Plaster Casters

Kiss tribute band Hotter Than Hell just might be more real than the real thing

"There are a lot of garage bands trying to do it," he says of other Kiss copycats. "Half-assed bands, where one guy's short, one guy's fat, and they don't look anything like the band. Everyone in this band is the exact height and weight of Kiss, within an inch or a couple of pounds."

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the members of Hotter Than Hell are within a couple of pounds of Kiss, circa 1976. These days, with the expanding middles of Paul and Gene putting a strain on the most elastic of waistbands, Hotter Than Hell actually looks more like the Kiss that we remember than the real band does.

Who knows, maybe one day Simmons and Stanley, like the savvy franchise owners that they are, will simply hand the car keys over to McClusky and tell him to keep the Kiss machine going while they toddle off to play shuffleboard in Florida. In any event, McClusky has already lived out his childhood fantasies, albeit without the attendant fame, wealth, and bacchanalian groupie feasts. Come to think of it, that doesn't leave much, does it?

"I was 9, in fourth grade when I first saw Kiss," he recalls. "I wanted to be Ace Frehley. Actually, I wanted to be an astronaut. Then I realized Ace Frehley was a spaceman, and I really wanted to play guitar, so I put those two things together."

Hotter Than Hell is scheduled to perform on Saturday, February 27, at Club Rio in Tempe. Showtime is 10 p.m.

Shades of Gray: Rhythm Room impresario Bob Corritore planned to attend the Grammys this week at the invitation of his friend, Chicago blues titan Henry Gray. Gray received a Grammy nomination for his participation in Tel-Arc's tribute album to Howlin' Wolf. The 74-year-old Gray was uniquely qualified for the project because he played piano on many of Howlin' Wolf's classic Chess recordings.

Easy Being Green: Jimmy Eat World's amazing sophomore album on Capitol Records, Clarity, finally hit record stores on February 23, and the band is ushering it in with a couple of can't-miss shows this weekend at new Tempe hot spot the Green Room. Jimmy Eat World will be at the Green Room on Saturday, February 27, and Sunday, February 28.

Big Bad Wolf: Last week's Soundcheck on the Phoenix Jazz Orchestra incorrectly referred to Grant Wolf as a professor at Arizona State University. Wolf is actually head of the Instrumental Music Program at Mesa Community College.

--Gilbert Garcia

Contact Gilbert Garcia at his online address: ggarcia@newtimes.com

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