I previously linked to a very entertaining 3-part back and forth between J.M. Blaine and Chuck Klosterman. It seemed a fitting way to begin this (hopefully brief) post on 21st Century Kiss.
"JMB: What do you think about Paul and Gene in their 60s still in makeup and platform boots?
CK: My opinion might be unpopular. I know people hate that Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are wearing Ace and Peter’s makeup but my hope is that at some point Paul and Gene will replace themselves and KISS will just continue for like, a hundred and fifty years…
JMB: (in Gene voice) Oh yeah!
CK: …that KISS will stop being about members and will exist as a single idea. And that when people talk about KISS, they will talk about them in a way unlike any other band that has ever existed. No members, just full-on roles.
JMB: I think about stuff like that all the time. It’s like I have Heavy Metal Asperger's or something. The thought of Tommy and Eric in the makeup doesn’t bother me because they do a solid job of playing the roles of Catman and Space Ace.
CK: At times Tommy plays a little too clean though. He could actually stand to be a little more unpolished.
JMB: Maybe as he gets better, he’ll get worse."
First, that last line really cracks me up. And it's completely spot-on. I forget if it's in his book or from some interview I read or listened to, but Peter Criss talks about how Ace would wear these bracelets and how they'd bang and rattle against his guitar while he soloed and how the sound would bleed over into the microphone and how "that's rock and roll, man." I don't fault anyone for clarity or precision, but there's something to this.
Second, Heavy Metal Aspergers! I can relate.
Third, I'm not a particular fan of Tommy and Eric using the Space and Cat make-up designs. I'm under the impression that Ace and Peter signed off on the rights to it - somewhere, probably unknowingly - so Gene and Paul would appear to be legally entitled to do what they want with the designs. But... it's kind of uncool. Unless what Chuck Klosterman describes above were to happen. Say Kiss gets a Vegas show/ residency and four folks are hired to play the Demon, Starchild, Space Man, and Cat roles. I'd be fine with that.
And I absolutely adore the idea of Kiss projecting into the future like this. Future generations could refer to things like "the 12th incarnation of the Starchild" and what not. Metal.
Fourth, that "(in Gene voice) Oh yeah!" bit cracks me up. I can't stand when Gene does that. It ranks up there with the way he sings "Baby, baby!" on Kiss tunes or "You got to have a potty!" from "Shout It Out Loud" or just his general "Hey! This is Gene Simmons from Kiss!" gameshow voice for Most Personally Annoying Gene Simmons Vocal Tics.
On with today's program:
GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS
I've only seen this (Gene and fam's reality TV show) a handful of times, so I really can't say too much about it. Gene's relationship with reality is tenuous at best, so Reality TV (i.e. imaginary reality) is a perfect venue for him. He needs all the humanization he can get.
What I've seen of the show is fine enough - it doesn't seem to stray too far from the Reality TV template. Gene and Shannon sure produced two attractive offspring who (at least from the little I've seen) don't appear to be anywhere near as annoying as their demographic contemporaries.
KISS SYMPHONY (ALIVE IV)
I'm of mixed feelings on this particular project.
|Woops - this is actually from one of the Kiss Kruises. My bad.|
On one hand, as live Kiss concerts go, it's just okay. The addition of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to the proceedings doesn't in my opinion enhance the music to a significant degree, but the fact that they all donned the make-up is a nice touch.
|Conductor David Campbell (aka Beck's father.)|
Except for this lady, whom the camera cuts to something like fifty times. I'm unsure of her name.
|(Possibly Kristy Bremner?)|
|This was absolutely the wrong make-up and hair choice for her.|
|Oh well. At least she's having fun.|
The children's choir that comes out for "Great Expectations" is kind of nice in an "Aw, that's cool for the kids" sort of way. But I also felt the urge to separate the kids from Gene - way too close, Demon! Five hundred foot minimum.
Both Peter (in his book) and Gene (in the pre-concert rehearsal footage from the DVD) are particularly taken with cellist Sharon Draper.
Remember that "Eugene" video? The obvious implication, there, is that Ace is spilling the beans on how un-savvy Gene is with the ladies, despite his "body count." I can't speak to this personally, of course, but this interaction with Ms. Draper speaks volumes.
|First, she calls him out rather sharply for leering at her.|
|Then, after rolling her eyes split-seconds after this screencap, she pushes away when Gene says "Nice violin."|
According to Peter, he was told he'd be getting an even split from the profits of this DVD and album, but he was harshly disabused of this notion by Gene during rehearsal and never ended up seeing a royalty. I have no idea if this is true. But to be on the safe side, I made sure that when it came time to buy the DVD, I picked up a used copy.
Nearly every time they cut to the crowd it's to showcase a female fan either lifting her shirt or bouncing up and down. These are just a couple of examples - you get the idea.
|These two especially get an awful lot of screentime.|
Either Melbourne has a lot of photogenic young female Kiss fans, or the evidence was "sexed-up." If the latter, it forever amuses me the lengths to which these guys will go to sex-up the evidence. Worse than State Department officials.
SONIC BOOM and MONSTER
|2009 and 2012|
I tried with these two, I really did. I'm not going to say they're bad or even venture much of an opinion at all on them. I just couldn't connect to the tunes.
Interestingly, Sonic Boom comes with a bonus disc entitled Jigoku-Retsuden which translates to "Intense Transmission from Hell." (nice.)
It's twelve classic Kiss tracks as re-recorded by the new line-up. I raise an eyebrow at this. Could it be that they intend to license only these tracks anytime Kiss music is requested for an event/ show/ movie? Or have Peter's and Ace's books made me suspect the worst from Gene and Paul on such things? The scuttlebutt is that whenever they get a chance to cut Peter and Ace out of the royalty loop for older material, they take it.
Time will tell. Keep an ear out next time you hear any classic Kiss on TV or elsewhere - is it the original recording, or is it from Jigoku-Retsuden?
A few years back, Kiss started promoting these things. It's exactly what it sounds like. You book a "Kiss package" on a cruise line and sail off for a week of concerts and photo ops with the band. Most of those who purchase tickets are naturally diehard Kiss fans, so there are a thousand blogs out there detailing the experience.
|Two members of the Kiss Navy.|
I kind of like this whole idea. Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp on the waves. Of their many alternative-marketing/merchandising ideas, this one is probably the coolest.
And as previously reported, Gene and Paul have jumped on the Arena Football train and bought their very own franchise.
I've never been an Arena Football fan, and even this news likely won't nudge me any further in that direction. But I hold out hope that more and more rock bands will do this until the Arena Football League is 100% owned and operated by Kiss and their contemporaries. When that happens, you can bet I'll be the number one Arena Football fan in the world.
It'd be even funnier if they were all LA teams, except for Bon Jovi's and Iron Maiden's. (Naturally, Maiden would have to be in on this to fully get me on board.)