Keeping Metal Alive And Kicking

Jersey cover-band Killerwatt is a heavy metal tribute band who prides itself on the enjoyment of playing out. They seek out people who love heavy rock as much as they do and bring them back to metals past.

"We're doing it for the love of the music now," said bassist John Kaye, who relives the moment hearing metal music for the first time when he plays on stage. "It's just one of those things," he said. "Either you have it or you don't as far as the desire for it."

Killerwatt officially formed in '98, but some band members have played together since their early teens. Their staying power is proof that heavy rock still lives on. While their first task is a good time, their underlying mission is to keep their favorite music in people's ears and on their minds. "People come up to me at concerts and say, 'thanks for keeping metal going and thanks for keeping it alive,'" said Kaye.

They have built their following by playing with other hard rock cover bands like Bad Hair Day and Rock Kandy. This exposure gives them the opportunity to meet new people interested in seeing another cover band like theirs. It still is tough to build a following, as metal continues to decline in popularity. "People who like metal are either older and don't go out as much anymore or young and all over the place," said Kaye.

Killerwatt covers a wide range of metal acts from thrash to glam to plain old hard rock. "We have a song list of 60 to 70 songs and we try to mix it up a bit and not play the same sets," said Kaye. "Recent sets have included Tesla's "Modern Day Cowboy", Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam", Warrant's "Uncle Toms Cabin" and the usual assortment of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Kiss, Van Halen, (and so on)."

The band also focuses on covering a broad spectrum of metal's time periods, Kaye adds. "We actually do hard rock and metal from the 70's, Kiss, U.F.O. and Priest, 80's, Ozzy, Warrant, Slaughter, Maiden and 90's ,Creed, Tool, Alice In Chains," he said.

For their performances, the band tries to choose songs which can showcase their talent. According to Kaye, they're not afraid to show off their chops. "We try to think in terms of what people will remember," he said regarding their set list. "We also try to show off the various (band) members." The band, however, does try and stick to the basic format of the original song. "We take the basics and individually throw some of our own improvisations in. (For example, the) solo may be different, but we try to keep the spirit of the song," said Kaye. "For the most part, it's pretty much as the recording. We also like to keep the energy level high."

Keeping the energy level high is a good way to keep the crowd happy. "The New Jersey crowd response has been good, people seem to definitely be into the music we're playing," said Kaye. "Pennsylvania crowds were crazy, they love their metal! We're looking to branch out into Long Island and New York as well." The band currently plays many clubs and bars in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but Kaye had some trouble picking a favorite. "We like all the places we play at, great rooms and the owners and managers all treat us well, but I guess you might call the Sports Section our home," he said.

The band was included on Commodity Oddity Entertainment's "Garden State of Mind Volume One" CD, playing Skid Row's "Sweet Little Sister." "It's NJ bands covering other NJ bands," said Kaye. "It's available at Jack's Music, Vintage Vinyl, CD World and online at for more info and song samples."

Killerwatt's upcoming gigs include March 23 at A's, with Get Your Guns and April 28, where they're doing a set at the NY Kiss expo in Hackensack, New Jersey around 6 pm.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.