Did Kiss crumble when they made it?
The original lineup of Kiss disintegrated when confronted with success – because they’d always claimed they already had it.
That’s the view of long-term fan, journalist and social commentator Chuck Klosterman, who authored Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota.
And he’s all in favour of the glam rock giants continuing in the future without any original members.
Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons parted company with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in the early 80s before reuniting in 1996. The guitarist and drummer were fired again at the turn of the century, with the mainmen having regularly insisted there will be no second reunion.
Klosterman tells The Nervous Breakdown: “I think the downfall of Kiss was the realisation of their goals. Most bands want to be the Beatles, but Kiss wanted to be Coca-Cola.
“Early in their career the records aren’t selling but they portray themselves as super-successful. Then it actually happens. They become obsessed with holding onto the market share, and too conscious of what else was happening in music. They start over-compensating in order to be as successful as they’d always claimed.”
The band’s next mistake, Klosterman believes, was in trying to pursue more thoughtful music than the lighter entertainment they’d become known for. Citing the album Music From The Elder, he says: “The critical acclaim they said they didn’t care about was actually very important. They wouldn’t be satisfied until they were loved by the intellectual elite, so they consciously tried to accomplish that goal.”
Interviewer JM Blaine suggests Stanley and Simmons suffered ego problems when all four original members released solo albums on the same day in 1978 – and those by Frehley and Criss fared better than their own.
Klosterman reflects that, despite having followed the band for years, he still knows nothing about the relationship between the surviving founders: “When I listen to Paul’s last solo record I feel like many of the songs are about Gene. To work with someone you might not be that close to, for 30 years? That’s crazy.”
Stanley recently explained that he’d view Kiss continuing without he and Simmons as a personal victory. Klosterman’s all in favour, and thinks he knows how it might come about.
“I think Paul would leave the band and then Gene would have to make the decision to carry on: three replacement members and Gene. Gene’s certainly the hardest member to replace if you actually want him to be the character that he is. I’ve seen a lot of Kiss tribute bands and that’s always the key to success.
“If they can find a guy who looks like Gene and a drummer who sings like Peter – and also if whoever plays Paul has enough chest hair – Kiss will stop being about members and will exist as a single idea. When people talk about Kiss they’ll talk about them in a way unlike any other band that has ever existed.
“No members – just full-on roles.”