Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Clean Gene And His Motley Crue

KISS superstar Gene Simmons is a drink- and drug-free zone.

Famously, he kicked guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss out of the band for rock and rolling every night and partying every day.
But Simmons had no such qualms when promoters pitched the double bill of Kiss and notorious alcohol and drug fiends Motley Crue.

In fairness, while frontman Vince Neill still drinks, the Crue have cleaned up their act.

Simmons says: "I always liked Motley Crue. Everybody's had some dysfunction and those guys are known for what's happened to them, the ups and downs. It's not unique.

"But you've got to draw the line in the sand. The stage is holy ground. This is church. When you get up there you've got to have respect for yourself, respect for your bandmates, but most importantly, respect for the fans."

Simmons' sobriety through 40 years of rock stardom is best viewed through Frehley's tell-all book published last year. Frehley took Simmons to lunch recently to tell him about a chapter in which Gene saved Ace's life.

"I saved his life a few times," Simmons deadpans. "I was curious about which time he meant."

Frehley told Simmons it was one night in South Carolina: "I was drunk and despite you telling me not to dive into the pool, I did it anyway and started to drown. Then you dove in after me, pulled me out, and saved my life."

Gene told Ace: "You are completely right, except for one thing. It didn't happen to you. It happened to Peter Criss. You were out cold next to me."

Simmons, 63, credits his teetotalling ways to his upbringing. Born Chaim Weitz in Israel, he is the only child of a Holocaust survivor.

"I've never been drunk or high in my life. And I continue to be not interested in it. It probably has to do with my mother. She had a really tough life. She was in concentration camps in Nazi Germany when she was 14 years old. I never thought I had the right to give her any grief. I never wanted to break her heart.

"There is nothing in drink or drugs that has vitamins, minerals, makes you smarter, or any body parts bigger. It's useless self-destructive stuff. It's the bane of civilisation."

Kiss, helmed by Simmons and singer Paul Stanley, celebrates its 40th year in 2013.

The band released a new album, Monster, last month. It debuted Top 3 around the world and got great reviews.

Simmons says: "We have to make sure when we write new songs it's not the faint shadow of some glorious distant past.

"The right here and right now has to be equally important as yesterday. You can't be a fading shooting star."

In Simmons' world, you can't be a faking pop star, either. He claims Madonna and Rihanna are lying to their fans about live performances.

"They sing great, they look great and they're fashionable. My only question is, why don't you have enough balls to get up on stage in front of your fans and tell them truthfully: 'Only half of what you're hearing is real. The other half is canned music, like a karaoke singer. We're lying to you.'

"What an insult," he spits.

"If you're going to charge $100 a ticket, at least have the decency to tell your fans that only half of the music they're hearing is live.

"Or get up on stage like great bands - AC/DC, Metallica, Kiss and very few others - and sweat your nuts off, with nobody backstage pushing buttons."