It’s midnight in El Reno, and Gene Simmons is spitting blood at Gilmore’s Pub.
Kiss usually plays arenas, of course, but Faux Kiss plays anywhere and everywhere. The year-old, Oklahoma City-based tribute band is not comprised of the original rock ’n’ roll soldiers, but the band is having a blast playing as the real thing; the crowds are just as enthusiastic.
“We were at the El Reno show, and we were signing things, and we said, ‘You know that we’re not actually Kiss, right?’” said Chad Stewart, who rocks the Simmons tongue.
Said Scott Morton, who channels Ace Frehley, “We’re all kind of hams at heart. We let loose when we’re playing.”
And do they ever. Faux Kiss not only dresses the part in paint, costumes and towering shoes, but brings a lighted Kiss logo and an LEDencrusted guitar.
“I think people think it’s four old farts playing Kiss, but when we put on the makeup, people are like, ‘Oh, my God!’ People ask to take pictures with us,” said Starch Aisle, the group’s Paul Stanley.
“If we didn’t back up the makeup, people wouldn’t stick with it,” said Morton.
They do back it up, as the music is spot-on. Hard-core Kiss fans may find some quibbles, but to a casual listener, there’s hardly a recognizable difference. The band of 40-somethings brings so much experience to the table that it sounds right.
Like the real Kiss members, the guys of Faux Kiss look normal without all the makeup.
“That’s the beauty of it: Who was that masked band?” said Aisle. “We’re four polite, professional guys who drink water onstage. The bartender at Gilmore’s said, ‘We have never had a band in here who drank water.’” But when you’re Kiss — or even a version — the rules don’t exactly apply.
“We went to Guitar Center in paint. I said, ‘Are you hungry?’ And we went to Cheesecake Factory. I was showing chest and everything, but I didn’t get kicked out,” Aisle said. “While we were there, a woman came up and said, ‘My husband is going to be so mad! He is the biggest Kiss fan ever!’ I said, ‘Oh, really? Would he go to Cheesecake Factory in full makeup?’”
Said Stewart, “No one who knows doesn’t think it’s awesome.”
“People say, ‘What? For real? You’re more awesome than I thought,’” said Aisle.
Added Morton, “It’s kind of a cool thing that we get alter egos.”
Three Faux Kiss members have more than 20 years’ experience playing music professionally or semiprofessionally. Some of them have chased the dream in L.A., but it’s here, in Oklahoma, at Gilmore’s Pub, that they’re finding their true love.
“This is easily the most fun I’ve ever had playing live music,” Morton said. “I never would have guessed.”