Interview: Killinger Guitarist Kevin Morin Discusses Tour with Black Label Society and His Other Day Job
This is shaping up to be a healthy year for the band Killinger.
The Canadian quartet picked up the People’s Choice trophy at the Edmonton Music Awards and has seen their song “We Are Here” featured as part of FOX Sports MLB programming. The band continues to win over audiences with the huge guitar riffs and catchy melodies heard on their self-titled debut release. The album features a contemporary sound that incorporates the best of '80s hard rock and metal.
Having shared the stage with such notable acts as Lynch Mob, Hellyeah and Stryper, Killinger is now prepared to embark on a tour of “Oz-mic” proportions; providing support to Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society on the Canadian leg of their upcoming tour.
For guitarist Kevin Morin, it's also been a healthy year, but not in the way one might expect. Chances are, if you don't see him blazing stages with his guitar wizardry, you'll find him within the confines of a laboratory. For in addition to being one of the best shredders north of the border, Kevin is also a licensed physician with a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science and a specialty in psychiatric training. He's also been concentrating his off stage efforts into developing his own brand of energy drink called FOYTonic ("Fountain of Youth" Tonic).
I had the chance to speak with Morin and get his thoughts on the Killinger album and upcoming tour with BLS. We also go in depth about his "day" job as well.
GUITAR WORLD: Congratulations on the success of your album. It reminds me so much of the great, metal guitar-inspired ones of the '80s.
Thank you so much. I love to hear feedback like that because that's exactly where I come from. I love the great players from that era. A lot of the great players today owe a lot to the ones from back in the day. Players like Eddie Van Halen, Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and the pioneering work that they did. They're some of my biggest influences.
Speaking of great players, George Lynch contributes a solo on your record. How did the band wind up working with him?
Our producer, Rick Plester, knew George and asked him if he'd like to contribute something for the album. Fortunately for us, he was available and was able to come to Canada and deliver a solo. I've always loved his tone and it was a thrill to have him on the album. After we had finished the record, he came back to Canada with Lynch Mob and headlined a tour that we did. It was awesome.
Killinger are also about to embark on another tour, this time with Black Label Society.
Yes, we are, and I'm just thrilled about it. BLS is a monster band. I've always loved Ozzy's guitar players and Zakk, of course, is another icon. It's a dream come true for me.
I've noticed that you also have an interest in energy drinks. What can you tell me about that?
I've always had a vested interest in peak performance and good health. I've been working on an energy/health drink for years; long before anyone had ever heard of Red Bull or other products like that. It's called FOYTonic and it's a product I've been formulating and consuming myself for years. Finally, the circumstances have all come together and I'm at the stage now where I have it bottled. I've also taken it on tour with us and given it out to thousands of fans.
What makes FOYTonic different from other energy drinks?
It's an alternative to the ones out there that may not be as healthy for you (with all of the caffeine and taurine). Right now, we are in the process of conducting a clinical trial of the drink that looks at its ability to help the body more effectively handle sugar. One of the problems in our society is having too much refined sugar in our diets and the body has a hard time absorbing it. I'm looking at this drink to help promote good levels.
A lot of people may not know this, but in addition to being a guitarist, you're also a physician.
Yes, that's my other main job. I have the research interest developing beverages and I do see patients, but my main love is music. In fact, it's the reason why I chose my specialty (psychiatry); specifically, the psychology of music.
What fascinates you most about music psychology?
There's a lot more research on how music influences the brain. If you ask people what was the time in their lives when music had the biggest impact on them, most would say that it was during their teenage years. Music plays an essential role at a particular time in your life and it has everything to do with your developing brain. During your teenage years, your brain is in overdrive; developing, streamlining itself. Music at this point is fascinating because studies show that it's the one stimulation of the brain that has the most wide-ranging effects. When your brain is getting ready for adulthood it benefits from that. I think music a very positive, therapeutic thing. The more I learn about it, the more satisfying it becomes for me.
What are some of the types of people you see in your practice?
I deal with a lot of folks who suffer with substance abuse. People really misunderstand addiction and the reasons why it may develop. But if you think about the developing brain and its stimulation with music, you can understand how some of those same structures in the brain can also be stimulated by certain other substances.
And you get to do real field research every time you play.
It's one of the things I really love about playing. Another musician once told me something that really struck a chord with me. He said, "We're very fortunate be able to do what we do. To go out there and touch people." That touching, the connection of it. That's what it's all about.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.
Photo: Kori Deby