BANDwith Xperience: KISStory’s God of Thunder Roars with Vinny Dawson -By: Rob Smittix and Stephanie J. Bartik

Written by on March 7, 2023

Interview By: Rob Smittix -Photography By: Stephanie J. Bartik

RRX: You are quite the entertainer from what I can tell.

VD: Oh, thanks.

RRX: Obviously, you’re in KISStory but are you in any other bands because I don’t think I’d recognize you.

VD: I did an AC/DC tribute called High Voltage a while back.

RRX: I remember that.

VD: It was with Mike McMullen and JJ Savage was playing Angus (Young). 

RRX: Oh cool JJ Savage was actually our 2nd feature with Stephanie J. Bartik’s and my Xperience BANDwith thing.

VD: Oh, no kidding, he played Angus for me in 2014-2015, he did like a couple years.

RRX: That’s pretty badass. One thing I’ve noticed with tribute bands is that you have a good sellable product. Unlike me for example that isn’t in it for the money and I do almost all original material.

VD: I have 4 or 5 roadies and I don’t make nothing. After paying roadies off, rentals of the U-Haul and to keep up the costumes. Like I just spent another $4,000 on new costumes.

RRX: You look like the legit Gene Simmons man. If I’m not mistaken I think a while back I saw on social media that you’ve actually been mistaken for the real Gene Simmons online before.

VD: Yeah, there’s a couple of pictures where they had me as Gene Simmons

(Both Laugh)

RRX: That’s cool though it means you’re doing it right.

VD: The only difference between Gene and me is that my nose is smaller.

RRX: Really hard to tell with the make-up.

VD: With no make-up people say I look like Blackie Lawless. You won’t find too many pictures of me without make-up.

RRX: No not at all.

VD: Unless we’re doing Revenge and we dress like 84′ KISS. 

RRX: I was going to ask about this, so you guys do rotate some of the KISS members?

VD: Yeah, KISStory has always been like that. It’s been going since 96′ and it’s always kind of been hired guns that I would hire because I wanted to do shows and so them right; so I would always hire top-notch guys. 

RRX: Makes sense.

VD: I had a couple of guys come in that were horrible (laughs). They said this one guy does Ace Frehley really good and I saw a couple of his tapes but he didn’t mention it was years ago. We just had that happen at The Strand, my regular Ace (Pat Pasquale) had a wedding to go to and we couldn’t move the date. Our Paul Stanley said my old Ace Frehley from like ten years ago will do it. He gets to the show. I ask when was the last show you did? He said about two years ago. I was like oh no. Me and the Paul literally had to carry that show. HE was like Ace if you saw him when he was drunk.

(Both Laugh) 

RRX: Wow, right? I just saw a video for the first time yesterday of Ace Frehley being interviewed and it was hilarious because he thought he had a Grammy for Beth all of these years but he didn’t and the interviewer corrected him. Did you see that?

VD: (Laughs) No that’s awesome! 

RRX: Ace didn’t believe that he did not have the Grammy, so during the interview Ace gets his wife on the phone and has her text him a photo back of the award he thought was a Grammy. Just classic!

VD: It was a People’s Choice Award. 

RRX: But Beth is a great song and it stands apart from most of KISS’s catalog. 

VD: Well thank God for Bob Ezrin who pretty much wrote it. Peter (Criss) brought it to the table with the name Beck. They said well we’re not going to call it Beck, we’ve got to change it, so they changed it to Beth but he really didn’t write that one.

RRX: No kidding. Peter seems to get a lot of credit for it. 

VD: We found out when Peter did his solo album that Peter can’t write. 

(Both Laugh)

RRX: Well Unlike Peter, Ace Frehley and Vinnie Vincent had some good solo albums.

VD: My favorite KISS album is always Rock And Roll Over but my second favorite is Creatures of the Night. That’s an album with guest guitarists, Vinnie Vincent only played a few tracks on that album. Bryan Adams wrote Rock and Roll Hell, I Love it Loud and War Machine.

RRX: I never knew that. Wow!

VD: He also sings on the album doing back-ups. 

RRX: How cool is that?

VD: Gene’s another one who wasn’t a great writer either. The best writer in the band was always Paul. Gene was always better on songs that people wrote for him.

RRX: I’ve never seen KISS live or KISStory for that matter. At this point in time, KISS is on another farewell tour, is this really going to be it? 

VD: Yeah, this is it.

RRX: They’ve done several farewell tours, if I’m not mistaken.

VD: Well, I still have a shirt from 2000 that says farewell tour on it. If you ask them they’ll tell you that was the end of Ace and Peter.

RRX: Right? So 23 years later, it’s probably going to be about that time. 

VD: At their age I’m still shocked that they can do it. Last time I saw them was in 2019 and everything was slow and melodic. I was like ehhh.

RRX: Now being in such an elaborate tribute band do you have to get certain permissions or pay royalties? How does that work?

VD: I know Gene thinks that tribute bands are just a self promotion for him. 

RRX: Well that’s good, probably one of the most agreeable things I’ve heard him say.

(Both Laugh)

VD: They never gave us any sh*t and we’ve been doing it over 25 years. I’m 53 and there aren’t any 30 year olds doing KISS tribute bands. There are so many KISS tribute bands out there and I’m the worst critic for all of them. Some guys look good but they can’t sing and they can’t play. Some guys can play but they can’t sing. 

RRX: You don’t get the whole package.

VD: What I find now are a lot of musicians are trying to jump on the tribute band wagon, which is funny to me because back in the 90’s all I heard was why don’t you do your own stuff? Why don’t you have your own originals? Because nobody wants to hear my sh*t! 

RRX: I got you on that man. You said in the beginning you don’t really make that much money because you’ve got so much overhead but your product could sell. Personally I’ve never written a song for the audience. I write music for me and if people like it, that’s cool. 

VD: Right and I have those too from myself but I’m not going to fill up the place with that sh*t. You’ve got to be part attention whore to do what I do. I love the crowd, I love acting. 

KISSTORY will be performing FRIDAY, April 7, 2023 at 7pm at The Cohoes Music Hall

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