Non-KISS Band Members

Marty Cohen (2014)
There are few people would can say that they played with both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley prior to KISS. Steve Coronel is one. Marty Cohen the other. Marty was kind enough to give the KissFAQ an interview to discuss his history with Gene and Paul, and correct a few things that appeared on the FAQ website over the years. His perspective continues to add to the picture of Gene and Paul coming together in a partnership that had lasted more than four decades...

Derrek Hawkins (2011)
KISS fan and former rhythm guitarist in Ace Frehley's band recalls his stint with the Spaceman on tour and recording "Anomaly"

Adam Mitchell (2010)
Songwriter/collaborator recalls working with KISS, Vinnie Vincent and writing songs on "Killers," "Creatures Of The Night," "Crazy Nights," and more.

Bobby Rock (2010)
Powerhouse drummer recalls his wild ride with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion.

Rich Circell (2008)
Lead singer discusses working with Ace Frehley in pre-KISS band Honey.

Mike McLaughlin (2006)
Guitarist on his personal musical path and work with Peter Criss, Criss' "One For All" album, and much more

Neal Teeman (2003)
Uncle Joe drummer discusses working with Paul Stanley in pre-KISS band formed in 1966 and assistant engineering "Alive!"

Phil Naro (2002)
First lead vocalist of Criss recalls work with Peter Criss and ex-KISS guitarist Mark St. John

Jason Ebs (2002)
Final lead vocalist of Criss discusses his musical background and working with Peter Criss just before KISS' reunion in 1996

Ron Leejack (2000)
Wicked Lester guitarist recalls collaborating with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley prior to KISS

Peter Criss' "Angel"...

By Julian Gill

It was exciting when I found out about the Mark Montague / Mike McLaughlin "One Of A Kind" CD in February 2006, and the connections on the album with Peter Criss. Apart from Mark and Mike being former members of CRISS, the album they released in late-2005 features three songs co-written by Peter Criss. "The Shooter" - this song has been around for a while having been performed by Criss during 1995 and "U Gotta Know" co-written with former Criss member Mark Montague... "Golden Arm," co-written with Barbara DeGennaro and Mark.

Guitarist Mike McLaughlin was kind enough to complete a long Q&A for the KissFAQ that updates fans on his history with CRISS, the "One Of A Kind" project, his personal musical path, and work on the forthcoming Peter Criss solo album. The KissFAQ would like to thank Mike for taking the time to answer this long Q&A, and for the effort he made in giving the fans in-depth answers that we crave!

The One Of A Kind CD can be purchased through CD Baby. Check it out! My short review: "I don't want to try and pigeon-hole "One Of A Kind." It's stayed in the CD player for a long time after arriving (with excellent service from CD Baby!). I love the guitar tone, the bass lines, and the overall style of the album. Stand out tracks are "Golden Arm," "The Shooter," "Under My Skin," and "Demonlike," but there aren't any songs that feel like filler. Top-notch production quality."

KissFAQ: A bit of history for the uninitiated. You joined Criss in 1994, replacing Kirk Miller on guitar. How did you hook up with the band?
Mike McLaughlin: I heard about the gig through the producer Dito Godwin, who I worked with in L.A. doing session work.

KF: Did you audition for the band, and if so what did it entail?
MM: Yes, I did audition for the band. I remember Dito called me and said "Hey, Peter Criss is auditioning guitar players, you interested", I said "Fuck yeah!! ". So I remember Mark Montague telling me "Peter really likes guitar players who play Les Pauls (guitars)". At the time I didn't have a Les Paul so I got my buddy to loan me his for the audition. It went pretty good, it was just Peter, Mark and me there, and we just kind of jammed. The next day Mark called me and said "Peter really liked your playing, but he likes guitar players who play Marshall amps (I was playing a Mesa Boogie). It's between you and one other guy". So for the callback I rented a Marshall for $100 a day and I think Peter liked that, which was what eventually got me the gig over the other guy. I still to this day don't know who that other guy was, or if he even really existed.

KF: What led you to pick up the guitar? Do you play any other instruments?
MM: Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to play guitar. I remember seeing Jimi Hendrix on TV and thinking it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. After that, I was hooked; I started playing when I was 10. I also play bass, some keyboards, and drums, but guitar is my main ax.

KF: What are some of your influences?
MM: Of course Jimi Hendrix, there have been so many over the years. As a kid I really dug Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Priest, anything with rockin' guitar. Than when I heard Van Halen for the first time I almost shit in my pants. I became a huge Eddie fan, and he became one of my biggest influences. As I got older, around 18, I started to get into more jazz kind of stuff, and became interested in players like Larry Carlton, Allan Holdsworth, Lee Ritenour, George Benson, and guys like this. Now I just like everything, as the saying goes it's all good!

KF: If possible, do you have an all-time favorite album or artist, which you couldn't exist without?
MM: Well, music in general I couldn't live without. Another band that was so influential for me was the Beatles, so that would probably be a band whose music I would not want to be without.

KF: What was your first band? or first "real" band? What sort of material were you performing?
MM: I got in my first band when I was 13, it was called "Future Shock". We played rock stuff, Foghat, Zepp, Rush. It was just cool for me to be in a band, all the guys were older than me so that was cool as well. We played some school dances and stuff like that. From there, to many bands to count over the years.

KF: You toured/worked with two line-ups of Criss, one with Mike Stone (now with Queensryche) on lead vocals; the other (and final) with Jason Ebs. Can you describe the dynamics of both line-ups, and did you have a preference?
MM: The first line-up with Stoney was rockin'! Also, that was my first major tour with anyone reputable at that time so it was magic for me, kind of like getting laid for the first time. Stoney was great to, he had some touring experience, so he kind of took me under his wing. That line-up was very raw, and strait ahead no bullshit rockin'. After that tour was over, we were all psyched to start working on material for a new CD, and than Stoney told us he was quitting the band.

It was like the air was let out of our tires, we were really bummed. We started holding auditions for singers, and it was pretty scary (in a bad way) some of the people who showed up to try to sing, especially after Stoney. Than Jason came to an audition and it was like, hey this guys pretty good, and seems pretty cool. And thus we had a new singer. This was cool for me too, 'cause I was no longer the new guy in the band. We put Jason through a lot of hazing, but he stayed cool through it all.

KF: Where's the nickname "Angel" come from?
MM: That comes from Peter. He gave everyone in the band a nickname. I guess you heard the story of when he got his face bashed in after the L.A. earthquake. After that happened, I was one of the first people he called, and we all helped out in taking care of him. At the time I had long blonde curly hair, and thus the name Angel emerged. To this day, he still calls me Angel.

KF: Let's talk about some of the "new" Criss material that dated from 1995... "I'm In A Band," "Shut Up," and "Zig-Zag" were written by the final line-up of Criss. What were the band's plans before the KISS reunion killed the band - some of this material sounded promising live?
MM: Thanks, first of all. I also thought some of the stuff was pretty rocking. Our plans were to record and put out the next CD with TNT records. I think one of the turning points for Peter leaving Criss for the KISS reunion was that TNT records for whatever reason didn't want to put up the money to start production for the new CD (fools!). This was like a kick in the face, so I don't blame Peter for leaving to do the reunion. Peter also loved all our new material and I think given the chance, would have loved to put it out with Criss.

KF: Did Criss ever demo "Adalyne?"
Yes, we actually demoed everything...

KF: Were you involved in the writing of any other music for Criss, which was performed live (Like "Beg, Borrow, Steal," "Seeds," or "Knock Out" - some titles may be guesses on my part! or other songs)?
MM: Yes, I was involved with all those songs. Those were all conceived by Mark and I, and written in my apartment on my little Fostex 4-track.

KF: Did you have a favorite song you'd perform with Criss? Anything you absolutely hated playing?
MM: I loved it all, especially our new stuff we were doing. I also really dug playing "100,000 years" and "Black Diamond". And playing "Beth" unplugged sitting next to Peter every night was awesome!

KF: Who came up with the set lists?
MM: It was a band collaboration, but Peter always made the final decision.

KF: Peter's been known to sometimes get frustrated with his KISS heritage when doing his own thing. How was it working with Peter on a personal level, and how did the band jell as a unit?
MM: On a personal level, it was great. Just to get to work with him, on a professional level was great, but to get close to him as a person and friend was really great. He always considered and treated the band like his family.

KF: You did two tours with the Ace Frehley band. Did you get to interact with the members of that band, and if so, any fun "war stories" from life on the road?
MM: Oh yeah, it was a blast with those guys, we had a lot of fun on the road. Ritchie Scarlet was fun to hang around, we had some great hotel room jams! Ace was also great to be with, he's classic. One of my favorite Ace quotes, we were having an after show party in one of the rooms and hardly any girls had shown up yet, mostly dudes. Ace walks in the room, takes a look around and says, "What is this, a fag convention!", and turns around and walks out.

KF: Do you have a most memorable gig from your time with CRISS?
MM: When we played The house of blues in LA, all my good friends were there. It was like conquering your home town.

KF: At what point were you aware that Peter was going to be returning to KISS for the Reunion? How was this communicated to you (the rest of the band)?
MM: Toward the end of the last tour we were all starting to realize it was probably going to happen. Gene was calling a lot, and Peter and Ace were having meetings outside of the bands, plus there was a buzz going around. It wasn't actually made official to us till the tour was over and we got back to LA, but it wasn't a big shock.

KF: Did you see any of the KISS reunion shows? I guess before asking you to comment on what you thought of the Reunion performance, were you a KISS fan growing up and did you ever see any of the lineups in concert? If so, when/Where? If so, any favorite lineup?
MM: Yes, I was a big fan of the original line-up as a kid, had the posters all over my walls like everybody else. Never did get a chance to see them though as a younger kid, but for the reunion I saw a lot of shows. I think the coolest was seeing them at the LA forum, it made up for not getting to see them as a kid.

KF: What was your most memorable moment as a member of CRISS?
MM: God, there were so many. I think one of the coolest was on the first tour when we were leaving LA and getting on to the tour bus. I had never done any kind of a tour riding a tour bus before, see when I first walked onto that tour bus I'll never forget the way I felt, ecstatic!!!

KF: By late 1995 it seems that there was more new material in the band's set than old ("Good Times," "Bad Reputation"). Was there any specific reason for this transformation (i.e. refining the material, etc)?
MM: Well, the original plan was after that tour to go in the studio and start tracking this stuff for the next CD. So we were trying to road test it, and get it ready for when we did record it.

KF: You wrote some other material with Mark and Jason: "Forget," "Lafayette," "Make It Easy," "Mindbreaker," and "One Step Closer." Were these songs material that Scoff was working on?
MM: A lot of those songs were written on the road with Peter, with the intention of them becoming Criss songs.

KF: Skoff was basically Criss with Eddie Rogers replacing Peter. According to Jason you recorded a CD called "Reality". What happened to that CD & band?
MM: Well, like I said, after we realized that Peter was going on to the Kiss reunion, we decided to keep this band together and find a new drummer. Mark had worked with Eddie before in a band called "sick puppies", and we jammed with him a few times and realized this is the dude for us. He was also a great recording engineer and had his own studio called Bitworks, which is where the whole reality CD, as well as one of a kinds "Demonlike" was recorded. We shopped it (reality) around LA but unfortunately it never got picked up. We also went back to playing the club scene in LA, which was a trip after being out on the road with Peter.

KF: Skoff essentially disappeared. I heard at the time that you'd taken off for Asia, and essentially dropped from sight. What have you been working on in recent years?
MM: Well, it's a long story, but here goes. I had been doing studio work in LA and did a few sessions with some Taiwanese artists who came to LA to do their production. I got to be pretty good friends with the engineer who is also a bass player and was in a pretty famous band in Asia in the early 90's. We wrote some stuff and did a demo, and he took it back to Taiwan to shop around, and we got an offer from a pretty famous singer in Taipei to come work in-house production for his company.

At the time I was getting pretty burnt out on LA and wanted to do some traveling abroad, and this seemed the perfect opportunity, so in Dec. 2000 I left for Taipei. Not long after arriving I met a Taiwanese woman, who is now my wife, and I have also had the chance to record and tour with some of the biggest acts in Asia, I've played in stadiums over in China for 60,000 people, what a trip! I've become a pretty successful musician over here, and have 2 beautiful kids now with my wife. It's been quite an adventure.

KF: You've written the following songs with Peter: "Reason For Living," "Bohemia," "Cat Nap," "Whisper," "What Does It Take," "Doesn't Get Better (Than This)," "Crossroads," "Faces In The Crowd," "Fallin' All Over Again," "Hope," and "Last Night." Are these intended for a Peter Criss solo album and what has been your involvement in Peter's latest project?
MM: Yes, it is intended for a new Peter Criss solo album. As a matter of fact it's being mixed in New York right now by Peter. Last year I spent 2 and a half month's living at Peter's house recording this CD, and it was great. Everyday we lived with this music and it was great working with him again. We did a lot of jamming to which was great, and I got to get closer with Peter and his wife Gigi which was really great. I personally think this is the best stuff Peter and I have ever written together.

KF: How did you get involved with Peter/Mark again?
MM: It was interesting; Mark and I had always stayed in touch, and through Mark Peter got a hold of me over here almost 2 years ago. He said, "hey Angel, I'm gonna do a new CD, why don't you send me some songs." I did and he really dug them, and they turned out to be those songs you mentioned we wrote together.

KF: "Hope" was mentioned back in 1998 as a song that Peter had written for KISS' "Psycho Circus" album. Did it date back to the Criss-era, or has it been revamped with your input?
MM: I originally wrote the music back in around 97 and sent it to Peter, and he liked it and wrote the melody and lyrics. We went in and recorded it with the intention of using it for the "Psycho Circus" album. But the rest of the band rejected it. Peter and I were both really bummed cause we both loved this song, so it just seemed natural to bring this one back for the new CD.

KF: How does it compare working with Peter ten years on from Criss?
MM: Well, we've both evolved as musicians, and as people. I would never trade the experience of playing with Criss for anything in the world. Doing this recent project with Peter however is the best musical experience I've had with him. It felt like we'd both matured as musicians, and people. Like I said before, we did a lot of jamming, just start playing whatever we feel, a lot of jazz stuff too, which we both really love to play.

KF: How did the "One Of A Kind" project with Mark Montague come about?
MM: That project really started after the Criss breakup in 95'. Mark and I started writing a lot together which has wound up on the One of a kind disc. Since I've been over here we've also done a lot using the internet. Several of my guitar tracks on that CD I recorded here in my home studio, and than sent the files to Mark and he put them in the songs. Using technology to its fullest.

KF: The song "One Of A Kind" is a Montague/Ebsworth/McLaughlin collaboration. With Eddie Rogers on drums, was it originally a Scoff song?
MM: Yes, it was originally a Scoff song, and it also was recorded on the Reality CD with different lyrics and a different title.

KF: According to the CD liner notes you co-wrote "You're Killing My Head" and "U Ought To Be In Pictures" with Mark. Were these new songs, or did you build on earlier work?
MM: These were written in the post-Criss days around 96-98. "U ought to be in pictures" is from the original recording we did when we first wrote and tracked it on Marks Fostex 8-track machine.

KF: While you're not credited as playing or co-writing "The Shooter," it was performed by Criss in 1995 as "My Reality." How do you like the new recording and did Criss ever demo the track?
MM: I think the new recording is smoking, we've got Ryan Brown playing drums who is an Ass kicking drummer. I would have liked to have played on this new version but it just didn't happen. We probably at some point demoed that song with Criss.

KF: You play one several tracks on the album, notably "U Gotta Know," which according to ASCAP was co-written by Mark and Peter (though the CD only mentions Mark). What can you tell us about this song?
MM: This was one Mark had written and sent to me here in Taipei, to record the guitar tracks for. Up until this, I had never heard this particular song before.

KF: How long did it take for the "One Of A Kind" project to come together?
MM: I think it's been a work in the making since the end of the Criss band. As far as making it materialize into an actual CD, that has been taking place for I'd say about the past year and a half.

KF: Peter announced in February 2005 that he was working with both you and Mark on his solo album. How have things been progressing since then?
MM: As I said before, the CD is being mixed now in New York, and according to Peter looking for a release sometime later this year.

KF: Mark's mentioned that he co-wrote one song on the album ("Space Ace") and plays bass on several tracks. Who else has been involved?
MM: We also have Paul Schaffer playing keys on it, as well as Will Lee playing bass on some cuts. As far as guitar, I'm playing on pretty much everything, with exception to 'Space Ace' which Mark is also playing guitar on.

KF: What are your plans for the future?
MM: My plans are to keep playing my guitar! Seriously, hopefully when the new Peter CD comes out we will do some promoting of it, and hopefully live shows, that's Peter's call. With "One of a kind" were hoping to get some live shows together here in the near future. I'm also working on my own solo guitar CD, an instrumental work somewhere in the vain of Joe Satriani meets Jeff Beck meets?? It's almost finished, and Peter has mentioned he'd be happy to contribute some drumming on it. I'd like to get it out as well sometime later this year, and who knows, if I could tour playing my guitar stuff I'd be one happy camper!

KF: Any final message for CRISS/One Of A Kind fans!?
MM: Thanks for all the years of support, and sticking by us. We met a lot of great people when we were out on the road with Peter, and hopefully we can see you guys again sometime soon out there on the road (hmm, sounds like a song).

April 2006

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