Jon Bream / Star Tribune
Kiss' Gene Simmons is famous for his extra-long tongue. He has a big mouth, too, one that will take on any subject -- the Spice Girls, Dave Matthews, the holidays, the Super Bowl. He also likes to talk about all things Kiss -- the band's 3D concert Tuesday at Target Center, the new Kiss movie, Kiss performing at the Super Bowl, Kiss Visa cards. Listen in.
Q How does the 3D aspect of the tour work?
A You get your 3D glasses, and we're going to take you away. If you've ever been to one of those Imax theaters where 3D exists, it's basically that technology except we've got it live. There's some film footage. But literally the camera turns around and you'll get to see live 3D. When you have the glasses on, what you see normally looks normal; the screens in back of us turn it into 3D and it actually pops off the screen.
Q Who came up with the idea?
A Doc McGhee [Kiss' manager]. It's like saying 'Wouldn't it be great to go to the moon?' Then you have to build it. We're stupid because we believe in magic. And magic costs a lot of money. And we're stupid enough to pay for it. Because when we introduce ourselves [in concert] with 'You wanted the best? You've got the best. The hottest band in the world,' we actually have to deliver truth in advertising.
Q Why are you touring during the holiday season? Most bands stay home.
A A holiday is all a figment of your imagination. Every day is a holiday for me, when you get up onstage. We've got our Christmas lights; ours are better than yours. We've got a party; ours is better than yours. We've got beautiful girls; ours are prettier than yours. And I don't have to listen to any family members sit around and bellyache about what happened to them in the last year. . . . So I can't think of a better way to spend the holidays -- I have much more in common with the people who come to see us than family members.
Q For your new album ''Psycho Circus," you and Paul [Stanley, the singer] were in the studio for the first time in years with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. What was it like?
A The best. These guys were an absolute dream. And I'm the same guy who said [years ago] there was trouble in paradise. I don't mind telling the devil off. This entire thing with Ace and Peter is a complete pleasure. I'm proud to share the stage with them and look across and watch Ace going the distance; it kicks me in the butt. It wasn't always the case. But whatever happened, it's a joy. It brought the family together again, which is what the fans wanted.
Q You guys seem to work nonstop. What else is coming up?
A We'll be playing the Super Bowl at the end of January -- right before the toss of the coin. We'll be on the cover of Playboy in February -- the girls of Kiss. Twenty of the most beautiful girls wearing Kiss makeup and nothing else. In mid-April, New Line Cinema is bringing out 'Detroit Rock City,' our film starring Eddie Furlong, which recounts the adventures of four guys on their way to Detroit to see Kiss. Along the way, all kinds of weird things happen. We also star in it. I'm producing.
After January, we're going over to Europe [for arena concerts] and then we're coming back in the spring and blowing it out bigtime. Outdoors, circus, fireworks show and 3D.
Q After all these years, why is Kiss still so popular?
A We are getting bigger. Billboard tells us, in the group category, the only one ahead of us in the number of gold records is a group called the Beatles. We've done very well. We don't pretend to be anything highbrow. We know we are the cockroaches of rock. But we will outlive you all. You can come in with the fancy this, the fancy that, the message here, the prophets of doom there -- we're going to outlive you [Simmons is 49]. We are for winners. There are bands that play better and write better. It doesn't matter; they're going to be gone.
Q What motivates you?
A Oh, there are probably a lot of loose screws in there someplace. I can be glib and talk somewhat profoundly about all kinds of things. Ultimately, it's a good thing that there's a stage for me to be on, otherwise there might be a cage or perhaps a street corner where I was parting my raincoat and saying, 'Lady, look!' The stage is a very medicinal for me, I get to purge my demons.
Q What's up with the Kiss Visa card?
A It's going gangbusters. It's got us and Visa on the cover. Pretty good rates; I don't know what they are. We are not shy at all. In fact, we're very proud to be the leaders in all areas of the music world in licensing and merchandising. Other bands are afraid to do it because they're afraid what people will think. Credibility is just another word for coward. The reality is do you want a Korn lunchbox? It doesn't mean that Korn or Green Day or R.E.M. aren't cool bands. It's just: Past the music, you don't care.
Q I'd like to ask you to comment on some of the biggest music stars of the year. Let's start with Celine Dion.
A I like Celine. She's doing very cool stuff. I don't have any problem with that kind of music.
Q Backstreet Boys.
A I don't have a problem with that stuff. I think all this new music is fun. It's uplifting. The thing I had a big problem with was 'I'm white, I'm rich, I'm famous. Every girl wants to have my kid but I'm depressed and I want to kill myself.' Get out of here. Shut up.
Q Spice Girls.
A I love Spice Girls more than any new band out there. Everyone in different age groups needs different heroes. And 12-year-old girls are no less important than 18-year-old guys. I took my daughter, who is 6, and I loved it. I thought the girls had great energy. There's nothing wrong with those tunes. I prefer the Spice Girls over R.E.M. They're not leaders, not philosophers -- they're entertainers.
Q Dave Matthews.
A I like Matthews a lot. I think Dave would look so much cooler with longer hair. I don't buy the popular notion of performers looking like delivery boys. I like stars. Even Liberace. I like pizazz.
Q Alanis Morissette.
A I'm not a fan. I like the tunes. It's that yodeling thing.
Q Garth Brooks.
A I think Garth is a true star. . . . What Garth did basically is break the umbilical cord from the prehistoric ideal and take country where it's never been before. So he's decided to take sort of Kiss theatrics and mix it with country soul.
Q The Rolling Stones.
A Of everybody you've mentioned, I probably have the highest respect for them. No. 1, what they've accomplished and all those songs. But also No. 2, they will tell you when they're ready to quit. There's a big white kind of disease going around, it's whites pointing at other white people saying, 'Aren't they too old? Shouldn't they get off the stage?' You never hear a black person saying something about B.B. King.
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