by Michael Cavacini / www.theaquarian.com
Within the past year, Iíve had the amazing opportunity to interview Gene Simmons twice! Since we last spoke, he announced The Vault, which is a 150-song box set, chronicling 50 years of unreleased demos and outtakes, housed in a 38-pound safe. Starting in January, Gene is hand-delivering these vaults, for $2,000 each, to fans across the world. If you spend $25,000 you can be an executive producer of The Vault and spend an hour with Gene in a recording studio. Or, for $50,000, Gene will come to your house for a two-hour party and you can invite up to 25 friends to take part in the festivities. Iím not buying The Vault because itís way out of my price range and wheeling home one of these behemoths is a surefire way to upset my wife. However, if youíre interested in learning more about The Vault, youíre in luck.
How many songs on The Vault are demos or outtakes for KISS albums?
This is the largest box set of all time. Nothing has ever been done like this. Itís almost three feet tall, it weighs 38 pounds, metal wheels, real hardcore solid stuff that will last a lifetime. Not plastic stuff thatís going to break down. Inside there are 10 CDs. And I prefer CDs because Iím tired of clouds and shmouds ó things you canít touch and everything is disposable. I want art. So, there are 10 CDs included, and there are 150 tracks spanning half a century. 50 years. None of the tracks have been released. No record company. I certainly never released them. It goes from 1966 through 2016.
The most recent songs are, literally, last year. The oldest go back 50 years, when I was, I donít know, 14 or 15. What I did was to try to sprinkleÖit doesnít follow a timeline. It gets sprinkled into different vibes, if you see what I mean. Thereís a surprise CD, which Iím not going to talk too much about. Itís all over the place and has some really eclectic stuff and some surprise guests. Bob Dylan and I wrote together about 15 years ago, so the entire writing session, Bob and I talking it through and all that. Thatís in the box set.
Also, three or four Gene Simmons-Bob Dylan songs. I should say Bob Dylan-Gene Simmons songs. [Laughs] I canít even shine his shoes, much less go above him in credit. Then there are the Van Halen brothers, right around the time when I discovered the band. We came back from Japan in Ď77, I think it was. The Van Halen brothers were kind enough to come into the studio late at night and record three tracks with me. One of them was ďChristine Sixteen.Ē Itís just us, the trio: myself, Eddie and Alex. Thatís on there.
The KISS demos run the gamut, from the original version of ďI Know Who You AreĒ and ďDrive Me Wild,Ē which became ďRock And Roll All NiteĒ ó the original demo versions of that. They have similar verses but completely different choruses. And original versions of, I donít know, ďPlaster Caster,Ē ďAlmost Human,Ē tons of stuff. There are two or three CDs that run the gamut of demo things, and Paul appears on some of the stuff. Ace appears on lots of the stuff. He even sings two songs that he and I co-wrote that havenít appeared anywhere. It runs the gamut. Then thereís eclectic stuff. Real hard guitar stuff. On some stuff I play all the instruments, the drums and the keyboard and all that. Thereís an awful lot of stuff.
And, for me, thereís a 50,000-word book. Real high-end, with hundreds of photos from my collection, that also spans 50 years and talks about the songs ó where I was, what I was doing, who I was doing. Thereís an action figure and a gold coin, and personal surprises. Items I stick in every single one.
Beside being the largest box set of all time ó because we know record stores are dead and record companies are dead and everybody is doing disposable stuff ó I decided to roll up my sleeves and do something thatís never been done before. Iím going to personally deliver the box sets around the world. The box sets ó and itís tough to call them box sets because theyíre monsters ó you cannot pick it up with one hand, literally. Imagine three or four bowling balls of weight. You literally cannot pick it up. You can pick up a bowling ball with one hand but three or four bowling balls, youíre not going to be able to do it.
And, so, this is meant to be a lifetime keepsake, and Iím going to hand deliver this to people. They cost $2,000. Whether you live in New Zealand or wherever you are. I pay for my flights, for my hotels, everything else. In many of the places, this is going to cost me money. Iím going to lose on it, but thatís OK. Iíve been put here in this position by the fans. Itís time to give back. I had to pick a price that somehow makes sense for the cost of doing it. But the flights and everything, thatís going to be a loss.
Additionally, there are other areas. If people want to be executive producer on the album, they can go on the site to find out more information. That means they get credit inside the box set, etched into a metal plaque. If they want to have a Gene Simmons party, literally, me and 25 of their friends, at their home or a club or wherever they want, thatís a separate thing. But everything begins and ends with GeneSimmonsVault.com.
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