Lead singer of KIX says it's for the hometown fans

September 04, 2005|By TARA REILLY

Steve Whiteman, lead singer of KIX, recently talked about the band's history, why the group broke up and why there's no chance of the guys getting back together permanently.

Herald-Mail reporter Tara Reilly interviewed him Aug. 26 at his home in Halfway.

Whiteman joined KIX in 1978. The band dissolved in 1996. Original KIX members, besides Whiteman, were Ronnie Younkins (guitar), Jimmy Chalfant (drums), Brian Forsythe (guitar) and Donnie Purnell (bass).

Whiteman, Younkins, Chalfant, Forsythe and Mark Schenker will play as KIX Sept. 17 at the North American Rod and Gun Club in Hagerstown.

Q: Where did the band get the name KIX?

Whiteman: We were originally called the Shooze, when we were playing like the Mountain View and the Old Mill Inn in 1978, 1979. When we got our record deal, we had to change our name from the Shooze because there was another band in Detroit or Chicago that owned that name, so we scurried for a name. We came up with the Generators, as a kind of electrifying name like AC/DC - the Generators - thinking we could use that theme, and it turned out there was another band with the Generators (name).


Atlantic Records actually offered this band a small record deal for the rights of the name and they balked, said they liked their name. So they kept their name and never got a record deal. So Donnie, out of desperation - at that time Donnie had played in a band in Pittsburgh - called Kix and it was like 'You guys need a name - now!' so Donnie said, 'What about KIX?' and they checked it out and it went through, so that was it. So contrary (to popular belief), it wasn't stolen from the cereal.

Q: KIX broke up in 1996. Why?

Whiteman: '95, '96, yeah. Basically, there was a new party in town and we weren't invited, you know? We had run our course. Our music and our whole genre of music just kind of got discarded. All the bands that we were out on the road with - the Cinderellas, the Guns 'n Roses and all those bands - that whole genre of music just seemed to have gotten flushed. So there was a new sound in town; it was that Seattle thing, so when that came to town, everybody looked at us and went 'Oh, you suck!' so we just decided to take a break and see if it changed - and it never changed, so that was it.

Q: The band has gotten together for special events.

Whiteman: Yeah, just recently in the past couple of years, and it came about through Ronnie - Ronnie Younkins - who had the band called the Blues Vaulters. I have my band called Funny Money. Ronnie had called Jimmy Chalfant, our drummer of KIX, to come out and help him play once in a while. Jimmy just wanted to get out and keep his chops up and play with Ronnie once in a while. Ronnie's band would open for my band, so it'd be Funny Money and the Blues Vaulters. We thought it would be cool to have at least three of us get up there and do some of the old KIX tunes as an added attraction and get people to come out and see Ronnie's band, come see Funny Money and give them a little KIX show. Then, the crowds were getting to be overwhelming. One club owner said, "What if we fly the guy out from California - meaning Brian Forsythe - what if we fly him in and get at least four of you, because we know that Donnie will never do it." I said, "Well, give him a call and see what he thinks." The money they offered was stupid money. So we called Brian, we said, "Here's some stupid money that we can make." We all agreed that it was a good idea, so we did it - and it's a total whore tour - we have no intentions of ever recording an album together again or trying to take it out. I get calls all the time from Chicago and Los Angeles: "Can we get a KIX show?" - No. It's for the hometown fans and only for them. I spent 18 years of my life on the road, and unless there was a reason for me to go back out and do it again, for something new ... if Funny Money would get a record deal and we were getting played all over the country and they wanted us to come to their towns and play, I would do it, but for no other reason, because it's just grueling.

Q: You've been to Japan twice ...

Whiteman: Three times - we were a machine. Somebody owes us something. That's sort of what these shows are about, you know, it's like it's payoff after all these years because we literally went through our entire career in KIX - we made $500 a week. No matter what we grossed in a year, we made $500 a week.

Q: How often does KIX get together?

Whiteman: Twice a year now. We do it in September, and we do it (during) the holidays. This coming December, we're going to play Baltimore because the Baltimore fans are great - and we're going to do something in Boonsboro at the new Stingers Room.

Q: Do you ever talk about bringing KIX back permanently?

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