Darren Paltrowitz | San Diego Union-Tribune
Gene Simmons has made headlines with the unveiling of his Gene Simmons Vault. Arguably the largest box set ever released by a musician, the Vault weighs around 40 pounds and features 150 previously unreleased recordings from the KISS co-founder. Simmons has further made things interesting by agreeing to hand deliver a Vault to anyone willing to pay $2,000; the most expensive Gene Simmons Vault package includes the option of hosting Simmons at your home – alongside 25 other people – for two hours for $50,000.
Beyond his musical successes, Simmons is also one of the founders of the casual eatery Rock & Brews. Founded in 2012 along with KISS vocalist/guitarist Paul Stanley, Rock & Brews now has 17 restaurants around the United States and Mexico. The music-friendly establishment also has a casino in the works. Aside from Rock & Brews, Simmons is rumored to have a line of beverages in the works.
On behalf of The Daily Meal, I had the pleasure of asking Simmons some food-related questions in-person at The London Hotel.
The Daily Meal: Where did the idea for Rock & Brews come from?
Gene Simmons: The idea for Rock & Brews came from a gentleman named Dave Furano, who is the brother of Dell Furano. He has been our licensing and merchandising guy for various companies and eventually settling on Epic Rights. They do us, Barbra Streisand, AC/DC, merchandising. It was his brother who came from the same world who had an idea about an eatery that combines classic rock and roll. I will tell you we are only a few years old, but there are already two at Rock & Brews in LAX, two at Cabo, Hawaii and more spread across America. We even broke ground on Rock & Brews Casino Resort in Oklahoma and there are more coming.
That was my next question, about the casino…
Oh that’s coming. Not only that but our casino at the largest Indian casino resort, the San Manuel Tribe… We have the Rock & Brews Casino Resort within the San Manuel Casino resort, so it’s all going gangbusters.
And of course, if you are just tuning in late, find out all the latest and the greatest on the largest box set of all time. I mean this is badass, I am so proud of this and I’ve got to mention there are secret drawers where you press, it opens up and there are personal items that I put in there. These box sets are another animal all together. It doesn’t look like one, it doesn’t move like one. It’s much heavier, it’s much bigger, it’s just everything I have ever dreamed of so I am proud of it.
At Rock & Brews, do you have a favorite item on the menu?
Yeah, my downfall is sweets, unfortunately. I’ve got to watch my girlish figure, so I’m just eating protein, no carbs. But my favorite thing, they call them beignets or bread pudding.
The KISS Kruise is another one of your entrepreneurial efforts, and what surprises me about the KISS Kruise is that you’ve talked in your books about how you’ve never gone on a vacation. What do you do when you’re on the ship asides from performing?
It’s a good 12-hour day. We literally meet and greet every single one of those thousands of fans on the ship. We make sure every single fan on that cruise gets a photo. We make sure everyone of the fan gets some time with us and we do contests and other activities besides unplugged shows and concerts at night. I mean, they’re full days.
So do you just keep yourself busy with the work? Or do you actually take a vacation at times?
I’ve never done that, and on the cruise I do the Gene Simmons Master Class where I teach people who have never played an instrument or never written a song to both play and write their first song within hours.
What’s the food situation like on the cruise?
The best, many restaurants, many choices. Chinese, Italian and you know whatever you like. There are gyms and sports centers where you can go shopping and gambling. I mean it’s a floating city, really.
I have a question from a celebrity fan. Dave Hill mentioned that he saw advice from you when he was growing up: “be weird, don’t worry about fitting in.” At what point in your life did you realize that it was kind of cool to be…
Dave Hill from?
Dave Hill is a comedian who’s also in the band Valley Lodge. They do the theme song to Last Week With John Oliver on HBO. So he heard that advice when he was growing up, which meant a lot to him. But I am curious as you’re known as one of the most confident people there is and you believe in yourself. Where did that come from?
Well, when you have no choice, it’s easier than when you are born in a lap of luxury, mom and dad always have food in the plate, you get allowances for doing nothing and all that, and you just have no sense of reality. Reality helps poor people. Go to bed hungry, you know if they are lucky if they’ve got a piece of bread… Even in America, 15 million children go to bed to hungry and anybody out of a job will tell you how delicious food tastes when you are starving. And I’ve been there, when we came to America my mother made $37.50 a week in a factory, and when I had a jelly roll, I knew what good was. Boy, I didn’t worry about steak or filet mignon. Give me a donut or Ding Dongs.
It comes back to the sweets.
Well, listen to the language – “you are so sweet,” “how sweet it is”… Nobody talks about what a steak you are.
That’s a great point.
Of course, the language says everything.
Sounds like another book for you.
“Rich” is a good word. “How did your child do in school?” “Poorly.” They say, “Oh, what a poor little kid.” The language tells the value of the society, whether it’s good or bad.