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A Chat with Gene Simmons

It was a call that my 10-year-old self would never believe could happen in a million years.

The chance to interview rock icon Gene Simmons, the man whom none other than fellow legend Bob Dylan refers to as “Mr. KISS,” fell into my lap, and I was expecting a call from the Lord of the wastelands at 2 p.m., Central. Tricky demon that he is, he actually called me at 1, catching me slightly off guard.

“Hello, this is Gene,” came the familiar voice on my phone—at which point I proceeded to hang up on him, albeit totally by accident.

You see, I’ve had a lot of fun opportunities to interview rock stars, but none of them fought Doctor Doom in the pages of Marvel comics, and not one of them plays an axe that is actually shaped like an axe. As a longstanding member of the KISS Army, this one was a little bit special, and hearing him on my phone so unexpectedly threw me off my game a bit.

Mere seconds later, he called back, and I braced myself for a tongue-lashing from the most famous tongue in rock ’n’ roll. Almost immediately, I began to offer my apologies.

“Not a problem at all. Don’t even waste your breath. It’s all good,” he said.

Confident that I’m back in his good graces, we begin talking about his upcoming appearance at Wizard World St. Louis, as well as his solo show at The Pageant. The St. Louis stop is one of only five dates on this solo tour, his first.

“We show up to the venue, set up some amps, and have some fun.”

Without the makeup and bombast of a modern-day KISS extravaganza, Simmons’ current solo tour puts the focus squarely on the music. Word on the street is he’ll be robbing audiences of their virgin souls with deep cuts like “Charisma,” “See You Tonite,” and “Plaster Caster.” “We play all the hits, some obscure stuff, even some R&B songs, from people like Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding,” he says. “Rock ’n’ roll came from black music, and brought us rockabilly, country, and soul. Even the Beatles covered Motown.”

The tour itself is collaboration with Wizard World Touring, and will not only feature a concert by Simmons in every city, but appearances at conventions during the day: to meet fans, take pictures, and sign autographs. Some folks are asking why Simmons would even be appearing at a Wizard World convention. Turns out, his love for comic books goes way back.

“I am a geek at heart, and KISS has been appearing in comics going back to’77 when we had our own book with Marvel. Since then, we’ve worked with Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and now our current series with Dynamite. We even have a team up with Astro-Boy coming out.”

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