With most rock stars, you’re lucky if they stop to take a selfie. But Gene Simmons, Amazonian frontman of Kiss, is not most rock stars. On his ongoing “Gene Simmons: The Vault Experience” tour in support of the Kiss Vault, a massive box set chronicling his five-decade career, Simmons offers full immersion into a piece of the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame. The Vault, a $2,000, 40-pound safe-like object, comes hand-delivered by Simmons himself at designated meet-and-greets around the world, where Simmons performs and invites patrons to spend 10 to 15 minutes asking questions, swapping stories, and yes, snapping selfies—tongues out and devil horns up, of course.
Enshrined in the safe is a mix of fundamental rock history and Simmons-esque curiosities. In addition to 167 unreleased tracks, including never-before-released demos with Bob Dylan and Van Halen, cargo includes an action figure, a coffee table book, and a gold coin inscribed with the phrase, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” in Latin.
And while these artistic relics may seem like something assembled to please the rock gods, Simmons is not interested in being memorialized. “I’m not a big fan of words like ‘posthumous,’” he says. “You’re supposed to die, and then after you die, the stuff comes out. Who made up that rule? Why can’t you throw a party and be there?”
The outsize scale of the collection—the largest musical box set ever sold—seems fitting given Simmons’s outlook on the state of the record industry. With his daughter Sophie garnering buzz on Spotify with synth-y pop singles, Simmons laments the loss of physical records. “My daughter wrote and produced a song that got 10 million [streams] and she made $214,” he says. “There’s no record industry. It’s downloading and file sharing.”
But that hasn’t stopped Simmons from continuing to grow his brand. Next up, Simmons’s Kiss Vault tour will take him to Los Angeles before hopping to Europe and Australia later this year. And while he might not be in multiple places at once, Simmons will soon have the next best thing. As part of the deal for a new line of premium sodas at 7-Eleven, life-size cut-outs of Simmons will be taking up real estate at a convenient store near you. “These standees will be in 7-Eleven locations across the country,” Simmons says.
So, whether or not you can afford the Kiss Vault’s hefty price tag, you may be closer than you think to a Gene Simmons selfie.
Main image: Gene Simmons with the Kiss Vault