Matthew Wilkening | Ultimate Classic Rock
The non-makeup version of Kiss got their one and only shot at strutting their stuff on a live album with the release of 1993′s Alive III.
Of course, you can’t hear greasepaint on an audio recording. So the most important changes found on the long-awaited follow up to the band’s two iconic ’70s live albums were the replacement of founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss by guitarist Bruce Kulick and drummer Eric Singer.
Although the majority of Alive III‘s 17 tracks were chosen from albums released after 1977′s Alive II, it did mark the first time Kiss re-used songs that had been on other live albums. This gave listeners an opportunity to compare the changes all those years and lineup changes had brought to tracks like “Detroit Rock City” and “Watchin’ You.”
Bassist Gene Simmons explained the differences well in the book Kiss: Behind the Mask when he said, “It’s clear to me there’s better musicianship, we’re singing better and the songs have a better feel. But there’s no denying that rock n’ roll is this kind of primitive music that often is loved more for its primitiveness, not for how well the songs are played.”
Indeed, little touches like the use of double-kick drums, and a greater emphasis on technical ability tend to pull things a hair too far from rock and towards metal on ‘Alive III.’ As Singer, who’s been in the makeup-wearing version of the group nearly non-stop since 2001, explains in Behind the Mask, “I tend to approach the songs differently now. I tend to play them now much more simplistic and more straightforward.”
Still, the record’s got good energy and spirit. Simmons and fellow founding frontman Paul Stanley are as charismatic as ever. Singer and Kulick are clearly more fluid and accomplished players than their predecessors. In particular, Kulick shines throughout — much as he did on the band’s 1992 studio album Revenge – maintaining a healthy respect for the original material while still putting his own distinct stamp on things, particularly on an absolutely smoking run through “Deuce.”
Unexpectedly, Alive III turned out to be the last major hurrah for this lineup of Kiss. A few years later, Simmons and Stanley reunited with Criss and Frehley for a massively successful reunion tour. Kulick launched a solo career, and since 2000 has also been a member of Grand Funk Railroad. The original foursome split in half into their traditional camps again a few years later, with Singer returning to the fold and Tommy Thayer taking over for Frehley.
The New Jersey KISS Mart is open once again for a one day buying experience later this month! We have been buying up TONS of merchandise from some KISS Collectors who have been doing their spring cleaning – We’ve been helping them clean out their garages, attics and family rooms to bring you yet another massive truck-load of KISS merchandise to fill up table after table… If you are a KISS Collector and live in the Tri-State area, you really don’t want to miss this event!
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and Gene Simmons’ Erebus Pictures joint venture has struck a sales deal with Voltage Pictures, who are in Cannes talking up the pipeline.
The partnership kicks off with Temple, which WWE Studios acquired and developed with screenwriter Matt Savelloni.
A director will be announced shortly on the story of a crew that infiltrates an isolated military compound inhabited by strange phenomena.
“The entire Voltage team and I are incredibly excited to partner with the legendary Gene Simmons, Michael Luisi and the entire WWE Studios team on this exciting slate of films,” said Voltage president and COO Jonathan Deckter.
“With WWE’s marketing muscle and Michael and Gene’s creative direction we are confident that the Erebus brand will quickly become synonymous with high-quality, smart genre films the world over.”
“We are excited to introduce our label internationally with a sales partner that understands and influences the international market place,” said Simmons, the co-founder of KISS turned media entrepreneur.
“We’ve been looking for opportunities to partner with Jonathan, Nicolas Chartier and the Voltage team, and we’re excited to have found it with Erebus,” said WWE Studios president Michael Luisi. “We’re confident their expertise will successfully launch the label worldwide.”
Bradley Buchanan negotiated the deal for WWE Studios with Deckter.
Bruce Kulick announces new single, album in new career spanning interview
Key West, FL (5/2/15)- Legendary guitarist Bruce Kulick, in a career-spanning interview by the podcast Cobras & Fire, announces the release of a new single this June and plans for his new solo album. Conducted prior to a Grand Funk Railroad headlining concert in Key West, Kulick shares in depth stories from topics including:
Meatloaf Boot Camp
Michael Bolton’s shoe fetish
KISS Exposed video porn stars
Hot in the Shade drum machines
Revenge Spinal Tap
Recording Carr Jam
Alive III fixes
I Walk Alone demos
Paul walking around in Starchild boots during Carnival of Souls
Timeline of KISS reunion negotiations
Art of not making instrumental wankfests
Recording solo albums Audiodog, Transformer, BK3
Release of BK3 Vinyl
Release of new single this June
Plans on new solo album via PledgeMusic
Cobras & Fire is a rock podcast with a silly name focused on sharing new music from bands that have the hooks, melody and attitude of classic rock bands. Cobras & Fire is part of the growing Decibel Geek podcast family and hosted by Loose Cannon and Bakko, writers from DecibelGeek.com.
Aurich Lawson | Ars Technica
There was a time when your brand (or your band) could reach a certain status by being featured as the theme on a pinball machine. It was a sign that you had made it to the big time. In the late ’70s, Bally made pins for groups like The Rolling Stones and Kiss, adding another feather to the bands’ caps as enormous, global sensations. It’s not uncommon to see the Kiss pin pop up on eBay or Craigslist for hugely inflated dollar figures, as someone hopes a deep-pocketed Kiss fan won’t be able to resist adding a crown jewel to their collection. You know, for the fan who has everything else already, including the Kiss Kasket.
If you’re a Kiss Army member thinking about hitting up eBay, hold on to your wallet for a moment—you’ve got a more modern option now. Stern Pinball is bringing the Kiss brand back for another round with the silver ball (much like it already did with The Stones) with a new, modern pinball design that’s dripping with nostalgia.
The original Kiss game isn’t remembered for its gameplay, but it was a beautiful art package if you’re into the whole pyrotechnics and grown men in facepaint sort of thing. There’s a reason it’s still collector bait; it looks badass just sitting in the corner of a room. The game art was hand-drawn by Kevin O’Connor, who would go on to create classic artwork for games like Flash Gordon, Medusa, and Monster Bash. Stern wisely went back to O’Conner for the return of Kiss, and the new art is more than a little referential to the original. This is clearly a case of leaving a good thing alone, but hand-drawn art is increasingly rare in the world of pinball, and it’s a welcome look. In another direct nod, the four pop bumper caps from the original game, each featuring a band member’s face in makeup, have returned. This machine is definitely aimed straight at the heart of the nostalgia center of fans’ brains.
Stern’s new offering hopes to extend pinball past the “End of the Line”
Kiss is no stranger to branded products and merchandising. The band’s merch ranges from the extreme and bizarre (see the aforementioned Kiss-branded coffins) to the cute and pedestrian (there are Hello Kitty dolls in Kiss makeup) and even an upcoming animated crossover with Scooby Doo. You don’t have to be a cynic to see this pinball machine as another cash-in attempt. But Stern has a solid track record with taking band themes and turning them into very successful and fun games. The company’s AC/DC pinball machine is one of their best-selling titles ever, and it’s well loved for its deep and complicated risk/reward ruleset by programmer Lyman Sheats. Stern’s Metallica pin, with hand-drawn art by lowbrow artist Dirty Donny (and Lyman once again on code) is good enough that I personally sprung for a Limited Edition model myself.
It remains to be seen if the Kiss pin will be the third lighting strike for Stern’s band pins. Modern pinball relies more than ever on software, with players expecting deep rulesets that bring long-term play possibilities that help offset the steep entry costs of games. (Expect to pay close to $5,000 for even the base “Pro” model after shipping.) Unfortunately, pinball’s need for so much programming has created a bit of a dilemma; the programmers are rarely able to keep up with the demands of the manufacturing process timing. As a result, the games that ship are often set up with fairly basic rules, animations, and sound. It can take a year or more for the true potential of the game to be unlocked through software updates, making buying a new machine a bit of a waiting game. In some ways, it can be a bit like being a beta tester. Some people love being part of the process; others would rather wait for the polished product.
I experienced this myself when I bought Stern’s Star Trek shortly after its release. I opted for the Premium model, packed full of color-changing RGB lights. It’s a beautiful game. The software, however, left something to be desired. At first, there just wasn’t enough depth to keep interest up for long-term play, even though the potential was there. After a year of sporadic updates, it has been greatly improved into a frantic shooter’s game, where you’re rewarded for constant, accurate shots and combos, and new callouts from Karl Urban (who plays Bones in the rebooted series) have brought new life to the audio. The wait was a bit of a bumpy ride, though. You never knew when or if you’d be able to download new firmware. The upside is you have a cool pin to play and learn the shots on while you wait. The downside is that by the time the software is really starting to shine, you might be tired of the game already. Smart buyers might want to wait out the software situation for a bit before committing. Or if you play one out in the wild, just be aware that it will probably get better over time, and it might be worth coming back to later to see what’s improved.
If you don’t want to wait, though, or if you’re a big enough fan that you’re jonesing for one of the Limited Edition models that probably won’t be available later, let’s take a look at what you’re getting.
The pin features 10 Kiss songs:
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have recorded custom callouts and speech for the game. Stern’s new Spikesystem has something its previous music pins couldn’t boast: stereo music and sound effects, with an audio-out port for those who want to hook their game up to a more serious sound system.
The playfield toys are dominated by a huge sculpt of Gene Simmons in his “Demon” makeup, with his famous tongue extended, ready to spit out balls. There’s a clever trick with a magnet on the back wall that will grab your ball and pull it up to an upper playfield section, a feature that will certainly be shown off to guests a lot. While it doesn’t have as many as Star Trek, the game does feature color-changing RGB LED lights under some of the inserts and, for the first time for Stern, in the pop bumpers. Buyers of the Limited Edition will get a backglass that features mirrored areas, much like the original 1978 game, as well as red powdercoated hardware. I’m a fan of the mirrored back glasses. They look great, and very classic.
The MSRP for the various models is as follows: Pro Model: $5,995, Premium Model: $7,595, Limited Edition Model: $8,795. Expect to knock off at least a grand for street prices. Stern doesn’t sell directly; you have to go through a distributor, like Game Exchange of Colorado, for example. Your best bet is to contact a distributor or two (or three) and get some quotes for a shipped game.
If I get a chance to play the game or find out more about the status of the rules and software, I’ll provide updates. The gallery below has views of the cabinets and playfields, as well as a look at the original 1978 Bally game for comparison.
On his favorite memories of his time with KISS:
Ace: “Most of my memories with KISS are very fond. I mean, we created something really special. People could come to a KISS concert in the ’70s and for two hours they’d forget about all their problems and go into a world of fantasy. It was a very special time.”
Ace: “That’s something I don’t think about. People ask me, ‘How does it feel like to have influenced generations of guitar players?’ I mean, the first thing out of my mouth is, if I knew I was gonna influence generations of guitar players, I would have practiced more. [Laughs] But it’s something I don’t really dwell on. These days I kind of live in the now and look towards the future, and the past is the past. But I don’t really think too much about the fact of what an icon I am and how many people I’ve influenced. I kind of take it with a grain of salt.”
On whether he had any aspirations when he was growing up:
Ace: “I pretty much kind of knew that I was gonna be famous when I was 16 years old, and I used to tell everybody. Everybody used to say I was crazy, but if you interview any of my old friends, they’ll all tell you that I predicted it. It was just… it was fate. I just felt like I was destined for stardom. And I also believe if it wouldn’t have been with KISS, it would have been with somebody else.”
“Space Invader”, the first new solo album from Frehley in five years, sold around 19,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 9 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD arrived in stores on August 19, 2014 via Entertainment One Music (eOne Music).
“Space Invader”, which was made available in Europe on August 18, 2014 (three days earlier in Germany and Scandinavia) through SPV/Steamhammer, includes 11 brand new original songs as well as a cover of Steve Miller‘s “The Joker”.
I have always been delusional about my looks. I look in the mirror and think: OK, you’re 6ft 2in and 235lb, and you’re not the worst or the best-looking guy in the world, but you can walk into any room and steal anybody’s wife or girlfriend. Confidence is enormously appealing and very disarming. “Hello,” I say, looking into a woman’s eyes, “I find you devastatingly attractive.”
My closet has lots of leather pants, snakeskin boots, the usual sort of thing. I have more conservative outfits for when I am doing business on Wall Street, when I have to push down my bouffy hair a little. I use lots of hairspray, making my hair rock hard. I started to go grey in my 20s and have coloured it ever since. I have destroyed the follicles, I’m sure, but at least it’s still all there.
Getting ready to be on stage with Kiss takes two hours. There’s a knack to doing the face – first I paint it white using Stein’s Clown White, then I take a pencil and draw the bat outline, freehand. After erasing the white within the bat design, I fill it with Stein’s Clown Black.
It takes me about 30 minutes to get it all off afterwards: you have to steam the face with really hot water, so the pores open up. I use Pond’s cream cleanser.
When it comes to confidence on a night out, if it doesn’t come naturally, bluff. Say there are two women at a party. One is much more attractive, but the so-so looking one has a twinkle in her eye. That’s the one he’s going to go for. But ladies, make it a little easier for the guy if you’re interested. That first hello is enormously welcoming.
Kory Grow | Rolling Stone
Dave Grohl spoke to the power of Kiss Wednesday night when he honoredGene Simmons and Paul Stanley with an award recognizing their influence as a songwriting team. His speech was part of the ASCAP Pop Music Awards – put on by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, an organization that collects money and pays songwriters for performances of their songs – where he presented the duo with the ASCAP Founders Award. The Doobie Brothers and St. Vincent were also honored at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Grohl recalled turning his bedroom into a “fucking shrine” to Kiss as he became a fan, lining it with posters and action figures. “Every morning, I would wake up in my tiny bedroom and take a good look at my superheroes before walking to school,” he said. “They got me through those years and ultimately inspired me to follow this unreasonable dream of becoming a professional rock & roll musician.” He liked the band so much, he said, that Kiss “even made fuckin’ disco look cool” with their 1979 single “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.”
“Forty years later, my love of Kiss is still strong,” Grohl said. “And these days I still spend every morning before school with Paul Stanley…in the parking lot of our kids’ fuckin’ elementary school, chatting about Zeppelin and Electric Lady [studios] and touring and school fundraisers. So I’d say that my unreasonable dream definitely came true.”
Last year, Stanley told Rolling Stone how he has seen Grohl every day for the past three years at their kids’ school, as well as what a big fan of the Foo Fighters he was. “There were times that I would hear music on the radio – just something great – and not know who it was and very often it was Foo Fighters,” he said. “It’s incredible to think of somebody coming out from behind the drums with such a full concept as Dave has had and create music. I mean, the first Foo Fighters album, that’s just Dave. So the template and everything he’s been working from is bigger than anyone expected from the guy who was just viewed as the drummer of Nirvana.”
Andrew Hampp | Billboard
For 40 years, Kiss has built a legacy on being a must-see live spectacle, with elaborate makeup, costumes and pyro that can still pack arenas and stadiums around the globe. And indeed, the band’s founding members Paul Stanley andGene Simmons had finished a sold-out South American stadium tourjust hours prior to returning to Los Angeles.
The occasion? The ASCAP Pop Music Awards, where Simmons and Stanley accepted the ASCAP Founders Award, an annual honor given to a music pioneer. Though Kiss will continue to tour throughout the year, with treks that are about to take them into Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia, “it was always about the songs,” Stanley said in his acceptance speech. “For bands that last 40 years, it’s not about the smoke, it’s not about the makeup, it’s about the songs.”
Stanley, 62, and Simmons, 65, are the only founding members who still tour as Kiss, though they did reunite with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss for the band’s 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But in an interview with Billboard, the seemingly ageless rockers didn’t spend much time dwelling on the importance of certain trophies. Instead, they seemed genuinely grateful to be in the position of being a still-vital draw on the road that, Stanley says, can crank out some solid new tunes when the inspiration strikes.
Billboard: Congrats on receiving the ASCAP Founders Award. Given all the attention paid to your live show, what does winning a songwriting-based award mean to you?
Paul Stanley: I believe we come from a philosophy that really covets and looks up the source, whether it was the Brill Building and Goffin and King or Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, or the Gershwin Brothers or Lennon-McCartney, it really comes down to a great song. For us to be feted this way, join the company that have come before, it doesn’t suck.
How did Dave Grohl come to be selected for your introduction tonight?
Stanley: I’m friends with Dave, and really when I said would you come and do this he jumped at it. Look Dave is arguably the last major rock star of the last three decades. He’s filling stadiums worldwide because he understands his roots and that’s what we’re about. Some people have forgotten where we started and who inspired us.
It’s been just over a year since you received another distinct honor, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A year out, what does that recognition mean to you now?
Gene Simmons: I’m not sure. When you’re busy doing your own stuff it’s like running a race. You try not to look over your shoulder to see who else is in the race, you do the best you can. I think there’s a decided difference between the pop songwriters who are magnificent in their own way. I could never do what they do, which is to sit down and write a song and figure out which artist is gonna sing the song. I can’t do that. I think what we’re best at is writing songs for who we are. It’s an individual sort of approach, it’s defined, it’s for the fans. I don’t know that you can be all things to everybody, which is why there are different kinds of music. There are balladeers and guitar slingers and so forth. If your songs connect with the fans and they pump their fists in the air and go, “Yeah!!” that’s when a song really works. That’s the electric church of it. The glory hallelujah of it.
Happy Birthday Ace Frehley! We got together with our PODCAST ROCK CITY bro Joe Polo, and the lovely Kandi Burton to celebrate Ace Frehley’s Birthday!
We have all seen the mud slinging between Gordon Gebert and Billy W. Wilson now hear the interview as to how it all started.. Maybe Obama should send PODCAST ROCK CITY around the world to solve problems…