My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Orsborn, was shocked to discover that I was a fan of Kiss. Indeeed, I was a member of the Kiss Army; no doubt there’s a a jacket patch mouldering at the bottom of a landfill somewhere. But Kiss was my first music fandom. They were the first band that I got super enthusiastic over: watching for every new release, learning the band members’ (fictionalized) biographies, eagerly watching for every mention in the popular press. They were fun and accessible and ROCKING as all get-out. Most of all, Kiss were theatrical.
The Spaceman, the Demon, the Starchild, the Catman–it was 70s arena rock at its most overblown, but as a little kid I absolutely ate it up. And all the things that were true back then are still there. Kiss still shows solid songcraft, pretty good technique, and the best sense of what being a “rock star” means. I have no doubt that Gene Simmons is kind of an asshole in person (lord knows I’ve seen plenty of evidence in interviews) but that doesn’t diminish the joy he’s brought to the world.