Once More Around the Weekend
Second life for The Best Kissers in the World
By Rick Levin
There were a half dozen bands hanging around Seattle in the ’90s that garnered major attention, and even a couple that went global. You may remember them. You may even have their records. That’s cool. Here’s the deal, though: It takes a village. For every Mookie Blaylock or Mudhoney sprouted in the gorgeously dank Petri dish of that celebrated grunge scene, there were another 10 great bands ready to go. The Best Kissers in the World, with their infectiously catchy power pop, was one of these bands.
Kissers founder Gerald Collier and I met in 1989, and we’ve been friends ever since. I say this not to gain cool points but only in the interest of disclosure. Attachments aside, however, I do know good music when I hear it, and I’ve always considered Collier to be one of the most sophisticated singers/songwriters around. His lyrics can rip your heart out, and that voice is velvet-and-sandpaper beautiful. “For pure 90s power pop, no band could match their quirky lyrics, tuneful riffs and mammoth power pop,” says besound.com of the Kissers, and Nado Mucho’s Julia Eaton wrote that Collier’s “natural ability to make poetry out of the dark underbelly of society can suck most folks in despite their best attempts to resist it.”
The Kissers formed in 1988 in Phoenix and shortly thereafter relocated to Seattle, where their blend of Cheap Trick riffs, Replacements-style sneer and pop confection immediately turned heads. They could play loud and heavy as anyone, but Collier’s sharp, hooky songwriting — drawing as much from Elton John as Iggy Pop — set them apart. After they put out one EP and a full length on MCA, the band imploded, leaving Collier to pursue his music in several incarnations on different labels. Recently, Collier — now living in Portland — and drummer Kevin Beyers began discussing the idea of reviving the Kissers’ catalogue, and along with bass player Andy Nelson and guitarist/vocalist Mark Kent that’s exactly what they’ve done. The band’s already played Seattle and Portland, and Hail the Sound records just released Skinned My Heart, Broke My Knee, a compilation of early Kissers stuff, including an excellent Sub Pop EP.
“People don’t remember who we were or have a clue as to who we are,” Collier told me recently about this new incarnation of his old outfit. “We are looking at starting over in a lot of ways.” But so far, so good, he says, and in many ways playing live feels more natural than ever. “I can honestly say that every now and then, in the middle of a chorus or a lead break in a song, just as the drum does its thing … the moment right before I’m supposed to come down with a chord, I feel as perfect as my creator imagined me to be,” Collier says. “I feel worthy of air. The hair just stands up on my arms. That is the power of music.”
Best Kissers in the World, Leo London. 10 pm Friday, Oct. 1. Luckey’s • $5