INTERVIEW: Christina Chriss and Joey Fava of KALEIDO

Hailing from the long and proud music tradition of Detroit, Michigan, Kaleido has spent the past decade making a name for itself as an independent act, sharing stages with the likes of Aerosmith, Slash, Kid Rock, Halestorm, Rob Zombie and other luminaries. When touring finally returned in 2021, the band spent three months opening for Sebastian Bach and had the surreal experience of performing on the annual KISS Kruise. Now, in 2022, Kaleido is set to carve out its niche even more by embracing one of its band members’ great loves: horror. The bloodthirsty video for the new single “Run” is a wickedly good time, and the band plans to continue pursuing this direction in future videos. Live Metal’s Greg Maki recently caught up with frontwoman Christina Criss and drummer Joey Fava to discuss the new song and video, horror movies and more.

LIVE METAL: Your band Kaleido has a great new single out, “Run,” and a really cool video that goes along with it. But first I just want to talk about the song. What was your inspiration for that song?

CHRISTINA CHRISS: Well, we got off tour. We were on tour for three months with Sebastian Bach, and as soon as we got home, that was the first song that we wrote. I had this twisted idea behind the lyrics, and it came together really fast. Joe wrote all the music, and the lyrics kind of just poured out. It’s kind of like a tongue-in-cheek, run while you still can, kind of warning somebody, giving them a pre-warning. (laughs)

With that song and kind of in general, what is the songwriting process? Does the music come first or the lyrics? How does it work for you guys?

CHRISTINA: It’s kind of different every time.

JOEY FAVA: Usually, I’ll just start with a riff or something and just build off of it. If something gets legs and starts moving, we’ll go with it. Once it becomes a song, it’s usually when she’ll come in and start singing something over it—taking it to the next level from being a demo or whatever. So it starts in both ways. Sometimes it’ll start with a vocal and we’ll build a song around it. Most of the time, though, it starts with the music first, and then she’ll write vocals over it.

Since you write all the music, it’s interesting that in the band, you actually play the drums. Did you ever think about playing guitar in the band?

JOEY: No, I’m a drummer at heart. That’s the first thing I always did. It’s my main instrument. But I enjoy playing guitar, and I love to write. It comes pretty natural to me. I wouldn’t be playing guitar out front, probably. I love being the drummer, being the heartbeat.

CHRISTINA: But he can do it all. (laughter)

JOEY: But no, I don’t really see myself doing that.

The video is obviously very horror inspired. What led to that? Was it a natural progression from the song?

CHRISTINA: We love all things horror, and we jokingly say it’s Halloween every day in our world, because we’re big fans of spookiness, spooky stuff, Halloween, and it fit this video so well. We wanted to start getting into that visually because we enjoy it so much. And this was the perfect song to dive into that world and bring our love for horror to life in a video.

Were there specific movies that were on your mind as you were putting this video together?

Christina Chriss of Kaleido

CHRISTINA: Definitely. Obviously, “The Lost Boys,” one of our favorites ever. And I think you can look forward to more like that coming from us as we pay homage to all these movies that we grew up loving. I think we’re going to bring that to life more in our music videos.

Nice. You put out the list of your favorite songs from horror movies, but what are some of your favorite movies? Unless you want to keep that under wraps for future songs and videos. (laughter)

CHRISTINA: Oh, no, we love talking about it. We might be here a while (laughs) because there’s quite a few. Obviously, “Halloween” is one of our all-time favorites.

JOEY: That’s number one, for sure.

CHRISTINA: I love the movie “Trick ‘r Treat,” as well. And “Friday the 13th,” Freddy Krueger, Chucky—just the classics. I mean, they’re classics for a reason. They’re just so beloved.

JOEY: They’re iconic. We’re fans of the ’80s stuff, ’80s horror, especially the artwork. The whole vibe and aesthetic of it I really love. But yeah, for me “Halloween” is number one—always, always.

How did you get into horror originally?

CHRISTINA: My dad was actually taking me to the movie theater to watch these movies, like starting from age 5 and on. My mom was always like, “She shouldn’t be watching that. It’s too scary.” But I fell in love with all that with my dad, and I’ve just loved it ever since. It’s in my DNA at this point. (laughter)

Joey Fava of Kaleido

JOEY: I was scared of horror movies really bad when I was a kid. I did not want to watch them. All my friends would be watching them and I’d be in the other room just totally freaked out. But it’s kind of a thing as you get older, you almost become what you’re afraid of. It’s weird. Obviously, I grew up and they don’t scare me anymore. But yeah, when I was a kid, they used to really freak me out. I think that kind of was fun, and it was exciting and a bit of a thrill.

CHRISTINA: I don’t know. I think that I must be a little messed up, because I used to watch these movies to fall asleep. And I still do, and people are like, “How do you do that? I’d be having nightmares.” I don’t know. I get this strange sense of comfort from them, probably because I loved them so much when I was little and it has that nostalgic side to it for me. (laughter)

What is that behind you back there?

JOEY: That is a “Halloween” pinball machine. It is our new obsession. We’ve been literally obsessed, dude. We’ve played nonstop the past three days since it came. It’s just been next level, dude. It’s the coolest pinball I’ve ever played, 100 percent. I love it very much.

Horror and rock music, especially metal, have always kind of been linked, and there’s a few bands out there these days that are doing really well with the horror thing—Ice Nine Kills, Motionless in White and bands like that. Are you trying to maybe tap into some of their audience?

CHRISTINA: I think that their audience would definitely enjoy that side to our music, as well. So yeah, the more the merrier.

What has the reaction been like to the new song and video? You’re kind of showing a different side of the band, so how are the fans taking it?

CHRISTINA: Everybody seems to really dig it. We’ve had a lot of great feedback, and it was awesome getting to play it live. These past shows was the first time that we ever played it live.

JOEY: It was also right when it was released. We didn’t really do any teasers where we let the song out at all. We just did a couple teasers of some visual stuff, but no one had really heard the song. It was very new and people were super excited about it, so playing it live for the first time the day that we released it was really great. I’ve never done that before.

CHRISTINA: People were already singing and going crazy when we did it live.

Do you have more new songs written and recorded?

CHRISTINA: Yeah, we’re actually planning out our next two videos right now, and we have a full-length worth of material that is just about done. We’re just waiting on some mixes and planning how we’re going to roll all of that out. But yeah, immediately, within the next couple of months, there will be two more songs that we will release as singles and put videos out with, as well.

Have you found that the stuff you’ve been writing has been influenced by what’s been going on the past couple years, the pandemic and everything like that?

CHRISTINA: Oh yeah. I think that’s one of the main inspirations behind what I write about, is just what we have lived. I know that people can relate to it because they’ve been living through it, too. So relatable topics but true to life experiences expressed through the music.

You had to, obviously, go a long while without playing any live shows. So when you did get back to touring last year, what was it like to be back out on stage again?

JOEY: It was amazing, dude. We waited so long to play live. That’s kind of our bread and butter. We like to play live. That’s where we feel comfortable. That’s our world. So not being able to do it was torturous, to be honest, because literally that’s the longest I went not playing a show since I was like 13 years old probably—or even younger maybe. You don’t necessarily take it for granted, but you forget how amazing that experience is and how special it is when it’s gone. When we first came back, man, we shot out of the gate. We did three tours in a row, and we were on the road for four months straight.

CHRISTINA: Literally, as soon as the gate was lifted, as we’ve been saying, we were running through to get back on the road. So we were fortunate to tour for the last five months of 2021. We did a tour with Otherwise and then followed by the Butcher Babies and Infected Rain and then three months with Sebastian Bach. And now, as Joey said about taking that for granted, I never in a million years imagined that something would happen where I wouldn’t be able to do that. It never crossed my mind. So when that happened, it was devastating. And I was just like, well, is this ever gonna come back? It just felt like it kept going on forever and ever and ever. When you’re on tour, it’s hard and you run into a lot of different situations that you just have to suck it up and push through, but as soon as we got back on tour after the pandemic, I found myself in those situations appreciating them, and I was like, oh, I missed how hard this was, and I’ll never take this for granted ever again because I know what it feels like to not be able to do it.

How was that tour with Sebastian Bach? I’m sure that exposed you to a whole new audience.

Sebastian Bach and Christina Chriss

CHRISTINA: Yeah, it was rad. It was long. And luckily, we were able to complete the entire tour, which at that time, I think a lot of people were kind of nervous that it might get shut down again. And as soon as we finished that tour—thankfully, we were done—COVID started getting bad again. So it was a lot of fun, and he was really, really cool. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and obviously an idol of ours, as well. So it was a lot of fun getting to play to his fans, and then, also, he was bringing us on stage and having us join him for “Youth Gone Wild” every night. So it was a blast.

You did the KISS Kruise last year, too. What was that like?

JOEY: It was crazy, man. Growing up, I was a massive KISS fan. I still am, but KISS and Metallica were my two bands that really catapulted me into rock music and everything. So it’s just like a different level for me. So to be able to be on there with them and watch both of the sets they played, and Gene Simmons was flicking picks at us. And it was like a small, little theater stage, and you’re in the middle of the ocean. The whole thing was very surreal. But it was insane.

CHRISTINA: It’s’ frickin’ KISS, man! Like, is this really happening?

JOEY: It was so cool, dude. And I’m such a huge KISS fan that that boat was incredible, because there was KISS stuff everywhere. Like everywhere you went, it was just cool shit in the KISS universe. It was just very surreal to be on there.

Is that the pinnacle as far as bands you’ve gotten to play with so far?

JOEY: Pretty high, dude. I’d say that’s probably the top.

CHRISTINA: Yeah, definitely.

JOEY: It’s KISS, dude. Just talking about it is getting me excited. It blows my mind, dude. God, it was so crazy. What a trip, man.

Who else is at the top of your list that you haven’t played with yet that you would like to?

CHRISTINA: The Foo Fighters.

JOEY: I just seen today that they’re gonna do two shows to honor Taylor (Hawkins), one at the Forum out here.

CHRISTINA: Guns N” Roses. Definitely top of that list. That would be so epic. 

JOEY: That would be unreal.

CHRISTINA: Who else? Gosh.

JOEY: All the legends, all the big ones.

CHRISTINA: I think it would be really dope to play with Bring Me the Horizon. I love them.

JOEY: We could do this for like three hours—every band that’s awesome. (laughter)

CHRISTINA: Metallica. (to Joey) Your head would just explode. (laughter)

JOEY: The only thing that could top KISS would be that. Sorry, KISS. (laughs)

Last year, you released the song “Panic in a Pandemic.” The song title alone is incredible, but then that video, was that a good representation of how you guys were working throughout the pandemic?

CHRISTINA: We were like, “Well, how are we going to do this video?” Because everything was locked down and we were all in different places. And how suiting to that time period to shoot it as a Zoom meeting.

JOEY: That was life at that point.

CHRISTINA: That’s how you hung out, was over Zoom. So it kind of fit that perfectly. And to be honest, that’s all we could really do at that point, too, so it just worked out.

JOEY: It was out of necessity, but I feel like that’s such a period piece now, that song and that video. It was so natural just to go on Zoom. Everyone was doing it, and it was part of our lives. I thought about it. I’m like, “Dude, has any band made a Zoom video?” I know people were doing performances where they were collaborating and doing the live stuff, but I mean like a real music video. So we thought it would be funny, and I really love how it came out. I think it’s hilarious.

Yeah, it’s a really nice little time capsule now. Is that how you were actually writing the song, too?

JOEY: We were doing a song with our buddy Thrasher, and I played this demo, and we ended up getting an idea for a new song off of that one. So it sat around and then one night—I’ll go through demos sometimes and listen to stuff, brush up, whatever—and I sent that to Christina and she immediately started doing those vocals. It was crazy. I was like, “It’s an older one, but just check it out, maybe go through it again.” And she immediately started doing the “Panic in a Pandemic.” I was very pumped.

CHRISTINA: I was like, “I have the perfect lyrics for this one.” I had already written pretty much all the lyrics without music. I had just written them in a note in my phone, like how I was feeling going through that. And then as soon as I heard that and he was like, “Hey, well what about this one?,” I was like, “I’ve got the perfect lyrics for this one.”

As you said, you got to do a lot of touring in the second half of the last year, and you played a couple shows a week or two ago. Are more shows planned coming up soon?

CHRISTINA: Well, right now we are fully focused on getting all of this new music ready to release and shooting videos and getting a bunch of content ready for that. We decided to go do those two shows in Michigan because we’re from Michigan originally and that’s kind of where our fan base first started before we started venturing out and touring. So we thought it would be cool to just do a couple of hometown shows. But we’re trying to get all this content finished. We’re kind of putting the touring on hold for a minute so that we can get all this done. But hopefully we’ll be finished with this and playing shows later on this year. But right now, we’re not announcing any shows or anything.

JOEY: I’m sure something will come up very soon.

Stream/download “Run”

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