SAXON's BIFF BYFORD On KISS Avatars: 'I Don't Think They Should Do It'
December 8, 2023
In a new interview with Barry Robinson of Classic Album Review, SAXON frontman Biff Byford was asked to weigh in on KISS's announcement that the legendary rockers will continue as digital avatars. The technology, originally developed for ABBA's "Voyage" show in London, will allow KISS to stay "on the road" in retirement.
Byford said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I don't think they should do it. I think it works for ABBA because ABBA's been defunct for years and years and years, and ABBA, they're a pop act; they're not rock. [But] if people wanna go see an avatar show of them, then fair enough.
"I've not seen the ABBA one," he continued. "I've been told that it's absolutely fantastic. But [it's cost] millions and millions to develop this thing. And they built their own theater. I don't know if KISS is gonna do that. I think it probably works better when it's in a place that's been sort of built and equipped for it rather than touring. Because I've seen some touring things with Ronnie, with [Ronnie James] Dio. It was all right, but it wasn't perfect. Wherever you were sat in the room, sometimes you wouldn't see [the hologram from the right angle]. It just wasn't perfect. But I suppose if you build a purpose-built theater for it and you can see all from every different seat and every different angle and it's all different… But I think it's a curiosity thing as well."
When Robinson raised the possibility of other artists, such as THE BEATLES and THE DOORS, getting their own avatar shows in the future, Biff said: "To do it properly, you have to have somebody that's… I mean, you don't have to have the original artist moving around [while hooked up to the motion capture technology that helps generate the avatars]. As far as ABBA goes, it was actually them that did all the moves, and they sort of just used that for the avatar. But I don't know. I really don't know. To tell you the truth, I don't really give a shit whether they do or they don't — BEATLES or KISS. I probably won't go. I might go see the ABBA one, if they invite me."
The KISS avatars were created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and were financed and produced by the Swedish company Pophouse Entertainment, which is behind "ABBA Voyage".
Unlike the "ABBA Voyage" show, which recreates a 1970s-era ABBA concert in a custom-built London arena, KISS's avatars that appeared at the band's final concert in New York earlier this month will not be as grounded in reality as ABBA's digital replicas. According to BBC News, the KISS avatars were eight feet tall, breathing fire and shooting electricity from their fingers, while floating above the audience.
No details have been announced yet for KISS's plan with the band's avatars. "We're going to figure it out after the tour," Pophouse CEO Per Sundin said prior to the final show at Madison Square Garden. "Is it a KISS concert in the future? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story, an adventure? These four individuals already have superpowers. We want to be as open as possible."
The avatars will now be available for live shows around the world and in digital online settings, which some people collectively refer to as the metaverse.
KISS will reportedly become the first American band to go fully virtual and stage its own avatar show.
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