Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I'm finally on the right track
April 9, 2014 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Even Ace Frehley Thinks Kiss Is a Circus. Frehley thoughtfully discusses the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ace was one bow away from being a merry man.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:11 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


If you like Kiss (and I like Kiss) the article is a terrific recap of the recent shit-stirring. I'm glad Paul Stanley's book is finally out so that Nathan Rabin might be able to finish his set of reviews of Kiss autobiographies.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:19 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


After hearing the gene simmons fresh air interview, I think he's a grade F douchebag.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:28 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


As a native of northeast Ohio, I'm just glad KISS is fighting with an entity as phony and disingenuous as they are.
posted by Rykey at 5:33 PM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Like the Phantom of the Park, Kiss made Kiss to destroy Kiss and lost.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:34 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


“At this point, it’s becoming petty,” Frehley says

It's been petty for decades.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:35 PM on April 9 [3 favorites]


KISS is still relevant?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:48 PM on April 9


What to you mean "still"?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:49 PM on April 9 [7 favorites]


Wait...theres a “Kiss Kasket"?
posted by asra at 5:55 PM on April 9


Wait...theres a “Kiss Kasket"?

There is.

Saw Gene Simmons on Quebec television telling fans to buy their latest disc at Walmart. I was not surprised.
posted by juiceCake at 6:07 PM on April 9


KISS is still relevant?

What to you mean "still"?


Oh come on now, despite the fact that I haven't bought a KISS album since Double Platinum came out in 1978 they're still more relevant to me than pretty much anyone who might appear on a top 100 albums list at Pitchfork. KISS is a nostalgia thing, my first exposure to loud, fist pumping rock with an over the top stage show. As much of a greedy asshole as Gene is, and boy is he ever, he's right when he says fans deserve a better show than some mopes standing around staring at their shoes.
posted by MikeMc at 6:13 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Fuck you guys. Kiss alive Owns so hard. And Ace Frehley's solo stuff ain't bad either.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:14 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]


fans deserve a better show than some mopes standing around staring at their shoes

Thankfully a ton of bands put on great shows so the mopes staring at shoes thing is largely bullshit, as is much from Simmons mouth.
posted by juiceCake at 6:19 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


You know thing are fucked up when Ace Frehly comes off looking like the reasonable person in this mess.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:23 PM on April 9 [12 favorites]


Dynasty is an awesome album (hence my post title) - even if the band was falling apart. Not a bad track on that one, and great production, too.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:35 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


You know thing are fucked up when Ace Frehly comes off looking like the reasonable person in this mess.

Ace was always my favorite so I'm biased but...so what if Ace had drug abuse problems and flaked on the band a couple of times? That's rock n roll. Gene and Paul have basically turned KISS into a touring company of the original Broadway production.
posted by MikeMc at 6:39 PM on April 9 [9 favorites]


I really enjoyed the Chuck Klosterman piece on Kiss on Grantland today
posted by Kwine at 6:42 PM on April 9 [8 favorites]


I think it was a recent Rolling Stone article where I read this, but apparently Ace's memory is so fried by drugs that he had to do interviews just to write his own autobiography.


Still, when I was a kid, he was my favorite. I even had the action figure.
posted by 4ster at 6:55 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


From the Klosterman article:

Kiss historians care about it because it gives credence to the theory that Kiss directly influenced Nirvana (and should therefore be credited as rightful progenitors of grunge, not unlike Black Sabbath and Neil Young).

I would actually say that KISS were partially responsible for the creation of the Black Metal genre. KISS --> Venom --> Mayhem.

Oh and I take back my touring company analogy, the current lineup of KISS is more akin to Gallagher Too...
posted by MikeMc at 7:32 PM on April 9


That Grantland piece linked above was great (if long):

The question is not “Why Kiss?” and it is not “Why anything?” The question is “Why would someone love the obstinate, outlandish version of something when there are so many alternative options that would be easier to appreciate and more credible to espouse?” In other words, what is so extra-good about something the intellectual world tells me is ultra-bad?
When the critical world looks at Kiss, they see adults pretending to be characters they are not, projecting unsophisticated music about fantasy emotions, presented as a means of earning revenue. What they do not see is that this is how almost all rock music would appear to an alien. It is inside the genre’s very DNA, all the way back to Elvis. So Kiss are not a cheaper, exploitive translation of rock; Kiss are the living definition of rock’s electrifying unreality, presented with absolute transparency.

posted by 445supermag at 7:50 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


KISS is still relevant?

What in the world could that possibly even mean? Don’t use that word that way.
posted by bongo_x at 8:17 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


KISS is still relevant?

After reading that Klosterman article (which I agree is fantastic), I'd have to say that KISS was never relevant.

Which is entirely the point of KISS.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:30 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


KISS was so irrelevant that millions of sub-cool teens in the 70's identified with that irrelevance in the most pecuniary way possible. As in: owning all of KISS's albums and in one case I saw, papering their bedroom walls and ceiling with KISS posters.

Without Frehley, by the way, KISS would have been much diminished. The clownish BS of Simmons and Stanley were balance a bit by the psuedo-blues riffs coming off Ace's git.

Sure, I'm embarrassed by my early love of KISS. But would I have found Blind Blake in my 20's without listening to Frehley in my teens?
posted by telstar at 8:59 PM on April 9


That Klosterman article has weird echoes for me of the Ultimate Warrior thread from yesterday. His point, insofar he might have one (hey, it's Klosterman, appearing to have a point without actually ever producing it is kind of his thing) seems to be that Kiss, to their fans, are a lot like Ultimate Warrior was to his.

They're doing something inherently 'fake', although it's genuinely entertaining; they're barely technically adequate at it but something about them transcends that; their apparent vileness as people is acknowledged but seems irrelevant to their symbolic/emotional meaning; said meaning might prove inexplicable to anyone who wasn't 12 at the right time- which could be any time- but the kids always understood what they needed to about it, and so does Chuck.


Hell, so do I. I was a member of the Kiss Army, yo, and that doesn't embarrass me, well, not anymore. I was 11 or so and Kiss were amazing! That pretty much wore off when I heard a lot of better music, which is, well, to be honest, virtually all the other music there even is. But whatever it was they did, exactly, they did it well, and I'm glad they're around.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:56 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I'd have to say that KISS was never relevant.

Which is entirely the point of KISS.


I would've been about fifteen the first time I saw a picture of Kiss. It was 1974 or 75, so they were brand new at the time. Being an Alice Cooper fan, I loved what I saw and couldn't wait to hear them. Then I did hear them ... and I shrugged. And that was pretty much that. Alice was magnitudes better, and anyway I was maturing, getting into more progressive stuff like Yes and Jethro Tull.

Meanwhile, I sort of shrugged off Black Sabbath around the same time, though not as immediately. I did actually play Sabbath Bloody Sabbath to death for at least two weeks. And the thing is, I eventually came back to them in my so-called adulthood, accepting them as the beautiful monsters they were. But Kiss? Nah. I've just never heard anything there that I felt I needed.

Completely irrelevant.

But maybe it would've been different if I'd been born a year or three later and first heard them when I was twelve or thirteen, when the concept of relevance was completely irrelevant to me.

Maybe.
posted by philip-random at 11:31 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I was 18 or 19 when Kiss showed up and for me it was clear that unlike Alice Cooper, their music did not make up for the circus. I didn't like the circus.
posted by wrapper at 12:25 AM on April 10


Once I was sitting with another fellow KISS fan and we were speaking with a non-fan whilst gazing upon the "Destroyer" album cover. The non-fan asked "Aren't these guys just a bunch of clowns?" "Yes", my KISS buddy said, "very RICH clowns". Something about that encounter has stayed with me over the years, although I last liked KISS almost 40 years ago.

I just went and listened to Destroyer for the first time in at least 30 years. Weak. Silly. Juvenile. Ridiculous.

But somehow they captured the early to mid-70's zeitgeist among teen males. Maybe we were frightened? The psycho-sexual-social changes of the previous decade had been sweeping and comprehensive. At the time, KISS was like an island of easy ideas and cartoon bullshit for all those hormones to coalesce around.

As much as I find Destroyer absurd today, as I listen to it, I painfully have to acknowledge how much later "rock" owes to it. The machine-like drumming, the weak melodies, the non-existant harmonies are all there for the 80's and 90's to explore and flog.

KISS wrecked a lot more than themselves.
posted by telstar at 12:54 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]


I just went and listened to Destroyer for the first time in at least 30 years.

Yeah, I tried that fairly recently. It's a little odd- I can hear bits of those songs in my head, I could probably remember all the lyrics to Detroit Rock City if I tried, and in my head, it sounds great, right now. In reality... it really, really doesn't.

It's weird, too, because the other records I remember having when I was 11- Elton John's Greatest Hits, Every Picture Tells a Story, Zeppelin II, and the soundtrack from Tommy, all hold up outstandingly. Well, not really the soundtrack to Tommy, but it has its moments. Kiss totally doesn't, as far as I can tell. Not quite sure what happened there. I kind of wish it were otherwise, the idea of still being a Kiss fan appeals to my innate contrariness, but whattya gonna do?
posted by hap_hazard at 1:18 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Everyone saw the Josie and The Pussycats (2001) movie, right?

With a straight face, they called the current boy-band "Du Jour". Srsly.

NOW, I have daughters of my own, and -- well -- the 10 year old got tickets to the Giants Stadium show this summer of 1D -- I think...

Kiss was our "Du Jour". And it's way past the sell-by date.

That Midget-Kiss act still around?
posted by mikelieman at 2:32 AM on April 10


Wait...theres a “Kiss Kasket"?

Dimebag Darrell was laid to rest in one
posted by Renoroc at 4:35 AM on April 10


Sirius radio's classic metal station plays a fair amount of KISS, and the main thought in my head when I hear it is, "wow, this has not aged well."
posted by wittgenstein at 4:46 AM on April 10


My previous comment re: KISS vs. Alice Cooper still holds; the original Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits album is a vastly better record than KISS' Double Platinum. (And that's the only real comparison that makes sense; Cooper never really achieved much after he'd ditched his original band, which consisted of guys he'd known since high school, and the no-makeup KISS was a generic hair-metal band.) But the fact that KISS at its height was really nothing more than a decent butt-rock garage band with ridiculously overdone costuming was precisely the point; putting on a crazy outfit and banging out three-chord rock was something that I could imagine myself actually doing when I was in high school.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:19 AM on April 10


KISS is a nostalgia thing, my first exposure to loud, fist pumping rock with an over the top stage show.

Yeahbut, if you want to go nostalgically see a fist-pumping rock band put on an over the top stage show, nowadays you could go see Iron Maiden and their friend Eddie instead.

The thing I don't like about Kiss is that, to the extent that they think of themselves or portray themselves as a metal band (as opposed to just rock), their innate phoniness comes through. Which is a problem, because at its best metal is completely sincere. Ronnie James Dio sang you songs about dragons and wizards because dragons and wizards are awesome, and he did his best for you because dragons and wizards deserve nothing less. At its best, metal doesn't have its heart on its sleeve so much as rip it out of its own chest so it can hold it out for your examination. Kiss only seems to attain any significant "they mean that shit!" factor in their songs that boil down to "I would like to bang you." And even then they don't have the adolescent charm and, uh, appreciation of the female form that AC/DC bring to the same esteemed topic.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:48 AM on April 10 [7 favorites]


What I find funny is, if you think about it, KISS has been a nostalgia act for nine tenths of their career. Maybe more.
posted by Trochanter at 6:17 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]


I just went and listened to Destroyer for the first time in at least 30 years. Weak. Silly. Juvenile. Ridiculous.

Contrast that with AC/DC's Highway to Hell or the Ramones' self-titled album from the same era and in the same vein of stripped-down rock and roll. Those records are... *strong*, silly, juvenile, and ridiculous. Which accounts for why they still hold up as classics.
posted by Rykey at 6:34 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


That Midget-Kiss act still around?
posted by mikelieman


Which one - MiniKiss or Tiny Kiss?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:22 AM on April 10


Used to sit and stare at the cover of "Love Gun" for what seemed like hours. Rock and roll gods, it seemed, although merely singing the lyrics to "Christine Sixteen" could probably get you tossed in jail these days.

"I don't usually say this to girls your age..." Come on, Gene, we know you say it to girls her age all the time.

IMHO "Alive II" was the best because it was recorded more or less at the peak and was completely over the top unless you were 10 or 11, as I was, and too dumb to know it. Bonus: Ace's live version of "Shock Me," which had one hell of a badass solo.
posted by kgasmart at 9:15 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]


The Donnas' cover of "Strutter" smokes the original in every way and Nirvana's cover of "Do You Love Me" is a thing of beauty. KISS itself? So very boring.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:37 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: an island of easy ideas and cartoon bullshit for all those hormones to coalesce around.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:40 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]


“I Stole Your Love” is the musical equivalent of giving five Heinekens and an El Camino to a 14-year-old who thinks 2 Fast 2 Furious was based on real events.

Sometimes he tries too hard, but sometimes Klosterman is so great.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:14 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


when I think of Kiss's music (and I don't very often), I tend to think of a handful of songs that got way too much airplay when I was young. Stuff like Beth, I Was Made For Loving You (the disco one), Detroit Rock City, Rock And Roll All Night ...

Which break down as follows:

Beth + Rock And Roll All Night -- pretty DUMB and/or awful in every imaginable way, but you could get me to smile with the right taking-the-piss cover version.

I Was Made For Loving You -- it would be interesting to hear a good pop cover of this, emphasis on the dance floor.

Detroit Rock City -- if the Stooges (or really any sufficiently kickass Detroit band) had done this, we'd probably all think it was a classic. But not Kiss. Anybody but Kiss.

Conclusion: Kiss are probably the last so-called ROCK band I'd ever want to hear do one of their own songs, or anybody else's for that matter. They're just not any good at all. Unless you're male and your voice hasn't finished changing yet. In which case, why would you give a shit what I think?
posted by philip-random at 10:48 AM on April 10


Because you can buy them beer?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:38 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


"...you could go see Iron Maiden and their friend Eddie"

Been there, done that. KISS was my pre-Metal stage, within a couple of years of "Peak KISS" it was Ozzy and AC/DC then onto NWOBHM, Thrash and proto-Black Metal (Mercyful Fate, Venom, Celtic Frost).
posted by MikeMc at 3:25 PM on April 10


I Was Made For Loving You -- it would be interesting to hear a good pop cover of this, emphasis on the dance floor.

Oh, a cover by The Pet Shop Boys or maybe Massive Attack.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:50 PM on April 10


KISS is still relevant?
What in the world could that possibly even mean? Don’t use that word that way.


bongo_x, welcome to the cause!
posted by thelonius at 5:25 PM on April 10


Well, sure enough, according to reports, they accepted the award and didn't play. Their loss.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:12 PM on April 10


They did accept the honor with little to no onstage drama, so they've got that going for them.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:37 PM on April 10


My fondest memory of Kiss is seeing this sometime in the early 80s, when I was maybe 7 or 8.

It's been all downhill from there.
posted by skoosh at 10:16 AM on April 11


When the critical world looks at Kiss, they see adults pretending to be characters they are not, projecting unsophisticated music about fantasy emotions, presented as a means of earning revenue. What they do not see is that this is how almost all rock music would appear to an alien.

I thought that was the way many people perceived it, not just aliens or critics. I wouldn't say it's the very core, just part of it. Some people love music and never see a show or give a shit about the performance end of a band.

Kiss has never been about the music, as far as I could tell. For those that enjoy it, that's great. For those that don't, great as well. Easy to ignore.

I just went and listened to Destroyer for the first time in at least 30 years.

Going back is always a risk obviously because what you value and what you perceive could potentially be quite different and possibly more sophisticated.

I used to watch the Dukes of Hazzard for example. Loved it as a kid. As an adult, my god, it's awful. Awful stuff is often wildly popular and generates revenue. See Nickelback for example.

Hence:

"Yes", my KISS buddy said, "very RICH clowns".

We all have wildy different opinions in music of what is awful or fabulous but how money or popular it is or was is fairly meaningless.

I also recently watched The Greatest American Hero. Much of it is silly but the dynamic between Hinkley and Maxwell holds up. Maxwell in particular stands up well comically.

It's sad to see life get in the way of art, pop art or high. So many bands have members that no longer get along.

The Kiss "character" thing does present a complication in original members versus replace "actors". But I doubt Stanley or Simmons would endorse a Kiss with members replacing them if Chris and Frehely bothered with it (no doubt not legally).
posted by juiceCake at 9:41 PM on April 12


« Older “When a library is open, no matter its size or sha...  |  My head just exploded because ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments