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KISS Rocks vs KISS Sucks by Colin Gawel

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KISS Rocks vs KISS Sucks   by Colin Gawel

KISS is one of my all-time favorite bands. They are the reason I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I can still remember the moment of putting "KISS Alive" on my little turntable and hearing - "You wanted the best, you got it, the hottest band in the world....KISS!" - as the band launched into "Deuce." It gave me chills. I would sit on the floor of my bedroom and just stare at the album cover for hours. It was without question the coolest thing I had ever seen or heard up to that point in my life. And when you are just SIX years old, that makes quite an impression. I remember thinking how odd it was that other bands (BTO,ELO,RUSH) didn't wear make-up. I mean, why wouldn't you? It is so cool. In second grade, I used my first communion money to buy The Originals. "KISS," "Hotter Than Hell" and "Dressed to Kill" were my unholy trinity. By third grade my teacher noticed that though I was having trouble writing cursive, I had zero trouble tracing the cover of "Rock and Roll Over" and turning that in as my homework.

I was thrilled when I finally became on official member of the KISS Army. I proudly wore that shirt to school and, soon after, had my books tossed all over the bus by a gang of "Pyromania" loving jocks. I didn't know it then, but when I enlisted in the KISS Army, I had signed on to fight a losing battle for the rest of my life. The field of battle eventually moved from Def Leppard kids on school buses to Bon Iver hipsters on bar stools and I was always stuck on the wrong side of the argument which went something like this.....

KISS....?       

KISS SUCKS.

And you have to admit, Kiss really does suck. Bad. For every one decent track there are five unlistenable tunes waiting in line behind it. I would be embarrassed to play 75% of their catalog for anybody but my closest friends. The worst rock show I ever saw was Kiss on the Crazy Nights Tour in Dayton, Ohio on New Year's Eve and they totally phoned it in. Check out the set list here. They were offstage by 10:30 pm and surely set to have their own "Crazy Night" somewhere far away from the Knight's Inn on I-70 where I was left to ring in the New Year. Bastards. If there was a rock bill of rights KISS would be war criminals: Paul's X-rated raps, Gene's smug assumption that KISS is not a rock band but a rock "brand," reunion tours, farewell tours, more reunion tours.

I could go on and on and on and on but I think the video for "Let's Put The X in Sex" says it better than I could ever write it. KISS Sucks.

But here is where it gets tricky. They don't always suck. They have influenced millions upon millions of people and when taken in their proper context - to blow the shit out of Eagle's styled flannel rock and impress grade school kids - they fucking nailed it. As long as KISS doesn't try to impress anybody older than 8 years old, they are pretty damn good. My son Owen is now 10 years old and currently Aerosmith is his favorite band. But when he was 8, nobody could touch KISS. I think it is safe to say he is outgrowing KISS like he did Dinosaurs, Star Wars  and Club Penguin. Still, how many bands can say they were your favorite band for a year? Even if it was when you were just eight years old? Pretty cool.  - Colin Gawel 

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KISS Rocks! Below: Live from the Winterland in 1975 as a support act. With all due respect to Ricki C., the New York Dolls can shove this up their ass. 

KISS sucking. This is the Cat's last appearance with the band before leaving and then coming back and then leaving.... By the early eighties KISS had so thoroughly conquered rock n roll they  apparently decided it was time to take down Olivia Newton John. While it is sorta catchy, this sort of song will cause Def Leppard loving jocks to toss your KISS stickered notebooks all over the school bus. and rightfully so.

I know what you are thinking, "Colin, that video was pretty cool, but I wish there was a live version with KISS backed by a symphony orchestra.."