Gene Simmons Plots Revival of His Canadian Label


November 26, 2008

Kiss bassist and entrepreneur Gene Simmons is relaunching his label Simmons Records with Universal Music Canada and auto-parts baroness Belinda Stronach with the goal to sign, develop and merchandise three Canadian acts per year.

“This is going to be about career songs that define who and what a band is,” says Simmons, who was in Toronto to kick start the label and investigate potential acts.

Simmons has been almost omnipresent in recent years, with the reality show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” playing in more than 80 countries, and a myriad of other ventures, from marketing to comic books. Simmons Records last acted as an imprint of Sanctuary Records, releasing a Simmons’ solo album and a Canadian artist before folding.

He says his intent is to sign three Canadian acts a year and develop their songwriting, image and live skills before making any release. Universal will put the records out “when they are ready,” says Randy Lennox, president of Universal Music Canada.

Though they have not been signed, Simmons says he is particularly interested in Toronto hip-hop/funk act Down With Webster.

“I would blow Down With Webster in front of their moms,” Simmons says. No deal with the band has been inked, he adds.

Stronach’s involvement is unusual given her family’s focus on auto parts and horse racing. Lennox says Stronach is a music fan and is investing her own money in the venture. Simmons previously had a relationship with the Stronach family through his marketing company, Simmons Abramson Marketing, which ran a campaign for an energy drink created by Frank Stronach.

Simmons is not making a financial commitment to the label, instead investing what he characterized as “sweat equity.”

“I’m not doing this because of the money,” he says. “I’m like Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist’ – I’m possessed.”

Simmons’ connection with Stronach, the daughter of auto parts magnate Frank Stronach who recently had a successful foray into Canadian federal politics with both the Conservative and Liberal parties, comes through the promotion of Frank’s Energy Drink, a beverage Simmons’ marketing company promoted.

Simmons says the goal of the imprint is to refine the songs in order to keep recording costs down. Once the record is ready, he intends to cross-promote it through a variety of ventures, including a reality television program with an as-yet unnamed Canadian network.

“This is about having all the platforms covered,” he says. “Having the record come out with a reality show at the same time the media is writing about the album. It will engulf you.”

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