The Internet features more than its share of negativity and snark—sometimes you’ve just gotta vent. But there’s plenty of room for love, too. With Fan Up, we ask pop-culture people we admire to tell us about something they really, really like.
The fan: Comedian Kyle Kinane has made a reputation for himself by espousing a bit of a dirtbag lifestyle. He’s got jokes about beer showers, drunken carousing, and watching someone eat silver dollar pancakes out of a plastic grocery bag. His latest album and special, I Liked His Old Stuff Better, is out now and ends with a bit about a hand job so impressively abysmal and hilarious that it has to be heard to be believed. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Kinane’s a big fan of hair metal—and not just the good stuff like Mötley Crüe, either. With a bunch of Kinane’s tour dates coming up later this month, The A.V. Club sat down to talk to him about Krokus, Night Ranger, and the glory of Dokken.
AVC: Why are you such a hair metal fan?
Kyle Kinane: I think it’s so over-coated in irony right now, and clearly it’s lacking of artistic merit, but it’s the first music that I heard that I remember listening to when I was younger that wasn’t because somebody told me it was good. It was just the first music I heard at that age. I was 10 years old in 1986, so nobody was really telling a 10-year-old what’s cool or not or what to put on the radio, and that was the music I liked. And now it’s this huge embarrassment, but that was what I really liked when I first started listening to music.
AVC: What kind of stuff are you talking about? Are you talking about Mötley Crüe or are you talking about Dokken and Krokus and stuff like that?
KK: All of it. All of it. Especially the big hair stuff, too. I didn’t gravitate towards the heavy metal side of things until later, like Iron Maiden and things like that. I liked the party metal. I mean, Poison and Warrant… all the worst ones you can make fun of were my favorite. Like White Lion.
AVC: It’s acceptable nowadays to say, “Oh, Megadeth had some good songs,” but you can’t really say that White Lion had some amazing deep cuts.
KK: No. There’s no resurgence in artistic merit. Or at least you don’t ever stop being embarrassed. It’s never come to being cool. At least if you’re into Hanoi Rocks or New York Dolls or something—or even Mötley Crüe to some extent—it’s redeemable. But the real creampuff stuff? Never. There’s no deeply entrenched hipster even ironically celebrating it. All the heavy metal stuff that was so serious and angry, I didn’t get because I wasn’t angry. I was like, “I don’t know why these guys are singing about the devil; I just want to sing about partying.”
AVC: A lot of those songs were pretty dirty. Did you know what “Cherry Pie” was about when you were 10?
KK: The idea was if you did not have access to pornography or anything of the sort, you’re like, “Oh, I think he’s just talking about sex.” Again—11 or 12 years old with no outside influence—I also didn’t have anybody, like, “Hey, this is what a Penthouse looks like.” I didn’t have any of that. Everything I knew was informed by MTV and rock radio. I had a cousin that was telling me, “Yeah, this is what’s cool,” and he was giving me Fugazi and Minor Threat, and I liked it for different reasons. But it was still like, “Oh man, these guys don’t sound like they’re having any fun ever.”
AVC: Is there a time for listening to Warrant or is it an all-the-time band?
KK: You live long enough and you experience true tragedy and loss, and no matter how strong the power ballad is, it doesn’t quite fill the hole. But especially if it’s nostalgia time after a few drinks and I want to remember what the pure innocence of youth was, it’s “Wait” by White Lion. That’s all it is. Put that on; listen to some shredding guitar solos. The guitar shredders like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai… that’s all I wanted to be. I just wanted to be Slash. I know Guns N’ Roses transcended the whole hair metal thing. They’re a classic rock band now. Which is weird to think of. But yeah, I just wanted to be Slash, I wanted to be Joe Satriani, and I got a guitar, and I instantly had my dreams of that crushed when I realized how difficult it was to play that stuff.
AVC: Do you find any of it too cheesy?
KK: Too ridiculous? Man, I still listen to some Night Ranger. “(You Can Still) Rock In America” by Night Ranger gets me going. Now, I know I have to smile at it, but it’s a song that gets me going. I can’t help my honest reaction. I can sit here and suppress it for street cred, and be like, “Naw, that song’s stupid.” I like other stuff. I like some music that’s considered critically good. But there’s that weird part of it where, I just turned 38 and I’m fine with knowing that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s bad, and just because I do like something doesn’t mean it’s good. That’s what I’ve learned. I like some garbage. And it’s a wonderful, refreshing time in your life when you realize you can roll the windows down and you don’t give a shit who’s laughing at you. That’s the essence of the song, “(You Can Still) Rock in America.”
AVC: A while ago, with Rock Of Love, it felt like hair metal could be getting a cred resurgence. People kind of thought Bret Michaels was a cool guy.
KK: I don’t think anybody thought that. I don’t think television gives anybody credibility. I think maybe reality television is the new hair metal. It’s just all cheese and you just accept it for what it is. It’s all formulaic, it’s all predictable, but you’re still like, “Yeah, give it to me.”
AVC: Have you seen any hair metal acts live? They all still tour, for the most part.
KK: My first concert was Poison and Warrant when I was in the eighth grade. It was one of the most amazing things. I think a woman flashed behind me, and I couldn’t tell why everyone was cheering in our section because a woman had flashed behind me, and it was the closest I had ever been to actual, naked boobs, and I almost lost my mind. To think that that was real—like that’s what happened in the videos and that’s what’s happening right now.
I think I saw Quiet Riot in like ’99.
AVC: 1999 was probably not that group’s peak.
KK: That’s one of those testaments to the era that they were all in—that none of them want to let it go. Musicians can grow old gracefully and adapt to newer times, but you really feel how Nirvana just destroyed these guys’ lives. Every interview with these guys, they’re like, “Yeah, Nirvana came out, and our days were numbered.” That’s every hair metal band, and Nirvana put an end to it. I don’t know.
Is there a reverse of that? Will there be a new band to put an end to all this sincere whining shit? There is party music, but not rock ’n’ roll.
AVC: That was happening for a bit with Andrew W.K. and The Darkness, but that’s faded away a little.
KK: Andrew W.K. put it out there with all the party jams and positivity. It’s not like hair metal was all positive, though. There was still a lot of scumbaggery in hair metal.
AVC: Have you read The Dirt?
KK: Oh, of course. I’ve read The Dirt, I’ve read Slash’s autobiography.
I still think one of the best ones is Crazy From The Heat. David Lee Roth. Diamond Dave—that’s the ultimate guy. He had the best line. He goes, “I might not have kids but I’ve got a pretty awesome-looking passport.” The guy just goes and mountain climbs in Japan now and stuff. He’s one of the guys that I think progressed. He did adapt to the world.
AVC: He adapted, but when people see him now they’re like “That’s not the Diamond Dave I want.” Because he doesn’t look like he’s 35 years old. He’s bald and a lot older.
KK: But that’s the problem with everybody else who never progressed. Everybody’s a time capsule. That’s that scene—but that’s how every scene is. There are still people dressing like it’s 1977 with liberty spikes, and that’s the same thing. They’re doing the same thing, celebrating a bygone era. But I think punk rock failed more, because I thought punk rock music was about progress and moving forward and moving ahead and overcoming. So to preserve that as a time capsule is hypocritical to the message. If you want to preserve hair metal by going, “Yeah, we just wanted to party the whole time,” and if you’re still partying, then that was more true than punk rock was. The old hair metal dudes are still just partying.
AVC: Would you ever want to do stand-up on one of those hair metal cruises?
KK: Sure! Absolutely. I still check out the lineup for Rocklahoma when I can and I always try to figure out when Tesla is playing. Now that Tesla is an electric car, it really fucked with trying to search live dates for Tesla.
AVC: Rush is touring. That’s not hair metal, but it would probably be a good show.
KK: Rush took something that should be cool and nerded it up. Rush is the same thing as people that still get boners over Star Wars. It’s like, take it easy. I mean I could try and be very democratic about it and be like “Well, everybody’s got their own thing,” but you know… Rush was fine, but I’m not fucking with nerds with their seven-string bass, like, “Oh, but iambic pentameter!” Shut up. They’re ruining everything that’s cool about rock ’n’ roll.
AVC: Do you want to do a quick playlist of some essential Kyle Kinane songs?
KK: White Lion “Wait.” That’s a fantastic one. Anything off of The Great Radio Controversy by Tesla—why don’t we say “Love Song.” Or, “Little Suzi.” No. “Cumin’ Atcha Live.” That’s on Mechanical Resonance. “Cumin’ Atcha Live” by Tesla. “Yankee Rose” from the Picasso Brothers’ era of David Lee Roth. You gotta put that.
Oh, Night Ranger—“(You Can Still) Rock In America.” These are all, like, windows down, in a Camaro. If it were 1989 in Addison, Illinois, you would be the coolest person I had ever met if you were blasting these.