Howl at the Moon entertainment director and performer Tim Rice says that he "grew up wanting to be Axl Rose." Rice, now living the Kiss dream of rockin' 'n' rollin' all night and partying every day, or at least four to five times per week, has entertained at several Howl at the Moon locations since 2005. Howl at the Moon is more than just a "dueling" piano bar — the multitalented musician admits to playing "the keys, guitar, bass, drums, the harmonica and a mean cowbell."
Creative Loafing: How does performing at Howl on a routine basis compare to performing at random local gigs?
Tim Rice: I love playing at Howl — I don't have to lug equipment around, I don't have to hope that someone might pay attention to the music, and we're not background noise. When you come to Howl at the Moon, the show is centerpiece and everyone from the bar/wait staff to the players to the audience is a part of that show.
From what I hear, new additions have been made to the piano bar. What are some of the changes?
Most recently, we added our version of the Broadway production Stomp, using trash cans as percussion. It's loud and very high-energy ... we've put a drum line spin on it and actually perform two songs during the routine.
We [also] just acquired an auto-tuner to give some of our dance music that authentic take on vocals (think Usher on "OMG"). One of my players is an accomplished bagpiper and has started bringing in his pipes on the weekend; we incorporate them in several songs ... it was great on St. Patrick's Day, so we decided to keep it year-round. A friend of the band has been coming in regularly to play violin on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which is always a treat as it adds yet another musical dynamic to our show.
And of course, we're always adding new tunes into our repertoire. Each player scours the charts weekly to find out what's hot on the Top 40, country and rap scenes.
What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to perform is "Sweet Child O'Mine." I grew up wanting to be Axl Rose, or at least in a tribute band. One of our players is an amazing guitarist and can make the guitar scream just like Slash ... plus the song always gets a reaction at the beginning and the end.
What is the most requested song at the bar this year?
"F*** You" by Cee-Lo. It has almost overtaken "Don't Stop Believin" and "Piano Man" as the most requested song per night. We get it at least three times a night, and play it just about that much. I don't think it's ever going to go anywhere. It's a great song with a fantastic message, and who doesn't like to swear in public?