On the 35th anniversary of the release of “Midnite Dynamite,” Maryland, hard rock icons KIX will release “Midnite Dynamite Re-Lit” on November 20, 2020. For this release, KIX partnered with long-time collaborator and the album’s original producer, Beau Hill.
It’s a two-disc set that includes a powerfully crisp remixed and remastered version of “Midnite Dynamite,” and the second disc contains eight demos, plus early an album mix of “Walking Away.” These demos showcase how well-prepared KIX was prior to entering the studio to record this album.
“Midnite Dynamite” reflected the band’s true essence, as the popular musical landscape of the mid-’80s had shifted in their favor. From the slash-and-burn riffing of the album’s title track and the high-speed antics of “Layin’ Rubber,” to the Aerosmith-flavored groove of numbers like “Cold Shower” and “Sex,” to the heart-break melancholia of the album’s sole ballad, “Walkin’ Away,” “Midnite Dynamite” is packed with material that delivers not only attitude in spades, but also pummels the listener with hook after hook. The band consists of Steve Whiteman [vocals], Ronnie “10/10” Younkins [guitar], Brian “Damage” Forsythe [guitar], Jimmy Chalfant [drums], and Mark Schenker [bass].
Contributor Robert Cavuoto spoke with vocalist Steve Whiteman about “Midnite Dynamite Re-Lit,” what was going on at the time in the band with the making of the original 1985, and if we can expect a new studio album from him or KIX.
Pre-order now on the band’s webstore
When you look back, can you believe it has been 35 years since “Midnite Dynamite?”
Yeah [laughing]. I have been doing this since I was eight years old. Time is irrelevant to me. The fact that we can still do it, are better, and stronger than ever with bigger crowds is amazing.
Thirty-five years ago, did this album make the band or set you up for “Blow my Fuse?”
I think it established us more as a hard rock band. The first album had songs that were written and lying around for years while we developed them in clubs and at the sound checks. “Cool Kids” was the band’s least favorite album. We were forced by the record label and producer to be a pop radio band, which was the furthest thing from what we were. We don’t look back on that album with favor. “Midnite Dynamite” was produced by Beau Hill, and it really established us as a hard rock act. I don’t know what the problem was with our record company, but they didn’t get behind it. So we took it upon ourselves to work and promote ourselves up the East Coast from Boston, New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington, and Long Island. We took our club money and would go to places where people never heard of us like Chicago, Cleveland, and even LA. We were our own tour support in order to get the word out. We take more credit in setting us up for “Blow my Fuse” than the record company.
Did you start to see any financial success from that album?
We never saw any money. I never made a cent off an album. The only money we made was from touring and merch. We were on salary. Unfortunately, the bassist, Donnie Purnell who was the leader of the band didn’t like to go out and play all that much. Once we would get a nice fat bank account, he would want to stop and go back into the studio to write. I never made more than $500 a week in that band! I don’t look back with fondness during those days because we thought “Midnite Dynamite” was going to catapult us. We had the music, the producer, the management, but it just sputtered and didn’t do all that much. Our albums sold enough to re-up for the next record because we had such a solid fan base. We would be selling 80,000 -100,000 albums, and that would make the record company a shit ton of money but not a cent for us. Why not give us another opportunity to for another album? The record company had nothing to lose. Do I sound a little bitter? [Laughing]
It’s hard to believe that you and the band continued to forge on despite not making money off the albums.
We made enough to get by to make a living playing music. We never got rich off of it. We were able to support ourselves and our families. We had to believe in each other and in our fans to continue on. That is what kept us driving forward.
Were you aware that demos from this album still existed?
I honestly don’t know where they came from. Mark Schenker was behind the remixed and remastered of “Reblown” in 2018 as well as this new release. He just goes off and does it to make the band some money.
The demos sound very good and thought out.
We took our demos very seriously and put in a lot of time making all of them. When Donnie got fed up from being on the road, we would just bury ourselves in the studio, constantly refining one song at a time.
The overall sonics of the remixed and remastered album is fantastic.
Thank you. Beau Hill is an amazing guy; we had all the faith in the world that he would clean it up. Back in the 80s, everything was about giant reverb and echo all over everything. Nowadays, the cleaner, more robust sound is what you want to hear, not that over-exaggerated reverb and echo shit that went on in the 80s. Boy, did we have fun making the original record.
Speaking of that, the original album was recorded in New York City. As a young band, you must have some great stories during the making of it.
I never laughed harder in my life while making that album! Every day was a riot. We worked with crazy people that just loved to have fun yet were very serious and good at what they did. We were in the studio every day from noon to midnight. After putting in 12 to 14 hours, we were pretty wiped out. We may have had a couple of drinks afterward, but there wasn’t a whole lot of partying going on. I remember one day while recording; we saw these little heads walk by our little square glass window in the studio room. We were wondering, “Who the hell is that?” It turned out to be AC/DC as they were coming to Atlantic’s studios to listen to some of their live stuff for a possible live album. We were all huddled behind their studio door as they were listening to it. We never met them, but it was still a huge thrill as we are all big AC/DC fans.
You co-wrote my favorite track on “Midnite Dynamite” – “Sex.” Can you tell me about its creation as you were the only band member with a song credit?
It wasn’t easy to write a song because Donnie was very controlling and a very good songwriter. After a while, he wore us all down. I always tried to write, but it wasn’t always suitable for KIX. I typically would get one of two songs on an album if I was lucky. The inspiration for that song came from Ronnie. We both lived in the same apartment building; he lived upstairs, and I lived downstairs. The entourage of girls that knocked on his door was incredible. In-and-out every day and every night. They just kept coming and going. One night it was just nuts. The walls were shaking, and I had to laugh. It inspired me to write the song. Ronnie was a hound, and the girls loved him. He’s a good looking guy with long hair, and he liked to have sex!
Did you write the music as well as the lyrics?
I wrote the entire song with guitar and lyrics. That’s how I wrote all my songs on a four-track recorder and played the guitar, bass, and drums. I turned it in as a complete demo with vocals. Donnie came up with the harp and the guitar answering one another; he may have come up with the bridge and the “huffing” part.
It’s hard to believe KIX only made seven albums. Are you using this downtime from touring to make a follow up to Rock Your Face Off?
I’ve been writing for the last several years, and I don’t know if KIX is interested in doing another album at this time. I’m going to work with Jimmy Chalfant and old friend and colleague, Brad Divens, who was on the “Cool Kids” album, to record some demos of them. Jimmy suggested that since I have all these songs, I should make some demos. Brad has a home studio, so he thought we should go over there to record them. We are going to make a Steve Whiteman album! I’m sure we’ll do a KIX album in the future.
Will this be a solo record or a new band?
I haven’t thought about it. With COVID and nobody out playing, it’s just supposed to be a studio project. I don’t even know what I what to do with it once we finish. Do I put it out or store it away? I don’t know. I’ll know better when I hear the finished product.
I look forward to both albums as I really liked “Rock Your Face Off.”
“Rock Your Face Off” was a liberating album for us! We were under Donnie‘s control for so many years, so to have the liberty of writing and being able to contribute as a band was such a great time. It made us feel really good about ourselves. We were always in the background when it came to writing part of the band.
I know touring is still up in the air with COVID. How far out are you planning tour dates?
Everything that was booked for 2020 has been rescheduled for 2021. Everyone is so scared that these venues aren’t going to make it due to being shut down as long as they have been. As of now, everything is rescheduled.
I have to wonder about concert ticket prices moving forward with these venues only allowing 25% capacity?
I would think the ticket prices will go up significantly as the bands won’t drop their price because they work so damn hard to get to get to that echelon to make that type of money. We are playing a drive-in in Maryland on November 13th. I don’t know what they are charging, but they are allowing 300 cars in. This could be the “new thing” for a while.