Kiss bassist Gene Simmons plans to hold "asshole parties" to promote his first solo album in twenty-six years. The disc, appropriately titled Asshole, includes contributions from Bob Dylan, Dave Navarro and the late Frank Zappa, and will be released May 18th.
During off-nights on the upcoming Kiss tour, Simmons, who claims to be "the world's biggest asshole," will take over a club, where only true assholes will be admitted. "No fakers allowed," says the fifty-four-year-old rocker. "And, of course, once you come in, you'll be given a certificate which will certify that you're a real asshole."
Simmons' winning personality didn't stop rock's most celebrated songwriter from working with him. The fruit of his and Dylan's collaboration is "Waiting for the Morning Light," a song Simmons had begun nine years earlier. "I called Bob Dylan cold one day," Simmons says. "I said, 'Hi Bob, it's Gene Simmons. Do you want to write a song together? And I was surprised to hear, 'Yeah, sure, come on.' So we got together at my house, and in one afternoon we came up with some chords that Bob put together and I sang a melody against it, and bingo: 'Waiting for the Morning Light.'"
Another years-in-the-making track is "Black Tongue," a song begun by Frank Zappa. "When Frank was alive, he invited me over to his home and I sat around with his family, and he was very gracious," Simmons recalls. "After he passed away, I asked his wife whether or not he had any unfinished songs, and [Zappa's son] Dweezil brought over a thirty-second tidbit of a piece originally called 'Black Tongue.'" Simmons then layered guitars, drums and vocals over it, and kept the title. He also invited the entire Zappa family -- wife Gail, Dweezil, daughter Moon, and son Ahmet -- to join him on background vocals, with Dweezil adding more guitar to his father's original part.
Asshole also features Simmons' own family. Shannon Tweed, his live-in girlfriend of twenty years, and her mother Louise sing on "Whatever Turns You On"; Simmons' fifteen-year-old son Nick sings on "Carnival of Souls"; and his eleven-year-old daughter Sophie sings on "Now That You're Gone."
The album's single is a cover of Prodigy's "Firestarter," featuring Jane's Addiction guitarist Navarro.
Simmons, who begins touring the U.S. with Kiss June 10th in San Antonio, has no plans to hit the road behind Asshole . . . yet. "If somebody stands up with a large enough check," he says, "I'll go out."
The Asshole track listing:
Carnival of Souls
If I Had a Gun
Waiting for the Morning Light
Whatever Turns You On
Sweet and Dirty Love
Now That You're Gone
I Dream a Thousand Dreams