Alan Cross of A Journal of Musical Things spoke with KISS bassist/singer Gene Simmons, highlights from the interview appear below.

Alan Cross: …How many KISS products are there now?

Gene Simmons: It’s a living, breathing thing, so there are always new ones and old ones that lapse in their window of opportunity. But, I’d approximate between 3,500 to 4,000. Lifetime? North of 5,000.

AC: So why this new vodka?

GS: Why not? We have a restaurant chain called Rock & Brews and I don’t necessarily partake in all the stuff on the menu, but it’s not about me. As the head of a company…I’m not a fan of spinach, but if you want a spinach souffle, my job is to give you the best spinach souffle you’ve ever had. So I don’t personally drink, but so what? There are plenty of people who love vodka and Moneybag vodka is a superior vodka. If you love vodka, you’re not going to find anything better. It’s five times distilled.

AC: You’re distilling Moneybag in Canada…

GS: That’s because the machinery is new. This is a new operation. I own the moneybag logo–the one with the dollar sign in the middle [Gene has owned that trademark worldwide for 28 years and has used it on a variety of merch and products]–and not only will you be pleasantly surprised, but you will appreciate the high-end quality of the vodka. And you’ll never throw the bottle away because it’s art. You can’t come close to that design [the moneybag logo] without me coming for your firstborn.

We looked around and found a Canadian company called Glazier and did some prototypes for what the bottle might look like. [My partner and I] decided to raise the ante and give people something they won’t believe. You’ll never want to get rid of that bottle. Put some flowers in it and goodnight, Irene. It’ll be a family keepsake for a long time.

AC: What else have you been doing during the pandemic?…

GS:…I…learned stuff about crypto from a nice guy named Tyler Winklevoss, one of the Winklevoss twins. He was kind enough to mentor me. And I dove into it. I threw millions of dollars into it. I bought Bitcoin at about $10,000. I personally believe it’ll go to $100,000 in six months to a year. I’ve got about 14 different cryptos: Ethereum, Litecoin–all kinds of stuff.

AC: I’m surprised there isn’t a KISS crypto.

GS: Working on it, sir.

AC:…What is the future of KISS? I can’t imagine a world without KISS so tell me what’s happening.

GS: Well, we’re busy building the KISS Museum in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel. There’s a KISS motion picture that’s about to start filming. And there’s going to be a cartoon show and other things. So, KISS will continue to exist in various forms. But the touring band should stop–and I’ll tell you why.

You’re a fan of Mick Jagger and I’m a fan of Mick Jagger. He’s in fantastic shape. And Keith, too. But if you put Keith into my outfit which weighs about 40 pounds and the dragon boots that are about seven inches off the ground and you have to spit fire and you have to fly through the air to the top of the stage…and I’m telling you that after a half-hour, they’d pass out.

We can’t keep doing what we’re doing–just the physicality of it. The problem with KISS is we sweat like you at a spelling bee. And therein lies the integrity and self-respect. That’s what it’s all about. I’m 72. Still have some hair. And I don’t want to stay on stage too long. I’ve seen so many bands I’ve liked…and what’s missing now are wheelchairs. Have some self-respect. Go out on top. And that’s what we’re doing.

We have another 100 cities or so to go and after that, the touring band will cease.

AC: So there are no plans for KISS to continue without you and Paul [Stanley]?

GS: Nothing is impossible. A few years ago, Mark Burnett and I were pitching a show called KISS: The Next Generation, which was going to be kind of a competition show to find out who’s worthy to wear the crown–who’s got the stuff, the physicality, and the ability to write songs. 

Anything is possible. Did I think there would ever be a KISS Kruise, the museum, and ad infinitum, ad nauseum, and thousands of licensed products? No! The only thing that matters is doing cool stuff while you’re alive so that when you croak, people can point and say “Yeah, that guy did cool stuff.”

AC: One last question: You’re not going to sell your catalog to anyone, are you?

GS: How much have you got? Bob Dylan sold his stuff for $300-400 million. The problem–and I love the guy and worship the ground he walks on–but [his music] isn’t going to mean a lot to a 20-year-old. They don’t care about The Times They Are A-Changin’, Maggie’s Farm–they just don’t. Very few pieces of music stand the test of time. What KISS has that no other musical entity has is trademarks. Our faces are bigger than the music, bigger than anything. 

Springsteen just sold for $500 million and what you get is the music, not the imagery. I’ve never seen a Springsteen cartoon, comic book, or action figures. KISS is the only one. So, what you’re buying into–if anyone does the right price–you’re into buying the imagery that has stood the test of time. Our analogy is Santa Claus/Superman: Imagery that is trademarked so that no one can reproduce. And no other musical act has that.

Read more at A Journal of Musical Things.

21 Responses

  1. All Kiss is celebrating is a past glory that I’m kinda tired of, I’d love to see 80s era Kiss. I like those records, and “Carnaval Of Souls,” has some good songs , where Bruce Kulick shined. I never listen to the radio, ’cause when they play Kiss, it’s just same old stuff/ I love all eras of Kiss, but if your doing a farewell tour, you should go out doing a range of all you done. The final Rush tour wasn’t set as a farewell tour, but it was a well rounded concert that showcased all they were in that 40 years.

    1. Charles, I agree on ’80s KI⚡⚡, I love ’80s KI⚡⚡ almost, and I mean almost, as much as ’70s KI⚡⚡, but as far as COS from ’97, I’ll pass, that is my absolute least favorite KI⚡⚡ album, in fact, I hate that album! I wish Gene and Paul would embrace the ’80s era of the band a lot more than what they do, it’s almost like the Van Hagar era of Van Halen, certain people (for whatever reasons) just want to pretend that it doesn’t exist, which is absolutely ridiculous.

    2. Forgot to add, speaking of Rush, the new Rush pinball machines are here, and they look awesome! Just wish I could afford em, I’d love to have all 3! 🙂

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