Billboard Bits: KissWorld, Merchant, Promise Ring

News on KissWorld, Merchant, Promise Ring

KissKiss' first official retail store, KissWorld, is holding a closing sale before it ever opened for business. The store, planned to open November 2004, was a joint venture between Kiss and Melbourne-based paper goods manufacturer World of Stars.

The 10,000 square meter Melbourne store was to stock merchandise relating to the band and other music, sports, movie and television personalities. It was to include a museum of stage outfits, a cinema to show unreleased Kiss footage, a cafe and a wall of fame.

The directors of KissWorld, Peter Hoffmann and Robert Manuele, said, "It is devastating to see the project coming to an end, not only in terms of the financial loss to us but also the energy and passion that has gone into it." Hoffmann and Manuele did not discuss reasons for the venture's failure.

The sale will be staged at a warehouse in the suburb of Hallam and online at between June 22 and July 17. Items on display included Kiss guitars and surfboards, as well as a giant mural intended for the exterior of the store.

-- Christie Eliezer, Sydney

MerchantNatalie Merchant is recording an undetermined number of new songs for forthcoming two-disc Warner Bros. compilation of her solo work. "The deadline is mid-July, so I should expect it to be released in the early fall," she writes on her
official Web site.

The artist is also designing the packaging for the set. In addition to such well-known songs as "Jealousy" and "Carnival," also expected are B-sides, live recordings and songs Merchant has contributed to various benefit albums over the years.

Since leaving the major-label world, the former 10,000 Maniacs singer has taken a low-key approach to career, releasing "The House Carpenter's Daughter" in 2003 on her own Myth America label and devoting her energies to motherhood. Beyond the month-long outing launched in support of that release, Merchant says she has no plans for hitting the road anytime soon. "Touring with a baby is a bit more complicated and exhausting (for everyone)," she writes on the site. "So I have to be realistic."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

PromiseFlower Booking's 15th anniversary concert series will feature the first performance by indie rock act the Promise Ring since the band's split in the fall of 2002. A spokesperson for the Chicago-based booking agency says the reunion is a one-off.

Jimmy Eat World, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Isis and Local H are among the other initial confirmations for the celebration, which will be held Nov. 8-13 at the Metro in Chicago. Organizers are hoping to raise $50,000 or more for P.L.A.Y. (Possibilities in Life: Art for Youth), a program for abused children in the Chicago's foster care system.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.