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March 20, 2014

Local rockers debut single

By Mara Biggs

Cleveland-based rock group Kiss Me Deadly packed the house at Happy Dog for their single-release show on March 15.

The band is fronted by singer/songwriter and guitarist Jen Poland, a teaching assistant in Cleveland State University’s School of Communication. Dr. Evan Lieberman, a professor of Film and the director of the Media Arts and Technology division of the School of Communication at the university, is the bassist and occasionally the second guitarist of the group.
Kiss Me Deadly is currently putting the finishing touches on a full-length studio album, which will be titled “What You Do In The Dark.” The group plans to try to get radio play once everything is mixed and mastered.

Lieberman said the band also plans to begin shooting a “futuristic film noir” to accompany the album in late spring or early summer.

Poland and Lieberman have been playing together in a band for nearly four years. A list of former bandmates grew before Poland and Lieberman found the group’s most recent keyboard player, Daniel Baxter, and drummer Madelyn Hayes.

Baxter has been with the group for about two years and Hayes for about a year and a half.

“When Madelyn joined the band is when everything changed,” said Lieberman. “It’s when we became serious.”

The Happy Dog show was the last Baxter will ever play as a member of Kiss Me Deadly, however, as he will be moving out of state for a new job.

The single-release show was the first show Kiss Me Deadly has played at Happy Dog. The band seemed to enjoy the atmosphere and experience, in spite of having to ask the sound guy to turn up the vocals several times.

“The cool thing about Happy Dog is that they actually have people who come here and pay a cover to hear bands. That’s very unique,” said Poland.

The band also seemed appreciative of the Happy Dog crowd’s character, which Baxter described as musically-educated, mentioning that one audience member was able to detect the Talking Heads influence in his keyboard parts.

“It’s a really sharp audience – a tough crowd,” Lieberman added.

The group said they really like playing gigs at Becky’s and Mahall’s as well, but that the Beachland is their favorite Cleveland music venue.

“I love the Beachland as a venue,” said Lieberman.“It’s like the Cleveland Museum of Art. They’re dedicated to continuing anart form in a very sophisticated way.”

Poland said the band usually plays open-mic nights once a week to generate support, network and “touch base with the music community.” She tries to organize shows for the band once a month.