Origin: Hungary - Budapest
Established Hungarian musicians formed KISS Forever Band in 1995. Zoltán Váry became Starchild (Paul Stanley), Pocky The Demon (Gene Simmons), "Space Ace" Zoltán Maróthy assumed the role of Ace Frehley, and "Catman" Tobola Csaba was cast as Peter Criss. Previously members of cutting edge groups, the boys started out to just have fun and play their favorite KISS songs on stage.
The catalyst was the Sz.E.Sz. concert at the E-klub in Budapest. Stars Together On Stage: well-known musicians in various formations surprised the audience with unusual productions. The greatest success was garnered by KISS Forever Band, which in turn encouraged them to retain the lineup and play more shows.
At first the boys painted the right side of th
eir faces in the signature KISS make-up while the left side was left plain, in part so they could be recognized, but also to signal that the music heard in concert retained elements of their real-life individuality. The group formed for the pure joy of playing went on as a part-time band for nearly three years. Every few months they would play in clubs large and small to overwhelming response from the crowd. The music was up to par with the original KISS, and as time went by the stage show developed as well. Demon breathed fire and spit blood, and flashpots and fireworks exploded on stage.
Starchild's gang eventually came to the conclusion that the show would be ideal if they represented a KISS concert to the minutest detail. When their heroes marked their 25th anniversary as a band, the boys celebrated with an anniversary concert that saw them in full make-up and costume - this in March of 1998.
Two months later the group embarked on their first foreign tour. On one of the KISS Expo Tour's stops in Vienna, KISS Forever Band was the guest performer. KISS's former drummer, Eric Singer, traveled through Europe with the production, and naturally played with his Hungarian counterparts. They rehearsed Nothing To Lose and Strange Ways at his request, while Cold Gin was the Hungarians' choice. Eric enjoyed playing with them so much he asked that they play another song. "You know Detroit Rock City?" Of course they did…
This proved to be the first of many foreign appearances. KISS Forever Band since tours Germany every year. The success of the first tour guaranteed the success of the ones that followed, and every year the number of dates on the tour increases. One night in Durmersheim in 1998 Space Ace and his lads even played twice. The first show impressed the owner of another club who happened to be in attendance so much that he insisted they play his own establishment before the night was out. The sight of the boys on the street making their way over to the new locale in full make-up and costumes raised more than a few eyebrows…
In 1999 Catman and his three partners attained further success abroad. The German KISS fan club, KISS Deutschland, was preparing to release an album. "A Tribute to KISS" was comprised of cuts by various German artists including Die Artzte and various members of Toten Hosen. The "Special Guest", however, was KISS Forever Band, who contributed their version of Shout It Out Loud. At the request of the Hungarians the record's release was delayed from the spring to fall in order to coincide with their German tour in no small part because their appearance was the record release concert's main attraction.
The year 2000 saw more of the same from KISS Forever Band. They played Hungarian festivals in the summer and Germany in the fall, and also added Prague to their dates. The thought of recording also came up. While it's unusual for a cover band to release a record, many people, both domestically and abroad, expressed an interest in being able to take something home with them. Popular demand combined with the interest of Nephilim Records lead to the release of KISS Forever Band's first album entitled Carnival of Songs in the Spring of 2001. Besides faithful recreations of KISS's greatest hits, a number of special treats were included, such as Space Ace's take on Domino, sound engineer Peter Rozgonyi's remix of I Was Made For Lovin' You, and a piece unrelated to KISS, the theme of the Hungarian Drag Race Championship.
Of course 2001 was replete with extensive touring, with scenes of past popularity supplemented by places such as Transylvania. The album release tour in the Fall was accompanied by new outfits reflecting the latest image of the actual KISS. It should serve as no surprise that 2002 will also be about touring. With interest in KISS Forever Band on the rise in Europe, the band will visit the Benelux countries in the Spring. The Hungarian homeland won't be neglected either, as the band will play virtually all the home festivals this summer.
The members of the group that started part-time only to turn big-time enjoy the fact that they can play their favorite songs with such resounding success. On stage they can assume their mentors' personalities, or at least appearances. They are aware of their responsibility in doing so, since this way they have to satisfy the heightened expectations of their fans.
As a result, they spare no expense in treating their audience to a unique concert-going experience, much as their meeting the actual KISS's members was a unique experience for them. The press conference for their 1997 European tour was held in Budapest and the boys were able to arrange to be in attendance. (Only Ace Frehley - the real one - was missing since he boarded the wrong flight!) The real and the Hungarian KISS met in the chapel of the Kiscelli palace. After a joint photo session and discussion the members of KISS Forever Band had dinner with their idols.