Non-KISS Band Members

Marty Cohen (2014)
There are few people would can say that they played with both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley prior to KISS. Steve Coronel is one. Marty Cohen the other. Marty was kind enough to give the KissFAQ an interview to discuss his history with Gene and Paul, and correct a few things that appeared on the FAQ website over the years. His perspective continues to add to the picture of Gene and Paul coming together in a partnership that had lasted more than four decades...

Derrek Hawkins (2011)
KISS fan and former rhythm guitarist in Ace Frehley's band recalls his stint with the Spaceman on tour and recording "Anomaly"

Adam Mitchell (2010)
Songwriter/collaborator recalls working with KISS, Vinnie Vincent and writing songs on "Killers," "Creatures Of The Night," "Crazy Nights," and more.

Bobby Rock (2010)
Powerhouse drummer recalls his wild ride with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion.

Rich Circell (2008)
Lead singer discusses working with Ace Frehley in pre-KISS band Honey.

Mike McLaughlin (2006)
Guitarist on his personal musical path and work with Peter Criss, Criss' "One For All" album, and much more

Neal Teeman (2003)
Uncle Joe drummer discusses working with Paul Stanley in pre-KISS band formed in 1966 and assistant engineering "Alive!"

Phil Naro (2002)
First lead vocalist of Criss recalls work with Peter Criss and ex-KISS guitarist Mark St. John

Jason Ebs (2002)
Final lead vocalist of Criss discusses his musical background and working with Peter Criss just before KISS' reunion in 1996

Ron Leejack (2000)
Wicked Lester guitarist recalls collaborating with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley prior to KISS

Criss' last singer: Jason Ebs...

By Julian Gill

Jason Ebs was the final vocalist in Peter Criss' solo band CRISS who spilt up following Peter rejoining KISS for the highly successful Reunion Tour. During his time with the CRISS Jason toured on the double-bill Bad Boys of KISS tours which saw CRISS and the ACE FREHLEY BAND team up throughout North America. Following Peter leaving the band, the remainder of the band would stay together for a while to work as SKOFF prior to moving off, individually, in new directions. The KissFAQ would like to thank Jason for graciously taking the time to answer my rather long Q&A, and approaching it both with humor and detail!

KissFAQ: Tell us a bit about your background: Where you grew up? The first artist/song which got you interested in making music rather than just listening to it?
Jason Ebs: I was born in Camden, New Jersey as Jason Arguros. I was only 3lbs, 4oz and lived in various shelters and foster homes until I was adopted by the Ebsworth's when I was 4 years old. I have always heard music inside my head, and I originally wanted to be a drummer. I discovered electric guitar when my older brother Drew's friend was playing "Smoke On The Water" on his Les Paul copy. The first song I learned was "Smoke On The Water", and then I put on my KISS records and learned to play guitar to all of the songs, with "Strutter" being one of the first. My full name is Jason Conrad Ebsworth. My stage name is Jason Ebs.

KF: You're a guitarist and vocalist. What would you call your primary instrument and how did you come to chose that?
JE: My primary instruments are Vocals and Guitar, although I play bass and drums also. I've actually been playing a lot of "Stomp" type shows lately (playing on buckets, barrels, pots) at various half time shows for sports events (LA Clippers @ Staples Center, Cleveland Cavs @ Gund Arena). I chose the guitar because it moved me immensely. Comically, I have always sung music; but I never considered myself a singer, just a lead guitar player. I was playing in a band at Penn State called "Split Decision" when the bass player Chris said "Jason, why don't you play rhythm guitar and sing lead vox?" I STORMED OUT OF THE ROOM and almost quit the band before realizing that it might be cool! Hello, get a clue! Thanks Chris Downey!

KF: Do you play any other instruments?
JE: Guitar, vocals, bass, drums, keys (a little), harmonica (a little)

KF: What was your first band or first "real" band? What sort of material were you performing?
JE: My first real band was called "Southern Cross", and it was an all original heavy metal band when I was 16-18 based out of Valley Forge, PA. It was 80's metal music, and it still moves me today. We covered "Sign of The Southern Cross" by Black Sabbath, and "Neon Nights" by Dio.

KF: What do you recall about the first time you ever performed for an audience? How did you (or your band) do, and what were the circumstances of that first gig?
JE: Our first show was at the Phoenixville Area High School talent show. We did "Paranoid" by Ozzy, but had no vocalist; this is before I realized that I could sing for a band.

KF: At what point did you consider yourself a professional musician?
JE: I became a professional musician when I move to Los Angeles in 1990, but I guess technically went pro while going to Penn State in 1988 playing the bar circuit.

KF: You're currently working in a band called Twisted Roots, which has its roots as far back as 1997, could you tell us about how the band got together and about the sort of music you play?
JE: Twisted Roots was just a concept that I came up with after KISS reunited. I was singing in SKOFF at the time, and we had just completed our record and the drummer bailed from the band (that hurt 'cause we were good!) So I had always been writing music and building a catalogue of tunes. I developed the "concept of Twisted Roots" as a guideline for the music that I would record. So I began recording music and I played all the instruments and produced the first CD "Serendipity" as a way to put a band together. I put together about 7 different versions before landing with the kick ass line-up that I now have. Our music is Moody, Trippy, Driving, and Melodic. Singer-Songwriter music turned full band. In your face pop rock I guess...

KF: Where's the band based?
JE: Twisted Roots is based out of Studio City, CA which is just north of Hollywood. The current members are Tiger Shaw (Drums), Brett Dearth (Guitars, Vox, Keys), Chris Hammer (Bass, Key, Vox), and Jason Ebs (Vox, Guitars, Percussion).

KF: Would you care to define your band's genre?
JE: Roots Rock with a feel of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. It's the next wave!

KF: Back in 1995 you replaced Mike Stone on lead vocals/guitar in Criss, for what would be the final lineup of his solo band prior to the reunion. When did you actually join the band, and how did you initially hook up with Criss?
JE: Well, I guess I officially joined the band in the spring of 1995. I was the Best Man at my friend Kevin's wedding, and a girl named Kiki Wow mentioned that she had an acoustic guitar in the trunk of her car. She got it, and I played a song of mine called "Open". It was magical! There must have been 10 of us singing the chorus by the end of the song! Afterwards, a guy named Stephan came up to me and said "my roommate is the bass player for Peter Criss. They need a singer who plays guitar, and I think you're perfect!" So I went to Shortino's rehearsal studios (Paul and Vinnie are friends of mine) and checked it out.

KF: Did you audition for the band, and if so what did it entail?
JE: Yea, I auditioned. The first day I lugged all my gear in and Peter sat on the couch with Mark while "Angel" (Mike McLaughlin) kind of auditioned me through "Show Me", "Strutter", and a few other tunes. They then said "Thanks" and I left. But while I was waiting for my ride, I went back into the room and said "I was really looking forward to jamming, and my rides not hear yet". Peter said "not today, but we might as well tell you to come back tomorrow now". The rest is history.

KF: There are some promo photos of your lineup of the band which include a guy called "Angel." To end confusion, what lineup(s) of Criss were you involved with?
JE: CRISS' final lineup included Peter Criss, Mark Montague, Angel (Mike McLaughlin), and Jason Ebs.

KF: What do you recall of your first live show with Criss?
JE: It was an outside show in Arizona with Warrant. It was the first time I realized the insanity of KISS fans! When I came out on the stage with Peter, the crowd just went crazy!

KF: Did you have a favorite song you'd perform with Criss? Anything you absolutely hated playing?
JE: I would have to say that I loved "Black Diamond", "Strutter", "Detroit Rock City", and the acoustic "Hard Luck Woman". We did some originals that I really enjoyed; "Beg, Borrow, And Steal" and "The Shooter", and "Zig-Zag" were my faves.

KF: Peter's been known to sometimes get frustrated with his KISS heritage when doing his own thing. How was it working with Peter on a personal level, and how did the band jell as a unit?
JE: Peter's a cool cat. I guess it would be hard to leave something that was as monumental in your life as being the "Cat" in KISS, so I can't really comment on his alleged frustrations. On a personal note, we got along really well and had a lot of laughs, but you never knew when the incense that I was burning would be a welcomed treat or an annoyance.

KF: You toured at tail end of the Bad Boys tour, with the Ace Frehley band. Did you get to interact with the members of that band, and if so, any fun "war stories" of life on the road?
JE: The Bad Boys tour was actually 2 tours, both of which I was involved in. One was all of Canada in the summer of 1995, and the other was across the USA in the Fall of 1995. Yea, we hung with Ace and his guys regularly. One of the funniest stories was when we ended our Canadian tour in Vegas at "The Shark Club". As a finale, we all came out and did "Rock and Roll All Night" and then threw water and flower all over Ace and his band! We were slipping and falling all over the stage - and my parents were in the audience! It was quite a show, and then the food fight continued backstage...

KF: Were you involved in the writing of any new music for Criss, which was performed live?
JE: Yes, I co-wrote "Adalyne" and "Zig-Zag". We played them live a few times, and did some recordings of them as well. They haven't yet been released, and it's too bad because they're kick ass songs. Maybe if the demand arises...

KF: At what point were you aware that Peter was going to be returning to KISS for the Reunion? How was this communicated to you (the rest of the band)?
JE: I had an idea when Gene called my hotel room by mistake and asked for Peter. I felt it immediately. We were almost at the end of the Canadian Tour. It started as them just getting together for the Acoustic Set for MTV unplugged. It was presented in a way that said not to worry and that there would be no serious reunion. We received the official word just around Christmas 1995 that this would be our last tour.

KF: When/Where was your final performance with Criss? Was it known at the time that that show was the last?
JE: Our final show was at "The Sterlin" in Greenwood Lake, NY on December 16th, 1995. Yes, we knew it was our last show. And the night before at Birch Hill in Old Bridge, NJ, Angel celebrated his birthday. As his roommate, I tried to keep tabs on him; but I went to check out my friend Kenn's new car and ANGEL WAS GONE! This is before all the Cell phones, so I grabbed the Yellow Pages and hunted him down by calling all the hotels in the area and describing him! Damn, that was hard - but I found him before the bus left for our final show :)

KF: At the time of the reunion it was reported that members of Criss were going to remain together as Skoff. Was this your lineup with Criss, or a previous one?
JE: The line-up of Skoff was the same as CRISS with Eddie Rogers replacing Peter Criss. We recorded a kick ass record entitled "Reality".

KF: What did the members of Criss plan for the future as the band came to an end?
JE: Well, we tried to keep Skoff together for awhile, but it came to a halt. I Started Twisted Roots, Mark formed "Dumpster", and Angel kept doing a lot of studio stuff.

KF: Did you see any of the KISS reunion shows? I guess before asking you to comment on what you thought of the Reunion performance, were you a KISS fan growing up and did you ever see any of the lineups in concert? If so, when/Where? If so, any favorite lineup?
JE: Yea, I saw a few shows. Yes, I was a huge KISS fan growing up, but lost interest somewhere around 16 years old or so. But seeing them brought back a lot of memories and a reminder of how much the music influenced my life. What did I think? Since I never saw them as a kid, I saw it in a different light as an adult. It was definitely enjoyable, but I enjoyed Peter's freedom of expression when he was playing with us. Plus, it's pretty surreal when you have Paul and Ace waving to you, and Peter sending songs out to "The Boys" as he would call us. Favorite lineup was the original, yet there's some kick ass music with all the different incarnations.

KF: Related to the last question, if affirmative! Any favorite KISS song? Album? Tour?
JE: Favorite Albums were "KISS Alive!", "Destroyer", "Love Gun". Most un--favorite - "Unmasked"

KF: What was your most memorable moment as a member of CRISS?
JE: We had just arrived in NYC and we were at SIR Rehearsal. Peter took us to get some really greasy pizza (his favorite) and then we went to a Strip Club and were treated like Royalty, until I had to bow out (drank too much!) and get some sleep so I could sing the next day. Or maybe it was being searched as we crossed the border from Canada back into the States - we were lined up in a row while a dog sniffed us and they searched the bus: but the funny thing is that we could see our reflection in the glass in front of us! It would have been the BEST BAND PICTURE EVER!

KF: Do you keep in touch with either Peter or any of the other members of CRISS?
JE: I see them around from time to time, but it's been a little while since I hung with the Cat. Angel's playing in Taiwan and I guess is back in town for awhile. But a reunion is due...:)

KF: You've a few albums with Twisted Roots. At the start of a fresh year, 2002, what are your plans and aspirations for the band?
JE: We're currently recording as I write this, so we'll have our full-titled record tentatively called "Reach" completed by Feb 2002. We are playing 5 times this week, so we're starting the year off with a bang!

KF: Tells us something about TR's discography? What albums are available, and from where?
JE: I guess there's currently 3 records available: "Serendipity", "Misdirected Passion", and "Reach", all available from our website at www.TwistedRoots.net or www.mp3.com/JasonEbs.

KF: Have you recorded material with any other bands?
JE: Not recorded per-say, but I've been playing Guitar for BERLIN featuring Terri Nunn periodically around the USA. I'm always recording, so I'm sure that you'll see my name on various things!

January 2002

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