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KISS'S ARMY HAS USD DAY
"WE'VE BEEN REVILED, HATED BY anybody who writes about music," says Kiss cofounder Gene Simmons. "But for 20 years we've been stubborn and committed to our vision, even though it meant going totally against fashion. Perhaps that's why we've lasted." Despite the 10-inch platforms and Kabuki-from-hell makeup of the early days, Simmons, now 44, sees Kiss's longevity as a triumph of substance over style. And with a still-thriving worldwide following, 70 million albums sold and a 21st in the works, it's hard to dispute him.
The idea for the Kiss tribute came after Simmons heard artists as disparate as Garth Brooks and Soundgarden cite Kiss as a seminal influence. With band cofounder Paul Stanley, he approached musicians who had either covered their songs or expressed interest in working with them. "I gave them only three rules," says Simmons. "Pick your own song. Do it your way—no mimicking. And if two groups wound up cutting the same song, the one who came in first won." The only song Kiss agreed to play on was Garth's—"Basically because he begged," laughs Simmons.
He and Stanley pointedly titled the final 11 tracks Kiss My Ass. "It's a message to the Grammy people, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the critics we've outlasted," concludes Simmons. "The Kiss army has graduated, and we're now the rulers."
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