40 years of Kiss

Big profile of Kiss in the latest Rolling Stone. It’s great. I especially liked it in the context to the Wu-Tang profile I posted yesterday. After 20 years, the members of Wu-Tang are still loosely together, if not always on the same page. After 40 years, 2 members of Kiss are still together, and 2 who left/were kicked out pretty early in the band’s career, are just looking on from the sidelines. Worth a read just for the soap opera.

Kiss still tour. But the only original members left are Simmons and the band’s frontman, Paul Stanley, two New York Jewish kids who shared a cleareyed ambition and zero self-destructive tendencies – smart guys who managed to write some of the most gloriously brain-dead lyrics ever (“Get the firehouse/’Cause she sets my soul afire!”). Drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley, the ones who took the whole party-every-day thing to heart, who crashed sports cars and threw furniture out of hotel windows, are long gone. You can sometimes catch Simmons and Stanley talking about their old bandmates with distant fondness, as if they were parked in their very own Kiss Kaskets, rather than living quiet lives in New Jersey and San Diego.

40 years of Kiss

The guy who got kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden

Crazy story about the guy who happened to get kicked out of both Nirvana and Soundgarden (right before each band got huge) before joining the Army Rangers and then becoming part of the Special Forces. Jason Everman’s moodiness got him kicked out of Nirvana after the Bleach tour, a tour supporting an album he paid for. And then later on the same thing got him kicked out of Soundgarden. Then he joined the army and did multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Interestingly, the story is written by a guy who was in Bullet LaVolta, a band from Boston I always tried to like because they were on Taang Records and had a cool name.

But it was when the band hit the road — piling into a cruddy van, as we all did — that it came undone for Everman and Nirvana. A tour is tough for anyone to handle, especially the first one. The days are 23 hours of stultifying boredom — all so you can have one hour onstage, one hour of visceral release that makes it worthwhile. Between the hangovers, the stink, the beaten-to-death inside jokes, touring can make anybody crazy. The key is to keep the van fun. The guy next to you may love you when you start, only to hate the way you keep asking him to turn the Stooges down 100 miles later. “We had some great shows with Jason,” Novoselic said. “But then things went south really fast.” Somewhere along the way, a cloud formed over Jason, an impenetrable inwardness that just hung there. They say he wouldn’t talk to anyone, completely removing himself from the circle.

By the time they made it to New York, “the fun stopped,” Novoselic remembered. “The fun stopped fast.” Channing was confused by it, too, and he was one of Everman’s oldest friends. “He doesn’t talk freely when things are bothering him,” Channing said. It just seemed as if he didn’t want to be there. Cobain and Novoselic wanted Everman out but didn’t know how to do it. That’s the inherent contradiction of punk-rock rules: you were supposed to hate careerism yet still have a career. And 20-year-old kids aren’t particularly good at sorting that out. So Nirvana didn’t actually fire Everman; the band canceled the rest of the tour and drove straight from New York to Washington State, 50 hours in silence. Hardly a word was spoken.

The guy who got kicked out of Nirvana and Soundgarden

The Scorpions and 166 Cellos at Brandenburg Gate

20 years ago, East German officials made the decision that East German citizens would be allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin. East Berliners streamed to the Berlin Wall and West Berliners greeted them warmly on the other side.

10 years ago, I was in Berlin on the anniversary, and saw The Scorpions play ‘Winds of Change’ at the Brandenburg Gate accompanied by Mstislav Rostropovich and 165 other cellists. It was the most metal moment of my life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any video or photos of the event.

This year, they celebrated with U2, for whom, ironically, a wall was PUT UP.

The Scorpions and 166 Cellos at Brandenburg Gate