Marko Syrjala of Finland's Imperiumi recently conducted an interview with KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons in Stockholm, Sweden. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether there were any negative experiences when he reconnected with various former KISS members — including Vinnie Vincent, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley — at some of his recent "Vault Experience" events around the U.S.:
Simmons: "No. Nothing negative. At some point, people grow up and you realize life is short. But we had problems in the band — some people were drinking and getting high. So that didn't work. KISS is like the Olympics. And some of the members were let go three different times. And you can't run a race if you're high, you can't play football if you're drunk — you just can't. And for the longest time, we did that, and I didn't know anything about it. I just remember that some nights were terrible, and I don't know why…. Everybody was very sweet. Paul [Stanley] was great. Vinnie Vincent was fine. I thought it was gonna be a problem — [but there was] no problem. Ace loved it so much, he went to three different cities; he flew. Peter was fine. He came by for a short time, told the fans how much he loved them and then he went back. I think Peter is done. He doesn't wanna be in the public eye. He'll sign some autographs, but that's it. And me, I think I'll be done when I'm dead. And it's now sooner than later, right?"
On still playing rock music even though he is almost 69 years old:
Simmons: "When I was a kid, we used to say, 'Don't trust anybody over 30.' When Paul McCartney wrote a song, he said, 'Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64?' Well, he's 74. This rock and roll thing doesn't have rules because it never existed before. It's a new thing. Rap is a new thing. Classical music has been here forever; even the blues has been around a long time. Before the '50s, there was no such thing as rock and roll. And what are the rules? The people who were writing the songs and playing them could not even read or write music. I can't. I can write songs and play a few instruments and do that, but if you showed me a classical music sheet, I can't read it. But those guys that read the classical [music sheets], they can't write '[Calling] Dr. Love'."
On whether he is interested in releasing new music:
Simmons: "I'm writing songs whenever I can. I have lots of songs in the bag. Ace called me to write some songs with him. I have two songs that I didn't finish, and I brought one called 'Without You, I'm Nothing'. And the other one was 'Your Wish Is My Command'. And I brought 'em to Ace and he finished it off, and they're good — they're solid songs. I'm not excited about doing an album because now everybody just steals the music for free. I don't wanna put it out for free. Everybody gets paid. I put time in it, and I wanna get paid too. If a painter paints something, he wants to get paid. So putting out a new KISS record, I'm not excited by it. If somebody wants to pay us, then we'll take the time and go in and do a real album. But I'm not excited about it. Writing is different. You're home alone, you're watching television, you're strumming and you go, 'Oh! What's that?' And you turn off the TV and you start… I'm writing and recording at home and doing demos, but putting it out — not until somebody pays for it."
On how long he thinks he can carry on:
Simmons: "In KISS, we can't continue longer than [when we are in our] early 70s. It's because the band is the hardest-working band in show business. You see Iggy [Pop] on stage — he doesn't have to carry any weight. It's a hard show, but you wear sneakers and jeans. And THE [ROLLING] STONES put on… you put on a t-shirt, you're comfortable, you put on some sneakers and it's easy. Me? It takes a long time and the outfit weighs a lot and the heels are taller even than your girlfriend. It's a lot of hard work, and when we come off the stage, for me, you're really tired. So, in its present form, KISS can't do it [past when we are] 75, 74… I wouldn't wanna do it one day longer than it was real."
On whether KISS can keep going until it reaches its 50th anniversary:
Simmons: "I never thought about it. 50 years… I would be… I'd probably be 73, 74. That's pushing it. We'll see."
On whether the next KISS tour will be the band's final tour:
Simmons: "I don't know."
On whether KISS has any plans for the upcoming tour:
Simmons: "[We have] lots of ideas, but we haven't decided anything yet."
On whether KISS has any plans to invite special guests from the band's past on the upcoming tour:
Simmons: "You know, we talked about it, but we haven't decided anything. The problem is, if you bring out a special guest, they come on without makeup? I don't know. We haven't gotten that far… You can't put on the makeup. You've been out of the band 20 years — it's not gonna happen. It's a difficult question, because if we did bring out anybody that was in the band, they can't put on the makeup…"
On whether he thinks the final KISS concert should include appearances by all living former members of the band:
Simmons: "I don't know… It sounds like it should be, but I don't know yet."
You can find more of the interview at the Imperiumi web site.
Special thanks to Marko Syrjala and Marko Ollila of Imperiumi for providing the audio of the Gene Simmons interview from which the above quotes were transcribed.