“You strike me as being very practical and unsentimental, which are great qualities for a businessman, but not so much for an artist. Do those qualities come into conflict in your mind, ever?”
The KISS bassist replied:
“How did you ever think anyone who plays electric guitar is an artist? They can’t even read or write music.
“No [I don’t think of myself as an artist]. An artist is somebody who went to school, who learned music theory, can read and write music, like classical musicians or jazz musicians.
“None of us – Madonna, I don’t care who you’re talking about – none of us learned to read and write music, we just sort of did it. It’s pretty much on the same level as cavemen who came out of the caves and started to beat on the drums, and howl at the moon.
After an interviewer said, “I think of somebody like Bruce Springsteen as an artist. I don’t know if he can read music,” Gene replied:
“Yeah, but you’re buying into the culture. I don’t think he’d stand up and say, ‘I’m an artist.’
“And I’ve met Bruce. Remember, he wears torn jeans, because he wants to connect to the common man. We both know he can buy a fleet of Rolls Royces.
“Everybody puts on affectations, including myself. I wear shades in the dark, because the sun never sets on Planet Cool, does it?”
Gene was also asked whether he’d ever run for president, to which he said:
“Democracy is very messy, although it’s the best system we have, so I wouldn’t be interested in that.
“I like the fact that the president is accepting no salary, he’s doing it for one dollar. I like that. I think it should be public service. I like captains of industry becoming politicians.
“I don’t recall your question, but I like my answer.”