Interview with Kix Guitarist Brian Forsythe By Jesse Striewski

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It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to say that nearly every major band across the globe has felt the effects of 2020 in some way, shape, or form (at the very least financially). But despite the uncertainty of the still-lingering pandemic, bands like ’80s rockers Kix have been waiting on the sidelines to rock audiences again, and – as long as given the green light – are preparing to do just that sooner that you might think. I recently spoke with Kix guitarist and co-founder Brian “Damage” Forsythe from his home in Nashville, TN about what the band has been doing to keep themselves busy, and when we might just see them take the stage again.

While Kix does currently have some upcoming shows listed on their site, I asked Brian how concrete they were, to which he says; “It’s definitely weird. We haven’t played since mid-March, so this is pretty much the longest we’ve gone between gigs I think. And the scary thing is, we don’t even know when our next gig is going to be for sure. There’s still some shows on our calendar right now, but we’ve had so many of them already pushed ahead or postponed completely until next year, so we never really know what’s up…we’re just trying to hang in there though!”

Being one of the very few notable bands to emerge out of the state of Maryland during the ’80s hair metal scene, I asked if any particular moments in the band’s hometown stuck out for Brian; “I remember in ’89 when we were doing our first real big, full-length tour with Ratt. We were usually the openers on that tour, then Britny Fox were after us, and then Ratt were the headliners. But when we got to our hometown gig, we flipped it so that Britny Fox went on first that night, and we went on second, which meant we were able to have a longer set. And I just remember the crowd went crazy when we went out there, I never heard anything like that before! People were holding up their lighters and singing along to every single lyric, and to make it even more special, my parents were there that night!”

I was also curious what made him decide to relocate to Nashville, and if any other members of Kix still resided in Maryland. He informs me; “Most of the guys still live in that area of either Maryland or Virginia, and are pretty much within a 25 mile radius of each other. I’m the only lone wolf living here in Nashville now, and I just moved here about a year ago after being out in L.A. for about 25 years.”

Forsythe was also recently featured in our pal/long time supporter Kenny Wilkerson’s cookbook, Rockin’ Recipes For Autism, so naturally I had to ask him about his selection for the book. Brian says, “I’m a big foodie guy and love to cook. The funny thing is, that recipe (a beet medley over wild rice) is actually a couple years old, and since then I’ve stopped eating it (laughs). I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s still  a good recipe, but since then I’ve sort of changed my diet around, and there’s stuff in it that I don’t eat anymore, so it’s kinda funny how that worked out!”

Kix will perhaps always be best remembered for their 1988 hit power ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” so I wanted to get a little into the song’s backstory, as well as how it is to still perform the cut today. He explains; “The way Kix worked back then was, we’d work on new stuff at our rehearsal space in between tours, and we’d pretty much have it completed before we got into the actual studio to record it. As far as playing it live goes…sometimes people will complain about having to do the same songs every night, but the way I look at it is kind of like someone in a play might, so I try to put everything I have into playing it every single time. The one difference between playing it now versus in the ’80s though is, back in those days, (former Kix bassist) Donnie would play the keyboards on stage, and I would play a Roland synth bass.  I had to use that guitar every night, and I hated it (laughs)! But now when we play it live, we have samples of the keyboards instead of having anyone actually playing them on stage, so now I can just play straight guitar through it, and it’s a lot easier for me.”

Staying on the topic of recording and knowing that it’s been several years now since the last studio release from Kix (2014’s Rock Your Face Off), I had to ask Brian if we might see any new material from the band in the near future. He tells me; “We’ve talked about it, and everybody has their own ideas they’ve been working on here and there, so I’m sure something will come together sooner than later. We have had all these other little things released in the meantime though since Rock…, like the Blow My Fuse live set/DVD.”

Knowing that Brian was also a member of Rhino Bucket for many years, I asked if he still had anything other than Kix that he was currently working on, and says; “Well, I was still playing in Rhino Bucket up until we disbanded a couple years ago, and that was a lot of fun. I get a lot of emails from people asking me to play on tracks here and there too that I’ll sometimes do. I did one recently for a band called Streetlight Circus, and also played solo on a song written by Frank Meyer and produced by Bruce Duff about the pandemic called “Flatten the Curve” that had like 30 some odd musicians on it, many of them from the L.A. scene (including Cherie Curry of The Runaways and Mike Watt of the Minutemen, among many others).”

Before we ended our conversation, I was curious to know if Forsythe might throw his hat in the mix of the numerous rock bios becoming more and more frequently released. Brian states; “I used to be in a relationship with Janiss Garza, who was the senior editor of RIP Magazine back in the ’80s (and eventually co-wrote Lemmy Kilmister’s book, White Line Fever), and I actually ran the idea by her a long time ago, but it just never happened. It would’ve been fun to do with her, but I guess it’s never too late to do it in general. The good thing is though, I actually saved all of my calendars that I have notes written on going back to the ’80s, so it shouldn’t be too hard!”

Book Review: Rockin’ Recipes For Autism Vol. 1 By Kenny Wilkerson (Story Farm)

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By: Jesse Striewski

This collection of culinary specialties from some of hard rock’s heaviest hitters is cleverly put together by Nova Rex bassist Kenny Wilkerson. I was initially reminded of the more metal-based 2010 cookbook Mosh Potatoes by Steve Seabury; but unlike that said edition, Rockin’ Recipes For Autism is more carefully put together, with impressive, (mostly) full-page glossy photos to go along with most of the musicians found within.

I won’t give away too many of the actual recipes themselves, but some of the rockers involved include Poison’s Rikki Rokket, Dokken’s Don Dokken, and previous Rewind It Magazine interviewees Phil Soussan (of Last in Line and formerly Ozzy Osbourne’s band) and Phil Varone (ex-Skid Row, Saigon Kick). But one of my personal favorites hands down goes to Toto’s Steve Lukather, whose Snickers bar recipe is no doubt something that’s near and dear to my own heart!

Perhaps the only complaint I’d have would be the diversity in recipes (it could have used more dessert/breakfast items s well). But other than that, there’s really not much to complain about here; this book literally delivers everything its title promises, and its net proceeds even go to benefit the foundation We Rock For Autism. As a lover of rock music for the majority of my life, and the uncle to an autistic nephew for eighteen years, there’s really very few cons I can find here. Regardless if ’80s rock is at the top of the food chain for you or not, there’s still surely something for everyone to enjoy on the menu that’s offered up here.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

 

Interview with Nova Rex Bassist Kenny Wilkerson (Part 2) By Jesse Striewski

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Kenny Wilkerson truly needs no introduction around here, and “Bassist for Nova Rex” just barely scratches the surface of the many hats he wears. Aside from keeping the flames of his central FL-based outfit Nova Rex lit since the mid-’80s, he’s also the co-host on a nightly radio talk show (Real Talk with G-Love, weekdays from 7-8pm est on Florida Man Radio 660 AM/105.5 FM), and his cookbook, Rockin’ Recipes For Autism, has finally seen the light of day after much love and labor. He even has a new track out for a project he did with John Bisaha, lead singer of the band The Babys. I was recently able to catch up with Kenny (who I first met back in 2016 after being assigned to write about Nova Rex for the magazine I was working for at the time),  who was as enthusiastic as ever to tell me about all of the events he has going on at the moment.

The first thing I wanted know was how he was feeling about his cookbook to finally seeing the light of day, which he tells me; “I’m very excited! This has been a large, hard, and expensive process, but definitely worth it to bring Rockin Recipes… to the table, and one of the coolest things I have ever done.” The cookbook has already caused quite a stir since its release, having been featured on rachaelraymag.com, among others.

I also asked how his latest project, Wilkerson/Bisaha, in which Kenny covered the Donnie Iris song “Ah Leah” with The Babys frontman John Bisaha, came about. Kenny says; “It was a song we had on the table for awhile for Nova Rex that just didn’t happen, but it was exciting enough that my good friend John (Bisaha) sang it, and I decided to put a video around it with some of the guys in the cookbook as another promotion tool for it. John was the perfect guy to sing it, plus I was excited to have Barry Rubinow direct it.”

Of course I had to inquire how Nova Rex were adjusting to these strange days where live shows and events are nowhere to be found. Kenny tells me; “Just like all of the other musicians around, we have lost a lot of live shows, but we’re using the downtime to rework our stage show with new things from Sawbladehead Designs, as well as a new single we’re working on.”

He concludes; “These are crazy times, but make sure to support local musicians by buying t-shirts, merch…anything you can while we’re all stuck at home.” In the meantime, don’t forget to listen to Kenny weeknights on his previously-mentioned radio show, and definitely be sure to pick up your copy of Kenny’s brand new book at http://www.rockinrecipesforautism.com (which Rewind It Magazine will surely review as well!).