Words: Letty Sharp // Photos: Andrew Wolfe & King Zabb
Kissing Candice are an American metal band formed in 2012 by Joey
Simpson. The band are theatrical, wearing masks, face paint and all sorts
of interesting outfits for their live shows.
The band are currently on tour and took time out of their day to sit down
with Letty Sharp to answer a few questions over zoom.
Abbreviations and members
Joey Simpson- vocalist
Mike Grippo- bass
LS- I saw the video on YouTube uploaded by The House of Masks of
the, ‘ThanksKilling’, mini day festival recap. How was that experience?
MG- It was awesome. It was a great day. Towns really cool for such a
small town. I don’t think anything that crazy has happened in that town
and to have a sold-out crowd for a metal show. I don’t think they’ve had
amplifiers there before.
JS- It was a lot of fun to see what AJ does with that community as far as
pulling it together, putting on special events and collectively it was
overall a fun day.
M- People showed up and went nuts.
JS- People showed up, went crazy. It was just a lot of fun pretty much.
Would do it again if we had the chance.
LS- It looked like a pretty cool concert. Joey, I’ve seen you showing off
your new outfit on Instagram, where did the inspiration for it come
JS- Is that the most recent one?
LS- Yes, the one you put up on Instagram.
JS- The post I put up a couple of days ago, that was a clear silicon mask
and that was kind of hinting to the fans that a new pull of my mask is
coming. I always like to have some sort of transition mask to keep the
fans on their toes and give them a heads up on when I’m about to
upgrade my mask or change it. It was done by a company called CFX.
They did my original silicon mask. A new, upgraded version of Aunt
Donna is about to be revealed at these next upcoming shows, so stay
tuned to my Instagram for new pictures and really cool stuff for this new
LS- I definitely look forward to it. My personal favourite song by you
guys is, ‘Ghosted’, which introduced me to your music. Is there a story
behind that song?
D- It’s not necessarily a song with a story behind it per say, more of just
a concept. Whether it’s being ghosted by a person, being a ghost of a
human being. Just having no substance as a human. Talking to the shell
of someone who is completely different. Everyone has experienced that
in some way shape or form so it’s super relatable thing. Speaks volumes
about our society.
JS- It’s one of our older songs but for some reason it really just holds its
weight in our setlists. Everyone is super drawn to it we just love playing
it. It’s very energetic, sung great, has a beautiful chorus, super heavy
breakdowns, lots of great samples, lots of great electronic effects.
Overall, just a fun song that will probably stay in the setlist for a while.
LS- Yeah, it’s a great song, I’ve been listening to it since I discovered
you guys in 2015.
WHOLE GROUP- Oh wow, long time, amazing. Thank you, appreciate it!
LS- No problem. You guys released, ‘South Circle’, as one of your
newest singles for Manifest. How was the recording process for
MG- It was good. We all flew out to Vegas to Joey’s place to record
there. Our producer Zach Jones he flew in and built a studio in Joey’s
spare bedroom and we sat down, everyone in the band and we recorded
JS- It was probably one of the best recording experiences we’ve had as a
band. The ideas we’re just kind of flowing out, there was no pressure.
We kind of worked at our own schedules as far as getting up in the
morning there was no, ‘Okay you have to start recording now and stop at
this time’. It was kind of like we did it at our own pace. We we’re in the
confinements of my house; very comfortable, a lot of space. The ideas
were super out of the box which was really nice and the creativity was
just flowing. Me, personally, this is some of our best work. We’re
slowly releasing the songs and each song is better than the next I feel
M- Honestly, it’s the musicians dream, as far as recording. You’re in the
studio all day, surrounded by music all the time, creative energy. It’s
hard to not have something good come out when your surrounded by
something. Across the board it was a great experience.
LS- Yeah, if your surrounded by creativity it’s not hard to have it all
LS- Through these different album cycles you also come out with
different masks and outfits. Is it hard sometimes for you guys to
sometimes come up with the concepts or going in do you guys have an
idea going in?
All Photos King Zabb
D- As far as the concept goes, everyone has their little character shtick.
Each record cycle or each album cycle, is just a progression of whatever
that is. I’m kind of speaking for everyone here, some people are more in
depth with their character than others, some is more metaphoric, some is
not. But it’s supposed to be a representation of all that is dirtiness that
humans keep to themselves but it is the personification through whatever
that person is trying to do. So, Joey’s got Aunt Donna, I’ve got Dreamer,
etc etc. And each album cycle we dive deeper into the psyche and the
grittiness and the ugliness of the human side of just being alive I guess if
that makes any sense.
JS- As far as masks go, I’ll hand you over to Pak (drummer) his current
mask he actually made. So, he can give you a quick, shortened version
of what he’s been moulding his mask into as far as character wise.
PM- I made a custom mould of my own head in my own time and
changing up the look so it was easier to look out and see. I am my own
mask and I kept the whole matte black. Even got a whole new name so
my last name is Pak, and they call me Oak, so they came up with the
name Choke I guess, so that works.
JS- We get our masks made by makers or we handcraft our masks. It’s
really just as Dreamer said whatever is going on with this album cycle,
we kind if reflect it off the music, off what we’re feeling emotionally,
mentally, physically. And of course, there’s some other little things but
as far as character development.
M- That we’re tipping the hat to, but we have to keep some secrets
JS- We keep some of the stuff a secret but that’s just as important with
the music with keeping things fresh and weird looking.
MG- We’re an experience, not just music [laughs].
LS- Do you guys have a favourite song to play live out of all of your
MG- Mine would probably be Mirrors.
M- I think Mirrors across the board is probably the best.
JS- It’s a fun song.
M- It’s a fun song. It’s catchy, it’s kind of for everybody.
MG- That was like the first song we did where I was like, ‘Wow, I can
hear this song going places’. And it’s structured [laughs]. It came out in
weird circumstances unfortunately which kind of stifled its growth. The
label forgot it was coming out [laughs].
LS- You guys have been going since 2012, so a decade you’ve been
going, congratulations. What do you think has attributed to staying
together for so long?
D- Thank you. Because we’re stupid. We’re stupid and we don’t know
how to do anything else. The reality is we love this more than anything
and we all sacrifice, ‘real life’, to make this happen. Everybody wants to
be a rockstar in a touring band there’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes
that’s not so nice and gritty and dirty. You really have to love it and
that’s across the board. All of us are weirdos but I think we all respect
each other’s space and idiosyncrasy’s. Just the fact that we love this
gives us one centralized goal. We’ve been able to navigate the horizon
of bullshit so far and still in the game.
JS- Yeah, each of us brings something different and unique to the band
and we all don’t like the same stuff, music, movies, food whatever it is.
We’re all so different but we’re all very much alike. We get on tour and
it just works. It’s like one big happy family and I know a lot of bands
say that but we’ve been a core 4 for a while now. We’ve had a couple of
guitars come and go. We have a new guitar player, Mike, we think he’s
gonna work out and stick around and become the solid 5 th member.
Yeah, it just works.
LS- It’s great that you guys can say your like family as I know some
bands and they can’t stand each other.
JS- Yeah, you have to have some sort of bond and deep friendship to
understand the inner workings of being creative together, living with
each other on the road, sharing everything and having each other’s back
whether it’s onstage, off stage, in the press eye. You have to have that
trust and that bond. Bands come and go, members go like revolving
doors. You really just have to have a solid core and your set.
MG- Once we spent Thanksgiving together at a buffet in Texas.
D- That sealed the deal.
LS- Band goals.
MG- It was a golden corral [laughs]
LS- If you could collaborate dead or alive who would it be?
D- You see, this is what we were saying. We can’t answer this as we’re
all 5 of us are so different.
JS- Everybody’s going to be so different.
All Photos King Zabb
LS- You can all go, I don’t mind.
D- The spectrum for me would be prog so Dream Theatre or Greg
MG- I love industrial so Nine Inch Nails, 3Teeth lately, Ministry, stuff
like that. Industrial metal, late 90’s stuff.
PM- Dream tour: Marilyn Manson, Killswitch Engage. Those two.
JS- Anything from Post Malone to Rob Zombie, anybody in between.
Oddballs. I love the oddballs.
M- I’m mixed in with all those guys. From Joji to Manson I’m there.
LS- They’re all excellent choices. Joey, your style of growls is quite
intense, how do you keep your voice in shape for your shows every
JS- It’s a lot. There’s no real secret to it-
D- There is a secret; he’s a little girl and has a nice, little teapot setup
JS- I have a little case that I keep a portable teapot in that I keep throat
coat, tea, throat drops, throat sprays, that’s how you maintain it. To
really maintain your voice, you have to learn to use it without ripping
your vocal cords or blowing out your throat which I’m guilty of. I’ve
had a couple of little blow outs where my voice sounded like crap but
you gotta just power through it. No real warm up stuff, I know there’s a
lot of musicians who do a lot of warm up stuff, we kind of just stretch
our vocal cords quick and then just get up and rip it. We’ve been doing it
a while so we know our limits on our voice boxes, both my screaming
and Dreamer’s singing which is super important. We both kind of have
our techniques, tea and honey. We have routines and things like that but
we both know our voices and what we’re capable of doing.
LS- So just knowing your limits.
JS- Exactly. Knowing my limits. A big part plays with the monitors on
stage, if we’re pushing to hear ourselves. A lot of factors come into play.
We have our little secrets to maintain our voices.
LS- Again, all you guys can answer here. Do you have any favourite
new releases this year and who are they by?
Group- putting us on the spot here [laughs]
JS- I’ll start. I’m excited for the new Blink 182 album. I’m glad that the
3 are back together and I’m looking forward to that release. I’m a big
Blink fan. I’m a big Angels and Airwaves fan. I’m excited that Tom is
back in the band and they’re making new music. That single they just
released is great in my ears and I love it. That’s what I’m looking
MG- Mine for this year is very out of left field. I’m going to say Denzel
Curry’s new album. I love rap too and I think he’s the next thing. He’s
got his own solid underground thing. He does things his own way, he’s
very inspiring and he’s just a wordsmith.
D- I’m gonna go with Simon Phillips Protocol V. I love the new Nas
record, the new Nas record is sick and the new Machinehead record was
M- I’m going to go with Sleep Token’s new album. I’ve been following
them for a couple of years and I saw them over the summer and those
guys are incredible from front to back.
PM- So I don’t know if it came out this year but Novelists is a band that
has been around forever and they just came out with new music and I’ve
been super into them, so check them out on Spotify.
LS- Nice one. This is our last question. Do you have any advice for
anyone starting a band in 2023?
D- Yeah don’t do it.
JS- Run! Run!
M- Unless your excellent-
JS- Or have a big bag of money
D- Unless your parents have a lot of money or have an investment
you’ve been sitting on.
MG- This is not financial advice but invest in bitcoin and 10 years from
now, start a band with the money [laughs]. Be really good at internet
marketing. Know how to sell yourself, that’s the biggest thing right now
JS- Be patient and be positive. Just keep on the grind no matter what.
There’s going to be bumps in the road ahead but you just have to stay
focused and if you really want it, it will happen and it will come to you.
It’s not an easy road. For anyone wanting to start a band, especially
nowadays, it’s harder than it was 10, 15 years ago.
LS- Thank you guys for taking the time out of your day to answer my
GROUP- No, thank you.