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Interview

Mark St John Interview
25/10/03

Here's a little background on how this interview came to be: Mark St John was a special guest at the UK KISS Expo in Nottingham, during the signing session Martin Curtis, another UK KISS fan, informed Mark of KISSin' UK, Mark then told me to ring him in his hotel room if I wanted an interview.


Mark & me at the expo (Picture Martin Curtis)

Straight after the show I gave him a ring.. and woke him up! Not thinking that he'd be up for doing an interview he told me to meet him in the lobby in 15 minutes. I went down and sure enough there he was, he said he was hungry so we went down to Pizza Hut for a take-away (meeting loads of other KISS fans on the way). Then we went back to the hotel for the interview and pizza, you wouldn't believe how surreal it was wondering the streets of Nottingham with an ex-KISS guitarist! All I can say is thank you very much to Mark, he was very friendly and a very cool bloke to talk to.

MSJ Mmmm, delicious, English pizza!!

PF
Did you have a good time tonight then, enjoy it all?

MSJ
Yeah, seemed like everyone liked the Q&A, I know not everyone likes that kind of thing, some people get bummed out and stuff.

PF
You got a good reception, better than Peter Criss 9 years ago - he was nearly booed off stage!

MSJ
Oh really? (laughs)


Mark with Dan at Pizza Hut


PF
He threw someone out for video recording him, didn't go down too well.

MSJ
Peter can be really harsh, he don't care you know. I learned to play both sides a little bit better. That's why I didn't want to say too many bad things about Paul or Gene, it always gets back to them. Not that they can do me no harm, but, if they get asked questions they definitely have a chance to get back at me.

PF I wouldn't worry too much about that, although he's well respected by fans, most people know that Gene can be a bit harsh towards ex-members at times.

MSJ Oh yeah, I know that (laughs).

PF Was Paul any easier to get on with?

MSJ Paul's a little insecure about all things. When I first got in the band, Gene wanted to get me in the band,  Paul didn't want me because, you know, of the competition between guitar players. He was all like 'You're too good' but I was like whatever, cause really I knew that he didn't want to be upstaged, because of the Vinnie thing. Vinnie really twisted him up, I couldn't really help that.

PF What exactly happened to your hand that made them bring in Bruce?

MSJ The hand? Like I said I wanted to go back to California, it was mostly just stress but I went to a bunch of doctors, and one morning I woke up and it was like twice the size. My Achilles heal and my kneecap were swollen too. I had to go back in like a week to New York to start rehearsing for a UK tour. I called and told them [Paul & Gene] about it and they sent me to all the best Beverly Hills doctors. It was quite tricky cause none of them could figure out what it was, I went to a hand specialist, neurologist, a cardio-what-do-you-call-it, finally I went to a rheumatologist and they told me I had arthritis.

That's when I went to the hospital to get fixed up, they went on tour without me, came back, picked me up, I did part of the tour and then they decided they would have Bruce. I wasn't really happy being in the band anyway, I couldn't see my self being there after 5 years. After the first album it was just like I didn't get along with them. I mean like, they're New Yorkers I'm Californian. I'd say something like "bitchen", it's just a word right? And he'd get up and say, "don't you ever say that word again"! And I went "okay fine it's just a word, it's just a word"!! (laughs) everyone had heard of that word back in '84. They'd always have to have their way, they'd tell me like "don't let people work in front of you, you always walk in front of them", just all these things like do this, do that, just like being in the army.

It was alright, but I like to give people some space you know, like there was this time we were in a limousine just Gene and I. I looked behind us as we were trying to turn right, the limousine driver had with us our security, bodyguard and travel agent. Anyway, we were in upstate New York, and there were some fans in a mustang car following us and it was like all hilly going up to 5000 feet. We went down a hill and it was foggy, they were trying to see the van and limo, they were all drunk and stuff and they were trying to follow us. I could see everything cause I was looking backwards and everyone else was looking forward. I remember looking backwards and they were trying to pass us, we went round one corner and they carried on right off the hill. I'm literally seeing this car flying right off the hill and I start freaking out. Gene's like picking a pickle off his hamburger "this happens to us all the time" and I'm going "pull over!", he's like "we can't pull over", I said maybe we could pull one of them out and save them. So about 15 or 20 minutes later we come down the hill and Gene tells the security guard to go out and make a phonecall. So  he goes out to make his phonecall and he's back in like 1 minute and says "they're all right"!! (laughs) He only had time you know to open the telephone box door and he's back already, they're fine. Fuck it, there was a couple of things like that.

PF Was Eric a bit easier to get on with?

MSJ Yeah, Eric was cool, Eric was cool. But like, he knew how far he could kid on and get away with things. He too got all the bull-shit though.

...[part of interview had to be cut here for legal reasons, nothing bad but not worth risking!]...

PF I liked Eric Singer too, but it must have been hard for him stepping into Erics shoes in that situation.

MSJ Yeah, Eric's a great drummer., so it must have been hard for him to do that. Carr was a great drummer too, but Eric [Singer] has played in more bands, he was more experienced than Eric who was just a KISS guy. You know Eric always had a can of 'super extra hold' hairspray, this big, and every day he'd use the whole can on his hair! So you could throw a rock at it and it wouldn't mess up, he could go in the wind or rain and nothing was messed up. You know, to me if he'd been doing that every day he was in the band that's probably what caused his brain tumour as far as I'm concerned. You know, all those chemicals and he used the whole can up every day, even though he didn't need to use it.

PF Eric was well known for his big hair!

MSJ Oh yeah, it really tripped me out. When they said it was cancer, a brain tumour, I knew that's what it was.

PF It was heart cancer.

MSJ Oh yeah, it was a sad day.

PF It was the same day as Freddie Mercury, the UK media kind of left Eric out in the cold a bit.

MSJ Oh really? I didn't realise it was the same day.

PF I'm in touch with Eric's sister sometimes, she's a great person, she sent me one of Eric's tour booklets which is still one of my treasured possessions.

MSJ She's a nice lady, actually sometimes she goes to the conventions too and they interview her for a short while. I'd like to talk to her again.


Mark from new album



PF So how is your new album going then?

MSJ The sales? I don't know, although I've broke even so far, I've sold enough to recoup all the money I've put into it so that's good. That's the main thing, I put down a couple of months to the project. A lot of people will take ill to an instrumental stuff but it's something that I wanted to do because the last two or three project I done with vocals and I want to expand on my guitar playing. Because I am a "musician musician" meaning that I play more than just rock chords. I play jazz, I play classical, rhythm and blues, country, middle eastern. Although there's different facets of that, like in jazz I play ensembles, rumbas, basenovas, alpha-cubin whatever, bebop and stuff like that.

And on the cd, you've got the cd right? [Mark hands me a copy] There's some acoustic work on it and electric work

PF If the album does well will you do another one?

MSJ I'm planning on doing one every two years, but because I'm not forced to do anything I'm on my own time schedule. Meaning that I don't hurt for money that bad, well everyone's hurting for money but I don't have someone breathing down my throat saying do this now. I like to take my time and sometimes I take too long, but if something happens then it makes me feel good and I'll move on to something else feeling proud. Otherwise I won't promote it or won't be around it, you know how that is, like you're embarrassed sometimes.

PF Have you got any plans for more KISS conventions?

MSJ I'm doing one when I get back from here in Toronto, Canada with Bruce.

PF With Bruce?

MSJ Yeah, we've done them before together. I guess that as he got shot a lot
more people will come to the conventions, I don't mean that in a bad way,
but people will be curious as to what happened.

PF It was fairly big news over here.

MSJ It was very big news over in LA, that's all they talked about it was
like crazy. I'm sure it will make whatever he's doing more successful. I
know it will make KISS more successful - when they said 'KISS guitarist shot
in LA bar' I was like Gene and Paul are just loving that. Bad promotion,
good promotion it all counts.

PF Everyone knows how shit British tabloids are, but in 'The Star' they had
'Rockers KISS With Death'... with a big picture of Ace Frehley!

MSJ Oh my god! (laughs) I heard one bullet just grazed his head though, 2
bullets, and another guy got shot in the foot. This guy went to a club got
kicked out came back with a gun and just started shooting at people outside
the club.

[Pizzas were then finished and I wrapped up]

PF Thanks a lot Mark.

MSJ Well thanks so much for your hospitality, hopefully I'll read the site
back in LA. Anyway, I'm going Amsterdam tomorrow then I'm flying back here
to London and then flying back to LA after that. I'm going to be burned out!

PF You'll be knackered!

MSJ I'm already burned out!

PF Thanks Mark!

Once again I'd like to say a big thank you to Mark, he made my day!