You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best…The Hottest Band In The World…KISS!
Take a minute to think about it… How many KISS fans had been given chills down their spine by the sheer listening to this famous intro, only seconds before their favorite band hits the stage and gives a performance that would be permanently engraved to their memory? On the 30th of January, 2008 KISS celebrated 35 years of constant presence and Rockpages.gr decided that it was the right time for… not just another special article. You see, it would be too easy to put down on paper (or more likely on word processor) some milestones in KISS’ career. However, we wanted to give to the entire KISS Army a gift to remember and cherish for all 2008! 30 noteworthy KISS-related figures that have been connected at a point in their lives with KISS turn back the hands of time and remember their KISS experience. Every 10 days we will be adding the recollection of a different KISS-related figure, like Jim Vallance, Bob Gruen, Robert Fleischman, Jay Messina etc. Sit back, relax and enjoy this Rocket Ride that will keep us company for the rest of 2008!
Special Feature by: Sakis Nikas
MITCH WEISSMAN (KISS’ collaborator and co-writer)
Rockpages.gr: How did you get to meet Gene Simmons and what do you remember from that first meeting?
Mitch Weissman: We met officially in 1977 or ‘78 at S.I.R. rehearsal studios in NYC while I was rehearsing for the Broadway show “Beatlemania.” They were there rehearsing for a world tour. Gene and Paul came in to watch us and went down the song list for 4 hours. The next day, they invited us in to watch them. During the first number, Gene popped a Bass string and Ace’s Marshall head blew and starting smoking. We were quickly ushered out of there. Lydia Criss told me 2 nights later at a club that Peter told her that the boys were so impressed with us, they wanted to return the favor. And Paul confirmed the same story years later that they felt like they were playing for the Beatles and were so embarrassed! Unofficially, Gene and I “met” years before. One day, when I was looking through one of his scrap books at his 5th Avenue apartment, I saw a picture of his band playing at a Long Island, NY Bat Mitzvah and I said, “Hey, I was at that party! That was you??!” Now that’s funny.
Rockpages.gr: If you look closely at the songs that you are featured on Gene’s solo record, you notice that those songs are the most Beatles-oriented ones. Was it something that Gene specifically wanted given the fact that you were a member of Beatlemania?
Mitch Weissman: Gene has said in interviews for years that he originally wanted John and Paul for those sessions, but they were unavailable. As he puts it, “so I got the next best thing, the guys from Beatlemania.” We had a great time at that those sessions.
Rockpages.gr: After a 6-year “interval” you once again collaborated with Gene in 1984 for two records: The Wendy O’ Williams one and KISS’ “Animalize”. Did Gene approach you in order to work together again?
Mitch Weissman: It didn’t really happen that way specifically. We had a mutual friend, Peppy Castro, who was friends with Bob Kulick, Bruce’s brother. They both had appeared on “Unmasked” in some capacity that I’ve now forgotten. Well, Peppy used to throw these rooftop parties at his apartment on the 4th of July. Paul and I reintroduced ourselves, talked all day and at the end, we exchanged phone numbers and he said “Call me sometime.” The next day I woke up and said to my wife, “I can’t call him!” So, at the next year’s party, Paul comes up to me and says, “Hey, nice to see you again. Why didn’t you call me?” And I said “I couldn’t call you. You’re Paul Stanley!” We both laughed about it, had a great time and started getting together socially. Gene was reintroduced into the mix and I was now friends with both of them. Almost every day for a couple of years.
Rockpages.gr: What’s your opinion about “Animalize”? Do you like the record and how about the three songs that you wrote with Gene?
Mitch Weissman: I personally thought “Animalize” was a good record. And I was pleased with the material the 3 of us created. I even got to play guitars and/or bass on all of those tracks, even though I’m uncredited. I’m very proud of “Thief In The Night” too.
Rockpages.gr: Which version of “Thief In The Night” do you prefer?
Mitch Weissman: I thought the Wendy O. track was great. Very edgy, and I got to sing on the backing vocals! I didn’t care for the solo. The KISS version was smooth and I liked that too. I would have to hear them again and think about it.
Rockpages.gr: How did you end up covering “Remember Me” for the “Return of the Comet” record?
Mitch Weissman: John Ostrosky contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in doing the track. I knew Richie and it was fun to see him again. It was all John’s idea, and I think for the time frame and the way we recorded it, it came out really well. I was only supposed to play on it, but the other singer didn’t quite work out and I said, “Well, let me take a shot.” And, there I am!
Rockpages.gr: You were one of the very few ones who had the chance to get to know KISS during their glory days in the 70s. What do you remember from that period and please share with us a story or/and incident…?
Mitch Weissman: Well, the S.I.R. story was one and Gene’s solo record was another 70’s moment. The funniest one though involves Peter at S.I.R. While Gene and Paul requested songs from us, Peter would open the door and come in jogging. He would nod and say “Are we going too play soon?” And Gene or Paul would say “Not yet. A few more songs.” So, a half hour goes by, Peter pops his head in and says “How about now?” And one of them would turn and say “Not now. Soon.” Again, Peter comes in and again, “Not now.” The last time, we hear the door open and both both Gene and Paul, without looking or turning around, just shout in unison “NO, PETER. NOT NOW!!” We all cracked up at the same time!
Rockpages.gr: Last words…
Mitch Weissman: I would have to say all in all, they were very good friends to me during that time period, up until the early 90’s. I’ll think fondly of Gene and wonder how I fell out of contact with them both. I wish them well. KISS were and still are a major force in rock music and I’m proud to have been a small part of that.
Next Week: Scott Van Zen talks about “Revenge” and “Carnival of Souls”.