PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Joe Duffy says his Kiss tribute band fired off knee-high balls of flame at The Station nightclub in August. The guitarist also spit fire while onstage.
Duffy said the band engaged in the pyrotechnics with the permission of the current owners of the club — the site of a raging fire last week that was ignited by a rock group's fireworks display.
"Now that I think about, I regret it," Duffy said of the pyrotechnics use. "Never once did they ask for a permit."
Past fireworks displays such as those by the Kiss cover band may help investigators in their search for answers about Thursday's fire that killed 97 people at a Great White show.
Great White lead singer Jack Russell said the band had permission from club managers to use the pyrotechnics, but co-owner Jeff Derderian denied any permission was ever asked for, or given.
Others who have recently played The Station insisted the club ran a tight ship, and wouldn't allow pyrotechnicians without proper permits.
Gary Potter, guitarist for the rock band Imprint, said he's never seen pyrotechnics used at The Station since he began playing there in 2001 and would be surprised if managers let unlicensed pyrotechnicians slide because they were so strict. He said his band does not use pyrotechnics.
The club's management once told Imprint not to get a mosh pit going in the audience, he said.
"This place is different from other places," Potter said. "A lot of clubs are loose, they don't care. [The Station] had set rules. They made sure they knew what we were doing."
David Vaccaro said pyrotechnics lit the stage the 20 or so times his heavy metal band Lovin' Kry played The Station nightclub between 1997 and July 2000.
However, many of Lovin' Kry's performances were before brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian bought the club in March 2000.
Vaccaro said Lovin' Kry used fireworks during every performance except one — when headliner W.A.S.P asked them not to.
"After the show, people from [The Station] asked, 'Why didn't you use it?'" Vaccaro said.
A videotape provided by Vaccaro shows the band on stage and a banner in front that reads "The Station." At the end of the act, there is a brief burst of sparklers that almost immediately shrinks and disappears.
Great White was beginning its set Thursday night when a shower of sparks lit the stage during first song, igniting a rear wall and ceiling. The entire building was consumed within three minutes.
Great White played The Station in April, 2000, but it was not immediately clear Sunday whether the band used pyrotechnics.
Mario Giamei Jr., a former bouncer at The Station who was at the Great White show, said pyrotechnics were used at the club under previous owners, but he didn't recall any since the Derderians bought The Station.
"They were very cautious," he said. "They'd cancel a show if they had a bad feeling."
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Ed McPherson, an attorney for Great White, said the band had permission from the owners to use fireworks. He said the band "spoke with the club, got permission from the club" and then went ahead with its pyrotechnics display.
A lawyer for the Derderians did not immediately return a phone call.