On April 11, 2016, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Ace Frehley, kicked off the Northeast portion of his U.S. tour in New York City at the legendary blues club B.B. Kings in Times Square. Direct support for Ace this night was New York’s own local boys, KILLCODE. The energy in the room was palpable as the crowd showed up early and ready to rock and the bands did not disappoint.
KILLCODE, a hard-rocking, original five-piece band based in New York, was formed in 2008 by vocalist Tom Morrissey and guitarist Chas Banellis. Other band members include Erric Bonesmith on bass, Rob Noxious on drums, and DC Gonzalez on guitar. DC is also the lead guitarist for the rock band PANZIE. These guys have a unique sound, a byproduct of their diverse influences, which they have described as being “heavy but melodic, dirty but polished, raw and emotional”—a “Southern-infused Rock/Metal with modern vocals.” All of their songs are supercharged sing-along anthems, with catchy hooks, no-holds-barred guitars, and driving rhythms.
KILLCODE has all the elements needed to separate themselves from the cookie-cutter rock bands on the local circuit. Their presence is magnetic, their lyrics identifiable, and their unique sound is supported by stellar guitar work that includes intricate lead-ins and heavy riffs, strong and clear vocals, and a pounding rhythm section. With an ever-growing fan base both nationally and internationally that they have tagged the KILLCODE KREW, myself a new self-proclaimed inductee, they have headlined and sold out prominent marquee venues in New York City including Irving Plaza, the Gramercy Theater, and the Bowery Ballroom. They’ve been on bills with Godsmack and Sevendust, and have had other enormously successful support gigs at the now defunct Roseland Ballroom and the Best Buy Theater. They’ve also had successful shows in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles.
Since 2008, KILLCODE has released two six-song EP’s, To Die For (2008) and Taking it All (2010), and one twelve-song, full-length album, the self-titled KILLCODE (2012). KILLCODE held the #2 position for the week of August 18, 2012, on BILLBOARD’s Mid-Atlantic Heatseekers Charts and has since been re-released with two bonus tracks by CME records via Mega Force/Sony Red. The song “Breaking Away,” off of Taking It All, was featured in the documentary Dressed, and “6AM Again,” which appears on both their debut EP To Die For and the full-length KILLCODE, has been featured on The Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM Radio. Their new album The Answer (2016) will be coming out soon. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a limited edition release after the show and have the band sign it for me. These guys are the real deal and taking their rightful place alongside the leading rock acts on the world circuit today, I’ll be able to say that I had the privilege of photographing them when…
So let’s get this party started! Not to sound cheesy, but KILLCODE killed it!!! The house was packed, and not just with Ace fans—the KILLCODE Krew showed up in force and that is what these guys are, a force to be reckoned with. Beginning with Chas’s opening chord of their first song, the new single “The Answer” off their upcoming CD of the same title, the crowd was psyched. “The Answer,” a tune aimed toward their Heavy Rock and Modern Metal fans, features deep, gruff vocals, incessant, head-banging drum beats and cymbal crashes, heavy guitar riffs, and a hair raising guitar duel halfway through the song.
They went on to play quite a few tunes off of their new CD as well other Krew favorites such as “Still Here,” a stick-it-to-you anthem—what I would describe as Southern Heavy with a New York twist—with a catchy chorus, serious guitar riffs, and Tom showing off his powerful, sexy voice. I watched through my lens as the KILLCODE Krew sang along with hands in the air to the closing verse which mentions some of their local drinking holes. Tom and Chas were totally engaging with the audience, at one point encouraging the crowd to chant along with them, “I say ‘KILL’, you say ‘CODE’.”
Another blood-pumping crowd pleaser was “6AM Again,” and how could it not be with Erric’s driving bass, Rob’s monster drums, the great dirty guitar sounds coming from Chas and DC, and Tom’s high energy rock vocals. KILLCODE closed their set with special guest JJ French of Twisted Sister, jamming to an excellent rendition of “You Can’t Stop Rock n Roll.”
“… drinking PBR straight out of the can, this is our City, this is our Life. 2 am down at Three Of Cups, 4 am drinking whiskey at Duffs, 6 am, 6 am again.” –KILLCODE, “Still Here.”KILLCODE’s next show is on May 25th, 2016 at the Marlin Room in Webster Hall, NYC, do yourself a favor and go see them. To find out more about the band, purchase music and some really cool merch, visit their website at https://killcode.net/.
The headliner of the evening, Bronx native, musician, singer, songwriter, Space Ace, former lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band Kiss, the living legend, Mr. Ace Frehley. My first memory of Ace is as Kiss’s Spaceman. I was barely 12 years old, it was the Summer of ’76, and I just wanted to be cool and hang out with my 14-year-old stepsister and her friends. They let me chill with them one afternoon in the basement of my father’s house where they were listening to the Kiss Alive album and I will forever associate that album with the time I smoked my first Marlboro Red, almost choked to death, and washed it down with my first bottle of Heineken.
Joining the Spaceman tonight was Richie Scarlet on guitar and vocals. A multitalented musician and producer from New York, Richie has worked with some of the biggest names out there, including the Alice Cooper Band and Blue Oyster Cult. He toured with Ace in 1984 and 1985, and then periodically from 1989 through 1995. Richie is also known for touring with Sebastian Bach and has had a successful solo career as well. On bass and vocals was Queens’ own, Chris Wyse, currently of the band OWL. Well known as the bass player for The Cult from 2006-2015, Chris has worked with Ozzy Osbourne, Jerry Cantrel, and many others; he is also featured on select tracks of Frehley’s album, Space Invader. Last, but certainly not least, my favorite member of any band, the drummer, in this case Scot Coogan. a/k/a The Coogiemonster. Scott is a professional touring and session musician, songwriter, and producer hailing from Chicago, IL. Best known for his accomplished drumming and vocal skills, he toured with Frehley from 2007 to 2012, when he left Ace’s band to focus on other projects. He has since toured and recorded with Lynch Mob and sat behind the kit for Lita Ford on the 2012 “Rock Of Ages” tour with Def Leppard and Poison.
There was no photo pit, so after KILLCODE’s set I held my spot up against the stage wedged between two very large, but very friendly, “metal heads” who knew every song that was about to be played that evening. Surrounded by diehard Ace/Kiss fans, some in Space Ace makeup, others wearing original KISS t-shirts and memorabilia, some in suits, I marvelled at the age range and diversity of the fans around me. Being the Chatty Cathy that I am, I spoke to a lot of the fans who, like me, were not willing to leave their spots on the floor. One gentleman of a certain age showed me his original Kiss tattoo, and yet another told me of the first time he saw Kiss in concert. I left there thinking of how music really does bring people together.
As the lights dimmed and Richie Scarlett entered the stage, the crowd started to press forward. There must have been about a dozen Marshal amps up there and when he hit the strings for the first time, I went deaf and the crowd went crazy. The set was kicked off with a Kiss fan favorite, “Parasite,” followed by “Toys,” from Frehley’s 2014 album Space Invader, and another Kiss song, “Rocket Ride.” He followed that up with “Rip It Out” off of his 1978 self-titled album, and then another Kiss favorite, “Love Gun,” which featured drummer Scot Coogan on vocals. These musicians certainly know their way around a good cover—the Kiss songs were exceptionally well done and may quite possibly have surpassed any you might see at a Kiss show.
Next up were a few more Frehley solo songs: “Snowblind,” “Sister,” “Rock Soldiers,” and a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald.” Afterward, as Ace, Richie, and Scott left the stage, Chris had the crowd mesmerized with his bass solo that included a “God of Thunder” tease—minus the theatrics. The guys returned to the stage to “Strange Ways,” after which Ace went into an outstanding rendition of Russ Ballard’s “New York Groove,” followed by Richie Scarlett singing “2 Young 2 Die.” Ace’s anthem, “Shock Me,” led into a Frehley guitar solo on his signature smoking Les Paul guitar, and the set ended with a raucous version of Kiss’ “Cold Gin.” The encores for the evening were “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce.”
This was a loud, hands-in-the-air, shout-along show. Professional showmen all the way, these guys know how to work a stage. Ace, Richie, and Chris engaged the audience with fist pounding, high fiving, and giving out pics. Scott, while he may be known as the “Coogiemonster,” reminded me more of “Animal” sitting, and not sitting, up there on the drum kit. Richie mugged for my camera on more than one occasion and at one point he reached down, tapped me on the nose, and handed me a pic. Even though this was an Ace Frehely show, and regardless of the fact that he hasn’t played with Kiss for many years, it was the classic Kiss songs and his own solo tunes recorded during the Kiss era that these fans showed up for. I am sure, like myself, they left more than satisfied.
For more information on upcoming shows, CD’s and merchandise, go to the official Ace Frehley website https://www.acefrehley.com/