KISS's deal with Satan still paying dividends

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      Despite steadfast denials from the band, rumours have persisted for decades that KISS is actually a secret acronym for something. And no, Klowns Inarguably Sucking Shit isn’t one of them, even though that’s a pretty good guess, considering the greasepainted tycoons from New York have basically done just that for the bulk of their career.

      The two most popular theories are that KISS stands for either Knights in Satan’s Service or Keep It Simple Stupid. A smarter-than-average person would wager the band’s lucrative merchandising rights on the latter. After all, the group’s two mainstays, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, have indeed kept things at a level of intelligence carefully designed not to confuse the average cretin—which is to say, everyone who ever willingly enlisted in the KISS Army. There’s nothing wrong with that. The hilarious reality is that there will always be those among us whose main ambition in life is to give’r like Terry and Dean from FUBAR. And really, is there any finer anthem for shotgunning that first Kokanee tallboy than KISS’s 1975 lowest-common-denominator breakthrough, “Rock and Roll All Nite”?

      As for Knights in Satan’s Service, well, it’s there that someone might actually be onto something.

      Considering that KISS remains huge despite not having made a decent record since Gerald Ford was sitting in the White House, the band obviously signed a long-term deal with the devil.

      As anyone who’s been mentally scarred by his leaked sex tape will confirm, Simmons wasn’t exactly blessed with a Coney Island Wife Tamerâ„¢ in the twanger department, but compensating for that is one of the biggest brains in the rock ’n’ roll industry. Ironically, though, given the fire-breathing, blood-spewing bassist’s legendary smarts, KISS has made no shortage of stupid career moves over the years. Topping the list early on might be the decision to move into movies with 1978’s KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, a feature film so righteously savaged, it made Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band starring the Bee Gees seem like The Last Waltz.

      There was the 1981 Dungeons & Dragons–inspired disaster Music From “The Elder”, without which Spinal Tap might never have dreamed up “Stonehenge”. There was the decision to finally get rid of the makeup in 1983, a move that was nothing short of hideous, mostly due to the fact that Simmons is, well, hideous. (Dude, if we weren’t willing to “lick it up” before you removed the greasepaint, we sure as hell weren’t afterward.)

      There was the 1989 power ballad “Forever”, egregious for no other reason than the band that once sold itself as evil incarnate actually collaborated with Michael Bolton. And let’s not even get into the way that KISS has happily watered down its own brand by hawking its wares to anyone with a functioning TV camera. The Mike Douglas Show and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special might have been understandable, but seriously, would Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, or AC/DC ever have consented to an appearance on Kids Are People Too!?

      What’s craziest about KISS, though, is that it’s still filling hockey rinks even when no one can name a post-’76 song that anyone actually gives a shit about. (Sorry, “Domino” doesn’t count; the only thing that made that minor hit halfway decent was the way Simmons kept a straight face while delivering the fabulously progressive line “That bitch bends over, and I forget my name/Owwwwwww.”)

      The band’s endurance is explained entirely by nostalgia; if a KISS lunch box was your most prized elementary-school possession from 1976 to 1979, why wouldn’t you want to hobble down memory lane with Simmons, Stanley, and whatever two sad sacks they’re letting dress up as the Spaceman and the Catman on their current tour?

      That’s right, KISS hasn’t even been KISS Classicâ„¢ since the middle part of the last decade, which marked the last time the definitive lineup played together, briefly quashing old beefs for a lucrative cash grab. Sure, they still sucked shit, but somehow that did little to stop Satan from smirking.

      KISS plays GM Place on Saturday (November 14).



      Jim Hayes

      Nov 12, 2009 at 5:53am

      You are 100% wrong...I love the original KISS but just saw this lineup a week ago and they were incredible...this is the most musically talented lineup ever. A local critic here said he had to do the unthinkable and admit that the band is actually very talented musically with the additions of Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer.


      Nov 12, 2009 at 7:22am

      Good one, dude. Ya totally nailed it.


      Nov 12, 2009 at 10:01am

      KISS' not KISS'S

      sa tan

      Nov 12, 2009 at 10:11am

      well, mike, you are, as ever, right.

      kiss does suck.

      but they did not always suck, even when they did.

      when they did/didn't suck, back in the early/mid 70s, theyruled.

      at least to pubescent boys and, thank fucking god, pubescent girls, who got thrilled to spill enough by kiss's bubblegum metal to be thrilled enough to help their pubescent boyfriends thrilled enough to spill.

      if you know what i mean.

      and i know you do.

      wha hahaha



      Nov 12, 2009 at 10:31am

      OK, we get it. You don't like KISS. You've also been reviewing music long enough to know that anyone interested enough to read all the way through your little projectile-vomiting-disguised-as-journalism is either going to a) disagree with your assessment (call 'em cretins if you like; I'm just sayin') or b) savour the suck, even if only in an ironic fashion. And if Jim Hayes' comment above has any truth to it, clearly you haven't even bothered to follow up your subject in any way. Laaaaaame.

      Crazy Ivan

      Nov 12, 2009 at 10:59am

      And your point is? I bet you have a man-crush on Paul.


      Nov 12, 2009 at 11:00am

      Saw Kiss in November 1979 in Van and was embarrassed at that time to be in the audience.
      Loverboy was the opening act and was boo'd start to finish.


      Nov 12, 2009 at 11:14am

      Yet another kid that lost his middle school crush to a KISS fan speaks.

      When you can sing and play guitar like Paul Stanley, you can say KISS sucks. Until then, keep you opinion as that, and stop saying it like it's fact.

      Scott Jones

      Nov 12, 2009 at 11:56am

      Yes I could care aless what anyone has to say about KISS personally....I went to high school got told Kiss sucks! Funny thing is alot of those people ended up telling after high school that they actually liked KISS to begin with. I personally think anyone that cuts KISS is a critic, not a fan, nor anything. You get paid to say Jibberish about anything... I am a die hard KISS fan & I shall always be! So anything you have to say about the Greatest Rock & Roll Band Ever & of all time means didly squat too me. They are the ones ruling the stage not you man... :)