Saturday, June 8, 2013


I'm pretty excited to be going to the KISS concert next month.  As if the Calgary Stampede isn't crazy enough—let's have KISS show up during Stampede on a Saturday night.  It will be a fun mix of drunken metal heads, country bumpkins and baffled, jet-lagged tourists.  Hopefully the smell of deep fried Mars bars will make everyone get along.

KISS nowadays are super old—Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are both in their late nineties and there are two other dudes (Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer—known as "the other guys") in the band.  So it is safe to say that the glory days are behind them.  But it should still be a great show because it will be very loud, and something is guaranteed to blow up.  I like high art. 

While wandering around the library the other day, my girlfriend casually handed me Peter Criss' new biography called Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss.  I broke the "no sqealing" rule and I'm pretty sure that the librarian shushed me.  (Kind of rude, since some junior high kids were "studying" in the corner, and I could totally hear one of them talking on their phone.  Be consistent, librarian.) 

Anyway, the biography is great—Peter Criss was the drummer in KISS and was also my personal favourite in the band when I was a kid.  I dressed up as Peter Criss for halloween on more than one occasion—it resulted in lots of candy in my pillowcase, but no women flashed me.  

 So far, three of the four original KISS bandmates have released biographies:

Gene Simmons released Kiss And Make Up (great title—I guess whoever releases the first book gets the perfect title).   It is a really interesting read, and it shows what a terrific businessman Gene is.  He is a big fan of comic books, women and making money.  There aren't many seedy details on the biography, but he does talk a surprising amount about the business side of things (music, entertainment, television, etc).

If you are the type of person who likes to slow down and survey the wreckage after a car crash, check out Ace Frehley's autobiography No Regrets.  Really?  You have literally no regrets?  This is the guy who wrote a song about getting drunk, wrecking his car, disfiguring his face and almost dying.  Hmm.  I regret missing an exit while driving through Los Angeles last year—this guy is getting the jaws of life in 1982 and he's like "no worries, man!"  It's a great read and I learned some great "life tips"—like how many bottles of champagne I would be able to drink in the morning before I would need to get my stomach pumped. 

Peter Criss released Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss in late 2012.  Like almost every autobiography, it starts with him holding a gun, on the verge of killing himself, blah blah blah.  That is just standard fare for an autobiography.  Of course he doesn't do it, or else the book would be extremely short.  Just a head's up—if you ever see a three-page autobiography in the bookstore, chances are high that the guy pulled the trigger. 

The Criss book is filled with "real life" on the road—four young guys trying to make it in the late 1970s.  While KISS Army fans look at Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter as rock gods, Peter Criss shows that they are flawed, regular dudes who seem to fart and whip their genitals out a lot.  Whether it is backstage, in the hotel room, or even in the van, it's always a good time to whip it out and just see what happens.  There is definitely some mud slinging in this book.  One of the main reasons I keep my junk in my pants is that I am terrified if I show it off, someone is going to write about it forty years later.

Although it is a main ingredient in an autobiography, one complaint I have about the read is that the story is being told by one of the guys in the band.  As good as that is, you may not be getting the whole story.  Gene says that Peter is druggie, and Ace drank alot.  But Peter says Gene is a bloated windbag Ace drank alot.  Ace can't remember because of the drinking.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  If you are interested in a biography on the band itself, I reccommend Kiss And Sell: The Making of a Supergroup.  The author does a good job of not only talking about the crazy success, but also the 1980s, when KISS was struggling to fill stadiums while wearing feather boas and no makeup.