You know, these are the things I look forward to. The things that make this labor of love worth it. I have been personally following Steve Whiteman for the majority of his musical career. For me it all started with the self titled debut album from Kix and has gone all the way from there to his most recent band Funny Money. I was afforded the opportunity to have a live chat with Steve to discuss a variety of things recently and took full advantage of it. I appreciate Steve being accommodating in this little venture and I hop that you, the readers find this little transcription of our chat not only fun, but informative. Any comments or questions can be sent to me via this link. Here we go....
Heavy Metal Resource: Hi Steve! Good to talk to you! I have a few questions I wanted to run by you involving both Kix and Funny Money.
Steve Whiteman: Hey, no problem, that is fine.
HMR: I wanted to start off by asking you to kind of introduce the band Funny Money. I'm sure there are many fans who are familiar with Kix, but there may be quite a few who haven't made the connection to Funny Money.
S.W.: About a year after Kix, I was just running around the area and just teaching and jamming once in a while. I ran into an old acquaintance who asked me what I was up to. I told him not much really. He said lets start a band together and the whole premise of the band was to have some fun and to make some money, so hence the name Funny Money. It's pretty much a mid-Atlantic regional act. You know, I've toured the world and really have no desire to do that anymore. I just go out and I'm enjoying it now. I'm writing songs and releasing them to whoever wants them through stores and distributors. No major labels have ever sniffed at my heels and I don't care about that either. I'm just out every weekend and I'm enjoying myself now.
HMR: I was checking out the bands bio and noticed that recently that Jimmy Chalfant (Kix) joined up with Funny Money.
S.W.: Yeah, Jimmy came over after the Kix reunion shows that we had over the holidays last year. It just created such a stir that I asked both Jimmy and Ronnie to come join me permanently. Brian lives in Los Angeles so that was impossible, but I thought get us 3 back together and we can write new stuff with Funny Money and play the Kix stuff. It would get 3 of us back together and I just thought it was a great idea, but Ronnie declined. He was happy doing his Blues Vultures and didn't wanna continue his career playing the Kix music and I respected that. Jimmy thought it over and said yeah, I think I would like to come and join you.
HMR: That kind of answered my next question as well. I was gonna ask you who you had kept in contact with from Kix.
S.W.: Yeah, Brian as well. Donnie is the only one who doesn't want anything to do with any of us.
HMR: Okay, 'Skin to Skin' is the bands third album. Talk about the natural progression of the band as a unit from album to album.
S.W.: It's progressed mainly because there has been changes in personnel. The first batch of boys I played with were really, really good, but I think they had started writing with me and it didn't pan out to something huge so they sort of got nonchalant about it. It's not just about showing up and making money. The band just sort of got stale. After they decided to part ways I got Mark Schenker and Rob Galpin. I had a couple of interim players that played with me for a year, but this band that I have now just truly loves to go out and play, write and record. It's as if I have a new found love for the band again.
HMR: I was looking from a sales standpoint on the first two albums and noticed that each had outdone the previous. How well has 'Skin to Skin' done comparatively?
S.W.: It's just about the same. The first Funny Money cd did really well because people were really curious, all the Kix fans. It had only been 3 years since the breakup of Kix so alot of people bought that one. It was recorded in our guitar players living room. We did it with 3 adats and no amplifiers, just all digital. That's actually the way we have done all of our records. We do 'em all in house. That's the way I like to do it. I've wasted thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in studios and I'm not doing that anymore, it's silly.
HMR: You really don't have to anymore with today's technology.
S.W.: No you don't. Actually I don't really count how many records we sell. It's probably between 4000-5000 for each release.
HMR: That's pretty respectable though considering you don't really have any major push coming from above.
S.W.: Yeah, you know I do it little by little. There are some places I supply in New York and Houston, Texas and regional stores around this area. I sell alot of them at shows. That's how we move 'em.
HMR: You know, I was curious about something. It is fairly well known with Kix that there were some very definite crowd favorites when the band played live. In particular I think of songs like 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah'. Have you managed with the new band to capture some of this magic with the crowd with Funny Money tunes?
S.W.: As far as the music we play live, it's about half and half. We give them some Kix music and force feed some Funny Money music. They respect the new music. As far as tunes that really get 'em, the title track 'Skin to Skin' seems to really work. We get a great reaction after that song and did from the first time we played it.
HMR: I think this next point is kind of important. If fans want to find the album, where would they be able to go to get it?
S.W.: On our website. It will point them to local stores or to the people that sell them for us. The website is located at www.funnymoneyband.com That's where we move probably the majority of the cd's is on that website.
HMR: Shifting gears a bit, I got to see Kix once. It was back in the 80's I believe with Ratt and Britny Fox. It sure seemed like you guys only got about 15 or 20 minutes that night to play. I was disappointed. I got through security about the time you took stage and it seemed that it was over pretty quick.
S.W.: Yeah, that is kind of the way it is when you are third on the bill. We actually got about 30 minutes. When you are third you are just damn glad to be there. You don't get picky about the time allotted to you. I think Britny Fox had about 45 minutes and Ratt had about an hour to an hour and a half. That was about as much time as any band got if you were third on the bill.
HMR: That's really too bad. I like the other bands, but feel that a lot of people would have rather had you higher on the bill.
S.W.: I guess Britny Fox was moving more records than we were so that's why. It really comes down to who's more popular, who's selling the most records.
HMR: I think Kix has had a lasting appeal though through the years. The fans have really never lost track. That really means something in the long run.
S.W.: Yeah, God bless the fans!
HMR: Hey, just wanted to know if you guys were going to be doing any Summer festivals this year?
S.W.: No, not really. Like I said, we don't leave the area that much. We play in about a 150 mile radius of the mid-Atlantic area. Baltimore, Harrisburg, and once in a while I'll trek up to New York City. It takes alot to pull me outta here now. I'm content doing it the way I'm doing it. We have been offered spots in the festivals, but quite honestly, the money is not enough for the band to lose their day gigs. The guys have real jobs and can't just drop what they do during the week and go on the road unless it's extremely profitable.
HMR: Yeah, with alot of those festivals there are alot of bands. I find it hard to believe that it would be profitable due to that fact.
S.W.: Exactly, that is for young bands who are out there to get their name out there and I could care less.
HMR: Hey, you mentioned day gigs. What exactly do you do for your daytime money making?
S.W.: I actually teach. I teach vocals and give music lessons through the week. I've got it down to where I work two or three days a week then I get the rest of the week off. That's a schedule I can deal with. I have been teaching for nearly ten years now.
HMR: I couldn't interview you without asking this question. Any possibility in the future of a Kix reunion?
S.W.: Well, Ronnie, Jimmy, Brian and I are gonna go out in September. We call it a Kix fix. We're gonna do it again, locally, do about 5 shows, and the money that they pay around here is really good. There's no overhead cost, we can drive ourselves to the gigs. There's no managers and hotels, just clear profit. I consider us a bunch of whores just cashing in (laughs). We did this last December and it was a hoot, the four of us getting onstage and doing Kix stuff and the fans just went crazy. They came right back to us offering us good money to do it again. We said, okay why not? But as far as permanently putting Kix back together, that will never happen.
HMR: Listening to the two bands, Kix and Funny Money, there are definite similarities, but also differences. What in your opinion would you say is the main difference in those two bands?
S.W.: In Kix, I was heavily influenced by the way Donnie wrote. The reason Kix worked so well was that we all liked the same kind of music, like Aerosmith and AC/DC, the Stones and Zeppelin. Those were our driving forces so everybody all loved the music we come up with. There wasn't anyone trying to pull away and create their own sound, we all liked what we were doing. I haven't really swayed from that. I don't believe in writing preachy music. I believe in writing fun forget about your problems type of music. The big difference between Funny Money and Kix is that Donnie wrote all of the Kix stuff and I write all of the Funny Money stuff.
HMR: Back in the day of Kix, the band was really popular with the college crowds. With the shift and change in the scene do you think Funny Money has been able to cash in on that same type of thing?
S.W.: You know, our crowd is really diverse. We have young people, middle aged and then people my age coming to the shows. It's like 20's, 30's and 40's that come out to see our shows. It's nice to see the young people coming out. It seems that the old school rock and roll got a complete bashing 5 to 7 years ago. It was considered un-cool and young people didn't come out for it. The new bands like Jet and The Darkness and other bands that are bringing back just good fun rock and roll. It's not all about hate and grunge. It's being accepted again. We are considered cool and old school again.
HMR: You make a good point. If I was to look back on say the last 3 or 4 decades, I would have to say that the 90's for the most part are a complete embarrassment when it comes to music.
S.W.: Yeah, there didn't seem to be much longevity. There are so many bands that came and went. That genre of music just got pummeled. There were so many bands that jumped on the bandwagon and mushed it to where it got sickening. There are still remnants of it today, but it is definitely phasing out. Fun uplifting music is what will always win out.
HMR: Something that I have kind of noticed is what we refer to as full circle. Looking at some of the newer bands of today and some of the background info that you see, they are actually giving credit to alot of the stuff we used to dig in the 80's. Bands like Drowning Pool or Soil. Have you heard about the press photos with the new Drowning Pool vocalist?
S.W.: I've heard about them but haven't seen them.
HMR: The fact that the singer is wearing a Kix 'Blow my Fuse' shirt.
S.W.: He has good taste (laughs). It seems to me that a few years ago music just got so predictable and there weren't any guitar heroes anymore. It got sad you know. The lyrics were just full of hate and wasn't uplifting anymore. I'm just glad it ran it's course and people are appreciating good music again.
HMR: Have you made any types of promotional videos for any of the Funny Money material?
S.W.: No. We haven't.
HMR: Now I know you made a few with Kix though. The popular thing right now seems to be video compilations on Dvd. Have you heard any rumors on whether we could get something with the Kix video material?
S.W.: Not with Atlantic. I would like to do something myself with all of these videos I have lying around. I need to look into the legality of it though to make sure I don't get into something, but right now they are just sitting around collecting dust. I don't know why anybody would care if I was to compile a 15 video Dvd and get it out to the fans.
HMR: Were there really that many of those?
S.W.: Yeah, there's at least 15 videos. The 'Blow my Fuse' album had 3 of the most popular videos we ever did. As far as the previous records, we had 2 from the 'Cool Kids' album that were quite un-memorable and awful that we don't really like to share with people. They are that bad. On 'Midnite Dynamite' we had at least 2 videos that we did that nobody ever saw. There were at least 12 videos that we did that were worthy of watching.
HMR: Out of curiosity, do you remember what videos they were off of 'Midnite Dynamite'? I absolutely loved that album and thought it was ahead of it's time.
S.W.: Well, 'Midnite Dynamite' was one we shot and paid for by ourselves. 'Cold Shower' was one that the record company paid for and it's quite a good video, but it didn't get any airplay.
HMR: I really have to credit the album 'Midnite Dynamite' as being one of the most influential albums on me. I just about wore that tape out back in the day.
S.W.: We really felt that we had one in the bag with that album. We had Beau Hill onboard as a producer and coming off Ratt's success, we felt like we really had a good record and that this one was going to be our launching pad. It never happened. We were very disappointed with the way that the record was handled.
HMR: It really was a shame. It was a great album and should have done it for you guys. It was a very unique sounding record for it's time. Kind of a timeless record. I was curious if there was any unreleased Kix material at this point that might see the light of day?
S.W.: You know what? Somebody gave me and I don't know where they got it, but it was all the unused material from Kix demos. Somebody got it off of the internet and gave me a copy of it. It is called Kix-Thunderground. It has like 10 songs that were never released as Kix songs. Amazing that that stuff is out there and that they can bootleg that stuff, but if I try to put something out there with the Dvd's they will come breathing down my neck.
HMR: One last thing on Kix here. What was your most memorable moment with the band?
S.W.: Probably when we got to play with Aerosmith in Johnstown Pennsylvania. That was a huge thrill for me with me being a huge fan. That had just got Joe and Brad back into the band on the 'Back in the Saddle' tour. The were running around in station wagons. They were probably more poor then we were. Getting on the stage with those guys was a huge thrill for me.
HMR: Well, I usually wrap these up with you giving some parting thoughts to your fans. Anything you would like to say to your fans?
S.W.: For those of you who wonder why we don't come to your area, we're pretty much delegated to becoming weekend warriors in the mid-Atlantic area. Check out the cd's and hopefully you'll like them. I would never say never on taking a journey a ways out once in awhile into some towns that would really love to see Funny Money.
HMR: Hey Steve, I really appreciate it. I enjoyed talking with you.
S.W.: I appreciate it too. Thank you so much!