When Brad Whitford Revealed Gene Simmons’ Secret About KISS Outfits

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In 1972, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons decided to form a new band with a much harder style of rock than their previous band Wicked Lester. So, in January 1973, Stanley, Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss formed the legendary rock band KISS. Although the band went under several lineup changes, Stanley and Simmons remained in the band throughout the years.

One of the most influential rock bands, KISS started to gain recognition in the mid-late 1970s. This was mostly because of their dazzling live performances, including pyrotechnics, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and acts like fire breathing and blood-spitting. Along with these, KISS members were also known for their unique face paints and stage costumes.

With their signature makeup and outfits, the band members tried to create their unique personas. For instance, Stanley took on the personae of the Starchild, Simmons the Demon, Frehley the Spaceman, and Criss the Catman. However, it seems there is another thing we might not know about KISS’ iconic appearance. Let’s learn the secret Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford revealed about KISS’ outfits.

Brad Whitford Said That KISS Borrowed Their Costumes From The Japanese Theater

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Although they performed without makeup and costumes for a certain time, known as their ‘unmasked era,’ KISS and their looks are now inseparable. However, how did they decide this should be their appearance? Did something inspire them before creating their signature looks? Apparently, Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford knows the answers to these questions.

In an interview on Live from Nerdville with Joe Bonamassa, Brad Whitford recalled when Aerosmith played with KISS for the first time. He said that he heard the band back in the dressing room area, and he was pretty impressed by their music. Following that, Whitford admitted that he thought KISS was ‘cheating’ because they combined a powerful rock sound with the looks they borrowed from the Japanese theater.

During his appearance on Live from Nerdville with Joe Bonamassa, Brad Whitford said that:

“We played with KISS in New Jersey for the very first time, and I heard them from the dressing room area, I was like, ‘Wow, this is rocking!’ And I went out to look, and I’d never seen that – they were doing their whole thing! I thought to myself, ‘This is cheating!’

Not only did they have the powerful rock thing, but they had this whole other thing that they kind of borrowed from the Japanese theater, and it was so powerful. But I thought it was cheating – you can’t do that! How can you combine that? But it was so effective and so cool!”

Gene Simmons touched upon this subject in 2014, before Brad Whitford implied that KISS borrowed their stage appearance from the Japanese theater. As it appears, the bassist is also aware of this resemblance.

Gene Simmons Pointed Out The Influence Of Kabuki Theater On Their Looks

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Speaking to Tokyo Journal for an interview, Gene Simmons talked about the Japanese influence on their stage looks. During the conversation, interviewer Anthony Al-Jamie asked Simmons whether any aspect of Japanese culture influenced KISS.

The bassist then mentioned Kabuki theater and said people compare his looks and persona to the shogun and samurai. Moreover, he said that he knows a little bit about Japanese history and culture, and they were inspired by these naturally.

Tokyo Journal‘s interviewer Anthony Al-Jamie asked Simmons:

“Was there any aspect of Japan that influenced KISS in any way?”

To which Simmons responded:

“People point to Kabuki theater, especially my persona with the armor, comparing it to that of the shogun and samurai, but it really happened naturally. We didn’t study it.

I was fairly well-read and I was aware that in 1853 Admiral Perry sailed into the harbor, and it was basically a clannish feudal society up until then in self-imposed isolation for more than 200 years until the U.S. Navy demanded Japan to open its trade to the west.

And within something like 50 years, Japan beat Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. So, by the early 20th century, Japan arrived on the world stage and was able to challenge one of the major powers. So I knew a little bit about Japanese history, but as for the makeup, it just sort of happened.

It seems like the Japanese Kabuki theater inspired KISS while they were creating their stage looks. Moreover, one can easily see the resemblance of the band members’ use of face paint with the Kabuki performers.

Below, you can watch the interview where Brad Whitford mentioned the Japanese theater’s influence on KISS.