Dive Bomber has become a force to be reckoned with on The Sunset Strip, playing such venues as The Roxy, The Viper Room, The Whiskey A-Go-Go and House of Blues Hollywood. Dive Bomber lights up the stage in an unparalleled groove of power, energy, and love that leaves their audience in awe, most of the time stunned; not even sure of what just happened. Catfish Comstock's intricate guitar solos combined with his own brand of stage presence is exciting and fun in his own right, Rob Pane brings the bass and the sexual energy that keeps the young girls on their toes, and Toad Malone on drums is one of the most seasoned and professional players you will find.
But who is this painted man? Who is Nomad? Who IS Kris Keyes? What's his message? What is he all about?
I have had the pleasure of working with Kris for many years, it can take up to twelve hours to paint him, and I know this because I've helped him do it close to probably a hundred times. He was born in NY and raised in Meriden and New Haven, CT. always performing from a very young age Kris has gone down in the history books at Toads Place in New Haven and is best known for fronting the breakthrough bands Blind Justice and Gargantua Soul before coming to CA to work with Dive Bomber. I will let him tell you the rest of his beautiful and colorful story...
Lisa: Let’s start with the most obvious question, when did you start painting yourself, why do you do it?
Kris Keyes: “I remember Halloween when I was really young, maybe 5 years old, I painted myself with green food coloring as The Hulk that's one of the first times I did it, but it's become more of a tribal thing throughout the years. The first time I painted myself involving music was with a band called "Sold on Murder", and it was a different type of painting; I wore a big wedding dress and I tied cans to the back of my father’s car and I filled these big zip lock bags with red and green food coloring and I put them throughout the wedding dress and then I had my father drive me around this club called "The Brick and Wood" like a hundred times so basically everyone around the club saw this crazy painted dude and when I got on stage I blew up the bags it turned me red and green.”
“The reason I do it, I am basically a shaman conducting a ceremony it's become a very tribal thing for me... Music is my religion and painting the body is like painting a temple, I've come with a declaration to bring people together, to make an announcement and on the flip side it's a fun and artistic thing that I would like to see when I go out and see a show. A lot of times it has come to a vision quest I see a man standing on a mountain, his back is to me as he slowly turns around I see the painted guy I will be at the next show and it happens somewhere between being asleep and being awake.”
Lisa: How do your beliefs transcend through your music? What is your ultimate message?
Kris Keyes: “Dive Bomber is in the process of writing a new CD called "America the Beautiful", I wrote a new song "The New Vitamin" and the chorus is my message to the world... "No limitation, everyone is levitating, total liberation". So basically people come into the world and we are brought up and taught about limitations in life we are taught about boxes, boxes are limiting. When I paint myself I use a lot of circles if you look at a circle a circle is endless a circle goes from the center of the circle to the end of the universe where a box has four sides and it's like a jail cell.”
“My message is don't believe in limitations, feel in your life as if you are levitating don't feel so heavy on the earth you are only here for a short time and the main message is total liberation when I come as the shaman to the party I've come to set everyone free from their pain from the things that limit them in life I want people to come to my show and basically take off their bodies and be themselves and be their spirit.”
Lisa: What is your favorite song you ever wrote?
Kris Keyes: “I would have to say we are making a version of it for the new Dive Bomber CD, it's a song I've attempted with a few different projects I've been in it's called "The Sound Solution". the chorus goes "We are the leaders of the sound solution the sound ignites causing audio revolution we give thumbs down to all mind pollution, hail hail to the sons of the sound solution" that's definitely off the top of my head one of my favorites.”
Lisa: How old were you the first time you ever performed? Where you were, what were you doing?
Kris Keyes: “My mother was an obese woman, she was 525lbs… when she was younger she wanted to be a country singer, her mother said "No"... So my mother became very depressed and basically when I came into the world, I met my mother Elaine Keyes, in a very depressed and overweight state. The only time she would come to life was on holidays and performances, she put me into tap dancing but the major holiday was Halloween she would make me these huge, crazy costumes, but my performances were singing and tap dancing, I must have been 5 years old... "I'm little but I'm loud, I'm poor but I'm proud, I'm countrified and I don't care who knows it, I'm like a banny rooster in a big bad rooster crowd, I'm puny short, I'm little, but I'm loud". And that was a performance where I didn't have tap shoes yet, I had soft shoe I did a little tap dance number and that's when my mother would get out of bed, that's when my mother would come alive because she was putting through me what she was not allowed to do.”
Lisa: You relocated out here to the west coast to be in this band Dive Bomber, how did that come about?
Kris Keyes: “I put an ad on Craigslist that read "I Sing". Catfish contacted me and we started talking and at one point I didn't know if I was going to do this, I worked for Gabriel Gonzaga, I was running his MMA School, and it was a really good time in my life. I had made a solo CD after my band Gargantua Soul, I still had a deal, I was put into the studio and they put a bunch of money behind it and I did these huge shows... I went to India performed for 3 million people and it was a performance called "The Silver Jubilee", but my CD tanked. Whereas Gargantua Soul sold 50,000 CD's my solo CD sold nothing. So I was very depressed and I came back from India and I joined this MMA School called Team Link and it was really a second coming of my life. I got into this regimen if these really cool people and I sort of became part of the family but then I realized that I really came back to the country from India to do music so I put the ad on Craigslist. When we started on how we were going to bring me to the west coast it was a negotiation, and I remember specifically me and Catfish going, “now what?”
“From the conversations we knew we were soul brothers we knew it was going to happen but we just didn't know when. Then finally we worked out the agreement, I didn't relocate right away, I came out I recorded the CD, we did a couple shows, when we all got together and really performed we all realized it was a great thing so I went and packed up all my things and came back out. The painted man is definitely a reflection of what is going on inside of me. In the time I have been in Dive Bomber, "America the Beautiful" is definitely inspired by what has happened because the painted guy is a whole brand new painted guy the painted guy from Gargantua Soul or even going back to Blind Justice was different, I'm in a way different place in my life. There are all these different things that make up "Nomad" and it's a combination of sadness, it's a combination of aggression, it's a combination of really wanting to be liberated from my problems and my shortcomings in my own life so it's brand new; and I'm always excited when there is a blank piece of paper and you start to create but "America the Beautiful" is definitely an expression of where I'm at with Dive Bomber and Nomad.”
Lisa: Does Dive Bomber have any plans on touring?
Kris Keyes: “Christian Lawrence (Opus)- (Dead by Wednesday/Bullet Boys/Alcoholica) is my soul brother, he said the word Gargantua, and I said the word Soul, we put those words together and he is definitely family to me and he digs what I do with the painted guy so he invited me and Dive Bomber to come out and be the host of his birthday bash at Toads Place in New Haven, CT, it's going to be the first time the east coast experiences Dive Bomber and we are really excited to be a part of it.”
Lisa: I've heard that you are going back to the east coast before then to finish a movie with Corbin Bernsen called Sensory Perception. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Kris Keyes: “I am actually involved in different stages of three different movies. Sensory Perception, a feature film written, directed, and produced by Alessandro Signore and produced by David Gere, also stars Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Major League), John Savage (Godfather III, Deer Hunter), John Wesley Shipp (The Flash, Dawson's Creek), Diamond Dallas Page (The Devil's Rejects, WWE), Mike Duff, Stephanie Victoria Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC Heavyweight), Tommy Dreamer (Self Storage, ECW), and some of the best talent on the east coast. That film has been a long and glorious journey and will be finished by the end of the year with distribution in early 2014.”
“Then I was contacted by someone that wants to do a documentary on The Painted Man, and then there is also a part for me in their new movie.”
“The next feature film I'm involved with will be shot partially in Las Vegas by Pale Nail Productions, which is Alessandro Signore's flagship company. I'm Al's “DeNiro” and he's my “Scorsese”, and we're really excited about this next one - it's called Flicker, and it's the same thing that happened with Sensory Perception. In the beginning, we were filming it in an abandon warehouse, I was wearing bare feet, 12 hour days, freezing cold weather - I really put my time in with Al and Sensory Perception has stayed a true indie film artistically, but now we're rubbing elbows and shooting with Hollywood actors who WANT to be involved in what we're doing. Same thing with Flicker, it was originally a short film, a passion project of ours called "The Slighted". We are actually going to make a proposal to Corey Feldman to be involved, we are going to make a proposal to one of the stars of The Boondock Saints, among others, and basically try to make Flicker the same thing as Sensory Perception - a true indie with an uncompromised vision, but also a film that has some marquee value and can break into major markets.”
“The other movie that was offered to me by the company that wants to do the documentary on me is some type of story about Charles Manson and it's in the desert and I believe it's going to be shot in Arizona and that was actually just proposed to me and I was like, "Hell ya man!..". There is also a possibility I will be one of the hosts of Pauliewood he is starting an Internet TV show and he just got his backing for that, for me I'm an actor, I've been an actor/singer ever since I was little and I went to a school called The Educational Center for the Arts, in New Haven, CT. So being a host for shows and doing different things in the entertainment business is all really cool to me, but singing, being the shaman but also acting is really a love of mine, I've done script vie done theatre so I look forward to doing these other things. I will also be doing a music video with Sensory Perception producer David Gere for a solo song, So Close, when I go back east.”
Throughout all the interviews i have done in my lifetime, interviewing someone so close to me has been the most fulfilling. Kris Keyes is so much more than the music he creates and produces. His ability to grasp his inner self exposes his free spirit and reminds me of John Lennon's hope and timeless music. Creative, imaginative, dedicated, centered, original, talented, soulful, colorful, bold, masterful and ENIGMATIC; these are the words that best describe the wonder that is Kris Keyes/Nomad.