‘You wanna bite?’ Kiss’s legendary bassist Gene Simmons, leathery-faced without his iconic make-up, strides into a London hotel room with a takeaway baguette. When I decline, Simmons doesn’t skip a beat: ‘OK, how about the sandwich?’
It’s like being chatted up by Krusty The Clown. But 37 years after they originally formed in New York, Kiss haven’t lost their touch – and they’ve returned for their Sonic Boom Over Europe arena tour, named after their undeniably kick-ass 19th LP. Simmons veers intriguingly between outrageous flirt, entrepreneur and Rock School lecturer.
‘You have a moral duty as a rock star,’ he insists. ‘All these audiences work at jobs they dislike and spend their pay cheques on something they love: they wanna see Kiss. How f***ing dare any of us ruin that trust? So we introduce ourselves with: “You wanted the best, you got the best.” There’s a sense of pride.’
In the adjacent suite sits Kiss co-frontman and Sonic Boom producer Paul Stanley (the band’s current line-up, including guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, dates back around a decade); he’s more softly spoken than Simmons yet still given to explosive bravado. Both men are sharply intelligent, articulate and responsible for air-punching party anthems such as Detroit Rock City and Rock And Roll All Nite.