When KISS‘ Gene Simmons announced that he would be performing select solo gigs throughout 2017, speculation ran wild. Was KISS ending? What songs would he play? Would it be a greatest hits show? Where would he perform? and on and on and on. One question loomed larger than most; who would Gene pick as his backing band? The answer is now known; and he couldn’t have made a better choice.
Meet the Gene Simmons Band
Ryan Cook – Guitar/Vocals
Ryan is no stranger to a stage. He fronted late 90’s hard rock act Hair of the Dog until 2002. Since then, he’s performed with several acts including European dates with Skid Row and is the founder of The Big Rock Show and a member of Thee Rock n Roll Residency in Nashville, TN.
Jeremy Asbrock – Guitar/Vocals
Jeremy, a Nashville native, has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best lead guitarists in a crowded market. His past bands include The Shazam and Valentine Saloon. He’s a current member and co-founder of the John Corabi band, The Big Rock Show and Thee Rock n Roll Residency in Nashville, TN.
Philip Shouse – Guitar/Vocals
Philip, originally from Alabama, has a variety of genres on his musical resume. He’s performed with Bo Bice (American Idol), Chris Cagle, and Rodney Atkins. He’s also a found of Thee Rock n Roll Residency.
Jarred Pope – Drums
Jarred, originally from California, has an impressive resume that includes performances with Whisky Falls with Damon & Buck Johnson, Thompson Square, Beasto Blanco, and an upcoming gig with Tom Keifer. He’s also a regular member of Thee Rock n Roll Residency in Nashville, TN
As someone that has witnessed this group of musicians perform numerous times, I can assure KISS fans that Gene couldn’t have chosen a better backing band. Each member of the band has a long history of playing note-perfect versions of rock n roll classics. The weekly Rock n Roll Residency concert series has become known for the staggering number of rock star drop-ins (including Alice Cooper, members of Deep Purple, Heart, Cheap Trick, Accept, and tons more). However, the basis of those drop ins is the rock solid foundation laid by the members of this band.
I grew up in Nashville and always dreamed that a rock n roll scene similar to the Sunset Strip of the 80’s would spring up in my town. Flash forward to 2017 and the city is absolutely fired up about rock n roll and these guys are a big part of that. Read my in-depth article about Thee Rock n Roll Residency HERE
If those credentials weren’t enough to convince you, then one other cool project related to this band certainly should put your mind at ease. Shouse and Asbrock, known affectionately as Blonder Than Hell, thrown an annual Merry KISSMAS charity concert in Nashville. This is no rinky-dink production. The band, which includes bassist ET Brown and drummer Christopher Williams (ACCEPT), pull out all the stops with costumes, makeup, and staging that truly take you back in time. On top of that, the performances of the KISS material is staggering. I’m as big a KISS nerd as you’ll find. I’ve seen tons of KISS tribute acts over the years. Performance-wise, nothing comes close to the Blonder than Hell shows. See the videos below for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
Gene Simmons has the right band for these solo gigs. Don’t think that these guys are looking at this job as just a paycheck. They are massive KISS fans and know the band’s history and material inside and out. I’ve personally been involved with some of the nerdiest discussions over the most minute details of KISS‘ history with these guys and no one gets lost (“I sent out for cigarettes three hours ago. A chain of command is bullshit!”).
The first show was recently performed for a corporate gig in Vancouver BC. The set, predictably, was filled out by classic KISS hits but there were a few surprises such as Treat Her Right by Roy Head, 634-5789 by Wilson Pickett, and Radioactive from his 1978 KISS solo album. I can’t reveal song titles but I have been told that more KISS rarities have been rehearsed for other shows on the tour so keep your ears peeled.