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: Tod Howarth

(by Mike Lomlomdjian / kissteria.wordpress.com, November 2009)

The Spanish version of the interview can be read
clicking here .

Mike : What can you tell me about your up coming album. 
Are you recording all the tracks by yourself? How do you describe the sound of the songs?

Tod : Yes, this new solo CD that I'm doing is just that - completely all me. I'm playing the guitars, drums, bass, keys, vocals. The only other person doing anything is my youngest daughter Tara, of whom sings an 'answer' part in one song called 'Tell me'. My son Tommy is doing the artwork at this very moment too. The sound of the songs are not too polished really, I let a lot of things go to make it sound more band like. It compares with maybe a little bit of Cobalt Parlor but not so down! the drums are more live, ambient like too.

Mike : You play several instruments and you are a singer, too. I would like to know what vibe do you get from all those different instruments and where do you feel more comfortable on stage?

Tod : The vibe that I get from each instrument is so very different - good question. While recording I try not to overplay any of the instruments but I tend to do so with the drums! That's the hardest part in dealing with... to imagine the song dynamics while I track the basics off a click track and scratch guitar. Bass guitar is so very fun but I have to strengthen up the hands to record over and over... and then there's the 12 bass! Singing, I am in a different world, all by myself when I'm doing it. Love it. Guitar playing is just too fun really but planning the leads is tough as I see them as melodies, and I am fickle.
I like singing and playing guitar on stage best. I have played keyboards for many years of course but I'm stuck in one area on stage... boring. Again there I can get lost in the sounds when I wish but not so much with this CD.

Mike : Many people know your work from your years with Ace. Are you in touch with Ace or other members of Frehley's Comet?

Tod : I have not talked to Ace in years. He has been busy of course and we went our separate ways musically for now. I see John Regan every now and then when he comes through town with Peter Frampton - great man! I haven't spoken with Anton Fig in many years either, Jamie Oldaker I saw at a Kiss convention with John and me but that was some years back.

Mike : What do you think about Anomaly and the "new" Ace?
Tod : I have not heard Anomaly as of yet. I have been so very busy with my own stuff that I've barely had time to enjoy any body else's tunes. I will though very soon, along with Kiss' new CD. The new Ace? Besides the look - which is way cool, I haven't heard about the "new" him either!

Mike : How is your relationship with Kiss fans? How was your experience regarding the Kiss conventions?

Tod : Kiss fans generally like/liked me back then and I them. There were the die-hard fans that didn't care for me as they saw me as not rock enough - which is odd to me. The Kiss conventions were a lot of fun. I enjoyed them and talking to the fans, and I may do more after I get this CD done.

Mike : You have recently recorded a brand new acoustic version of Time ain't runnin' out and it was pretty cool, by the way. How was the experience for you? What other songs from Frehley's Comet would you like to record again?

Tod : Re-recording 'Time Ain't Runnin Out' was so very fun. It really took me back. I did drift off into many memories while playing and singing it acoustically. I would have liked to have taken more time on it to really do a different version but I was under a time limit. I may do 'It's Over Now' or 'Something Moved' but I've got to get this CD done first!

Mike : How did you get to be part of that band and how was your first encounter with Ace?

Tod : I got into the Comet because of John Regan. He was with John Waite and I with Cheap Trick way back in 1986 and he noticed that I had some talent that might be good for the then 'building' Comet. To change it from a five piece band to four was a better split and influence for Ace at the time. The first encounter with Ace was great, but it took him two times and some song submissions to hear what I had to offer.

Mike : Have you been a Kiss fan being a young man?

Tod : When I was young I did not get into Kiss or the music really... They had some great tunes but I was into other types of music. I did think that they were brilliant in the way that they marketed the band. Ground breaking.

Mike : Do you have any story with any Kiss members, like Eric Carr who co-wrote Breakout?

Tod : I met Eric Carr only once and that's when I was with Cheap Trick. A great drummer and guy. I had met Gene back in 1980 when the band that I was with auditioned for his then girlfriend Diana Ross' band - we were to open up for her in Los Angeles - and he remembered me all those years later, but I had run into him many times in my Cheap Trick years as well.

Mike : What do you remember from the three albums that you recorded with Ace? 
How was Ace's approach to perform Kiss classics alive?

Tod : The 3 albums that I did with Ace were so much great fun, an I will always treasure the time that I had with the Comet. The first one I had jumped into while it was being recorded and got to contribute on hell of a lot. The Live Album was just that, live fun with John, Ace and Anton Fig, damn what a great drummer. We did not 'doctor' up that album much as many bands had done back then. Second Sighting was a great opportunity for me and I cherish it so very much. Ace was very generous with letting me do my own leads and many songs. Too bad that some fans thought I was trying to make it my solo CD but that was just not the case.
We approached the classic Kiss songs around Ace's performance of them I think, we tried not to fuck them up for the fans because I don't think they wanted that. It was fun, I actually enjoyed Kiss more in my later years!

Mike : I remember being a teenager and reading the news about the show where Gene and Paul joined Frehley's Comet in New York. I was so excited and I know itís been a while but I would love to ask you this. What do you remember from that show? Was a thing that came out at the last minute or there was any rehearsal?

Tod : The Comet show at the Limelight in New York was by far the most spectacular 'surprise' that we ever did. No there was no rehearsal for it because it wasn't needed really. Kiss was rehearsing at SIR in New York and so was the Comet at the same time! The idea came from Gene I believe but it could have been many people in that mix! You know I don't even remember the songs that we played with them... It had to be 'Cold Gin' and 'Shock Me' and 'Rocket Ride' wow... I'd really have to think about that one! Hah! The audience and press LOVED it... The after party was sweet too, filled with hot women and plenty of drinks... Good times.

(Note: the song that Frehley's Comet played along with Gene and Paul was Deuce)

Mike : How do you describe your life in the rock and roll business?

Tod : The rock and roll business is a tough one, easier for some who don't have to try too hard because they are young, or the new flavor or have major bucks behind them... Whatever but when an artist, as I have had to do, has to bust their ass to get from one band to another - and then try to survive between gigs, tours WITH a family, man... It chews you up and spits you out quickly because there's always someone else out there to take your place. The best thing I have from my music is experiences, creations, memories and friendships because the money (for some of us) wasn't that good and didn't last that long. Yes I know hard to believe but I did not make millions by any stretch, therefore I did not spend a stupid amount of cash on senseless crap or drugs. The best thing I got out of it really was fans appreciation of what I put onto vinyl, CDs for their listening pleasure and it just warms my heart to hear them tell me that even after all these years tunes like 'It's Over Now' still gives them chills... Way freaking sweet.

Mike : Do you have any message to your fans in South America?

Tod : To my fans in South America, I cannot tell you how much that I appreciate you for being there for me all these years. It is an honor to have you listen to my songs, write to me, and wait for the new tunes to come and for that I am YOUR fan, and hope to tour there to bring some more 'ear candy' in the form of Tod Howarth melodic rock. Thank you so very much.

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