KISS’ Gene Simmons Says Anyone Who Can’t Read Music Isn’t An Artist

Greg Kennelty | Metal Injection

Sometimes you have to wonder if Kiss‘ Gene Simmons listens to what he says when he’s talking, or if he just spouts whatever idea comes into his head and then just rolls with it for the whole interview. Simmons has recently made headlines for trying to trademark the classic “devil horns” gesture, defending his application while saying he invented synchronized stage moves, and then withdrawing the application anyway and saying he can do whatever he wants.

Now Simmons tells The Chicago Tribune that nobody who plays guitar can read or write music, and therefor is not an artist.

Q: You strike me as being very practical and unsentimental, which are great qualities for a businessman, but not so much for an artist. Do those qualities come into conflict in your mind, ever?

A: How did you ever think anyone who plays electric guitar is an artist? They can’t even read or write music.

Q: You don’t think of yourself as an artist?

A: No. An artist is somebody who went to school, who learned music theory, can read and write music, like classical musicians or jazz musicians. None of us — Madonna, I don’t care who you’re talking about — none of us learned to read and write music, we just sort of did it. It’s pretty much on the same level as cavemen who came out of the caves and started to beat on the drums, and howl at the moon.

He then follows up those answers by saying you only think someone like Bruce Springsteen is an artist because you’re told that he’s an artist. Oh, and Gene knows Bruce, and he just wants to connect to the common man.

Gene Simmons: ‘I’ve never done drugs or alcohol, so my soul is intact’

Allison Steward | Chicago Tribune

Gene Simmons is the co-frontman of fabled, fire-breathing rock overlords Kiss, and does a thriving side business as an entrepreneur. Kiss made rock merchandising an art form, and Simmons (born Chaim Witz in Israel 68 years ago) is its finest brand extension.

He has authored books, starred in a reality show, made it to week three of “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2008, endorsed Mitt Romney and launched his own cola. He will patiently, eloquently answer any question, and is unfailingly serious, even when he’s probably kidding. He has an easy command of Kiss-related statistics, from the number of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” episodes that have aired (156) to the number of Kiss-affiliated Rock & Brews restaurants set to open locally (15).

“Our reach is far and wide,” says Simmons. Simmons, whose new book, “On Power,” arrives in November, talked meeting presidents, vomiting blood and life as a tabloid staple. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation:

Q: Your new book is partly a meditation on power, and partly a self-help book.

A: The book grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you and says, “OK, are you serious about life? Do you want to reach for the stars? Here’s some things you can do to make more money, and become more powerful.”

Q: What do you make of President Trump, how he uses power? Is he wielding it effectively?

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