Gene Simmons on why there will never be another Kiss: ‘It's expensive to do what we do'
The legendary rockers are preparing to step back from the stage with their final tour
In the third and final chapter of The National's series of interviews with Kiss, Gene Simmons opens up about preparing to step back from the stage ...
There will be flying saucers, fireballs and a four-piece band descending from the heavens on to the stage, complete with guitars and a drum kit.
And this is all before the first chord is strummed.
Welcome to the Kiss New Year’s Eve spectacular, a show that guitarist Gene Simmons promises will “blow your mind”.
Speaking to The National before their live-streamed rock concert at Atlantis, The Palm, on Thursday, December 31, Simmons says preparing for the show has been a bittersweet experience.
The satisfaction of donning the face paint and eight-inch heels for the first time since March is tempered by the fact the Dubai concert is part of Kiss’s final run of shows, aptly titled the End of the Road Tour.
The time away from the stage allowed Simmons, 71, to reflect on his relationship with his fellow original member, singer and guitarist Paul Stanley. It’s a bond more brotherly than friendly, he says, with all the commotion and connection that it brings.
"You've got to realise the world doesn't begin and end with you. You have to get over yourself and understand the partner you have makes the whole bigger than the sum of its parts,” he says.
“The team is really important, but it is also difficult. Everybody argues about all kinds of stupid things. And, over the course of time, you look back and say, 'well, what was that all about'?”
The evolution of the Kiss live show
That must have been a similar question posed by baffled fans when Kiss first appeared, make-up and all, in their first round of shows in 1972 before following up with increasingly bombastic concerts.
Simmons recalls the band were viewed as out of step with the rock community at the time. Indeed, they were not as brawny as Led Zeppelin nor as kooky as Black Sabbath.
Then again, Kiss never played for the critics. Instead, they were rocking for the frustrated gig-goers they used to be.
“People come because they want to see you. So what are the treats you are going to give for the eyes as well as the ears?” he says.
“People thought we were over the top and that it was more like a Las Vegas show. We didn't care about that. We wanted to put together the band that we never saw on stage.”
And they have been upping the ante ever since.
The face paint and elaborate costumes of the early 1970s made way for columns of fire and a lit staircase by their fifth jaunt, the Destroyer Tour in 1976.
Upon reaching the millennium, the band were descending on fans from a lighting ring while drum kits levitated and guitars spewed fire.
Playing it by the book
While this is all fun, is there a point when that ambition became dangerous?
It is a question Simmons welcomes, as it offers a chance to dispel the band’s devil-may-care attitude.
"There is a reason why we never had an accident in 46 years. Nothing has ever gone wrong because we have done everything by the book," he says.
"While we were able (to use technology) to greatly improve the shows, the most important thing that it does is to make everything safer."
And safety costs money, hence why Simmons doesn’t think anyone will eclipse Kiss’s stage shows anytime soon.
"It's expensive to do what we do and that's why other bands don't do it," he says.
Indeed, with more than 50 cameras filming 360-degree views, a stage crew of 500 and $1 million worth of pyrotechnics, Simmons says the band worked for six months to recreate the visceral energy of a live show for their New Year's Eve streamed concert.
What is next for Kiss?
While the End of the Road Tour marks Kiss’s final live act as a band, it doesn’t mean their music will disappear from world stages forever.
Simmons says the band are already at work on a number of initiatives to keep the legacy alive, such as a travelling stage show, similar to Cirque du Soleil, which will be launched in two years.
Until then, he prefers to live in the moment and ride out the current turmoil.
When it comes to Kiss’s New Year’s Eve message for fans, Simmons keeps it real and rocking.
“The last thing you want to do is hear the ramblings of some idiot with a guitar strapped around his shoulders because he's supposed to know more than you do,” he says.
“All we are are the masters of giving the largest parties on planet Earth. It has been a difficult year, there are a lot of people out of work and there's been a lot of hatred out there. That's all going to pass, just like winter.”
Kiss will perform at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, on Thursday, December 31, at 9pm. Standard live-stream tickets are available for $39.99 from kiss2020goodbye.com. Physical tickets are available to hotel guests. Packages can be purchased from atlantis.com/kiss2020
Updated: December 30, 2020 02:56 PM