By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Todd Kerns is one of the hardest working musicians in rock today. As the vocalist/guitarist of the Las Vegas based band Sin City Sinners, which also includes ex-Faster Pussycat guitarist Brent Muscat, Kerns plays three to four gigs per week in clubs in their hometown. The unique thing about the Sin City Sinners is that they often have special guest perform with them. Their list includes the likes of Vinny Paul, Bruce Kulick, Slim Jim and many more. The Sin City Sinners have also just released a hard rockin' Cd entitled “Exile on Fremont Street.”
In addition, to his work in the Sin City Sinners, Kerns has joined Slash's band as the bassist. He has been rehearsing daily with Slash and recently performed with him on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Lopez Tonight and the Craig Ferguson show.
What follows is an exclusive interview with Todd Kerns. During this interview we discussed Kerns involvement with Slash, the Sin City Sinners and much more.
RockMusicStar: Hey Todd, thank you for calling us here at RockMusicStar.com. First of all, congratulations on your new gig as the bassist for Slash’s new band. You must be very excited about that.
Todd Kerns: Yeah, it’s pretty rad. Yesterday, we were sitting here at rehearsal going over the tracks and all of a sudden Steven Adler walks in. That was quite surreal. (Laughs)
RMS: No shit!
TK: It was one of those moments were you go, wow this is really great. But the gig with Slash has been a lot of fun, a real blast. It one of those crazy experiences that comes out of nowhere. So it’s now time to roll with it.
RMS: It sounds like Slash has put a great band together. He didn’t go and get super big all-star A-list names. But instead, he assembles a group of lesser known, talented musicians.
TK: Apparently, he was looking to do something fresh. For such an accomplished guy, he really wanted to find some fresh, new people to play with. When you play with new people it gives you a new charge. The guitarist, Bobby Schneck previously played with Slash in his blues band.
RMS: Are you rehearsing for a tour, or are you just getting ready for your upcoming TV appearances?
TK: There is going to be a quick Australian run and then some other things after that. Of which I still haven’t officially… I’m still up to my ears in the Sin City Sinners presently, so we are trying to make the best of everything here. But, we are trying to make everything work. The thing about the Sinners is that we have always been a creature doing something challenging, different and fun.
RMS: You just released a Cd of original material with the Sin City Sinners entitled “Exile on Fremont Street.” Why did you decide to write your own material, you could have easily survived as just a cool cover band?
TK: Well, when musicians get together, they start making music. We started playing some originals during our gigs and that material started getting very popular with the audience. I seem to recall looking out and seeing people sing along to our originals. So the next step was to record it and put it out. In a lot of ways that was a challenge too. But it was fun. It’s always fun to make music. And it’s rewarding, and it doesn’t have to be rewarding financially. It’s just rewarding to have music out there and make it available to those who want to hear it.
RMS: Yeah, I don’t think anyone really makes money on Cd sales anymore.
TK: Yeah, it’s a whole different world now. In the days when I first started playing music, there was an actual record industry. It’s a whole different animal now. But, it’s nothing to get to down about. Making music is a wonderful thing.
RMS: You’ve got it good. You have a ton of gigs lined up. You have the ideal situation with the Sinners, in that you’re set up in Vegas.
TK: There was nothing else like the Sinners. And there probably still isn’t a real straight up rock a band besides us in Vegas, that isn’t an elaborate show that has dancing and that sort of thing. The Sinners are just a no-frills Rock band. I think no one took into account that maybe people just want to see straight up rock n’ roll.
RMS: You mean you guys don’t dance? ( Laughs)
TK: (Laughs) Yeah, we do a “Thriller” type thing at the end of the show.
RMS: Awesome. Back to the Cd, I read that Vinnie Paul was involve in the Cd. What were his contributions?
TK: Vinnie is a big supporter of the band, he has always been around. He comes and hangs out with us and has a blast. When we started recording, it was kind of punk rock style, hey let’s go, let’s fucking do this thing. Vinnie came in and kind of tweaked some of the sounds. The man is very impressive as far as his knowledge and skills. We took advantage of him for sure.
RMS: I really like the track “Numb.”
TK: Thank you. Yeah, that one is a real barn burner. It’s progressive and loud.
RMS: It has a cool riff and I love the gang vocals.
TK: That’s a big thing for me. Making it real obvious were the audience sings. Kind of like “Hey-Ho, Lets Go”! Or any number of great sing-along, chanting songs. I like that kind of thing and that was the intention with “Numb.”
RMS: It seems like songs like that really stand the test of time. You go to a sports event and that style of song is all you hear all night long.
TK: Man, we would be so lucky if something like that would happen for us.
RMS: it could happen, it’s an awesome song. I also like your cover of the Donnie Iris classic “Ah Leah.” You version is really the best I have ever heard.
TK: As a kid, I saw Donnie Iris play that on the Solid Gold TV. show. I love that song. I’ve played it in every band that I’ve been in. It was one of those things where the crowd loved it so we decided to record it. It’s a lot more involved that anything that I would write on my own, or any of us would write. It has all those big harmonies. It’s such a catchy tune. A lot of people don’t even know that it’s a cover.
RMS: I remember when I was growing up, the local rock station in Buffalo always played that song on Friday evening. So, I always associated that song with the weekend and partying.
RMS: Are there any plans or a chance that the Sin City Sinners would tour or play outside of Vegas? Maybe a short run of East Coast dates?
TK: We’ve often talked about it. I think that it’s just a matter of timing and logistically it would have to make sense. The Vegas gig is very demanding and it keeps us there. It’s sort of the anchor for this situation. So we keep to our backyard. But, we’ve been to LA and there is talk of Utah and Arizona. Quick runs like that. But, the East coast would be great.
RMS: One of the real cool things about the Sin City Sinners is that you have special guests play with your band. The list of musicians that have performed with you is very impressive. Has there ever been one musician in particular that really impressed you.
TK: We have had a lot of truly amazing people over the years. Slim Jim from the Stray Cats was one of my favorites. As a kid, I was really into those guys. Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls, Bruce Kulick from Kiss, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson from Dokken. A lot of amazing people, Vinny Appice of Heaven and Hell. This list goes on and on and they have all been amazing. We are very lucky, we kind of expected some to be complete assholes, but they were all very cool people.
RMS: Any chance of DVD with some of the special guests? It would be cool to see that.
TK: We have absolutely talked about that. I would love to do that, but getting the rights and all legal issues would make that a bit difficult. But, we have recorded a DVD, but we aren’t sure when we are putting that out.
RMS: Another cool thing that you did recently was play in the Bruce Kulick band for his LA Cd release party. What was that experience like? I saw some of footage on youtube and you really belted some of the Kiss classics out, especially “Heaven’s on Fire” and “Tears are Falling.”
TK: Yeah, that was a blast. The first time I ever saw Kiss was when Bruce was in the band. So, that was a thrill for me to do that. It was one of those nights, it was a real trip.
RMS: I spoke with Bruce a few days after the show and he said he loved the band he played with that night, and that you guys were on the top of his list if he ever needed a road band. Do you think that you may perform with Bruce again in the near future?
TK: I would love to. I would certainly be open to the discussion. I don’t know what Bruce has going on, but I’m very much a creature of today. Whatever comes my way or strikes my fancy, I kind of jump on and then tomorrow we’ll see what happens. But, I would love to do it. I love Bruce, I think that he is very talented and has done a lot of great things.
RMS My last question is back to Slash. What songs are you rehearsing with him? Is it mostly solo stuff or are you guys doing any classic Guns n’ Roses?
TK: You know it’s a pretty even reflection of songs from his career. There are Velvet Revolver songs, Slash’s Snake Pit, covers and some Guns n’ Roses and stuff from his solo Cd.