Nick Tweed-Simmons okay with reality-TV fame
How hard would it be to be Nick Tweed-Simmons, son of rock legend Gene Simmons and former Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed? Well, financially, it wouldn’t be hard at all. Anyone who’s seen the reality-TV show he costars in—Gene Simmons Family Jewels—knows that they’re doin’ all right in that mansion of theirs, with all those gold and platinum KISS albums on the walls.
But what about lifestyle-wise? You can have all the cash and music-biz trophies in the world, but not having a life of your own could take away from the enjoyment, you’d think. Fortunately for Tweed-Simmons—as he explains from the mansion on a call promoting an upcoming Richmond concert with his little sister Sophie—being on reality TV doesn’t necessarily mean having cameras in your face 24/7.
“It’s not all the time,” he points out. “We schedule days to shoot, and we tell them when we’re gonna do stuff together—it’s not when we go off and do our own thing. So actually we have a pretty good amount of privacy when it comes to day-to-day things.”
Once or twice Tweed-Simmons has slept in and woken up to cameras rolling, which the show’s producers feel just makes for good TV. “They think it’s funny ’cause I’m kind of a vampire,’’ he says, adding that there haven’t been many times when the intrusive aspects of the show have upset him.
“There’s a few things that I didn’t expect to happen,” he recalls, “in the later seasons, especially. In the beginning it wasn’t, in my opinion, the best representation of who we really are, but by the third season or so it was really getting to the core of who we are most of the time. So, yeah, it caught a lotta real shit.”
Tweed-Simmons’s life doesn’t entirely revolve around Family Jewels, which is now into its seventh season. The 23-year-old—who earned a B.A. in English lit last year—has done voice-over work for Robot Chicken and contributed a story for the comic-book anthology Gene Simmons House of Horrors. He also likes to sing whenever he can.
“I take a lotta odd jobs,” he says, “like this Canada gig, for example. The way I make a living is the show, obviously, but things like this I do around Hollywood—I sing at this place called the Sayers Club sometimes, and that’s my favourite place I think.”
The “Canada gig” came about after Nick and Sophie sang together at their parents’ wedding in Beverly Hills last October. Howard Blank of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation—which runs River Rock Casino Resort—was in attendance.
“Howard’s the mastermind behind this whole thing,” notes Tweed-Simmons. “He saw us sing and thought it would be a good thing to do, I guess. We’d never really thought about singing standards professionally until he suggested it.”
Nick ’n’ Sophie fans curious about what they sound like on-stage together can expect to hear a program of old standards like Dean Martin’s “Sway” and Etta James’s “At Last”.
“I’ve always been a Dino fan,” says Tweed-Simmons, “and who doesn’t like Etta James? Sophie and I have always been pretty steeped in oldies and big band, jazz, blues, and classic rock. Dad’s an audiophile, so he’s always exposing us to that stuff.”
Just don’t expect to hear any lounge versions of “Rock and Roll All Nite”, because the last thing Simmons Jr. wants to do is follow in his father’s musical footsteps.
“Not a chance in hell,” he says. “No. ’Cause I don’t think that’s what people really want to see. Liv Tyler didn’t start Aerosmith 2; she wanted to be an actress, and I’m gonna do something. You know, I’ll be getting my teaching degree eventually, and that’s what I’ll probably end up doing. I don’t feel like being a carbon copy or a sequel, honestly. Neither one of us are gonna wear facepaint when we do music.”
Nick and Sophie Tweed-Simmons play the River Rock Show Theatre on Friday (June 1).
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