If you were as old as Kiss, the band that changed rock ‘n’ roll forever, you’d be feeling too old to perform. And yet, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are still like they’re in their prime, doing what they do best in their eighth decade. At the moment, they’re doing their farewell tour, although it’s not the first tour that was labeled as a “farewell” one.
Anyhow, during their decades-long successful run, they’ve seen many changes. Not just with the lineup but the management and the approach they handle their business and art as well. One of the guys to manage them was Larry Mazer who worked for Kiss during the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which was also a period of the band’s “unmasked” era.
In an interview on Artists “On Record Starring ADIKA Live!,” Larry Mazer recalled the first meeting with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons when he started working for the band. He said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):
“At the very first meeting, I focused mostly on Gene, and I said, ‘Look, you got to get back in the band.’ During that period, he had gone into movies. He was managing Liza Minnelli. He had Simmons Records. So I said, ‘Look, for me to do this – that’s got to stop.’ No more Simmons Records. No more Liza Minnelli.”
Mazer also adds:
“And then for last, I said, ‘And you got to stop with the tongue.’ I said, ‘It’s one thing with makeup on, but without the makeup on, you look silly.’ And Paul and I, funnily enough, had this little fine, we never did it, but we had this thing where we’re going to fine him $1 every time he stuck his tongue out.”
“But yeah, that was another condition – enough with the tongue. I mean, when you’re wearing the demon makeup, okay, but now, you’re in your 40s. I mean, stop already with the tongue. But now the makeup’s back on, and tongue’s out all the time.”
Nonetheless, promoters kept requesting to see them back with the makeup on. This, however, wasn’t in line with the band’s current creative direction although he tried to pull something off with the video for “Rise to It.” Mazer explains:
“From the day I got involved in 1989, promoters would call every day, ‘When are they putting the makeup on?’ So there was a track on the record called ‘Rise to It,’ and I came up with an idea for a video, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s shut these people up.’ And I got them to put the makeup on in the video.“
“Bruce Kulick [guitar] and Eric Carr [drums], obviously not being original members, they were the outfits but they sat with their back to the cameras. You didn’t see their faces, but it was Gene and Paul in full makeup. And we did the video, and it was not a successful video. It sort of said to me, ‘There you go. That was yesterday. Let’s move forward, creatively with new music.”
“Ironically, five years later they did put the makeup back on, but that video, which you can still see on YouTube for ‘Rise to It’ was sort of a homage to the makeup years.“
“That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep making great music – which I think we did on the ‘Revenge’ record , of making a great Kiss album.”
Photo: V-spectrum (VSpectrum-Gene Simmons-0204)