Gene Simmons: ‘I’ve never got high or drunk in my life’

The musician and Kiss frontman, 68, on what he learned from his mother, what capitalism means to him and why he’s so proud of his hair

I’m my own biggest fan. I’m delusionally fascinated by myself. I love the sound of my own voice. If you don’t feel like that, fake it until you believe it. If you like yourself, it’s the sexiest thing in the world.

My mother grew up in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I say “Nazi Germany” as much as I can, because I refuse to let them get away with it. She had a horrific childhood. But through her eyes I’ve learned to be positive and not cynical, and always keep moving forward. I got everything important from my mother. My entire moral code comes from her.

Success is about what you do with what you have. At school, they teach you that we are all born equal. That’s horseshit. School doesn’t prepare you for anything. Life has no rules. Some people are born smarter; some people are born able to run faster. You’re not supposed to say that, but it’s true. Unfair, but it’s true.

Power isn’t a good or a bad thing, just like fire is neither a good nor a bad thing. You can cook your food with it, or it can burn you. Power is amoral. It’s how you use it. I feel the same way about guns.

In my 20s I never thought about death. Now, at 68, I do. But when you see the finishing line coming, you don’t stop. Look at Jagger! Look at McCartney! If you stop, your heart starts to die. Lack of activity makes you die younger and badly. I’m going to keep going until I drop dead.

My mother is ninety-two. There’s no secret to a long life I don’t think, just DNA. Manson just died after a long life, perfectly healthy. Mugabe is ninety-two. Tom Petty dies in his 60s in America with the best healthcare in the world. Prince even younger. But you can do your best to look after yourself. Everything your mother said to you when you were young was right; eat lots of vegetables, get some sleep, don’t hang out with losers. It’s not cool, but she was right.

Kiss have sued lots of people [for plagiarism] and won. But some people we don’t sue. We didn’t sue Bruce Springsteen for Outlaw Pete [which takes the main melody for Kiss’s 1979 disco hit I Was Made For Loving You Baby]. How do we decide who to sue and who not to? We like Springsteen. We don’t sue.

I’m proud of still having my own hair. It’s messed up from years of bad hairspray and breathing fire onstage, but it’s all mine. I’m grey, so I have to dye it, but it’s mine. Sadly, as the years pass, and the less I have on my head, the more I have on my back and my ass, and in my nose.

I got capitalism by working when I was very young. My mother worked in a sweatshop, no minimum wage, getting paid nothing, 7am to 7pm, six days a week. But there was always food on the table. Then I got a newspaper round and started making money. I have never seen anyone look as proud as I was when I put the money I made from my first day down on the table.

I’ve never got high or got drunk in my life. I don’t like the taste of alcohol. I don’t like cigarettes. I don’t like drugs. On the day science tells me all of the above will make my schmekel bigger or I’ll get smarter or make more money, I’m right at the head of the line. But it doesn’t do that. If you drink too much, you’re going to throw up on the shoes of the girl. I don’t get it.

Gene Simmons The Vault is available at


James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

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