a: my present job is system software support for the advertising department of montgomery ward in chicago. in addition i'm also involved with the development of the montgomery ward website. i've been supporting macintoshs since about '92, for various companies advertising departments.
i grew up in minnesota, bloomington to be exact. went to college at mankato state university. it was at college that i really got hooked on the music business, plus i figured if you want to meet kiss the best way is to work in their industry. i spent two years working at the college radio station, as music director and hosting a weekly metal show. when i graduated in '87 i relocated to chicago, working for a production and management company.
a funny little side note... when i graduated i did the resume thing that every person does. but, i thought what the hell... who would i love to work for, kiss! so i sent a resume off to glickman/marks, the worst they could was say no, which they did. but, they did reply to my resume with a letter saying if i was ever in new york they'd love to talk to me. the letter was signed by chris lendt. funny how 10 years later i'm interviewing chris for otaku.
anyway... we developed bands, the two most well know were defcon and the ultraviolet. i did all of the promotion and marketing for the artists. it was here that i had my first brush with kiss, besides a instore in '79. i had submitted the bands to gene's label simmons records. he had some minor interest in defcon, but actually called me to offer the ultraviolet a record deal. the label and the band fell apart before anything happened. from here i went to work for a independent record label, red light records, doing radio promotion. here i had some more kiss related events... interest in signing both vinnie vincent and skull, featuring bob kulick, to record deals.
to make a long story short, things changed at the label, not for the best, and i left to go work in advertising... playing with macs all day long. which i've been doing ever since.
q: tell us about kiss otaku. how did it get started, current features, and what's in the future?
a: kiss otaku was launched may 1995. it was basically born out of my desire to learn how the write html code. back in '95 there were no classes on building websites, not even one book was available. the only way to learn was to just jump in and do it yourself. so, if i was going to build a website to teach myself html, why not focus on something i really love... kiss!
prior to the website i was throwing around the idea of doing a fanzine, i even have a sample one mocked up, a ancestor of otaku. anyway the costs involved were prohibitive. so i started to look at other options. since i wasn't interested in doing it to make money, but rather get as many fans as possible to see it, i looked at doing a electronic zine, something similar to a pdf file, but pre-pdf. again i even mocked up a sample issue. it was around this time that the web and mosaic begin to make noise in the computer industry. this seemed like the answer i was looking for. unfortunately nobody knew anything about html, most people hadn't even heard of html. but, kiss otaku was born.
the concept of otaku was something i had in my head for awhile. i picked up the term from a article on the otaku in the debut issue of wired magazine. basically it said the otaku were people who were fanatical about something... a perfect description of a member of the kiss army. so when the time came to name the website i wanted to come up with something that didn't just use a album or song title, kiss otaku was a natural.
the original content and concept of the site focused on the band's official conventions, the kisstory book and merchandise from the kiss army depot. at the time kiss otaku was launched only four other kiss sites existed, of those only one is still around fried alive. so content and focus wasn't that difficult. i basically put together a website with content that i as a diehard kiss fan would want to read. once the site was online it really just grew on it's own.
the future... well it gets even more exciting!
q: which original features at your site are you most proud of?
a: wow, making me pick my brain! i've never really kept track of all the accomplishments, but some that i can recall include....
kiss otaku was the first site to establish a trading post for fans to trade/buy/sell kiss merchandise.
it was the first site to actively solicate fan reviews, going back to the official conventions.
it was the first site to attend unofficial kiss expos and post live reports. just this past july kiss otaku was the first site to deliver live images from a expo, the detroit kiss expo.
kiss otaku made arrangements for each show during the alive/worldwide tour to have a fan in each city purchase a pair of tickets and review the show.
kiss otaku was also the first site to get it's own domain.
and even though it is always surrounded by controversy, i'm really proud of the girls of kiss. it was a very simple idea, but at the same time original to the kiss world. honestly, what would kiss be without girls!
i am also very proud of the work that kiss otaku has done in assisting mercury radio promotions on the carnival of souls and psycho circus releases.
q: many internet kiss fans rely on your site for kiss news. how do you approach this, and what "rules of thumb" do you use to decide which news to post?
a: it's actually kind of funny, but i never set out to make kiss otaku a news site. that just kind of happened naturally because i would get info from the band, the management or the label. i still don't want to focus entirely on being a news site. if there's no news you need other content for the site.
i think everyone knows how out of control rumours can get, and the kind of trouble they can cause.
what i try to do is stick to as much confirmed or reliable news as possible. it is so easy for someone to pass themselves off as someone different on the net and submit a news story that is completely false. i've had this happen to me a few times. i really try to check who submitted the news, and try to verify it with another source. fortunately i'm in a position where i can usually call reliable sources for verification. i would rather hold off on posting some news, waiting for some verification, then be the first to break some news story and end up being wrong.
i'm the first to admit you can't believe everything kiss says, but i guess i would believe them more then a unconfirmed second or third party source from the net.
i guess i feel i have some kind of responsibility to the fans who read my site. if i post something, i want to feel confident that it is true. i may not confirm something that is thought of as fact, because there are unknown reasons preventing it from being 100% true. so many fans will believe what is posted on websites without concern as to who actually submitted the news. i feel if i say something is happening i should be confident about it's validity. as a fan i know i don't want to get my hopes up or make or change plans because of something i read on a website and then have it not happen.
i also realize that alot of fans don't visit the websites, they only go as deep as email. and for this reason i decided the create the kiss news network, knn, mailing list. now fans don't have to wade through hundreds of posts on the other mailing lists looking for news. they can have reliable news emailed right to them. it's also a way for other members of the kiss community to share their resources. it's not the kiss otaku news network, therefore i ask for submissions from other websites, fanzines, even fans.
q: on average, how many hours a week do you devote to your site?
a: it really varies. much of the time during the week is spent gathering information and news. either on the phone or via email. i may spend a couplehours a night working on stuff. the bulk of the actual site work or coding is done on the weekend when i can work without interuptions.
of course this can be completely thrown for a loop if something comes up at my full-time job, or if i go somewhere on the weekend. for example this summer i was doing something four weekends out of five during june and july. i was traveling to cover kiss expos around the country, and going to local industry conventions, such as halloween or comic book. when this happens the workload really piles up and the hours increase to catchup.
it is nice that i do everything on a laptop. i can bring it with me wherever i might go and sneak in some work. i've met some people on airplanes when i pop open my laptop and start working on kiss stuff. great conversation piece!
q: you have one of the most respected and recognized kiss sites on the net. what do you attribute this too?
a: hard to say... maybe because i was the first "super" site. maybe because of the effort i put into reporting factual news. plus i feel that i'm doing what i as a fan would want to see and read, and i think this is recognized.
q: what advice would you give other kiss webmasters?
a: hmmm, i guess first try real hard to do something original. try coming at your website from a different angle. and this shouldn't be taken the wrong way, but do what you want and what you like first! don't try to set out do something to please all the fans, because you can't. if you're serious about doing a site you have to please yourself first, or it won't be fun. and if it's not fun, you'll give up real fast.
q: what do you feel are the most positive, and negative, aspects of the on-line kiss community?
a: i think it's the same thing for both... the internet gives everyone the power to speak and share their thoughts.
this is great because i want to know what a kiss fan around the world is thinking, is doing. what is kiss all about in their country. i remember when i was kid wondering what kiss stuff looked like in other countries. what the album looked like, what the ads looked like... now this can be shared with everyone.
but it also means everyone does have the power to influence others around the world with their opinion. some people have a very hard time respecting someone elses opinion, agreeing to disagree. it's almost like everything has to be black or white, yes or no, makeup or non-makeup. i think what clouds the problem even more is the way many people word things... so much stuff comes across as being factual when it's just opinion.
q: kiss has opened an official kiss website. what effect do you feel this will have on fan-based kiss sites?
a: that's a tough question. personally i hope they allow all the sites to continue. i think what their site will really do is finally provide much of the very cool exclusive stuff that only the band has. for the fans this will be great!
q: do you have any personal kiss stories you would like to share?
a: let me think....
i don't want anyone to take this the wrong way, but i've been fortunate enough to have a number of cool things happen, some of which happened before i even had the website.
but, i think the coolest was when i was able to meet the entire band backstage and get some pictures with them... in makeup. on top of that, i brought my parents to the concert so they also got to meet the band. for my mom this was a big thrill. since she was the one who essentially got me started on kiss and has always bought me kiss items at garage sales, flea markets, auctions, etc.