INTERVIEW WITH KICKIN VALENTINA FRONTMAN D.K. REVELLE
Date: March 8, 2022
Interviewer: Jeff Onorato
Photos: Jeff Onorato
KICKIN VALENTINA CONSIST OF LEAD VOCALIST D.K. REVELLE, GUITARIST HEBER PAMPILLON, BASSIST CHRIS TAYLOR AND DRUMMER JIMMY BERDINE. REVELLE IS BASED IN CALIFORNIA WHILE THE REMAINING BAND MEMBERS ARE BASED IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. TOGETHER, THEY RELEASED ONE OF THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2021 — ‘THE REVENGE OF ROCK‘ — WHICH FINISHED AT #2 ON THE SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2021. IT ALSO FINISHED AT #1 ON TWO OF THE SLEAZE ROXX CREW MEMBERS’ TOP FIVE ALBUMS OF 2021 INCLUDING MY OWN! I CAUGHT UP WITH D.K. REVELLE TO CHAT ABOUT ‘THE REVENGE OF ROCK’ AND A LOT MORE! JEFF ONORATO
Sleaze Roxx: D.K., I appreciate you doing this interview. Kickin Valentina seem to be still going strong off the momentum of ‘The Revenge of Rock’ which came out in January of 2021. With this being your first full-length studio release with the band, it must be gratifying that the album has garnered such stellar reviews.
D.K.Revelle: Yes! We’re all stoked with all the killer reviews, comments and such. The fans / our K.V. Mob have really taken to our latest “disaster-piece”, ‘The Revenge of Rock’, as new rock n’ roll scripture and they sing it back to us loud and proud every time we hit the stage. We fuckin’ love it!
Sleaze Roxx: One of the things that I love about the album is that not only are the songs memorable, but they all sound unique and have their own thing going on. It’s not just a bunch of songs that all sound the same. Was this a conscious effort that the band made while it was being written or did it just happen that way with everyone in the band contributing to the writing of the material?
D.K. Revelle: Those were the jams [the new album] we were writing and developing at the time. We can write songs in minutes when we’re in the zone. Our process these days, since I live In California and can’t jam with my dudes regularly — they jam ideas at rehearsal in Atlanta, record them on the phone, send them to me via text. I listen — if it strikes me, I grab my notebook and phone recorder and record melodies and lyrics when they start to flow and BAM! The tune is written in an hour, give or take. I write my stuff quick when I’m in the zone. And If I’m not feeling it, I’ll sit on it, move on to next idea, listen back later with a different ear. Maybe hear it differently and get inspired. You just never know.
Sleaze Roxx: Each member of the band seems to have their own style and influences that they bring to the table in the songs, and it all works. Is it a “perfect storm” as far as the creative process goes with all of those components meshing together so well?
D.K. Revelle: Yeah… and it’s an absolute “loud, loose, in your face, real deal, straight-shooting, no bullshit rock n’ roll vibe” that just seems to work for us. It’s our charm [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: “Heart Tattoo” is, in my opinion, one of the best tracks on the album. The melodies and hooks are infectious. I’ve said to various people over the last year that if this song made it onto mainstream radio, it would be a huge hit for the band. This song actually dates back to your Beautifully Demolished band. Is it true that you wrote the song for your wife?
D.K. Revelle: Yes, I did. I wrote it when we first started dating. It’s how I viewed her. I actually wrote that song in 2003. I had recently moved back to California from a year of living in New York and New Jersey. I had about eight to nine new songs that I wrote, but no band. So, I went and recorded all the songs that would be the ‘Beautifully Demolished’ EP. I recorded all of the vocals, guitar and bass myself and at that time my friend [Hericane Alice drummer] Jackie Ramos and I were trying to put something together in Hollywood. So, he drummed for me on the EP.
Sleaze Roxx: Demon Doll Records [now The DDR Music Group] reissued the ‘Beautifully Demolished’ EP a few years back, and CD copies now fetch as much as $60.00 online. Did you expect that there would be such high demand for the release when you licensed it to Demon Doll Records?
D.K. Revelle: Oh no — not at all [laughs]! Funny enough, I still do autograph those CDs for fans every now and again. And thanks to those who supported the EP! But yeah, I did have a little cult following still out there from my days in my Hollywood band Beggars Ball and later, my time in Jetboy. I do have a lot of killer new “arena rock” material I’ve been demoing for another to be determined record, so stay posted! And again, thanks Maniacs. Y’all rock!
Sleaze Roxx: Back to Kickin Valentina and the ‘Revenge’ record, I also love that the band has a heavier, in-your-face side with songs like “War” and “The Revenge of Rock.” Those two songs are personal favorites of mine on the LP. They also go over extremely well at live shows. Were they written with that intention in mind or did the band just add them into the set and they took on a life of their own?
D.K. Revelle: Again, my guys [Kickin Valentina band members] send me song ideas. “War” and “The Revenge of Rock” — I really liked those riffs / ideas and wanted to get loud and just sink my teeth into them, you know? Let it rip! I do subconsciously write for the “live experience” with “chants” and “shouts.” I have a lot of stage time performing over the years and I like to think I have good instinct / timing for live shows and a party vibe.
Kickin Valentina‘s “War” video:
Sleaze Roxx: What are some of your favorite songs from the album to perform live?
D.K. Revelle: I fuckin’ love them all but “Freakshow”, “Somebody New”, “Lookin For Me”, “Rat Race” and “The Revenge of Rock” are fun to deliver to a good, hungry crowd.
Sleaze Roxx: You’re also a guitarist. Any chance we might hear you play rhythm guitar at a Kickin Valentina show or do you just leave that to Heber?
D.K. Revelle: Ah…. you just never know. We wait with bated breath [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: ‘The Revenge of Rock’ was recorded and released in the thick of the pandemic. Did that make it difficult to collaborate on the writing or did you work on material remotely and knock out the recording as you were able to reconvene with the rest of the guys for actual production?
D.K. Revelle: Yeah. We never stopped the K.V. machine! Again, we would send ideas via the internet, and I’d fly out to the K.V. headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We would jam the ideas, tighten up the tunes then go to the studio and record/demo ideas. Then send them off to the label to get green-lighted, then schedule recording time to knock out the entire album with our pal and fifth Beatle — producer / engineer Andy Reilly [UFO, Bruce Dickinson, Cradle of Filth, etc.] — at Muse Productions in a very remote location in Newborn, Georgia. The band would go record their parts on scheduled dates, as they are only about an hour away from the studio. And when they were finished, I would fly into Atlanta and go solo, straight to the studio to live and record every day with Andy for two weeks and get all the vocals done. We worked hard and at night, we would go terrorize the only two bars in town and neither one had liquor! I told you, this town is two blocks long. So, I would buy some booze from a little store and put it in a flask and take shots! And when they would have karaoke nights, we’d get drunk and sing and have people buying us drinks all night. Oh Lord, the fun times in good ol’ Newborn. Can’t wait to go back! Anywho… We always got up the next day and delivered high-spirited, banging, kick ass tracks!
Sleaze Roxx: You’re based out of California while the rest of the band resides in Atlanta. Does that distance make it difficult to work on new material or has technology eased that distance in that the band can send things back and forth electronically? Some artists are not a fan of that process as it removes the organic chemistry of the band all working in the same room.
D.K. Revelle: Well, like I’ve been saying… We can do both ways via the internet, sharing ideas, etc., or strike up a riff in the band room and write a killer jam or two a session. I really guess it works because we have real good chemistry, and everyone knows their role and position in this band and gives it 101% when it’s “go time”!
Sleaze Roxx: Kickin Valentina are about to embark on a tour of Europe starting May 6th in Helsingborg, Sweden. I know that the band has a rabid fanbase in Europe and these dates abroad are long overdue. What are some of your favorite cities to play in across the pond?
D.K. Revelle: Well Hallelujah! It does look like we’re gonna get to invade Europe this summer! And we are stoked to finally deliver these songs loud and proud to our fans overseas. Dude, we love all of Europe! So far, our favorites and highlights of previous K.V. tours have been the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany, Rockin’ Denmark, and the Call of The Wild Festival in the U.K., and really just all the club gigs too! The first leg of the tour, we’re going in May to conquer 18 shows and nine countries. There’s a lot of new K.V. Mobsters awaiting the unapologetic rock n’ roll party and we’re primed and ready to deliver the goods. Can’t wait! Then, we go back in August for a second tour of U.K. festivals and club dates and our very first time headlining a festival — The Rock Witch Festival — in the U.K.. Gonna be insane!
Sleaze Roxx: This will be the first time that the band has played overseas since the release of the record. In light of that, I’m sure the turnout for the shows will be incredible. How has the reaction been to the new album in other countries?
D.K. Revelle: Album reviews for our new album ‘The Revenge of Rock’ have been outstanding and we’re incredibly stoked to be in such great company with some of the best these days. We’re truly thankful and humbled.
Sleaze Roxx: Since you guys have been working on new material recently, is there any chance that European audiences might be treated to a new song or two?
D.K. Revelle: Hmmmm…. I could see us messing around with the idea [soundcheck, etc.]. I don’t know. I guess we’ll see [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Your tour of Europe tentatively wraps up on May 29th in Switzerland. Are there any plans for more shows in the States this summer or will K.V. be focusing entirely on new music at that point? It seems like the bulk of your U.S. touring has focused on the east coast and Southern states.
D.K. Revelle: We will always gig if it makes sense. We are really trying to get to the Midwest and West Coast this year — seriously. And we’re ready to start focusing on the new album. I’m not really sure. We’ll have to see. Stay posted.
Sleaze Roxx: Kickin Valentina are known for putting on fantastic live shows and the debauchery that ensues. Is there any chance of a concert DVD/Blu Ray in the future?
D.K. Revelle: Yeah, that would be dope. I’m gonna document this whole tour. Maybe we can edit some stuff together and release it!
Sleaze Roxx: Prior to joining Kickin Valentina, you had been around in the music industry for quite some time. Some fans may not know this, but you fronted Jetboy at one point and sang on their ‘Off Your Rocker‘ EP. What was that experience like?
D.K. Revelle: I did front Jetboy through their very first European tour in 2010. I did not ever record anything official with the band, although we did go into the studio and recorded a couple of songs that me and Billy Rowe had written together. They just never saw the light of day. We did perform them live at the M3 [Rock] Festival in 2011. The songs were called “Stripped Down” and “Little Miss Sin Eater.” They were very cool and catchy!
Jetboy performing “Feel The Shake” live at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA in May 2011 (video from M Marr‘s YouTube page):
Sleaze Roxx: Having already joined and toured with an already-established band [Jetboy], were you more acclimated to the trials, tribulations, and rigours that a new frontman often faces when replacing a member of a band? From a fan’s standpoint, your inclusion into the K.V. fold was pretty seamless, and the fans have welcomed you with open arms….
D.K. Revelle: Yeah, I’ve been in the music biz for 35 years now. Over my career, I’ve rarely joined bands. I’ve always been the one to form my vision of a band, usually name the band and write the majority of the music. K.V. is the exception for me. I’m getting to be a part of a well-oiled machine with like-minded, serious, hungry mofos that allow me to put my writing and stage experience in motion. It’s just perfect. I’ve won some, lost some, been to the dance, left the dance, had a deal, lost a deal. You know? It’s a lot of hard life lessons and experiences and shit that most “musicians” just don’t have the thick skin for. I’m a stubborn, one track minded, rock n’ roll prophet still preaching the gospel. I’ve got a lot of experience being creative, solving issues and chasing my dreams. And shit, over time I found out I have a real knack for it [laughs]! Patience and perseverance are all I can prescribe. The magical music business of yesteryear is gone. It’s a real loooong shot to make a living making music these days, but like the great Bon Scott once said, “It’s a long way to the top if ya wanna rock n’ roll.” And I figure, “Fuck it. It’s too late to turn back now!” Ha.
Sleaze Roxx: I think that Kickin Valentina would be the perfect addition to the M3 [Rock] Festival in Maryland and it would introduce the band to a legion of new fans. You’ve actually performed at the M3 Festival before [with Jetboy]. As an entertainer, is it worthwhile to travel all of the way from the west coast only to play a short set and then turn around and travel back? I know that a lot of the bands that perform at M3 do so as a “fly date” and come in for just that one show.
D.K. Revelle: Oh, hell yeah. K.V. just needs a shot at M3. That’s all we need — a 45-minute set. They won’t be disappointed. One shot, that’s all. Let us show M3 what the buzz is all about… The rest will be history.
Sleaze Roxx: Coming up in the L.A. scene, how do you think things compare now to when you were getting your start in the business? A lot of the legendary clubs are still standing, but it seems that the scene has moved away from Los Angeles and it isn’t the hotbed that it once was for up-and-coming rock n’ roll.
D.K. Revelle: I caught the tail-end of the scene. And boy, did I fuckin’ live it out! Wheeeeeeew!! Maybe someday I’ll write a book and tell ya’ll the insanely true Hollywood stories of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll debauchery that lasted over a decade for me in the City of Angels.
Sleaze Roxx: I grew up reading Metal Sludge and tuned in every Tuesday for their “20 questions with…”. This next series of questions is an homage to Metal Sludge, if you will. We’ll call it “The last of D.K.”!
Last album you bought –A British band called Massive Wagons. I’ve been really into European bands lately.
Last movie you saw — ‘Spider Man: No Way Home.’ I’m a huge comic / sci-fi nerd since birth!
Last hotel room you trashed — Why? Someone call [laughs]?
Last comic book that you bought — I just purchased a vintage collection of “Howard the Duck” comics.
Last concert you attended — Mine… Ha! Haven’t been to a good concert in a while.
Last book that you read — Steven Adler’s ‘My Appetite For Destruction.’
Last band on earth that you would ever listen to — Hmmm…. I don’t know. I’m pretty open to anything. Especially if I’m smoking a doobie.
Last band t-shirt that you wore in public — Alice Cooper.
Last band that you would ever expect to still be touring and making music — Foo Fighters… Thought it was a late ’90s thing but still going strong. More power to them.
Last tattoo that you got — The K.V. mascot Skully [skull]. Got it on the back of my arm one afternoon in Georgia before a show.
Last time you got into a brawl — Not too long ago. Ha! Been known to scrap.
Last song that you heard on the radio that you thought sucked — Oh boy. I’m sure there has been some. I don’t really listen to the radio. I’m usually writing music, or I put on my old favorites and get inspired. Very rarely do I get inspired by something new, but it does happen!
Sleaze Roxx: Who are same of your all-time favorite frontmen / vocalists that made you want to become a lead singer in a rock n’ roll band?
D.K. Revelle: Ah Shit…my frontman / vocalist favorites… Paul Stanley, Diamond Dave, Steven Tyler, Bon Scott, Sebastian Bach, Jani Lane, Jon Bon Jovi, etc. I like a frontman who connects and entertains!
Sleaze Roxx: I hear a lot of people say that there isn’t any great new music and I often think “you’re not looking hard enough.” 2021 saw the release of a plethora of fantastic rock records. What were some of your favorite musical releases of the last year?
D.K. Revelle: Like I said, I’ve really been into European bands. I like new… Massive Wagons, Hardcore Superstar, Thundermother, Eclipse, Johnny Lima, The New Roses, etc…
Sleaze Roxx: Other than the upcoming tour of Europe, what does 2022 look like for Kickin Valentina?
D.K. Revelle: Busy, busy, busy!
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks again for taking the time to do this D.K.! Anything that you would like to say to all of the Maniacs out there?
D.K. Revelle: I love you all! Thank you for all the crazy, mad, unconditional gangsta love and support for myself and Kickin Valentina! We can’t wait to see you on tour and beyond! Spread the word! Stay safe, healthy and rockin’!
Kickin Valentina‘s “Somebody New” video: