04/28/2016

KISS Guitarist Tommy Thayer is doing a kids’ storybook app

By Ina Fried / recode.net

Tommy Thayer isn’t the first guitarist for the band KISS, but he is the first KISS guitarist to also create a mobile app for kids.

Thayer is one of the main forces behind Ernest Hummingbird, a children’s storybook app debuting this summer on iOS and Android. The mobile app tells the story of a hummingbird who wants to sing rather than just hum.

Like many aspiring musicians, the avian protagonist gets pushback from his parents. But, with the help of some friends, he makes his dream come true.

“They learn to sing together and it’s all they want to do,” Thayer said, during a talk at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.

Thayer admitted he felt a bit out of place at a software development conference.

“I’m not a techie and I don’t write code and I don’t really design apps either,” he said. “The content and the music and the stories is really what I am into.”

While the app isn’t quite ready, Thayer said he recently showed an early version to KISS frontman Gene Simmons. Simmons, Thayer said, is notorious for looking at something for only a few seconds before sharing his critique. Instead, Simmons watched the full 12-minute narrated version before saying that Thayer had something cool on his hands.

“Coming from Gene, that was quite a compliment,” Thayer said.

Thayer said he has high hopes for Ernest, hoping the hummingbird can eventually fly into his own TV show. Virtual reality is also an area of interest for both the kids app and the band.

“I think VR is the next big thing,” Thayer said. “We want to be there being part of it just like you guys do.”

As for the answer to his most frequently asked question, Thayer said it takes him about an hour to put on his KISS makeup. And yes, all the band members do their own makeup. Thayer said that time is also a special bonding experience for the band members.

“It’s the transition from us, into KISS. I know that sounds a little corny,” he said.

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