"Every generation, the tree of liberty must be fertilized with blood."
— Thomas Jefferson
"Q: What do you want to do with your life?
A: I wanna ROCK!"
— Twisted Sister
For better or worse, The Kiss Offs have taken these proverbs a little too much to heart, resulting in electrocution, dehydration, laceration, hospitalization, multiple burns, police complaints, arrests and an embarrassing videotape (which aired nationally on the program "Real TV") of one Kiss Offs show that ended with the venue completely gutted by a riot-minded audience.
Along The Kiss Offs' well-worn tour route the band was known for their beer-soaked live shows, which often included one or more members of the band climbing amps, tables and other obstacles. They've hurled guitars, drums and themselves at stages, roofs, the audience and each other on numerous occasions. They've simply "hurled" on even more occasions. They've set themselves and others on fire and have outstanding warrants in at least three states. They've ordered fast-food from drive-through windows on foot. And they hide their heads in shame when these exploits are mentioned, because ROCK made them do it.
If it wasn't evident enough on 1999's trashy and glamorous Goodbye Private Life, The Kiss Offs don't just LOVE rock and roll, they have a destructive, co-dependant relationship with the genre and feel compelled to talk (or "sing") about it whenever possible. They've recorded a new album, Rock Bottom, about, for, and because of ROCK, and what it has done to their otherwise mundane middle class lives.
Rock Bottom directly addresses how ROCK has saved the lives of the Kiss Offs, only to later make those same lives not quite as livable because the members are poor, unemployed, dirty, continuously intoxicated, willfully destructive and often sleeping on floors, despite the fact that each member is educated and "enteligent" and comes from a good, loving family.
"Prolonged Adolescence" captures the drunken nights roaming Austin on old bikes with friends to cheer on local bands, along with an audience of four or five people. "Love You Hardcore" is about missing those bands when they inevitably break up and missing those friends when they leave. "The Freedom of Rock" and "Pleather Pantz" expound on the redemptive, disfiguring and humbling powers of rock and roll.
"Broken Fingers for Talented Singers" is a meta-rock doctrine, a shout-out to rock fans everywhere with lines like, "So you can't sing, then scream and shout." Another verse grants license to rip off influences — then blatantly cops a few lines from The Fall's "Copped It," a song about plagarism no less, after declaring such robberies "the building 'Brix' of a 'Mark E.' (marquee) career."
Other songs revert to the tried and true Kiss Offs' topics such as love, sex and, of course, kissing. As usual, the guitars skronk and spurt, the bass rumbles and belches, the drums pound like a polyrhythmic migrane, and the keyboards... sound pretty good, considering they used a Casio purchased on sale at Sam's Club.
• The Kiss Offs Photo Gallery (1998-99)
• "Goodbye Private Life" LP/CD (Peek-A-Boo, 1999)
• "Rock Bottom" CD (Peek-A-Boo, 2001)
Singles & EPs
• "Love's Evidence" 7" EP (Peek-A-Boo, 1997)
• "Bottle Blonde" 7" (Peek-A-Boo, 1998)
• The Kiss Offs / Antonio 3 split 7" (NGOO Records [JAPAN], 1999)
• The Peek-A-Boo Book of Spells LP (Peek-A-Boo, 2000)
Peek-A-Boo Family Tree
• Travis Higdon: The 1-4-5s, Golden Millennium, Black Lipstick
• Phillip Niemeyer: Teen Titans, Roar ! Lion, Black Lipstick
• Gavin Scott: The 1-4-5s