The veteran bass player and rock solid businessman still looks good in a pair of platform heels and boasts the steely thighs of a 30-year-old.
You can catch him and rest of the guys from Saturday May 1 in Sheffield and the across the UK in Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and London.
For Simmons rocking is his business – and business is good.
Look out for Part Two of our Gene exclusive next week.
rushonrock: Sonic Boom proved to one of the albums of 2009 but it was a long time coming. Do you wish you’d released a new record sooner?
Gene Simmons: I don’t think we should have done something sooner. I say everything in its time. If you’re a farmer and you bring your stuff to market before it’s open – when it’s closed – then nobody buys it. It’s the first rule of commerce. And what I’m in is actually called the music business. It’s not called music. Everybody thinks ‘great I’ll just do music’ but what about the business?
rushonrock: So why was 2009 the year to take your stuff to the market?
GS: When we thought about releasing Sonic Boom we thought where is our retail partner? There are no real record stores anymore so as a band we have to ask ourselves where can we sell our product? And once we got Wall-mart on board it gave us the chance to pay attention, without worries, to the record.
rushonrock: What worries could you possibly have?
GS: I will be damned if I’m going to allow somebody from Newcastle College to download the new record for free after we’ve spent six months of our lives working on it. Kiss is not a charity and we don’t pretend to be.
rushonrock: So it was a six month, rather than a six year project?
GS: We were in South America playing stadiums last April and on the off days we started strumming a few guitars and coming up with the bits – the backbone or what we call the clothing of the songs. But by June we started rehearsing and in July we recorded it and then we were done.
rushonrock: But with the album comes touring and you’re committed to a lot of gigs around Sonic Boom – do you have the time to do it justice?
GS: Releasing and touring a new record properly is a big undertaking and all of what I do takes time. But perhaps I sleep less than other people do and prefer it that way. I like doing lots of stuff at the same time. Most people work 9-5 and then afterwards they might go to the pub. I never do that. I don’t drink or smoke and I’ve never taken a vacation in my life. It’s not because I have anything to prove to anyone else but because I really enjoy activity and enjoy working full time.
rushonrock: You’re about to play UK arenas but your last gig here was at the tiny Academy in Islington – how was that experience?
GS: When we played London in March it was the smallest venue we’d played anywhere in the world for more than 20 years. It was very tough to breathe. The Co2 kicked in as it bellowed out from our huge stage cannons and it caused a few anxious moments.
rushonrock: Your ‘cannons’ caused you to cut short the show didn’t they?
GS: We use the cannons at stadium concerts and if you’re in the last row of a huge arena you still get pelted with the dry ice and the strips of paper. It’s designed to take over a venue and it’s the same idea as Avatar – and that’s why I love that film – it envelopes you. That’s what we want to do with Kiss and a Kiss concert. We want you to taste it, smell it and even orgasm on it. Hear it, see it, use all the five senses. But in Islington the air just disappeared because when the Co2 hits the room it takes over and the oxygen disappears. Your chest cavity tightens and it’s difficult to breathe.