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David Michael-Philips Interview

What was it like back when you were just a little boy named David Henzerling? Any favorite bands? How'd you get into the guitar?

DMP: Grew up in Phoenix, AZ. First album I ever bought was Deep Purple's "Machine Head". Early influences were Deep Purple, Kiss, Grand Funk, Montrose. My mom got me into guitar lessons when I was about 10.

You were briefly with Icon and Keel, how was it in those bands?

DMP: I was in a band called Schoolboys before they were called ICON. The original line-up was me (guitar), Dan Wexler (guitar), Tracy Wallach (bass), John Covington (drums) and Steve Clifford (sings). We recorded Mean Street Machine (later on KK III) on a locally released EP in 1980. It was also recorded by ICON for the first album, but was not included.

Ron Keel asked Kenny Chaisson and myself to move to L.A. and join his new band Keel after the breakup of Steeler (Yngwie Malmsteen was leaving) in 1984. When we got there, Ron said he was also auditioning for Black Sabbath. Needless to say, I started looking for another gig and found Carmine

Exactly how did you become a member of King Kobra? Who contacted you, did you hear they needed a guitarist, what?

DMP: I was doing phone sales in L.A. as a day job and Keel's drummer showed me an ad for Carmine's new project. I sent a tape and the rest is history (if you can call it that).

Were you especially close with any members of the band?

DMP: Not especially. I have stayed in contact with Carmine, though.

When you played at the Mexican festival how is it you guys and Quiet Riot ended up with La Toya Jackson?

DMP: Who knows? Ask the original promoter.

What were the boys in Quiet Riot like, or in any of the other bands you toured with? Any fights, or did everyone get along?

DMP: QR were always pretty nice. Everybody we ever played with was great.

KISS was probably the biggest act you toured with. How was it with those guys, who had already been hugely famous and with their millions of dollars?

DMP: Consummate professionals. They came by our dressing room and congratulated us the first night of the tour and were cordial every night. I watched every one of the thirty or so shows we did with them and they were great in every one.

Any interesting stories behind the scenes of King Kobra? Like while recording or while on tour?

DMP: We did a radio remix of "Tough Guys Don't Cry" with Steve Thompson (later Tesla's producer) that was never released by Capitol.

What King Kobra songs did you think were really cool, and what songs did you think totally sucked?

DMP: I love everything on "Ready To Strike". I'm quite proud of that record even today. I hated everything about "Thrill of a Lifetime" except "Overnight Sensation" and "Raise Your Hands To Rock" (written for "Ready To Strike", but not included). KKIII never got the credit it was due. Some great playing on that one, but too much of a mishmash of different ideas.

King Kobra definitely had talent, why do you think you guys never made it big? What went wrong? Anything you would have done differently?

DMP: One of the reasons KK did not last is that it became every man for himself. It was a project put together by Carmine for the express purpose of getting a record deal and I believe most of the members were hoping this would be just a springboard to other things.

It was only by accident that we really jelled and became a great band. But the pressures of courting the record company execs ripped any musical integrity to shreds and the small seed of greatness that was beginning to sprout after "Ready To Strike" died quickly.

I don't think the band would have lasted even if we would have had greater success. The financial set-up was ridiculous and Mark (Marcie) Free never really wanted to be in a hard rock band. I have nothing against Mark (he is a phenomenal singer), but I don't think his heart was ever really in it.

Interestingly, in my opinion, "Ready To Strike" is his best performance. I also like the stuff he did in "Black Roses" (right after KK).

After King Kobra you were with a band called Geronimo, what was that all about?

DMP: Geronimo was the fun, crazy, rock-n-roll band that KK never was. So much fun. When Johnny Rod re-joined we really kicked-ass.

Any other notable projects, before or after King Kobra?

DMP: "King of Kool" on Black Roses soundtrack - 1988 (and a great cover of AC/DC's "Gonna Be Some Rockin" that was never released).

Lizzy Borden's "Master of Disguise" (1989 - probably my best playing).

Tomcats - 1990-91 (my old ICON and Geronimo buddies). A cross between The Cult and AC/DC. Did a great demo for CBS.

Liquid Black - 1994-96 70's psychedelia, we did a 5-song EP with Roy Thomas Baker (producer of Queen, Cars, Journey, Ozzy, etc.) that I'm really proud of.

Produced Harry Perry's 1995 CD "Greatest Hits of the Millenium" (he's that weird guy with the turban who roller-blades/plays guitar on Venice Beach). This CD is hysterically funny.

You're now married and have several children. How's family life treating you?

DMP: I love having kids. I've got a lot of great stories to tell them.

Will the fans ever be seeing a "David Michael-Philips Solo Album" or anything of those sorts?

DMP: I'm hoping to make available all my KK (and other projects) memorabilia as time allows. I haven't played in 3 years (took time off to finish getting my Bachelors in Engineering and am getting my Masters in Computer Science). I've played a few gigs with my brother's band Gas Giants on Atomic Pop. I've got a ton of great stuff from Liquid Black that I would like to release some day.

Anything to mention about the King Kobra Reunion Tour, new albums, or anything else involving the future of King Kobra?

DMP: King Kobra was Carmine, David, Johnny, Mick and Mark (Marcie). If those guys aren't together, it's not KK. Not to say any other line-up wouldn't make a great record or tour, but KK, for its short life, was special and individual. I am honored that people listened to the music. That's all any artist can hope for.