KISS Rocker Gene Simmons Has Game
LOS ANGELES – When it comes to rock n roll, Gene Simmons has been living the life for decades. KISS is as popular today as it was during its ‘70s heydays. Now Simmons is delving into the videogame space for the first time since Gathering of Developers’ KISS: Psycho Circus – The Nightmare Child in 2000. After releasing multiple KISS songs for MTV Games’ Rock Band franchise and Activision’s Guitar Hero titles, Simmons has jumped into the new Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock game as the narrator of the new Quest mode. Simmons talks about his own videogame background, working on Guitar Hero and why it may be a while before gamers get their hands on a stand-alone KISS music game in this exclusive interview.
What are your thoughts on what they can do with videogames nowadays compared to what they did 10 years ago when you released KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child?
The technology, while it’s always impressive, is always going to depend on what the technology is used for. The idea that something can do all kinds of tricks and stand on its head and go back through time, if the stuff that’s happening in the technology isn’t cool, the entire thing is a waste of time. At the end of the day it is about content. Guitar Hero is cool whether it was a card game or a trivia game between you, but the idea that it uses the most modern technology is really the thing that enables you to kind of crawl into it. It’s that unleashing the inner rock star inside of you. It’s a feeling. That’s what it’s about. You can’t create emotion with technology. It’s got to be the essence of what it’s about. It’s got to touch something inside of you.
If you were to make another videogame with today’s technology, what direction would you like to go?
If I were to try to use that I would tell you that I would start with Guitar Hero first and foremost because the mixture of fantasy and this kind of evolution from musician to demigod is sort of like what happens to me talking to you glibly and parlaying a different languages and when I get up on stage and become the demon. I can talk about it now, but when you unleash the inner demon, if you will, inside of you you’ll understand it. I do.
Bands like Aerosmith and The Beatles have their own music games. Will we ever see a stand-alone KISS Guitar Hero game?
Well, we don’t do things for pennies. They made the wrong deals. Never do anything, never sell yourself short. There’s no hurry. We have 3,000 licenses, everything. Go into any 7-11, you’ll see what I mean any where in the world, 37,000 stores. We have KISS ice boxes. We have KISS caskets. KISS condoms. We’ll get you coming and we’ll get you going. Nobody touches us. We outsell the Beatles and Elvis together.
How does Guitar Hero translate the bass experience you’re so familiar with in videogame form?
The feeling of playing Guitar Hero is very much like being on stage. For one thing you see yourself. And then because the technology has grown by leagues, the angles go behind the band so you can actually see the audience and you’ve got music going on. And you physically have to stay on top of the music because you’ve got to play your Guitar Hero instrument and check where the chords are and so on and so forth. So it’s sort of a multi-hyphenate kind of experience. It’s visual. It’s audio, and it’s full bodied. It’s a full-body experience.
How have you seen Guitar Hero impact the music industry over the past few years?
Technology has impacted the music industry in more ways than even it understands. People think it’s about Internet, but it’s usually a cold experience. You’re just watching it. The more you get involved, the more it connects with you and the more you’re doing it and the more you control the music and the visuals, the more it becomes important. It becomes a part of you. Guitar Hero is pretty addictive. Once you play it, it’s going to be tough not to want to get up in the middle of the night either alone when nobody is looking, or with your friends.
What are your thoughts on Guitar Hero returning to its rock and roll roots with Warriors of Rock?
Guitar Hero is about time. You know in the English language rock is a verb; you rock, let’s rock. You can’t say let’s country and let’s folk rock and let’s rap. It doesn’t mean anything. Rock is integral to us and it’s become iconic. Whether or not you’re a fighter pilot going let’s rock or let’s rock and roll, that’s what it’s about and there is nothing that takes the place of a guitar hanging around your neck or a pair of drums between your legs, banging that stuff away. This is all rock. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock takes you through the full spectrum of the different versions of rock that are out there. All rock. 100 percent.