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Gene Simmons: 'This Is Planet Kiss, and You're Just Living On It'
When it comes to being a rock star, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons knows how to get the job done. As the legendary band gets ready to wrap their tour with Motley Crue and release their 20th studio album, Monster (Oct. 9), Simmons is giving fans the opportunity to live out their dreams by headlining the 15th annual Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp on Oct 10-14.
“You’re not going to like me when I work you out,” he tells PARADE. “But you’re going to love me when you go out there and see how many more chicks are going to like you and how many more dollars are going to be bulging in your pants!”
Simmons, 63, talked to PARADE about teaching the basics of rock ‘n roll, Kiss’s new album, and more.
On ruling the Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp.
“The separation between fan and rock god is sometimes insurmaterable. The idea behind my taking over the camp was that I had to be completely in charge. I wanted to set the tone. I wanted to make it business. You have to learn the craft and have the ability to play an instrument and connect to the music, but then if you can’t apply it to business,it’s just a hobby.”
On the key power players.
“We’ve got a great cast of teachers. Zakk Wylde, who has played with \Ozzy Osbourne, Sebastian Bach, and Vince Neil, who sings with Motley Crue. Even though the teachers are going to talk to you about chords and physicality, I want to be the drill sergeant who forces you to drop and give me twenty! I’m not going to be your best friend there, but when you go out into the marketplace and see that I made it possible for you to make more money, I’ll end up being the guy you love the most!”
On his teaching past.
"I taught sixth grade in Spanish Harlem. I’m an immigrant and I wanted to give back to America, which gave me everything. I had these delusions of grandeur of being this great emancipator of free thought and education. I really wanted to expand young people’s minds because everything begins with a great idea. But then of course, you enter the corporate world, and I was not allowed to bring in Spider-Man comics and teach the kids that you can be a pimple-faced teenager that the cops don’t like and the bad guys don’t like, but you can still become Spider-Man, which to me is more inspirational than teaching a Puerto Rican kid in Spanish Harlem about Jane Eyre, a rosy-checked white girl in England. That didn’t connect.”
On what’s the tougher profession: music or education business.
It depends how high you want to reach. It’s easier to understand how to pay your rent if you’re a teacher. If you want to get into the music business and want to be a rock star, its uncharted territory, and there are no guarantees. The rewards are much greater in the music business, but the pitfalls are very deep, so it depends how adventurous you are.”
On Kiss's new album, Monster.
“It goes back to the heart and soul of what Kiss is, which is two guitars, bass, and drums. There are no symphony orchestras, boys’ choirs, keyboards, or ballads. This is meat and potatoes, no fluff. It’s great driving music, and it’s the next generation from our last record, Sonic Boom. We’re very proud of it. Next year will be our 40th year since the first tour. We’ve sold over 100 million records. It’s ridiculous. People often accuse me of boasting, but I’m just stating fact. This is planet Kiss, and you’re just living on it!
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