When London gave birth to the HEAVY METAL KIDS back in 1972 they hit the ground running, jumping, ducking and diving - and they were soon touring America with Alice Cooper, Rush and Kiss, as well as having what became a regular slot at Reading Festival. With songs such as Delirious, She's No Angel and Chelsea Kids their cult status grew, and as the hi-jinks got uncontrollably higher they were thrown off the Kiss tour for laughing at Gene Simmons when his hair caught fire, banned from the entire chain of Holiday Inn hotels for various misdemeanours, one of which involved a 15-foot Christmas tree... and they were publicly blamed for inciting riots when BBC's Panorama programme about crowd violence included a clip of them performing The Cops Are Coming.
Have the Kids grown up by now? Well, you can't see the twinkle in Keith's eyes behind those shades, but I bet it's still there. He's sure to be planning something... oh yes indeed he is - he's planning a new album!
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Hi Keith, first of all, please bring us up to date on the line-up of HMK - who's in the band these days and who does what?
The line-up is Cosmo on guitar and Justin McConville on vocals and guitar, myself on drums, and our newest member PJ Phillips who is a really outstanding bass player and singer. It's great to have him in the band and people are saying it's the best we have sounded for a long time.
You've got a batch of new songs ready to record (more about that in a minute) but Ronnie was always such a major contributor to the songwriting - is he still involved with that?
Yeah it's true Ronnie Thomas was a big part of the songwriting but he has taken a break from writing and performing which is a real shame, but he's very supportive of the new line-up and the upcoming album. We met up only the other day and had a pint or three!
So will the songs on this new album have the same kick-it-up and head-it-high attitude as on your previous albums?
People really seem to like the songs I wrote on the last album such as 'Message' and 'Whisky' so I've written some new songs for this album, and Justin has tons of great songs ready to go. In fact Justin has so many songs and is so prolific we have found it hard choosing which ones to record as he's got enough material for about five albums! Rest assured there will be lots of hi-energy rock on the album with great playing and singing.
You're crowd-funding this album via IndieGoGo, and aiming to have it all recorded in time for Christmas. Apart from CDs signed by the band, fans can also get their name included in the credits, and there's also a chance to actually sing on the album! The HMK choir - you could have the Christmas Number 1 slot! There's also a signed HMK guitar up for grabs, and you'll even turn up and do a gig in the UK for a pledge of £1000.
Yeah, if you pledge a tenner you will get the new album featuring 12 or more new songs plus some bonus tracks from the band's past. For a bit more you can have that CD signed by all the band and even have your name printed on the credits. Then there is the Gary Holton DVD which Rich Smith has done a brilliant job on, and I am sure people will love it. We will be adding some bonus stuff on that as well, of the band playing and some fly-on-the-wall stuff so it will be an entertaining DVD!
Anything else on offer? Any memorabilia or souvenirs from past gigs such as laminates, posters, old stage-clothes, silver space-boots... ?
I hadn't really thought about memorabilia but maybe I should have a rummage in the garage and see what I can find. I may be some time!
When the Kids came back on the scene in 2003 after the 26-year tea break with Hit The Right Button, it was of course without Gary. How did the fans react to the album, and to the fact that there was no 'replacement' for Gary?
Well it's a weird one with the Gary thing. We've had some people saying stuff like "It's not the same without Gary" and "You shouldn't be doing it without him" but really, come on... there are so many bands that have lost members over the years and plenty have carried on so why not us? Most other fans are just really happy that we got back together and I think everyone would agree that Hit The Right Button is a great album and our live shows just get better and better since we re-formed so I think we've put paid to the idea that we couldn't carry on without Gary. The HMK website is dedicated to Gary's memory, and every time we play it's with respect to the legend that he is.
Talking of which, you have an incredible ally in Rich Smith who runs the Gary Holton Tribute website which is loaded with info and photos of early HMK, and interviews with other bandmembers.
Rich is a diamond and he's become a great mate. His fansite is brilliant, so Gary and HMK fans should give it a look as it really is the biz, with loads of interesting info about Gary's days in Auf Wiedersehn Pet etc.
Apart from the new album, what else is happening? Any shows coming up soon, or individual band-member projects?
Yeah we have some gigs coming up but I am hoping if we can get the funds to get this new album done that we can arrange some sort of tour rather than one-off gigs to go with it's release. As for side projects, Justin is always recording and releasing his solo stuff and playing with other people and PJ is a really in-demand session player. I am playing with some other bands as well, as is Cosmo, so we are all keeping busy!
Click on the links below to go to the IndieGoGo page to pledge a tenner (or more!) and to the HMK website