Gene Simmons and Dave Navarro: Ass Men
GUITAR WORLD How did you guys first hook up?
DAVE NAVARRO It was in 2003, when I was working on the last Jane’s Addiction album, Strays, with Bob Ezrin. Gene came down to the studio because he and Bob are old friends—Bob produced Kiss’ Destroyer. I don’t know if you know this, but I grew up listening to Kiss. My first show ever was Kiss with Cheap Trick at the L.A. Forum when I was 11 years old.
GENE SIMMONS One of three nights.
NAVARRO I went the second night. It was unbelievable. I’ve been a fan ever since.
SIMMONS It was 1977, right?
NAVARRO Yeah, ’77. My first show ever.
GW Dave, did you ever don Kiss makeup as a kid and pose in front of the mirror?
NAVARRO Absolutely. We used to take cardboard cut-out shapes of guitars, glue them onto broomsticks and do Kiss shows in my house. I didn’t even own a guitar back then, so I had to make one out of cardboard. And naturally, after Gene and I met, we’d see one another around town. But I don’t know how it came to be that I’m here in the studio now recording guitar tracks for Gene’s album.
SIMMONS I know how it came about. This hip English producer, the Overseer, was assigned to produce this one stellar kind of track on my album—a cover of the Prodigy’s “Firestarter.” And the idea was, “How do you make it different?” It’s a very exciting song but it didn’t have guitars on the original. And if you’re going to have anybody rock out on guitar—to use the parlance of the street—it should be Dave Navarro.
NAVARRO When I got the call to work with Gene, I didn’t know if he wanted me to wash his car or play some music. Either way, I was in. And when I found out he wanted me to play guitar, naturally I was very comfortable with the idea. And since we’re doing a Prodigy track, I wanted to approach the guitar with more of an electronic vibe. So it’s more of a Pro Tools, cut-up approach. Less performance-oriented.
GW In reviewing your careers, one thing that emerges is that you both come from bands that have had a somewhat androgynous image.
SIMMONS Androgynous? That’s a big word, like “gymnasium.” Where’d you get that word?
GW Writers know lots of words. And you two have inspired countless thousands of young men to wear makeup. Any makeup tips you want to share?
NAVARRO You know, it’s the kind of thing where, if you’re asking for tips, it’s probably not for you.
GW But think of the poor reader. The guy’s gonna slop on some eyeliner and look like a dope.
NAVARRO Frankly, I’m all for it. Because the more dopes there are out there, the better I stand out. So readers, give it your best shot.
SIMMONS For Paul [Stanley] and me, our first attempt at makeup was in a pre-Kiss band called Wicked Lester. It was very drag, kinda like a bad version of the New York Dolls, who we loved, but whose look was kinda just bad David Bowie. We then ended Wicked Lester very quickly and decided, Okay, if we’re gonna wear makeup, the only way we can do it is to be ourselves. None of us had training in makeup design or anything. We just started fooling around. What came out for me was the expression of the superhero/horror/science-fiction sort of genre that I always admired and still do. So I guess my makeup advice is, be yourself.
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