Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley on Recording KISS Demos w/ Eddie & Alex Van Halen & Songwriting: “There’s nothing wrong with stealing, as long as you do it right”
Guitar World: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons talk classic Kiss tracks, including the lick they ripped off from the Rolling Stones, and the song they nearly gave to Rod Stewart.
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On the song “Deuce”:
“That was the first song I ever wrote for Kiss; it was thrown together in about half an hour. I ripped off the lick from Bitch by The Rolling Stones and changed it, so it starts in A and goes to a C.
“I purposely set out to create a repetitive lick – like in Satisfaction or Bitch. Lyrically, I had the slight thread of a story line, but I was more concerned with conveying attitude than making sense of the word ‘deuce’. I’m not quite sure what the line, ‘You know your man is working hard, he’s worth a deuce!’ means, but it sounded right.”
On the song “Hotter Than Hell”:
“I was always a big fan of Free, and All Right Now really meant a lot to me – it was a perfect song. Hotter than Hell was basically me rewriting that song. There’s nothing wrong with stealing, as long as you do it right – and make sure that you’re stealing a diamond, not a piece of glass.
“All bands start off being fairly derivative, and copying others is the first step toward developing your own style. At that point I had gotten my first real custom guitar. A guy in New York named Charles Lobue built me something similar to a ’58 Flying V with two humbuckers – pretty similar to what Albert King was playing, but with one wing shorter than the other. Randy Rhoads’ Jackson V had a similar design.”
On the song “God of Thunder”:
“By the end of our third record [Dressed to Kill], we had gotten very used to each other’s songwriting styles. Paul’s songs were always a little snappier and happier, and mine were always darker and gloomier. So we’d poke fun at each other sometimes, and Paul once said to me, ‘Anybody can write a Gene Simmons song.’ To prove his point, he came back the next day with God of Thunder. I changed some of the lyrics and sang it.
“When I first heard the song, I immediately had visions of the scene in Fantasia where the mountain top opens and this big, winged thing is standing there – something from the dark shadows. But Paul’s God of Thunder lyrics totally missed the point – they were all about Aphrodite and love.
“The sound effect of the little kid was actually done by Bob Ezrin’s two sons, who ran into the studio wearing toy helmets and carrying walkie-talkies and ray guns. The weird voice on the song is one of the kid’s voices coming through a helmet, which we miked. It wasn’t planned, and we had no idea what it all meant, but it seemed right. It’s real Twilight Zone stuff – very weird.”
“I won’t say that Gene is lying about God of Thunder, but maybe he was trying to entertain you. It’s in Gene’s nature to glamorize a story and make it more interesting than it really is.
“Here’s the real story: I wrote that song about myself, and the original lyrics were almost identical to what was recorded. ‘Hear my word and take heed’ was originally ‘We make love ’til we bleed,’ but that was the only thing that was changed.
“When I wrote it, I had every intention of singing it, but Bob Ezrin thought that it would be more appropriate for Gene to sing. Although it became known as a Gene Simmons song, it certainly wasn’t written for him or as a joke.”
On the song “Christine Sixteen”:
“That song started as another great conversation with Paul: ‘You write dumb songs!’ ‘No, you write dumb songs!’ Paul had stolen some of my titles, like Black Diamond, and when he came up with the title Christine Sixteen, I stole it. I had just discovered Van Halen, so I had Eddie and Alex play on the demo. They also played on the original demo of Got Love for Sale.
“For the spoken part in the middle that goes ‘When I saw you coming out of school that day, I knew I’ve got to have you – got to have you!’ I always pictured myself in a black car across the street from a school, watching a young girl.”
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