Exclusive: Gene Simmons Heads to Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp, Talks KISS Album
'I'm Gonna Be the Drill Sergeant,' Rocker Says
Kiss' Gene Simmons is prepping the whip for his role mentoring the next batch of Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp attendees.
"I intend to be a hard taskmaster," Simmons, who joins the camp Oct. 10-14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, tells Billboard.com. "The guy you hate the most when you go off into war is your drill sergeant, and he's the guy you love the most when you get on the battlefield and all that hard work he put you through saves your life, or at least made you a better soldier. So I'm gonna be the drill sergeant and take these guys through it. They may not be able to perform in an arena, play in the band of their dreams or become big rock stars, but they'll certainly be able to step up on their local stages everywhere and be 10 times the performer they were before."
Simmons also notes that he's "going to be insulting some people, because in the real world when you get up on stage, sometimes the audience will insult you. All they're doing is telling you how they really feel -- 'Aw, you suck!' "
Simmons will be joined at the fall camp by Black Label Society leader Zakk Wylde, former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach and Vince Neil of Motley Crue, which will be touring with Kiss during the summer, wrapping up Sept. 23. Simmons says most of his lessons will be pragmatic -- "Less about celebrity and more like, 'OK, here it is,' " he notes -- teaching the campers to "know about your instrument and know how to play," develop some sense and appreciation for the business side of music and know that "you'll be judged by not only how you sound but also how you look, how you dress, how you talk, what you say. I really want to treat this seriously." Details about the fall camp are available at www.rockcamp.com .
Simmons' camp gig will come after a serious summer for Kiss that will see not only the tour with Motley Crue but also the July release of the group's 20th studio album, "Monster." The follow-up to 2009's "Sonic Boom" is again produced by the band's Paul Stanley and is, in Simmons' words, "either the best or one of the top three records we've ever done. It's like 'Revenge' meets 'Destroyer' -- just guitar and drums, nothing else. No keyboards, no little boys' choir, no strings, no nothing. Band-written; literally we'd get in and strum guitars like the old days." Co-produced, like "Sonic Boom," by Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley, "Monster" "was written very fast," according to Simmons and includes at least one track, "Are You Ready?," that he describes as "an old song that was torn apart and re-written."
"Monster" will be accompanied by a "monstrous book" of the same name, an over-sized art book that Simmons says "should weigh 100 pounds or more" and come with its own stand. "It's something you can't put on your coffee table, 'cause it'll crush it. It IS the coffee table." The book will include paintings, drawings, photos and other impressions by various artists, inspired by Kiss. The group will also be rolling out a new 10-hour DVD this year, a Kiss golf course in New York, a series of comic books and a product line in conjunction with Hello Kitty that will include "everything from back to school items to bed sheets, bedspreads, you name it." And its Kiss Kruise takes launches Oct. 31 form Miami.
On the horizon, meanwhile, is the 40th anniversary of Kiss' formation in 2013 and of the release of its first album 2014. Simmons says "there are a lot of plans" to celebrate both. "Let's just say it's going to be a two-year long tour," with details still to come.