Where Are They Now? Dave Henzerling of King Kobra
Fans of ’80s hard rock might remember him as “David Michael-Phillips,” but these days Dave Henzerling is sticking with the name he was born with.
Through he briefly was a member of Keel in 1984, it was his guitar work with King Kobra where Henzerling really made his mark. Founded by drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Black Sabbath), King Kobra released three albums of hook-filled melodic rock before splitting up in 1989.
After KK broke up, Henzerling went on to perform on Lizzy Borden’s fantastic 1989 album, Master of Disguise. From there, he played in various rock outfits, including Liquid Black, Big Cock, and Tunnel, while juggling his family life.
Noisecreep recently caught up with Henzerling to get the skinny on his career and what he has brewing for 2013.
You got your start playing in a popular local Scottsdale, Ariz. band called The Schoolboys which would eventually morph into Icon. Why did you end up leaving the group?
The Schoolboys was originally more of a hard rock/pop group similar to what Def Leppard was to become a few years later. The band started to move in a more heavy metal direction similar to Judas Priest and I wanted to move to Los Angeles anyway, so it was a good time to part ways.
Watch King Kobra’s ‘Hunger’ Video
King Kobra featured rock royalty with Carmine Appice behind the drums, plus the band inked a deal with Capitol Records. Why do you think the group never really broke through commercially?
Who can say, really? We tried as hard as anybody else, so it certainly wasn’t a function of lack of work ethic. I think success in the music business is basically a roll of the dice. It is interesting, and ironic, though that both King Kobra and my former band mates Icon were both on Capitol Records at almost the same time and the label was not able to break either band.
Did you partake in all of the glorious excess the ’80s L.A. scene had to offer? If so, did it ever become too hard to manage?
I met a few very nice young women but I never did any drugs, other than an occasional aspirin for Carmine-related headaches [laughs] – love ya, Carmine! How’s that for “glorious excess”?
You played on one of my favorite hard rock records, Lizzy Borden’s Master of Disguise. What sticks out to you about that experience and why didn’t you end up joining Lizzy’s band after the record was done?
My two good friends Alex Woltman and Elliot Soloman were producing Lizzy’s record and asked if I wanted to play guitar. I really liked the concept and the material and was privileged to have been part of what was an amazing album. I played a few shows with the band, but my heart was never really in it to be a permanent member.
Listen to Lizzy Borden’s ‘Sins of the Flesh’
A few years later, you played in a band called Liquid Back, but I don’t ever remember hearing any actual tunes from you guys. I know you tracked some demos with Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Journey).
You went back to school in the ’90s and got into the computer software side of things. How tough was that transition for you?
Not tough at all. I had already done two years of college when I got out of high school and had always wanted to return and finish what I had started. I graduated with honors from Arizona State University in 1999.
These days you’re a Senior Software Engineer at LiveNation/Ticketmaster. Walk us through an average day at work for you.
Ever seen the movie Office Space? [laughs]
Do your coworkers know about your other life as a hard rock guitarist?
They usually figure it out after a while. Frankly, my life experience as a musician has made me a better engineer. If you can deal with moody musicians and greedy record labels, you can deal with just about anything.
Tell us what you’ve been up to lately, musically. I know you did that comeback King Kobra album a couple of years back.
Right now, I’m finishing up the second King Kobra album for Frontiers Records to be released in early 2013. Then I’m back to my project Steelshine that should be available before the end of this year (2012).
I know you have kids, do they listen to hard rock?
No. My sons — I have 3 — listen to hip-hop and my daughter loves Justin Bieber.
Just one. King Kobra was supposed to play a sold out show at Cobo Hall with Ted Nugent back in 1986, on the night of my 25th birthday. On the way there, our equipment truck blew its engine and we had to miss the gig. Other than that, I’d say I’m good.