The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



We recently got to have a chat with Tony Croce, lead singer of Perth cover band KICKSTART


Kickstart are (l-r):
Sal – bass, vocals, Tony– lead vocals, Mike – guitar, vocals, Frank – drums


Thanks for talking to us Tony, let’s start with an easy one – how long have Kickstart been together?


Not a problem - love The Rockpit website, its right up our rockin’ alley.


We’ve been together since March 2009 so it’s a fairly new band.

How did you meet the rest of the band – have you known each other for years, or was it a case of “rock band seeks bass player and drummer”?


We met through Frank Licastro (drums) who we had known for about 3 years from his reputation around town for his playing and he was always at the Emerald city gigs. Sal and myself were playing in a band called Dr Feelgood (a band formed for the love of Motley Crue) - a cover band with a talented line up.


Frank had called me up the night before a gig and asked if I could fill in for their band as there singer had a hernia operation. I filled in for 6 gigs over 3 weekends - that was including the DFG gigs - without getting into too much detail in what happened because its worthy of a full blown 80’s band fight (hands down Kickstart would win), lets just say the old lead singer quit, the old bass player quit, DFG had unfortunately folded and Sal and myself joined Mike and Frank.


It does sound like we all stole each other to form Kickstart, but it just turned out this way.


You have a residency at Rocket Room and Players Bar at the moment – do you all still have day jobs or does this pay the bills?


Yeah we do, but let’s just say prostitution is not all its cracked up to be these days!


Kickstart’s setlist includes a few left of centre choices, such as John Farnham’s The Voice, The Proclaimers 500 Miles, etc. What brought them into the set alongside the more standard glam/hard rock choices?


Well to be honest as much as we can’t stand certain songs we do (John Farnham excluded) we do them because it’s not about us it’s about the crowd. Plus we learn on average 4 new songs a week including sequenced tracks - something very few bands can do.


The major thing about this band is we want to have the largest eclectic set list any band has ever attempted so that if someone does scream out a song we can do it. Also we pride ourselves on songs that you never hear a band play live like Bed Of Roses - Bon Jovi, Here I Go Again – Whitesnake, Why Can’t This Be Love – Van Halen etc…


I know Sal also plays with Emerald City. Do the rest of you have original bands as well?


Yeah Frank has recently joined Emerald City and on the down low they’re writing a new batch of songs with Frank on the kit and its awesome – a lot different to what they have written on the Unleashed EP.


We haven’t been able to convince Mike to do some originals as of yet, he’s too focused on his work at this time which is cool. I formed an original band at the start of the year called L.A. Riot. We’re still writing, but I have a great bunch of guys and we’re taking our time, doing it right the first time to launch the band with the best material we have.


It’s still in “sex” mode and we’re in it to make a baby!


The snippet of the new L.A. Riot song we heard sounds great – very 1987 Sunset Strip, and a really bright and crisp guitar sound – we can’t wait to hear more!


Yeah, I think you’ll like it - 80’s to the max: credits to Leon, Mike and Cam for the great writing.


What about Kickstart – are you writing original songs or do you plan to in the future?


I tell you, it’s a dream of mine to write with this band as these guys are amazing musicians so yeah, we have talked about it and the fan base is there so who knows - we might bust something out soonish to see of it gels. I tell you Shane, I have a full-blown rock chubby for this band, so thumbs up in my books, haha.


What are your influences individually and as a band?


Firstly we’re big on full blown harmonies as you [can] hear. It’s weird - we’ve all been in bands for years where we’ve had to play songs we really don’t like, and the same stuff everyone else plays, so this is really a simple question: the 80’s man!


The best era - when music was music, so yeah! We’ve always been the guy in each band that’s gone “Oh hey, let’s do Cherry Pie!”, and been told “Oh nah mate, sorry”. So it’s the best that one of us says a song we want to do and everyone is stoked to do it.


Ok, I kinda got side tracked there, but there’s really not one band that can sum up how we are influenced, its just every band we see that we like and we try to pull from that. 50 percent of any show is a show - people don’t say “I'm gonna go hear a band, they say I'm gonna go see a band - so we put on a full show, every show, regardless of how we feel. So for 3 hours it’s total rock and roll business!


We’re not KISS, but in a little way we say to each other to pump each other up: “You wanted the best…. You got the best...” and so on - you know how it goes.


What are your favourite artists/songs to cover?


Sal said it’s “any AC/DC to sing”, and to play he said “the Final Countdown by Europe or anything I can rock out in a high voice, anything 80’s”.


Frank loves anything that rocks – it’s funny he’ll bust out a 5 minute long drum solo and people lose their shit, and he looks like he’s just woken up from a nap! Then you’ll catch him going bananas on an AC/DC track, so yeah for him he just said he loves to play any Bon Jovi or glam rock song but his official answer was “If you feel wet after I'm done, then that’s rock and roll: anything else its not worth playing”, with a cheeky smile on his face!


Mike said his favourite songs to cover are “anything with massive vocal harmonies, anything with a killer solo, but lately I've really been getting into the Bon Jovi we play, and any solos by Slash”. He's an awesome guitarist!


For me, I love to sing anything Bon Jovi, any ballads, and anything that will result in me getting laid – ha ha!


What do you think of the Perth rock scene? You must be doing something right to pull 200 people after midnight on a wet and cold Saturday night.


To be honest there’s a lot of people trying out there - and I say trying! A lot of bands forget the reason they got into music and they focus too hard on trying to make it, so our formula is we play the songs we like - whether it’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or Bohemian Rhapsody - and play for us, but still entertain the crowd to the best of our ability, and that comes through.


People don’t want to see a band who get up and play songs they hate and not enjoy what they do, so if we get into a song they get into a song. That and we are one of the better cover bands in Perth, I think.


Lastly, and one big thing we’re all about is we talk to anyone and everyone - doesn’t matter how annoying drunk, ugly, hot, guy or girl, and most bands are a little stuck up. We’re all just lucky to be getting paid for what we do. No ego off stage I think pulls those people out on those crap nights.


Perth has been getting a lot more great rock bands touring. Do you get the chance to get out and catch gigs, or are you always playing?


Yeah, that’s the downside to cover band gigging - you miss a lot of awesome bands. But there is an upside you do get to meet a lot of awesome bands too - they might come in the night before the gig or after their show, so it’s pretty cool when you’re playing and spot them in the crowd. It kind of makes you want to stop playing right then and there.


What are the best gigs you’ve seen recently?


We scored free tickets to Alice Cooper’s Theatre Of Death show: that kicked ass, but yeah [apart from that] nothing really that has come to Perth that we got a chance to see.


We loved the Alice show as well (Read our review here) - that man knows how to work a crowd!

What have you been listening to recently?


My self - don’t laugh - but Diesel, man, what a f***kin legend! But still a regular input of Winger, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, KISS, Van Halen - with that said I've been trying to listen to new rock, but there’s not much that actually cuts it out there.


Hey that’s cool Tony – I quite like a bit of Diesel now and then, so I know where you’re coming from. We all need a bit of light and shade at times! As for new stuff – make sure you check out our review pages at – I have no doubt you’ll find a few newies that you’ll like - try Steel Panther for starters.


Any plans to tour either interstate or visit some country locations?


Well we’ve had a few offers on the cruise ships and going to a couple of Asian countries but it’s the time away which is the killer, and everyone’s got so much on. I'm really wanting to do it but organising the time is the hard part.


Who knows, I really want to organise a Sydney and Melbourne tour for the guys - they need the time off! We are going to Bali in November to gig – let’s just say right now, if I get a knock on the door in 10 years time from a little Bali kid saying “Papa?” I won’t be surprised ha ha.


So you’re open to offers, in every respect!

Where does that big voice of yours come from – did you just wake up with it one day or did you have to train it?


I’ve always sung but never really did anything with it, I was working as a bar tender in a pub about 6 years ago and got up one night with the house band to sing a little AC/DC, and was kinda hooked after that.


The boys then asked me to join and that was the first of many bands (Sal was in that band too – we’ve never been in one without each other: if he quits, I quit that’s the code!)


It was rough in the start but through the years and lots of advice from other singers I managed to find my voice, its still not there man, and this winter has killed the falsetto, but I love my job so I’ll keep training and training till someone notices.


Do you have any great rock n roll debauchery stories or Spinal Tap moments you might like to share?

We were doing a promo shoot for the band and had a girl doing makeup, a girl doing photos, and a guy doing lights, all in a cafe and we were just wrapping up the shots when about 15 or so girls around 17 to 19 yrs old were looking over and waving.


All [of them] hot - but not legal - but to them it must have looked pretty impressive because one comes up to us with a piece of paper and a pen and asks for an autograph, shortly followed by "Are you famous?" to which I replied "If you have to ask if we’re famous, then that’s your answer!"


She insisted on us signing it and giggled back to her mates were they all kept waving and losing it, staring - sometimes the perception of fame is better than the fame itself!


As for naughty stories… lets just say that gentleman rockers never tell, cause there’s a few and we wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone!


Nice – we don’t kiss n’ tell at The Rockpit either, so we approve! (Feel free to tell us over a bottle of Jack’s some day though – off the record, of course!)


What’s next for Kickstart – any big plans?


Yeah we recently got asked to be the test band for a marketing company, so they are using us to see how they would go about branching out into band promotion. That’s still at baby steps but we plan on bringing the full stage shows and huge crowds back to the cover scene as its got a little boring over here.


There are great bands out there but there are just too many doing the same stuff. We just want to put on shows that people will remember, the kind of show where you feel like you have paid to see a world class band. In short, we plan on being Perth’s biggest cover band.


Where can readers go to check out more about Kickstart?


Check out our website, plus you can add us on facebook, myspace, and twitter for all the latest updates. There’s also a link to The Rockpit site on our home page.


Also, you can check out our exclusive promo video here:

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us – we hope you’ll keep dropping by and say hi!


Anytime thanks for the chat we got to get you up on stage one night for a sing roumers are you’re not too bad on the vocals buddy!!


Ha ha, Tony - you obviously haven’t heard my singing voice, mate – it’s almost as good as two cats f**king!


Have an excellent day Tony


Shane Pinnegar

September 2009