Pretty much any band who plod on well into their fifth decade will have long ago passed the point of self-parody. This rule of thumb does not apply to Kiss, who splendidly sidestepped the problem by being a masterclass in self-parody from day one.
It’s been 44 years and more than 100m record sales since the face-painted, self-proclaimed “Hottest band in the world” formed in New York City. Yet new music plays little part in their strategy nowadays. They have released two new studio albums since the millennium, preferring to tip out endless greatest hits compilations and milk the world’s nostalgia arena-rock circuit.
That cynicism has blighted the band’s image, with their co-founder, bassist and leader, Gene Simmons, widely perceived as one of the most mercenary figures in rock. Kiss’s marketing philosophy can be best summarized as “If it moves, monetize it”: they may no longer be flogging band condoms or coffins, but you can still pick up a nifty Swarovski Kiss-logo coffee tumbler for a mere £335.
Jody Havenot | Podcast Rock City
Gene Simmons says that KISS has “a few more years” left before it calls it quits. He told Glasgow Live ahead of the band’s sold-out May 27 concert at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland (see video below): “We’re the hardest-working band in show business. I wear over forty pounds of studs and armor and all that stuff, seven-inch platform heels, spit fire and have to fly through the air and do all that stuff.
“If Bono or [Mick] Jagger, who we all love, had to dress up and do what I do, they couldn’t last an hour — they just couldn’t.”
He continued: “In hindsight, it would have been smarter to be a U2 or THE [ROLLING] STONES, to wear some sneakers and a t-shirt and you’re comfortable. No, we had to do it the hard way.
“So we’re not gonna be able to do it into our 70s, and I’m 67 now. We’ll do it for a few more years, and then when we think it’s time to go, we’ll go, and we’ll do it the right way, with a big party. I’d like to think that we would do something that rocks the planet — something big and worldwide and maybe free.”
KISS guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley has repeatedly said that the band could one day continue without him and Gene, explaining in an interview: “Once the original [KISS lineup] was no more, it just became clear to us that, in some ways, we’re much more a sports team. We don’t fall into the limitations of other bands, because we’re not other bands. So, yeah, at some point, I’d love to see somebody in the band in my place, and it’s because I love the band.”
Jody Havenot | Podcast Rock City
Jody Havenot | Podcast Rock CIty
Kate Mossman | New Statesman
When Gene Simmons decided he wanted to be a rock star, he made a deal with his mother: be in a band but show me how you’re going to pay the rent. He had a variety of marketable skills at his disposal. At Newtown High School in Queens, Chaim Witz, only son of Flóra, who’d brought him to New York from Israel, took stenography and typing classes. By 13 he could out-type his teacher. By 18 he was a “tele-girl” (a temp) and found himself in demand with powerful female executives in Manhattan. With his feet, he worked a Dictaphone machine to take their letters – one pedal for go, one for stop and one for rewind. The then managing editor of Vogue, Kate Rand Lloyd, heard about the only male temp on the floor at Glamour. He became her Man Friday and fixed her hectograph, rexograph and mimeograph machines.
On 29 April 1974, he made his first television appearance on The Mike Douglas Show as Gene Simmons, “The Demon”, of the rock band Kiss. He picked his way across the studio floor on 30lb silver platforms, his abnormally long, seven-inch tongue thrashing about in his mouth like a skinned snake. In a whisper he declared himself “evil incarnate”. On the sofa next to him was the comedian Totie Fields. “Is your mother watching?” she asked. “Wouldn’t it be funny if under all the make-up he’s just a nice Jewish boy?” Eighteen months later, Simmons got a cheque from his record company for $1.5m. He showed it to his mother and she said, “Now what are you going to do?”
Up on the roof garden of the Park Hyatt hotel in Moscow sits Simmons today, his wiry hair, like black loft insulation, pulled into a ponytail. I’ve been taken to see him briefly, before an interview scheduled for two days later. Despite looking, in his own words, “at best like a baby dog at birth”, Simmons claims to have slept with 4,600 women, taking a record of each with a Polaroid camera. At 67, his latest conquest is Siri, whom he has programmed to call him “My Lord and Redeemer” on a cellphone with a special Kiss case.
Simmons stands when a woman arrives; he analyses the size of your bag, wondering how you fit your make-up in it. He thumbs through photos of Kiss products on his phone: Kiss guitars, Kiss car wraps – and a Kiss Kasket, a limited-edition coffin, part of his funeral range. The murdered Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was buried in one: affection runs deep for the cartoonish glam-metal compound, now in its 44th year of music and merchandising. Among the expressions Simmons claims to have trademarked are “rich and famous” and the Chinese word xi, meaning “the West”.
According to The Pulse Of Radio, Paul Stanley has admitted that KISS shedding its makeup in the early 1980s was liberating for him. Stanley, who’s prepping his second memoir, is currently out on the road with KISS and performs on Saturday (May 20) in the Czech Republic. He chatted with Classic Rock magazine and revealed that KISS wiping off the grease paint helped him grow as a performer, recalling: “The years that we were without the makeup [1983 to 1996] were fine for me. I found them very satisfying because I got a chance to be out there without makeup, which I craved at that point. I think it was easier for me because my persona wasn’t really defined by the makeup — it was embellished. To me, the makeup was just reinforcing what you were seeing and who I was. But the day we put the makeup back on before the reunion tour was magical. To look in the mirror and see that face again was empowering.”
On his long-lasting — and sometimes rocky — relationship with KISS co-founder Gene Simmons, Stanley explained: “Gene‘s my brother. He lives right down the street. And we like each other so much that we stay out of each other’s way. As sickening as it might sound, we’re not beyond sending each other texts of appreciation. We both have the lives that perhaps we didn’t intend to in the beginning, but we both made it possible for us to reach the lives that made us happy. If you would have told him thirty, forty years ago where he’d wind up, he couldn’t comprehend it. But you have to keep moving forward. And you may find your destination is not where you intended.”
KISS cofounder Gene Simmons says in a new interview that new music is being written but he also revealed that he sees no incentive to actually record and release the material.
The outspoken bassist and vocalist tells Michael Cavacini, “There’s some writing going on. Not too long ago I wrote a song called ‘Your Wish Is My Command’. It sounds anthemic, like something that might have come off ‘Love Gun’, maybe. But I’m not incentivized.”
He then reiterated his previous criticism of filesharing. “The idea that you work your ass off and then someone with freckles on their face decides they want to download your music and file share, that’s not what I work for. How’d you like to be a plumber, come over somebody’s house and work all day to fix their plumbing and then when it’s time to get paid they say, ‘No, I just wanted to say thank you. No.’
He then elaborated on how pirating music doesn’t really affect him and other classic artist but really hurts the next generation of bands, “I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, you have enough money.’ That’s what I need: an eighteen-year-old kid telling me when enough is enough. It doesn’t affect me at all. And it doesn’t affect The Stones or U2, a lot of the bands that do well. There’s only a handful, actually. The saddest thing of all is that the next great bands, with the talent and the charisma and all that stuff, will never have the chance that we did, because there’s no music industry. There’s no way for them to pay the rent. They’re going to have to give away their music, practically, for free.
“It almost makes you say, ‘You know what, I’ll get a day job.’ The saddest part of all is that it’s not aliens from another planet, it’s not another country that invaded us and did that. No, no, no. Your next-door neighbor, the fans, are killing new music. They’re killing the bands that want to create music for them. That’s who’s killing it. You’re killing it, by not paying for it. Imagine how long a supermarket would stay in business if everybody went in, took the food and went away and didn’t pay for it. Wouldn’t last very long at all.”
(Gibson) KISS’s Gene Simmons reveals the one album he always listens to before every show is “Truth” by The Jeff Beck Group. Made way back in 1968 when Beck was playing Gibson Les Pauls, the Truth album took the blues in a heavier new direction and some even credit it with being a proto-“metal” album.
It includes “Beck’s Bolero,” “Shapes of Things,” “You Shook Me” and more. Tom Scholz of Boston has also listed the album as his favorite ever on Gibson.com, stating, “I knew Jeff Beck’s Truth album inside out…”
“What a line-up!” Simmons enthuses to MusicRadar. “Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass – Ronnie’s a much better bass player than he is a guitarist.
“There’s a rumor that Jimmy Page played on some of this, too. Even before Led Zeppelin and Cream, Beck took the blues and turned up the volume. But it wasn’t just decibels; Beck was pushing the envelope in all sorts of directions. Nuanced little jazz licks that caught you off guard… sophisticated, delicate melodies.
“When we are out on tour, this is the album I play right before I’m due to go on stage. Even if it came out today, it would grab your attention. What do you Brits say? Best thing since sliced bread!” here.
Kim Chaney | Local Memphis
(ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES RELEASE) – MEMPHIS, Tenn. – May 17, 2017 – The year-long 40th anniversary commemoration of the life and legacy of Elvis Presley continues in Memphis with additional artifacts being added to the recently opened ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley exhibit located at the new Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment and exhibit complex at Graceland.
Curated by the Graceland Archives team, the acclaimed ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley Exhibit, wouldn’t be possible without the cooperation of over 30 music artists and entertainers influenced by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The groundbreaking exhibit celebrates Elvis Presley’s status as a music pioneer who paved the way for many of today’s musicians and celebrities by featuring original wardrobe, instruments and artifacts from Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, James Brown, Billy Joel and many more.
Joining the impressive lineup of artists and items included in the exhibit, starting May 17th, 2017, are costumes from one of rock’s most influential bands, KISS. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have released 44 albums and sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and are known for their signature stage costumes and now proudly take their place in an exhibition dedicated to Elvis’ influence on other pop culture icons.
Upon the announcement of KISS’ costumes to be displayed in Graceland’s exhibit, KISS co-founder Gene Simmons stated, “Elvis is King. Period.” KISS co-founder Paul Stanley added, “No one name says more than his… ELVIS. It roars while others whisper.”
Gene Simmons has confirmed that “some writing” has been going on for a possible new KISS studio album but has once again said that he is “not incentivized” to release another KISS disc unless there are some major changes in the way music is consumed.
KISS‘s last studio effort, 2012’s “Monster”, sold 56,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 3 on The Billboard 200 chart.
The band’s previous LP, “Sonic Boom”, opened with 108,000 units back in October 2009 to enter the chart at No. 2. This marked the KISS‘s highest-charting LP ever.
Asked by Michael Cavacini if KISS is going to record another studio album or not, Simmons said: “There’s some writing going on. Not too long ago I wrote a song called ‘Your Wish Is My Command’. It sounds anthemic, like something that might have come off ‘Love Gun’, maybe. But I’m not incentivized. The idea that you work your ass off and then someone with freckles on their face decides they want to download your music and file share — that’s not what I work for. How’d you like to be a plumber, come over somebody’s house and work all day to fix their plumbing and then when it’s time to get paid they say, ‘No, I just wanted to say thank you.’ No.”
He continued: “I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh, you have enough money.’ That’s what I need: an eighteen-year-old kid telling me when enough is enough. It doesn’t affect me at all. And it doesn’t affect THE [ROLLING] STONES or U2 — a lot of the bands that do well. There’s only a handful, actually. The saddest thing of all is that the next great bands, with the talent Continue reading
As KISS bassist Gene Simmons told Goldmine, there’s “something about KISS, I don’t want to say it’s timeless, but it connected with a 5-year-old back in the ‘70s and it sure connects with a 5-year-old now.”
It’s what keeps KISS collectible, too. There’s always a new generation of KISS fans wanting all things KISS. And Goldmine is going to increase the fun with a KISS/Gene Simmons Giveaway.
There will be four (4) lucky winners. The Grand Prize is a poster of Goldmine’s January 2017 KISS cover — a rare shot of Gene Simmons on the Dynasty Tour, July 1979 in Florida — autographed by Simmons himself. It’s a VERY cool magazine cover (shown above — lots of kudos from KISS fans on this one). The poster is 21.25″ w x 29″ h.
And if you don’t win the poster grand prize, you have a chance to win one of the three Goldmine magazines autographed by Gene Simmons.
All you have to do to enter for this “KISS Kontest” is submit your email address in the box below by Wednesday, May 31, 11:59 p.m. You will be immediately entered in the Giveaway and as a bonus you will receive Goldmine’s informative weekly eNewsletter (collecting news/tips and exclusive articles and interviews with your favorite classic artists). We will randomly draw winners from the entrants.
Although former KISS drummer Peter Criss might disagree with Gene Simmons on a lot of things, Criss is the next rock legend to echo Simmons’ sentiment on the current state of rock n’ roll.
While speaking with Hi Fi Way, Criss was asked for his opinion on the fate of rock, in which he bluntly replied, “rock ‘n’ roll is over.” Admitting the reason why he feels this way is due to the kind of mainstream music he hears today in comparison to the music he grew up with when he was younger.
“I’ve been around since the day that the Beatles were onstage, I’ve been around when music was Motown … I’ve been around! What’s going on today ain’t my cup of tea,” says Criss. “The ’60s and ’70s were the times to be around. I saw Jimi Hendrix, I saw the real Who, the real Zeppelin, the Beatles and seen the Stones many times now that I know them and we’re friends. Over the years a lot has happened to me and I got to see all these great acts, and what I see today doesn’t rock my cradle and doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t care for a lot of the music.”
Criss believes that breaking into the music business took a lot more hard work, effort and creativity than it does today. “We were early pioneers and no one was doing that when we started out. Now everyone does it, so it isn’t big news anymore,” says Criss. “It’s time for me to get off the train as it’s not a great ride anymore. I don’t go out to concerts much anymore because I don’t enjoy myself because I get constantly harassed, people with phones wanting to take pictures, I can’t really sit and enjoy the concert or have a good time so I’m more of a homebody these days. The world has changed, my friend.”