by Art Lyzak
Last week, Cupcakes asked me if I wanted to go to a KISS listening party. Their new LP, MONSTER, comes out in October.
"Will there be shrimp?" I asked.
She didn't know, but said Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley would be there for a meet-and-greet.
"Then there WILL be shrimp," I said. "I'm in."
So last night, I drove us less than a mile from our pad to KISS label headquarters in Santa Monica, and parked in their underground garage. We got stickered in the lobby, and were ushered into a small room with a tiny stage with two chairs, two mics, and a large speaker setup.
I sauntered over to the food table, straight to the shrimp.
There were no more than seventy-five of us in the room, standing around nibbling shrimp, noodles, sushi, risotto balls, red velvet desserts, many things. I munched a few shrimp and passed on the other stuff because they only had stupid chopsticks. I'm a fork dude, and the only person in LA that doesn't use chopsticks.
Wine was available, but grapes aren't my scene. I opted for a Coke Zero instead.
A label flack brought Gene and Paul out and they introduced four tracks off their upcoming album, MONSTER. We stood at a table roughly twelve feet away from them while the new tracks blasted from the speakers. We bobbed our heads. It sounded pretty cool. Everybody clapped.
After the set, the rock gods, in blue jeans and black sport jackets, slipped into a back room where they could press the flesh with fans. Cupcakes and I stood in line for a bit, then went in to meet them. We shot the shit for almost ten minutes.
"Gene, we're from Detroit Rock City! We made you!" I said, poking him in the shoulder. "I've been a fan for sixty years. I saw you open for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in 1952 at a Dick Clark CARAVAN OF STARS," I joked.
"I don't think so," Gene said. He had shades on and wasn't laughing.
"OK, actually, it was the early '70s at the Michigan Palace on a bill with Aerosmith," I said.
"Detroit was the first place we really made it big," Paul said. "There was a radio station there that really got behind us."
"WABX." I said.
"That's it!" Paul said.
Paul talked about the new album and its many influences. I told him I heard a bit of Aerosmith, Led Zep, Mountain, Humble Pie, and even Johnny Winter in the tracks.
"Ha, ha, ha, you can't reinvent the wheel," Paul said.
A professional photographer shot us, we wished KISS well, shook hands and split.
We went down to the parking garage. A dumb ass had left the car running and unlocked.
"What will it cost to not mention this part of the evening, sweetheart?" I asked the wife.
"Drinks and dinner," she said.
I drove to Jerry's Liquor on Wilshire Blvd, bought a half-pint of Hornitos and took Cupcakes to IN-N-OUT.
Art Lyzak is a Detroiter living in Los Angeles.