INTERVIEW WITH KICKIN VALENTINA BASSIST CHRIS TAYLOR AND GUITARIST HEBER PAMPILLON
Date: July 14, 2018
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (photos 3, 5 and 7)
YOU’VE LIKELY HEARD THAT THERE ARE ALWAYS AT LEAST TWO SIDES TO A STORY. FOLLOWING KICKIN VALENTINA’S ABRUPT PARTING OF WAYS WITH LEAD VOCALIST JOE EDWARDS EARLIER THIS WEEK, SLEAZE ROXX INTERVIEWED EDWARDS TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE. NOW, TWO OF THE THREE REMAINING KICKIN VALENTINA BAND MEMBERS — BASSIST CHRIS TAYLOR AND GUITARIST HEBER PAMPILLON — GIVE THE GROUP’S SIDE OF THINGS AND TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE INCLUDING WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR IN THEIR NEXT SINGER.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s been a crazy and eventful week for Kickin Valentina. I assume that you had the chance to read Joe’s recent interview with Sleaze Roxx where he essentially shouldered the blame for what happened. Take me through what happened this week that led to the both of you along with Jimmy deciding to forge ahead without Joe in Kickin Valentina.
Chris Taylor: This week has been crazy, and yes, we did read it. First, we wanna say that we wish Joe nothing but happiness and success in whatever he does in life, and we wish no ill will to him. We never have, and he knows that. The interview was polar opposite from what we were getting a couple days earlier, and from what he originally posted about it. There is a key point completely being left out of his story. We got together last Tuesday night [July 3, 2018] to rehearse for the upcoming shows, and afterwards discussed with him standing right there that we would get together again on Thursday… and this was also talked about in a group e-mail prior to Tuesday’s rehearsal, which he acknowledged. So everyone knew what the week’s schedule was going to be.
Well, on Wednesday, Joe flies to Chicago and doesn’t feel the need to tell anyone. Once we found out, of course we were not happy. He knew Tuesday night, as we were discussing rehearsal for Thursday, that he wouldn’t be there. He just didn’t have the courtesy to tell us. There were a few messages sent back and forth early Thursday, and then he proceeded to ignore all communication until Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, I thought everything was smoothed over enough and we were still good to go. Monday night, sometime between 9:00-10:00 pm, we get an e-mail saying he wasn’t going to go because he “had to work.” If he went, it would affect his company and his son etc etc etc, and we were basically being told we were selfish assholes. Meanwhile, he had just spent five days in Chicago not working. Said he wasn’t “quitting” so if we wanted him gone, we’d have to “fire” him. You see what he did there? If you can put logic to that, please explain it to me because I can’t.
Sleaze Roxx: That does explain even more why you guys were very unhappy with what happened, Now, Joe mentioned that he thought that there were issues between him and the rest of the band members for about six months. He also mentioned feeling that you didn’t know what type of man that he was. Finally, he mentioned that the both of you and Jimmy were often on the same page but he often wasn’t but would not voice his concerns. What are your thoughts in that regard, what were the “issues” with Joe and when did they start?
Chris Taylor: The issues have been going on way longer than that. We have done everything we could to work with him and fix them. We’ve had many heart to heart conversations about things. Yes, Joe is very different than the three of us, and that’s OK. He is extremely introverted… even with us. We are OK with that to a degree. We’ve tried to let him do things his way because we know he’s not a social butterfly. As far as specific issues go, I’m not gonna be a complete dick and throw him under the bus. What he pulled last week has happened to us several times, but he would always ultimately show up to the gig. We never thought he would make us cancel something like this. This wasn’t like we were canceling a local or regional gig.
Sleaze Roxx: One significant issue with any band trying to break through these days is finances. It costs a lot of money to record, tour and market a band and it can be hard for anyone to maintain a full-time job when you’re expected to go on tour for a couple of weeks time and time again throughout the year. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that this was Joe’s undoing at the end. What are your thoughts in that regard?
Chris Taylor: Let’s put things into perspective. We aren’t a full-time touring band, and we don’t go on extended tours often at all. You can look at our tour schedule and see we are selective about our shows. As far as his company goes, all I will say is if he wanted to go sit in Chicago for two to three weeks at a time he would, and often did. Do with that what you want.
Heber Pampillon: Shows are not booked overnight, and our touring schedule is not grueling. Chris and I both have wife and kids. There is nothing in this band that is not discussed months in advance before everyone agrees to do it. We have always agreed that family commitments come first, and have often not booked shows because of them. There have been some family things missed, but that was something personally agreed upon between us and our spouses. We don’t just say yes to things then cancel them the day before after committing to them.
Sleaze Roxx: Interestingly, Joe advised that he would be willing to come back as lead vocalist. Is that something that you guys would consider or is the door closed, and why?
Chris Taylor: I can’t imagine that ever happening. To be honest, I play music because I love it. I am extremely grateful to be doing this, and to have fans that embrace what we do. To have someone make this experience miserable for me is not appealing.
Heber Pampillon: At the moment, that thought has not even crossed my mind. The last few years have not been fun at all dealing with drama. Maybe in about 25 years, we can think about a reunion [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Replacing Joe in Kickin Valentina appears to be a tall order as he has a very distinctive voice and stage presence. You’ve mentioned that you are looking for specific things sound, image and personality wise from your new singer. What exactly are you looking for and are you looking to find someone with similar attributes to what Joe offered?
Chris Taylor: Yes it will be. I’ve seen people going on and on about how “the band won’t be the same” and “it’s our loss”, well you haven’t walked in our shoes. I’m not sacrificing my happiness to please someone else. We don’t want a clone of Joe, but we want someone that has the energy, rasp and vocal power that he has. As far as personality, we want someone that we can enjoy hanging out with, knows how to bust balls, and has a sense of humor.
Heber Pampillon: Yeah, it’s never easy to replace a member. Joe does have a great voice and I wish him luck with whatever he decides to do in life. But, we are looking for someone we can have communication with and be a part gang if you will. As far as the music is concerned, we are going to continue writing the same style we always have.
Sleaze Roxx: Well, that is great news in terms of the music that is to come! Thankfully, you have been able to already find a temporary replacement singer in Joe Flynt to handle the lead vocals going forward. How do you guys know Joe?
Chris Taylor: I think I’ve known him for almost 15 years, and our bands have played together many times.
Heber Pampillon: I haven’t known Joe Flynt as long as Chris has, but we’ve done many shows together. The dude’s just a class act for stepping in and helping so we don’t have to cancel more shows. Because canceling shows is something we don’t do. That’s not cool to us.
[Interviewer’s note: Kickin Valentina’s next scheduled show is at The Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood, Ohio, USA on Thursday, August 2, 2018.]
Sleaze Roxx: Will Joe be in the running for the permanent singer position, and if not, why not?
Chris Taylor: As of right now it’s just temporary. We love Joe, but he’s happy doing what he’s doing now.
Heber Pampillon: Right now, he’s just filling in and we’re happy that’s he’s able to do that. Conversations haven’t really gone any further than that.
Sleaze Roxx: Considering how fast that you were able to announce that Joe Flynt would be handling the lead vocals on a temporary basis, why didn’t you guys play the three Germany shows including the Bang Your Head Festival with Mr. Flynt or another replacement? What happened in that regard?
Chris Taylor: Because we found out late Monday night [July 9, 2018] he [Joe Edwards] wasn’t going, and our flight was at 6:00 pm on Tuesday [July 10, 2018]. Our Bang Your Head set was 45 minutes, and the other shows were 90 minutes. It’s not possible for anyone to learn that much material in a day.
Heber Pampillon: There was no way that was gonna be possible. You can’t ask anyone to learn that much material that fast.
Sleaze Roxx: Chris — I had approached you about doing an interview on July 10th and prior to contacting Joe [Edwards] but you declined at that time. Kickin Valentina had also made an announcement that you would not comment publicly past what was indicated. What changed your mind in that regard?
Chris Taylor: When you contacted me, I was honestly still really pissed. I didn’t want to do an interview and say something I would regret. Regardless of everything, I don’t want to disrespect Joe, but the things I’ve seen being said simply aren’t true. This had zero to do with him taking time off from his job. If it did, he wouldn’t have spent most of the previous week out of town…. not working.
Sleaze Roxx: Putting aside the difficulties with Joe and what led to him being out of the band, you guys had a great run together with some great albums. What did Joe bring to the table for Kickin Valentina and looking back, what are your best memories of him during your run together in the band?
Chris Taylor: I’ve said this to him many times, I think Joe is one of the best singers I’ve ever been in a band with. He’s a talented guy. It really sucks that it’s over with him, and none of us are happy about that. We didn’t want this. Joe has a quirkiness about himself on stage, and sometimes in his vocal delivery that I loved. I thought it set him apart from other singers. In all my years of playing in bands, I have never had the opportunity to tour Europe. It was something that I got to do with him for the first time, and I’ll always remember that.
Heber Pampillon: Obviously the guy has a great voice. I enjoyed being on stage performing with everyone.
Sleaze Roxx: So given that this is Kickin Valentina’s first interview with Sleaze Roxx, I’d love if you’d take me through the history of the band. How did Kickin Valentina get started?
Heber Pampillon: As everyone knows, Jimmy and I originally started the band. Then we found Joe on a Craigslist ad. Jimmy knew Chris from around town and he brought him in. And the rest is history.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Well, I did not know that! How did you guys come up with the band name Kickin Valentina?
Chris Taylor: It’s named after a European fetish pornstar.
Sleaze Roxx: The band released two EPs before signing with Mighty Music/Target Group. How did you guys end up signing with a Danish label?
Chris Taylor: A Danish guy named Ken Anthony discovered the band, and really like us. He is friends with the owner of Mighty Music so he got us in touch with them.
Heber Pampillon: Ken heard us on an internet radio station and introduced us to our label, and we are two albums in, and will be working on a third one soon.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did Mighty Music/Target Group end re-releasing your two EPs in one full-length album rather than moving forward with an album full of new songs?
Chris Taylor: We had literally just released the ‘Super Atomic’ EP when the label wanted to sign us. The first EP was put out through an indie label here in Atlanta called Highway 9 Records and sold well considering. We thought the first EP had some good songs on it and wanted to re-release it on a bigger scale, so we just combined the two.
Heber Pampillon: Exactly. The label wanted to have music as soon as possible so it was just a no brainer to put songs from the first EP. We just remixed and remastered them.
Sleaze Roxx: Kickin Valentina have been touring in Europe for the last couple of years. A lot of people lament the state of rock n’ roll in North America while stating that Europe is a better market for rock n’ roll. What do you think in that regard and do you find any differences between the European and American audiences?
Chris Taylor: There are obviously exceptions to this, but I think in general Europeans respect the history of rock/metal more. They don’t dismiss older bands as “Oh, I liked that when I was a teenager. I’ve moved on from that,” and they don’t break shit down by subgenres as much as we do here. We get to play with bands there, that we never would over here.
Heber Pampillon: We enjoy being in front of people. It doesn’t matter where. We just enjoy performing for fans, it doesn’t matter if it’s here or over there.
Sleaze Roxx: I can sense that all of you have a great sense of pride with the band’s latest album ‘Imaginary Creatures.’ How do you feel that the album differentiates from the first two EPs?
Chris Taylor: I think ‘Imaginary’ is a great album. I think there was more time to write the songs and the production is more consistent.
Heber Pampillon: Yes we are very proud of ‘Imaginary’ just like we are of ‘Super Atomic.’ I think we took more time to write, produce and market the second album.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your favorite Kickin Valentina songs and why?
Chris Taylor: “Turns Me On,” “Alone” and “Get Ready.” All of them are fun to play live because the crowd loves to sing along with them.
Heber Pampillon: “Get Ready,” “Alone,” “Turns Me On” and “Devil’s Hand.” I think those are my favorites, but I like them all.
Kickin Valentina‘s “Turns Me On” video (from Imaginary Creatures album):
“Turns Me On” is taken from the album “Imaginary Creatures” out worldwide 11th of August 2017 on Mighty Music on LP, CD and digital (ex. Japan by Bickee Music). Video by: Brian MacCarthy and Kent Smith Order CD and LP here: targetshop.dk kickinvalentina.com mightymusic.dk targetgroup.dk
Kickin Valentina‘s “Alone” video (from Super Atomic EP):
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHANNEL*** New video and single from the album “Super Atomic” released on Mighty Music/Target Group. Video is a compilation of live and fan footage shot at various shows. CD is available at iTunes, Amazon and all other major download sites. iTunes https://itun.es/us/aYYo9 You can purchase physical copies at any of these links.
Kickin Valentina‘s “Get Ready” video (from Kickin Valentina EP):
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHANNEL* Official video for Get Ready from Kickin Valentina’s debut EP released on Highway 9 Records. CD available on iTunes and all major download sites. To get a physical copy, go to www.kickinvalentina.com www.facebook.com/kickinvalentina twitter.com/kickinvalentina
Sleaze Roxx: I know that ‘Imaginary Creatures’ was released almost exactly a year ago but do you have any timeline on when we can expect some new material from Kickin Valentina? Have you guys started writing songs already for the follow up record?
Chris Taylor: No idea when a new album will be released. We started writing after our last European tour. We have a bunch of music ideas already but we’ll see.
Heber Pampillon: We started messing around with ideas when we got back from Europe, but we’ve been writing a lot in the last couple months.
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s end things on a lighter note. For each of you, what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Chris Taylor: Warrior Soul’s ‘Spaceage Playboys,’ D Generation’s self-titled album and Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ My favorite bands are the ones that have a glammy/punk/hard rock vibe to them. These three albums are perfect from start to finish.
Heber Pampillon: KISS’ ‘Alive II,’ Badlands [self-titled debut album] and Whitesnake’s ‘Slide It In.’
Kickin Valentina‘s “Anita” video (from Kickin Valentina EP):
Track 4 from the Kickin Valentina EP released in October 2013. Full EP available at kickinvalentina.com and iTunes. Performance footage from KV live show at The Tavern in Durham, North Carolina on October 12th 2013. Filmed, directed, and edited by LyteWork Productions Presented by Randy Smith
Kickin Valentina‘s “Crazy” video (from Imaginary Creatures album):
“Crazy” is taken from the album “Imaginary Creatures” out now world wide on Mighty Music (ex. Japan by Bickee Music). Buy the LP and CD here www.targetshop.dk Video by: Jantz Banks https://vimeo.com/jantzbanksvideo www.kickinvalentina.com www.mightymusic.dk