Not sure what ever happened to The Kiss Of Death. I'm hoping they're still doing stuff these days, but it's been a looong time since I did this interview, and as far as I know they haven't recorded anything since I did it. Anyway... they are/were a great doomy styled band taking heavy cues from the book of Paranoid era Black Sabbath, and mixing it up with some Wolverine Blues era Entombed and some Louisiana sludge. The band was mainly comprised of members of the amazing late 90's era metal/hardcore unit Turmoil. Hence my interest in them. They put out one really fucking good CD EP nearly 5 years ago that was chock-a-block with slow, dirgy, doomy stuff that had an underlining up-beat feel to it. Needless to say said EP was amazing. I conducted this interview with the bands guitarist Hydro for TheSharpEnd issue #3.
First up, who’s in The Kiss Of Death and what roles do you play?
The Kiss of Death is myself, Jeff Hydro, on guitar. Jon Gula on vocals. John Gardner on guitar. Jimmy Dorward on bass. Chris Frey on drums.
Where are you guys from?
We are based out of Allentown,Pa. in the good ole' US of A.
Do you find that The Kiss Of Death is ever often referred to ‘the other band that the guys from Turmoil are in’ etc? Do such comparisons annoy you?
Gula and I are from Turmoil. Gardner played in a band called Sever the Fallen, that was also on Tribunal Records. Gardner now also plays bass for Turmoil. Chris plays drums in a band called Dragon Green. The Kiss of Death doesn't really "sound" like Turmoil, but the Gula's voice is instantly recognisable, so that's about the only thing. Music-wise, I don't think it sounds like Turmoil at all.
Coming from a more hardcore orientated background do you find that shows are more comprised of hardcore kids or metal / groove / sludge fans? Are hardcore kids surprised by the sound of the band?
Not really. I think the Kiss of Death actually has its own following, because it doesn't sound like Turmoil at all. Of course, when people are promoting shows, they always put "featuring members of Turmoil" on their fliers, websites, etc. But there also are a lot of people who like both bands and there are quite a lot of people who like this band more. It's pretty much people who are more into stoner rock, sludge stuff; but there are a lot of hardcore kids who checked it out that like it, too. I know at first when people heard about us & they knew it was guys from Turmoil, they were probably expecting it to sound like that, but we wanted nothing to do with that at all. We wanted to do something different. Something along the lines of the stuff we actually like and listen to. So i'm sure most people were surprised when they heard it, if they knew of Turmoil.
Do you ever worry about alienating the fans of Turmoil?
No, not at all. If they don't like it, they don't have to listen to it. It's actually better if people don't know of Turmoil, then they can listen to us as a new band, with no preconceived notions of what it will / should sound like.
Why did the band originally get together?
We got together at the beginning of 2002. Gula and I started this for something fun to do, because Turmoil had broken up in 2000, and neither of us had done anything with music since then. I hadn't played music since 1997, so I was totally into trying something new. We were kicking around the idea of starting something & we had already talked to a friend of ours about playing drums (Mike Bowen, who played drums for Turmoil for the last year the band was together, 1999-2000.). The funny thing about this band coming together, though, is that Gula and I went to see the GetUp Kids in Philadelphia to hang out with James DeWees, and by the end of the night we had our first show before we even had songs written or other band members. James had mentioned that Coalesce was going to be doing a reunion tour & it was going to be the original line-up, with him playing drums. So, he said we should get our shit together so we could open some of the shows. He leaves us for a couple minutes, goes outside to talk on the phone, comes back in a minute later and says he just talked to their booking
agent, told him the "new Turmoil" band was gonna play the Philly show, and just like that we had our first show. So, we had to go home and write some songs for a show that was 3 months away.
How does being compared to such great as Crowbar and even Entombed make you feel?
It's great. That’s the kind of shit we listen to all the time, so to be compared to such great, influential bands is always an honour.
It seems that of late alot more sludge influenced groups are becoming more popular in hardcore circles. Bands like Doomriders being a fine example. Do you see this sub genre getting alot more popular in the future? Do you think it could be the next metalcore?
I don't know if it'll be the next metalcore or not, but it definitely has the potential to be just as big, if not bigger, because this kind of stuff is more "listenable" to more people. I think more people can grasp this type of music because it's a lot easier to follow.
What bands are The Kiss Of Death proud to list as influences?
Influences? Iron Monkey, Cavity, Eyehategod, Buzzoven, Black Sabbath, Suplecs, Eternal Elysium, Green Machine, Kyuss, Che, FuManchu, Clutch, COC, Down, Electic Wizard, Entombed, Church of Misery, Sleep, High on Fire, Pentagram, Witchcraft, etc. You know, that kind of stuff.
Why did you guys originally decide to write music like this? Why not take an easier, more popular road like another core band?
Because I hate metalcore. 99.9% of the bands out there totally suck & have nothing original or interesting to say, or play. It's a fucking fashion show. Plus, this is the kind of music we love and have been listening to for the last 10-15 years & we figured we'd try something different and fun. Playing this music is so fun. We can all just go out and play anywhere; bars, clubs, arenas, basements, social halls, VFW
halls, anywhere. People can come out, drink a beer, have a good time, and not worry about if everyone at the show thinks they look cool or not.
When writing songs do any particular members of the band play key roles or is it more of a group thing?
Musically, i write everything, with help from Chris. But, just about everything comes from an idea that I have, and then we take it from there. Gula has written all the lyrics so far. I'll help him out with some ideas, grammar, maybe using different words, etc. But, all the ideas for lyrics have been his.
As of now you guys only have one show scheduled for the near future. Does having members in such other high profile bands make it hard for you to find time to devote to The Kiss Of Death? Is the band really only a part time thing?
No, the band is full-time, but we do have to work around the Turmoil schedule. We just played 5 shows in the last month or so. But then this weekend we have 3 Turmoil shows. After that, we have a 3&1/2 week Turmoil European tour with Most Precious Blood that starts January 13, 2006. We have show offers for the Kiss of Death that will start in February. So we just work around the schedule and its no big deal. We know so far in advance what we're doing with Turmoil, that it's pretty easy to work around.
When touring etc is done for Turmoil will you have more time for The Kiss Of Death?
We actually have to finish organising the new material. We've been playing 2 new songs out, plus an intro, which is actually another song. Plus, there are a few more songs that are just about done, so we're ready to go in to record a full-length. We don't know who is going to put it out yet, though. We've talked to a few labels about it, but no one solid yet.
You guys have had a self titled EP out since the beginning of 2004 on Tribunal Records. Where can fans get their hands on this?
You can get the cd directly from us, at www.thekissofdeath.net. You can order it from Tribunal Records directly at
www.tribunalrecords.net. He has exclusive distro through Lumberjack, so you can get it through Lumberjack-online.com. Also, it's available through amazon.com, ebay, etc.
How did the deal with Tribunal come about?
As I mentioned before, our other guitar player, John Gardner, was in a band called Sever the Fallen, and they were on Tribunal. He also did all the mastering on Tribunal's releases for a while, so when this came up, he mentioned it to Matt (Tribunal owner) & Matt was totally into it. Plus, Matt is a huge Turmoil fan, so he was definitely into releasing it.
Being that The Kiss Of Death is more of a metal orientated band these questions may seem out of lace but i’ll go ahead and ask them anyway. What is the worst thing about hardcore at the moment?
The worst thing about hardcore right now is the bands. They pretty much suck. There are a few good bands, but for the most part, it sucks. We've been listening to the same shit for the last 20 years. It's getting old. I love listening to the 10th generation youth-crew bands, playing the same 1-2-1-2 drum beats. Fucking boring.
The best thing?
The best thing? Because there are so many shitty bands, when you play in a band that is actually good, it actually stands out so much, because the other stuff sucks so bad. That's a good thing. And, because of the success of some of those bands, the music is that much more accessible now.
Do you think it will ever be possible for Turmoil and The Kiss Of Death to tour together?
Yeah, it's definitely possible for that to happen. We have played a few shows together already, and they were great. We would have to get in a lot better shape, though, because doing a full tour like that would wear the hell out of us, physically. I think it would be worth it, for sure. Especially for Gula, Gardner, and myself, because we'd be getting paid twice for the same show. Hahaha. 2 guarantees, that's great.
Yeah. Thank you, Sean. Oh, and hail Satan - burn the flag. Buy our cd & bring us and Turmoil to Australia. That would be awesome.