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Frobes' Interview With Paul Stanley And Gene Simmons

This week brings KISS Rocks Vegas to theaters for a one-night only event, delivering a stadium-style concert experience to audiences at the cineplex. And the sound mix in Dolby Atmos creates something no other concert films have achieved in their attempts to bring live music to theater audiences. I had the pleasure of seeing KISS Rocks Vegas at a special screening with the band themselves, and beforehand I spoke with singer-guitarist Paul Stanley and singer-bassist Gene Simmons. Before I get to the interviews, let me explain my history with KISS, my interest in audio for cinema, and why this movie was so special to me personally.

I’ve been listening to rock music my entire life, and I cannot even remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t a KISS fan. My eight older siblings — particularly my sisters — all listened to KISS and other rock bands, playing 45s and filling the house with the soundtrack of my youth. How many times did I don KISS makeup for Halloween? How many of their LPs and 45s did I hear over and over on the record player? How many times did I drive home at night, windows down and Detroit Rock City blaring from the radio? And how many times did I sit down at a piano and play the opening of Beth, the only tune I could even play? Later, in my teens, I would write song lyrics and sing in a band, with the KISS song Lick It Up as a crowd-pleasing part of the set. KISS wasn’t just a band, they were an idea, and their songs were anthems declaring that idea belonged to everybody.

There’s nothing in the music world like a KISS concert. I’ve seen it in person myself, and it’s got to be experienced to be understood and believed. Previously, there wasn’t a way to truly capture and deliver that experience outside of the live concert. But that’s changed, and so today we have KISS Rocks Vegas, a concert movie that finally delivers a concert experience in a cinema setting. A one-night-only engagement, KISS Rocks Vegas benefits from the remarkable and unparalleled sound of Dolby Atmos. I screened the film at a special event with the band itself, at Dolby Laboratories in LA.

If you read me regularly, you know I’m obsessive about sound and image in theaters, and that I’ve been a huge fan of Atmos. I hadn’t realized the potential for creating theatrical concert experiences that were truly immersive, that created a live concert experience, until listening to Jon Favreau describe how he used Atmos to create a sound mix for The Jungle Book that was a revival of Walt Disney’s Fantasound back in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I’m lucky enough to have seen Iron Maiden live in concert a couple of weeks before seeing KISS Rocks Vegas, so I had a direct recent comparison regarding how well the concert movie adapted the live experience to the theater. I’m happy to say, the result is spectacular — as a KISS fan and an Atmos fan, I was on cloud nine.

It’s one thing to enjoy immersive sound in a fictional feature film situation, but you can really sink your teeth– er, I mean ears into it when you have an actual personal comparison in real life and the movie recreates it. As visually thrilling and musically joyous as a live KISS concert, and as thunderously encompassing as hearing the band live, KISS Rocks Vegas is a greatest hits performance demonstrating a whole new potential for Atmos and for live music in cinema settings. I’m excited at what this could mean for the future of concert films.

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