Gene Simmons says Donald Trump allowed racism and conspiracy theories to get "out in the open"

Gene Simmons in Kiss makeup
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Kiss legend/walking opinion machine Gene Simmons has discussed the toxic legacy of former US President Donald Trump in a new interview.

Speaking to Spin, the bassist/vocalist acknowledges that he had met Donald Trump numerous times before the former Apprentice star ran for the biggest job in world politics, having appeared on the show himself and socialised in some of the same circles.

"I know the previous [US] president," he notes. "I knew him before he entered politics. Look what that gentleman did to this country and the polarization – got all the cockroaches to rise to the top. Once upon a time, you were embarrassed to be publicly racist and out there with conspiracy theories. Now it’s all out in the open because he allowed it."

"We knew each other before [The Apprentice], in clubs and all that," he adds. You have a different responsibility when you’re just a citizen or an entrepreneur. You don’t make policy. It doesn’t affect life and death. When you get into a position of power, it does affect lives. I don’t think he’s a Republican or a Democrat. He’s out for himself, any way you can get there. And in the last election, over 70 million people bought it hook, line and sinker."

Simmons appeared on the first season of the US Celebrity Apprentice alongside fellow celebs such as UFC legend Tito Ortiz, British boxing icon Lennox Lewis, actor Stephen Baldwin and present/journalist/professional loudmouth Piers Morgan, who eventually won the show. 

Sadly, Simmons would only make it to week three before being fired by Trump - though he insisted later in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he'd got fired intentionally as Kiss were due to head out on tour in Australia. 

Kiss headline Download 2022 next month as part of their final world tour. 

Kiss are on the cover of the new issue of Classic Rock. Paul, Gene, Eric and Tommy are interviewed about almost 50 years of the band and live pyrotechnical mayhem. 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.