Frank Hagan (KISS Mask, THE KISS ROOM) interview

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How old were you when you first got into music and what were some of the first bands/artists that you listened to?

I was interested in music all my life. I started to heavy into music with AM Top 40 radio. I had a vast and diverse 45 single collection by the time I was 13 years old. I had singles ranging from BJ Thomas to Sweet to Sonny and Cher. One of my first albums was the Partridge Family. I eventually graduated to Kiss.

How old were you when you became a KISS fan and how exactly did you get into KISS?

I was 13. A friend of mine, Joe Sheets, gave me a cassette he taped off his oldest brother’s album, told me the name of the band was Kiss and that “You have to see them. They look like rock and roll monsters!” So, I went home, put the cassette in and listened. I loved what I heard before ever seeing the band, keeping in my mind of what my friend Joe had to say. They were like no other band I’d ever seen. I had some Zeppelin records in my collection, but soon, immediately actually, Kiss became my band of my generation.

So, after pleading with my mom to buy me Dressed To Kill the next time we went to Korvette’s, she took me up to get it. I stared at the album cover for what seemed hours. I had already heard and loved the music, and after seeing them on the album cover, what they looked liked for the first time, I was hooked. I had Kiss excitement overload.

When I got home, I put the the album on my turntable, listened for hours. I actually had a Kiss album in my hands and that was the beginning. I love the fact that you didn’t know what they looked liked, I became more intrigued my their mystique. I started buying Rock Scene and Circus Magazines where Kiss was a constant presence on the magazine’s front cover.

I had Kiss posters all over my room by 1977. You could not see an inch of the actual wall in my bedroom. Kiss put out huge posters in the 70’s It was fantastic. I still have those albums. My first Kiss show was at the Wildwood Convention Center at the Jersey shore. I had no idea that Kiss was recording the show and that “Black Diamond” is from that show on Alive!

What are some of your favorite KISS albums and/or songs and why?

Dressed To Kill and Alive! were my firsts, so they hold a special place in my heart. I love the fact that Kiss would put these little goodies inside the albums. No other band was doing anything close to that. It was very cool. Booklets, posters, tattoos… just awesome! All of the 1970s Kiss albums are my favorites. Destroyer and Rock And Roll Over are my favorites for reasons that they are the soundtrack to my life as a teenager. Love Gun reminds me of the summer of 1977. It was a great time to be a teenager and with Kiss music, made those years very memorable for me. I think the best non-makeup album is Revenge. Hands down.

How many times have you seen KISS in concert and what have been some of your favorite KISS shows and/or tours and why?

I’ve seen Kiss over 130 times. People say to me, how is that possible? Actually it is. You plan your work vacations around Kiss tours. The Hot In The Shade tour I saw Kiss 22 times. At that time, with the fanzine community growing, we would all travel together, sharing expenses. It was the most fun on a Kiss tour. It got to the point where tickets to the show were at will-call for us along with photo passes. There were so many times I saw Kiss at pre-show and didn’t have pay in those days like you do now. Love Gun/Alive II was one of my favorite tours. The show was spectacular and Kiss were the craze at that time.

Living on the east coast allows you to see more Kiss shows than many other parts of the US or the world. There are so many markets Kiss would play in heavy concentrated areas of big cities with lots of people. So, you had an advantage. I caught 15 shows on the Reunion Tour and eight on the Pyscho-Circus tour. With all the tours in between, before and after, it wasn’t impossible to see many shows. They were some of the best times of my life. I’ve made many friends from all over the world and they would come to the US and we’d travel together and have crazy fun.

Do you have a favorite KISS member(s)? If so, who and why?

I’ve always gravitated to Ace and Paul. I loved Paul’s songwriting, vocals, showmanship and with Ace, I loved his Jimmy Page feel to his solos and guitar playing. He seemed more laid back than the others and I loved his persona.

Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick are another two of my favorites. Eric and Bruce (as well as Gene) were very supportive when I started out doing Kiss fanzine in 1987. Plus, they were so personable and took so much time with the fans. Great guys. I just interviewed Bruce for the fourth time and he is as wonderful as he’s always been. Eric Carr, well, my heart broke when I learned of his death. I went to his viewing funeral, church service and burial (which was private), and the streets of Middletown, NY., were lined with fans and people, like a dignitary had passed away. I think he would have been pleased to see all of his fans turn out to say goodbye. Eric was a phenomenal drummer as well as Bruce being a guitarist.

What were the circumstances that led you to start KISS Mask in 1987?

I wanted to get into doing something Kiss related- get involved. There was a Kiss fanzine called Kiss Fire and I tried to get on their staff but they had already a full staff, so a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you start your own?” I had printing experience so I did.

Have any of the current or former members of KISS given you any feedback on KISS Mask? If so, who and what did they say?

Yes. Eric Carr and Bruce were big supporters and that drove me to keep doing it. Gene Simmons actually sent a letter to me for publication that read, “Rock on and get your Revenge, Gene Simmons.” He actually gave us an exclusive of what their next album was titled. I know Ace checks in to see what’s going on from time to time. Peter Criss gave me an exclusive interview for the release of ‘One For All,’ and was invited to his New York appearance at the Virgin store at Union Square, where I photographed the event.

Discuss the other KISS zines that you’ve been involved with.

After I closed up shop on Kiss Mask in 1995, I was a contributor to Kiss Renegades from Wales, Kiss Kollector in Amsterdam and Kiss This! based out of London, Ontario where I was an Associate Editor. I had an opportunity to interview Paul Stanley, but passed on it because the editor was a big Paul fan- I felt she should do it. I kinda’ regret that now. LOL!

I recall at the backstage door at one of Paul Stanley’s 1989 solo shows and handing him copies of my fanzine, a quick chat with him and then watching Paul passing out copies to his band on his bus, including Eric Singer, and seeing Paul sit down and read, going through the fanzine, front to back. For me, that was thrilling!

What are your opinions of hardcopy zines vs. digital zines?

It’s a lot easier today than it was back then when hard copy was the only way to go. Now, you can get information up in seconds. It’s all basically the same premise, but I think it this day in age, you have more freedom to be creative. it’s great! Kiss Army Sweden st
ill put out a magazine called ‘Destroyer’ and it is amazing…probably the best fanzine I’ve ever seen. I can’t read Swedish, but the magazine is ass kickin’. You can reach fans much faster and information soars at the speed of light! There is a huge Kiss community out there. There’s enough room for everyone. I don’t think Kiss “needs” the online fanzines and web sites like they used to back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, but it’s great these fan sites and magazine exist.

Now podcasts are the new in this technology driven age. I co-host with host Matt Porter on an internet radio show called THE KISS ROOM. We just had Bruce Kulick on the last show on July 22 and the next show is August 24 which will be Gene Simmons’ Birthday Bash. We’ll have a special guest on the August show to be announced soon.

Who are some of your other favorite bands/artists and why?

I love all the classic rock bands, especially the bands that will actually put on a show. Being a KISS fan, you get spoiled, so I am always up for a show that is a “Show!” but the music has to be good. I love Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Journey, not only for their shows but their music as well. You can go to a concert and see a great show, but if the music sucks, it sucks, and the show is less important.

I loved Cinderella, Teeze and Britny Fox, since they were local bands and we watched them go from clubs to arenas. They were putting on shows at the clubs. In fact before they were Cinderella, they were Saints In Hell, and almost burned down a club in New Jersey because their flamethrowers caught the ceiling tiles on fire. I’ll never forget that night.

Feel free to discuss any of your other musical or non-musical endeavors here.

Right now I am concentrating on Kiss Mask Webzine. I plan on taking it into a new direction in a way that not only features what is going on in current Kiss as well as vintage Kiss from beginning to now and everything in between. Also, I am also involved with the Kiss Room Radio Show once a month, planning out interviews and contests with my buddy Matt. It’s really his show, but we are working together on it. Matt is an old friend who used to do artwork when Kiss Mask was a gloss paper fanzine.

I’d like thank everyone for their support of Kiss Mask and The Kiss Room. I think it’s fantastic that Kiss has continued onward in 2012, out on a huge tour with a new studio album coming in October, I appreciate that they are doing what they do best. Cheers to the worldwide Kiss Army!

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