Last Saturday, members of San Antonio rock outfit Top Dead Center got a career-altering phone call — the band was informed they would be opening a show for rock ’n’ roll icons KISS in one week.
Back in June, KISS teamed up with Guitar Center and Eventful to create a competition that would allow unsigned bands and artists the opportunity to open for KISS on their upcoming North American tour. A different band has been chosen for each of 22 tour stops. At the conclusion of the tour, KISS will choose the best of the 22 bands to receive a grand prize that includes a $10,000 Guitar Center shopping spree.
If this sounds a little familiar, that’s because it is. Remember when local rockers The Heroine got to play in front of Mötley Crüe last year for a chance to accompany them on tour? Same thing. It’s called Guitar Center On-Stage, and it’s a new program designed to organically scout and launch unsigned artists.
Thanks to overwhelming fan support, Top Dead Center gets the chance to jump onstage at the AT&T Center with their riotous brand of beer-guzzling, Southern bar rock on Sunday, September 19. I caught up with lead singer Michael Perez for a quick chat between practice sessions.
It’s not every day a local band gets to open for KISS. It’s even rarer that you only got a week’s notice. What’s going through your mind?
Right now, the hardest thing is picking the songs we’re going to play because it’s a shortened set. We feel like we have twelve really good songs, and we have to narrow it down to four or five. We get fifteen minutes. So that’s the hardest part, but of course we’re thinking about all our gear and stuff too. It’s like going on a trip; you have to make sure you pack everything.
How did fans vote and how long did the contest last?
Voting opened on June 2nd and closed on September 7th for the San Antonio date. All the bands directed their fans to an Eventful forum to cast their vote. The main goal was to be in the Top 5 when voting closed, and from there Eventful and KISS would decide on a winner. Top Dead Center stayed in the Top 5 for the San Antonio contest; we were one of three bands from Texas.
Who were the other Texas bands?
The other San Antonio band in the Top 5 was Eden Burning. The third Texas band, Johnny Hootrock, is from Austin.
What are your thoughts on Eventful?
Eventful is actually a really awesome website. If you’re a fan of a band, you can ‘demand’ them on the site. Whenever the band is planning on coming to your town, the site emails you. It’s similar to Pollstar, because it lists events happening everywhere. It’s also cool because it’s a way to find people in other cities who like your band. You can put an application on your Facebook or Myspace page. If you you look at the results and there are a few thousand people in, say, Missouri who like your band, you might think about touring there.
How is the band feeling about this once-in-a-lifetime experience?
It’s unreal. How many other bands in the city can say they’ve opened up for KISS? It’s just crazy. The AT&T Center is the biggest venue in San Antonio, and we’re going to be playing in a spot where only bands that are signed usually play. Most people will never get to do that. It’s a trip to know that we’re going to be up there, and KISS’s gear is going to be set up behind us as we’re playing.
And it’s not just any old band you won an opening contest for, it’s KISS! They’ve sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.
That’s how I feel about it too. This is the biggest rock ’n’ roll band on Earth. Your grandma knows who KISS is! Such a wide variety of people are going to that show, and to think that we’ll get to perform for such a diverse audience is great.
If you’re planning on catching Top Dead Center, get there early. The band will hit the stage at 6:30 p.m. right after doors. Check out some of Top Dead Center’s tracks before the show here: http://www.reverbnation.com/tunepak/2894114