January 19, 2011
Mr. Speed Interview – Playing Akron Civic Saturday January 22

We love tribute bands, and we’ve loved KISS since, oh, about forever. So obviously a band of maniacs who dedicated themselves to bringing the best possible KISS concert our new hometown are gonna be people we like. So here’s our interview with Rich Kosak, aka ‘Starchild’ from Mr. Speed, who are playing in Akron at the Civic on Saturday, January 22.

60: When did you first see and / or hear KISS? Was it a “oh wow” moment right away? Has your love for them ever faded (say during ‘The Elder’ era?) If so, what got you back?

Rich Kosak: “The first time that I saw KISS was on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. I remember it being very explosive if you will and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Almost the very next day it seemed I saw the commercial for the KISS radio. I heard the beginning riff and saw the radio explode on our television and I thought to myself that I have to find out as much as I can about who these guys were. Ask me if my love for the band has ever faded during any period of their career, and I would tell you that it hasn’t. I have looked at every phase of their career as another opportunity to get more into them. In the late ’70′s and even through the ’80′s and ’90′s those eras seemed innocent. Every period of the bands career played an important part of my development as both a fan and a person.”

What was the first tour you ever saw?

“The first tour that I saw was the Dynasty Tour. The date was July 21, 1979 in Pittsburgh, PA. I was in the 5th row and it was just unbelievable. It was my third concert but by far the one that told me that this form of entertainment was going to take me places that I never dreamed that I would go.”

What made you decide to be in a Kiss Tribute Band?

“I made a friend at a record show one Sunday afternoon who shared my same passion for KISS. We began playing guitar together and before too long what we were doing was sounding pretty good. So we placed ads for a drummer and a bass player and before we knew it we had assembled a band. Then one day I saw an article in Metal Edge magazine about a KISS tribute band in L.A. called Cold Gin. This band featured Tommy Thayer as “Ace”. We got together and thought that we could do that too. We had no idea what we were about to undertake but it has been one hell of a journey.”

Do you stick to the 70′s stuff exclusively? Is “Modern Day Delilah” gonna make it to your setlist?

“We cover something from every KISS album except “Carnival Of Souls”. That even includes “Sonic Boom” from which we do “Say Yeah”, “I’m An Animal”, “When Lightning Strikes” and “All For The Glory”. Oh yeah, we even perform “Modern Day Delilah” which has been a staple in our show since the album was released in 2009.”

What did you think of their move to take off the makeup? How quick did you see them when the makeup came back on?

“When they originally took the make up off in 1983 I thought it was the coolest thing! It was KISS being KISS! I didn’t care about how it was going to impact their career. I just wanted to see them. I was fortunate enough to see them on the “Lick It Up” tour and even caught a drum stick from Eric Carr at the show. Speaking of fortunate, I was at Tiger Stadium (editor’s note – me too!) and it was amazing. Our seats were in the second to last row from the stage on the field but we didn’t care…we were there!”

‘Mr. Speed’ is a relatively unknown song from Kiss – is it one of your favorites or did you mostly think the name sounded good (which it does)?

“We chose the name of the band because we wanted to have a name that stood alone among the other tribute bands at the time. Most tributes to any artist choose a song that is easily recognizable by the fans. We wanted to set ourselves apart by choosing one that when you heard it there would be no mistaking who we were. In hindsight, it may not have been the best idea but when I met Paul Stanley on the Farewell Tour in 2000 I was introduced to him as “Rich from MR.SPEED”. To which he commented “cool song to name your band after”. Enough said.”

What do you think of Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer wearing the original makeup of Peter Criss and Ace?

“Having gone through many members of our own band I completely understand where Paul & Gene are coming from. If someone doesn’t want to be a part of the team then you find someone that does and move on with them. Musically speaking the current KISS line up is as solid as you could hope for them to be. I believe that if you are going to put a product out on stage for people to come and see then you should give them the very best that you can. I believe this to be true at their level and even at ours. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that at the end of the day we didn’t short change ourselves or the fans.”

What’s your favorite song to play live? What’s the hardest? Is there one you’re sick of but the crowd demands? Isn’t “Rock and Roll all night” kinda overrated?

“There are a few but “Unholy” is a fun song to play. The hardest would be “Hard Luck Woman”. It’s mainly because I haven’t quite figured out Paul’s picking style and there are times when I don’t feel that the song stands up in amongst all the other tracks that we play live. As for “Rock and Roll All Nite” being overrated…I’m insulted. I would rather listen to that than “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider or “Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring. Those songs are overrated.”

Have you ever thought of playing an entire album in order live?

“We have done this in the past. Each year we are invited to perform at the Indianapolis KISS Expo in March. The past two years respectively we have done “Hotter Than Hell” and “Dressed To Kill” at those events.”

What do you say to people who aren’t sure if they want to check out a tribute band?

“I really don’t have too much to say to them. It’s their choice if seeing the real thing means that much to them to not want to see a tribute. I get it. Our show is really for the fans that feel the music of the band that they love. I don’t want people there because they really aren’t sure if they should be.”

Your site says you’re a collector of KISS stuff – what’s your prized possession? Got the Pinball machine? Do you want to be buried in a Kiss Coffin?

“I actually have quite a few. Most recently I met Paul in September of 2009. I had taken a poster of an unpublished shot of him from the Dynasty era to have signed. Prior to him signing it I told him of my appreciation for all that he has done and how much it means to me in my life. Of course I told him that I portrayed him in MR.SPEED. So he pondered for a few moments before signing the poster and finally wrote “Do me proud”. I think he understood what I was saying to him. I do own the pinball machine. As for how I would like to go out when my shift is over…I want to be cremated and added to the powder that is ignited in the explosions at the end of “Rock and Roll All Nite”. Pretty creepy, eh? ”

No, actually.. pretty awesome!