The God of Thunder talks last KISS concert, plans for life after the makeup, and more with Rolling Stone
BY ANDY GREENE / ROLLINGSTONE.com
SOMETIME AROUND 11 p.m. on Dec. 2, Gene Simmons will walk offstage at Madison Square Garden in New York as the final notes of “Rock and Roll All Nite” echo through the arena, remove his Demon makeup for the last time, and say goodbye to the band he formed five decades ago. It’s easy to be skeptical about this considering nearly every farewell tour in rock history has been bullshit, this is actually the second Kiss goodbye tour, and this isn’t a band known for leaving money on the table, but Simmons swears the finale is absolutely legit.
“My hand on the Bible,” he tells Rolling Stone on the phone from a hotel room in Edmonton, Alberta, the morning after a show at Rogers Place. “And I should know because my people wrote that book. In fact, my people also wrote the follow-up book, the New Testament. And so I’ll say right here, right now, my hand on the Bible, it will be the final Kiss-in-makeup appearance.”
It’s fitting that Kiss are ending their storied run at Madison Square Garden: They first put the makeup on 50 years ago at a rehearsal hall 10 blocks south of the arena. It took the band just four years to move from tiny clubs to theaters to the Garden. They were back in smaller venues during some lean years in the Eighties when they toured without makeup, but the decision to paint their faces once more and reunite the classic lineup in 1996 revitalized the brand, and kept them in arenas even after Simmons and Paul Stanley yet again parted ways with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley shortly after the turn of the millennium. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer have since replaced them on drums and guitar, respectively.
The final concert is sold out (there’s just scattered seats for the penultimate show at Madison Square Garden a night earlier), but this being Kiss, the group is offering fans the chance to purchase the last show via pay-per-view. We asked Simmons about the possibility of special guests, including Criss and Frehley, the importance of MSG in the band’s history, and his post-Kiss plans. As always, he had much to say.