05/11/2017

A Conversation With Gene Simmons

by Michael Cavacini / https://michaelcavacini.com

In addition to recently interviewing Barry Manilow and John Oates, I interviewed the God of Thunder: Gene Simmons. I’ve been a KISS fan since September 4, 1996, when I saw the band perform under the Brooklyn Bridge on MTV’s Video Music Awards. So, having the opportunity to speak with Gene Simmons was a surreal one, especially when I answered the phone and he said, “Hi, this is Gene Simmons.” I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did conducting it.

In January you announced a partnership with Wizard World to launch your first-ever solo tour. This is a unique deal where you perform a concert in a particular city, followed by a weekend-long appearance at Wizard World in said city. How did this idea come about?

People that know me think of KISS and some business stuff. But underneath all that – the soft, white underbelly – is I’ve been a comic book geek all my life. KISS has had a long and proud history with comic books, going all the way back to the mid-’70s, starting with Marvel comics. Our KISS comics were the biggest sellers they had. And through the years we’ve had other comic book companies put out different comics. In the last year or so, Dynamic comics has started putting out KISS comics, as well as the Demon comics – my own comic. Of course, I’ve got the Simmons Comics Group, which puts out my characters: Gene Simmons’ House of Horrors, Zipper and Dominatrix.

So, Wizard World wanted me to come by and do a deal for five conventions. They wanted me to do a Q&A and stuff like that, for comic book fans. Then, when we started talking with each other, we said, “Hey, why don’t we make this a two-day event?” Take over a local concert hall, put together a band of rockers and go do some obscure KISS stuff. That’s exactly what we’ve done, and we’ve done about two or three of them so far. They’ve been loads of fun and everybody’s been having a great time. If you go to WizardWorld.com, you’ll get the lowdown there.

You’ve been performing some deep cuts live with your solo band, such as “Charisma” and “Got Love For Sale.” What made you want to dust off these album tracks and play them live?

When the masses show up at our concerts, they’re the diehards who’ve been with me since day one. If you’re five-years-old, fifteen-years-old or even twenty-years-old, you still don’t scratch the surface because we’ve been around for forty-three years. If KISS played what they used to call in the music industry a b-side of an album, some of the more obscure stuff, most of the people wouldn’t know it. If you go to the Stones and they play something obscure, everybody sits down because they don’t know it. They know “Satisfaction,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and a few others. Doing these smaller concert halls, which hold 1,000 to 3,000 people, means they get filled up by real diehard fans. They don’t want to hear the same-old, same-old. They want to hear nuggets, as they say. It’s a hoot for me because I’ve never really had a chance to do this stuff live. It’s been a lot of fun. There’s nothing like playing “Charisma” and seeing a few thousand fans mouth every single word. Lot of fun.

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