An Interview with

'Patrick Kennison'

Lead Vocalist/Guitarist of Los Angeles Hard Rock Band

'Heaven Below' & also Lita Ford's Lead Guitarist

that took place late August & through October 2014

Interviewed by Glenn Milligan & OZZFestAmy

Glenn: What turned you on to Hard Rock & Heavy Metal in the beginning?

Patrick: I grew up the youngest of seven children. I remember bands like Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Kiss, and Cheap Trick blaring down the hallway at all hours.

Glenn: How was the scene in San Antonio, Texas where you originate from with regard to music?

Patrick: Growing up I remember that San Antonio was referred to as 'The Heavy Metal Capitol of the World.' But the scene lacked a lot of bands that weren’t scared to be played on radio. That being said, there is a lot of great metal music from there.

Glenn: Why guitar and who would you say your influential guitarists are and why?

Patrick: Because guitar is the coolest instrument ever. My favorite guitarists are Wolff Hoffman, Michael Schenker and Mick Mars.

Glenn: What was your first guitar, how did you get it and where from?

Patrick: I was 11 years old. My mom gave me an acoustic for Christmas. I was angry at the time that she didn’t buy me a Nintendo, but she turned out to be right.

Glenn: How and when did you originally discover you could sing and what songs did you enjoy singing during those early days?

Patrick: When my lead singer of my first band got suspended from school and I had to sing in his place at the seventh grade dance. I sang Motley Crue’s 'Red Hot'. I used to sing Metallica and Alice in Chains covers during those early days.

Glenn: What made you want to form a band and get on stage in the first place?

Patrick: Seeing Iron Maiden on the Powerslave tour when I was 11 years old.

Glenn: Tell us about the first bands you were a member of?

Patrick: Venjentz - We were too young to drive but we managed to get gigs all around town. Our parents would have to go to the gigs with us.

Boyzen Heat - We were old enough to drive; the band was a cross between glam metal and guitar shred.

Union Underground - We found our place in the arrival in the Nu-Metal scene in the late 90’s/early 2000’s.

Glenn: What were the first shows like that you performed and where did they take place?

Patrick: Seventh grade dance. Very impromptu and thrown together.

Glenn: What was the bridge from the small local bands to being in a signed up band like Union Underground?

Patrick: Drive, hard work and perseverance.

Glenn: What were your thoughts when you made what we would term ‘The Big Time’?

Patrick: I felt like I got a well-deserved spot in the marathon of music.

Glenn: What would you say were the most memorable moments of ‘Union Underground’ were album work and shows overall?

Patrick: Recording our first album in Los Angeles and touring on Ozzfest.

Glenn: You played the Ozzfest 2001 when you were in the band, 'Union Underground' - what were the most memorable parts of this experience and for what reasons?

Patrick: Hanging out with all the great bands and playing for thousands of screaming fans every day.

Glenn: Who would you say were the most influential people you met that helped further your career during your time on the Ozzfest?

Patrick: Dave Williams, R.I.P.; the members of Disturbed; but mostly all the fans.

Glenn: What would you say you miss about being a member of Union Underground and what would it take for a one-off reunion or tour to take place some time in the future?

Patrick: I don’t miss anything. I don’t look back, I only look forward.

Glenn: I understand you have worked for Rob Zombie - how did this come into fruition, how was it and what exactly were you working on?

Patrick: I made friends with mega-producer, Scott Humphrey, during the recording of Union Underground’s second album. Scott introduced me to Rob Zombie and Rob said he needed some guitar tracks on his Greatest Hits album. The experience was surreal and humbling.

Glenn: In your opinion, how would you say Hollywood & the Los Angeles area has changed over the years regarding the music scene since you located there?

Patrick: It has more pay-to-play then ever, but the true bands seem to avoid that altogether.

Glenn: In pure honesty, what would you say are the best and worst things about this area of California and why?

Patrick: Pay-to-play is the worst, the competition among the good bands is the best.

Glenn: Why did you decide to call the band 'Heaven Below' and what does the name itself mean to you?

Patrick: The name comes from a lyric in a song that I wrote called, “The Laughing Dead.” To me it means happiness before salvation.

Glenn: What went through your mind when your first heard your songs on radio?

Patrick: ‘I hope I’m getting paid for this.’

Glenn: What did that mean to you being hailed as the next Guns ‘N’ Roses and do you consider this to be an appropriate thing to say by the media?

Patrick: It’s very daunting, but I love being associated with greatness.

Glenn: What have been the best tours that the band has done so far and why?

Patrick: Any of the dates in the southwest U.S., because people there keep it real.

Glenn: How was it for you guys sharing stages with Buckcherry and Avenged Sevenfold and what were the coolest aspects of those shows?

Patrick: It was amazing, especially because those bands treated us as equals.

Glenn: What songs mean the most to you in the bands career so far and why?

Patrick: ‘When Daylight Dies’ is close to my heart, because so many fans love the lyrics. ‘Higher Than Heaven’ because it’s a tribute to concert goers.

Glenn: You’ve made some really cool videos so far for your songs such as Dodging A Bullet with its Pulp Fiction parody but what is it like for your making the videos in general?

Patrick: I personally dislike it, because it’s nothing like playing on stage and its nothing like recording in the studio.

Glenn: How did you manage to get William Shatner to put the voice-over for ‘Sub-Divisions’ – what’s the story behind the concept of that and why this particular actor?

Patrick: I had the honor of playing on William Shatner’s 2011 solo release. He said if I ever needed anything to give him a call, so I did.

Glenn: How would you personally describe a ‘Heaven Below’ show and what would you say makes it stand out from those of other bands of a similar style as yourselves?

Patrick: Our shows are full of energy and reckless abandonment, and I think that makes us genuine.

Glenn: Care to tell us any tellable road stories?

Patrick: You’ll have to go to our youtube channel to view those.

Glenn: How would you describe the guitar and vocal styles of Patrick Kennison and why?

Patrick: Loud, imperfect, and passionate. Because that’s how I like to get it done.

Glenn: What else would you like to talk about that I have not covered so far?

Patrick: I just want to give a shout out to all our friends, family and fans. Please stay close & tuned as Heaven Below is working to give our fans the best concept album we can deliver that will see the light of day very soon . No bloated story lines or songs, just direct energy and emotion presented through genuine characters & passion.

Glenn: What is next for you and the band overall?

Patrick: To finish our concept album and bring it to the masses with a feverish passion.

Glenn: You have a musical project with the young female singer, Gabbie Rae – how did you meet Gabbie and what made you decide to work with her?

Patrick: I met Gabbie through a mutual industry friend. He insisted that she meet up with me upon her relocating to LA. Her and I hit it off immediately after I heard her sing a stunning rendition of 'When Daylight Dies'. I love spreading the musical love. It just seemed like a no brainer.

Glenn: Will there be an album in the future from this project with original songs and if so, what has been written already and what kinds of topics are covered??

Patrick: I’ve already had her record a few tunes including “Scream”. There are a few more that will see the light of day as well. Probably some kind of EP. Lyrically the topics avoid cliches such as breakups & heart mending. Rather we stick to rebellion & crowd participation themes.

Glenn: How were you received by the audience on the Monsters Of Rock Tour while you and what feedback did you get from those watching after the performances?

Patrick: The response was amazing. I feel that we proved to classic rock fans that there is a new generation of hard rock & metal that can be embraced with horns in the air.

Glenn: How would like to see the musical project with Gabbie Rae progress into the future? Do you think it will always be an acoustic project or can you see it turning into a full band situation when you aren’t busy with Heaven Below?

Patrick: It will definitely be a full band situation. I’m sure I will have my fingers in the project even if i’m not in the stage lineup.

Glenn: I understand you recently supported Geoff Tate’s Queensryche with Madlife. How did that come to be and what were highlights of this for you and the band?

Patrick: Our fans literally reached out to the local promoter and insisted that Heaven Below return to the Bay Area. It only seemed right that we bring our brothers Madlife along as we love playing & partying with them. The highlights were onstage & offstage debauchery.

Glenn: What did you learn from Geoff Tate’s Queensryche with regard to performance that you can incorporate in the future if relevant to Heaven Below?

Patrick: We learned that presentation & vibe is key. Especially when playing legendary material from legendary albums.

Glenn: How did you become involved in the residency at Skinnys Lounge in North Hollywood on the Rockahaulic Night and what have been the best nights for you there so far and why?

Patrick: Our bassist John Younger is endorsed by Schecter Guitars who sponsors the night. When I realized it was down the street from my house, I gladly offered my services. The best nights are when are touring friends show up and command the stage with a storm of killer metal classics.

Glenn: You’ve played all over the world in your career, where have you found some of the best audiences to be and why do you think that is the case?

Patrick: I love the southwest United States. People there just love loud, sweaty, beer soaked music. Having grown up there, I relate to these people. Raised on Pantera and booze, I just love it.

Glenn: What places have had the most effect on you as a person overall and for reasons?

Patrick: The UK was an amazing experience. Just seeing that regardless of food or culture, music is truly the international language. Being the birthplace of Metal, it’s an honor just to play that sacred ground.

Glenn: How would you say you have progressed as a singer and songwriter to when you began all those many years ago?

Patrick: I’ve really opened my mind and expanded on what got me started in the first place. I embrace harmonies, double bass, guitar solos, and lyrics with depth. I’m simply a bit more fearless and adventurous than ever before.

OZZFestAmy: What is the story behind the star that you wear around your neck since the OZZfest days and maybe before that? Why does it stay close to you after all these years? What are the origins of it?

Patrick: The original star was a metal one that I got at a K-mart in a gum ball machine while U/U was recording our first album. I attached it to a necklace a fan gave me and BOOM, the idea was there.

A few X-mas’s later my girlfriends mother had the current star custom made by a Texas jeweller. It is the one I wear now.

OZZFestAmy: Can you tell us some great Pat Kennison Campfire stories that amuse you and like to share with the readership overall?

Patrick: Most of ‘em are not for children. Meet me at the bar & I’ll let loose :)

Glenn: How did Lita Ford find out about you?

Patrick: Our mutual friend is the president of BC Rich guitars. He suggested me to her.

Glenn: Tell us about the audition.

Patrick: It was very natural since I’d played with bassist Marty O Brien before. I watched youtube videos of her recent performances so there were no surprises as to the vibe of the material. Lita & I connected immediately with our love of loud arena rock.

Glenn: What were your thoughts when you found out you had got the gig?

Patrick: I was very excited and was looking forward to the challenge of learning a lot of songs in a short period of time.

Glenn: How were those rehearsals to break you in as the new guitarist and what stood out from them with regards to the personality of the band members and the songs you had to learn?

Patrick: What stood out was me picking out the harmony vocals from the classic recordings and bringing them to the stage. As far as breaking in, the chemistry was immediate. Bobby Rock is also from Texas and one bad motherf*ck*r, so locking in to his powerful solid playing was second nature to me.

Glenn: Tell us about the highlights of the shows so far.

Patrick: The reaction to the newer Lita material is amazing. It proves that she is not a nostalgia act. She has a lot to offer with new music too. The fans have been very accepting of me. I feel blessed.

Glenn: What songs have you enjoyed so far most and why?

Patrick: Of course the classic tracks are awesome. But like I said earlier, the new material has plenty of fire and keeps up with the older material. Songs like "Devil In My Head” and “Living Like A Runaway” are soon to be classics.

Glenn: What have you learnt most so far about working with Lita?

Patrick: That a strong work ethic will carry you very far. Perseverance is not only helpful, it’s a necessity.

Glenn: What is happening after the tour - do you see yourself being on a forthcoming Lita album?

Patrick: Lita and I are already collaborating as I type this :)

Glenn: What would you like to say to the fans reading this interview?

Patrick: Thank you for all of your continued support and for allowing us to claim your soul in Heaven Below. :)

Glenn: What have the bands proudest moments been so far in your career and why?

Patrick: I think are proudest moments are still awaiting.

Big thanks to Patrick for the straight to the point answers

Be sure to check out the bands website:

Special thanks go to OZZFestAmy for the opening picture taken with Patrick & also the shots of Patrick & Gabbie Rae at Hard Rock Cafe, Los Angeles; Skum Love; All the Rawkioke band members and the amazing venue in North Hollywood, California that is Skinnys Lounge.

Live Performance Pictures & Skinny's Lounge taken by Glenn Milligan with other images supplied by Patrick Kennison.