June 6, 2004

On the eve of the release of his long-awaited new solo album, "Asshole", KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons spoke to Billboard magazine about the group's impressive legacy. The following are some of the highlights of that interview:

Billboard: How do you respond to people who say the band isn't really Kiss unless it consists of the original members: you, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss?

Gene Simmons: "I used to believe that."

"Any rules we have for the band are rules we decide for ourselves. There are lots of bands that have lost members who people might have thought were irreplaceable, but the bands got replacements and the bands got bigger: AC/DC, VAN HALEN, THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO.

"I love Ace, Peter and Paul. They helped me get to where I am. I hate myself for not standing up to Ace and Peter sooner when they were destroying themselves."

Billboard: Last year, Ace Frehley told that it was deceptive of you and Paul Stanley to tour as Kiss without him. He asserted at the time that he was "into a health kick" and fit to play. What would you say to Ace right now?

Gene Simmons: "I hope you're happy, but you're not allowed to be in the band. There's no way we'd let you onstage and subject people to your erratic behavior. It doesn't matter if you're an original member. If you mess up, you're an ex-member. And that goes for me, too."

Billboard: Why didn't you assume the management of Kiss?

Gene Simmons: "Paul has a lot to do with KISS' ideas. He's one of the best frontmen ever. There's a friendly, brotherly rivalry with us. If one of us goes a little too far, the other one wants to pull him back. So if I'm managing the band, where does that leave Paul? The thing that keeps this band going is the continuing and abiding respect that Paul and I have for each other."

Billboard: If Paul Stanley wrote his autobiography, what do you think he would say about you?

Gene Simmons: "He would say that I'm a workaholic and that I've got the biggest ego he's ever met. And I think he'd say, and rightfully so, that I get a lot of credit for ideas he came up with."

Billboard: Can you give some examples?

Gene Simmons: "I didn't think of the name of the band. Paul did. I didn't design the KISS logo. Ace did, and then Paul actually drew the original version, which is used today."

Read Gene Simmons' entire interview with Billboard at this location.

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