KISS founding members Gene Simmons (live in the studio) and Paul Stanley (on the phone) spoke with air personality Stacey X at Sirius Radio in New York City on Tuesday, June 3 for the satellite radio broadcaster's "Big Rock" music stream about their upcoming tour with AEROSMITH, the "Kiss Symphony: Alive IV" album, and various other projects.
The following are some of the highlights of that conversation:
On their decision to start their own record company, Kiss Records (via a partnership with Sanctuary):
Paul Stanley: "We had spent probably more than 25 years in a relationship with Casablanca Records, which ultimately was bought by PolyGram, and has gone through many permutations, [in addition to] being bought, and we've seen heads of companies come and go. We really thought they should put a revolving door, because people were coming in and going so quickly. We reached a point where once our contract ran out, we felt… although certainly it's the team that makes for the win, we were so instrumental in knowing what we wanted from KISS that once our contract was up, we really felt that it was time for us to do this on our own… more or less on our own, but to expand the team to involve this great company, Sanctuary Music, where people really feel very much like us. Record companies, for the most part now, are run by people who last year may have been running Goodyear tires. There was a time where the executives at record companies loved music and would nurture the bands and stay with them until they had success. Now it's really about bottom line, and if your album doesn't sell, you're off the label. We don't feel like that, and we certainly wanna make sure that our fans get the best from us, and we wanna make sure that the packages and whatever we put out are more than just albums of music. We come from a school where we wanna make it more like a Cracker Jack box — you open it up, you get what you expect, and you also get a prize. With 'Kiss Symphony: Alive IV', not only are you getting this fabulous concert, but you're gonna get all kinds of little extras, like booklets and posters and… you know, it's KISS as people expect KISS."
On the originally planned (and ultimately scrapped) version of "Alive IV":
Gene Simmons: "We played the stadium in Vancouver New Year's Eve, we're proud to say, and did very well, where most of the Millennium concerts were advertised but bombed. Ours did very well, thank you, and that's because of the eternal loyalty of our fans. And we decided to record that event, because, you know, of the big deal about the Millennium. In retrospect, it's just another year. And when we listened back to what we had, we thought it was OK — we played well, the audience had a great time, it was an event. And also the record company was in flux. 'Flux' means you don't know if you're coming or you going. There were new people coming in, old people going out, and the best time to go to war is only when and if your troops are well-trained and motivated. So we decided to hold it off until we were ready. And what happened in the meantime, actually a few months ago, was we recorded the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for the Kiss Symphony, and I don't remember exactly where the idea came from, but it became very obvious that in order for 'Alive IV' to stand on its own two feet, it had to have something else besides, 'Here is KISS in the 21st Century playing the songs that made them who they are 30 years ago.' The Kiss Symphony is really taking this a quantum leap forward. This is something the fans have never heard that we never imagined, and it sounds grand, I tell you that."
On the "Kiss Symphony" performance in Melbourne, Australia:
Paul Stanley: "We had the 70-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which is rated as one of the top ten orchestras in the world. So they were in full KISS regalia, full KISS makeup. We had people backstage, we had a throng of makeup people backstage. We had pyrotechnics like haven't been seen before, we were playing for 35,000 people at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. This was this huge undertaking, where we literally came out, did five songs, just the band… 'Just the band' means KISS with full pyrotechnics and lights and everything else we do. From there, we did, I believe, six songs with the Melbourne Symphony Ensemble, which is the scaled-down version [of the orchestra]. The great thing was Act II, so to speak, [which] was the 'unplugged' segment, where we really got a chance to do some songs that we don't usually play, like 'Sure Know Something', like 'Shandi', 'Forever', 'Going Blind', and 'Beth', and then after that, we took a short break, and did Act III, which was the 70-piece orchestra bombastically, with pyrotechnics, full KISS gear, us being everything we possible could, playing 'Detroit Rock City', 'God Of Thunder', 'Love Gun', 'Shout It Out Loud', 'Do You Love Me', 'Black Diamond', 'Rock And Roll All Nite', 'I Was Made For Loving You', 'Great Expectations'… It was really a stunning night, and something that left us speechless, because no one should ever forget, although we're members of KISS, we're huge fans, and this really lived up to everything we could have expected this to be, and way beyond."
Gene Simmons: "It has already been broadcast in Australia as a pay-per-view. Eventually, it will come over to these shores. These things are designed contractually. The very first thing that's coming out is 'Kiss Symphony: Alive IV' in a double-CD format with a big, 40-page booklet and a poster on Kiss Records/Sanctuary Music. And thereafter, a few months, the DVD will come with all kinds of special stuff, the 'Making Of', the behind-the-scenes, and the fans have a lot to do with it, actually."
On the "Platinum Package" available for select shows on the upcoming tour with AEROSMITH consisting of a ticket in the first four rows and a chance to meet the band afterward:
Gene Simmons: "The idea is that, as often as possible, we try to make time for the fans and so on and so forth, but this is gonna be such a hectic tour, and it's so big that bands started doing special meet-and-greets, and you're limited to a certain number, and some of these are done through radio stations and blah blah blah. But certain packages give you extra — there's food and lots of stuff. We only have a limited amount of time in every city so it's limited to a certain number of people. You've gotta think of a it as a 747 flight: You can the buy the first-class tickets, or you can buy the economy, but they all get you to the same place. If you come to our shows, we're thrilled to have you there, everybody gets the same show. We don't look at the front and say, 'You're cool and the back row is not.' We play to everybody. However, if you wanna be in first class, blah blah blah blah, that's available, too. And you can do it [via] kissonline.com."
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