Rock Legend Gene Simmons on KISS, First KISSes, and Big Dreams

KISS co-founder Gene Simmons may seem larger than life, but like his colleague Paul Stanley, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee seems more like an old friend once the conversation starts rolling. I was thrilled to catch up with Simmons for my podcast Whine At 9, as the band launched their new multimedia project KISS Rocks Vegas and prepared to take the stage in yet another city on their Freedom to Rock Tour.

Listen to Nancy’s interviews with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on iTunes.

Gene Simmons couldn’t be happier as KISS (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer) celebrates another successful decade in rock. “I’m proud to say the Recording Industry Association validated that KISS is America’s No. 1 Gold Record Award-winning group of all time in all group categories…We outsell the Beatles and Elvis combined in licensing and merchandising. Nobody touches us. We have the KISS cruise, the KISS golf course, the KISS limo service and even an LA KISS football team…restaurant chain, film company…but everything we do is an extension of a philosophy—self-imposed, and that is that the fans are the bosses and we just work here.”

KISS may be notorious for igniting fan enthusiasm, but the fans are the fuel for the KISS work ethic. “We’ve always been about giving the fans more,” explains Simmons. “And anything we do is an extension for the live show. And so here we are doing yet another tour 42 years on.”

But has time and experience altered the thrill of stepping on stage for Simmons? “It is different,” admits the rock and reality star. “You’ll never forget your first kiss. You know your heart pounds in anticipation and all that. And your first anything are pivotal points in your life, but that doesn’t mean that when you kiss somebody later on after you’ve kissed more than a few times—doesn’t mean that it isn’t still a thrill. But it’s different. We know more. We’re in charge. The band has never sounded better.”

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