April 09, 2009

Here's an interview with Gene from Comércio do Jahu Newspaper. Thanks to KISSONLINE friend Jill Cataldo for translating this from Portuguese.

Photo from Uol Musica.


Gene Simmons, bass player and vocalist of KISS, is a rock hero with a long tongue. He's an excellent speaker with a masterful grasp of the language of rock. At 59 years, the most famous tongue in music gave an interview on the band's new tour stop in Brazil.

Ten years after its last stop in the country (when KISS played for 40,000 people in Interlagos) the group returns to Brazil with its KISS Alive 35 tour. Playing for 40,000 people on April 7 at 21:30 in São Paulo's Arena Anhembi, and on April 8 at Praça da Apoteose in Rio de Janeiro, tickets cost R$170(standard) and R$350 (vip) and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

On this tour, KISS is without Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, half of the original formation. How you can guarantee that this is still KISS?

Gene Simmons - When we are young, we believe that a band should never break up or it will lose its soul. Later though, people see that this is not the truth. Ringo Starr was not an original member of the Beatles. Some members of the Rolling Stones have left the band, and the Stones were certainly not finished with the exit of Brian Jones. Van Halen did not end without David Lee Roth. Almost all the great bands have experienced different formations from when they started. A band is like a soccer team; it is not about a single player. When the teams loses, everyone loses. We now have the responsibility to continue the band's footprint on history and keep its spirit of rock and roll.

Since the 1970s you have remained on top of the rock and roll scene, with legions of fans all over the world. What is the secret to your longevity?

The only thing that is important to me is that we strive to take care of to the expectations of the fans. It is not only about going out there and singing our songs, but to sing them as if it was the first and the last time. We know what it feels like to be a fan, to buy that ticket, to wait with anticipation for the show date to arrive, to feel that excitement when the big day finally comes and we take the stage. Because once, we were fans too. We want to give them the best and most extravagant show they've experienced in their life.

There's a popular urban legend here in Brazil that goes like this: in the 1970s, you saw a Brazilian group called Secos e Molhados play in Mexico. After that, you copied their idea of wearing makeup.

I know of this legend. We've already heard this story. It is not true. Many people believe it, but there are also many people who believe in other strange things, aren't there?

By the way, there are many new bands who sing masked nowadays, like Slipknot. Do you like this?

I don't have a problem with it. I think that the new musicians should do what they feel they have to do, no matter what I think of it. But their motives must be considered.

The current formation of KISS is working on a new album. When will it be out?

Yes, we're recording an album with 12 or 15 new songs. We've already recorded vocals and guitars for four of them. We'll finish recording in July and launch it in September. I can define its sound like this: Rock and Roll Over with a mid-seventies sound, fast and heavy. No rap, no country music here. It's difficult to define music, but if you keep your mind on this definition, you know very well what it is. It is the classic sound of KISS.

You know, since the 1990s, everything has changed in the music industry. Today, the downloads of musical archives on the Internet has made music commerce completely different from when millions would buy albums. How do you see this?

Something has to give. To take something for free, to me, is robbery. We do not make music for charity. To write a song, to record it, produce it, to launch it, all of this costs money. I think today that some things are already changing, with chains like Best Buy and Wal-Mart selling exclusive albums in their stores. My view is that, if the music is free, you will end up killing all the new bands in music and they'll never go on to become classics. You will never hear a new Appetite For Destruction.

You participate in two television reality shows, School of Rock and a famous series already here in Brazil, Uma Fam'lia Joia (Family Jewels, shown on A&E). What is the connection that you see between music and these type of programs?

It's all the same thing. When you record, you sign with a record company, the studio produces and signs contracts for the distribution. When I write a book, I sign with an editor, do promotional events, register copyrights. They contract me for the TV show, and I'm paid for it. It's a creative outlet, as are all the others.

In Family Jewels, you are accompanied by your children, Nick and Sophie, and your wife, the ex-Playmate Shannon Tweed. In addition to the TV series, what do they share with you artistically?

Nick and Sophie are studying piano and guitar. I told them that if they learned to read music, they'll be able to make music with confidence. Nick is also a cartoonist. He writes and draws Incarnate, which will be launched in Comic Con San Diego. Sophie is athletic, plays basketball and track. We are happy and blessed.

I also heard that you play golf, like Alice Cooper.

I don't play anything. I don't have hobbies. Or better: I have the best hobby in the world, that is to be Gene Simmons of KISS! It is a hobby for which there are no rules. AND I never I have to ask someone how to handle something or what to do. Even the Pope has to ask someone for something. I don't have a master, nor a boss.