Interview: Gene Simmons Talks Religion & Rock Hall, Compares KISS Bandmates to Cancer
October is Metal Month at Radio.com. Throughout the month, we’ll have artist interviews as well as mini-documentaries about metal, metal fans and the birthplace of metal. And book reports: reading is fundamental, even for headbangers, and we’ll have reviews of some of the best recent metal biographies and retrospectives. Horns up!
When we recently sat down with KISS frontman Gene Simmons, the topic of conversation at hand was the band’s new oral history, Nothin’ To Lose. As is often the case with Simmons, the conversation veered toward an array of colorful topics, as you can see in the video below.
You may have heard about his comments to us about Tim Tebow, whom Simmons was interested in signing to KISS’s new arena football team, L.A. KISS. He talked a bit Tebow’s faith, and more generally about faith: “I think religion is terrific, religion is good for mankind. Without the Ten Commandments,” he pauses to stress, “Jews gave you that,” and continues, “Without that, there’d be chaos. Here’s some good ideas, don’t steal and don’t kill. Those are good ideas. That’s called ‘civilization.’ Honor thy father and thy mother. That’s a good idea!”
Simmons fancies himself something of an expert in several religions and discusses a moment in his family’s TV show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, where he schooled a priest who thought he wasn’t qualified to be a godfather to a child, because he is Jewish.
“The preacher was incorrect, he was baptizing and didn’t know that it all comes from the mikveh (a Jewish bathing ritual) and he, unfortunately, didn’t know the name of his savior, his Lord. He thought his name was ‘Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘That’s incorrect.’ There was never a human being called ‘Jesus Christ.’ His mom and dad were not called Mr. and Mrs. Christ. Jesus, the Son of Joseph, that’s his name. ‘Christ’ was a title. So the preacher didn’t even know the name of the god he worshipped.”
Other than that, Gene courted controversy with a rather different crowd: his own bandmate — and one he’s actually on good terms with, at that. In Nothin’ To Lose, he says that guitarist Paul Stanley ripped off his idea for the classic “Detroit Rock City.”
“I wrote a song called ‘Too Young,’ which begat a song called ‘Acrobat.’ Our producer Richie Wise cut it down, it was a seven-minute song. Paul heard it, and took it and went out and wrote ‘Detroit Rock City.’” He goes on to tell Radio.com that Paul also took his ideas for “Psycho Circus” and “Black Diamond.”
Finally, there’s the matter of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor that has eluded the band. While Simmons has long said that he doesn’t care about the award, when asked if he would perform with ex-bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss if inducted, it’s clear he’s given it some thought.
“No! How many chances in life to do you get? Both of those guys had three chances to be in the band. Three times they f***ed it up. They were every bit as important as we were at the formation of the band,” he says, though he later adds that they have the right to attend the ceremony.
“When you have a cancer in your system, its best to cut it out as fast as you can,” he explains. “It used to be part of your body, it turned into cancer. You gotta cut it out. I believe that both Ace and Peter are happier now. They belong home, and doing autograph shows in clubs. They’re happier.”