KISS' new album Monster was released today throughout Europe and will be released next Tuesday, October 9th in North America. To celebrate the band's anticipated 20th studio album, Christa Titus from Billboard
has conducted a new Q&A with Gene Simmons. Here are a few excerpts from the chat:
Billboard: In the song 'Freak', Paul is singing, "This is who I am, and if you think that's a freak, that's fine. I'm happy being the way I am." I thought it was an interesting song coming up at a time where, KISS has always embraced who they are, but when I think about all the kids that are out there today and how bullying has become something that people recognize as a problem, I thought that was a neat song to come out right now.
Simmons: "You're picking up on an interesting thing. When 'Freak' was being written, LADY GAGA got interested in singing on it, because it espouses her emotions about being comfortable in your skin and all that stuff. And that's a healthy message for everybody. For a while Paul and I were going to sing it, for a while I was gonna sing it, and then Paul and Gaga were gonna sing it, and then finally I suggested Paul should sing it by himself, let's just do a band album. And while it's great that Gaga-who in my estimation is the only rock star out there, modern. There's nobody else-talks about self-empowerment, all that stuff, we made our imprint and stuck our foot firmly into the ground almost 40 years ago and said, 'This is who we are, take it or leave it.' So in the days of tie-dyed shirts and hippies and anti-war stuff and schools being closed down, we didn't care. We are KISS, we are alive, we are our own definition. We've never looked over our shoulder to see what's in fashion, what's not, we don't care. And KISS continues today. Fashions come and go. Punk came and died. Grunge came and then died. Thrash came and then died. New romance came and died. Alternative came and died, then they called it indie. We. Don't. Care. Kiss is its own definition."
Billboard: When you're trying to think of things to do with your shows, how do you keep it fresh after four decades?
Simmons: "There still has to be a connection, whether you're doing effects or anything else, to the music. It has to always come back to the music. So I spit fire doing 'Firehouse'. I still try to find kind of an ethereal or other kind of connection to it. You can't just decide to do 'Beth' and blow the stage up. That would be kind of silly, wouldn't it?"
Billboard: You are involved in so many things, and you're successful. What is your secret to being a successful business man?
Simmons: "You have to be informed. You can't just decide to learn how to spell 'entrepreneur' correctly, because it's not easy to spell, but don't people understand what it means. Some people throw around phrases like "marketing" and "entrepreneur" all the time and have no idea what it means. So you have to be informed. And you have to be qualified. And part and parcel of that is being informed, and partly it's experience and being at the right place at the right time with the right thing. It's a lot of those things. It can be all those things and still never get a chance. Even after you do get the gig, you have to perform. You have to be able to deliver and delivering means the bottom line, in essence making the entity more money with you than they had without you. That's what it all boils down to."
Billboard: With the new album, the band biography I received said you guys were looking to give a nod to the bands who influenced you. Who are some of those bands?
Simmons: "Almost without exception English bands. We follow THE BEATLES' songwriting format, A-B-A, verse-chours-verse basically, and KISS really was designed to be the Beatles on steroids. Four guys who can write songs, four guys who can sing. So when you get a new Kiss record like the "Monster" record, which drops this month, you'll find everyone in the band takes a turn singing lead. We've all got songwriting credit, unlike any other band, by the way. So there's the classic STONES, LED ZEPPELIN and the rest, where there's one lead singer, this guy only plays guitar, only one guy sings and the rest don't. But the Beatles weren't like any other band. Everybody in the band sang, which is why you knew everybody in the band."
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