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Mike Japp Interview

E-mail Mike here

Mike Japp co-wrote several songs with KISS starting with the Paul Stanley solo album in 1978. Mike helped write 'Ain't Quite Right', 'Move On', and 'Take Me Away, (Together As One)' on Paul's solo album, 'Saint And Sinner' on Creatures Of The Night and 'Down On Your Knees' on Killers. Mike has very kindly agreed to this exclusive interview for KISSin' UK so that he can talk about his past with KISS and his brand new CD that has just been released.


Q
You have co-written 5 KISS songs in the past including 3 on Paul Stanley's solo album, how did you first get involved with writing with Paul for that album?

MJ Paul and I met thru a photographer named Barry Levine and Paul would stay at Barry's house when he was in LA. Barry had some songs of mine on tape and happened to have it playing one day. The music must have caught Paul's ear 'cause he asked Barry "who's that". Barry replied "a friend of mine Mike Japp. You guys should meet and do some writing, he only lives down the street" So Paul and I met, hit it off and wrote those songs on his solo album.


Q
Likewise, how did you get involved with KISS again a few years later for Creatures & Killers?

MJ
Kiss manager at the time, a great person named Bill Aucoin came and banged on my front door and said "Mike, give Paul a call at the hotel would you, so you two can do some writing" I said "ok". ( I have just got back from LA and met up with Bill in palm springs. Bill is alive and well and is in great spirits. I must say that makes me feel good) I had a few ideas at the time, like the beggings of "down on your knees" So I met up with Paul at S.I.R. rehearsal studios, plugged in my guitar and we all that is Paul,Gene,Eric and myself had a great 'ole time jammin' out the almost finished version of that song.This was the first time Gene and I met. He and I hit it off real good so, I played him another idea I had, which he loved. That idea eventually became the song "saint and sinner" which Gene and I co-wrote.


Q
Do you have any stories about writing with Gene & Paul? Who did you prefer writing with and why?

Well I think it's funny. When Paul came over to my place the very first time, I must confess I did not know anything about this band called Kiss. So, I went out and got an album so I could hear what thy sounded like. You must remember I had only arrived in the states a few months earlier. Well I liked what I heard but, due to the makeup I did not know which one Paul was. So, when he arrived at my place I was feeling a little awkward, we sat and talked for awhile and, eventually I just had to ask "eh...........'scuse me Paul.... eh which one are you?" He laughed, pointed and said "that one".

I do not have a preference writing with Gene or Paul. They are both very talented and, both are very committed to their craft. Also their differences are very complimentary in the most positive way. My personal opinion is that Gene is a very underrated bass player. If you listen to what he play's under melodies, you will find his notes are so cool and supportive of the vocal. Good one Gene. And Paul plays A slammin' rhythm guitar and, plays a very cool slowhand. Nice!


Q How did you, Paul & Brian Adams split up the writing of Down On Your Knees? What was Brian like to work with?

MJ
As I mentioned earlier, We were at the rehearsal studios playing away. I heard this guy singing I thought "he sounds good" it was Brian Adams. He was there for another song and, was actually playing it on the bass while singing. We said "hi" to each other very briefly and, we both continued on with what we were doing. Paul ran "down on your Knees" by him and, Brian added his bit to it. So it ended up with me writing half of the song, and Paul and Brian splitting the other half. The short couple of days I spent in rehearsal with Brian were very good. I would have liked to have spent more time on a one to one with him but, we were all just trying to get the songs we were already involved with finished.


Q
Were you ever a fan of KISS and if so do you still follow their career? Did you go to any of the recent UK KISS concerts?

MJ
As I mentioned earlier I did not know anything about the band when I first met Paul. I could say I am a fan.....yes I am. Deeper for me than that is, I have enjoyed Paul and Gene's company as people and, have had many a good conversation about a lot of different topics. And,( which is very rare in this business,) have always been fair and honourable to me. I did not attend the UK concerts. I am living in Wales right now and, have been very busy playing live music myself. I am writing a lot also. But I'll get to see the guys  one day I'm sure.


Q
Is your new CD your first solo effort? What is the story behind getting the album together?

MJ
No my current CD is not my first. I was signed to Motown records awhile ago. (an honour to me as I'm white) but due to record company turmoil, myself and a few others got lost in the shuffle. So my album was never released. I recorded half of my album in LA, the other half "Live" in the studio here in Wales. The songs are very personal to me. They range from just acoustic guitar and voice, to full on band with sax and backing girl singers. I ran across countless obstacles while trying to record these songs. Producers who tried to change the simplicity of the songs, studio equipment breakdowns, master mixes getting lost, you name it it happened. But one thing I've learned, that is to carry on and complete what you start and, don't let anyone or anything deter you on the way. The radio stations here play the album a lot. The audiences her at the gigs have been very receptive to the songs. Some request songs like "Cool Water" "I'm Gone" "Oh Jane" and especially "Be Good" as they all love to join in and sing. (typically Welsh) I sell a lot of CD's at shows also. I am proud of it and happy to share it. The songs are very relatable.


Q Is your album going to be available in UK shops? I have heard various samples from mp3.com and have to say that I like the sound of what I heard. It has a very mellow acoustic rock sound, is this the style you like best? Would you ever consider going back to a heavier style such as 'Saint & Sinner'?

MJ I am currently talking to some record companies who want to distribute my album in the UK. At this point in time Kiss fans and everybody else who has had pleasure from songs I have been involved in writing ,can listen to my album on http://www.mp3.com/mikejapp. Thank you Paul for letting me know you like what you heard. So go check it out! You can order it from mp3 or you can e mail me direct at MikeJapp@Jappm.freeserve.co.uk.

I like songs, if I write a song and it lends itself to an acoustic feel, I stay with it. A different  tr eatment can be done, but if the lyric is coming across I leave it. To go back to a heavier style like "saint and sinner" is not out of the question.. Listen to "I'm Gone" on my CD. The intro is as heavy as any Kiss song I was  involved in. There are a few other punchy guitar grooves as well on my CD. So check em out on MP3.


I know you used to be in a band called 'Marmalade', what happened to that band?

MJ Marmalade was a big band in Britain. I left the band in a long time ago. I don't really know what happened to the other guys. Sorry.

Q Will you be performing any live gigs with your band, if so do you have any tour dates for me?

MJ 
I am playing live in Wales(Gt Britain) only for the time being. If any US dates come up I will let you know.


Q
Would you consider covering/playing live any of the KISS songs you helped write with your new band?

MJ
As A matter of fact I am in the middle of adding "Ain't Quite Right" off of Paul's solo album. It suites me down to the ground. You know it's got that blues thing going for it and, a cool groove. Yeh I'm definitely gonna add it. It stands up after all this time.


Q
How long are you planning on staying in the UK? Have you been over here long?

MJ
I'm planning to stay in Wales(UK) 'till the end of the year for sure. I have gigs until then. After that I don't know. Maybe if my album does well I'll come back to the states and play. So people check out my CD.


Q
If KISS were to approach you again to write with them would you consider it? Do you ever hear from Gene or Paul?

MJ
If I ran across the guy's again I would write with them for sure. It would be a lotta fun making music with Gene or Paul. It always was. I haven't heard from Gene or Paul in awhile. I don't know If they know I'm here in the UK. I can get a number on Gene. I'll give him a call.....yeh I'll do that.


Q
Are you a regular visitor of any KISS websites? Which are your favourites?

MJ
No I'm not a hardened visitor to the KISS sites but, of late I have visited quite a few due to the webmasters putting up my CD. I want to thank everybody who has gone out of their way to help me. Thank you.

Q Finally do you have any message for UK KISS fans out there?

MJ
A message to the Kiss fans!.........Keep on keeping on, don't give up your dreams.
Dream, then wake up and make 'em a reality. And by being Kiss fans, I really don't think you could be fans of more sincere guys than Paul or Gene. I know first hand that, they really DO ...give a shit! Thanks. see 'ya Mike Japp.


Mike's website can be found at http://www.jappm.freeserve.co.uk 


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