Band Info - Contact
- Gig Dates
"A drummer 'willing to do anything to make it' is
snapped up by a rhythm guitarist/bassist duo. Soon after, a lead guitarist answers an ad by the then trio". Now this might sound to most KISS fans exactly how KISS formed, but this particular story wasn't set in New
York in 1973, it was early 1990 and in England, and EXACTLY how 'DRESSED TO KILL', the KISS tribute band, was formed.
If this appeared strangely coincidental, then stranger still was the similarity of each of their personalities to those of the original four in KISS: Ashley Brookes was 'Paul Stanley' from head to toe - the curly dark hair & brown eyes, a theatrical background, a strong interest in stage production, and the 'I wanna sing, I wanna dance, I wanna be somebody' rock star mentality with vocals to match. The 'Gene Simmons' was similarly larger than life Gary Banton- with an eye for
the women, a shrewd business sense, the stalking walk and note-perfect growling bass playing, and very soon after: the ability to 'breathe' fire. Richard Sawyer joined the duo as 'Peter Criss'- with the trademark Pearl drum kit, the same 'will and determination' that landed Peter Criss the
job in KISS, and the ability to recreate his jazzy
drumming style with ease and precision. Finally their original lead guitarist, after a bit of coaxing from a friend, answered the ad that had been placed in KISS CRAZY fanzine. Their 'Ace' was found!
After much consideration, the 'Love Gun / 1977' costumes were chosen for their eye catching appearance and their association with the band at, arguably, the height of its success. The set list was also selected to represent the best of 'Alive' and 'Alive II', and to include such 'never played live' gems as 'All American Man' and 'Strangeways'. The name DRESSED TO KILL was 'coined' after a photo session on Easter Sunday 1990- they each wore make up, and suits very similar to the ones KISS themselves sported on the album cover of the same name. Even though they didn't have their costumes yet, they still wanted the KISS world to know they'd arrived!
This was documented by 'Kerrang!' magazine- they dedicated THREE full pages of colour pictures and a comprehensive review by
Their debut was on October 30th 1991 at Crystals Nightclub, Loughborough. 300+ people - the most for ANY band that had played at that venue - had travelled near, and as far as Scotland, and even Switzerland and Italy to witness the fiery
'baptism' that was DRESSED TO KILLs' very first show.
Unfazed, shows followed at the Marquee, London (11/3/92) - featured both in 'Kerrang!' and 'Raw' magazines, and witnessed by such luminaries as Anthony and 'Flea' of Red Hot Chili Peppers; and Dudley JBs (11/4/92). These shows set them up nicely for their very first KISS Convention appearance at the Astoria Theatre, London (21/5/92) where they played to nearly 2000 rabid KISS fans.
Not only was this a prestigious event for them to play, but they also met KISS themselves, were interviewed for twenty minutes by MTV for a 'Headbangers Ball' KISS Special, and were requested by KISS' support band
Danger Danger to pose for photos with them!
This heightened profile secured a string of shows later in the year, and a recreation of KISS' London landmark photo shoot landed them in 'Kerrang!' once again in February 1993- They hired a 1975 Black and Chrome Cadillac Limousine, and made 'stops' at Trafalgar square, on Westminster bridge (just as KISS had in 1976); and then outside Buckingham palace, where the crowds stopped looking at The Queens residence and Guard, and started photographing, videoing, and requested autographs of the band: almost everyone appeared convinced that KISS were back, with the original line-up, AND in full makeup and costume! This was the epitome of shameless self-promotion - something that KISS were, and are, the masters of. Yet again, DRESSED TO KILL were doing it in style!
DRESSED TO KILL were now in demand in mainland Europe: four shows spread over 2 weekends in July of that year, in Austria, included an invitation from PolyGram (Europe) to play at a KISS Konfidential video & KISS Alive III cd release party at The Rock Inn, Vienna; and a major biker festival in multi-acre farmland in Steiermark (17/7/93). KISS fan/Rock Tiger music shop proprietor, and Singer with 'Sex Tiger' Chris Bauer was instrumental in arranging their mini-tour. He was later to be involved in their returns since, and is still a good friend.
After more 'home' shows, they made their second KISS convention appearance at The Rocking Chair in Vevey, Switzerland (6/11/93). And it was REALLY rocking that nite- a packed house, and rumour had it that someone had been asked to film DRESSED TO KILLs' performance for Gene Simmons' private collection.
If anyone was in any doubt up to this point, then this showed what DRESSED TO KILL were made of. This therefore paved the way for future European KISS Convention appearances.
1994 saw a return to the Marquee, London, (17/3/94) - a show arranged specifically for Paul and Gene of KISS to attend, since they were in town to promote 'KISS My Ass'; DRESSED TO KILL followed this up with their Scandinavian debut at the Magasinet in Gothenburg, Sweden (26/3/94) before a 600+ crowd with a further 100+ having to listen from outside, due to fire regulation restrictions!
Another significant moment in the bands career up to this point was the London KISS Convention at the Astoria II (3/9/94) where the 'Catman' himself - Peter Criss - joined them onstage to play 'Strutter', 'Deuce' and 'Firehouse'. Again reviewed by 'Kerrang!', Dave Reynolds intimated that the DRESSED TO KILL drummers' performance far excelled that of Mr. Criss!
In early October of that year, DRESSED TO KILL returned to Sweden to play 2 nights at the White Corner in Gothenburg, one night in Helsingborg; and a flying visit to Norway to answer a request to play an 'unplugged' medley of KISS songs on an Oslo radio station, before blowing away another packed house, this time at a venue used to playing host to such bands as Pantera, and Soundgarden - The Oslo
1995 was not only a busy year that saw DRESSED TO KILL both strengthening, and expanding its home 'fan-base' with shows around the UK; but a return visit to Switzerland and a first time in Germany mid-June gave the amassed crowds at Conventions in Lausanne and Munich two of DRESSED TO KILLs' best shows to date. The special guest in Lausanne was none other than original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley who expressed his admiration for their attention to detail.
By this time, a number of KISS cover / tribute bands had surfaced in both Germany, Italy; however, DRESSED TO KILL were evidently STILL the 1st, and only really serious choice to play at European Conventions - proof (if any were needed) that if you wanted the best, and you booked DRESSED TO KILL; You really were getting THE BEST.
In April of 1996, the UK KISS 'expo' (as it then had to be known so as not to infringe copyright) at the Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall was to have featured one-time KISS lead guitarist and song co-writer Vinnie Vincent. Unfortunately, He didn't show up, leaving DRESSED TO KILL to save the day. The 400+ KISS fans, collectors, and memorabilia traders were more than pleased with their blistering performance!
In June 1996, DRESSED TO KILL undertook a 7-date tour of Japan, taking in all the major cities that KISS themselves were to play only months after on their 'reunion' tour!! These were at theatres in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Sendai, and Niigata; plus an evening at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. This particular show was recorded and beamed via satellite to both Japanese and European 'receivers' of Japans' NHK television channel.
The whole 2 weeks of the tour was the stuff dreams are made of. DRESSED TO KILL were to share Bullet-train carriages with Joe Satriani and his touring band; jam KISS, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin tunes in a bar with members of American Metal band Savatage, and UK Queen tribute band 'The Royal Family'; and enjoy many of the delights that Japan had to offer.
December of that year saw another publicity 'stunt' - Gary made a guest appearance, in full Gene regalia, at the 'Heavy Xmas' show in Vienna, Austria (15/12/96) on a bill alongside Motorhead and Dio. His performance was so authentic that three thousand Viennese rockers, and the assembled press, were convinced that it really was Gene Simmons!!
At about the same time, a Scandinavian KISS tribute album 'Kissin' Time' was released- DRESSED TO KILL were the only non-Scandinavian band to be invited to record a track for it. Thus, they offered 'C'mon and Love Me'. The CD was distributed in Mainland Europe, and the UK, and available on import in the U.S.
After a well earned break during 1997, DRESSED TO KILL were back on the road in 1998, and in September were once again requested to play another PolyGram Europe release party, this time for the reunited KISS' first studio album since 1979- 'Psycho Circus' - at the U4 in Vienna; they then made another guest appearance with cult Austrian band Sex Tiger at their 'Fifteenth Anniversary' show.
DRESSED TO KILL also headlined their own 'Halloween / 7th birthday special' in London on October 31st 1998, the same night that KISS themselves began their Psycho Circus '3D' World Tour! By this time though, DRESSED TO KILL had played the title track to KISS' new album a total of 3 times, before KISS had played it even once live!
In 1999, DRESED TO KILL took up where they had left off the previous year, including a triumphant return to Dudley JB's on 29th August for the UK KISS Convention. Yet again, they proved to everyone exactly why they are THE best KISS Tribute in Europe, if not the World!
The year 2000 saw DRESSED TO KILL playing more shows than ever before. Making 6-monthly visits to The Rock Café, Stourbridge; The Limelight Club in Crewe; The Standard in Walthamstow; and a few other places they'd not played before, 'spreading the rock' to people that had hitherto not seen them.
2001 carried on in much the same way- with The RnB2 at Bilston inviting them back again and again, in addition to the returns to venues they had rocked in 2000.
DRESSED TO KILL celebrated their '10th live year' anniversary, firstly at The Hard Rock Café, Manchester; and then at The Standard in Walthamstow, London; both shows re-affirming their ability to Rock n Roll ALL nite and Party EVERY day!
2002 for DRESSED TO KILL was all about solidifying their much-increased fan-base, carrying on from what 2001 had been about; though their 11th 'birthday' was spread over THREE shows- the first at the Hard Rock Café, Nottingham; the second at The Standard, Walthamstow; and the third at the Diamond, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. Some sections of the audience at the Hard Rock Café show had flakes of paint and small pieces of ceiling falling on them- unsurprisingly, DRESSED TO KILL had brought the house down, quite literally!
2003 started out as a year of change for DRESSED TO KILL. Their 'original' Ace was replACEd by Danny James. Danny, ex of KISS tribute band 'Parasite' and guitarist with Phonogram recording act 'Fahrenheit', was the obvious choice- his ability was without question. Not only that, but Gary had stepped in to play 'Gene' for Parasite at their Convention appearance at Bradford Rio's in December of 2000, and Ash had guested on 2 songs with them; so they both knew first hand how easily Danny would fit in. Indeed, the first 2 shows with Danny in the band were at Stourbridge and Crewe- the audiences at both venues made the 'new boy' VERY welcome; and despite having not had a practice together, aside from a brief soundcheck at both shows, DRESSED TO KILL demonstrated that they were stronger than ever.
And more so with every show thereafter- especially DRESSED TO KILLs' 'Expo' appearance at Crewe on June 21st - Playing a 2 and ½ hour set, comprising such never before heard live songs as 'I', 'Dark Light', 'Escape from the island', alongside the more oft heard classics, they pulled out all the stops- with more pyro than ever- giving the capacity crowd a spectacle that both audience and band had neither seen, nor done before.
You can be sure DRESSED TO KILL will have some tricks up their sleeve the next time they play... If You haven't seen them yet, isn't it about time You DID?