wood, but I couldn’t find a bare 14” by 10” shell. So, I had to order a longer Keller wood shell, and have Rat Rod drums trim the drum, carve the bearing edges and drill the drum for the snare drum hardware, being a Pearl Jupiter throw. I also wanted to have a large gong like Peter had. His size however was very hard to find, and also had the Japanese script on it, so I settled on another Craigslist find that was exchanged, conveniently, at one of our shows! So, I used silver paint to personalize it, as Peter had. The last piece of the puzzle was creating the correct kick drum head, which for the Dynasty tour, I determined (after studying photos) to be white reflective street sign material. So, I went to a local business my best friends’ dad worked at to retrieve the material. I changed out the Remo CS heads for Coated White Emperor heads and now have my own, DIY Peter Criss Dynasty Drum Set. The hardware and cymbals, with cymbal stand, may not all be of the era, but being a touring band, I need much of the gear to be able to take a beating, so I kept as much original as I could. All in all, it was a labor of love, with so much help from my friends, and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

Andrew:
I’ve seen some footage, and photos of your most recent shows, and it seems you’re rocking the Dynasty era costumes, and stage set up. Who builds your sets? Who handles the making of your costumes?

Rich:
Our new stage set was actually constructed by our drummer, Quinton, and a friend of his in their hometown of Milwaukee, WI. When we had the original discussions about changing the look of our band he, and I discussed how we would set out to accomplish it, and he asked if he could take the ball, and run with it. We didn’t have a blueprint for how he would make it come to life, so we scoured the internet for photos of the stage set that KISS used, and the two of them got to work. As for our costumes, each one of us set about it individually working with our own designers to create our new outfits. For me personally, I was turned down by not one but two different costume companies, each for two different reasons before finally agreeing to commit to my bootmaker in Los Angeles, Chris Francis. It was a very stressful time for us because there isn’t a store that you can walk into and pull a Dynasty/Unmasked era costume off of a shelf. This was one of the reasons that we chose this era to replicate because no one is really doing it. After all, it’s difficult and challenging, and that’s one of the attributes about Mr. Speed that has always set us apart from all the others. We don’t shy away from flexing our collective muscles and challenging ourselves to see what we can really do. We haven’t always succeeded but we’ve certainly tried, and I believe that you must take risks in order to gain a reward. I took flak from fans for deciding to recreate Pauls’s Unmasked costume instead of the Dynasty costume, and I have my reasons for why. I even had a fan that reached out to me and said that I couldn’t wear the Unmasked costume if we had a Peter Criss behind the drums. I replied by simply stating that if they wanted to finance the creation of the Dynasty costume for me I would gladly wear it to which their reply was, “It’s not my band.” As you can imagine, my rebuttal was, “You’re right, it’s not.” I have tried numerous times to work with a costume company to obtain the Dynasty costume, but my correspondences recently have gone unanswered, and I don’t have time to play games with people that think they’re busier than they really are. So, we keep moving forward.

Andrew:
Over the years, Mr. Speed has had a few lineup changes, but the product is still always the same – a spot-on tribute to KISS. How do you maintain the level of quality despite the line-up changes?

Rich:
This is such a great question. As you can imagine, over the almost 28 years that I’ve had this band I have seen my fair share of people, and personalities come through my door. Some are certainly worth talking about, and some absolutely don’t deserve the keystroke to mention their name. In any successful organization, there must be a leader, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. This is a role that I have gladly taken on, and it wasn’t always the case especially at the very beginning of the band. There are people that lead, and there are people that follow. Being able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual is key to having success with whatever it is that you’re doing. I’ve had members set up auditions without even owning the gear to audition with. I’ve had left-handed drummers and bass players that wouldn’t shave to put on the makeup. I’ve had overweight members that couldn’t get out of their own way, and members that refused to take the makeup off after a show for fear of not being recognized by fans. I’ve had members that would conjure up any excuse under the sun to avoid doing the physical labor of a load-out after a show by complaining about this body part hurting or that body part hurting. Over the years, we certainly have had versions of the band that were not by any stretch anywhere close to what we have today. We simply did the best with what we had. But the culture and the attitude in the band right now is the best that it’s ever been, and we’re grateful that we are where we are right now.

Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

Andrew:
You play the role of Paul Stanley in Mr. Speed. Was Paul your favorite member growing up, or is he just who suited your singing and playing style best?

Rich:
When I became infected as a KISS fan, I was partial to no one member in the band until the Solo Albums were released in September of 1978. I saw the band as equal and loved each one of them the same. But the night that I stood in my local record shop staring at both Paul’s and Peter’s records, I needed to make a choice. I had asked my Dad for the $8 that I needed to buy the record, which actually was $7.49 plus tax. I picked Paul’s album, and once I put it on my cheap turntable, and gave it that first listen, I was converted. I feel that as I have grown as both a person and a player, I’ve absorbed more of Paul’s style both on guitar and with my singing. I will always be me, I can’t run and hide from that, but I do believe that I have certain qualities of Paul that work for me that help the fans to buy into my portrayal more easily. Most guys rely very heavily on pouting or overemphasizing the lips which is cool to a certain point but not to excess. I tend to go after the subtle attributes of Paul that the others don’t even notice, like the way he holds his guitar pick with his right hand, for instance. There are certain ways that he stands, or holds his arm that may not be what he was doing in 1977, but moreso in 2017, and that is more relevant especially with today’s barrage of multi-media outlets, and how connected we are to information about anything in today’s world.

Andrew:
Mr. Speed pays tribute to the classic 70s era of KISS. This said, how do you feel about the non-makeup era of KISS? Are you into those records at all? If so, what’s your favorite non-makeup record, and why?

Rich:
I have always lived by if you’re a fan then be a fan. I certainly have not always loved everything that KISS has done, I don’t take it to that unhealthy level by being paranoid that the KISS Police will arrest me if I say a cross word about something that they’ve done. But I was there during the non-makeup years when they weren’t selling out arenas, and their albums weren’t flying off of the shelves but for me, it didn’t matter cause it was still KISS. I have 2 albums from the non-greasepaint days that I love, and they are Lick It Up, and Revenge. I was so excited about the release of Lick It Up, because for me, it was a brand new KISS album, and I wasn’t thinking about the long-term effects of, “Holy shit they’re taking the makeup off!” I was excited simply because there was a new KISS album, and once I heard it, I was struck by the sonic attitude that it spewed from my speakers. It was angry and full of swagger, and it was cool seeing their faces for the very first time. I didn’t love the packaging of the record, but that was beyond my control as a 19-year-old kid from the suburbs. Fast forward to 1992, and Revenge, and it was that same sonic attitude, and aggression all over again. This time coming off of the death of Eric Carr, the band seemed to be pissed, and the songs reflected that, especially the album opener “Unholy.” Their songs seemed to reflect a more aggressive attitude. My favorite non-makeup era Gene song is “Thou Shalt Not,” a track that he hasn’t come close to repeating in my opinion since. or ever will. I also loved the Revenge tour with the apocalyptic NY stage set, it was mean, and it was dirty.

Andrew:
What are your favorite KISS tracks to play live, and why? Do you use Mr. Speed as a sort of vehicle to make your dream KISS setlists a reality? Are there any tracks that Mr. Speed will never perform live for any reason?

Rich:
I’ve always loved performing “Unholy.” The guitar attack is just different than most of what we usually perform in our sets. Over the span of almost 28 years, we have tackled many vault, or deep tracks that KISS has never played live, or other KISS bands for that matter. Since our inception, we have always tried to be the band that did go after the challenging songs, or the rarely heard songs to make it fun for us, as well as the fans. Sometimes, we hit a home run, and sometimes, we struck out but we always got in the batter’s box to swing away. Two examples that I can give you are “Danger,” and “All Hells Breaking Loose,” which we performed live in Miami as part of a KISS Kruise Pre-Party back in 2013. As for songs that we won’t ever attempt live, I’ll say this — we each have our own set of abilities, and limitations and our best success is knowing these, and trying not to overdo it. The band is much more successful, and the songs are respected more when we stay within those abilities. So, let’s take “No No No” for instance. Personally, this is one of my least favorite KISS tracks. But simply put, our ability as players don’t lend itself to devoting the time to learning this track when we can put our time to better use crafting something that more fans would enjoy hearing. If you love that song — then great, you just won’t hear us doing it live.

Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

Andrew:
On the subject of non-original KISS, in your opinion, who replaced Ace best? Vinnie? Mark? Bruce? Or Tommy?

Rich:
Well, it’s been said, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.” So, mine is no better, or worse than the next guy. But since you’re asking me, I would say that Tommy best “replaced” Ace in KISS. Mark wasn’t around long enough to even matter, and Vinnie’s style never really sonically appealed to my ears. Bruce is by far my favorite of the lead guitarists since Ace, and his contributions to the band’s catalog are undisputed. I had the distinct pleasure of playing with both Bruce and with his brother Bob over the years at different KISS-themed events that we’ve been a part of and they are truly highlights of my tribute career and my life as a fan.

Andrew:
I love the original lineup, but I have a special fondness for the lineup of Paul, Gene, Eric, and Vinnie. They were so talented, and I wish they had hung in there. Your thoughts?

Rich:
I truly regret not being able to see the Creatures Of The Night tour back in ’82-’83. It didn’t stop in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t know that you could leave your hometown to see your favorite band in another city until a few years later when I traveled to see the Animalize Tour in Cleveland. That just goes to show you what a sheltered life I was living at the time. As I stated earlier, I’ve never been a fan of Vinnie’s guitar playing. Call me uneducated or unskilled but it wasn’t what brought my ears joy. I always felt that you got more with less, and that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy certain players that can shred, he just isn’t one of them. But the attitude of the band at that time was certainly fresh, and aggressive, and a shot in the arm for the band, and the fans.

Andrew:
As you know, these days KISS has Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer wearing the makeup, a lineup that is the longest-running of KISS’ career. Many fans are divided about non-original members wearing the makeup. What are your thoughts on Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer?

Rich:
This will be my lengthiest answer so far, so here goes. Having had Mr. Speed for almost 28 years, I have dealt with the turnover of each character member more times than I can count. Every time it’s for one reason or another. In a perfect world, we hope that things always stay the same, but this world is anything but perfect. In any relationship it always starts out strong, everyone is committed and dedicated to making everything work out just right. But instinctively, over time, that dedication and commitment wane, and you either reignite it, or it falls apart. Each one of us is guided by our own light, and we ultimately live and die by our own decisions. I completely agree that my favorite version of KISS is Paul, Gene, Peter, and Ace, there is no question. But I have also loved every version of the band since then because of that dedication to Paul, Gene, Peter, and Ace that I built upon as a teen. Each member of KISS was able to bring a special attribute of their personality to the band that no one else could duplicate. Ace doesn’t play like Bruce but subsequently, Bruce doesn’t play like Acek and that’s great. I’m happy that I was able to see the original KISS lineup on the Dynasty tour, but I’m equally as happy to have seen all the other lineups since then, because of the emotional connection that I have with the band, and their music. As for Tommy and Eric, I’ll say this — they both have stepped into iconic roles because they were trusted by Paul, and Gene to perform at a very high level to keep the band, and its legacy moving forward. You don’t have to like it, you can stop supporting them live as well as buying the merchandise if you so choose. But the fact remains that they have outlasted their predecessors, and have done so with respect, and hard work to make sure that KISS continues. I’ve said this at our shows to fans that heckle Tommy or Eric while we’re on stage because it has happened on more than one occasion — if you play guitar or drums, and you were asked by Paul or Gene to step in, and replace Tommy or Eric you would do it in a heartbeat…no questions asked. I’m quite certain that the fans that have the biggest problem with Tommy, and Eric probably can’t play an instrument, or simply are just downright miserable people. As I stated earlier, opinions are like assholes, and we’ve all got one. I haven’t always loved the props that Eric has used live, for instance, the bazooka, and more recently a black towel that he wipes himself off with during this double bass infused drum solo, but again, it’s just my personal taste. Tommy, I feel, has stayed as true to the lead guitar spot within the band with both his onstage effects, while at the same time being himself in the character, and still paying respect to what Ace created.

Andrew:
Of KISS’ three drummers, we know that Peter probably suited the band’s sound best, but technically, who is KISS’ best drummer?

Rich:
Well, at first glance, I would say that Eric is, but when I take a moment to think about each one of them individually, I’m not quite sure that I can answer this fairly. Each drummer had his own signature style, and flair all of which added to the overall success, and thunder of the band’s music. Peters’s original ability up until ’77-’78 both on record, and live was great, especially during 1975 when I feel he was at his best. Eric Carr took what Peter did, and gave it more bombast, and thunder elevating the overall sound, and feel of the band’s music. Eric Singer then stylized the sound and influenced a whole new generation of drummers with both his approach and ability to how the songs could be played.

Andrew:
KISS has a ton of amazing records, and I can never choose my favorite. So, I’ll make this a bit easier — give me your top five KISS studio records.

Rich:
1) Destroyer
2) Revenge
3) Paul Stanley
4) Dynasty
5) Creatures Of The Night

Andrew:
Of all the band’s live releases, which one is your favorite? Does it bother you that Alive! and Alive II were probably doctored up in the studio?

Rich:
Right now at this particular moment, I‘m going to say that Alive II is my favorite. I can vividly remember buying that album, and the store that I bought it from, and how much I paid for it ($8.47). Everything about the packaging of that album drew me in like a magnet, from the cover to the gatefold stage shot to the booklet, and of course, the order form, and the tattoos. It was an absolute orgasm for the senses. Once you played the records, there was an excitement and an energy that seemed to put you right there in the crowd. Yeah, maybe for a minute or two over the years I’ve raised an eyebrow as to why the live records were doctored up, to begin with, but that was obviously before I was ever in a band, and didn’t realize what it took to make music sound the way that you wanted it to sound to be the best representation of yourself. It was an experience as a teen laying that vinyl record onto my turntable, and not caring about my dirty little fingers smearing the groove on either side. I listened because I wanted to and because I was a fan, and the music gave me an escape, and still does.

Andrew:
If you had to pick one KISS record that is most underrated, which one do you pick?

Rich:
I would choose Unmasked. It followed Dynasty, which for me, was a thrilling moment in my fandom of the band. Unfortunately, the band didn’t tour the US for it, and so the songs never really received the attention that they could have. On the flip side, they took their tour to Australia, and there was a hysteria there for the band that has become legend for us here in the US. We recently performed “She’s So European” live, and it was a thrill for us to do so. Anytime we can spread our wings and try a song that catches people off guard, I’m all for it. The cover of the album is one that has been debated by fans over the years. Was it the best representation of the band at that time? Or should it have been designed completely differently? I feel that the album has some creative, and uniquely sounding songs such as “Two Sides Of The Coin,” and “Naked City.” It’s a shame that the band has never given any of the tracks besides “Shandi” a fair shake live.

Andrew:
Music From “The Elder.” Some love it. Some hate it. Give me your thoughts.

Rich:
For me, this album represents another page in the transition of the band from the late 70s into the early 80s. It’s quite clear that KISS themselves have dogged this album since the release, but once again, there are songs on it that in my opinion should have been given more of a chance in their live show. Regardless of whether the band considers this album their “Edsel” or not these songs meant something to them at that particular time in their career, and they should be appreciated as such. For me, I would much rather hear “I” live than “Say Yeah” from Sonic Boom, but clearly, Paul feels differently. I can recall it was Thanksgiving Day in 1981 when Music From “The Elder” was dropped on our doorstep, after being shipped to me by one of my sisters in LA. For whatever reason, I couldn’t find the record at my local record shop, and I thought having it shipped from LA was so mystical. To this day, “The Oath” remains one of my all-time favorite KISS tracks.

Andrew:
Have you gotten to see KISS on its End Of The Road Tour? If so, what did you think of the show?

Rich:
Honestly, I feel that as a lifelong fan of the band that they are shortchanging the fans with the setlist on this tour. If it truly is their last live go-around, then play songs that tip the hat to eras in the band that maybe they’ve never played before. Even with their physical limitations, whatever they might be, is it that big of a stretch to dust off 3-4 songs that have never been performed live, and treat the fans that are spending the most money that we’ve ever spent on a KISS tour to something special? Adding more pyro, and telling us how much more you’re giving us for our buck doesn’t impress me. That was what they talked about in ’83 when they first took the makeup off. They were trying to prove to everyone that they were more than a band hiding behind all of the makeup, and stage effects. Now it’s all about the makeup, and the stage effects, which makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it? And their merchandising has suffered for years including the tour book. I do understand what is involved with creating new items, and the money that it takes to accomplish this, but having 5-6 different versions of the same tour book with the only difference being a few credits, and signifying them with a V1-V6 is nothing more than a money grab, in my opinion. I’ve always taken pride in collecting their tour books, as I find them to be as important as the t-shirt that you couldn’t wait to wear the next day to school after seeing one of your favorite bands in concert. But who am I…I’m just a fan.

Andrew:
One of the big questions is will Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, and Bruce Kulick join KISS for any shows on this final tour. I think it’s safe to say that Bruce will and that Vinnie Vincent will not, but do you feel Ace and Peter will take the stage with KISS again? If so, will they be wearing makeup?

Rich:
Let me put it to you this way…over the years, in Mr. Speed, I have had people in this band that have contributed to the longevity of the band while they were in it, but were miserable human beings. When we do our last show, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that the ones I’m referring to here would ever get the chance to step onto the stage and be a part of something cool that means so much to those that are still here. So, in that regard, I don’t really care who they invite, or who actually shows up. In my heart, I’ve seen everyone that’s ever been in KISS on stage with the band except for Mark St.John, and not many fans can say that. Would it be cool to see Ace, Bruce, or Peter with the band again? Sure. But it’s not likely that let’s say if Bruce joins the band that they’re going to perform “Rise To It” or even “Forever” with him, so why do it? Maybe save everyone that they want up there for the very last show, and bring everyone out for “Rock And Roll All Nite.” That would be a climactic ending to their career, and maybe a video montage including Eric Carr, Bill Aucoin, Mark St.John, and others from their career that have passed on could be shown out of respect for the big picture. But again…I’m simply a fan.

Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

Andrew:
Of all the many KISS adjacent projects through the years (Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Frehley’s Comet, ESP, Union, Peter solo, White Tiger, etc.), which is your favorite, and why?

Rich:
Frehley’s Comet gets my vote. I was able to see them open for Iron Maiden in Johnstown, PA, and Pittsburgh, PA back in 1988. I recall being so amazed to see Ace out of makeup for the first time even though it was for the Second Sighting album at the time. I did have the distinction of seeing the Vinnie Vincent Invasion open up for Alice Cooper, at the Syria Mosque, in Pittsburgh, and to this day, it stands as one of the two loudest shows I’ve ever seen. My ears were ringing for two days after his set.

Andrew:
What’s next on your docket?

Rich:
I plan to continue to work with Mr. Speed into 2022, and beyond. I’m excited about a few possibilities that we have to partner with agents in hopes of securing shows for us moving forward. We have a lot left in the tank to give, and we want to go wherever someone wants a great KISS Tribute band, and give the fans what they deserve. I also plan to continue working on my own original music and stretching the limits of my creativity, and ability to tell the stories that I’ve been wanting to tell. I also hope to continue working on my own book detailing my history in Mr. Speed, and the crazy tribute world that I’ve been a part of for so long.

Andrew:
Last one. What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world? Does Mr. Speed plan on hitting the road in 2022, and beyond?

Rich:
We will absolutely be on the road in 2022, and beyond. We’ve got something that no other KISS band is willing to attempt, and we believe that KISS fans deserve to see something that hasn’t been done over, and over because it’s safe. We want to visit new places and play for new faces. There’s no success in playing for the same crowds over, and over again. The world is a big place, and we want to see it. We’re also heading to Switzerland in April of 2022 for a series of shows, and we’re extremely proud of that, and can’t wait to rock the fans over there.

Image credit: Michael A. Bruce

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Andrew Daly

With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found VWMusic in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Idle Chatter. Over time, the column grew into a website that now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process. Some of Andrew’s favorite artists include KISS, Oasis, ACϟDC, Elvis Presley, Ace Frehley, The Rolling Stones, Rush, The Pretenders, Led Zeppelin, The Gaslight Anthem, Iron Maiden, John Lennon, The Melvins, Noel Gallagher, Regina Spektor, Rory Gallagher, The Stone Roses, The Strokes, Thin Lizzy, Elvis Costello, Van Halen, Neil Young, Blur, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and many more.
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