Gene Simmons Says Rock Bands Should Always Try To ‘Sell-Out’

KISS’ Gene Simmons recently talked to The Sun Entertainment editor Mark Daniell about how they came up with the idea of merchandising KISS items. The bassist stated that they had the idea from Disney and a band has to be a ‘sell-out’ and ‘sell-out’ shows.

Besides their music, KISS is known to be present in the rock scene with their extravagant stage shows, art, and costumes. The band has made it this far by preserving their unique identity and finding original ways to present themselves to the world. Because they have always paid attention to their art and costumes on and off stage, the band’s business aspect also developed in this direction. KISS owns every item featuring its logo, and the licensing is provided by Disney.

Gene Simmons spoke about this recently and started by saying that he always thought a band should ‘sell-out’ tickets but should not be a ‘sell-out.’ So, he initially hated the idea of creating and selling merchandise. However, the bigger they got, the more demand from the fans increased, and the band had no choice but to obey their fans’ wishes.

The fans would initially attend the concerts with homemade custom t-shirts on which they crafted KISS’ logo. As Simmons stated, this gave them their first idea to create and produce merch. The license idea came later from Disney, and the band’s businessman Simmons agreed, although he hated the rules, and decided to go along with it anyway.

Here is what he stated about the KISS merchandise:

“The idea of merchandise license and all that stuff really came from Disney. Personally, I’ve always hated the idea that there were rules. Like if you’re in a rock band, you weren’t supposed to ‘sell-out.’ On the other hand, I always thought the idea was ‘you should always try to sell out’ every night. See what I did there? These are semantics, but I’m not anti-semantic.

It really started with noticing when we were first playing only three to five shows in New York in clubs. And then, we got a record deal, and boom, within a year, we were headlining Anaheim Stadium with bands opening for us that had been around for 15-20 years. It really happened pretty fast, before cell phones, even before voicemail. This was around ’76.

By ’76, we were playing stadiums in America, and the toy and merchandising thing started all the way back at the beginning when we noticed that a few fans who were just getting wind of KISS locally in New York, would show up with homemade KISS t-shirts.

They liked the way the logo looked so, they put glue on their t-shirts, take glitter, pour it on the glue, and let it dry. We said, ‘Wow, they like that, why don’t we make that.’ We started to make our own stuff before we had companies interested in what we were doing.”

You can watch the full interview below.