MR. SPEED will pay tribute to KISS in the season finale of the third season of The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands Hosted by Katie Daryl on April 21, 2014
MR. SPEED is nearing the 20 year mark as a band paying tribute to KISS. Founding member Rich Kosak (the “Paul Stanley” in the band) remembers becoming a KISS fan in winter of 1976, as he was “Drawn in by their “overall mystique”.
The makings of the group started with two buddies that met at a record store and ended up playing KISS songs together on guitar. When they made considerable progress in tackling the songs, they took the next step and put a band together. Rich says, “I have found refuge in KISS since the first time I saw the commercial for the KISS radio on television. I was lucky enough to have been born at a time when they were riding high on the initial wave of stardom in the ’70’s and I was there. I’ve been infected with it ever since and I still take tremendous pride in being first and foremost a fan.”
Interestingly enough, the formation of what was to become MR. SPEED was inspired by the guys seeing a KISS tribute band in Metal Edge, a popular heavy metal magazine. That particular band was called “Cold Gin”, which, at the time, happened to have the long-time and current KISS guitarist/collaborator, Tommy Thayer, playing the role of Ace Frehley.
MR. SPEED’s first show took place on June 24, 1994 in Pittsburgh, PA, and, to their surprise, the place was literally overflowing with people from the stage to the front door of the venue.
The current members of the band have seen KISS a combined 130 times and they’ve enjoyed a rather storied career for a tribute band. MR. SPEED’s hard work and effort has paid off with numerous, achievements, accomplishments and pleasant surprises.
Their largest show to date was in the base area of Ohio where they performed to a crowd of 5,000, which is an exhilarating experience for any band, let alone the opportunity to play live on national TV.
They also make appearances at the large KISS EXPOs that attract thousands of members of “The KISS Army” – the largest fan club of any band out there. With KISS’ incredible fan base of crazed fans, a tribute to the band may be the most meaningful of all tributes. Rich describes the KISS Army members as “Fanatical, passionate, dedicated, enthusiastic and proud.”
At various expos and regular shows, MR. SPEED has performed the first three albums in their entirety (Kiss (1974) Hotter Than Hell (1974)Dressed to Kill (1975) During their career, they have also performed Revenge, Creatures, Asylum, Carnival Of Souls and they’ve even performed Rock And Roll Over as complete albums and have performed as many as 35 songs in a single show. “Those were marathon shows, but we learned what we were capable of and became better as a result of it.”
MR. SPEED was one of several tribute bands that were mentioned and shown by Gene Simmons on an episode of Gene Simmons Family Jewels. “It was a great feeling to know that we were a blip on the radar that is KISS.”
While playing the KISS Coffeehouse anniversary show in Myrtle Beach in 2007, the band was told there was a possibility that Ace Frehley would get up and jam with them. Sure enough, at the very end of the show, Ace got up onstage to thank the crowd for attending. He then turned to the band and said “let’s play a little number called ‘Shock Me’.”
Kozak describes it as “mind blowing” and “a dream come true”:
“I remember having a feeling of respect for him on stage, not wanting to get too close so that the fans could take photos of him without me in them. When it was over I did get a great photo of us together as we ended the song. He began to walk off of the stage and turned and looked at me over his shoulder. He stopped and approached me extending his right hand. We shook hands and hugged.”
In addition to getting to jam with Ace, they have also shared the stage with rock icons Bruce and Bob Kulick, as well as current drummer, Eric Singer.
“I’ve always wanted to be considered by the band to be a legitimate tribute to them. Over the years, we’ve met just about everyone that has been in KISS. I always make it a point to thank them, especially the original members for allowing us to keep our tribute going. When KISS decided to mass produce the different Halloween costumes, they opened the door for anyone that ever thought of being in a KISS tribute to give it a shot. Each one of us has to start somewhere, but I can tell you that MR.SPEED does what we do out of complete respect for the legend that is KISS.”
They work hard and show massive amounts of dedication in putting on their concerts. Not only do they oversee all of the making of their costumes for their shows, they travel with two large vehicles pulling trailers to shows and have driven as far away as Georgia and flown as far away as Puerto Rico to pay tribute to KISS.
Kosak emphasizes that “Since Day One, MR.SPEED has been about the music. Anyone can wear make up and a Halloween costume and call themselves a KISS tribute band, but we have always said that if you close your eyes, we want it to sound like what you know KISS to sound like. If you open your eyes, we want it to remind you of a time in your life when you saw KISS. Whether it was in concert, in a magazine, on television or wherever.”
Collectively, MR. SPEED’s favorite KISS albums are Destroyer, Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun. Some of their favorite songs include “Thou Shalt Not”, “Hell Or Hallelujah”, “Magic Touch” and their favorites to play are “Unholy”, “Tomorrow And Tonight”, “The Oath” and “Danger”.
Rich says, “We have always taken pride in performing songs like “Hooligan” or “Unholy”, “Shandi” or “Talk To Me”.….. and pushing ourselves to do ‘Got Love For Sale’ for that one fan that will walk away saying ‘I can’t believe that they played that’ is what we’ve always been about.
Rich was at the filming of the movie “Detroit Rock City” (BTW, that’s a great movie if you’ve never seen it…. good soundtrack, too) in Hamilton, ONT. He didn’t make it on to the screen, but he was there and has some really cool memories of the day.
When asked about KISS merchandise/ memorabilia , Rich said, “I find myself trying to acquire the vintage items from the ’70’s that I never owned.” His most cherished Kiss memorabilia is a bloody towel from the ALIVE II Tour in Pittsburgh and a framed Paul Stanley poster on which he signed “DO ME PROUD”.
“With MR.SPEED you will get a performance that is from the heart. This show will be the very first show that we perform in our brand new Love Gun costumes. We take great pride in helping to create our own costumes as opposed to wearing something that comes from a bag.”
“I’ve always wanted to be considered by the band to be a legitimate tribute to them. Over the years we’ve met just about everyone that has been in KISS. I always make it a point to thank them, especially the original members for allowing us to keep our tribute going. When KISS decided to mass produce the different Halloween costumes they opened the door for anyone that ever thought of being in a KISS tribute to give it a shot. MR.SPEED does what we do out of complete respect for the legend that is KISS.”
The band has also been joined onstage by Robbie Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls, who pinned a MR. SPEED flyer on his shirt and sang “Cold Gin” with the band and recently, Simon Kirke from Bad Company and Chip Z’Nuff from Enuff Z’nuff attended their Valentine’s Day show in Chicago at the Hard Rock in support of the City Of Hope campaign.
“We never know who we might meet or whose life we might impact with our tribute. We had some pretty amazing experiences over the years happen between ourselves and our fans…we’re very grateful to each and every one of them.”
Rich lives less than an hour from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has visited it many times over the years. MR. SPEED even performed at a gathering a few years back just outside the Hall where fans staged a march to make KISS inductees.
Needless to say, MR. SPEED happy that KISS is now a part of the inductees to the hall and Rich says “maybe soon enough there will finally be something wicked cool to go see there.”
When asked about the newly formed LA Kiss football team, Rich said, “What’s not to love? It seems like great entertainment all around. I love the helmets that the team wears and it’s another opportunity for the fans to take part in celebrating something that ultimately leads them back to KISS.”
“We never know who we might meet or whose life we might impact with our tribute. We had some pretty amazing experiences over the years happen between ourselves and our fans…we’re very grateful to each and every one of them… We’re thrilled to have been invited to the party…we only hope that the fans will embrace us and our efforts as much as we have embraced this experience.”
MR. SPEED is also proud to have shared a bill with fellow season 3 tribute band “Draw The Line”.
What to look forward to in the show:
For this show, we are sticking with a very classic set of songs that everyone will want to hear. We’ve got to take 40 years of KISS songs and condense them into a “hit” package that will satisfy the die-hards as well as those that aren’t that well versed with KISS.
MR. SPEED feels very rewarded is thrilled to be take the stage at The Whisky on AXS TV that will put them “ into the hearts, minds and homes of millions of KISS and music fans all over the world. What you see when you see a MR.SPEED show is from the heart and has been since the very beginning. ”
In the home stretch of playing to millions on television, MR. SPEED will make are further being honored by taking part in recording with the The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands series, which they will record while they are in Southern California for the show. “Being able to visit L.A. and hide out in a studio for a day and record music that we all love is a blessing. We were given a list of tracks and we narrowed it down to the few that thought would convey our sound and our emotion the best… How can you miss when you’re dong something that has been such a big part of you for so long?”
The AXS TV show will be the first where MR. SPEED performs in their brand new Love Gun costumes. KISS fans that are upset the original members did not reunite for a live performance at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame are definitely in for a treat on April 21 with this show. Tune in to check out what’s in store for the exciting season finale of season 3 of AXS TV’s The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.
A final bonus? The LA KISS Cheerleaders will make an appearance on the show!