February 16, 2010
The March 2010 issue of Britain's Q magazine has a feature on Casablanca Records' early years, which features some great vintage photos of the band, as well as quotes from the band on what it was like to work for the label. Here's an excerpt:


Disco Inferno: Casablanca Records
by Ben Mitchell

Founded by Neil Bogart in 1973 after eight years in the music business, with money provided by Warner Brothers, Casablanca signed their first act, KISS. The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1974.

Gene Simmons: It was a really strange time when the businessmen were not in charge of record companies. Crazy and wild people were in charge of record companies. Neil Bogart was crazy and wild. We wore more makeup than most clowns, higher heels than most women, and more leather than you normally find in an S&M bar. Neil was honest enough to admit that he didn't get us, but he gambled on our passion.

Paul Stanley: After Neil signed us, we spent a year or so opening for anybody who would let us. Every time we walked out onstage, if people weren't outright laughing, they were hitting one another in the ribs and snickering. But when we played, they went crazy. What we lacked in musicianship we made up for in conviction.

Larry Harris (Co-founder, Casablanca): The music business now is not even a ghost of the same animal that it was then. Record companies don't stick with an artist more than five minutes if they don't see success immediately. We stuck with KISS for four albums before they broke. The whole mindset is different.

Warners did not share Neil Bogart's belief in KISS, so Bogart made arrangements to pay back the $750,000 he owed them, and by the end of 1974 Casablanca had become an independent label. The following year KISS had their first hit record, reaching number nine with 1975's double live album KISS Alive!

Larry Harris: The success of Alive! came as a major surprise to us. It caught us totally unaware.

Gene Simmons: Almost overnight we went from being a working band to national superstars.

Despite appearances to the contrary, Casablanca had been struggling financially until multinational corporation PolyGram bought half of the operation for $15 million in 1977.

Gene Simmons: We went from recording for a label where we had a personal relationship with the president to recording for a large entity called PolyGram with an enormous staff. We felt lost.

Bill Aucoin: We made an incredible deal with PolyGram for KISS. From that point of view, it was good for KISS.