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Interview with Members of KISS

Aired March 5, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Odds are you'd recognize them anywhere. For their unforgettable attire, music legend KISS are one of the most iconic bands in rock history.


ANDERSON: Founded in New York City in 1973, the distinctive foursome has sold more than 18 million albums worldwide.


ANDERSON: With hits like "Rock and Roll All Night" and "I Was Made for Loving You Baby," the band has become infamous for incendiary performances and stadium shocking anthems.


ANDERSON: And with everything from clothing to a namesake coffee shop, the KISS brand is everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just another step in KISS's plan to rule the world.


ANDERSON: This summer, they'll be plowing across Europe to promote their 19th album, "Sonic Boom," their first studio album in more than 10 years.


ANDERSON: The band that shocks and rocks across generations, KISS is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: And as they kick off that tour in London, I spoke to guitarist Gene Simmons and drummer Eric Singer.

I began by asking them, what do you expect from the band's upcoming "Sonic Tour" boom?

Have a listen to this.


GENE SIMMONS, KISS: The "Sonic Boom" tour is actually a continuation of something that's been going on for two years. We started about a year- and-a-half ago in Melbourne playing in front of 80,000 people and continued on to Europe. This is our second time around Europe. But we're changing the show. We have too much pride in what we do to bring the same show back in.

So new technology, new screens, new songs, new album, all of it.

ANDERSON: Listen, guys, do you still enjoy it as much as you did?

SIMMONS: Absolutely.


SIMMONS: This is a privilege. This is a birthright. No it's not.

How many people get a chance to wear more makeup and high heels than your mommy does?

Think about it.

ANDERSON: Gene, Robin asks: "Do you think your music would have been as well accepted without all the makeup and the costumes?"

SIMMONS: Well, we did do it for over 10 years without makeup, played stadiums, had platinum records. But I'll tell you what, if you ask any girl, she'll tell you the same thing that KISS will tell you -- it's always much more fun when you wear something black and put on your makeup and high heels, right?


SIMMONS: When you want to have fun, what do you do at night?

ANDERSON: I put on my high heels...

SIMMONS: Put your high -- high heels...

ANDERSON: I put on my lipstick.

SIMMONS: -- lipstick and put something black on.

ANDERSON: And white face paint, yes.

SIMMONS: You've got it.

ANDERSON: Thank you. That's me.

SIMMONS: That's what it's all about. Even (INAUDIBLE) -- and, by the way, for those of you that say, ah, they wear makeup, men wore makeup first. It was the shamans and the warriors and people who wore it as a ritual...

ANDERSON: We stole it from you, is that what you're saying?

SIMMONS: You took it.

ANDERSON: Michael Bennet asks: "How long does it take to put on the makeup and attire before the show?"

ERIC SINGER, KISS: Well, usually about -- well, usually it will take about two hours to do it. And we can do it faster if we need to, but generally it's -- it's a -- it's like a ritual before battle.

ANDERSON: Chris Dallas asks, Gene, asks you: "If there was anything that you could do differently in your 38 (ph) career, what would it be or have been?"

SIMMONS: We lead our lives in a very -- in a decidedly different way. We have no regrets, no would have, could have, should have. Do everything, live life to its fullest. And I know if I have a tombstone, I know exactly what it's going to say. It's going to say thank you and good night. No regrets, no nothing. Rape and pillage the fruits of life, enjoy it to the fullest.

ANDERSON: James asks -- or he says: "One aspect that really stands out for me is that the songs are sung by all of you at different times -- Paul, and others by Gene and then by -- by you, Eric, as the drummer. How was the decision made to alter lead singers and has -- has that always happened?"

SIMMONS: Since the beginning of the band, the idea was we're delusional. We want to put together The Beatles on steroids -- bigger, better, a treat for the eyes, a treat for the ears and leave the ego at the door. Anybody can sing. We've had hits with different members of the band and it doesn't matter. Eric sings his butt off, which is why he no longer has one. It's a little teeny cooper (ph) and he sings a -- a great song, you know, "All Pretty Boy," on the record. You should hear him. He's really a class A singer.

SINGER: You know, the great thing about KISS is that we tried to create four characters where everybody can sing, everybody writes songs, everybody contributes to it. And that's what The Beatles did.

ANDERSON: You guys have been around for a very long time.

How do you think you've been able to appeal to audiences across generations?

Because it is that, at this point, isn't it?

SIMMONS: The magic of what KISS does is if you show your 3-year-old, whether it's your granddaughter or grandson or anybody, immediately they will take to KISS. They might not be so happy with Air Supply and a million other bands. If -- it's called audiovisual. It really is show. If you appeal to the eyes and you've got the tunes that connect, then it's a full body experience. We want to be inside of you, outside of you, we want to envelope you, we want to change this world into planet KISS. Oh, I'm sorry, we already own that trademark.

ANDERSON: What about how you appeal to audiences when you get into a gig environment?

What do you want them to get out of it?

SIMMONS: If you come to a KISS show and you're expecting us, looking like this, to comment on acid rain, whales, the nature of green, global warming, boy, are you at the wrong concert. I am sick and tired of politicians asking rock stars what they think about the politics of the world. I'm less interested in that than I am of what -- you know, why would a politician ask a rock star about politics...


SIMMONS: -- I would certainly never ask a politician, how's that new rock song you're working on?

ANDERSON: Listen, last question, guys. Robert Quick, finally, asks: "Of all the media about KISS that has come out over the 38 years that you've been going, what was the most outlandish of tabloid stories ever to hit a raw nerve, if any?"

SIMMONS: No raw nerves.



SINGER: In fact you have to -- you can't take yourself too seriously. I mean, the greatest one was when people thought that Gene had a cow's tongue sewn on and...


SINGER: But you have to laugh at that kind of stuff.

SIMMONS: It's one -- it's one of the reasons why we never formed a grunge band, how do you sing miserable songs when you're rich?


ANDERSON: We hope you have another cracking week and connect with a few. And you won't be disappointed next week. We've got another great lineup for you, including Sharon Osborne, married to the infamous backbiting rocker, Ozzie, of course, and a former Connector of the Day himself. Sharon is a star and celebrity in her own right.

So send us your questions. It's your part of the show. We'd love to hear from where you are writing, as well. Do tell us that at