Ready to Pucker Up in Ventura : The Best Kissers in the World may be from Seattle, but they don’t do the grunge thing. They’ll open for X on Saturday.


Best Kissers in the World. Cool name. Seattle band. More fun than the Mariners. Lots of songs about girls, the occasional hangover and more girls.

The last album, “Puddin,” had a gorgeous girl on the cover as instantly desirable as Darryl Hannah in “Splash” or Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct.” Most guys would work in a gas station, drink swamp water and sleep in a hollow log just for the opportunity to hear her tell them to “shove off.”

The Kissers will open for those easy-to-pronounce L.A. rockers, X, Saturday night at the venerable Ventura Theatre. Opening for the Kissers are a great, hard-edged Ventura rock band, Pinching Judy--and I’m not saying that just because they gave me one of their ugly T-shirts, either.

Gerald Collier, a transplant from Detroit, is the head Kisser and wise guy lyricist who pens songs like “She Won’t Get Under Me Till I Get Over You.” He’s also the guy who somehow avoided the kiss-your-future-goodby scenario when he drank his dinner before an L.A. showcase gig with the president of MCA heading the guest list. So rather than the kiss of death, the Kissers are on that endless tour with a new release, “Been There,” due out at the end of the month.


The Kissers aren’t at all like Pearl Jam, Nirvana or all those other zillion Seattle bands. The Kissers do a melodic power-pop sort of thing, not so unlike Dada, today’s Gin Blossoms and yesterday’s Plimsouls. Then there’s their description: “Black Sabbath punishing the Box Tops.” Anyway, the tight band behind Collier is Dave Swafford on bass, Jeff Stone on guitar and Tim Arnold on drums.

Collier discussed his favorite band recently from Seattle.

How is “Been There” different from what came before?

There’s more of the devil in it. Also, we’ve finally got a lineup I hope will stick around for a while. There’s probably about seven ex-band members out there somewhere.


Everyone has to joke about your name. Tell me a kissing story.

One time, our show got canceled in Tucson and we found another venue in 40 minutes. All the local, what do I call them--barflies--built a kissing booth out of plywood and other stuff and wanted us to sell kisses for $2 apiece. These barflies were women, and they were horrifying--it would’ve been like kissing my grandmothers on the mouth. It just wasn’t right for me. But after about four or five beers, we realized we needed gas money. So we sent our drummer. . . .

That’s what drummers are for--carry out all the stuff, then earn the gas money.

Yeah, there’s a definite pecking order.


Who are some of the bands you’ve toured with?

We’ve been really lucky to have toured with so many good bands. We played with Social Distortion--they really made us stand up for ourselves. We’re really thankful for that. School of Fish was a great band; we had fun with them. They call us all the time. We did a three-week tour with X starting in New Orleans. Now, that’s a dignified group of folks, and definitely survivors. Their guitar player, Tony Gilkyson is really, really good. I’d hate to have to stand by him. They called us for this current tour. What were we supposed to do, say no?

So with all this road-tripping, you must know where all the killer junk food is.

Are you kidding me? We can still use coupons we had from last time; well, except for maybe Jackson, Miss. We played in this big place for six people, and they shut off the main on us after three songs. It was like all six of them voted and decided our band was lousy. Then they cut the power off on us. I can’t wait to play there again, even though our coupons are expired.


On your bio, you guys are described as college rock. What do you think your band sounds like?

College rock doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all Top 40 now. We play power pop-rock for confused young people who are all like 30 years old now.

Your bio further states that all your songs are about girls, the occasional hangover, and more girls. So are you guys just in this for the brewskis and whatever companionship floats your way?

No, that’s a lie. Our songs are about lies, and 30-year-olds telling lies. It’s about all those things that you just don’t understand that pass before your eyes. Like Miss America--what’s she got to be screwed up about? You know, I think if this doesn’t turn into something better, I’m not going to be breathing long. My digestive system is going, and my stomach lining is gone. I try not to drink too much, but it may be too late.


So what’s this about your being liquored when you played before the MCA brass?

Well, you know, that night was my fault. I was hammered by 3 o’clock and tried to sober up at 6 o’clock, but sometimes your muscles do funny things to you. What happened was I met this nice person who happened to have 300 drink tickets. On behalf of the band, I apologize to everyone in L.A. who was at that show.

How did you decide you wanted to be a musician?

Oh man, I dunno. I was fortunate to be put on this miserable rock for something, and I didn’t really have a choice. I wasn’t good enough for med school, and I was too good for digging ditches, and being a lawyer? Out of the question. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be baby-sitting my friends’ kids.


How do you go about selecting a producer?

Basically, we wanted to work with someone who had produced different kinds of records. Last time, we had Chris Shaw, a rap producer, because we wanted a better lower-end and mid-range sound. This time, we wanted something different because all the music right now sounds the same--too overproduced. We wanted something like a 1965 Rolling Stones session, so we got John Hanlon for “Been There.”

Recently, MCA hasn’t been known for signing alternative or very innovative bands. Was it a difficult choice to sign with them?

Because of the feuding forces in Seattle, we had a lot of people interested in us. I wanted to wait and see what their real reasons were because we didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. We didn’t want to be devalued as a band. Anyway, I’m glad we waited. Jennifer Jay, their person who signed us, has been upfront with us since the beginning. MCA is into some cool stuff now, and we recommend them to everybody.


You’re from Michigan. How about those Tigers?

I’m a Tigers fan absolutely, but I think the Yankees are gonna take it. The Tigers can be simply amazing, but usually, they’re as inconsistent as my hairdo.

What’s next?

Tour, tour, tour, radio, radio, radio, then more touring.