Pyro Tech CURT ANTHONY Reflects On Tours With KISS, AC/DC, BON JOVI - "There Was Always A Giant Positive Response To Everything That You Did"
December 6, 2018, 2 months ago
In a new interview with AL.com, Alabama native Curt Anthony talks about doing pyro for legendary rock bands KISS, AC/DC, Bon Jovi and others. An excerpt from the story follows...
If you witnessed rad pyro during an '80s or early '90 concert, you may have Curt Anthony to partially thank for that wow. Anthony worked as a pyro tech on tours for elite guitar groups like AC/DC, Aerosmith, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Dio, Skid Row, Ratt, ZZ Top and U2, and even rappers Run-DMC and pop-star Janet Jackson.
Usually stationed downstage-right near the guitar techs, Anthony triggered flames, sparks and booms to dramatically punctuate the musicians' onstage performances. "There was always a giant positive response to everything that you did," Anthony says of fans' reactions. "You could always hear it. It was either a roar or cheer of some sort from the audience."
The 1981 Buckhorn High grad got started in the business through Huntsville concert lighting and pyrotechnics company Luna Tech. His first job there was janitorial. He'd been working at a shoe store as stock-boy. "I'm like, "If this is a chance to at least advance it's more than I'm getting where I am now,'" Anthony recalls. "If it means cleaning the floors and emptying the garbage, put me in coach."
Anthony cleaned the Luna Tech shop for about three years, soaking up whatever knowledge and experience he could. If the company was working a concert within 200 miles, he'd drive there and help-out with pyro for acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Journey.
Around 1983, once he was 21 and old enough to be listed on pyrotechnics licenses, Anthony got his first shot to go on-tour, with hard-rock heroes KISS. At the time the band featured frontman Paul Stanley, bassist Gene Simmons, drummer Eric Carr and guitarist Vinnie Vincent. This would be KISS' last tour wearing their signature makeup until 1996, when Stanley and Simmons reunited with fellow original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Anthony got the KISS gig after a tech known as "Pyro Pete" left for another tour.
For his first KISS tour, Anthony remembers the band's pyro including a lot of spark effects. "We would do spinning wheels, a motorized effect, off the Kiss sign," Anthony says. The electrical, 30-foot-high and 40-foot-long or so Kiss sign is one of the band's best-known stage props. "We would also do a wall of sparks falling from the lighting-truss at the top of the KISS sign, which would cascade down and look almost like a waterfall effect. We would also do what we called airburst effects, which were just small flash charges with sparkle in it that were also rigged from the lighting-truss to simulate an aerial effect, in a controlled environment."
Alas, KISS axed their pyro for that tour after only a week or so after he joined up, Anthony says. "I can only imagine that it was a case of they were trying to cut costs where they could, and at the time pyro was a big part of their budget. Shortly thereafter the rest of the tour was cancelled."
Read the full report at AL.com.
(Photo - Curt Anthony)