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Kiss Army Argentina Exclusive Interview with Rich Kosak from Mr.

KISS Army Argentina: First of all, thanks a lot for taking time for this interview, and congratulations! for having won the World's Best KISS Tribute Band Contest. Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: It is my pleasure to be speaking with you. I hope that all of your fans will learn something about our tribute to KISS and how much we all share the common love of what they have created. KISS Army Argentina: Please tell us how Mr. Speed was created (the beginnings of the band, tours, most important events). Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: MR.SPEED was born out of a chance meeting between myself and the original "Ace" that was in the band. Originally we had no intention of starting a band. We just loved getting together to play KISS songs on our guitars. After 6 months of that we thought we were on to something so we started looking for a bassist and a drummer. Before we knew it we had a band. The first few years of the band were spent rehearsing more than performing. When we did perform we barely made any money. Sometime splitting $150 amongst the four of us. But we didn't care...we just wanted to play. Eventually we began performing quite a bit. As a result we were learning how to secure shows and make contacts that would prove to provide more opportunities for us later on. Over the years there have been many different members in MR.SPEED. I am the only original member and Joe has been with me since 2000. Through the years we have performed at many different kinds of events but nothing compares to performing with an actual member of KISS. We have been fortunate enough to perform with not only Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick but also Ace Frehley. This is truly one of the highlights of my tribute career. The moment was very surreal and the experience is one that I will always cherish. There is a special kind of vibe that happens when you get the chance to play with a KISS member...something almost indescribable. Obviously winning the most recent "KISS Off" in Las Vegas rivals performing with Ace. This is a distinction that no one will ever be able to take away from us. No matter what they say we were the first...KISS said so.

-2KISS Army Argentina: Seeing the way you look we have to highlight the costumes and the great stage design. How many people work with you, specially in these areas (stage and costume design)? As for the technical and design aspects, do you prepare a full show for each performance? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: Since the very beginning we have always done everything ourselves. We do not have a road crew. Our wives make up the crew that we do have and they play an important role in each and every show. They take care of all of the little things that we need as well as run the stage effects too. Collectively we pass ideas back and forth to each other about what we like to incorporate into our stage show but ultimately it comes down to money. We would love to do so much more but financially we aren't always able to do so. As for the costumes, we do a lot of the work ourselves. At times we make trips into Canada to have our boots made. Joe had the majority of his costume made in Toronto by the only company that he can find that will agree to do it. Otherwise we work with local seamstresses to alter our body suits and we do the rhinestone work ourselves. We really try not to destroy our costumes knowing how much they cost and how much time and effort goes into each one. Joe actually created the majority of Danny's armor himself by creating the molds and working with a local company to have them created. KISS Army Argentina: In Argentina we have been supporting KISS tribute bands since long ago, especially two great ones that use make up: KISSnation and KISS My Ass (who were among the 20 runners up in the KISS by Monster Mini Golf contest) and we know about the effort that each performance takes in every aspect. We guess that when you saw your bands name among the final four runners up you increased even more the focus on each detail for the performance in which you were chosen as winners Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: At first when we heard that we were one of the four finalists we thought exactly that. That we have to really make sure that overthink everything and prepare like never before. Then we got some timely advice from our good friend Jim Neff. Jim is the same guy that brought KISS to Cadillac, MI in 1975. He told us to just be ourselves. Let the other bands overthink their performance and for us to just go out there and be MR.SPEED. We did just that and I remember calling him after we had won and he was very emotional with me on the phone. We gave him the nickname "5"...he is the fifth member of MR.SPEED. KISS Army Argentina: How do you prepare the set list? Do you base it on previous set lists, or maybe you like to present some surprises with rare songs, or songs that KISS rarely performs? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: Andrew is the one that puts our set lists together. He has a particular way that he likes to do it. His approach is pretty simple...if KISS did it we should do it. We all suggest songs that we would like to play, some make it into the show and some don't. But if we get a set list that really works we'll stick with it and swap a song with a song there. We have always been about playing the rare or obscure tracks from KISS' catalog. Since day #1 we have believed in that. It challenges us and make it more interesting for the die-hard fans that come to our shows. Over the past 17 years we have done quite a few songs to say the least. KISS Army Argentina: Which are the favorite KISS eras for Mr. Speed? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: Generally speaking we all love the "Rock And Roll Over/Love Gun" era KISS. But to be honest Andrew and I really have an affinity for the Dynasty era as well.

-3KISS Army Argentina: Lets talk about Tommy Thayer and the KISS by Monster Mini Golf event. How was your meeting with Tommy? Did he anticipate more details about the event, which will take place next March 15th? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: Performing in front of Tommy as very inspiring. I live for moments like this. Personally speaking he pushed me to be better than I thought I could be. When we had the chance to meet with him after we had won he was very complimentary to us. He shared some candid observations about what he felt helped us to win out over the other bands. I even asked him what he thought we needed to do to improve. Knowing that Tommy was watching us was a key element in our win in my opinion. I believe that it helped us. KISS Army Argentina: Without a doubt your next performance on March 15th will be a milestone for the history of Mr. Speed. How are you preparing for the show? Has the set list already been defined? Did Tommy make any suggestion in particular, or you are free to do the show as you wish? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: We are doubling up on our rehearsals until we leave for Las Vegas. We have a lot to live up to. The fans are expecting the very best and I want to make sure that we deliver the goods. Many of these fans will be seeing us for the first time and I want them to love what they see and hear. Not to mention that KISS themselves will be there for the event. So to be able to perform in front of them or have them hear us for me is incredible. KISS Army Argentina: Have you already received the prize costumes for having won the contest? Which era do they represent? Will they be the ones that you will wear in the Mini Golf event? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: We have not received the costumes that were a part of our prize. They are awarding them to us when we return in March. We have all decided to go with the "Destroyer" costumes. To be honest, our costumes are much better than the ones that they are giving us. We put our own hard work and effort into creating them and I wouldn't wear anything else. KISS Army Argentina: How does the life of the members of Mr. Speed change after having won the World's Best KISS Tribute Band Contest? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: We haven't changed at all to be honest. It was extremely humbling for us to win and we know that it won't last forever. It is extremely satisfying to know that we can call ourselves "The Best KISS Tribute Band In The World" and not feel badly about it. We went up against 200 bands and then head to head against 3 of them. Tommy Thayer voted for us and that is a distinction that no one can take away...ever! KISS Army Argentina: What can we expect from Mr. Speed in the future? How does the story of the band continue? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: MR.SPEED will continue as long as I want it to. I still really feel as though I have a lot to give to the fans around the world. It has been an amazing story with a lot of troubled times and a lot of amazing times. I really love the amazing times but the troubled times are the ones that define who we are just as much. We build character with both and I'm proud of where MR.SPEED is right now. I have an amazing story to tell for sure. As long as KISS fans continue to come out and see our show I will continue to give them the best representation of what my mind's eye sees from the 52 KISS shows that I have been to.

-4KISS Army Argentina: Once again, thanks a lot for this interview. Can you please leave a message for KISS Army Argentina and for our local KISS tribute bands? Rich Kosak - Mr. Speed: Please know this...never give up on your dream. Whatever it is. Because the feeling that runs through your veins when your dream comes true cannot be measured in words. You have to feel it. Surround yourself with positive people and believe in what you are doing. Never give up.

Interview: MARCELO GARCIA and DIEGO FERREYRA (Kiss Army Argentina) Translation: Mariana MIA Abello (Kiss Army Argentina) April 2012