By John Jeffrey
Las Vegas, NV - This past Saturday, Rock Music Star was on hand for the KISS Monster Mini Golf's first ever 'KISSmas' party, located at the mini golf's new location, inside of the beautiful Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. In this current age of paid meet & greets (KISS being one of the first to pioneer these highly debated fan packages), to be able to meet a member of KISS for free, is truly an early KISSmas present for their fans. The event had a great turn out, as many on hand were KISS Kruise attendees from all around the world, and what seemed like fans from the whole western US, Canada, and people flying in from as far away as Japan.
The event was very organized and seemed to run smoothly. With arguably, the most 'fan friendly' members of KISS - Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, signing autographs and posing for pictures in separate rooms, attendees were able to pre-purchase their number in line if they did not want to wait in line. For those who did not want to pay for a number in line, they allowed fans to show up as early as 10am to receive a line up number and then could return at 2pm to get their place in line, as both Tommy and Eric started signing at 2:30.
Although the event was free, they did charge a minimal fee for autographs ($20 for any item of your choosing), and both Tommy and Eric were selling their own merchandise that you could purchase at the event. After the signing, Tommy and Eric did a Q&A around 4:30pm and held a private VIP party at 5pm for 50 special guests. They were also giving away limited signed and numbered Tommy & Eric souvenir vinyl 45 records, as part of a "Best Ugly KISSmas Sweater" contest.
The atmosphere of the mini golf was a truly a KISS fan's dream. With amazing 3D artwork in the golfing area, and (of course) a store with a wide variety of merchandise for sale, and a whole bunch of stuff on display, you could spend a couple hours just looking. The KISS Monster Mini Golf is probably the closest thing we'll ever see to a 'KISS World' type store, and speaking of 'KISS World,' apparently this is what the band is naming their recently announced, 2017 European tour extravaganza. Making it's debut at the KMMG, was the latest piece of exclusive KMMG merchandise - "KISS air guitar strings." Essentially, a plastic bag with nothing in it, it's a great gag gift, and pretty funny, since many people have joked that one day, KISS would sell "KISS air," which is pretty close to this.
First up for Rock Music Star, was meeting up with KISS drummer, Eric Singer. Eric was in great spirits and was joking around, as always. Attending the event during a perfectly unplanned flight layover in Vegas, I made the mistake of telling Eric I was feeling jet-lagged, as I don't normally do much flying, and I was physically struggling with the three hour, west coast/east coast time difference. Eric enjoyed busting my chops, especially when I incorrectly stated the version of "I Still Love You" playing over the PA system was from 'Alive III,' when it was in fact from 'KISS Unplugged.' In my defense, whoever was playing the music, unbeknownst to me, had the play list on a shuffle between 'Alive III' and 'KISS Unplugged,' and the song playing prior was from 'Alive III.' Interesting enough, my faux pas started a conversation with Eric and I,regarding 'Alive III,' as Eric absolutely hates the drum sound that was captured for the album. To this day, Eric is still miffed at Eddie's Kramer's choice of using the Rolling Stones scaled-down, mobile recording unit in order to document the 'Revenge' tour, and especially with the technique they used in micing his drums (which instead of micing the entire drum set, they only mic'd segments of his kit and relied heavily upon two overhead microphones placed above him), and other recording errors, like only capturing half of Derek Sherinian's (KISS' offstage keyboardist) keyboards.
After seeing Eric, we went to meet up KISS lead axeman, Tommy Thayer. While Tommy was much more subdued than Eric, he was very accommodating to the fans as always. Unfortunately, we didn't get much 'face time' with Tommy as he was doing a "Facebook live" broadcast for the official KISS FB page. However, we did get to witness Tommy meeting two of his biggest fans from Japan. One of them brought their "White Lightning" Tommy Thayer Epiphone model guitar to be personalized by Tommy and his female companion was cited as being the "#1 Japanese Female Tommy Thayer fan," as she created a Tommy Thayer tribute t-shirt which says, "Tommy is Life." Tommy noted that the "White Lightning" guitar is now officially 'sold out' and mentioned that he has some ideas for a third signature model.
During the Q&A, while there really wasn't anything "newsworthy" to report, the duo were asked about a new KISS record, as a female fan asked about the new album (Eric said, "What new Album?") and she elaborated, "the album Paul Stanley has been mentioning," and Eric replied, "He hasn't told us."
They both told a few funny stories about their earlier bands, and a member of the crowd asked them to tell Paul and Gene to play more 80's 'unmasked era' material and while the crowd all cheered, Tommy said they would "work on it."
Other notable bits of information were when Tommy and Eric were asked about coming up with new costume ideas, they said they have "some input" when they design new costumes, but Paul is really the one who in charge of those types of things. Someone asked about their favorite show opening entrance, and Eric said his favorite one was when he came up from behind the KISS sign in 2009. Tommy told a funny story about playing "Modern Day Delilah" (when they used it as their opening song in 2010-2011) for like 5 minutes while they waited for the lift to carry them over the drums during their entrance, and how they finally gave up on the lift working and ran around the drums and went into the song.
Another member of the crowd asked what they plan to do when Paul and/or Gene retire from KISS, and they both said they just take "one day at a time."
This was a just a great event for KISS fans, and it's awesome that it was held at such a cool KISS themed venue, like the KISS Monster Mini Golf. Outside of a concert, this the best KISS related event I've attended in years and I hope KMMG provides more KISS excitement for the fans for many years to come.
Special Thanks to Diana MacDonald, Eric Singer, Christina Vitagliano and Randy from the KISSfaq.