Published September 17, 2013
Legendary KISS founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have collaborated on the memoir ‘Nothin’ To Lose,’ an oral history of their rock band’s genesis. “It’s an overview of the band,” explained Stanley. “How it came about from its inception, almost from the time the sperm fertilized the egg really.” Indeed. FOX411 spoke to both Stanley and Simmons about the book, their football plans, and what went wrong with original KISS members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.
FOX411: Ace Frehley and Peter Criss both have memoirs out that paint pretty harsh portraits of both of you. Was that upsetting?
Simmons: Ace took me to lunch before his book came out and he read me a chapter about how he almost drowned in a pool and I saved him by diving in and pulling him out. He asked if it was accurate. I said, '95 percent of it was accurate, except it wasn't you; it was Peter Criss who was drowning. You've been a f**king drug addict all of your life. Both Peter and Ace were at one point pure, innocent, believed all for one, one for all, and then they succumbed to the clichés of rock. So neither Ace nor Peter were fully conscious when any of those things happened. It's up to you if you want to believe them. We wish them the best, but those books, to my estimation, they're closer to fiction.
Stanley: The fact remains from what I've seen of those books, they clearly still see themselves as victims, and when you can't take responsibility for your situation, you blame others. The proof is what they have done outside of the band and it amounts to a big zero. I would say nothing if they had not said something first. I certainly wish them well and you can't help but believe that they're incredibly envious of the success we've had without them, which was part of the problem in the first place. If somebody thinks they're irreplaceable they're either completely deluded, stupid, or intoxicated. In their case they abused their position in the band under the assumption that they were then only people who could do what they do, and here we are 40 years later playing arenas and venturing into areas most other bands would find impossible, like having an AFL football team, the first new football team in L.A. in decades, LAKISS, which will play in Anaheim.
FOX411: It's kind of amazing that both of you never got caught up in drugs or drinking.
Stanley: I've never had any aversion to a good bottle of wine, but certainly moderation and common sense tells you what to stay away from. If somebody said to me, 'Hey, here's something that will make you impotent, lose your teeth and get hepatitis,' you'd have to be an idiot to say, 'Sign me up.' People who get involved in drugs have problems that are so deep seated that fame will not cure it. If anything, it will only take it to another level. It'll exacerbate everything that's bad.
Simmons: The real idea is, if you're serious about life and consider every 24 hours as if they're the only 24 hours of any day that you'll have, you'll get up and you'll work hard no matter how much money you have, you'll respect yourself, your other band mates and your fans. If you're remiss in doing any of that stuff, you get to get exactly what you want out of life. You get to sleep in the bed you make, there's just no other way to think about that.
FOX411: You're doing great now, but the band lost money for quite a while.
Stanley: It goes back to victories are not necessarily won by individuals. It's a team, or an army. In this case KISS Army started early, people believing in us perhaps as much as we did, who were willing to make any sacrifice to keep the band going. We had a manager that was willing to put a quarter of a million dollars on a credit card to keep the band going, and he didn't have a quarter of a million dollars to pay it off. It all goes back to the idea of surrounding yourself with people who believe like you do.
FOX411: You guys had a lot of groupies.
Stanley: It was exhilarating. It certainly took some getting used to, but I'm a quick study. To go from being an unpopular, chubby little kid who was chasing girls and couldn't seem to catch them, to being chased after and making sure I ran slow enough that I did get caught, it was 180 degree turn. It was being given the keys to the candy store.
Simmons: Let's just say that the male of the species should feel blessed if the female of the species allows him to come near enough to her. Just one would be heaven, everything else is cream.
FOX411: Can we say you've had a whole lot of cream?
Simmons: Yes ma'am.
FOX411: Is there any licensing idea you've said no to?
Simmons: Long ago we decided not to listen to people who weren't qualified to make any rules. The people who write for a living aren't even journalists, they still live in their mother's basement, their faces are still pockmarked and girls still won't pay them attention. We decided to make our own rules. One of them was, we're going to have a great time and be spectacular and do all kinds of things that have no precedent. Toys and games, we love them! From our perspective, it's a KISS world, you're just living in it.
Stanley: In terms of merchandise you can't force anyone to buy something. All we've done is given the fans what they want. The only thing we can take credit for is acute hearing. We also don't put out anything we have moral issues with. We've had opportunities to be sponsored by cigarette companies and have always turned that down no matter how much money was involved.