KISS guitarist featured on app for children's book
A guitarist for the rock band Kiss is featured in an app for a children’s book dealing with some themes close to the musician’s heart: persistence and following a dream.
Tommy Thayer is featured in the app that accompanies a children’s book called “Ernest Hummingbird.” It’s the first book written by animator David Feiss, who has worked on “The Ren & Stimpy Show” and a reboot of “The Jetsons,” and who created “Cow and Chicken.”
Thayer co-wrote some of the songs with musician and producer Peter Asher, who was part of the 1960s duo Peter and Gordon and worked with the Beatles’ Apple organization, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt.
Thayer, Feiss and Asher will read from the book and sign copies Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks.
Thayer said he was excited to work with Asher.
“I’m a huge Beatles fan and ’60s British pop,” Thayer said. “What a legend.”
All the songs are available on an Apple app. Country music star Darius Rucker, formerly of Hootie & the Blowfish, narrates a “read to me” option.
For Thayer, the project offered a nice alternative to Kiss, which he said consumes about three to four months a year of his time.
“Kiss is a wonderful band and one of the biggest bands of all time, but it’s very defined,” Thayer said. “It’s great to get out and write other kinds of songs in different styles and genres.”
He said he was drawn to “Ernest Hummingbird” because of its themes.
“I related to Ernest’s story of persistence and in following your dreams,” Thayer said during a recent interview at his Lake Sherwood home. “Thirty-five years ago, I was a kid with stars in my eyes who showed up in Hollywood with a band — my BFFs! — and worked hard to make those dreams come true. There most definitely are parallels between my experience and Ernest’s story. I suppose that’s what drew me to this.”
Feiss said the idea for the story came to him during the summer of 2012 when a hummingbird flew up beside him and his wife while they were sitting in his Westlake Village backyard.
“I laughed about the idea of a hummingbird that didn’t want to hum, but wanted to sing, which would be a shock to his traditional dad,” Feiss said. “I named him Murray. But a day later, while driving, the name Ernest Hummingbird came to me. I remember writing it down on a notepad as I was driving north on the 101.”
Feiss contacted Thayer, with whom he’d worked in 2014.
“I wrote the lyrics for a few of the songs, but I had no idea what the music was going to be until Tommy emailed me and said, ‘What do you think about this?’” Feiss said. “It was so inspiring.”
A few months ago, Thayer combined the two worlds on a Kiss Kruise, reading from “Ernest Hummingbird” and signing copies.
“Out of 3,000 ship guests, there were probably about 200 to 400 kids, so it was perfect,” Thayer said. “They loved it.”
He’s hoping the project will expand into a television show that explores the book’s multiple themes and several more that are on tap.
“The story is timeless,” Thayer said. “It never goes out of date.”
If you go
What: Reading and signing of “Ernest Hummingbird” and Q&A with Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer and others
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., Thousand Oaks