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Kiss Army Argentina Exclusive Interview with Andre LaBelle, The Sky drummer and ex-Vinnie Vincent, Part

1: The Kiss family tree mention was an honor.


KISS Army Argentina: Andre, thanks a lot for this interview with KISS Army Argentina. Andre LaBelle: Grateful for the opportunity.

KISS Army Argentina: It is no surprise that you chose music as a profession, for since birth you breathed art at home, since your father was a painter and his art had an impact on you. How and when did you decide to become a musician? Andre LaBelle: Being that my father was an artist, he had a love for music as well. When I was ten years old, my dad came home one day with an old stare drum that my brother, Jean and I would play around with. Around this time, Jean and our close friend, Bruce Henn, had bought the album, KISS Alive. We were blown away. My father liked the visual art involved with the album cover and asked if we would be interested in playing musical intrusments. He was finishing portrait work for the owner of a music store. Inspired with an idea, he simply traded the paintings for a Les Paul Guitar and a Silver Sparkle Drum set. I instantly fell in love with the drums, and couldnt wait to get home from school and jump behind them. It just sort of became a routine. Soon after, our living room literally consisted of easels on one side and musical instruments on the other. KISS Army Argentina: Since your mother passed away, your father fostered even more that artistic flame in you and your brother; is this accurate?

Andre LaBelle: Very true.. my father had a friend that was in a popular local band, and would have him come to the house and help us learn the songs that we would eventually play in local clubs. Funny! I remember my dad getting behind my drums and acting like Keith Moon, throwing his arms at the cymbals, explaining to me that this is how Keith would do it. We had wonderful times. KISS Army Argentina: What caught your attention in KISS and how did that impact show in your career? Andre LaBelle: Growing up, the son of an artist, I loved the creative imagery that KISS pioneered. Their unique Guitar riffs and powerful energy was custom made for a boy of my age. I remember putting head phones on and practicing along to Peter Criss drum solo almost every day after school. I believe Peter had a very musical approach to the drum set that has influenced my playing to this day. KISS Army Argentina: We know that your decision to settle in Los Angeles became decisive since you had the chance to meet other important musicians. What can you tell us about this? (for instance, which musicians you had the chance to meet). Andre LaBelle: Throughout the years I spent in L.A., I met more musicians than I could possibly mention. Working as a session drummer, I played on many recordings and various styles of music. Thankful to have had the chance to work with such great artist.. In L.A., on any given night, you would see famous musicians hanging out at the bars. It was quite an exciting time. In the style of Rock and Roll, I worked on projects with Josh Todd of Buck Cherry, Chris Holmes Wasp, Richie and Deanna Kotchen, to name a few. KISS Army Argentina: What can you tell us about the first time you met with Vinnie Vincent? How did that happen and how did you come to work with him? Andre LaBelle: One of the sessions that I was involved with was Michael Monarch, he was the original guitarist of Steppin Wolf. One day, he got a call from Vinnies engineer, asking if he knew any drummers that would fit Vinnie's style of musicianship. Later I received a call from Vinnie saying, I don't know If you have heard of me but, my name is Vinnie Vincent and I was referred to you by Michael Monarch. I found it wonderfully strange to get a call from a former member of KISS being that I had been a big fan in my youth but, hadn't seeked their attention. I auditioned at Grand Master studios in Hollywood a few days later. Vinnie sat directly in front of the drum set and simply asked me to play a solo. After that he voiced out drum beats relating to the new songs and had me play them on the kit. We went to dinner the next night and discussed the arrangement and recording schedule. These sessions went on for about a year or so and we recorded at three different studios. He was always making changes to the songs and it seemed as If the album would never be finished. KISS Army Argentina: Can you share some anecdotes or stories of your recording sessions with Vinnie? By the way, we think your work in Guitars from Hell was fantastic. Andre LaBelle: Thank You for the cool words. I do remember an evening Vinnie was grilling four chicken breast out back of the studio and while turning one over flames shot up from the grill. Joking! I said "You wanted the best Chicken and you got it! I thought He would die from laughter. On another day, Vinnie wanted Terry Reed, an old friend of his that had worked in the early years with Led Zeppelin, to do some back ground vocals on the album. Terry and I were in the studio lounge making coffee when Robert Fleischman walked in. Out of the blue Robert says to Terry, Ya know england simply ripped off american blues music! I thought they were gonna go at it!! Terry began screaming in debate while Robert just grinned like a cat. Quess Robert was marking his territory. We didn't see Terry again after that. Later I asked Robert what this was all about. He said, Oh I was just mess n with him.

KISS Army Argentina: Guitars from Hell never saw the light of day as a complete album, only as an EP in 1996 that did not have much coverage in the media. Can you tell us why? Andre LaBelle: The answer to 99 out of a 100 questions is Money. Something to do with the Label and Vinnie not being content but, I'm not for sure. KISS Army Argentina: We have read a very interesting story from the days Vinnie was writing again with KISS in 1991 regarding the name Revenge. What actually happened with this name? Is it true that it was a name that Vinnie had chosen for his album? What happened later on with this issue? Andre LaBelle: Yes. Vinnie was planning on using that title for his record but, after returning from a writing session with KISS, He told me that Gene liked the name and wanted to use it for their own. This is when he decided on Guitars from Hell and later Guitarmageddon. KISS Army Argentina: Continuing with Unholy, there is still a rumor that in that song, KISS supposedly used parts originally recorded by Vinnie adding Bruce Kulicks parts as well. As far as you know, is this true? Andre LaBelle: I wouldn't know about this but, I have heard that KISS sometimes used session players to record instruments without mention or credit. KISS Army Argentina: Was Vinnie a person complicated to work with? How much of the stuff about him is true? Andre LaBelle: I didn't have any real problems working with Vinnie. Although I was hired to do a specific job and He was the one writing the tunes along with Robert. As far as the rumors, I don't know, but I do wish him well and hope all is alright in his world. KISS Army Argentina: What has been the best of having worked with Vinnie? Because for us it was a perfect combination: Andre LaBelle the session musician and Andre LaBelle the KISS fan working with Vinnie Andre LaBelle: I think the best thing to come from that session was meeting Robert Fleischman and putting together The Sky. as well, the experience of getting to know Vinnie, Gene and Eric. The KISS family tree mention was an honor. KISS Army Argentina: Did you keep in touch with Vinnie after working together? Did you ever have the chance of working with him again? Andre LaBelle: Ya Know It's like Vinnie fell off the face of the planet! Last I heard he was writing songs for others in Nashville. Such a talented Guitarist not to be heard. Hopefully he will resurface. KISS Army Argentina: Some days ago you attended the KISS Expo in Atlanta and presented together with Robert Fleischmann some new material of The Sky. What was the reaction of the fans like? What are the plans for the future with the band? Andre LaBelle: It was wonderful! We had an awesome time in Atlanta. KISS fans are the coolest fans in the world. Robert Fleischman, Brady Cole, Ryan Lake and I are going back in the studio next week to record three new tracks. These songs are amazing and have a heaviness to them. The emotion is spirtual yet tough! We also have plans to appear at future KISS Conventions soon and I will be performing a drum clinic.

KISS Army Argentina: What other plans do you have in mind for your career? Andre LaBelle: I'm recording numerous sessions with Bill Leverty, guitarist for FireHouse and the legendary Keith Horne on bass. Keith and I also play round town in a power trio called Sportsbar Rockstar with Dean Berry on Guitar and Vox. KISS Army Argentina: Andre, once again, thanks a lot for your time. Can you please leave a message for KISS Army Argentina and for Argentine KISS fans? Andre LaBelle: Argentina!! I'm a KISS fan as well. If I hadn't hung their posters on my wall in my youth I might have continued racing dirt bikes and that would have turned out bad! lol. Hope to meet you all at a show soon. Grateful of your support. God Bless.

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