INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Brian Forsythe is best known for his work with successful U.S rockers Kix. The band started its career in the late ’70s with Brian Forsythe, vocalist Steve Whiteman, guitarist Ronnie Younkins, drummer Jimmy Chalfant, and bassist Donnie Purnell. They released such hard rock classics as MIDNITE DYNAMITE, BLOW MY FUSE, and HOT WIRE. Brian left the band in 1992, but he briefly returned to play in Kix’s final studio release, SHOW BUSINESS, released in 1995. After some touring, Brian left again, and the whole band slowly disbanded until they decided to reform Kix without Donnie in 2004. Since then, Kix has played some shows every then and now, including Rocklahoma Festival in 2008. But there’s been more than just Kix in his musical journey. In addition to many projects during the years, he’s currently playing with rockin’ country band The Shakehandlers and blues band The Purple Gang, but the main band for Brian is Rhino Bucket.
Rhino Bucket was originally formed in 1987, and the band finds some great success with its 1990 s/t debut album. The sophomore album GET USED TO IT was released in 1992, but it failed to reach its predecessor’s success. PAIN, which featured former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright, came out in 1994. Still, soon band called its quits before returning in 2001 with original members Georg Dolivo bassist Reeve Jones, drummer Liam Jason (who had changed his sex and was now called Jackie Enx!), and Brian was now invited to join the bands ranks to replace Greg Fields. A new lineup released its first album, AND THEN IT GOT UGLY in 2006, and THE HARDEST TOWN followed in 2009. The latter once again featured Simon Wright on drums. The band’s latest release, WHO’S GOT MINE saw the light of day in January of 2011, and soon after, for the first time, the band arrived in Finland to play a series of club shows around the country. Brian kindly sat down with us before the band’s performance in Helsinki, and here are the results of our little conversation. Topics include, of course, the latest from Rhino Bucket camp and well some Kix stuff as well… Read on!
Alright, let’s start this current thing, which is this long European tour with Rhino Bucket. How has the tour been so far?
So far, everything’s been really good. We’ve had like what we started in, I’m a little brain dead right now, [Laughter] started in Belgium, and then we went through Germany, which was good. Then we came up to through Norway and Sweden, and now we’re here in Finland, and we go back to Norway then I think Holland, Amsterdam oh nowhere are we going to, Denmark back to Germany and then the Czech Republic. We’re going to a bunch of places, mostly Spain and Italy.
If I remember right, you do have something like 40 – 50 shows on this tour?
I think it’s 54 shows altogether.
Last year you did the same kind of tour in Europe, but then you skipped over Finland and…
Yeah, for some reason, I don’t know what happened. I guess Manning tried to book us in Finland last year, but the person – he couldn’t get any responses, and he had to fill in the dates, so he just went ahead and filled them in.
Rhino Bucket also has a new album out. Tell us something about that.
It’s called WHO’S GOT MINE and… I don’t know what do you want to know?
Now it’s your chance to do an album that is more commercial “laughs.”
It’s just more rock ‘n’ roll, you know, in the Rhino Bucket style [Laughter]. I mean, you’d have to hear it. I can’t really describe it. It’s good, though.
Ok. I’ll give it a listen and try to find out by myself at first. What’s also new in Rhino Bucket is that you also have a new member in the band.
Yeah, Tiny, Tony, whatever you want to call him, Tony Tiny, Tiny Tony. Tony’s on drums for us now, and in fact, he’s been playing with us for a while. He was kind of like our fill-in guy even back when Simon (Wright) was playing with us like dates that Simon couldn’t do Tony would fill in, so when Simon left, we just naturally just got Tony because he’s such a solid drummer. He played on the new record too.
Simon Wright was kind of on and off a member of Rhino Bucket for something like 15 years. He first played with Rhino Bucket on 1994’s album PAIN, right?
Yeah, well, he’s – when he did that THE HARDEST TOWN with us, he was sort of – he was still in Dio. He was sort of like on hold coz Dio was doing that other “Black Sabbath” thing. Then last year, when we were going to come here, we ended up bringing Dusty instead of Tony because Tony had something else going on, and then Simon was still waiting on Dio, and then Dio surprisingly died. Still, we’d already booked a tour with Dusty, so I don’t know, and then after that, we just settled down with Tiny we just stuck with that. But Simon was kind of… he couldn’t make up his mind either.
Do you have an idea of what Simon is up to now?
Georg might know, but I haven’t talked to him. I think he’s just hanging around and looking for things. I think he works for Wendy (Dio) now?
Rhino Bucket: Live at Club Nosturi 2011
So how many years have you been in Rhino Bucket?
It first joined in 2000, so it’s been eleven years already. It did happen at the end of 2000 somewhere in there?
Back in the days when you had just joined, you had still had Jackie Enx (former Liam Jason) playing drums in 2000, right?
When I first joined we were – George asked me – they were doing a gig, and they needed, of course, Greg (Fields) wasn’t in the band anymore, so they asked me to do it, so I learned all the Rhino Bucket’s stunts for the gig and then sort of I learned them I didn’t learn the titles. [Laughter] We’d have to play the gig, and I’d look at Jackie, “how’s that one go?” like I didn’t know the songs, but then we got sort of getting like we got a soundtrack thing where we were to write a song for a soundtrack, and we started writing songs and the next thing I knew I was in the band.
Whatever happened for Jackie in the end?
She was using the band for a little bit for one record, and I don’t know. It just didn’t work out. He just got a – he’s just a little scattered and doesn’t really know what she wants to do, and I think she gets bored really easily.
I watched her website, and she’s mostly teaching and doing stuff like that for kids drum lessons and things like that.
She’s living up in San Francisco now and doing teaching and stuff like that.
Rhino Bucket has been around for over twenty-two years, and you’re still going on strong. Have you noticed a couple of new bands around, bands like Airbourne, who now keep on doing the same stuff you guys have been doing for your whole career?
Yeah, we know them. Last year when they were here, they came to our show and – I’ve forgotten the name of the town just outside Amsterdam, we were playing, and they showed up, and then they came again to Cologne Germany they came to that show and hang out and drunk with Georg, but they said Rhino Bucket is a big influence.
What’s going on with your other band Kix?
Well, we’re still playing. We are just doing the 80s thing revival thing and doing the festivals back in the States and still do many shows on the East Coast where those guys still live. We were always big in that area in Baltimore and DC, so we play there and do shows. As far as a new record goes, I don’t really see one happening soon. It’s just one of those things because Donnie is not in the band anymore, and he was the songwriter, and I live in LA now, so it’s kind of… you know?
Have you even discussed a possible new album at some point?
It kind of come up, but nobody has ever made any – we’ve not – I don’t know it’s just been suggested, and we’ve kept our minds open to it, but I don’t know, I don’t see it happening.
THE EARLY DAYS
The band, which later turned out as Kix, started its career as a cover band at first? What kind of material did you play back then?
I remember it was actually in the late 70s we were – it took us a few years to figure it out because we had a couple of different singers, and then finally we got Stev. II remember we discovered AC/DC in the process, and so at one point, we’re doing a whole AC/DC set sometimes; we’re doing Zeppelin se. Still, we were also doing some Cheap Trick and stuff like that, and then a bunch of this junk to I have some live stuff. II was like, wow, we did that song. I don’t remember doing that like some weird stuff in there; we even did a couple of Devo songs at one point but mostly at the end there when we have a whole set of our own stuff. Still, we’d also have AC/DC and Zeppelin, so it was primarily those three things, and after that, we got the record deal, then we just went to all original.
After several years you finally got signed by a label in the early ’80s?
Yeah, we signed with Atlantic, and it wasn’t that big of a record deal, but we got signed, and it was really cool because Atlantic was a cool label, and many cool bands were on that label. They sort of just let us go and do what we did at the beginning like our first record was pretty much like sounded like our demos we – how we played live but I don’t think they knew what to do with us back then and so we never really – they didn’t know what to do with us they sort of had us make records and don’t out there…
I would say that your first albums came out perhaps a little too early… I mean, it took like a couple of more years before hard rock and bands like Motley Crue, Dokken and Ratt became huge, and soon the album sales did rise dramatically. You were kind of ahead of your time, I would say?
Yeah, we were really… but we were still different from those bands though we had that California L. A sound and the guitars, you know, Eddie Van Halen type of guitars and stuff we were still… especially our first record it was to me it almost sounds “new wavish” a little it’s kind of odd-sounding “laughs.”
There are many stories around Poison vocalist Bret Michaels and how he “borrowed” a lot from Kix in the early days. How that thing actually went back in the day?
He’s from our area, and they stole from us all the time back when he had this band called Paris. It was basically those same guys with a different guitar player before they had C.C Deville in the band, and later on when they moved out to LA, and they kind of took Steve’s thing there and… in Houston, in fact, one year we’re doing a show in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. It’s about the holidays, and I was home for Christmas, and he came for the show, and in the very next present video, he was wearing the same outfit that Steve was wearing that day. The low-lying glasses and the parade… It was exactly the same thing.
Did you guys ever discuss Bret about the subject afterward?
Nah, I know Steve has been an examiner for years, but I think he’s forgotten already.
THE BIG TIME AND THE BREAKUP
With Kix, you hit the big time with BLOW MY FUSE in 1988.
Although the album did great, this is what I‘ve read somewhere. You guys didn’t see big money coming in still?
No…yeah, the record company is kind of weird like that we negotiated our deal, and they put this time limit on it. Still, they pour these little bonus things in the contract like it’s a salesman you get this much and this much, and of course, it did sell like right up to where the bonus was to stop selling and then deal went back to the old deal again and then it did go back over ten years to 10 years. By that point, that was our fourth record; we’re somewhere about 2 million and gagged the company at that point because of our old deal. I don’t know. It was just a bad deal.
Right, and things didn’t work any better with the next album, HOT WIRE album, which took forever to get it even released and…
Yes, and Nirvana was already out by then, “laughs.”
What kind of numbers did HOT WIRE sell after all? I do remember that it wasn’t a complete flop after all?
I don’t even know. I stopped counting at that point, and that’s when I was thinking about leaving the band.
You left the band in 1992, but a live album was released in 1993 called KIX LIVE. Tell me something more about that one?
The live one? Yeah, it’s a concert that we recorded – that one we had to remember the record came out we did like a few months of touring and then we took this break, and it was the first break we had taken, and then the first show was that one was where we recorded so we were a little out of practice we could have done a better show, but we could use we had a show of Japan that we could have used to – for some reason Donnie wanted to use that show, so that’s the one we ended up using. I mean, it was ok, but it was not our best show.
It sounds like a bootleg for me, I would say.
Maybe that’s what Donnie wanted at the time?
Right, the last KIX album, SHOW BUSINESS, came out in 1995. What kind of memories you have about recording that one?
That one, I wasn’t even in the band anymore. When we did that one, they re-hired me to come and play guitar on that, and that was kind of self-produced, so to me, that one sounded like a really nice demo it wasn’t really of real like – I think they needed an outside producer to sort of run things because Donnie, I don’t know, I just – it just turned out like a demo. I soon left the band again, and then it just sorts of… I don’t know?
They tried to carry on with some other guys before they finally broke up sometime later, right?
That’s what they did, right.
I have to ask, what went wrong between Donnie and the rest of the band?
He was kind of… he was the reason we were successful, to begin with, but he was also the reason we started falling apart at the end. He was just a control freak, and after a while, we just – it just gets so far out of hand that nobody can take it anymore. At least I couldn’t, and I was the first one to leave; I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Is it definitely out of the question that you would someday work with him again?
I don’t think that’s going to happen [Laughter]. I believe him and Steve weren’t even speaking so, and now that we’ve been doing these shows without him, I’m sure he really hates us, and he doesn’t get over things very easily.
But he’s still getting reasonable royalties when you guys are performing his songs live?
So he should be glad about that?
Kix promo shot 2010
THE NEAR FUTURE
You mentioned earlier that Kix is doing some dates next summer but do you have plans to do something in Europe? I mean, it’s been like forever since you’ve played here?
We played three shows around here… no, in England like London and Birmingham in 1988 and that’s the last time we played in Europe. But about coming back to Europe with Kix, we were supposed to come to play in Sweden, but it got canceled, twice actually, for some reason and… I don’t know? If the offer came, we would probably, I don’t know, but I don’t know those guys after this last one – it would take a loan, I think, to convince some to do this… It’s different for Rhino Bucket like when we come over here, we do these grueling tours, but that’s the kind of band that Rhino Bucket it is but for Kix, it’s like those guys won’t go like they only want a fly end of the game like wow but they don’t want to spend any time on the road, it’s got to be like the big show big money and then back home.
You’re talking about festivals like Rocklahoma here. Didn’t Kix play there some years ago?
Yeah, a couple of years ago, and actually Rhino Bucket played there as well when they did the very first Rocklahoma festival.
Which year was that?
2007 I think, and that was with Simon Wright on drums then.
Ok. IT’s the time of the very last question here… After this European tour is completed, what’s going to happen next with Rhino Bucket?
We’re going back; we’re going to do a video of one of the songs. I think we’re going to do this drumline, but I’m not sure, and then we’re going to do some shows in the US, and then we’re thinking about coming back here in June to do some things that’s maybe Sweden or again that sort of shows around here.
Ok, I hope to see you again in the summer!
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LIVE PICS FROM RHINO BUCKET’S SHOW IN HELSINKI