Press conference, 40th anniversary tour
Tom Lee Music, Vancouver, July 4th, 2013
by Metal Rules guest contributor, Darrin Pope
Pics by Fawn Downey
On the eve of their extensive 18 date Canadian tour scheduled to commence in Victoria on Jul 5th and ending in St. John’s, NL on Aug 4th, KISS held a Q&A press conference at Tom Lee Music (929 Granville Street) in Vancouver, BC. The band took this opportunity to discuss (amongst other subjects), their latest studio release Monster, their Canadian/Newfie connection, as well as the current status of the band which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. The band also expressed their concern for their fans in Calgary, following the devastating floods that resulted in that tour date’s cancellation. A KISS army depot pop up store had debuted at the site a week earlier and the first 200 fans in the line up that day were also treated to an autograph session with the band. Partial proceeds from the sale of KISS army depot merchandise were allotted for Sophie’s place, named after Gene’s daughter which is a centre for abused children located in Surrey; a suburb of Vancouver.
At approximately 11am, members of the press (a mix of fan/online and professional media) were ushered into an elevator that led up into a remarkably large conference hall on the third floor. While tunes from KISS’s latest release Monster blared from the speakers, media persons took notes and several posed in front a stage set up for KISS- furnished with their own corresponding Hollywood type director stools. Moderated by classic rock 101, Dean Hill was on hand to introduce KISS and moderate the approx. 20 minute Q &A. The band in full regalia entered onto the stage at around noon to great applause and fanfare.
Below the video is a complete transcript of the press conference.
Moderator: So the KISS monster tour starts tomorrow night in Victoria at the Save on foods memorial centre, all the way to St John’s Newfoundland it goes, so it’s an actual proper Canadian tour, Paul, I will ask you, and all Canadians can ask you this question (Paul-Yes sir), What is it you like about us so much?
Paul-Well you’re close to home, that’s for sure, now we have had a great time, coming to Canada, actually the very first tour we ever did, took us up to Calgary, to Edmonton, and areas that some Canadians said to us, what are you doing here? We actually have played Moncton, Sudbury; we go to where the people want music. And Canada has always been very hospitable to us. So, ah I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Toronto, and we’ve all be associated with Canada in different ways, Gene…Tommy, Tommy what have you done that has anything to do with Canada?
Tommy-I love Canada, you are our closet neighbour, being up here, our fans, without sounding cliché, some of them are the biggest KISS fans in the world, the best KISS fans.
Paul-We don’t mean weight watchers…
Tommy-When we say the best, we mean great, and ah, it’s a pleasure to be here, we love touring Canada, some of our biggest shows in the last decade have been up here. We played to 100000 KISS fans in Ottawa 2-3 years ago, last time we were touring so we are looking forward to a huge tour right now.
Moderator-It’s really too bad (sad?) …The Calgary show had to be cancelled.
Paul-Our sympathies go to anybody who has to deal with a national disaster, because most of the time, were pretty perilous to ah, fight nature and Calgary is a great example of the resilience of people, and we stand with them and as soon as we can, we will be going back and trying to cheer everybody up a bit (Audience applause).
Tommy-The show is being scheduled is that not correct?
Paul-It is. It will be rescheduled and you know, our hearts, emotions and everything, human spirit is something that can overcome anything and we’ve seen that in the past and ah we had a trying week, with the events in Abbotsford, an um, you know it’s amazing what human spirit can do and Canada is a great example of what a great country can do.
M-Well the Vancouver KISS army pop up store right downstairs is the first one open in Canada. It opens in Edmonton tomorrow, Toronto to follow. What’s the concept behind the pop up store and who thought this up?
Gene-It actually came around from the fans and they wanted something that they felt a part of. We’ve always been about the fans, you know were up on that stage doing all the big bang for the glory and fame and all that stuff, the truth is our bosses are the audience and we just work here so all the great ideas come from them. The T-shirts, whatever it is they want, we give them. They wanted, you got it. What we also wanted to do is put them in charge, not to have our guys come over from America. This is Canadian fans for Canadians, so the people here who are going to be at the KISS Army depot pop up store are all Canadians, 100 percent pure Canadian content, what do you think about that?
M-That’s beautiful (Applause)
Paul-Its really true, you know we have ah, a great following up here and the whole idea with these pop up stores is to kind of circumvent business for once, you know we give it to the fans and say “run with this”, find a store and ah it’s been quite an adventure and all hell breaks loose tomorrow.
M-I think it’s been successful already, so this tour across Canada is for the 20th studio album Monster, released through Universal Music Canada late last year, When you guys first started out, did you ever think that you would make it to album number 20?
Paul-That’s a great question, you know there were no precedents at that point. Rock and Roll was about bands that only last 6 years, 7 years, so the idea of being around 20, 30, 40 years was unheard of, but um, Rock and Roll has become very much like the blues in the sense that you can sing about life and your fans go along with you so as long as you are singing about things that are relevant to our audience, our audience stays with us. So far, we seem to be doing pretty damn good. And we have a new show, the show that we are doing is Canada is not the show you have seen before, we’ve got a spectacular stage, ah it was really time for us to do something that was new and different, as opposed to building on what was done before. So it’s a completely different stage, different show and ah if you missed it, you’ll be sorry. I’m going.
Tommy- This week, we just got back from a month in Europe, stadiums and arenas over there. It was huge, sold out shows. The spider stage is the new stage, Paul’s referring to, gave a little time to test it over there so it’s tweaked and ready to go for Canada.
Paul-They approved and you’re ready.
M-So Gene, you and your family seem to have a very special connection to Vancouver so what can you tell us about that?
Gene-They are all Canadian. (Audience laughs). They are Canadian citizens, Shannon is a Newfie, “come where you’re to and I’ll come where…what is it? Stay where you at and I’ll come where you’re to. (Audience laughs.)
M-There also a great endeavour called Sophie’s place that maybe you can elaborate on.
Gene-Sophie’s place was created by Mayor Watts and Sophie, she’s in Surrey and Sophie’s always been committed to helping young people cause usually there’s only your mom and dad to look up to and sometimes that’s not always a functional family. So Sophie’s place is a place where kids, there’s dysfunction, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, can go and not be, tortured by, you know the way things are. You go in and grownups keep asking you questions, they wear suits and ties and they feel all sort of put upon, so you can go to Sophie’s place, be among other young people, no pressure and the truth comes out. It helps 1000’s of abused kids every year, it’s a great place and they are looking to open a second Sophie’s place, as a matter of fact Sophie’s back stage and she’s going to go around filming and her beautiful mom is there too as a matter of fact.
M-Well fortunately KISS army depots profits go to Sophie’s place, child advocacy centre so let’s get up on the stage some people who have directly helped this great process. Surrey mayor, Dianne Watts, is here. The chair for the board of child development foundation, Tony Miles, Dr Brian Katz and of course Sophie Tweed-Simmons is here. We’re going to be doing a little cheque presentation so come on up.
And you guys (pointing to audience) are going to be able to ask some questions here real quick too.
Paul-We were just kidding about the cheque.
Paul-We always feel that when you are in a position such as we are, the idea of charity or philanthropic work is not an option, it’s an obligation, so here making a cheque to Sophie’s place, a charity that we know well and that we believe in a 100 percent and we hope everybody here and anyone who gets this news media coverage does what they can. You know it’s never about giving until it hurts; you give until it feels good.
Gene-This is the beginning, it’s just a small token, there’s more support coming and maybe Mayor Watts wants to say something to all of you.
Mayor Diane Watts-Well thank you very much, it really is a pleasure. I know on behalf of the centre for Child Development and Sophie’s place this is really a great gift because as Gene has said, this has helped so many children and you know I just went over the stats recently and children from the age of 2 years old all the way up to 15 and this is just absolutely amazing and thank you. Thank you so very much for your help and generosity, we appreciate it.
M-Would Sophie like to say a few words? No?
Gene-I don’t know where she is.
M-Well if Sophie’s not going to say a few words about this great cause, well take some questions from the floor, so if you wouldn’t mind stepping up to the mike and state your media outlet, your name and one question.
Hi there, I’m Angie from “The Province” I just want to know what’s the biggest difference between KISS from 40 years ago and KISS now?
Paul-Uh were a little older
Angie-Uh yeah. (Audience laughs)
Paul-I think we are having more fun now than ever. Um you know when we first became successful, were having a great time, but with time going on, you appreciate it a lot more and uh, the band has never sounded better, gotten along better. We socialize, we spend time together and uh, you know we’re watching not only the first generation of KISS fans, were on the third and fourth generation, So…unlike other bands, we’re a tribe. You know when you go to a rock concert, it’s very demographic specific, so you don’t want your younger brother there, heaven’s forbid you don’t want your parents there but KISS is a whole different thing. It’s about this big secret society where everybody is there giving thumbs up to everybody else. You got grandparents. You got 5 year olds, you got everything in between and everybody is sharing an experience which is really worth going to. We celebrate life, we celebrate positivity, and everything this is possible with self empowerment. So if that’s what Rock and Roll is, Rock and Roll is alive and well.
Hi Todd Zillich, Surrey now newspaper, this is for Gene. Gene you were at the opening for Sophie’s place (Gene where are you Todd?) Audience-right in the middle.
Gene-Oh the powerful and attractive guy.
Todd-Any plans to go back to Surrey for this week to have a visit with some kids and perhaps put a smile on their face?
Gene-The answer is yes but were not supposed to announce that so it doesn’t turn into a media circus, so the kids see you guys coming with cameras (motions ducking down) and becomes about something else. So we intend on going down there unannounced and you try and help in the best way we can.
Gene shakes head, uh…. (Audience laughs)
Paul-If we dress like that, (pointing to Todd), that’s a costume. (Audience laughs)
Gene-And your right, my daughter is singing tonight at the BC lions game, the Canadian national anthem at the stadium, so go team.
Hi, Peter Granger from CTV news, uh great to have you guys back in town (Paul-Thank you). When KISS came in the 70’s you guys, it felt like you guys came fully formed, it was like you hatched. How tempting has it been over the years to change the image because it still, just hasn’t looked (inaudible)?
Paul-Well it’s interesting because we did go through a period where we perhaps we became a bit complacent and maybe a little bit too sure of who we were or thought who we were and changed who we were. Tried to get press acclaim, critical acclaim, and that’s always the death you know. Sometimes you have to get off at the wrong exit to appreciate the road that you are on. We thankfully got back to being who we are. I’d say the early 80’s and its been this way ever since. We appreciate and love who we are. These 4 iconic images are known worldwide. It’s interesting to take a picture of the band anywhere in the world and they may not know everybody’s name but they know its KISS. We’re proud of that and we stand behind it.
Gene-You make a good point that it’s probably time for Santa Claus and Superman to change their outfits.
M-Okay, we’ve located Sophie. Sophie Tweed-Simmons would you like to come on stage and say a few words? (KISS and audience applause)
Gene-Look how beautiful my daughter is.
Paul-Come up Sophie, come on in here. (Sophie stands to right of Paul, Shannon Tweed-Simmons walks to the left of Tommy and Mayor Watts steps in close)
Paul-Sophie say something.
Sophie-Thank you all for coming out, especially for this event. KISS has so graciously let me put a Sophie’s place tent outside their event and some of the proceeds are going to my charity and that means so much to me and Mayor Diane Watts, we worked so hard to get this charity off the ground so thank you.
Paul- Sophie is the proof of how great young people can turn out and how much they can give back, cause that’s what the future is all about. The generation you know that comes after us, Sophie is the queen of that.
Sophie-And my dad has graciously given tickets to the staff of Sophie’s place who work so hard all year around to get this charity going. It’s mostly volunteer so thank you so much for that.
Gene- And Canada’s Shannon Tweed gave birth to our beautiful daughter so that’s it.
M-Lets a get a shot of the cheque (10000 replica cheque brought up on stage).
Peter Granger-Hey Sophie, how did it start for you, Sophie’s place? What kicked it off for you?
Sophie-The mayor of Surrey, Diane Watts came and approached me about a centre she had been working on for children who have been mentally, physically and sexually abused but she needed someone to be a kid to be a patron for the centre so we could relate more to the target audience. So I was 18 at the time, we got together and had one meeting about it and I absolutely loved it. I’ve been worked with children my whole life and it seemed like the right thing for me to do, especially kind of being a B.C. native, thanks to my mom.”
So we have a centre started and we hope to open more across Canada but were working on getting this one absolutely perfect before we move on.
Paul motions for the audience to clap as Sophie exits.
M-Any other questions go ahead.
Hi I’m Darrin from metal-rules.com. I’ve been a fan and have really enjoyed listening to your new studio albums. I’ve been thrilled with the last 2 after waiting so long and I’m wondering can we expect any more music?
Darrin-Monster rules, I got to say.
Paul-Thank you. Let’s appreciate that one and let it breathe before we start thinking about hatching something else. But you know it’s a clear indication of where the band is at this point in our history and in our lives. Sonic boom was a great step forward and Monster really reclaims everything that we are. We’re very proud of it. Thank you.
Q-Inaudible identification from a media person-Paul you talked about in the past how KISS will live forever, can you ever imagine a time when you might have different personnel in KISS?
Paul-Totally, totally because you have to remember that…
Tommy-We already do have different personnel in KISS.
Q-There won’t be any original guys in 2115.
Paul-I think I am really great at what I do. But I don’t think that there isn’t someone else who can do what I do at least as well and add something new to the band. There was a time where everybody said “Oh it’s got to be the 4 original members.” Well those people are 50 percent wrong now and that will play out over time now. I would be proud to be replaced at some point because it only means that KISS is everything that I hoped it would be. Ah, I’d like to sit in the audience and see the greatest band without me in it. But not anytime soon.
Q-And Gene I have one quick question, ah I’ve been told my whole life that I have a Gene Simmons tongue, so can we get a picture later to either prove or disprove this…
Gene-Let’s see what you got.
No, I don’t think so.
Gene-I would stick mine out but the floor is a little dirty.
Eric Singer-I never heard that before (sarcastically).
Eric-I’m here everyday.
Darryl from Today media group. Just want to say first off, say thanks for a great 40 years. Long time fan, I want to give a shout out to Tommy and Eric, that you guys coming into the band and end up being a resurgence I think and coming from a long term fan you deserve all the props in the world.
Tommy-Thank you very much, appreciate that.
Darryl-Rock and Brews Vancouver! We love KISS, when are we going to see Rock and Brews?
Gene-We’ve been talking to the wonderful people at Great Canadian gaming for quite a while, and the powerful and attractive Howard Blank who’s becoming a reality show star as he’s filming all day today. There have been discussions ongoing. Anything is possible but anything worth doing is worth doing well. That’s a nice way of saying it will come when the time is right.
Paul-We’ve been offered more opportunities for Rock and Brews than one could imagine but we really want to make each Rock and Brews individual, like a single diamond. This isn’t a franchise where we are cookie cutting and making something at the same city to city and country to country. So when we finally do open a Rock and Brews, in Canada, in Vancouver, it will be yours and yours alone. We’re going into areas and trying to be a good neighbor. We bring in local produce; we bring in local people to work. This isn’t about coming in and bringing these 8 inch heels and stomping on what’s come before us. So Rock and Brews will be here, but when it’s here it will be absolutely perfect and everything that you’re worthy of having. How do you like that?
(Audience laughs and applause)
M-Anymore questions from the floor?
Unidentified person from the audience-I have a quick question. The Hello Kitty thing. Is that something that came and morphed on its own or did you guys catch on to that, how do you guys feel about that character being morphed with your character?
Paul-Were very fortunate because there is so many opportunities at this point for co-branding and we’re proud of it. Ah when people may snicker and say that’s not rock and roll, it’s because their jealous. We are one of the few bands, if not the only band who can co-brand with really top flight companies, whether its Hello Kitty, we’re also doing Family Guy, at this point and there will be more to come. So we see it as a way to spread KISS worldwide, you know as far as we’re concerned, there may be many countries but it’s one world, and we want to dominate it all.
M-Okay, anymore? Is that it? Okay, so let’s have one more welcome to Vancouver from you people for the immortal KISS!!
Special thanks to EvilG at metal-rules.com and Jen Fritz from Fritz media for arranging the media pass.