My first assignment for Backstageaxxess.com was to take in Gene Simmons keynote speaker address for Canadian Music Week on March 12. The address was held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. The address was held for about an hour that included a video presentation showing Genes accomplishments. The real reason Gene was there was to promote his resurrection of Simmons Records in Canada. Gene was very accessible throughout the entire speech by taking in ideas from others as well as answering questions on how he plans on selecting bands for his record label. Gene also talked about how to maximize your potential and the understanding that the word business always follows music. Gene went on to discuss the music business and various aspects of it. At about 25 minutes into it, Gene started to talk about how its important to connect with people and used the Grateful Dead is an example. They didnt sell a lot of records, but they played to full stadiums because they had a connection with their fans. After this point, he asked the audience who he has met since coming into town last night. I proceeded to raise my hand and Gene calls on me! Gene asks if we met? I replied Yes! Gene then proceeds to call me up to the stage and has me put on his sunglasses. He then asked me What happened? So I replied: Last night as I went up to you in the lobby, I was being fan boy for a second, and asked you to sign my poster. It turned out the sharpie didnt work. By the time I went up to my room to get another sharpie, you were already sitting down in the restaurant. I decided to have a drink with some friends and after you were done, you called me over to the hostess stand to oblige my request and sign my poster. He then asked me how I was treated by him? I answered: Great! You were nice to me and the group of people I was with! Gene went on to say how important it is that I could have been a disease and my word could of spread like wildfire by telling people how much of an asshole he was if my experience with him wasnt pleasant. Gene goes on to say how the internet gives equal access and equal power to everybody. He said that you are the master of your own credibility. It was a very interesting experience for me, to say the least, and I shared the stage with him for about 2 minutes
After his speaking engagement to the general public, he then followed a Q&A with media members only. I proceeded to ask Gene one question:
Gus: Does Simmons Records plan on venturing out to other markets once it gets established here in Canada?
Gene: Enough of Canadian bands moving to America. “A” cities like Toronto or Vancouver can compete with any of these cities in the world. Toronto is as cool or cooler than any other city in the world. There is no reason why it cant be right here. What was London at one point? What did U2 come from? Belfast? What the fucks there (I mean that in the nicest way by the way)? Before the explosion? We want Canadian acts to live here and we will surround you. I wasnt born in America but I moved there. You want to be a Canadian band? Move here!
Unfortunately, I didnt have an opportunity to retort Genes response. The question I asked was meant that if the resurrection was successful was there another market that he was thinking of? I didnt infer about taking the original concept out of the Canadian market.
Well, it was an amazing experience to see Gene so accessible to all involved. We would like to thank Joanne Smale & Marli Bennett from Planet3com for allowing us to cover this event. For more information on Simmons records, go to: www.simmonsrecords.com