KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons has defended his band against criticism that the group's current lineup — featuring Simmons and frontman Paul Stanley as the sole remaining original members — is nothing more than a glorified cover band masquerading as the real thing.
"We're still KISS. If you want to talk about original members, you can't talk about THE BEATLES," Simmons told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pointing out that Ringo Starr was not an original member of the Fab Four. "You can't talk about the STONES, because they only have three of their original members. You can't talk about AC/DC. They've had different singers. You can't talk about VAN HALEN. You can go right down the line.
"I used to think the rule was you had to have original members to make the band, but now I think the opposite is true. The only ones that survive are the ones that don't have original members."
Simmons says he doesn't even think fans care about the changes.
"I don't see signs held up (for original members Peter Criss or Ace Frehley)," he says. "I don't see anything but people."
According to Simmons, Criss frequently complained about being on tour. During the band's trek with AEROSMITH last year, "The entire tour he kept saying, 'I've had enough of this, I have enough money and I want to go home.' And I respected that."
Simmons was thus surprised at Criss' alleged shock at not being invited back to tour.
"I'm not going to play that game," Simmons said. "You better be careful what you wish for. The truth is, Peter and Ace are sweethearts who helped make the band what it is. But not everybody should be on the road. The road is not kind to everybody.
"The band [right now] is what it always should have been," he said. "I can't say the original lineup always delivered."
"With Ace and Peter, we never did 'Unholy', 'War Machine', 'God Gave Rock and Roll to You', a lot of stuff, because they didn't have the musical muscle to do it," he said.