"Paul Stanley" Related

Mikel Japp (2005)
The late song-writer discusses his work with KISS, and on Paul's solo album, in this interview originally conducted in 2005...

Richie Fontana (2015)
Drummer recalls the comfortable creative environment during the sessions for "Paul Stanley," and provides insight on the tracks he played on...

Diana Grasselli (2015)
Desmond Child & Rouge vocalist recalls lending the group's signature sound to "Move On" and working with Paul Stanley...

Peppy Castro (2015)
Renowned artist/friend of the KISS family recalls collaborating with Paul Stanley...

Steve Buslowe (2015)
Bassist recalls laying down the bottom end on "Paul Stanley," the sterling guitar work of Bob Kulick, and the atmosphere at the sessions ...

Doug Katsaros (2015)
Multi-talented Emmy-winning musician recalls formulating the piano track for "Hold Me, Touch Me," constructing the lush string arrangement, and working out the background vocals with Paul Stanley and Peppy Castro...

Bob Kulick (2015)
Longtime member of the KISS family fondly remembers great music and great vibes during the "Paul Stanley" album sessions...

Jeff Glixman (2015)
The award-winning producer/engineer gives his first-ever in-depth interview about his involvement on Paul Stanley's 1978 solo album.

Discover everything you wanted to know about the KISS 1978 solo albums!

Back in the Solo Album Groove with Mikel Japp

By Julian Gill

Mike Japp should be a name that most KISS fans recognize. If not, it'll soon be. Mike co-wrote three songs that appeared on Paul Stanley's 1978 solo album. In 1982 he wrote with both Gene and Paul with a couple of songs appearing on the "Killers" and "Creatures Of The Night" albums. The KissFAQ recently discussed several topics with Mike, who was kind enough to take the time to provide some excellent answers to our questions. Read on and enjoy!

Tell us a little of your background -- i.e. where you grew up, your family, etc?

Mikel Japp: I was born in S. Wales in the UK. I am a Welsh man and have the same background as the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Shirley Bassey, Catherine Zeta Jones and of course we can't forget "The voice" Tom Jones. I was raised in a working class family in a working class town, with two brothers and two sisters. However, I did move to California many, many years ago and the States has definitely been home for me!

What artist would form your earliest memory of "music"?

As a young young boy my first memories were of Elvis and some crooners which my dad liked, such names as Frank Sinatra and Jim Reeves.

Who are your musical influences? Any all-time favorite band? Album?

Beatles were a big influence (and still are) in my early years and I have been fortunate enough to meet both Ringo and Paul Mcartney. My other influences were Cream but the artist that completely grabbed my attention as a musician and a performer was Jimi Hendrix. I was fortunate enough to see Jimi play, and even now when I see his videos I still see Jimi just loving what he is doing, with loads of sincerity and passion. That was, and is for me!

How did you get into music, as playing, rather than simply listening or enjoying?

I got into music through my cousin who had a guitar and who taught me a few chords. From there my dad bought me an electric guitar and I would jam with some guys who lived around the corner from me. We used to listen to Yard Birds, Kinks, John Mayall and the hit recording artist of the day, such as the Animals and the Who.

When did you make the transition from simply playing an instrument, to joining a band, and what was your first band?

I started playing in the local Y.M.C.A with a band that I put together with some guys around the age of 10 years old with two guitar players and a drummer... We did'nt have a bass player... Nobody around played one. From there I got better guitars, played with better musicians and was in some cool Welsh bands, I gigged out and then joined a famous British pop band called Marmalade (actually they were all Scots, and I was the only Welshman) I left that band and played with many other bands including a band with Matthew Fisher of Procul Harum Fame that bands name was Elephant. I also played guitar on Matthew's solo projects. You can find these records on the internet if you search. I also played guitar on all albums recorded by Roderick Falconer who was produced by Matthew. I was still in the U.K at this time but had moved from Wales to live in London where the music biz was happening. There I formed a band with Jimmy Bain called Harlot. When the band broke up Jimmy as you know joined Richie Blackmore's Rainbow and also played with Ronnie Dio for many years. Jimmy and I are still good friends.

What were you doing in your own musical career prior to meeting Paul Stanley in 1978?

I was persuaded to leave London and go Los Angeles California in 1976 by a writing partner friend by the name of Chas Sandford (Chas was one of the best friends and writing partners I have ever had). Together we wrote a song called "A Piece Of The Action" for the band The Babys, I was able to place that song with the Babys through a producer named Ron Nevison who was an old friend of mine. I went on to write another song for the Babys with John Waite (the singer) entitled "I Was One".

You met Paul through Barry Levine in 1978, how did that come about?

Funnily enough it was the version of the song "A Piece of The Action" that Chas and I had recorded with me singing lead vocal that Paul (Stanley) heard whilst staying in LA at a guy named Barry Levine's house. Barry was Kiss's photographer at that time and played Paul that song, along with a few others on a cassette tape that was given to him by a girl named Ciri she was a fashion designer and knew Barry.

Can you describe your first encounter with Paul?

I got a phone call from Paul saying how much he liked what I was doing and whether I fancied getting together to do some writing. I was not aware of KISS at the time but said "Yes" as he sounded like a genuine guy on the phone. Paul came to my place but before he did I got a Kiss album to listen to. When he came to my house I held the album in one hand and pointed at it with my other and asked, "Which one are you". He smiled and chuckled and we got off to a good start.

You're the only person to get a co-write with Paul Stanley for his 1978 solo album. What can you tell us about the writing of "Move On," "Ain't Quite Right," and "Take Me Away (Together As One)?"

Paul then rented a room at S.I.R (studio instrument rentals) in L.A where we got a couple of guitars and started... Well, just playing. He asked me what ideas I was working on and if I had anything song wise that he could hear. I said "Yeh" and continued to play the beginnings of an idea which you now know as "Ain't Quite Right." That was the first song Paul and I completed. I carried on playing a few other ideas and Paul picked up on the song you now know as "Move On" we then continued to finish that.

We were on a roll that day and I proceeded to play him an idea that was later to become "Take me a Away" (Together as One). Paul then decided he loved it and finished it off. He wrote an amazing bridge section for it also. Paul was living in New York at that time and demoed up the songs in a studio there, he would play them to me over the phone as they were being recorded. His album sounded great and I was proud to have been a part of the writing and energy for his album.

I play "Ain't Quite Right" at my gigs with the band in the UK quite a bit, and it goes down very well! It is a special song for me and sounds great in naked form just with acoustic guitar as well!

What led to you writing with Paul and Gene in 1982?

A couple of years later Bill Aucoin came knocking on my door one, Bill as you know managed KISS back then, and we still stay in touch. He asked me to go to a hotel where Paul was staying and go do some writing, I said "Ok" and off I went to meet up with Paul. It was good to see him again and we started exchanging ideas. We worked for about 3 or 4 hours and I left there leaving behind a couple of ideas in completely naked form that have now become known as "Down on your Knees" and "Saint and Sinner".

WBryan has recalled sitting in a hotel room in Los Angeles with Paul and working on "Down On Your Knees," what do you recall about the creation of the song and what do you consider your contributions?

KISS were then in rehearsal at SIR playing ideas with different writers etc. Bryan Adams was there at that time and I got to meet him. He had some stuff he was working on with Paul and as you know Bryan became a writer along with Paul and myself on "Down on your Knees". Bryan is a very quite and nice person and is very talented. It was my pleasure to meet him.

How did writing with Gene differ from writing with Paul? What can you tell us about the creation of "Saint & Sinner?"

Gene and I met at SIR for the first time and off we went on a writing spree at Diana Ross's house where Gene was staying for awhile. We wrote many things and had different titles every other day for the same song! We would change things inside out, to outside in, it was a lot of fun though. Paul and I had great fun also in different ways when writing. Gene and I ended up finishing off the idea that I had left with Paul at the hotel on the tape. That idea became "Saint and Sinner"(which of course had a least 3 titles before that). Gene and I also wrote a few other things such as "Eye of the Storm" and another "It's Gonna be Alright." Two real cool ideas I thought that never really made an album. Apparently are regarded as little gems by you KISS people who seem to not miss a trick... good for you!

Who else have you worked with?

Gene and Paul have written with many other outside writers from the band , and as I have said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them both. I did also write with Michael Des Barres and Steve Jones, They had a band called Chequered Past (And don't we all!) and we co-wrote a song called "Only the Strong Will Survive" This collaboration came about thru Michael Jackson who was Kiss's producer at the time. He asked me to go meet up and hang out with them. A good bunch of guys and we had lots in common other that music. We were all getting and staying sober! Not to get into that too much but I want to thank Michael Des Barres for well... being there for me. I have been free of all substances for over 23 years!.

KissFAQ: You put out a self-titled solo album in 2000. How did that CD do, and what have you been doing since then?
I am living in the UK at this time and gig all over the place. I love gigging and as you know have a solo album out, entitled "Dreamer." The "Dreamer" CD is 13 songs penned by me with the exception of "A Piece of the Action" which was written by me and long time friend Chas Sanford. That was the song that started off KISS stuff for me. Also "Dead in the Water" that was written by myself and long time friend Joe Penny of Jake and the Fatman TV show fame. The songs are close to me and I am proud of each of them. I do show what I feel openly... and why not? I am told they are very relatable, so why not give them a listen? If you have liked any of the songs or work that I have been involved in, whether it be writing for KISS or other people, please feel free to contact me directly to purchase a copy of my CD "Dreamer".

Any final message for KISS fans?

Happy holidays, be safe and love to you all, Mike Japp.

December 2005

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