Hi Gerard! First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I really appreciate it.
My name is Gabriel Ravarini and I'm the webmaster of the www.kisseros.com site. Let me tell you that I'm currently 35 years old, and I became a KISS fan when I was 10 years old. Back then, a friend of mine brought to the school a cassette player with the UNMASKED album, and he played time after time the first song of that album... "Is That You?". I was caught by the sound of the band and the hard-rockin' and somewhat dark feel that the song has to it. In fact, I think that the song it's the heavier of that album and the one which's closer to the KISS roots. So by now, you can imagine the meaning and impact that your song had on my life.
During the years KISS had covered a few songs written by other artists, but what intrigued me the most was that "Is That You?" wasn't a well-known hit by another artist, an obscure B-side or something like that, but nevertheless, the song was choosen to open the album, it was released abroad as a single, and was the only new song that KISS rehearsed with their new drummer at that time, the late Eric Carr.
So I hope that you can help me to shed some light about all the story surrounding this song, as there's little information about it, if any.
01. First off, tell us about your influences and your musical background.
My influences vary, from Hip Hop to Rock, to Stravinsky. Growing up I started playing music at the age of 13, was in my first band at 14, doing covers as every musician did, songs by The Stones, Kinks, Beatles etc.
02. Who were your major musical influences?
Artists that had lyrically something clever to say, off the top of my soul, I'd say John Lennon and Stevie Wonder.
03. How did you get involved with KISS and how they ended up using your song?
My manager was hanging out with Vini Poncia, the producer of "Unmasked" and was checking to see if Vini was interested in producing me at the time. He played Vinnie a few of my songs and Vinnie apparently freaked out when he heard "Is That You" and took the tape and played it for Kiss that night. As fate would have it, they were convinced as Vin was, and they went on to record it.
04. Did you get to met the members of the band?
Not until a few years later. Although they all left a message on my answering machine thanking me for the song from the studio with "Is That You" blasting in the background.
05. How was your relationship with them and/or their management?
Well, I ended up meeting Paul in 1988/1989 and we wrote together and hung out a bit that year. Of course we all got busy, I was touring and I had just finished the "Lost Boys" movie, riding on the success of that, unfortunately we never finished up the songs we wrote. Funny, I still have a tape of those songs.
06. Did you have any say on the approach that "Is That You?" should have on the KISS album?
Not really! I remember Paul saying they loved my original version so much, but of course they wanted to make it work in their style, but maintain the energy in what I did in my demo.
07. What do you think of the studio version of your song recorded by KISS?
I think it was every bit of what you'd expect from them, good and nasty. I loved it!
08. Have you been at the recording session of that particular song or any other session at the studio with KISS?
09. How many KISS concerts have you been to?
10. Did you have the chance to see "Is That You?" played live by KISS? If so, how did you feel when you saw them playing it live in front a big audience?
11. I've heard through the times that you recorded your own version of "Is That You?". If so, on which album and when was officially released or where it can be heard?
Never released it on my solo records, however my original version will be available for the first time on my website www.gerardmcmann.com very soon.
12. What impact had on your career this involvement with KISS?
It's always been such a surprise to my fans that I wrote that song; as I've only performed "Is That You" live a few times. But it surely has had an impact, both credibility and artistically. Then on the other hand, most of my peers, such as Roger Daltrey, Ice Cube etc. never knew I wrote a Kiss song, until long after I worked with them, and then they were surprised and said "that's cool"!
13. Paul Stanley recently said about your record: "Could be one of the best records this year. G TOM MAC is one of those albums loaded with great hooks and rocks like a mother F!!!!!". How much contact have you had with KISS or any of their members in the years since Is That You?
Thanks Paul! I see Paul on occasion, we both live in LA now.
14. How do you rate KISS as a band?
Groundbreaking rock theater at it's best.
15. I've also liked through the years a song called "Cry Little Sister" written by Gerard McMann that was included on the cult film "The Lost Boys". After years of hearing it, I learned that you and McMann were the same person. Why did you change your name to Gerard McMann and why did you choose the name G TOM MAC to your latest project?
Thanks, yea! It seemed no one could ever pronounce my last name and I got tired of correcting DJ's in interviews, so I made it plain and simple...McMann, and G TOM MAC is in a sense another reinvention of myself in a new time and easy to remember. Stands for Gerard Thomas McMahon.
16. I know that "Cry Little Sister" was a huge hit back then, boasting sales of 7 million copies worldwide, and it's still is, as the single was re-released in 2004 and it charted really well on the UK, Australia and other countries, but how big really is that song for you?
Again it came from a very inspired place. I only read the script that was sent to me by the director (I usually get to see a rough cut of the film I'm working on). The script just spoke to me and I sat down and wrote. In that regards, I treasure it as something that was affective and worked dramatically for the film, but also as something separate and apart from the film, the song has moved fans even to this day. That's enough for me!
17. What were your thoughts when you learned that The Lost Boys movie was re-released on a two-disc set DVD/Collector's Edition recently?
That they need to do a sequel and give the fans something new. Having said that, Lost Boys is a classic no doubt.
18. Tell us about some of the other musical projects you've worked on.
Well besides my four solo albums, I wrote and produced Roger Daltrey's solo album "Rocks In The Head". I wrote the hit single "Give Me All Night" for Carly Simon on "Coming Around Again" CD. I've written songs for over 30 movies and loads of TV shows use my music, from Charmed to The Shield. Artists from Ice Cube to Michael McDonald have recorded my songs. You can check more at www.gerardmcmann.com, it's too much info for this interview.
19. Tell us about your current projects.
I've just released a new EP entitled "So Alive" that contains a live version of my song "Cry Little Sister...thou shalt not..." as well as three new songs I wrote and a cover version of Love & Rockets "So Alive", that's available at www.edgeartists.com. My band and myself toured this year headlining at various venues and opening up for acts such as Macy Gray. Load of fun, we rocked...if I may so myself.
20. Final words - your space! Is there anything you would like to say to KISS's fans, and also those who've enjoyed your song without knowing the guy who wrote it?
To have had one of my songs recorded by such a legendary and creative group of guys as Kiss has been nothing short of an honor. This is one of those things in life that continues to affect the youth in all of us. As an artist and songwriter it gives me great joy to have shared my song with you through them.
For more information on G TOM MAC aka Gerard McMann go to www.gerardmcmann.com, where you can hear a 1 minute piece of So Alive and more!