Wednesday, August 24, 2016

30 MINUTES WITH Gene Simmons: ‘I still fly up to the top of the rafters and spit fire’

Gene Simmons


Gene Simmons: ‘I still fly up to the top of the rafters and spit fire’

Descending to the stage on a flying-saucer is a dangerous business, says the Keane-loving Kiss frontman

Peter Robinson
Thursday 19 May 2016 12.00 BST

Hi Gene!
Hello! I am Gene Simmons.
Great. Your summer tour is called the Freedom to Rock tour. Is freedom to rock a right or a privilege?
You’d like to think it’s a right, but it really is a privilege. We can say here in western culture that it’s a right, but that doesn’t mean anything in North Korea, Iran or other places. So, do I think it’s an inalienable human right? Of course. Does it exist like that as a fait accompli? No. You’ve got to fight for it.

Gene Simmons

When we last spoke, 10 years ago, you told me you were a fan of Keane because they were bringing melody back to music. Do you still like Keane?
I really liked Keane, I thought the guy’s voice was really great. You have to remember Keane came before Coldplay, as far as I understand it. (1) Good songs are good songs, whether it’s Abba, Keane or Motörhead. So, yes, I really liked Keane, but the masses didn’t grab on to them, did they?
They were quite big in the UK.
No, I think you’re misunderstanding. The word “big” has some value: you can’t apply it to “big in Leicester” or “big in Sheffield”. You’re either big worldwide or you’re not big. Otherwise you devalue the word “big”. U2 are big.
I would have said “huge” is a possible next step up from “big”. U2 are huge, Keane were big.
You know, you’re right. These are semantics. But I’m not anti-semantic.
You used that exact same joke when we spoke 10 years ago.
I only know five things, and I repeat them.

What are the other four things?
How about “you’re a powerful and attractive man”?
You said that to a writer from Vice last week.
You know, what I’m shocked at is that you remember what I said to you 10 years ago. Don’t you have a hobby or something? That’s fascinating.
Why haven’t Kiss had a platinum record since the 80s? (2)
It is what it is; the people speak. That’s the beginning and end of it. I will say that I think, in hindsight, we never spent enough time in the studio. We’ve always been more of a live band. Personally, I don’t have the patience to be in the studio. I admire bands like Pink Floyd and the Beatles who’d spend enormous amounts of time honing their craft, but I don’t have that DNA in my system. Some bands are more about being live. You want to get in there, bang it out and go out and play.
Speaking of which, there’s a Kiss live film coming to cinemas. (3) What happens in it?
We were going to try some new technology for our show and we planned to rehearse in Vegas and set up the stage, then we figured, if we have the place for 10 days, why don’t we do 10 concerts in front of a live audience? We tried descending on a flying saucer thing from the back of the hall. There was no net; if you fall, you die. We only did that once or twice. I still fly up to the top of the rafters and spit fire – there’s enough life-threatening stuff during the show without adding something else.
Gene Simmons

Some of your recent comments suggest you’re planning to vote for Donald Trump. Is that right? (4)
That’s totally inaccurate. I’ve known the man over the years, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for him. To be quite honest, I wish celebrities would shut up: I don’t like the idea of celebrities announcing who they’re for and not for, because a number of their fans will be voting just because their favourite band said to do so. That takes away the honesty of the democratic process. I’m totally against advertising who I want to vote for, and I haven’t made up my mind, quite honestly. Celebrities should shut up and keep it private. (5)

Do you think there’s a place for artists to speak up over issues such as North Carolina’s discrimination law?
I do – but that’s not a political issue, that’s a human rights issue. Discrimination of any kind ... Well, I don’t agree with Donald Trump on his views on, say, Mexico – I would certainly speak up over the border.
Do you ever consider the circumstances of your own death?
I suppose it won’t matter, will it? Once you’re gone, you’re gone. But I’d like to think on my tombstone it’s going to say: “Thank you and goodnight.” Rather than “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.” If I look back on my life so far, I’m pretty proud of the decisions I’ve made. (6)

Are there any surprises in your will?
I’m very corny, I’m giving a lot of it away to causes and ideas that I believe are important. Most of it will not go to the inheritors. We all do what we think we should do. Mostly, I think, not to betoo corny, we should all try to leave this place a bit better than when we came into it.
Thanks Gene. Next time we speak, let’s have some new jokes.
Yes, sir. I’ve got some visual jokes – we’ll have to meet in person and I’ll show you those.

Gene Simmons


1) Gene’s right and wrong. Keane formed in 1995, but released their first single in 2000; Coldplay formed in 1996 and released their first EP in 1998.
2) 1987’s Crazy Nights, which had Crazy Nights on it, went platinum in Canada.
4) Gene told Rolling Stone that Trump was “the truest political animal I’ve ever seen onstage”.
5) Let’s take that as a yes, then.
6) On 31 December 1973, Gene set his hair on fire for the first time.

30 minutes with Fiona Shaw: 'I prepared for True Blood by going to witches' meetings'

Fiona Shaw


Fiona Shaw: 'I prepared for True Blood by going to witches' meetings'

The acclaimed Irish performer talks about the call from Hollywood that every actor dreams about

Fiona Shaw
Photo byJohn Swannell

Let's start with True Blood ...
We're going to end with True Blood, too, aren't we?
Er, no. Anyway, you're a witch ... It's not exactly typecasting.
No. I just got a phone call one day. They didn't even go through my agent. Hollywood ringing – it's what everyone dreams about. They'd seen me in Medea(1) and decided I'd be ideal. Medea was very glamorous, though; Marnie isn't, but I wanted to do something that was so far away from what I was used to. I did a lot of research by going to witches' meetings …
How do you find a witches' meeting? Is there a Witches' Anonymous?
There's the Bodhi Tree book store (2)in Hollywood, which has books on healing and that sort of thing, and in the window there are notices for a phenomenal range of offerings. I went to one meeting to bring back the dead.
Did any dead people come back from the dead?
Well ... They do. But not in the form of True Blood. They come back vocally.
You believe that?
I didn't say that! But it would be rude of me to be unpleasant about people who let me observe their meetings. So let's say I saw them talk to the dead. At one meeting, a woman apologised for not being able to make contact with the dead. I said not to worry as I'm having trouble contacting the living.
How do you say a line like "Great Minerva, take us from our realm to yours" with a straight face?
It was a challenge.
Was appearing in Harry Potter useful training?
No. I was Petunia Dursley, a muggle, in those films.
Didn't you get any tips from the others?
No, they kept us all apart. They filmed witches work on one day and muggle scenes on the other.
Would you have taken this role 10 years ago?
I've never taken myself too seriously, but it's true that big TV shows like this have become more acceptable. HBO has become the hedge fund of classical acting. The writing is excellent and they aren't afraid to use the full potential of wide-screen TV. It was like being invited to appear in 12 movies. It's by far the biggest thing I've ever done: it gets an audience of 30m in the US. I get mobbed walking down Fifth Avenue. That's never happened to me before.
Are you keen to do more vampire roles?
Not particularly! But True Blood is a critique of the way the US treats minorities. Now that the vampires have conformed and no longer drink human blood they get equal rights and the vote.
Is it true friends call you Fifi?
Very few people get to call me Fifi. And even fewer get to call me Feef.
Fiona Shaw by Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian

Can you still recite The Waste Land (3)
Of course. It doesn't leave me. The words are like a movie that I see in my head. I can also remember most of As You Like It and Much Ado, which I performed in my 20s. The plays you learn when you are young tend to stay.
How do you learn your lines?
The key words are learning by heart, not learning by head. When you're on stage, it doesn't feel like memory, it feels like the present. I don't have to rummage through mental files to find then. Plays like Beckett's Happy Days(4) are the trickiest. The dialogue is much, much more fragmented and exists only in rhythm.

Have you ever lost your place in a play and had to ad-lib?The key words are learning by heart, not learning by head. When you're on stage, it doesn't feel like memory, it feels like the present. I don't have to rummage through mental files to find then. Plays like Beckett's Happy Days(4) are the trickiest. The dialogue is much, much more fragmented and exists only in rhythm.

Ah, there's your stupid question! I was waiting for it to come. The answer is no ... A play is not an act of running lines. If it feels that way to you as an audience, then you ought to leave and go have dinner. If an actor is distracted and forgets his lines, it means the play is under-rehearsed. A play is about the concentration of the moment: you can't say anything else but what you say. There is an inevitability about it.
Who is the best person you've ever worked with?
Are you mad?
So my shrink says.
I've got to live in the world, so I've no intention of answering that question. I'd end up alienating almost everyone else I have ever worked with.
Alain de Botton is planning on building a temple of atheism. Would you worship there?
I find atheism as ludicrous a notion as theism, though a world with theism strikes me as a more imaginative one. True or not, the imagination of religion is useful to being human. I don't believe in God, but I can't not believe in a world where God exists.
You once played Richard II (5). Are there other male roles you would play?
I've no desire to play any more men. Richard II was an odd man – more like a girl – so it seemed a valid experiment. The job of the theatre is to excite the imagination, not to reinforce history.
Is there one character you identify with?
Hedda Gabler. She lives primarily in drawing rooms and we all live in drawing rooms. She also constantly doubts her courage: when I feel frightened about something, I think of her.

Fiona Shaw

Foot notes

(1) Fiona Shaw appeared in Medea by Euripides in 2001 (2) The Bodhi Street book store closed on 31 December 2011. It is currently awaiting reincarnation (3) Shaw first performed TS Eliot's The Waste Land as a one-person show in New York in 1996 (4) Shaw appeared in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days at the National Theatre in 2001 (5) Shaw played the title role in Shakespeare's Richard II in 1995 in a production directed by Deborah Warner

30 minutes with The Rock / 'THAT is what I'm cooking'

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson
The Rock

'THAT is what I'm cooking'

Dwayne Johnson on working with Michael Caine, and his trailblazing use of pecs in his new movie

Stuart Heritage
Thursday 2 February 2012 20.00 GMT

Who am I speaking to? The Rock or Dwayne Johnson? It's hard to keep up.
You're speaking to both, as well as Big Daddy (1).
How would you describe Journey 2 Mysterious Island (2)?
The film is a lot of fun. It's visually stunning with some great special effects, some great action sequences, some great tension and adventure. Last, but certainly not least, I look great in 3D.
And how would The Rock describe it?
The Rock would describe the film in the same way that I just described it. But at the end, he'd say: "The Rock looks great in 3D."
What was it like working with Michael Caine (3)? You get into some good arguments in the first half.
We had an outstanding chemistry from the beginning. I have been such a big admirer of Sir Michael for years now. He is humble, he's gracious, he's a man's man, tells a great dirty joke. We had a great chemistry offscreen, and a great biting chemistry onscreen.
You sing in this film, too. At what point did you realise this was going to happen? Can you play the ukulele?
We needed a break in the third act because there's tension – the island's sinking and there's so much mayhem – we needed a good moment where the audience could just breathe. We came up with the campfire scene, and I thought: "Why don't I pull out the ukulele, sing What a Wonderful World to the others and change the second verse around so I take a few jabs at Michael and call him Yoda?". That's me playing the ukulele. I grew up in a musical family; the majority of my growing up was done in Hawaii. It's what we do. You sing, you dance, you play ukulele and you drink.

Dwayne Johnson

So you sang What a Wonderful World in the film and you recorded It Doesn't Matter with Wyclef (4). Should we expect an album soon?
It looks that way. It just looks that way. I'm going down that road, and I'm going to get nominated for a Grammy, and then I will be on the stage and thanking everyone. I will also thank you for bringing the album up.
Thanks. I'd be delighted.
I'm only kidding.
As far as I can tell, this is the first movie where 3D has been used to show a berry pinging off a jiggly man boob into the audience. What's it like to be a history maker?
It's what I do, Stuart. I break ground. I trailblaze. I make history in 3D. The funny part is that we were the first beneficiaries of James Cameron's advanced 3D technology post-Avatar. I was on a plane with one of our producers and I thought: "Gosh, we have all these visually incredible scenes. How can I utilise my body in a way that we've never seen before?" I didn't wanna punch at the camera or kick at the camera. Then I thought what if I make my pecs – and, for the record, not man boobs, Stuart, they're called pecs (5) – bounce into the audience? My producer was eating peanuts and he says: "I got it. What if a character bounces berries off your pecs into the audience?" and I said: "That's brilliant! Then we'll do rapid-fire, so we'll have multiple berries bouncing off my pecs into the faces of the audience!" And then with that, my friend, comes making history.
Is the Pec Pop of Love (6) really a proven seduction technique?
It is proven. Not everyone can do it, because, let's face it, it's a gift. But it will get the attention of a woman anywhere around the world. Now, I'm not saying that that shit works. I am saying that it will get her attention. What comes out of your mouth next is going to be the determining factor of whether or not you're gonna do the horizontal hula with her.
Wrestlers don't traditionally have the best reputation when it comes to film-making. Are there any other films starring wrestlers that you've enjoyed?
[Long pause] The only film I've enjoyed starring a wrestler was Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (7). That's it.
I could never smell what The Rock was cooking, by the way. What was it?
I'm glad you asked. It's Chilean blackened sea bass with crushed mango on the side, a bottle of Red Bull and a dozen hairy doughnuts. THAT is what I'm cooking.
Dwayne Johnson


1 Probably not the famed British wrestler of the same name. He died in 1997. The likelihood is this is a colloquialism. 2 Forthcoming sequel to 2008's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. 3 Michael Caine plays the grandfather of The Rock's stepson. He spends some of the film riding around on a giant bee. 4 No 3, September 2000. 5 I apologise. 6 When a man jiggles his pecs around until a woman becomes unable to resist him. 7 Other acceptable answer: They Live, starring "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Quincy Jones / The day Michael Jackson's pet snake got loose in the studio

Quincy Jones
Photograph by Canadian Press
Poster by T.A.

Quincy Jones: the day Michael Jackson's pet snake got loose in the studio

He played Vegas with Sinatra, produced Miles Davis and borrowed Bowie’s yacht to go on holiday. Quincy Jones talks about growing up in gangland Chicago, Joe Pesci’s jazz album – and why he’ll leave the US if his former friend Trump wins
Stephen Smith
Tuesday 23 August 2016 18.17 BST

ou might imagine that the best connected man in London would be a faceless civil servant who has the mobile number of every world leader and his or her pharmacologist. In fact, the title might belong to a stooped and slightly deaf 83-year-old, who is humming trumpet parts in a rehearsal room in the shadow of the Shard.

Quincy Jones has steadily accumulated kudos and leverage everywhere from the cat houses of the old R&B circuit to the Oval Office. And now he’s dropping names with the practised dispatch of a short order chef cracking eggs into a skillet. Sure, he knows Donald Trump from way back. The two men were once friends, though Jones growls: “I’ll leave the country if that sucker wins.” (Of course, he may be a little parti pris, as he was the musical director of Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.) David Bowie? A huge loss as well as a dear friend, from whom Jones somewhat improbably rented a yacht for his vacations.

David Bailye / This much I know / Cockneys don´t cry

This much I know

David Bailey: 'Cockneys don't cry. It's not for me, all that whingeing and moaning'

The photographer, 76, on class snobbery, the importance of body language, and being an outsider

Shahesta Shaitly
Saturday 15 February 2014 15.00 GMT

My two biggest influences are Walt Disney and Picasso. I was six years old when the local cinema in Upton Park was bombed by a V2. I was so pissed off with Hitler. I thought he'd killed Bambi and Mickey Mouse.
I spent my childhood in a state of embarrassment because I couldn't spell. I was severely dyslexic and didn't learn to read until I joined the Air Force.
You always get stuck with where you began. People think of my days in the swinging 60s, regardless of what I've done in the following 50 years.
The 50s was the worst decade I've lived through. It was grim. The soundtrack was cracking glass – everywhere you went, there was broken glass. At least people had fun during the war in the 40s – there was a general attitude of: "Why not do it tonight? We could all be dead tomorrow."
I don't know why they let me in at Vogue [in 1960]. Back then they didn't even use models who were working class. The number of times I heard: "Oh no, we can't shoot her, have you heard her speak?" It was class snobbery of the highest order. I think I got in because the art director [John French] was gay. We were both outsiders and that's why he kept me.
The thought of eating flesh makes my stomach turn. My dad thought I was queer when I stopped eating meat at 12 and refused to play football.
I'm not sure what art is. I couldn't describe it. It's like love – sort of ethereal.
Waking up makes me happy. I'm still here! I rise with the larks. I like the light the morning brings and feel I've lost the day if I miss it.
Cockneys don't cry. It's not for me, all that whingeing and moaning. And it annoys me when others do it. Get over it! Things could always be worse.
We live, we grow old, we die. I don't want to go, but I am curious to see what happens.
Political correctness is a form of mind control. We all have the right to think, and say, what we want.
My wife has never lost her mystery. I'm sure that's why we've been married for so long. I'm still crazy about her. I loved my other wives – Penelope Tree, Catherine Deneuve, Marie Helvin – but not in the same way as Catherine [Dyer].
I wish I had more empathy. I tend to see things as they are. If a friend says, "My girlfriend's left me," my first reaction is, "Find another one". I don't understand why people make a fuss over something they can't control.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they move. Body language says more than what someone can verbalise. Some people are more erudite and articulate than others, but that doesn't mean they're more interesting or valid.
My greatest fear is that my dick will drop off. It's every man's worst nightmare if they're honest.


David Bailey / This much I know / Les is more. Except for sex

This much I know
David Bailey
Less is more. Except for sex.

David Bailey, 64, photographer, on the lessons he's learnt in life

Interview by Stuart Husband
Sunday 28 April 2002 00.36 BST

I find it hard to talk to people who don't make me laugh or don't talk about me.
Every time I look at something I see it as a photograph and not for what it is. Like the story of Dali going to court for kicking a blind old beggar, and the judge saying, 'Why did you do it?' and Dali saying, 'Well, he's privileged, he doesn't have the burden of seeing.'
We read the wrong way. We should do it like the Arabs - right to left. We should explore that.
Arrogance has always carried the day for me.
I've never been that interested in fashion. I suppose I've got a homosexual side to me. To be a good fashion photographer, you can't approach women like a straight guy would. It's not phwoar, look at her, it's about liking women, flattering them. Of course, I slept with them too. If the predatory thing wasn't there, you wouldn't be normal.
I wasn't conscious of class until I went into the Royal Air Force. No one can comprehend it now, but back then it was like the caste thing in India: to the officers, I was an untouchable.
The 60s never stopped. It was like a Big Bang - the floodgates opened, and people are still reaping the benefits.
I feel about 20 years younger than I am. I think that's down to diet; I've been a vegetarian since I was 10 and I've never drunk milk. I think that plays a big part in boosting energy levels and sorting you out emotionally.
But I don't think you are what you eat. After all, Hitler was a vegetarian, wasn't he?
Always be suspicious of experts and authority in general, at least if you're any kind of artist. You need the outsider's eye. Gangsters and artists are very close. But gangsters dress better.
Jude Law
Photo by David Bailey

I fall in love with people while I'm photographing them.
I thoroughly recommend having a few goes at marriage. The fact I've got the perfect relationship now is all down to the market research that went before.
We should bring back square people. They've all gone, and there's nothing to kick against. Look at Posh and Becks. They're supposedly hip, but it's all bought from a store - the right suit, the right furniture. It's not cool to be cool any more. I like anoraks. They're the last people who actually care about anything. I know people who fly model airplanes on Dartmoor, near my house. Some silly old woman was bleating that they should be stopped, but I stuck up for them. We should always stick up for anoraks.
Biology is destiny. That's why you see so many fat, ugly old men with beautiful girls.
I was never going to be a casualty. If I smoked three joints in the 60s it would have been a lot. I just don't have an addictive personality. Work has always been my vice.
I like classical beauty. I love the busts in the Sistine Chapel museum. They all look like my wife or Christy Turlington. Big eyes, straight nose, long neck. But there's different kinds of beauty. Georgia O'Keeffe and Diana Vreeland were beautiful as old women. My ideal woman is someone with mystery. I don't really want to understand them.
I learnt nothing at school because I was dyslexic and they couldn't be bothered with me. I left on my 15th birthday. People get education mixed up with intelligence. I've got an African grey parrot that could get A levels.
You should never meet your heroes. I could have photographed Picasso, but avoided him. It would spoil your illusions. You don't want to know that your heroes wipe their arses, just like everyone else.
If you're going to be a photographer's assistant, get comfortable shoes.
Virility? My Aunt Dolly used to say you can't keep sharpening a pencil. But I've got three kids now and I've gone beyond that. I'm more serene. Women change, too. They have a different attitude to sex after they turn 30. It's not the Holy Grail any more. It's the icing on the cake.
I want a few more lives.
I first got intimations of mortality when I was five and Hitler was trying to kill me. The war was normal to me, and the bombsites were the best playground. But I've always been aware of the presence of death in life. The worst thing about death is that it cuts off your curiosity, and that's what keeps me going. In fact, the older you get, the less you know.
Don't trust anyone under 50.
Fatherhood mellows people, makes you more tolerant, even with assistants. I was never a monster, I just don't suffer fools gladly. Get it right, or what's the point in doing it?
I like to create something every day. It gives your existence a reason.
The only living photographers I rate are Richard Avedon and Bruce Weber because I look at them and I don't know how they do it. I know how everyone else does it.
Less is more. Except for sex.