Well, I planned on laying off doing any blogs on my favorite band KISS for awhile but the recent news that a new documentary is in the works made it hard to stay away from this one. A few months back some friends and I were discussing some of the more recent Rock Documentaries that have come out the last few years. While expressing how much I’ve enjoyed them, I pined about how cool it would be if they did one for KISS. There have been plenty of documentary type programs on KISS, but they all come with the death grip of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley making sure nothing they didn’t want to come out came out. That it was more propaganda about how cool they are and how worthless Ace and Peter are. Even after 40 years they still seem afraid of showing the rough edges. The mistakes and failures are glossed over if discussed at all. Plus they seemed as driven as ever to tarnish the already corroded reputations of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The result ends up looking more like war era propaganda than a legitimate documentary.
One of the best things about the Lemmy documentary was the stark honesty about the things he may not be the most proud of. He certainly hasn’t lived a perfect life. He seems to get that at this stage of the game the story isn’t that Motorhead has a new record. The same can be said for RUSH: Beyond The Lighted Stage, Back And Forth (Foo Fighters) and This Is Anvil. There are also some brilliant smaller scale doc’s. Wake Up Dead about the life of a rocker you’ve never heard of Phil Varone. Or Let’s Get Thrashed a doc about the rise of Thrash Metal. All of these were done with very limited creative constraints on the film maker and full cooperation of those most important to the story. With Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, you can only get one of those two.
So when I heard that this most recent attempt to tell the story of KISS would be done without the input of Ace or Peter I was disappointed. Not so much for what they would add to the project but for what it signified. It meant that once again Gene and Paul were in charge of the overall tone and message. Which translates into a homogenized history of one of the greatest rock bands in American history. With all the Gene and Paul approved propaganda out there, why do we need more? Their side of the story is Ace and Peter were asked but they started making unreasonable demands. The Peter and Ace side is that they were approached and were asked to do it as a favor to Gene and Paul. In other words, for free.
“Were gonna do this with or without you. If you want to be involved were not gonna pay you and we have final say as to what will actually be put in the movie. You don’t mind donating your time while we profit from it do you?”
I know this becomes a he said/he said situation but were all adults here. There is too much evidence against Gene and Paul to take their version of events. They have a track record of promoting whatever paints the picture they want you to see. Bruce Fairbairn said in an EQ magazine article that unequivocally Peter was the drummer on Psycho Circus. As we now know it was actually Kevin Valentine you wonder why he would say that. Because they guys signing the checks told him too. Why should we give this documentary maker the benefit of the doubt when history tells us otherwise. The only way this ends up being something cool is if the filmmaker does it without ever consulting Gene and Paul. I know they plan to use archived footage that current Ace Frehley imposter Tommy Thayer shot back in 2001 and prior when holding a camera and fetching Gene’s laundry were his main duties but that’s not the same. I’m hopeful yet skeptical that the end product will be something cool. And since I can’t change anything I thought I’d make a few predictions.
A minimum of 20% of the film will cover the time between 2009 and now or as I like to call it. The dead behind the ears era. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer will have at least as much face time as the actual Ace and Peter.
The title will include a pun using the word KISS.
Eddie Trunk will do a similar rant as I’m doing but far less original or interesting.
Bob Kulick being bald will be mentioned at least once.
Bruce Kulick will have plenty to say yet say nothing interesting.
Gene Simmons will be wearing an ill fitting baseball cap atop his odd shaped wig with the logo of some self serving enterprise.
Fear of being sued will keep them from ever discussing one Vinnie Vincent or allowing a song he’s listed as a writer on to be used in the movie. I’m gonna give them a pass on this one.
KISS still won’t be in the HOF.
I will buy it. I will watch it. I will complain loudly and often as my wife sits next to me and says “yes dear”.