Tag Archives: kiss

Reading of Books #29

I’ve been reading some books and they were good. I read work by Duff McKagan, Peter Criss, Roddy Doyle and Robert B. Cialdini. A bit of music, a bit of thinkers work and a bit of literature, it was a good and inspirational series of titles. Check them out.

Books!

Duff McKagan – How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)

source: goodreads.com

Duff McKagan managed to grab my heart with his first book It’s So Easy (And Other Lies). That book deals with the glory days in Guns’n’Roses, drug- and alcohol abuse and getting on your feet again. It ends on a high note, with the little family and new projects in place. By writing a follow-up, McKagan shows himself to be a true story teller. We find the man back in the van again with the Walking Papers a new project (and brilliant music), picking up where he left. It’s interesting, because it takes you to a place you wouldn’t imagine to find the sober Duff to be at again, but he is and it immediately becomes glorious.

Where the previous book had something cathartic to it, something confessional while remaining light, this one is flat-out funny at times. Duff has a miraculous amount of self deflating jokes lined up and keeps tricking the readers. He takes you into one direction, only to baffle you by switching it all around on you. This book could actually count as an inspirational book, it gives good advice for people trying to find out what to do is right. As long as you take things with a grain of salt. A great read for music fans and allround humans.

Roddy Doyle – The Commitments

source: goodreads.com

You might have seen the film. I think I have, but I’m not sure so I’ll rewatch it. This writing debut of Roddy Doyle takes Irish English to new hights in a street-talking music adventure with the rowdy youngsters from Dublin getting into soul music. Jimmy Rabbite is approached by some of his mates to help them set up a band. He agrees but only if he can manage them. This turns into an interesting journey for the young folks, who actually do what most bands do: break up before they make it. It’s a great story, written in a language that every reader can easily relate to, with a lot of cool references to music.

Doyle is Dublin through and through and you can read that in the manner of detail and local references. This could not have been written by a thorough study. There’s a raw realism to the writing, to the story as well. Nothing is overblown or overly hefty, it’s all normal stories but told in such a natural way that you’ll be captivated. I’m not even sure if that’s the language, but maybe simply the form of a continuous narrative. I’ve really enjoyed reading this, though I went through it so fast that it was over before I knew it. The story of The Commitments, bringing soul to soul-starved Dublin.

Peter Criss – Makeup to Breakup: My Life in and out of Kiss

source: goodreads.com

Peter Criss succeeds in the one thing, that no other Kiss biography did. His former bandmates all managed to end it on a high note, where they were sort of the good guys (except for Gene, because he doesn’t care). Peter Criss manages to make himself look like an even bigger dick than any of the others put him down as. His book reads as that of a man, who contradicts himself every step of the way (sometimes with only a few lines between them). Everything is the fault of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and Criss goes at them with a vengeance. At the same time he never shies away from giving his piece of mind about other people surrounding the band, apart from the ones he likes. Those are all cool with him it seems (some people just escape his wrath).

At the same time, Criss constantly laments the bad luck that befell him throughout his career. It makes him sound bitter and sad about things. He reveals stuff about people, that are just not done (particularly the sexual skills of his wife were not necessary). In thaqt way he tries to legitimize the weirdest stuff, like with Lydia the fact that he couldn’t get her to do weird stuff in bed made cheating, drinking and drugging fine. That being said, Peter Criss’s biography has a rawness to it, the others lack. There’s an honesty that makes you doubt the three other books. Yet again, he seems to say conflicting things with all three other books and sometimes his theories are so far out that it makes no sense at all anymore.  A great read though.

Robert B. Cialdini – Pre-Suasion

source: goodreads.com

Sometimes you find these marketing books that are inspirational at the same time. This book by Robert Cialdini is a tome focussed on the act of pre-suasion, of priming your target to the persuasive message that is to come. It’s a gentle nudge in the direction that you wish to take the reader in. It makes for a fascinating read and Cialdini has a way of writing that is very engaging and accesible. Honestly, to read this book you don’t need to be a marketing genius. There’s advice that can help you in daily situations you might be struggling with.

Cialdini uses plenty of examples to clarify the point he is making, which is not too complex. The dense amount of data that the author produces to support the theory is though, which is what makes this books so singularly powerful and convincing. There’s something there for sales people, marketeer, policy pushers and project planners, but also for teachers, managers, coaches and people that simply wish to get more done. It’s really well worth your time to check out this highly enjoyable book. Revolution only needs the right nudge.

Reading of Books #28

Another edition of my book bit, with a lot of new books read. R.A. Salvatore is very present with the last two trilogies of Drizzt, Paul Stanley from Kiss and Duff McKagan from Guns’n’Roses. Totally not geek + music geek edition.

Books!

R.A. Salvatore – The Companion Codex (Night of the Hunter, Rise of the King, Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf)

source: Goodreads.com

In this series of books, we pick up the dark road that the party of heroes seemed to have ahead of them in the inbetween book ‘The Companions’. Drizzt is reunited with his Catti-Bri, his friends Bruenor, Regis and Wulfgar. It seems however, that war is brewing everywhere and the Orcs are marching with support of the drow. The Silver Marches are besieged by the thousands and cities fall. The dwarves are locked in their underground citadels and no one seems to be able to push them forward. That changes when Bruenor Battlehammer picks up his plight as king among dwarfs. When he starts listening to the whispers of the old dwarven gods and the counsel of his friends and fellow Dwarf kings.

In the most desperate situations the united dwarfs of the Forgotten Realms find their brightest moment. They unearth their greatest treasures after millennia. It is not an easy fight though and much will be lot and much must be sacrificed to get there. In these novels, the world turns a bit more dark and grim and many mechanisms seem to be at work. The wheels are turning and Drizzt and the companions of the hall find themselves in the middle of it all, but also in the middle of their own turmoil and demons. Salvatore creates the profound story that looks at a world, where good and evil are not such simple concepts anymore. What is war if one loses all that holds value? What is a war if you forget the values that you fight for?

Paul Stanley – Face the Music: A Life Exposed

source: goodreads.com

Paul Stanley has always been the most mysterious member of Kiss. His biography is one of the most anticipated ones among fans of the band. The singer has always been a bit of a puzzle for most people, but in this biography he is very open about himself. Even though at times it isn’t pretty and some band experiences come out, he manages to touch his readers. Paul Stanley is the first Kiss member to write a biography that leaves him standing as a victor in the end. The book is also not as filled with spite and dislike. I can’t say that for the other ones by Kiss members and that is a pleasant thing to be sure.

Paul Stanley describes his life from his early days onward. Being born with only one ear intact (and working), turns out to be the source of most angst and insecurity in his life. It’s the red threat through his whole carreer and experiences. Reading this, it outshines even all the fame and fortune. Everything related to the ear problems seems to be key in his development. The surgery to reconstruct it, the way he positions himself on the stage and in the end how he starts working for a childrens organisation. Sure, there’s the necessary amount of rock’n’roll extravagance going on as well. You’ll get some good stories about the women, sustance abuse (of others, since Stanley never really was the crazy one on that front) and quite some Gene Simmons. Pauls story is touching and captivating, never free of a good critical look at himself, but at times blissfully unaware of his own being and impression. A joyful read for sure.

R.A. Salvatore – Homecoming (Archmage, Maestro, Hero)

That was the respons I got from mr. Salvatore himself about my earlier thoughts on the series. Now, I did get here and after 33 books I was fearful for quite a few pages that all would end horribly in tears. For the characters, but also for me since after all this time I had become quite attached to the figures in the book. This whole series has the vibe of an endgame. Things are getting serious in here and that makes for some really daunting reads. Some surprising developments and character innovations take place and we all somehow get them together for a final push.

source: goodreads.com

We find Mithril Hall at peace for once, but things are always stirring in the Forgotten Realms. The drow in Menzoberranzan have not finished with their prodigal son. Internal power struggles literally open the gates to hell and demons flood into the realm. They happen to be causing more havoc to the drow themselves than to their enemies. The primordial under Gauntlgrym stirs and Yvonnel the Eternal is reborn. Facing these great enemies are our heroes; Drizzt, Catti-bri and Bruenor. Their other two friends are on a quest of their own, where Regis and Wulfgar will find great challenges and old companions on their road. Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxl site with the heroes…  but things get really interesting when a runaway archmage joins them and a very important priestess of Lolth. But what if your real enemy is within your own mind?

There’s a promise of more to come though. This is good, because I love these books. Unfortunately, mister Salvatore has announced he will not answer any questions on the matter for now.

Duff McKagan – It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)

source: goodreads.com

I’ve never really been a fan of Guns’n’Roses, but when I heard their bass player talk on the Danko Jones podcast about his book. I knew I had to read it. Duff McKagan is the epitome of cool, the laid back voice, the self awareness and self depricating jokes… In his book he is telling the world his story including all the stupid decisions, bad choices and all about the rampant drug and alcohol abuse that brought him to his knees and made him rise up again a new man. The book starts with the McKagan of now. He is walking out of the backdoor of his house during his daughters birthday party and finding two kids making out. He goes through a mental checklist of drugs, sex, alcohol and other things… it’s a funny opener and shows how comfortable McKagan is in writing about himself. Then the good stuff starts.

Duff McKagan is a Seattle-born musician. People sometimes forget that he was in a bunch of bands in the past. It’s good to get some info on that too with his early bands. Also a near death experience at an early eage seems to have contributed to his personality. The writing style is casual, almost off handed as if things just emerge and happened, but sometimes we get back to the internal monologue from the start. Especially when bad things happen. A rock’n’roll book with drugs and alcohol has a lot of grief in it. McKagan never makes light of that. He is funny when he talks about himself, jovial when it concerns weird things that happened to a bunch of guys and cordial when he writes about problems in the band. He always seems  to have the right tone for all situations, never goes down avenues of boring thoughts and just keeps this easy to read. One of the best rock’n’roll bio’s I’ve seen this far.

How to become a Kiss fan for people that don’t like Kiss

So, it turns out that over the last couple of years, I’ve become a staunch supporter of Kiss. Yes, the band with pyro and make-up on stage, with that obnoxious, unbearable singer that tries to trademark the devil horns.

That’s just one of the challenges that faces you as a person who is into Kiss. Let me tell you how to get over the things that make you not want to like Kiss this far in your life.

But maybe first… Why the hell am I bothering with this? I never was into Kiss as a kid much. I dug their looks, I liked the footage I saw and the comics that were out, but the sound just wasn’t up to par with my expectations. Years later I rediscovered the band, finding that my original snobbism was unfounded and ultimately uncool instead of cool. Kiss is a band that always puts the fans first, regardless of the offstage antics. Having seen the band live recently, I was blown away by the show they put on. I was in awe of the entity Kiss and its dedication and love to what they do, even 40 years down the road. Kiss is a lot of things, but they definitely don’t suck. Kiss also isn’t Gene Simmons patenting the Devil Horn (that is really Gene Simmons on his own). As Kiss, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are out there to please you as a listener, fan or visitor. Regardles of all the other crap, that is Kiss. That’s a band you can fall in love with.

Well, that and Danko Jones’s podcasts that turned me onto Kiss.

Make-up, show and weird suit. It’s so silly…

Sure as hell, fans of loud music have this demand for authenticity. I don’t mean by that the uniqueness and originality of a band. I mean that a band is genuine in what they do. The history of Kiss has been well documented and though it always seems that the band are more savage business men (Read: Gene Simmons), their concept was always about a cohesive band that was really together as a group, who delivered a show to remember full of spectacle. Even after all the trouble with the band, with members falling out, adding new ones and so on, they remain true to that image as you can see in the documentary ‘Kissteria’. Sure, it is well orchestrated, but they never did any different.

Another great source are the biographies of the band members, to really feel the concept, the genuine passion behind what has become the biggest band in show business. Paul Stanley describes Kiss as a band that makes you forget your troubles: “You’re troubles will be there in the morning, but tonight we can party” (sort of what he says in ‘Face the Music’). Music is after all an emotional experience, as soon as you let go of that and enjoy the fact that you’re watching and listening to a band that is genuinely catchy and that looks like superheroes, you’ll be alright. Did you go see the latest ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ film? Then you should probably not complain, you’re a grown-up watching men in tight costumes be superheroes. Just enjoy the band.

But I’m a serious music fan, their simplistic muck doesn’t resonate with me.

Give me a break please. People love making that sort of claim about Kiss, that their music is simplistic. And you know… the silly show and all, they would not be about the music. This is a great statement if you didn’t list Ghost, Rammstein and Slipknot among your favourites. Even more underground bands like the ones in the black metal scene are all about theatrics. Theatrics are part of rock’n’roll and Kiss simply is the best that pushed this to the maximum level. If you sell out stadiums, it is hard to argue with the success of that and people would not go see the band if their songs didn’t resonate with them.

That being said, you can write the most technical, complex music and be playing for two people that don’t have anything better to do. That can be really cool, but it was never what Kiss wanted to do. They make songs that resonate with people,  songs that you can sing along to and even sing in the shower. The make music that is simply catchy. This is an art form in itself, because most of the things in this world that catch on are those that stick around. And is it really so that you want to listen to microtonal, experimental black metal based on literature set to a special translation key on your friday night in the pub? No, you want to ‘Shout it out Loud’, ‘Rock’n’Roll all Night’ and so fort. Yes, you do.

They made ‘I Was Made For Loving You’…

You know all the words to that one, you probably do a little dance when it comes on. Shut it and sing a-long. Let it go, they also did a grunge album, hair metal album, heavy metal album and something that sounds like a Disney soundtrack actually.

The endless drama in and around Kiss…

That is quite an easy one to tackle, we all love a bit of drama. We’ve been relishing the Guns’n’Roses drama, we loved the ‘Some Kind of Monster’  Metallica and the same goes for Kiss. Did you hear about the 5 Finger Death Punch show a few days ago, where the band members (well, the singer) didn’t come on to the stage and left early? There’s some important distinction between that band and Kiss here. Kiss would never bring that drama to the stage (well,  not counting the days they were dragging Ace and Peter along, but that was different).

There’s a difference between the entity that is Kiss and the members that make up Kiss. That is the undeniable force of the band and has been for more than 40 years now versus a set of individuals with some obvious flaws. Gene with his money (read his books, it’s all valid), Paul with his dalliances and air of arrogance (read his book, it’s really different), Ace with his substance abuse (yeah, his book reads as a trip) and Peter (haven’t read it yet, is apparently well worth it). Creating those individuals mentally really helps to separate them from the entity itself. It also offers a wide range of entertaining material.

….but Gene Simmons said he was patenting the devil horns and Dio…(And they’re old and all).

Yes, yes, yes… Dio also joked that Gene Simmons would one day claim he invented breathing. Paul Stanley jokes in a similar way about Gene. About the first time he met Gene, Paul said: “Gene seemed to believe that only Gene Simmons, John Lennon and Jimmy Page could write a song” (again, aproximate quote). Gene Simmons spends 24/7 promoting Gene Simmons. Gene has brought his own persona to the absolute hilarious point of patenting the devil horns, just like Dio sort of predicted he would. The result? Everyone is talking about Gene, and probably that is exactly why he started this thing in the first place. Gene is not the totality of Kiss though…

If you look at individual Kiss members, you are bound to pick a favourite and see the others as jerks. Especially this is true for the original four. This is part of the charm, but the same thing  goes for Gene. The problem with Gene Simmons though, is that he actually is everything you imagine him to be. But… There’s one thing though, that people often forget. Gene is 67 years old. You might have family members, grandparents or such, who are way less vital at that age. Gene is still spitting blood on stage, getting shot up in the air and breathing fire. He does that for his fans, he is still touring for his fans and Kiss never plays a shit show. I’ve seen bands in their young days, who couldn’t do what Kiss does for a week. Gene is part of that, so Gene may be an absolute prick, but like his band members, he’s still going strong for you. Kiss must really love its fans, because why else would they still be doing their insane stunts on stage.

So… Kiss loves you, why don’t you love Kiss?

logo source: wikipedia media

The Reading of Books #20

In this 20th edition of books that I read, which is quite a few over time, I’m discussing Dayal Patterson, R.A. Salvatore (again), Gene Simmons and Marco Martens, who all wrote cool books that I enjoyed.

Dayal patterson – Black Metal: Into The Abyss
Cult Never Dies Productions

source: Goodreads.com

I’m a huge fan of the work by Dayal Patterson, who manages to captivate the black metal scene in his own unique way. Name it scholarly or even ethnographic at times, the man lives and breathes black metal and manages to track down the most reclusive strangers for brilliant interviews. It sometimes seems that the weirder you think they are, the more normal they seem in retrospect. In this edition of the series, Dayal digs up some old bones in Poland for example, finding the roots of that strange black metal scene and continues to search for answers.

I’ve mentioned part of the Polish scene that gets attention in this book, but more or less the outsiders like StigmataFuria and others. Another element are the Norwegian bands of the latter generation, that return to a more purist approach, like 1349 and One Tail, One Head. The best part is how open Patterson gets to talk to some of these artists, of which some never did an interview before. It opens up a scene that has been shrouded in mystery and trust me… It doesn’t take away any of the magic.

Gene Simmons – KISS and Make up
Crown Publishing

goodreads.com

Gene Simmons is an enigma, a character larger than life and hated and reviled as much as he is loved and praised. Gene is a straight shooter and always speaks the truth. No surprise then, that his book details his humble beginnings with as much detail as his later sexual adventures, poverty, riches and glamour. It also features a lot of history of Kiss that before was hidden behind the paint and more or less a mystery. We’ve moved on to a time where things have aged enough for some of the truth to come out. After the accusing books by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, the book of Simmons feels much less cool and more raw and honest.

Why does that matter? Because for example Frehley, whose book I read, is glorifying his own behavior most of the time and rarely speaks with any warmth of the bandmembers he shared the stage with. Specially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are depicted as money grubbing monsters, regardles of the fact that Gene Simmons saved his life. Simmons seems to lament the path of the others and speaks as candidly about his own failings and shortcomings, even insecurities and such as about others. This is a book of a sober man, who is honest, but that’s my opinion. It also is a really kick ass story, isn’t it?

R.A. Salvatore – The Sellswords (Servant of the Shard, Promise of the Witch King, Road of the Patriarch)

source: Goodreads.com

It’s surprisingly nice sometimes to take a side step in a long series, and so it is with the Forgotten Realms ‘Legend Of Drizzt’. In the short series titled ‘The Sellswords’ we focus on the characters of Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxle. Two oppertunists, who venture to a new land to reap the fruits of whoevers labour after daring conflicts with the mercenary bands Bregan D’arte. It’s a great bit of reading and a completely different kind of adventure with more depth and knowledge about the characters you might loathe or secretly love already by this point and will get to know and understand much better by the time you finish.

During the first part, Jarlaxle gets challenged for his leadership of Bregan D’Arte, so he has to flee with Entreri. During their flight they meet up with Cadderly (who has met Drizzt and company before, but is known from the Cleric Quartet). In the second part we fnd the duo in the Bloodstone lands, fighting with, alongside and against King Gareth Dragonsbane in an attempt to gain riches while doing rightious things (known from the Bloodstone Pass series from the eighties). In the final part we travel to Memnon with Artemis Entreri to find his past and illuminate the merciless killer he has become, where we will find something new and surprising in the character. A lovely journey for the reader.

Marco Martens – Rubberboot

It’s only a little booklet, but in it we find stories that are recognizable and funny, sometimes touching and familiar. Marco Martens used to be active in hiphop and now in a sort of spoken word setting. Poetry is also part of this short bundle. An enjoyable, though brief read that you can probably still pick up somewhere if you’re lucky. If not, than you don’t.

Marco Martens is a talented writer and story teller. This book is a small display of his talents, but I hope it won’t be his last endeavour in the written word. Like his record ‘Ieder Huis Is Uit Vertrekken Gebouwd’  (out on Bastaard Platen), his writing is a mixture of humor, nostalgia and grief, all packed up into a nice cocktail that sticks. You can read it here.