We Were Cool Kids

by Bill Brenner on March 24, 2011

I’m not sure how it started. I guess I was just looking for some old background music while I worked. Next thing you know, I’m listening to this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQMwY66HdLk&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

That’s right. Kix.

Those of you who are familiar with this band will think of songs like “Don’t Close Your Eyes” and “Blow My Fuse.” Those came off the one platinum album they were able to muster in the late 1980s. Once they went platinum, I started to lose interest.

Here’s the thing: When you’re a metal-head outcast like I was (or aspired to be, anyway), you cling to the bands few people know about. It makes you feel like you’re part of a secret society where the rest of the more popular kids don’t belong. I makes you feel COOL.

I have Sean Marley and Dan Waters to blame for this mindset. They always pushed the more obscure bands on me, and when I’d express my excitement over the latest album from Motley Crue or Def Leppard, both would look at me like parents who just caught their kid setting fire to the dining room furniture. Sean turned me on to Motley Crue, too, but once the “Theater of Pain” album came out he was all done with them.

I remember when Motley’s “Dr. Feelgood” album came out. I wanted Sean to like it so badly. I kept telling him it was a return to the band’s roots. I brought the cassette to his house and we sat there listening carefully to each track. He seemed to like what he was hearing.

Then, somewhere in the middle of the song “Sticky Sweet” he got a pained look in his eyes, like he was about to pass gas. He looked at me and lamented: “Man, I hate Vince’s singing now. It’s awful.”

I was crushed. I had failed to lure him back from the dark side.

Since I was always trying to be more like him, I dove head first into the pile of cassettes he was collecting: Ministry’s “Land of Rape and Honey,” Nine Inch Nails, which was still an underground act at that point, and Skinny Puppy. Sean and Dan were pathetically in love with Skinny Puppy. It was all they’d talk about. I didn’t quite understand that one. I still get bored if Skinny Puppy is playing.

But Kix. There was a band I could sink my teeth into. Before the “Blow My Fuse” album made them somewhat famous, they were releasing killer albums like “Midnight Dynamite,” “Cool Kids” and their 1981 self-titled album.

Sure, some of their music veered dangerously close to bubble-gum pop, but they were obscure. They were therefore mine. Sean was nuts about Kix, and it rubbed off on me in a big way.

After the “Blow My Fuse” album, I pretty much forgot about them. This week was the first time I listened to them in more than 20 years.

And I haven’t been able to stop.

Am I being pathetically nostalgic? Perhaps. But I had forgotten how good their double-barreled, layered guitar sound was.

Sean turned me on to other bands that people knew of, but not nearly as well as bands like Kiss or Led Zeppelin.

One band was Riot. Not Quiet Riot. They are (or were) two separate bands.

The other was Thin Lizzy. I never lost my love affair with that band, and I still listen to them all the time. 

My kids have even gotten hooked on Thin Lizzy. When we’re in the car, Sean (we named him for Sean Marley) always asks me to put “Jailbreak” on. Not bad for an almost 10-year-old. Duncan always sways his head back and forth in approval.

The man my oldest son got his name from would be proud of me for pulling that one off.

Let’s see if he takes a liking to Kix.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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