Saturday, July 27, 2013

One night in Wellsville, NY



Update 2014: I am no longer a member of the KISS THIS! band. The band is still together and continues to play in and around Buffalo NY. My tenure was kinda fun while it lasted, it was like Halloween every gig, but surprisingly required alot of time and effort to pull it off. Reflecting back on this specific incident I should have left the band after I got home to my wife and family safe and sound. This post may seem "cool" but it isn't an attempt by me to brag or be "cool". I needed to write it to remind myself of the important lessons I learned from the entire experience. I can't speak for the other members of the band but it definitely was not just another out of town gig for me.

Original post: Time for a new "blogless blog" posting...Yer fave music blogger, Joe Tell had an interesting and eventful weekend recently. After you read this story you might call it a "rock and roll" weekend that may have ended up with some tragic consequences.

As you may or may not know I entered the unique world of the tribute band recently, something I wasn't really interested in until the opportunity arose last year. One of the reasons why I joined the band is because I literally grew up on the music of KISS as a pre-teen. I used to borrow Beatles albums from my Aunt Pat and my mom bought me all the classic KISS albums along with all the Bay City Rollers records. When I wasn't playing street hockey with my friends I listened to records from KISS or The Beatles on my record player my grandmother bought for me.

The tribute band I joined is KISS THIS! The band wears full KISS makeup and KISS costumes.
The first wig I bought was a cheap halloween wig that I wore at a couple of shows. This wig proved to be useless and the hair on the sides was not long enough to be considered "cool".
So after taking some advice, I bought a full Gene Simmons Halloween mask and a fellow band member prepped the mask by cutting off the face so I could just use the hair. That was the easy part, the hard part was figuring out how to secure the wig to my hair so it wouldn't move or fall off for the show coming up. We figured that if I bought a nylon skull cap we could use wig glue to glue the masks' hair to the skull cap so it wouldn't move after it was on my head. I was advised to buy wig glue remover in the lotion and shampoo form but not thinking it was a big deal, I didn't buy the shampoo. So we now had the solution for how to secure the wig to my head. Having no prior experience with hair pins I thought buying wig glue would be the easiest and quickest way to secure the wig to my head.

Now here's a couple of things I must explain. Being in cover band is one thing. Being in a tribute band is another thing apart from being in a cover band. As a member of a tribute band you need to think and feel like the band did along with playing the music exactly as the band did, with little or no variations. If you can't think, feel and play like the band you're trying to pay tribute to it's not going to go over with an audience. But being in a KISS tribute band is all that and more, it really is a entirely different experience altogether from any other type of tribute band. A KISS tribute band needs special makeup, costumes and instruments to "become" KISS and learn the art of putting on a show just like KISS. It really takes alot of time and hard work if you want to do it right. Trying to look like KISS creates extra pre-show prep time to apply the makeup and get into the costumes. It may seem easy but applying the makeup properly is really an art form and takes time to learn. All of these factors compound together create a unique kind of stress to "get it right" and meet fairly rigid time frames to try to get in a good sound check at any venue. A sound check is necessary because all 4 members of KISS sing lead vocals. Questions arise like, Exactly how much time will it take before the entire band is ready to play? Is there a spot in the venue for the entire band to put on the make-up? If so where? Should we put the make-up on before or after soundcheck? Many things have to be dealt with and taken into consideration, things that most bands don't have to think about before they play.

I believe all of these these factors created a slight problem for me on this particular day as the band prepared for a show and an overnight stay in a hotel room provided by the venue.
First off I must explain that I am supposed to take daily medication for a thyroid condition and I should not be smoking due to my asthma but I was smoking and I did not take my thyroid medication. I also took an over the counter asthma medication to help me breathe easier because I was smoking along with using my inhaler and taking ibuprofen to help calm me down.
I believe the factors mentioned above and the "hurry up and wait" of sitting around waiting to get my makeup done by the one person who could do it at the time created a problem.
I was the first to get into costume and after having (too much!) wig glue applied to my head I put on my wig. Not having the makeup routine down I had to wait around for my makeup to be applied and completed. I wasn't comfortable being in the wig and the full costume is heavy, so I was very hot and sweaty after wearing both for at least 3 hours before the show. Needless to say waiting around before the gig with nothing to do (no radio or TV!) was not relaxing.
After going outside to smoke I came back into our room in an attempt to have my makeup finished.
I can't explain exactly what happened but I started feeling dizzy and I completely blacked out after a makeup brush was poked directly into the corner of my eye. I never blacked out before or since that day. I came back to consciousness completely soaked in a cold sweat and I believe a combination of stress, not taking my daily required medications, smoking, having a makeup brush stuck into my eye and taking a over the counter asthma pill ended up causing my scary blackout. Maybe all those factors and a allergic reaction to the wig glue caused me to black out? I know what you may be thinking and I must say in complete honesty that no other chemicals, legal or illegal, were consumed by me before I blacked out. I truly Thank God! that I did not take any other chemicals! I may have ended up dead dressed as Gene Simmons! How sad and pathetic is that?!.. I was not relaxed at all and there was nothing to occupy my mind before I blacked out, music tends to relax me when I'm preoccupied with any thoughts.
I need to say that I could have backed out of the gig or insisted on going to a hospital when the paramedics showed up but I knew I had to perform with the band, any hospital visits would have to wait. The paramedics insisted that I go to the hospital to get fully checked out, in full KISS makeup and costume! Can you imagine the reaction of the doctors and the patients in the hospital as a guy dressed as Gene Simmons walked in to get treated?! I was not going to any hospital with full KISS makeup and costume on with a show to do later that night. No way. Imagine seeing an ambulance pull up to a hospital with a fake Gene Simmons being rolled out? You can write a story about that in itself, maybe Gene could use that idea as a publicity stunt to promote the next KISS record?...
After coming to and feeling much better I decided that the show was important. I had to fulfill my commitment to the band and the venue or we would not get paid. Needless to say, after recovering I steered away smoking and drinking during the gig. I relaxed between sets, sat down whenever I could and sipped water all night long, little did I know my stressful night was only halfway over...

After the show was over I tried to remove my wig at the venue to no avail, this is when I knew I had another big problem. The wig was literally glued to my hair and scalp. So after blacking out and waking up in a cold sweat now I was sweating because I was hot. I was sick of the wig and I wanted it off my head to cool off and relax. 2 of the other guys in the band wore wigs but they didn't not glue them on, they just took theirs off. I didn't have that option and my stress level rose.
After going back to the hotel and applying the wig glue remover lotion I became frustrated and angry because it did remove the wig glue. A combination of too much wig glue and no wig glue remover shampoo became a huge problem. I could not sleep in the wig and didn't want to wait to get back home to remove it, it was making me sweat and I wanted it off my head so I could cool down.
Thinking ahead and bringing a pair of scissors was a good idea because the wig had to be cut off along with all the hair on my head because too much wig glue was applied and I did not buy the shampoo that would have removed the wig glue. I was in pain as the wig was cut off my head because my hair was being pulled and cut off along with the wig. It took quite awhile to cut through all the glue to remove the wig off of my head and I was relieved to finally have it off my head.
After cutting the wig off my scalp I looked like a mental patient and I needed to wear a hat on the way home. My ordeal was the topic of much laughter on the way home.
Needless to say, I will never, ever glue a wig to my head, ever again and I don't recommend the process to anyone who doesn't have any prior experience with wig glue and wig glue remover.

I can't speak for the rest of the band but I think my "rock and roll" weekend makes for some pretty interesting reading. It's really scary to think that I could've died in full KISS regalia that day! The experience really taught me alot and led to my departure from the band. It's a true story and I thought it interesting enough to be written about on my blog.
If only someone had brought along a digital recorder, it would have made a great youtube video...
Any questions or comments can be sent directly to jtellfotos@yahoo.com.

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