Friday, January 3, 2014

Dan Bach A KISS

A year in the life of a KISS fanatic

Aberystwyth music fan Dan Griffiths recalls the first time he saw American rock band KISS perform.

"It was on Top of The Pops in May 1979. I thought to myself 'Wow! Who are these guys with the make-up?' I remember mam exclaiming, 'What an earth is this on the TV now!'" says Dan about the buzz of seeing his favourite band first when he was 12 years old. This was the start of a lifetime obsession.

In the S4C programme Dan Bach a KISS on Thursday 9 January, Dan will show us what it's like to be a faithful member of the 'KISS Army' as the band release a new album and embark on a new world tour.

"There is a very fine line between being a fan and a fanatic. A fan enjoys the music, follows the band and goes to their gigs. But a fanatic takes it a little more seriously. I would put myself in the 'Major Fanatic' category," says Dan, revealing a tattoo which covers his entire back with the faces of each band member, and the KISS logo like a lightning bolt in the middle.

"I just love the whole thing - the antics, outfits, make-up, and guitars. The morning after seeing them on Top of The Pops I went out and bought the 12 inch record. I've been faithful to KISS ever since," explains Dan, who has an entire room dedicated to storing his priceless collection of band memorabilia.

In total, Dan estimates he has spent at least £25,000 on merchandise and gigs all over the world - and admits his obsession has caused him to lose a few girlfriends over the years.

But there is a serious note to his relationship with the band. Dan, who is a dwarf, explains. "The first feeling when I saw them on TV was 'Wow! These guys look like freaks. And maybe at the time I thought of myself as a freak. How many dwarves are there in the world - around 1 in 50,000 people? I'm a freak and I'm unique," says Dan who strongly believes that the band has helped him come to terms with who he is.

"When I was a teenager and the kids around me were growing taller, from four foot up to six foot, the same thing wasn't happening to me," says Dan who works at the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. "But through KISS, and with the support of friends and family, I'm still here and I'm loving every minute."

There is one dream he has yet to fulfil: to see KISS play in Tokyo, and re-live one of their most famous gigs when they rocked the Budokan Hall in 1977. With the announcement of a new world tour, the dream moves a step closer, and the S4C programme will follow Dan to Japan, past the security guards, to the backstage area where he comes face to face with his heroes.