‘The Beatles on steroids': Gene Simmons says Kiss builds off Fab Four’s musical template

In the run up to Tuesday’s release of Monster, Kiss’ Gene Simmons was asked to name some of the band’s principle influences and the answer — those lovable mop tops of yore? — might surprise some.

In fact, Simmons compares Kiss’ song format, share songwriting credits and rotating vocals to the Beatles — “on steroids,” he quick adds. After all, Ringo Starr never put on cat makeup, and flames never shot out of George Harrison’s guitar, right?

Monster, Kiss’ 20th studio effort, is the quartet’s first album since releasing Sonic Boom three years back. Co-produced by fellow Kiss co-founding member Paul Stanley, it again features Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums.

Kiss being Kiss, of course, there have already been a dizzying number of commercial tie ins, including a giant coffee table book, a 10-hour DVD collection, a themed golf course, a new comic book and even a new clothing line in conjunction with Hello Kitty. Also, a huge tour — called, simply, “The Tour” — with Motley Crue, in a reprise of their 1982 jaunt together.

So, how is this like the Beatles again?

In an interview held in advance of the new album’s street date, Christa Titus of Billboard magazine asked Simmons to give “a nod to the bands who influenced you.”

He said: “Almost without exception, English bands. We follow the Beatles’ songwriting format, A-B-A, verse-chorus-verse basically, and Kiss really was designed to be the Beatles on steroids: Four guys who can write songs, four guys who can sing. So when you get a new Kiss record like the Monster record, which drops this month, you’ll find everyone in the band takes a turn singing lead. We’ve all got songwriting credit, unlike any other band, by the way. So there’s the classic Stones, Led Zeppelin and the rest, where there’s one lead singer, this guy only plays guitar, only one guy sings and the rest don’t. But the Beatles weren’t like any other band. Everybody in the band sang, which is why you knew everybody in the band.”

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