A conversation with Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley

(From Left) Rock & Brews Partners Michael Zislis, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons & Rock & Brews CEO Mike “Sully” Sullivan welcome guests to the ground breaking

We had the opportunity to attend the ground breaking event held last week that announced the partnership between Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members KISS / Rock & Brews Restaurants, and the Native American Kaw Nation and their Northern Oklahoma Gaming Inc. operations.

The partnership is building a 250 room Rock & Brews Casino & Resort near Braman, Oklahoma. The project will include a huge casino, several restaurants, bingo hall, conference center, retail stores, travel plaza/truck stop, concert/events center, and were guessing a ton of KISS and Rock & Roll memorabilia. Basically a Rock & Roll theme park for adults!

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS at Rock & Brews Casino & Resort ground breaking ceremony — Photos: Michael Young

The location is near the Oklahoma/Kansas border directly off of U.S. Interstate 35. Which makes it in a triangle of sorts, being about an hour drive (give or take) from the cities of Tulsa, Oklahoma City & Wichita, Kansas.

Yes…..We could have easily thrown up all the usual PR release info, a quick image, and been done with it. But, here at Artist Waves we like to look a little deeper, to give it a personal human touch. So here goes…Boss!

Some decades ago, yeah I’m old… somewhere around 8th grade, I remember laying in my room, headphones on to erase whatever teenage problem I had that particular day, looking up at the KISS Destroyer album poster on my wall. You know the one, the one where they seem to be crashing through from some unseen realm, tearing into our world.

Kiss Destroyer Album Poster

Not sure what drew me in? But, the combination of no holds barred rock & roll sound with a never before seen theatrical edge was just what that kid was looking for at the time. The kid memorized the band, the make-up, the songs.

I mean come on, what Rock & Roll loving kid didn’t get pumped the first time they heard “Detroit Rock City”?

Kiss allowed us to think outside the box… KISS made it okay to be different, to be unique, to even be yourself.

They paved the road for many artists to express themselves in a variety of “acceptable” ways today. They made drawing outside the lines okay for artists and they made it marketable.

KISS DNA can be found throughout the music industry having filtered and weaved its way through many different genres and artists from Social Distortion to Nirvana to Metallica to Lady Gaga. They’ve, undoubtedly, touched millions of fans throughout the world. Their impact on the music industry will be examined by musical historians for years to come.

Q&A with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons

After the ground breaking event, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Gene and Paul about the project and other things. (Now, if only, that “kid” with that Destroyer poster can form complete sentences, right?) Somehow, that was managed….

Artist Waves- Thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions, it’s an honor. First obvious question has to be, why here? Some would say in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.

Thumbs up from Paul Stanley (Photo- Michael Young)

Paul Stanley — Everywhere is somewhere. There’s no such thing as nowhere. People don’t choose where they’re born and people should be proud of where they are from, and every big idea starts in someplace probably improbable. So, for us, being here, we’re proud to be here.

Artist Waves — Was there extra incentive to work with the Native American Kaw Nation Tribe?

Gene Simmons– We hope to help rise the profile of the Kaw Nation to benefit the tribe. Many have heard, for the first time in their lives, “Kaw Nation” and that’s great. If, at the outset, the intention is to create jobs and be good neighbors and be civic-minded and all that stuff, that’s good.

Paul Stanley– You’re talking about a Kaw Nation that has a long history and very important cultural ties to themselves and the nation, America. And they have children and families. They want to feed their families and children and they want to make sure they’re great partners to everybody living in the area.

Gene and Paul receive honorary awards from Kaw Nation — (Photos- Michael Young)

Artist Waves- The Kaw Nation presented you with tribe honors, did you know that was going to happen, coming in?

Paul Stanley- No, No, and I think it only serves to show that much more of the bond that we’ve built really quickly. All our friends at Kaw Nation have seen our devotion and dedication. We want to give back to the community. Like in St. Louis last night (Rock & Brews Opening), we contributed to several organizations that support local veterans and opened the doors for free lunch to give back to the Vets. I think it’s one thing to talk about what you want to do and it’s another thing when people see you do it. Our friends at Kaw Nation have seen over months how we do things with Rock & Brews for the benefit of everybody and have fun at the same time.

Artist Waves — You guys are obviously looking long term here. Do you see a Branson, Mo type thing happening here with a Rock & Roll theme?

Gene: “Las Vegas was desert once upon a time. Now 44 million people come into Las Vegas every year” (Photo- Michael Young)

Gene Simmons — People forget that everything begins small — including birth — and how you treat growth is the most important thing. You don’t know how big this is going to become. You’ve got to remember, Las Vegas was desert once upon a time. Now 44 million people come into Las Vegas every year. If we get 1/100th of that coming here, it’s going to be an explosion. People are going to come here from all over the world.

Artist Waves — One of the big features of the new resort is a concert and event center?

Paul Stanley- Yes, and the facility will be amazing, like nothing anyone here has seen. It will be a State-of-the-Art concert venue, in both acoustics and visuals. That’s what we are bringing right here and because of the band and the Rock & Roll vibe we plan to draw the best names and people from all over. It will really be a boom for this area.

Artist Waves — Does KISS plan to be the first band to play the new facility?

Paul Stanley– Absolutely. Thankfully, Rock & Brews isn’t just something I put my name on and just get a check. I’m involved with Rock & Brews from the ground up and I believe in it. Making numerous trips to Rock & Brews around the country is something I do regularly.

Gene Simmons– Everything and anything is possible. If everyone lets us and still loves us, I wouldn’t bet against it.

As the day was winding down, I wanted to ask one off topic music related question to Gene. That one question was about one of my favorite artists Pearl Jam’s Guitarist Mike McCready. Mike has openly credited KISS on several occasions as not only a musical influence in his yearly years, but also a road map on how they handled the business side. The creation of KISS Army fan club not only inspired the creation of Pearl Jam’s famous 10 Club, but fan clubs throughout the industry. This ‘giving back to the fans’ is a big part of the KISS Legacy. Kiss was the first band to really go all out supporting fans with the creation of the KISS Army. With that in mind…

Artist Waves — On several occasions, Mike McCready, of Pearl Jam credits you guys for having a lot of influence on them, not only musical, but also for fan support structure. How does it make you guys feel when respected bands like Pearl Jam speak of your influence?

Pearl Jam’s Guitarist Mike McCready. Mike has openly credited KISS not only for musical influence, but also that the creation Pearl Jam’s famous 10 Club was modled after the KISS Army fan club. (Photo- Michael Young)

Gene Simmons– It’s really nice of Mike or anyone to say that, but at the end of the day when you get up on stage you’re on your own. So what they’ve accomplished, they accomplished on their own and if we are a small part of their DNA then we really appreciate it, but they deserve all the credit, they do all the work.

Side Note —

I must add that Gene and Paul’s level of professionalism in person, after all the years under the spotlight is remarkable, inspiring, and greatly appreciated!

Had to look it up, Gene Simmons is 67 & Paul Stanley is 64 years of age.. Honestly, they look like they could take down anyone in the room… no really! ..no really!!! haha.So much for the theory that a Rock & Roll lifestyle is hard on you. Keep On Rock’in Guys!

For more info on Rock & Brews please visit : www.rockandbrews.com

See ya on the road — — Safe Travels!

Michael Young

Photo Gallery — Given2Flyimages.com

Michael Young Photographer/Writer -Whatever’s needed

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All photos by: Michael Young