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Tongue-tied: interviewing Gene Simmons

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Jamie Stangroom | 11:16 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

Gene Simmons of Kiss 


Kiss bassist Gene Simmons brought his unpainted face and massive tongue to London this week to host the ‘Classic Rock Awards 2011’.


And before he appeared on The One Show, I was granted 20 minutes with the tongued god himself in the programmes ‘Green Room’; a room that isn’t actually green, just in case you were wondering.


Upon arrival I found Gene struggling to pin a poppy to his suit jacket; it upset me to see such a giant of rock have his mood taken down by a tiny paper flower, like the Incredible Hulk struggling to contain a tiny yet pretty enemy.


Whilst the struggle continued, the interview began…



With a strict time limit I had been warned that Gene doesn’t really do answers but instead delivers lectures, much like my Up All Night buddy Dotun Adebayo where an anecdote is suitably known as an epic-dote, but even more terrifying than that pun was Gene’s hair.


I for one believe that the relationship between a man and his barber is sacred, a real bond, but I don’t think this is the same for Gene Simmons, I imagine he actually considers normal hair to be for wimps.


Let’s just say that whatever is on top of his head scientists work on; planting robotics inside that are designed to do anything - paint a face, play a bass guitar, look ridiculous, I mean absolutely anything, except put a poppy on.


There were two things I particularly wanted from this interview: one was to get a glimpse of the famous tongue, purely for selfish reasons. This didn’t happen as Gene refused to give the beast an airing - who’s selfish now? Give the people what they want Gene.


Secondly was to know a little more about Gene’s alleged 4,800 (!) sexual liaisons; a figure that he’s been openly bragging about for years. Armed with questions and my inquisitive nature I ignored the fact that his wife (Shannon Tweed) was sat right next to him and rightly or wrongly began to quiz on that very subject.


Believe it or not this didn’t go down too well, with Shannon at one point exclaiming “Is this what this interview’s about?”. It wasn’t, not entirely anyway and nor was it about her.Shannon Tweed, Gene Simmons & Jamie Stangroom


The longer the interview went on my chances of seeing Gene’s tongue were slipping away, back to the outer reaches of his mouth - I did consider grabbing it, a sign of a desperate man - and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse; off popped the poppy (again) and the interview drew to a close. If only his tongue behaved like his poppy.

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Even before the interview began Gene was surprisingly sedate and Shannon far from welcoming. This can often be the case when you get a star towards the end of a day of back-to-back interviews. I’m not blameless, an interview should be a two way street but sometimes it does feel like an interview is doomed before it’s even begun, often dictated by mood.


Fair enough that Gene is married now and wants to move on but in my opinion when you happily put your past in the public domain, you can’t be surprised when it gets brought up again.


Happy ending though:  he got his poppy back on his jacket and it appeared to stay there for the duration of his One Show interview, according to my mum.


Jamie Stangroom is a reporter for BBC Radio 5 live


  • Comment number 1.

    The only comment necessary is that this does not belong on a 5Live Blog.

  • Comment number 2.

    And what is more, the excellent reports from Anna Foster have moved me and informed me and a blog from her would be most fitting and appropriate on this Remembrance weekend instead of, well, this.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fantasically produced, awe inspiring,intellectually challenging, a contender for the Blog Post of the year award, these are some of the Words and Phrases that CANNOT be associated with this Blog Post, i would expect such things to appear in the Daily Star or The Sun.

    I know the Blurb states "Behind the Scenes at 5live" but really this Post is below the Belt.

  • Comment number 4.

    Carrie: Anna has written a piece from Afghanistan, which will be going up - with a selection of her reports - tomorrow.

  • Comment number 5.

    She is a very warm and has a lovely way of interviewing people which is a relief after some of the stuff we hear............................look forward to the blog and congratulations on the broadcasts from Afghanistan, where my family currently have a young friend serving.

  • Comment number 6.

    The BBC has a huge website and I am sure many hours and space were and are dedicated to Remembrance Sunday and our the sacrifice that our troops are making all over the world.
    Lets keep things in perspective and give a young journalist a chance!

  • Comment number 7.

    Not sure this is the place to find out that BBC young journalists are having a practice on what I take to be a serious blog page. In fact I know it isn't.

    Where is Anna's piece? Coming soon to show everyone how it is done, hopefully.

  • Comment number 8.

    I do not believe I mentioned anyone having a 'practice'. Some people are obviously fans of Anna which I am sure is well placed devotion, people are welcome to their opinions but I am saddened by such negativity and lack of constructive criticism.


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