US theatrical rock legends Kiss launched its farewell trek in January 2019 but was forced to put it on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. End Of The Road tour was originally scheduled to conclude on July 17, 2021 in New York City but has since been extended to at least early 2023.
Chaoszine had the chance to catch up with band’s iconic bassist-vocalist Gene Simmons on June 25th and discussed about the End Of The Road farewell tour as well as several other topics. In the interview Simmons revealed that the band has booked atleast 100 new shows to their farewell tour as well as shared his honest opinion whether Ace Frehly or Peter Criss are capable of joining the band on their final shows. You can read the full interview below:
Hello Gene. How is it going for you and the band?
Gene Simmons: Fantastic. Yksi, Kaksi, Kolme (counts in Finnish).
So you still remember how to count in Finnish?
Gene Simmons: Sure. And I’m watching a Finnish show called Dead Wind that has subtitles on Netflix, but it’s in Finnish.
Cool. So on Monday, you played the very last Kiss show in Finland, and it was a sold-out show in the Ice Hall of Helsinki. So I want to ask you that was it an emotional experience when you are playing all these countries through for the last time with Kiss?
Gene Simmons: Well, I don’t think it’ll be the last time. We are adding another 100 cities on the tour before we finally stop. The band is strong. We feel good. We’re playing strong, so we’re going to stretch it out a little more. But once we stop, of course, it’ll be like when you run in the Olympics. When you win a race, sometimes, they just fall to the ground exhausted because of the physical demands of the race. So even though you’re dead tired, you feel exhilarated. It’s like climbing the tallest mountain in the world. Going up is really tough, but when you get to the top of the mountain, there’s no feeling like that. So you’re happy, but of course, you’re sad too because we’re never going to do that again. But everything in life is like that. At some point, Olympic athletes have to stop. At some point, the world champion boxer has to get out of the ring because age is the ultimate winner. So what we’re trying to do is to get out of the ring, the boxing ring, while we’re still champions, and that’s because we admire and respect the fans, but we also have self-respect for ourselves. We want the words to be true that we introduce ourselves with. You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world, Kiss. I don’t want a fan to say, “Oh, I remember when they were great.” We want to be great that night.
You were actually great when I saw you in Copenhell. We actually met also in Copenhell briefly when my friend, Marko, who is a massive Kiss fan, and I had a small chat with you – I don’t know if you still remember – in front of the hotel.
Gene Simmons: I do.
But yeah. So the first show ever that you did with Kiss was in ’83 in Finland, and in total, you have played our country like seven times. So do you have any very special moment when it comes to Finland?
Gene Simmons: I remember the first time we went there, we went to Oulu, which I think I’m pronouncing correctly.
Yep, you did.
Gene Simmons: And when we got there, I never saw so much snow. It was in the middle of the night and I didn’t see any cars on the street. But there were little mountains, little mounds that were like 10 feet high and one right after the other, and they were all lined up. And I asked the translator and the driver, “What’s that all about?” He said, “They’re cars.” “They’re cars? Where are the cars?” He said, “Under the snow.” I never saw anything like that. But no matter how cold it was outside, that first show was crazy. The fans were insane. So every time we’ve come back to Finland, I grew to love the country more and more and the people and the history, especially around the World War II area when the Russians were on the side of the Germans and Russia wanted to invade Finland. And then you had a peace treaty and all this stuff, and a very important Finnish general who taught the military to be able to fight on skis and dress all in white, which I thought was amazing because in America, you don’t have that. And the people are beautiful. The food is amazing. The history, the language, the culture. I speak fluent Hungarian, and I have heard from people that Hungarian and Finnish are similar, but they’re not. I have not heard a single Finnish word that resembles a Hungarian word. For instance, if you count one to three in Hungarian, it’s egy, kettő, három, and in Finnish, it’s yksi, kaksi, kolme. [laughter]
So not that close.
Gene Simmons: And as you can tell, I pronounced it correctly.
Yes you actually did.
Gene Simmons: And it’s Finland, not Finland.
Yep, it is. It is. In 1999 with Psycho Circus Tour, you stayed in Helsinki for a longer period of time and you did some tour rehearsals also here. So do you have any memories from those since you were then in Helsinki for a longer period of time than just like the basic, that come-and-go?
Gene Simmons: Girls.
Gene Simmons: There were always girls around.
And that’s something that you will remember for the rest of your life?
Gene Simmons: Probably. [laughter]
Okay. So do you want to add something to it, or shall we leave it like that? [laughter]
Gene Simmons: You have a good imagination.
Okay. So the amazing ride of Kiss will most likely now end in ’23. Am I right?
Gene Simmons: We don’t know. We’ve never retired before. This is our first time. So it’s like painting a painting or like writing a book. When somebody says, “When is it going to be finished?” you’re in the middle of it. You don’t know, but you know it’s going to finish. Finish, but not Finland Finnish. See what I did? It was a joke.
Yep, I did.
Gene Simmons: The tour is going so well and the band is so strong. Every night is a really solid show. The crew is happy, everybody’s happy, so we’ve decided to add another 100 cities before we stop. So I don’t know how long that’s going to take. We were only going to do one cruise because usually, we only do one Kiss cruise a year, but it’s sold out right away and the fans demanded another one, so we’re doing a second cruise right after the first cruise. One will go from Miami, and then the next one goes right away from Los Angeles. So every day, we’re adding more stuff, and everybody’s happy. The fans are happy. You saw how the fans were in Finland.
Gene Simmons: They loved it.
Yeah, and also in Copenhell. They loved it as well.
Gene Simmons: Yeah. And so if they love it, that makes us happy. And like anything else, when you get the feedback that you’re appreciated, you want to work harder. And that’s what’s happening because Kiss, the energy that we get comes from the fans, fan and band. It’s like electric church. In America, you have White churches and then you have Black churches. The White churches are very boring. One guy talks and then you repeat after him. Black churches is energy. Like, “Everybody say yeah!” and they go, “Yeah!” They get up and they start dancing, and there’s so much energy.
Yeah. They have a party on when they have those.
Gene Simmons: Oh my God. So Kiss is like electric church. As you can tell, the fans sang along, and we asked them, “How you doing?” and they yelled back.
So obviously, next year will be the 50th year for Kiss. So how important it actually it was for you that the band reaches that milestone?
Gene Simmons: Without being corny, every year and every show is a milestone because I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d be talking to you at 72 years of age. When I first started with the band, I was 22 or 23, and if you would have told me, “Yeah, when you’re 72, you’re going to be touring and having a great time and still strong. In fact, your outfit is going to weigh about 40 pounds,” and I’m like, “No, I’ll never do that. Why would I do that?” “I don’t know. That’s what’s going to happen.” So you could never imagine that happening, and yet it happens. And I never lose my own voice. And yes, I sing every song and I’m not on tape and nor is my bass. What you see is what you get. And what can I say? It’s a huge source of pride. I’m proud every night when they introduce us and the fans see the video of us coming from backstage and you hear the crowd’s going crazy. There’s nothing like it. You can’t buy that feeling.
But it’s still amazing for any band on this planet to exist for 50 years. That’s something that even you cannot deny that it’s amazing achievement for any band.
Gene Simmons: Yes. And the only reason that happens is because the fans demand it. See, at the end of the day, the fans are the bosses. We just work here. Without the fans, we’re nothing.
That’s true. That’s true. Do you feel that without the pandemic, you would have lasted for this long? Or do you feel that this would have already been over? Or do you feel that maybe this would have continued if the fans would have demanded you to play?
Gene Simmons: It’s a good question. I don’t know. But I do know that we had plans of stopping when we started the tour before the pandemic, and we didn’t think about 50 years or anything like that. We just thought, “Okay, I’m going to be 70 years old,” before the pandemic started. “Maybe it’s time to stop so we don’t go too long.” I don’t care who you are. At some point, you have to get off the stage, and it’s better for the fans and you and for the legacy to get off the stage while you’re still great. Don’t wait until you’re too old. Don’t do that.
That’s true. That’s very true. As you said that you added 100 shows more. So do you already know when it’s going to be the last show, or will you be adding even more shows after that 100 shows if it still feels good and the fans want it?
Gene Simmons: Probably not, but I’ve said “probably not” before. I don’t know. A lot of it has to do with how we feel and how strong we are. But this is a tour that will not stop until it stops. So we’re not going to take a year off and then resume. We’re in the tour mode. We’re going to stay out there until we stop. Do I know where the last show is going to be or when? I do not know. But I’m telling you, we are having the time of our lives. We’re having so much fun. The fans are loving it. And it’s a real celebration not just of the history and all that, but when the fans show up at the concerts, you forget about the traffic jam. You forget about the fight you had with your girlfriend because your secret snuck out with her girlfriend. You forget about all the problems. And for the time that you see us, it’s magic time. It’s happy time. See, that’s the word that many bands don’t get. Happy.
Yup. I agree.
Gene Simmons: We don’t think about politics. It’s not dark. It’s a celebration of life. It’s like, “Yay, I’m alive!” And that’s what it’s about.
There has been endless speculation about if you will have the former members with you on stage on the last show.
We’ve tried. I keep trying. Paul and I met with Ace. Tried to convince him to come back. He said, “I want this, I want that, I want that.” “Well, we can’t do that.” I asked Ace and Peter to be in the documentary. They said no. They might do it if they have complete control of the edit. Well, I said, “You can’t do that because even we don’t have that. But I won’t control what you say. You can say whatever you want.” The answer is no, both of them. I asked Ace and Peter, “Come out on tour. We’ll get you your own room and everything. Come out on the encores.”Ace said, “No. The only way I’d come out is if I’m the Spaceman and you ask Tommy to leave.” I go, “Well, that’s not going to happen.” First of all, I care about Ace, but he’s not in shape. He can’t play that way and doesn’t have the physical stamina to do that.
I was going to ask you about that. Do you actually follow what the former members do on their music careers?
Gene Simmons: Of course.
So do you know if they are sort of even able to play those songs in front of millions of fans?
Gene Simmons: No. No, no. No. Peter appeared at a event and look, we care about them. We started this thing together, and they were equally important to the beginning of the band with Paul and I. No question. But as time went on, not everybody is designed to run a marathon. Some people are designed to be in a band for a year or two, a few years, and then that’s all they can do. And both of them have been in the band three different times. How many chances in life do you get? All I know is when I put my hand in fire the first time, I got burned. I didn’t get a second or third chance. So the answer is, the door is always open. If they want to jump on stage at any time and do the encores with us, terrific. But no, we’re not going to get rid of Tommy or Eric. In fact, Tommy and Eric are the best things that happened to us. They gave us new life, new appreciation for what we do because they were fans first. And every once in a while, Eric or Tommy will turn around and say, “Wow, isn’t this great?” And it makes us realize, “Yeah. Wow, isn’t this great?”
So did you watch the footage from the Creature Fest, which has, what, a lot of your old members in?
Gene Simmons: Somebody showed me about 30 seconds, yeah.
Okay. But not more?
Gene Simmons: It was very sad. I felt sad for Peter.
So you feel that he wasn’t sort of in shape anymore?
Gene Simmons: No. When I called to invite Peter to be in the documentary, his health isn’t what it should be. I don’t want to get too specific because it’s part of his private life. But no, physically, he wouldn’t be able to do it. Neither would Ace.
Yeah. Yeah. So after this, Kiss will be done. I heard some rumors about you doing some solo stuff, and you also mentioned to us in the street that you will be doing some solo stuff. So do you already have a lot of solo music ready?
Gene Simmons: Oh, yeah. Oh, a lot of stuff, yeah. There’s always a lot of stuff. And Paul has his Soul Station, soul music, rhythm and blues band, and I know Tommy and Eric are always going to play. But the idea of Kiss stopping to tour has a lot to do with the physical. First of all, ask any girl what she feels like after she goes out at night with her high heels and she will tell you her feet and back are killing her. [laughter] Any girl will tell you that. As soon as she starts going home, she takes her shoes off and starts walking in flat feet. So imagine me wearing seven-inch platform heels, and each of them weighs as much as a bowling ball. And then you’ve got a base that weighs 12 pounds, and the armor and the rest of it, you’re up to almost 40 pounds. It’s hard work, don’t kid yourself, but we’re proud of it.
So I have a few questions left before my time is up, and the second to last one is that I heard some rumors about you possibly doing another Vault box. Is it true?
Gene Simmons: Maybe. I need time. Right now, we’re so busy, and we’ve got the restaurant chain and I’ve got other businesses, and every day, phone calls, texts, emails, all kinds of stuff happening. So, look, I’m the luckiest person in the world. What can I say?
So my time is up. So I want to thank you a lot for doing this interview with me and wish you all the best for the remaining of the Kiss shows as well as for the future.
Gene Simmons: Well, you’re very welcome.
Anything you want to say as closure to all the Finnish fans who have followed you for 50 years now almost?
Gene Simmons: You’re very nice, and thank you. Most important, above and beyond Kiss and the fans and the music, is we love Finland.
That pretty much sums it up.
Gene Simmons: It sure does.
Hey, Gene, thanks a lot for the chat.
Gene Simmons: Thank you, boss.
Take care. Bye.
Gene Simmons: Bye.