Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fake Kiss, Blasphemy! and all us lucky KISS fans


As we head into "Kissmas in July" at the Decibel Geek Podcast, I wanted to speak up on something that has been bugging me for a while. Being a Kiss maniac myself, I have sat back and listened and watched all of the debates and discussions and even arguments on the whole Tommy and Eric issue. So here goes, let's open up a can of worms wearing Kiss makeup!

Kiss fans are a passionate bunch. We rally around and defend our favourite band at all cost. We defend their decisions and forgive their "mistakes". We put up with and even justify the sometimes outlandish marketing schemes. With that said, the Tommy and Eric divide is really an interesting battle that continues to rage between Kiss fans of all ages.

As a fan throughout the 80's, the band went through a number of personnel changes and although I loved the classic lineup, I was also just happy to have Kiss still around. I don't deny the chemistry of that original Paul, Gene, Peter and Ace lineup. Together they made musical magic, that was definitely recaptured briefly on the "reunion" tour. In my opinion, beyond that tour the cohesiveness of the original band started to once again crack and crumble.

So as happy as I am to have the memories of the amazing reunion tour as it was my chance to see the makeup and the original lineup. I also witnessed the "problems" that started to creep in on Psycho Circus and then into the "farewell" tour. At that time I was accepting that this was going to be the end of an incredible career. I mean 1973-2000?? It was truly an amazing career and the memories and the music would last me forever.

So when Paul and Gene decided to move ahead with Eric and Tommy, I wasn't surprised nor disappointed. If that's what it was going to take to still have a Kiss around than thumbs up, let's go! I didn't turn my back on them when Peter and Ace left the first time, I didn't turn my back on them through the revolving lineups in the 80's, nor did I turn my back when they reunited and left Eric and Bruce in the dust during the Carnival of Souls era.

I find it very interesting all the negative backlash thrown towards Eric and especially at Tommy. Bands change members all the time, in fact you would be hard pressed to name very many bands that have been around for 10 or 20 years with all the original members. Let alone almost 40 years!

I think the issue is more about the makeup than the players themselves. The superhero persona's of the band have created this almost mythical ideal. The fact that Tommy is wearing Ace's makeup and playing a Les Paul is considered blasphemy by many fans. Now what I also find interesting is how Eric (donning Peter's cat makeup) seems to get off easier in the negativity department. Possibly because he had already been accepted as part of the band without makeup.

Some people I have spoken to about this are fine with Eric and Tommy in the band but feel they should have "original" face paint. I can see that point but I truly doubt they could come up with something as strong as the cat and the spaceman. I think they were grasping when they came up with Vinnie's persona.

It also should be noted that when Peter and Ace left the band, Peter and Ace retained ownership of their makeup designs for a number of years after leaving. At that time they had to develop other makeup designs, legally they didn't have a choice in the matter or you might have seen Eric Carr as the Cat and Vinnie Vincent singing Shock Me!

Personally I accept any day we have with Kiss still a band a complete blessing. The fact that I was able to take my daughter to her first Kiss show on the Sonic Boom tour blows my mind. The fact that we get yet another album from them is a miracle. The fact that I get to take my nephew to his first Kiss concert this summer on the Tour is amazing!

So I will accept Eric as the Cat and I will accept Tommy as the Spaceman. The other thing to remember is, who is calling the shots here. Gene and Paul are in control, calling the shots and they have made the decisions to keep Kiss alive as they see fit. It might not please everyone, but if it's a choice between the band that just delivered "Hell or Hallelujah" and having no Kiss at all? I will choose Tommy and Eric, thank you very much because that new single is killer! So with that said, I will enjoy the time we have left with the world's most amazing band.


Anonymous said...

good post wallygator. i feel the same about the current lineup. i,as well, was able to take my daughter to see her first concert on the hottest band in the world phase of the sonic boom tour. i like the fact that kiss is being kept alive and we still get a chance to see them. with tommy and eric in the makeup it's ALMOST like seeing a classic kiss concert. i feel tommy and eric are in the place anyone in a trubite band or has put on the makeup is, but better, rather than immatate kiss they are apart of it.

Anonymous said...

Interest view....and one which is held by many. Best article I read on why they should call it quits was on this blog:

he said it better than I could

Jim S

Unknown said...

Everyone is entitled to an opinion and this article is one I myself would have been proud to write. Those against the changes have the right to feel that way, also. Arguments about it are both childish and will change nothing. Accept the change and enjoy the fact that KISS still can rock with the best of them after all these years.
Keep Rockin'
Ira Bostian
(Biddeford, Maine)

Anonymous said...

yeah , what Wallygator said about "...who is calling the shots here . " i agree with . NOBODY should be mad at Tommy or Eric SINGER for being in those particular KISS characters or Tommy playing a les paul because it's NOT their call . it's paul and gene's . and if you want to be mad at anybody in KISS be mad at paul and gene . half the time people forget to mention paul . NOTHING gets done that has to do with official KISS unless it is also approved by paul . i personally didn't mind KISS 3 ( 2003 ) or KISS 3.25 ( 2004 - 2008 ) but , FAKE KISS ( 2009 - present ) is going too far . once they did that studio album with yet another new lead guitar player and then just did another one with him also , they lost me as a fan . at this point in KISS' career there is ONLY ONE WAY they can redeem themselves to 67% of the fans and that is 5 ( five )Man KISS . Tommy would still be involved in 2 ways in the live form of KISS . if this plan is implemented , 94% of the fans will be SATISFIED . it's a win win situation for everybody . it's a page on fb . your like will bring the idea one step closer to paul and gene's boardroom . thank you .
sincerely , jason murphy phoenix, az age 34

Bill (KISS fan since 1978) said...

I spoke to Eric (via e-mail) about it back in 2001, when he first took over Peter's persona. He said, "Nice that some people see it all for what it is. Hey, I just play drums."

I look at this way. Remember another act that was on Casablanca with KISS? Remember the Village People? You had a cop, construction worker, GI, cowboy, Indian, and a leather man. Victor Willis left, and they brought in Ray Simpson (who sang backup on "Tomorrow and Tonight!!") as...not a firefighter, but, A COP. Randy Jones left. In came Jeff Olson. He wasn't a doctor with a stethoscope and white coat, he was a cowboy. I don't know who the current leather man is, but when the original, Glenn Hughes (NOT the Deep Purple guy!) was dying, he personally approved his replacement. They didn't make him a businessman in a 3-piece suit. Suppose Felipe Rose left, and the new guy was, I don't know...a magician in a top hat and cape. The Village People still perform. Someone feeling nostalgic about that era goes to the show, and there's no Indian. There's a magician. They're gonna react, "What the...? Where's the f-in' Indian?! How can you have a Village People without the Indian?! What the hell is that? What is this sh--?" Same thing. How can you have a KISS without the Catman or Spaceman? Those are the characters you identify with KISS; that's what people want to see. Even now, Gene and Paul admit Eric Carr should have been the Catman.

For the record, Tommy was playing a Les Paul when he was with Black 'N Blue. Look at some of the old pics. And someone explain to me how Jason Murphy arrived at the figure of 94%.

Anonymous said...

I use to be hung up over the whole makeup issue. When KISS were on their Farewell tour, I was ready for the band to retire back then because the band looked so sluggish. They lacked any real enthusiasm and some of the members like Ace and Peter looked completely worn out behind that makeup. But it was the original members and I catered to that thought quite a bit. And when Tommy and Eric initially took over, I would have none of it. The band looked ridiculous in my eyes. Around that point, Paul started having his vocal issues and the band looked to be in complete denial. I never thought much of Sonic Boom when that came out, so new music didn't help either. But when Monster came out, I sat back and heard a sound I hadn't heard in a while and I really liked it. But I was still bothered by the makeup. I felt like I was being put on, insulted, and played to be a sucker. Then the thought came to me one day... "Wait a minute. The majority of KISS' career has been a play." Remember when in the 70's we were led to believe KISS was hiding in their makeup and the media could never get a photo? A lie. The media was in cahoots the whole time. Remember how we always thought Alive was the best recorded concert ever? A lie. Most of it was created in the studio. Remember how classic we thought Ace's solo sounded on Detroit Rock City? Something that made a generation of guitars players pick up the instrument? A lie. Bob Kulick played it. Remember Ace on the cover of Creatures and what a great sounding album that was? A lie. Ace never played on it once. Where was Peter on Unmasked? He wasn't there at all.Did the four solo albums truly all sell platinum? Nope. Not even close. They all collectively sold about the same as one good KISS record. And when the excess albums were returned, it nearly sunk Polygram when they took the band over in the early 80's. So we have a whole history of the supposed "integrity" of "classic" KISS being violated at every turn. The most iconic moments for this band have often been fabricated. So why are we up in arms over something as superficial as the makeup? Are we still buying that old line from the 70's that it was "An extension of their personalities?" Are we so blind as to not see it has always been about the show and these one liners have been the thin veil of marketing used to make it seem like it was meant to be more? So I think to be upset about someone else wearing the makeup is to continue holding on to these old notions of the past that were no more valid than the other ideas we were baited and sold on. We've been looking for integrity where there isn't any. This band has always been about the show. The spider stage is a great design if you haven;t seen it. And while Paul's vocals are not what they use to be, they have reached a plateau where they sound better these days. It's a fun show again. And the makeup is just a tool in that entire process. So why not enjoy it? There's no hidden novel to KISS. It's been right in our face the whole time. It's a show. So for myself, I just enjoy it for what it is. Because when Paul and Gene finally step off that stage (or collapse off it) no band like them will likely come again. Of course that's probably a line too. (;

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