Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Monstrous Response


For the past 24 hours there’s been a firestorm of emotion amongst the ranks of the KISS Army. Fans are ‘Shouting Out Loud’ and taking to facebook, twitter, and various message boards to express themselves.

Unfortunately, this is not the KISS Army you are used to. Yes, the ragtag group of fans (myself included) that have stood by and defended Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and company have truly had it ‘up to here’ with the greasepainted superheroes due to the recent announcement of the pricing for their newest piece of merchandise, the Monster photo book.

KISS has been teasing this book for the past couple of months by showing photos of some of the pages being reviewed for approval. It was clear that this book was going to be of mammoth proportions but no one could have predicted that the price would surpass it.

Speculation abounded on KISS fan message boards and facebook groups about what the price of this monstrosity would be as well as what practical purpose it served. Speaking as a KISS nerd myself, I love books about KISS and the band’s visual appeal is a no-brainer for a cool photo book but the reality among many KISS fans is that we would much rather have a book that includes more talk and less visual sizzle. I, personally, had been much more excited for the release of  Nothin’ to Lose; a book that veteran KISS biographer Ken Sharp had been putting together with the band but that book appears to have been shelved as it now has a release date on Amazon of July 14th…..2014. So, Monster is what we get.

And what do we get with Monster? According to the official website ( , you get a book that is three feet tall and two and half feet wide. The book has been rumored to weigh in the neighborhood of 50-70 pounds but I can’t seem to find anything set in stone but suffice it to say, if your wife doesn’t kill you for purchasing this product, you’ll certainly get a hernia from trying to lift it.

I’ve purposely avoided mentioning what the price is for this forest-killer in order to give you a few minutes to laugh before going into cardiac arrest. Go ahead, get your affairs in order and tell your wife and kids goodbye because you’re about to go ‘one step beyond’ when I tell you what KISS expects you to pay for a love seat-sized book of concert photographs………..$4299.00!

No, I did not misplace a decimal. Gene, Paul (and their accountants) want you to get out the proverbial KY Jelly and grease up for a Demon/Starchild fleecing. But wait! There’s a special Pre-Launch price of $3499.00. And did I mention Free Shipping? That should make all the difference right? Wrong.

If you’re still alive to read this, I want to tell you that us KISS fans are a forgiving bunch. We will be willing to let KISS be KISS in the marketing world as they trot out one ridiculous trademarked piece of merchandise after another and vote with our wallets to not support such things. In fact, the vast majority of the stuff that KISS put out is not anything that I would personally buy but I (and many others) have no problem with them fulfilling the wishes of the fans that DO enjoy that stuff.  But who wished for this book?

Here’s my conspiracy theory *puts on Jesse Ventura mask*. A few years ago Gene Simmons started showing up on talk shows and in newspapers hawking the newest piece of Kissobilia; the KISS Kasket. This bed for the dead was emblazoned with KISS logo and photos of the group in makeup. Simmons harped on about how it was not a morbid purchase as it was water-tight and could be used as a KISS Kooler to keep your beverages cold while you are still above ground.

This had all the trappings of a classic publicity stunt and, while it was a real item (the band released an updated version last year and Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was buried in one of the originals), I don’t think KISS actually expected any wide-raging sales from the item. It boiled down to a convenient way for KISS to get their name out there during a time when a new album was years away and they were in the middle of a ho-hum (in the media’s eyes; not mine) touring cycle that saw them running purely off of nostalgia.

Is history repeating itself? Could Gene, Paul, and the rest of the gang be banking on this massive book getting enough media attention to help draw more eyes and ears to their upcoming tour with Motley Crue and, later in the year, the Monster album release? Well, if that’s the case they have finally bitten off more than they can chew with the fans.

KISS fans no doubt were embarrassed by the whole Kasket ordeal but we laughed it off as a gimmick and, really, how many of us ever seriously considered buying one of those things?

But the Monster book is a different beast altogether. This is a KISS product that is directly related to what they do best; provide the most amazing stage show in all of rock and roll (at least they used to). A giant book filled with tons of photos of the bands full career certainly piqued the interest of many of us and it has nothing to do with any tie-ins to Family Guy or Hello Kitty. But what about the price?

Fans have been speculating for the past few weeks about what this cool new book was going to cost. A poll was even set up on popular KISS fan site Among the hundreds of votes, the most popular guess seemed to be in the $500-600 neighborhood; an astounding price for a photo book but nothing too shocking for a KISS fan.  But $4299.00?

I almost forgot to mention that KISS is also offering ten different versions of the book featuring flags of ten different countries. While this seems like a nod to some of the bands biggest supporters from around the globe, it reeks to this writer of some very rich and famous opportunists targeting the completist collectors that have to have everything. It feels like the equivalent of a crack dealer offering different variants of dope to a junkie.

Since the price of this product has been released, KISS fans have spoken loud and clear and it appears that the feedback is negative across the board. The devoted soldiers in the KISS Army, for the most part, are truly outraged at what they feel is a slap in the face to their fandom.

One KISS fan on the KISSFAQ board responded sarcastically by asking “Should I buy the plain cover, the American cover, punch myself in the abdomen, or buy the UK cover?”

Another die-hard on the KISSFAQ board eloquently stated, “I’m a rose colored glasses-wearin(g) sheep but that’s frickin insane. The first 3 cars I owned didn’t cost me that much. I think I’ll pass.”

A fellow KISS fan friend of mine on facebook stated in a status update, "KISS says..."We hear and we obey"...Finally they have listened...I have been wanting a 7 foot book that weighs 300 pounds and costs as much as 17 payments on my Kia. KISS nailed it exactly!" While there is some exaggeration going on there, you get the point.

Having the media poke fun at you but still giving you enough press to sell a few extra tickets to casual rock fans may be an acceptable practice in the world of KISS Inc. Scaling the heights of ridiculousness like they have this week may have done some long-term damage with their diehards though.

As I said before, many hardcore fans (myself included) can look the other way while our costumed crusaders pad their bank account as long as we get some great music and fun concerts in exchange. That's really all that they owe us. But, in truth, I wonder if they care much at all about those of us that have been supportive of the band through different eras, different members, and drastically changing circumstances (including death). Or, are we just wallets with a pulse?

I can only hope that the upcoming Monster album release will take away some of the cynicism. Until then, don't forget to balance your checkbook guys.

- Chris Czynszak

Kiss Monster Book Promo from flawless media on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

Well written.
And what a crappy promo video.
Produced, filmed and edited by Keith Leroux?

Anonymous said...

Good luck with this negative story on Gene and Paul. If they get wind of this story - they will turn their back's on you. And that sucks.

Anonymous said...

The best KISS tribute band in the world wants a quarter of a million bucks for a huge,useless paperweight???????? Like I said earlier today,as long as VIP packages sell & cruises sell out,there will be more crap pushed our way..And the tie in with Monster Energy Drink is gonna kill the sales of the new album when it finally does arrive.... Or is it just a coincidence that the cans logo & the album logo are exactly the same????????????

Anonymous said...

If people weren't buying, they wouldn't put the time into this stuff.
I am a diehard fan, always have been through every phase of their career,
but even if this was a few hundred dollars, I would rather spend it 100 other ways. Paul can't roll his eyes and blame Gene for this one. Looks like he was fully complicit. It's just a ridiculous product at a ridiculous price. I am just looking forward to a kick-ass album and tour.
That Monster logo IS very derivative of the energy drink logo though, as the last person mentions. I would have hoped for something more original.

Anonymous said...

The best, and most well reasoned. article I have read in years on KISS. I have been saying this for ages now, that all the fans are to them these days is walking $$$ bills. They could care less about who stood by them when most 'fans' turned their backs on them.

When all we get in 12 years is one album yet a barrage of rubbish merch and they pretty much did the same tour for 10 years they have stretched the loyalty of fans for too long. But this book is just a complete joke.

Anyone who forks out for this a total and utter idiot.

Anonymous said...

What an idiotic observation this article is. If you don't want it, don't buy it. Kiss are not obliged to put out anything at all - or in debt to you in any way.

Anonymous said...

A great and fair article. This Monster book price is absolutely CRAZY! You could buy some very cool things for 4000.00$ But a picture book that you need a wheel barrel just to move it with? Pics mostly of the new Kiss line up? The One main thing here is, delivery maybe free? But,what would customs will charge you in Taxes on Four Thousand Dollars?

Chris said...

To those of you that enjoyed the article, I thank you and am glad that it was informative and appreciate the comments.

To the person that said that KISS is not obliged to put anything out and is not in debt to me, well I'll be sure to file that in the "duh" section of my personal library. As is clear in the article, I (and many others) can decide to vote with our wallets but I was pointing out how many fans feel slighted by the exorbitant price of the book and it was a bit surprising to me because it's been a while since the fan base was so galvanized by their dislike of this item being produced by the KISS marketing machine that I thought it warranted a commentary.

To the person that seems "in the know" threatening Gene and Paul finding out about my article. I don't know if you are actually someone with the band or someone with ties to the band but I find it insulting to think that Gene and Paul are suddenly viewed as beyond criticism and they somehow hold some sort of power over a blog post by a guy that is a hardcore fan and has repeatedly given the band free publicity on his podcast. We regularly defend/promote KISS on the podcast as well as this site but we're not going to put on blinders and accept everything they say and do as unicorns and rainbows.

Gene Simmons himself is famous for a quote that goes something like "When a critic speaks, it means nothing. He's being paid for his opinion. But when a fan is talking, the heart speaks. I listen." Until I'm drawing a paycheck from my site or show, I'll always consider myself a fan and I will continue to be a fan as long as KISS is around; no matter what products they put out with whatever ridiculous price. I'll be happy to purchase the Monster album when it comes out and plan to see them in concert on the new tour. While I'd love to have the band on my show and shoot the breeze, I'm not holding my breath and am happy to be a fan that still loves them; but also has the right to make observations.

Anonymous said...

Today's KISS ranks their most devoted fans, not by who goes to the most shows or who devotes rooms in their home to KISS memorabilia. No they rank their "best" fans by which well-to-do fans can travel to the most shows and pay for their entire family and nanny even to do a Meet and Greet. The fan who can afford $5,000 worth of art and place each piece in each floor of their mansion. The fan who can afford to buy a smashed guitar BEFORE the concert. Purchase a $6,000 guitar too. If you can meet this criteria you are a great fan by their standard. If you can't then.... oh well. These seem like desperate moves by a band who probably thinks their better days have passed. Milk it for all you got because we don't have much left in the tank.

Anonymous said...

Well, If KISS has millions of fans around the world, for sure will be a couple thousand buying this awesome book, perhaps this one is as stravagant as the KISS coffin but there is people who will enjoy having it, I am a big KISS collector and I have spent much more than $4,000.00 in KISS stuff thru the years, I wish some day I can buy this book, I have to start saving money now, for the people can pay the price they won´t be dessapointed, wait for the reviews..
KISS is just releasing a product that you can choose to buy or not, but you can not deny that is a great piece of KISS memorabilia.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with this article, Chris Czynszak spoke the truth about the book.

I've been a KISS fan since 1997 and, until those days (through ups and downs with the band), I have never seen a large amount of fans complaining about the same thing (some still complain about the current line-up or about merchandise, but there are others who are still there supporting the band)!

So, who's right this time? Them or us? Of course, WE are right.

This book may be awesome, but it's a slap in the face of at least 95% of the KISS Army - amazing people with ordinary bank accounts and salaries that can't afford buying this book.

If they really listen to their fans, they should listen to us this time: it's way too much.

Anonymous said...

No surprise here. The Kiss corporation will keep offering ridiculous junk at ridiculous prices as long as geeky adults will try aimlessly to recapture a memory that wasn't very good to begin with. Ebay is full of post 80's Kiss collections that have no value. Dry this book off the lot and depreciates by 90%. Paul said it best when he stated that you could put a few books together and build a house. Maybe this how parents can get their 40+ year old children to move out of there house. 10k is a decent price to chase out dead beat children like Fifi Larue.

Anonymous said...

You are so right! This is a well written observation of the band's turn toward the more monied "fan". Having been a devoted fan since the 70's, it makes me sad to have watched KISS pander to those who spend the most money on their merchandise. I remember the days when Paul handed his broken guitar offstage for free. Few working class fans can afford the meet & greets, cruises, guitars, or even VIP passes at conventions. But as long a SOMEONE can afford this stuff, they'll sell it. It doesn't help the cause for the sheep to defend them in this endeavour, either. It has been very obvious in the past few days that a lot of devoted fans are offended. And if the band does indeed read this, then maybe their eyes will be opened, or they just won't give a damn, which is what I suspect.

Anonymous said...

A band's success or failure lies entirely in their fanbase. They owe everything to the people who made them.

Anonymous said...

What are they gonna do? Make him buy a book?

Alan B. said...

I think the original blog posting was well-written and worth the read. And, while I agree that the book is way out of the financial range of the vast majority of the KISS Army, I do think they have the right to put it out -- just as we have the right to decide whether to but it or not. As for me, even though I can afford it, I'm voting with my dollar and have decided to not purchase the book. Having said that, this book is a limited edition run of 1,000 and I speculate there will be more than enough well-to-do fans who will purchase the book. It's basic economics of supply and demand.

As for those who are outraged, I'm actually surprised by your reaction. It's no secret KISS has always believed in "brand" over "band." They've said so themselves -- many, many times. KISS has always been about marketing or else there would have never been any make-up. As I said earlier, vote with your dollar. Nobody is forcing any of us to buy this book...or guitar...or cruise...or coffin....or T-shirt...or CD, for that matter. Once the demand becomes non-existent, the issue naturally resolves itself. But, as long as the demand is there, the business that is KISS would be foolish not to pursue money-making opportunities, irregardless of whether some of us like it or not.

In closing, thanks for the insightful article, Chris. I wish others had the courage to attach their names to their comments.

Anonymous said...


Don't buy it. I'm not.
You don't have to own every piece of KISS stuff out there.
There is no law saying you are entitled to every little thing out there. There are all kinds of KISS stuff out there at various price points.

Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful thing when a so called "over the hill tribute band" can still piss people off over 35 years into their career.It's a gimmick guys....get over it> Pre-promotion for an upcoming album i'm sure we're either gonna either love or whine about. Kiss is Kiss, and will aLWAYS be Kiss. Fans were bitching about the solo album thang....back in 78. Yes it was crazy. And never been done before EVER. Now who's mom n dad are gonna fork out 40 bucks on 4 kiss albums all released the same day? Flash forward many years later....your all still talking and bitching and whining about these clowns> You know what? Mission accomplished.

robert said...

i don't like the price of the book either but i must say the monster book epitomises kiss, it's big, it's bold, it's over the top. recently i listened to a podcast by stuff you missed in history class on autoban's natural history book. it was 3x5 about 150 pounds and cost $1,500 in 1800's money. only about 120 sold most of them are in musieums or libarys, take 3 people to carry them and 3 to turn the pages. if you were to find one some where it would be worth about $8 million (something to think about for the future) due to their rarety.

Anonymous said...

How this book could be worth the $4000 price tag: Paul and Gene deliver it to your home and spend the weekend reading it with you, followed by a reunion concert where Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter play all your favorite KISS songs as specifically requested by you. Peter does an oil change on your car, Ace babysits your kids and plays Monopoly with them. Gene has his accountant go over your taxes for the past 8 years and finds that the IRS owes you money. Paul co-writes a Broadway play with you and signs over any licensing, performing and publishing rights to you. Peter cooks you and your family an excellent Italian meal and pays for the cost of the food. Ace orders pizza for the whole family and tips the delivery guy too. The band apologizes for all of the second rate songs they have ever included on their albums and personally autograph 500 albums for you to sell on eBay. They thank you for your hospitality and autograph your book and weeks later provide you with a 12 DVD set of your entire weekend.

ballseydog76 said...

I have always been able to enjoy the KISS marketing machine with a grain of salt. Being honest here, I have not been to a KISS show since the Farewell Tour. I was trying to muster up the get up and go to bury the hatchet with the current state of the band. While coming home from my recent vacation I checked out a KISS site and was in shock! I remember getting KISSTORY 1 as a gift from my dad who was never a huge fan but has always supported me in my love of music. KISS in my opinion has always been the greatest tribute to early Rock N Roll. I was almost prepared to pay a $500 price tag! 4,299!!! Ahh, I want the "American Dream too, a house! $immon$ & Stanley you want your army to have dreams dashed by a bleeping book. How many gold bars are in this thing? It's only Rock N' Roll and my buck won't buy this book- Kiss this Kiss Inc-

Anonymous said...

For chrissakes, they're only printing 1,000 of these so if you don't want it, don't buy it. Besides, if you don't think there's a smaller version of this book coming out down the line then there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you...

Unknown said...

I just had a chance to go see the show with Motley Crue this weekend but said screw that after I saw what they were asking for front stage seats. It was like $1200 so I said screw it I seen almost exactly 1 year ago to the date and was willing to pay the reasonable price for tickets back then but was informed that I couldn't trade in my tickets on the day of a a show so, I went with my tickets that were near the back of the stadium. In case KISS forgot there aren't any bad seats with the size show they put on so front row is nice but there isn't a bad seat in the house. Now they think I'll pay $4,000 for a book. besides I was right near the sound board so when Paul Stanley came to the crowd to play "I was made for loving you" I launched my superman shirt up at him and it landed right on his guitar (perfect shot). I'm officially part of KISS-story so if your nuts enough to buy the book post if you see a picture of Paul with my tee across his guitar!!!!!!!!

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