“People need rock’n’roll, a good drink and… to get laid. That’s it man! As simple as that…”, that’s what Heber Pampillon, Kickin Valentina’s guitarist says before we even start the interview. From the other side of the planet, he is talking to us about the band’s music, their worldview, the band’s name, the change of singer, ’80s nostalgia, future plans and dreams. Interview: Yiannis Dolas
Rockpages.gr: With the name like the one you’ve got I guess you must have had some controversy…
Heber Pampillon: No! You know we never had much controversy. The origin of the name is about a pornstar who used to kick guys in the ball nuts… we never heard anything like “oh, my God… this and that”. I think secretly everybody likes porn in one form or another, either if they admit it or not (laughs)! We never had any problems because of our name, but you never know. Because, nowadays everybody gets offended by everything. So, who knows?
Rockpages.gr: That was actually my point, that we are living in an age of political correctness and sometimes things that might seem harmless may offend people.
Heber Pampillon: Yeah, well… if it does, then it’s all well. We don’t mean any harm with it, or anything like that. At the end of the day it’s rock’n’roll and it’s all about having fun. If some people are too stubborn and they want to live in their own bubble and don’t like to have fun, they want to be miserable for all their lives and bitch and complain about everything, then you know what? They can go fuck themselves.
Rockpages.gr: We are talking about your album, which is called “The Revenge Of Rock”, but Gene Simmons quite recently repeated on the media, what he said some time ago, that “rock is dead”. What do you have to say about that?
Heber Pampillon: Well, rock’n’roll in general has gone underground. There is a lot of great bands out there that people should give a try and listen to. So, it’s definitely becoming an underground movement again. Obviously, it’s not the mainstream, you know Top40… so, in that aspect of it yes. But there are great bands out there and great music and people should try to go and find them. Because, you never know when you are going to find the next Metallica, or the next KISS.
So, on that aspect I don’t quite agree with him. But, in a way it’s not as mainstream as it used to be.
Rockpages.gr: Which ones would you say that are your main influences and the bands that you like, apart from KISS, which I know you like…
Heber Pampillon: Ahhm, yeah! We all have different influences in the band, that actually makes us what we are. Me, personally, you mentioned it; KISS are my biggest influence in music and playing rock’n’roll. I am a big fan of classical music, I enjoy jazz, I love blues, so there are is a lot of different stuff that I enjoy listen to. As far as rock bands I am a big Ozzy and Whitesnake fan… One of my favourite bands is Kixx. Also, I love bands like Spread Eagle, I loved Badlands, Jake E. Lee is one of my favourite guitar players… I am a big John Sykes fan, I enjoy everything he’s done.
Rockpages.gr: Recently you had to change your singer after two albums. Do you think that having a change of a singer in a band is a problem because I guess most of the people relate to the voice they listen to, more than the music?
Heber Pampillon: No… I don’t think it was a problem. Everybody has embraced D.K. (Ed, Revelle) our new singer and we are moving forward. We put out some good stuff so far and we are planning on putting out some more. Kickin Valentina is not about one person. It’s a whole. The nucleus of the band, which is us four makes Kickin Valentina, it’s not about one person. So, that’s the way we look at it, that’s the way we write and that’s the way we march forward and that’s what makes us strong. We are stronger now than we were ever before. So, I don’t see a problem…
Rockpages.gr: The next single you are releasing is “War”, can you tell us a bit about it? I think it’s one of the stand out songs on the album.
Heber Pampillon: “War” can be about… when you are writing a song it can have different meanings for everybody. It can be about relationships, marital, boyfriend, girlfriend, any significant other, or just in general between different races, economies… all that stuff. It has all that meaning. I think it just came out that way. When we are writing music we don’t say “hey, we’re going to write a song about this”… it’s just kind of goes and takes over and we just go with it.
Rockpages.gr: Also, I would like to ask you about “Somebody New”, which was the song that got me into Kickin Valentina, because I haven’t heard of you guys before, I apologize, now I am going to be more careful! I really liked the idea in the video, the twist in the plot, with the girl who is heartbroken by a guy and then she dates a girl… how did this come up?
Heber Pampillon: It’s just one of those things that turn out that way. Not everything has to be black and white. There is shades of grey in every aspect of our lives. You don’t know which twists and turns we have, that’s the way it is. Going back to being an unapologetic, balls deep, street rock’n’roll band, we’re just gonna go where it takes us. It just happened to have a twist that way and we went with that. It leaves stuff for people’s imaginations and leaves imaginations run wild and go crazy and have fun, everything we do. Just enjoy and live for the moment, because you are not promised tomorrow. Take it for what it is. We don’t try to be philosophers or having a hidden agenda… no man, we are about now… get us in front of people, let’s play, let’s have some fun, let’s enjoy that and go on to the next city.
Rockpages.gr: Another song I liked was “Strange”, can you talk about it as well?
Heber Pampillon: Ahm, again we are going back to the same thing, first of all this is our most diversified album yet. We’ve got a little bit of everything, commercial, harder stuff, melodic stuff, anthemic songs. It’s about the moment, about reminiscing, the good times that we’ve had and emphasizing on let’s bring back the fun to rock’n’roll. God knows how depressing life was in the last year…
Rockpages.gr: How did you spend last year with the lockdown, the quarantine, the isolation…
Heber Pampillon: Well, it was rough, because we had a lot of tours canceled, so we weren’t able to play… we are a live band. More than anything in the world we enjoy playing live and hanging out with our friends and fans. So, it’s been rough, because we weren’t able to get together, K.D. lives in California, the three of us, Chris, Jimmy and me live here in Atlanta. We are looking forward to getting back on tour, seeing everybody and sweating on people… we love that!
Rockpages.gr: Do you think that’s happening in 2021?
Heber Pampillon: Well, as a matter of fact, we’ve already booked a couple of shows for next year, so on top of the whole bunch that we will be announcing. Unfortunately, our February tour in the UK was cancelled in December, but everything looks good so far for some shows here in the US later this year. Hopefully, nothing gets cancelled. We are staying positive and optimistic, just like any other band out there!
Rockpages.gr: You are signed to a European label, would you say that Europe has more interest in your music than the US?
Heber Pampillon: I think that in Europe rock’n’roll is still a lifestyle, while here in the US, although we love playing here and we love our fans, rock’n’roll here is more underground. So, you have pockets in the US where rock’n’roll is big, so yes being signed to a record label in Europe means that we are getting more press in Europe and we do very well in Europe. We wanna play all around the world, everywhere, so whether they like us or not, we are going to show up (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: There is a thing about an ‘80s revival nowadays, on TV shows, like for example “Cobra Kai”, which is very popular on Netflix. Do you think that Kickin Valentina can be in this wave of nostalgia, revival and gain some more popularity?
Heber Pampillon: Well, I think the ‘80s hair bands have been doing a revival for many years. We don’t want to be pigeonholed to just one thing. We want to have our music speak for ourselves and we are not a band from the ‘80s, we were born in the ‘80s. We just play music we enjoy. So, hopefully this is going to be our new norm. Our music is going to be rock’n’roll and we want to embrace it and our goal is for people to listen to our songs and make memories. We all have certain songs that when we listen to them take us back when we were kids, or to our first kiss… or the first time you got laid at the back of a car! Or whatever, right? That’s all we’ve been doing. Helping people make memories.
Rockpages.gr: What would you say that are the goals and expectations of the bands of your generation? Because, you mentioned earlier “who is going to be the next KISS, or Motley Crue”. Can the bands we have nowadays reach that status, or are we talking about something different?
Heber Pampillon: I really don’t know if any bands in the future will reach that status. Unfortunately, being realistic, rockstars are dying out. There is no that many rockstars left. These figures were larger than life. So, I really don’t know. We are not trying to change a genre in music, or style of music. We want to get in front of people who like our music and if we can make a living doing it and doing what we love, that to us is reaching a status. If we ever get to be as big as KISS, which is not our goal, we’re gonna take it! But, that is no our expectation at all. Our expectation is to able to hear from people like you, that no too long ago you listened to our stuff and you became a fan. That’s our goal. One fan at a time. If we ever get that big, then great, but if we don’t… as long as we are having fun. Sometimes it’s more about the actual trip, than the destination.
Rockpages.gr: You are a guitarist and you have a singer in your band, which one would you say has the biggest ego in a band?
Heber Pampillon: In our band… the drummer (laughs)! No, just kidding! We don’t have egos. We are very approachable, you can come up and talk to us… we talk to our fans all the time on social media, when we see them we hang out, we take them back stage. We never asked people to pay us to do that. We don’t do that kind of stuff. We are always out in the club hanging out watching the bands that are opening up for us, or bands we are opening up for. There is no egos in our band. As far as other bands are concerned, I don’t care what they do. In our band we are all down to Earth and we are very approachable.
Rockpages.gr: Have you ever met your heroes? A rockstar, or an artist that you really admire? Were you disappointed because he wasn’t very approachable or very friendly to fans and maybe you?
Heber Pampillon: Yeah, when we were touring there were a few that I met and they were like that. I won’t mention any names because I met them now and it was completely different. But, yes… I think we all have and I guess that’s one of the reasons that we are they way that we are. Because, that person who meets on of their idols, or a person he looks up to, they get to meet them and they get disappointed because the guy is an asshole. That’s not us. This is not what we are trying to do. We’re never gonna be that.
Rockpages.gr: Of course, talking about KISS I have to ask you which are your favourite albums?
Heber Pampillon: All of them! Including “The Elder” (laughs)! I am a life-long KISS fan, so I liked everything they’ve done, or I didn’t like something they’ve done as much, but I could see where they were going with it and for the time how it appealed to me. I am a fan of everything, but obviously the live albums are my favourites.
Rockpages.gr: Can you remember which one was the first rock song that you’ve listened to?
Heber Pampillon: Wow! I’ve never thought of that. That’s a great question. Well, it had to be a KISS song, because the first time I heard them I said “oh, my God”. I just can’t remember which one it was. I probably consumed the whole album from beginning to end a few times.