How Kiss Started it All

The first signs pointing to my future love for heavy metal began showing when I was a pre-teen girl in the seventh grade, living in my native land of Venezuela.

I have loved music since as long as I can remember. I also loved watching music videos so to keep abreast of the newest ones, I programmed my dad’s Betamax to record the daily video show at 11:30 a.m. aired in one of the four local TV channels. I’d come home from school every day straight to my parent’s bedroom to check on the day’s recording, and mom would be calling me to the table for lunch, annoyed that I still apparently didn’t understand the lunch routine.

Most of the videos shown were of popular songs of the day. But once in a while the video jockey, Musiuito, would play something completely out of whack and by doing so, he changed my musical life.

The video in question was Kiss’s “Love it Loud.” I had not heard a song that heavy before, with such force, and so rhythmic at the same time. The video began by showing a family quietly eating dinner in a nice suburban home. There was no music at this point. Suddenly a loud thud engulfed the home, it was the brutal bass drum pounding mercilessly, shaking the entire home, threatening to detach it from its foundation. The teenage son got up, walked to the TV, kneeled in front of it and the singer’s face – painted black and white – along with his long, red tongue covered the screen, his evil looking gaze connecting with the teenage boy’s eyes, and with mine.

I played the song intro over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of the initial drum sound followed by the almost religious mantra-chant “yeh-eh-eh-eh-yeah, ye-eh-eh-eh yeah” which pulled me further into the core of the hypnotic sound. Then I noticed the singer was playing an axe and for a minute I cringed, I was a little scared of these evil-looking old dudes. The video finale showed scores of teens walking toward the camera, eyes glowing, mesmerized by the calling. I felt like one of them.

As I replayed the video I increased the volume. The small TV speaker shrieked and the front panel of the TV shook and emitted a buzzing sound created by the panel door vibrating violently. I simply sat there frozen at the edge of the bed, eyes glued to the TV watching the Kiss guys do the thing they do best: kicking ass on stage, maneuvering their instruments amidst fire explosions and deafening sounds, all behind masked faces. A sudden feeling possessed my body. I felt that I wanted to be close to them. I wanted to befriend teens like the guy in the video. I wanted to be a part of whatever this was.

Soon after, either a neighbor or a schoolmate let me borrow the Kiss album Creatures of the Night; which contains the aforementioned song. Album in hand, I hurried home giddy from anticipation. Once in my room, I turned on the old three-in-one radio/cassette/LP player, opened the plastic lid, carefully removed the album from the cardboard cover and from its plastic sleeve, placed the LP on the turntable on side B, set the needle with surgical precision in the groove right before the first song, and cranked up the volume. I was about to experience “Love it Loud” through real sound speakers. I was so excited! My heart jumped at the first boom of the drumming. So I turned it up even more. I loved the how all the instruments blended together to create a concoction of sound, which mixed distortion, fire, mayhem, balls and awesomeness. I felt like I was the coolest kid on earth. The song faded out… but it didn’t go away. It faded back in again, the “yeh-eh-eh-eh-yeah” chant reappearing from the depths of hell to haunt my young ears.

I wanted to be on stage. I wanted to wear the singer’s boots and play an axe-shaped bass guitar. And I wanted to play music loud enough to make my parent’s coffee cups explode, just like in the video. I got stung.

Little did I know I had taken my first step into the “metaldom,” a heavy metal kingdom I would forever be a part of.