kiss-return Andy Greene of Rolling Stone spoke with KISS bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons about the band being inducted into RNRHOF, whether or not he will play with Ace and Peter and why he may or may not dislike Eddie Trunk/ Excerpts from the interview appear below.

RS: Tell me your first reaction to the big news.

GS: Pride. For me, it’s another tug of the shirt sleeve to remind me that the American dream is alive and well. I’m living proof of it. I came here as an immigrant, a legal one — that’s a distinction — and getting the Hollywood Walk of Fame and getting the keys to the cities of God knows how many cities and the wax museums and the thousands of licensed products we have and on and on. . .Still, no matter how much much noise we make about how only the fans matter, and it’s true they are the ones that put us here and without them we are nothing, there is something in the back of our collective consciousnesses that makes us want to be recognized by our peers.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame started out as a wonderful idea and ideal, and it’s a pride and privilege. Now, we’ve had ten different lineups. It’s important to list that the honor is not just ours. It’s Gene, Paul, Ace, Peter, Eric Carr, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer, Vinnie Vincent, Tommy Thayer. . .There’s been a lot of guys, and we continue to tour and fill up stadiums and it is a testament to the idea of Kiss.

A long time ago, four knuckleheads off the streets of New York decided to put together the band they never saw onstage. We were ballsy enough to throw down our own gauntlet. “You wanted the best? You got the best! The hottest band in the world. Kiss.” You’re God damn right.

RS: Did you start to think you’d never be inducted?

GS: Yeah. I think its political. As soon as the fans had their say, I’m told, we slaughtered everybody else. I think it’s a crime that Deep Purple is not in and Patti Smith is. What the fuck? There are disco artists and all kind of credible and important kinds of music that have nothing to do with rock & roll. But, hey, it’s not my thing. I think the best thing they did was to open it up to the fans. There is an American ideal: “By the people, for the people, of the people.” Hey, that’s a good idea.

RS: You’re definitely coming to the ceremony, right?

GS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We need to stand up there proudly for the fans.

RS: It’s nice to do it in Brooklyn since you guys started in New York.

GS: Yeah. It’s the coolest of the cool.

RS: People are very curious about what lineup of the band is going to play that night.

GS: Well, Kiss is Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. It’s like, if you introduced me to your wife and I go, “Wait, where are all the other wives?” It’s like, “Yeah, I was married to them and now I’m here.” You can argue that point and we’ll figure everything out as time goes on. This one is for the fans. If the fans didn’t care, we wouldn’t be here. If it meant nothing to them, we wouldn’t be here.

RS: Bands often play with old members at the Hall of Fame. Are you open to the idea of playing with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley that night?

GS: Sure, why not?

RS: I’ve heard you say in the past you never wanted to play with them again.

GS: That was for a tour. But they were equally important in the formation of the band. When you have kids with your first wife, you give kudos. The fact you got remarried doesn’t delete or minimize the important. Hey, “You have gave birth to this thing, Kiss, with Ace, Peter, Paul and Gene.”

RS: But there’s been some very public feuding and bad blood in the past few years.

GS: There’s never been bad blood. I love them as people. I just hate drugs and alcohol. I don’t care if you are Mötley [Crüe] or Springsteen. If you don’t have the balls to get on the stage straight, it’s an insult to the fans and the band members

RS: They say they are clean now though.

GS: I have no comment.

RS: People are curious to know why you don’t get on [with radio personality and] That Metal Show [host] with Eddie Trunk.

GS: Respectfully, I’m not very interested.

RS: Why?

GS: [Chuckles] Before there was metal, there was KISS. We don’t really consider ourselves metal. It’s just rock and roll and all the hand gestures that everybody does on that show, I invented that. Oh, and let me add the word “bitch.”

RS: So, it’s nothing personal against Eddie Trunk or anything?

GS: Oh, I don’t care. I wish everybody well. Everyone should have a happy life and succeed and stuff. Just because we don’t want to do a show doesn’t mean anything. I’m not really interested in Jon Stewart’s show either. That doesn’t mean we don’t wish him well. It’s just not my cup of tea. I don’t want to be a pinata while he’s going to throw jokes. But if he wants to play mono a mono, you gotta take it as well as give it.

RS: If they tell you they just want the original four guys to play, will you be cool with that?

GS: As long as they are willing to only bring their first girlfriend and their first wife. . .There’s no rules. I really haven’t thought about it.

RS: To just totally clarify once again, you’re willing to play with Ace and Peter that night?

GS: Oh, sure.

RS: That could be the last time ever then. When else could that happen?

GS: In January we are celebrating our 40th anniversary, and boy do I look good! And every time I say, “I’m never going to do this, I’m never going to do that. . .” For God’s sake, Ace and Peter were in the band three separate times. And they were let go three separate times. Every time it was about the same thing. How many times are you going to hear, “No, I’m healthy now. I’m fine.” It’s like the old, “I promise I’ll pull out.”

The only consideration has always been the military ideal: sound mind, sound body, respect for the fans. They are our bosses. We buckle our knees to the people who make our lives possible, and rightfully so. You and me and everyone else, we just work here. Everyone else that disrespects that maybe shouldn’t have the opportunities it provides. The stage is holy ground. It is electric church. Not everyone belongs there.

RS: So you think it’s possible there might be a 40th anniversary tour that involves Ace and Peter?

GS: I don’t want to do that. Nah. I’ve been through it before. Too many scars and too much, “I promise, I promise, I promise.” It’s like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. How many times can you cry the same thing? After a while, sorry Charley.

RS: They both wrote books and didn’t say very nice things about you. Did that bother you?

GS: I stand by everything they said! [Big laugh]. I’ll tell you a wonderful story. Ace, God bless him. . .You know, when he’s straight he’s a wonderful guy. He took me to the Beverly Hills Hotel and he told me a story. He said, “Look, I just want to show you a chapter I wrote in the book and just check with you and make sure it’s okay.”

I said, “Look, write whatever you want. I’m a happy guy.” He said, “I just want to check the accuracy of it.” I said, “Okay, what is it?” He goes, “Well, 19-seventy whatever it is. There’s a swimming pool and we’re all out there. There are girls and we’re lounging around and I get up on the diving board in my swimsuit and I’ve got champagne in my hand and I’m drunk and I’ve got a scarf on. You then say to me, ‘Ace, get off the diving board. You’re drunk you’re going to drown.’ I then say, ‘Fuck you. Don’t tell me what to do!'”

Then he jumps off the diving board and jumps in. Of course, he starts to drown. He says, “Of course, you dive in because you used to be a lifeguard. You fish me out, pump the water out of me, save my life.” And at breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel he says to me, “I want to thank you for saving my life. But how accurate was it?”

I say to him, “It was 95 percent accurate. Yes, there was a diving board. Yes, champagne in hand. Yes, laughing in my face. Yes, drowning in the pool. Yes, I dove in and rescued someone. But it wasn’t you. It was Peter Criss. You were flat out unconscious, surprise, on the side of the pool.

He just shrugged his shoulder. You can catch him in a lie or a figment of his imagination and he’ll just shrug his shoulders and go, “Oh well, what the fuck?” He’s a happy-go-lucky, I’m sorry. . .when we first got together it was magic. We loved those guys, all for one and one for all. Look, not all marriages stay together. What can I tell you? Cain and Abel didn’t get along very well either.

Read more at Rolling Stone.


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  • DR on

    Hi Troll, been awhile – hope you’ve been well. I thought I did comment on that post. But if I didn’t I apologize to all the fans. Bigsled, I know you think I’m nothing but a Demon fan, which I am. But my comments are based on fact, and not emotion. I totally understand someone not liking GS. But the reasons are rather stupid most times and not very factual. If you want to bash him, bash him. But have facts on your side. And another important thing, you need to remember what collossal fuck ups Ace and Peter were back in the day. Nobody seems to remember that. Nobody seems to remember that without Gene and Paul, KISS would’ve never existed in the first place and probably would’ve imploded before ALIVE ever came out. Ace and Peter admit what fuck ups they were and have been. So why can’t you? I agree with Eddie on alot of things KISS, and probably don’t agree with other things KISS. But I think he and I agree on the past and what happened and what Gene and Paul did to keep it going. I like Gene because he speaks his mind, period. Don’t always agree with what he says. But I respect anyone who tells it like it is. We don’t get that a lot these days. So if I like that, I don’t care what you think. You just Gene bash with little facts. Which then makes me defend him with facts. But lets be clear on one thing – KISS is the original four for most of us. If you don’t like anything after that, I get it. But there is a generation of fans that are going to see this version of KISS and enjoying that. Whether us old farts like it or not, Gene doesn’t care. He’s just making money and I don’t blame him for that. Like I’ve said before – if you were in his shoes, tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing. And if you say you wouldn’t, I’ll say your a liar.

    • DR on

      Oh and one more thing Bigsled, did you really say that without Ace and Peter Gene would be working at Walmart today? If it weren’t for Gene and Paul, Ace and Peter wouldn’t even be able to get a job at Walmart today. This is another example of your emotions getting the better of you yet again and spewing hate that has no factual basis. But I love you man. You’re my troll and my troll only. And any debate on KISS is always fun. Keep rocking Bigsled. At least we’ll always have Coney Hatch together.

  • Cosmos on

    Don’t forget that about one third of KISS’s existence was minus the make-up. Yes Ace and Peter were part of the original/legendary line-up, but there have been many musicians that have come and gone since. If they really want to celebrate 40 years of KISS, they should let by-gones be by-gones and give the chance to ALL past members of KISS to perform at the R.A.R.H.O.F. That is just my opinion. I have been a huge fan of KISS since ’75 until the current day, make-up or no make-up. I would appreciate any feedback from KISS fans out there!

  • JONNY D on

    SOLUTION: As KISS is famous for stealing everything they do from other bands who proved successful in their own merits (make-up from Alice Cooper, NY Dolls, “Live” album from Peter Frampton, acoustic album from Rod Stewart, Telsa, Nirvana, etc.. reunion tour from you-name-it, farewell tours, etc.), here’s an idea in which they can steal from themselves. Remember their pathetic “Acoustic” show on MTV? They had Ace and Peter walk out and join the band for a few songs which triggered a reunion tour. Do the same thing with all the members at the RNRHOF. Play songs starting with original line-up, move to replacements and then finish with original. Shake hands and get on with your lives. NO MAKE-UP unless… KISS would like to be somewhat original and make Tommy and Eric develop new characters ala Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr, so there is no more comparisons to the Cat and Spaceman and fans will not look at them as their own tribute band! Again, they intoduce the new characters and move on. End one era, continue with another era. That is exactly what the fans want and NEED. What a fitting way to acknowledge the original musical KISS and the current touring band KISS all at the same time. Now that’s closure!

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