As a guide to the vast array of bands in this universe I present to you an interview withKISSING CANDICE. Answers Grip (Mike Grippo) – Bassist of Kissing Candice since the beginning. Anders Ekdahl ©2021

You have one of these names that do not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to decide on the name?
Grip: Well. The name was decided long before the band was formed by our singer. It’s meant to confuse. Kissing Candice? That’s definitely not a horrific looking metal band! Sometimes we wish it was different, but we’ve been going with it for so long that it’s just going to stick for the rest of the band’s lifespan.

How do you introduce the band to people that are new to your music?
Grip: That’s a tough one! Obviously, if we are introducing someone to us, they see us. So the image is a big part of that. However, people think the image may be lame. So, we put on the most insane live show we possibly can so people can see what we’re about. We are very theatrical! A lot of our music videos are cinematic and almost short horror films. I would describe our music as a blend of industrial and nu-metal with a nice bit of groove tossed in! However, we have been thinking a lot outside the box, which shows on this new album. We are experimenting with different sounds as we refine what Kissing Candice is!

We all carry baggage with us that affects us in one way or another but what would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
Grip: I think we all grew up as outcasts. Being an outcast, metal kind of finds you. When it finds you, you find like minded people. You fall in love with the music and those around you. I think being outcasts with varying opinions effects our sound the greatest.

What is the scene like in your area? Is it important that there is some sort of local scene for a band to develop or can a band still exist in a vacuum of no scene/no bands?
Grip: It used to be huge when we all started going to shows in 2000-2006! There were so many amazing bands from the area on the rise who we got to see develop into monsters! During this time, we had a great hardcore scene along with some of the biggest “emo” bands of the time. Hundreds of people would come out to every show, and we had a lot of great venues – both established and DIY spaces that booked bands. However, the scene has very much shifted and diminished a bit. Where we used to have bands like Taking Back Sunday and Glassjaw from a few towns over crushing it, there aren’t too many bands that draw like the ones then did. It just seems like people aren’t as interested in going to shows out here anymore. It’s sad, growing up watching rising bands like Suicide Silence and Darkest Hour playing their first New York shows on tour to TONS of people in a VFW Hall was amazing! Most of our venues have since shut down. After COVID, I can only think of one that is remaining open, which is a large theatre that doesn’t deal in the local scene. Rather large comedy shows and huge touring bands! It’s good we still have something, but the local scene isn’t what it once was. Although I absolutely loved the hardcore/metal scene I grew up in, I don’t think it is really that important to have a strong local scene in 2021. I have done most of the marketing for the band since the inception. Now, it is all about building a solid social media following. With how everyone communicates, you just need to get people talking about you and then they tell their friends! I think it levels the playing fields for bands in any area. However, I think this gives bands with rich parents a very heavy advantage. They can buy advertisement, market their band like crazy, and jump on 30,000 USD buy on tours with bigger bands with virtually no bottom. For those of us who come from working class families and work ourselves (all of us) when not on tour it is harder. We have to stay alive while putting our extra earnings to improving the band to succeed. It is a GRIND!

Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
Grip: Yes! Every band is its own movement! They all have SOMETHING they want to do or say. Every follower of that band becomes part of the movement. I wish more bands would bond together like they used to and make large movements together. However, most people seem to think music is a competition now. It’s NOT. There is enough room in music for every band. If you just work together, you can have a bunch of bands bonded together pushing for a common goal which they can all achieve by bringing each other on tour and promoting the others.

When you play the sort of music you play, I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover ofyour album? What is a great album cover to you?,
Grip: Honestly, the new Acacia Strain album has birds and bees on the cover, and it is extremely heavy! Personally, my favourite album art style is that in the vein of Municipal Waste. I love exaggerated art that is well executed.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
Grip: It’s the changing of times. You either must shift with society or get left behind. Digital has killed the music INDUSTRY, but it is providing opportunity for bands to remain independent and do things their own way while taking all the profits for themselves. I will always personally be a fan of physical media. I love that an album is like a piece of art. I read the full booklets while listening to the music. It requires more of your attention, and you can kind of get what the artist istrying to get across better. Despite digital being the king right now, there is a massive shift towards vinyl right now, which is awesome! I only own a couple CD’s now but my vinyl collection of bands from over the past 10 years is MASSIVE! It also requires even more engagement than a CD. You have to get up, flip the record. The art is 12 inches, the liner notes are still there, then the art of just making a beautiful looking record is important too! Over the past few years, I have beendetermined to bring all our back catalogue to vinyl in VERY limited quantities for fans who like their wax! I have succeeded! I am super proud of this accomplishment! No labels or anyone else other than myself were involved in getting them made. I love seeing my bands music in my collection!

What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
Grip: Honestly, we are carving out our own corner and building our own live scene. Even though we get compared to other bands, there is a big difference between all of us. We are very unlike any band from our area right now.

When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
Grip: In the beginning it was a party. As the tours got bigger and the albums got more serious, the live show became a happening! We now focus on being as wild on stage as possible while still pulling off the music! Even if you HATE our music, I almost guarantee at the least you will be entertained watching us (this happens at every show ha)! However, we don’t practice any sort of coordinated and on time or synchronized performances. We are all in our own individual zones, doing whatever we are feeling! Unfortunately, we can barely see out of our masks so it’s almost impossible for us to walk off stage without someone bleeding from getting hit with a guitar. Our favourite bands to watch were always the most chaotic. You never knew what you were going to see, and neither did the band!

What would you like to see the future bring?
Grip: I would love to see the future bring Kissing Candice to our next level! Of course, every bandwants to grow, and some want to become Metallica. However, we are
realistic and just want to be able to quit our jobs and live comfortably while we create new music and visuals. The immediate future will bring our new full-length album! We recorded it in February 2020, we did a lot of experimentation, and we would say we found our sound. BUT! Immediately when we returned, our favourite album in our hands, the world shuts down! We aren’t at the level we can put the album out and it hit #1. We must tour with the album, not just to get it out to people either! Our visual aspect is so important that the live show must come with it! We are FINALLY able to start releasing songs and preparing for its release! We are so excited for everyone to hear this album! It has been nearly impossible to not leak it while it sits completed in front of me, we just want it out!!!

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