King Kobra has released one of the better “new” albums from the batch of classic metal bands throwing their hat into the ring in 2011. The album, self titled, rounds up the original Kobra guys and adds the amazing pipes of Paul Shortino to sweeten the deal. We talked to Johnny Rod and Mick Sweda about it as well as lead guitarist David Michael Phillips a.k.a. David Henzerling. David was heavily involved in the songwriting and production of the album so we wanted to get his take on the snake and who better??? He’s been in King Kobra since the beginning and has a lot of good stories to tell….read on…
LRI: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Obviously we’re here to talk about KING KOBRA but before we get there can you update us all as to what you’ve been up to in the massive hiatus that the Snake has been on? I know you raised a family and were recently playing in a band who’s name is deemed so offensive they can’t have a Facebook page….
David Henzerling: My kids love all my bands. They just aren’t allowed to talk about it at school (ha, ha). And just so you know – http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_16455573191
LRI: You had played in other bands like KEEL and ICON but are linked forever with Carmine Appice in the sense that you two have been there every step of the way with King Kobra. Was there any hesitation on your part to joining KK or was it a “Hell Yeah I’m in” moment for you? He already had a deal secured right?
DH: There was no deal when we first started talking about the KK album. Carmine and I have always been friends throughout the years, but I was never that interested in doing a reunion unless most or all the original members were going to participate. I guess the planets finally lined up.
LRI: I just dug out the vinyl of “Ready To Strike” and cranked it after talking to Johnny the other day. Dear god does “Shadow Rider” rock……Was that the first major experience in the studio for most of you guys? Was it everything you dreamed of…Was it recorded on Jack Daniels, Krell and Wild Women like Motley claims “Shout ” was???
DH: I had the music for Shadow Rider back when I was still playing in local Arizona bands in the early 80’s. We changed the title and added new lyrics. It wasn’t my first time in the studio.
LRI: You came out in an era post Metal Health were you had a suddenly bubbling scene of fairly new metal bands. The album was solid and you got some really great tours. Johnny indicated that there was a world of difference between selling the band via videos and records and actually showing off live. Is that slightly ironic since you weren’t a live band prior to getting into the studio?
LRI: Did you enjoy the Iron Maiden or the KISS tours in particular??? I’m a huge KISS fan and asked Bruce so I have to ask you…Were they completely different crowds and was the KK show different to reflect the band you were supporting?
LRI: I have issues with the second album but love “III”. What do you personally remember about listening to the final mix of the “Thrill of a Lifetime” album or even dropping the needle on your own copy of it when it was pressed?
LRI: Did you feel vindicated or reborn with the third album? I would think that any live show the new band does would be well advised to not overlook some of the material on that album. “Take it Off” and “#1″ are some of the very best material of your career and the album was criminally overlooked.
DH: Most of III was only myself and Carmine, so I take some pride in that record. The guys from Northrup came in and augmented what we had already recorded. Johnny Edwards sang great on that one.
LRI: What are your thoughts on some of the other releases that have been stamped out in the last decade like the “Rare”, the previous Reunion or the “Kollection” albums. Is “Ready to Strike” still in print?
DH: I was only involved in the first three albums (plus some of the out-takes Carmine put on some of the later anthologies).
LRI: The new album is simply titled KING KOBRA which makes sense on several levels. It is a rebirth of the band with all original members supplemented by a singer that would have fit nicely with you guys to begin with, the amazing Paul Shortino. It is the best album the band has ever made with all due respect to “Ready to Strike” and Paul plays a big part in the snake “shedding it’s skin” and moving on. Have you heard him do the old stuff yet and when can we expect to at least see a one off gig on youtube or a Monsters of Rock Cruise??????
DH: We wait with bated breath…
LRI: I have not read one bad review of the 2011 King Kobra. It sounds like you guys are getting together for a old fashioned barbeque with a bunch of lifetime friends and jamming on some old chestnuts. Carmine let it slip that it was actually recorded over time and many miles and done mostly via internet. Whatever the case….it worked. Did you guys realize you were doing something special while you were knee deep in this project? If none of you 5 record another note it will still stand as a really great record and a career highlight.
DH: Thanks. We had fun and that’s all that counts. I make music for others to enjoy, so I hope this album can be the soundtrack for someone’s summer vacation.
LRI: Not many people mention the track, “Fade Away” but to me it is proof that there really isn’t any filler on the album….Who came to the band with that song and how did you guys end up deciding how the album would be sequenced? For an album that is extra throaty and heavy it is the perfect ending.
DH: I came up with the title, chords, structure and chorus melody/lyrics. Paul wrote the verse lyrics and melody. We’re a great writing team and he sang the crap out of that song.
LRI: Many of you guys have had side projects, other jobs, studios to run…etc…Having said that, you ALL sound like you have a friggin point to prove to the rock collective with this album. The singing, shredding guitars and legendary rythym section seem to be threatening to kick some young whippersnapper ass. Did you guys go into it with a teeny tiney chip on your shoulder? Is that a good thing to have when recording?
DH: At this point, we just do what we do. No attitude, no chips-on-the-shoulder. Just old-school rock.
LRI: Some of the sticking point with people’s misconceptions about the band go deeper than the Mark/Marcie thing or the Blond hair or whatever. There was always the hanging theory that it was the Carmine show and this album seems to correct a great deal of that. Perhaps the best thing about Paul joining is the shot in the arm it seems to have given you Johnny and Mick. No slight against Carmine or Mark Free but it truly sounds like an all-star affair this time out. Are you three happy with the way the guitars ended up sounding on this album?
DH: I think Mick and I sound like we sound regardless of instrument or recording technique. We each have a personal style that shows prominently on this album. It’s been a pleasure playing with Mick again.
LRI: There are a hell of a lot of leads on the album between you and Mr. Sweda. Tis a dumb question but is it easy for you to recreate live? Can you listen to it and tell who is playing what without trouble?
DH: Sure, we can play all that stuff. No studio trickery here…
LRI: Many of us have seen the kickass video footage of KK at the record signing at Camelot Records which is popular on YOUTUBE. Did most of those events go as well as that one and as a computer engineer do you love or hate the internet for the fact that clips like that can live forever? ( There is also some great live footage from Acupulco..)
DH: I love the Internet and I love this day-and-age for music. If it wasn’t for technology, we never would have been able to do thisrecord.
LRI: Thanks for sticking it out this long Dave…you’re off the hook…. any web sites, Twitters to plug, any final words to those of us still following the reptile since seeing a young David Michael Phillips onstage at Legendary Alpine Valley, Wisconsin a half million moons ago?????