KISS incarnate – An interview with Rock and Roll Over

By Ryan Javier

Photos by Jesse Garcia and Ryan Javier

RockandRollOver_06132015_18DALLAS – On June 13th the world renowned KISS tribute band, Rock and Roll Over, performed at Gexa Energy Pavilion as part of CBSradioDFW and Jack FM’s Throwback Festival and TTL was there.

Let’s make one thing clear: Rock and Roll Over is not just any “tribute band”, they are KISS. Not only do they look and move like KISS on stage, but they play and sound EXACTLY. LIKE. KISS.

The band personified KISS with such precision and were able the channel the energy of KISS so expertly RockandRollOver_06132015_06that the magic inevitably rubbed off on the fans at Gexa.  In no time at all, the entire venue transformed into a scene out of Detroit Rock City.  Any doubts as to the accuracy of Rock and Roll Over’s portrayal of KISS were assuaged the instant the first note was played.

Rock and Roll Over (RARO) was able to encapsulate every single detail of KISS. They played note-for-note solos and even had drumsticks.  Rock and Roll Over is so good at what they do that they’ve had the extreme distinction of being named one of the top four KISS tribute bands in the entire world by none other than KISS themselves.

RockandRollOver_06132015_05Based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Rock and Roll Over consists of four incredibly talented musicians: Christopher Paul as Paul Stanley, James Seda as Gene Simmons, Paul Brown as Peter Criss and Allen Shelley as Ace Frehley.  Each and every member of RARO is selflessly dedicated to recreating the complete KISS experience.  They are all true professionals, each with his own heart and soul deeply embedded in this project. RARO have undoubtedly spent years painstakingly crafting their skills.

Two of the members, Christopher Paul and James Seda, have played with the penultimate KISS tribute3086Jpg2 band: The Original KISS Army.  Mr. Seda has the honor of being the long-running and current “Gene Simmons” with the OKA band.

After an uncannily authentic performance, Christopher Paul (CP), was kind enough to answer a few questions from TTL’s Ryan Javier.

TTL: Rock and Roll Over totally crushed it at Gexa! Thank you for allowing my colleague and myself the opportunity to shoot and to listen. What was the reasoning behind your song choices?

CP: We chose our set to mainly focus on the hits, but wanted to have the songs be high energy, which is why Beth although a massive hit was’nt performed due to time constraints.

TTL:  RARO is the REAL DEAL! From your costumes and makeup, to your dominating stage presence and mannerisms, to the way you play.  It’s amazing! What was were some of the more difficult aspect(s) of KISS to capture?

CP: There is always more to learn and master when it comes to portraying KISS. KISS themselves used video to monitor their rehearsals in the early 70’s. When I first started doing the KISS tribute band, youtube wasn’t as prevalent as it is now and in the interim KISS has released the KISSology series which provides a wealth of video to the novice. When I took on the challenge of portraying Paul Stanley I had to rely on my memories of seeing KISS perform and the small amount of video available through bootleg sources. Surprisingly, it wasn’t much of a stretch as Mr. Stanley and I have many of the same traits onstage.

TTL: How long does it take to get into full make up and costumes before a show? You all have been doing this for quite some time.. do you each have your own methods and tricks for ensuring that the make-up process goes smoothly and quickly?

CP: Ideally, I like to have an hour and a half to get into costume and makeup, but I’ve also been able to accomplish the task in 37 minutes, which is my personal best. We wll have our own methods that we’ve arrived at through trial and error. For me the most important thing is lighting, which is frequently subpar in hotel rooms.

TTL: Where did you guys get your costumes? Did you guys make your own costumes? Does James Seda use the same costume(s) for the Original KISS Army band?

: The majority of our costumes are made by David McBrayer, who coincidentally also calls Dallas/Ft. Worth home. He has proven to be one of the premier costumers for KISS tribute bands in the U.S. I also perform with Jim Seda in Original KISS ARMY and he seems to prefer the KISS ALIVE! era costume
TTLTell me about the group’s history. Who started Rock and Roll Over and how did each of you get involved with the project?
CP: I was in another local KISS tribute that I started and when that band was usurped from me, I started Rock and Roll Over. Allen (Ace) Shelley was the 1st member to join. I then reached out to Paul (Peter) Brown and asked if he would be willing to do a few shows, and to his credit he emphatically stated that he wanted in with both feet! We have had a series of “Gene’s” come and go (most departed on good terms, with one exception), it’s been quite a coup for us to secure the services of Mr. Seda. He’s something of a KISS tribute Legend having performed in KISS tributes since 1985.
TTL: James Seda has to divide his time between the Original KISS Army band and Rock and Roll Over. Do any other members of Rock and Roll Over currently have other bands as well?
CP: The other 3 members of Rock and Roll Over have a top notch Def Leppard tribute band called Hysteria that’s been performing around the nation for 5 years. Paul Brown also performs with the JC all Stars and Red Leather. Allen Shelley also has his original band Woundtight. I perform with Original KISS ARMY, KISS LIVE! and KISSmania (Paul and Allen have also performed with KISSmania).
TTL: Rock and Roll Over has been named one of the top 4 KISS tribute bands in the world. How did you guys first hear the news, and what was your initial reaction?
CP: Being named in the top 4 KISS tribute bands in the World was quite an honor and it was something that we monitored closely as the voting and judging was being held on KISSonline. Over 225 bands from all around the globe entered, then voting opened to the public, as a result of the votes, Rock and Roll Over made the top 20, which we were thrilled about. At this point the members of KISS themselves selected a top 4 and announced it on their website. I vividly recollect hitting the refresh button on my computer time and again until the top 4 was announced and was ecstatic to see we had won! On an aside, yesterday Rock and Roll Over were named to the Top 5 Tribute Bands in Dallas by D Magazine. With all of the exceptional talent in the tributes around here, as well as the cutthroat competition it was quite an honor. It’s one thing for a band to call themselves “The Best this, the Premier that!”, but it’s rewarding to hear it from an esteemed publication like D Magazine.
TTLWhat’s your favorite song to perform live and why?
CP: My personal favorites are I Was Made For Loving You and Love Gun. I enjoy I Was Made because it’s a different style KISS song. It has a dance or “Disco” feel which makes people want to dance and express themselves. I enjoy Love Gun because it brings out an aggression in me that I can’t really pinpoint the reason for. I also enjoy those two because they’re a few of the more difficult songs to sing properly, it gives me a chance to show off my vocal chops.
TTL: Is there any KISS songs that you don’t know how to play?
CP: There are plenty of KISS songs that I don’t personally know how to play. With a career like KISS’ that spans over 40 years and some 30 albums that’s alot of material!
TTL: Is there a KISS song that you guys love and know how to play, but are hesitant to perform live b/c you’re unsure of how the audience will react? Like a deep cut or b-side that most people wouldn’t recognize?
CP: There are plenty of deep cuts that we know front to back that we don’t perform on a regular basis. With that said when we are performing a 90 minute plus set, I will be sure to throw in at least one or two deep cuts for the hardcore fan that wants to hear something off of the beaten path. Goin’ Blind, Comin Home, Ladies Room, Take Me and Rock Bottom are a few that come to mind.
TTL: For someone that has not yet had the privilege of seeing you guys live, what can one expect at a live show and why should someone attend?
CP: When someone attends a Rock and Roll Over show they can be sure that they’re going to see a band that isn’t coasting. Every performance is taken as if it could be our last. Expect high energy, powerful vocals with spot on harmonies, choreography that matches KISS’ and the theatrics that the venue (see Fire Marshall) will let us get away with. In essence we cater to the hardcore KISS fan, but even if you only know Rock and Roll All Nite, I guarantee that you will have a great time! We feed off of our audience and give it back in spades, there’s never a dull moment.
TTLHave you heard of the Sunburst Convention and if so, would it be something that, as Rock and Roll Over, you guys would consider doing?
CP:  I can’t say that I’ve heard of the Sunburst Convention, but Rock and Roll Over would certainly be interested in performing.
TTL: Does Rock and Roll Over have t-shirts? If so, where can someone purchase merch?
CP: Rock and Roll Over does indeed have t shirts. We are on our 1st pressing and they’re selling better than we could’ve expected. Shirts can be purchased at shows and in the near future will be available on our website.
TTL: What’s the best place to keep up-to-date on Rock and Roll Over and get info on upcoming dates?
CP: Our calendar is [on our website] and we are also on Facebook at Rock and Roll Over Tx. Please come and like our [Facebook] page.
TTL: and finally… are there any charities or causes that you guys would like to plug?
CP: We have recently worked with the Breast Cancer Can Stick It organization run by April Samuels. She is a breast cancer survivor and one heck of a go getter whose organization is really trying to make a difference. — Christopher Paul, Rock and Roll Over
Rock and Roll Over is an absolute must-see experience for any KISS fan, and any classic rock fan for that matter. Stay up-to-date date on these destroyers and their future shows by visiting the band online. Rock and Roll Over’s next show will be in Houston, TX at the House of Blues. You can get your tickets here.
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Ryan Javier
Dallas-based photojournalist.

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