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A - Z Of Kiss

'Uncle' Gene Simmons is never shy of an opinion or two, so we thought it only fair to ask him for the definitive A - Z of Kiss.

This article originally appeared in Metal Hammer #269.

A is for... Ace

“Ace Frehley’s contribution is immeasurable. He perfected a type of playing that was very unique and was essential to our success. It was just a shame his DNA couldn’t see him last the long haul. Some people just aren’t cut out to run a marathon. When Ace is straight, he is a wonderful human being; when he’s high, he’s an asshole.”

B is for... Beth

“I heard Peter [Criss, original Kiss drummer] humming this tune in the back of a limo. I said, ‘What is that?’ He said, ‘It’s this tune I’m working on called ‘Bec’.’ I suggested we call it Beth, but it doesn’t really matter who wrote it. It turned out pretty well.”

C is for... Cat

“Peter had a free-flowing style and a lovely, smoky voice. But, again, a really tragic story. He was in the band three times and was kicked out three times. I can’t stress this enough: don’t do drugs! At the beginning it’s no secret we loved each other, but when chemicals came in, it all changed.”

Kiss’s stageshow is never understated

Photo: Getty

D is for... Donington

“It’s a spectacular place. I love that it’s outdoors because the fireworks can really shake the heavens. I love the passion of Download – the fans are merciless! I remember seeing this band they didn’t take to back when we weren’t wearing make-up: the fans were raining down these bottles filled with piss like missiles from Russia! I just said, ‘Oh my god!’ But you’ll be seeing a new show from us [this year], we’re really going to bring it. It’ll be a great day.”

Gene, Paul and Tommy laying waste to Download festival in 2008

Photo: Will Ireland

E is for... Ezrin, Bob (former Kiss producer)

“Bob Ezrin is probably the perennial rock producer. He’s actually a musician as well as a producer. He is like a drill sergeant in the military, making you the man you could be. Instead of just cruising along, he improves you. He doesn’t change anything, he just polishes the apple. And if you can just listen to the albums, Destroyer and then years later, Revenge, you’ll hear that they really are some of our finest work.”

F is for... Forty Years Of Rock

“Forty years, and boy do I look good! There’s no substitute for a clean lifestyle. Gravity and your DNA might have an effect but you don’t need that crap to ruin you. I always saw myself going the distance; I always planned to be a commando of life. I never wanted it to stop, and it hasn’t.”

Kiss: rocking and rolling all night... but taking care of themselves, too

Photo: Will Ireland

G is for... God Of Thunder

“A lot of people don’t like me. But a lot of people didn’t like Jesus either. Say whatever you like about me, but I care. People pay a lot of money to come and see our shows and forget about their worries, and I care about them. When I get up on that stage I’ve always cared, every day in the last 40 years.”

Uncle Gene: horny beast

Photo: Will Ireland

H is for... Hello Kitty

“It might not be a rock demographic, but who cares?! Rock isn’t about rules. We have a Scooby Doo line coming out, very proud of it. Kiss is, was and always will be whatever the fuck we want it to be. Kiss has always run our own race.”

I is for... I Was Made For Loving You

“Disco bandwagon hop? I Was Made For Loving You was huge around the world. In the darkest, bleakest metal festivals in the world we play that and a whole stadium jumps like the locusts of the 10 plagues of Egypt!”

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J is for... Judaism

“Judaism is important to me but I just get on with it. I believe what I believe. Jews have always had a peculiar notion about themselves. I was OK with being branded a Satanist, sure. Jews don’t really care; as long as you aren’t trying to kill us, we’re fine.”

K is for...Kiss Army

“The Kiss Army is the most devoted fanbase in music. The teen bands have very devoted fans – go see a One Direction concert – but, I’ll see you in 20 years. Our fans defy logic; they are from every social class and of every race and age in the world.”

The Kiss Army: unstoppable

Photo: Getty

L is for... Lineup Changes

“Lineup changes are necessary. For every band – The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, AC/DC – some guys just aren’t cut out for the long haul. Some guys are just shooting stars... most are, actually.”

M is for... Merchandise

“Is there anything else to brand? Sure! Kisstianity! Our own religion. All the income is tax free! Why not? If it makes one person happy, and that’s all it does, it’s still profoundly important.”

N is for... New York City

“New York is the greatest city in the world because all the different nationalities are forced to live together. A Palestinian fruit market over there, an Israeli clothes shop over there...”

O is for... Original Lineup Reformation...

“We did it for the right reasons and we hoped it would work out. We didn’t want to just put the make-up back on and go through the motions. At least I didn’t. I wanted to make records that stood toe to toe with our past. But ultimately those same problems reared their head again. But that’s OK, we carry on.”

P is for... Phantom Of The Park (ill-fated 1978 Kiss movie)

“Drugs and alcohol had crept into the band at this point. Both Ace and Peter had stand-ins with actors in Phantom Of The Park, because they just weren’t thre, both physically and mentally at points, to partake. It was a pretty frustrating time.”

Q is for... Queen Rumours

“There’s a myth that they supported us on a US tour, but to this day we have never played together! It’d be great, though!”

R is for... Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

“We did it because it was important to the fans, and important for Ace and Peter to be recognised. Without them we wouldn’t be here, but with them we wouldn’t be here. So it was a slap in the face to Eric and Tommy, who have both been in the band longer than Ace and Peter, but weren’t allowed onstage.

Paul, Peter, Ace and Gene at the 29th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in April 2014

Photo: Getty

S is for... Starchild

“Kiss is an idea that is bigger than me and Paul [Stanley], but he’s the brother I never had. I don’t agree with everything he says and does, but there is an unspoken respect between the two of us and we both work really hard.”

T is for... Tongue...

“Do I have the most famous tongue on earth? Yes. In fact, put it this way: when someone says the word ‘tongue’, who do you immediately think of? I rest my case.”

U is for... Unmasked

“The biggest fear when we unmasked [in 1983] was that I was hideously ugly and not really ‘ROCK’. Was that true? Well, that really isn’t for me to decide, is it?”

V is for... Vegas

“Las Vegas is just a fantastic city. We would love to do [a residency] there again, and next time we’d like to do it at Caesars Palace. We certainly have no complaints about Vegas – we all love it there.”

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W is for... War Machine

“You think that’s our heaviest song? War Machine was written by Bryan Adams! This was before he was a rock star. He was just a writer then. I just picked a guy who I thought was talented, I’ve got quite an ear for that.”

X is for... X-plosions

“Can the show get any bigger? Yes, of course. And it will. This new show at Donington, you’ll see. Going where no band has gone before, shaking the heavens. The most spectacular live show ever? I’d say we are, yes.”

Y is for... YouTube

“Our shows can be put up on the internet before we’ve even finished these days. We had the mystique when we started because there wasn’t this sort of technology. I remember answering the phone for an interview once and the question was asked, ‘Do you eat?’ We were that much of an oddity. They just looked at us like we were not of this earth.”

Z is for... Zambia

“I travelled out there for Childfund International. We sponsor more than 1,400 children out there. Our charity work is very important to us, but we tend not to talk about it – you give to nourish your heart and not because you want to impress somebody.”

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