Gene wanted to be like 'bald guy' from Pumpkins

Producer Toby Wright recalls Gene Simmons telling him he wanted to sound like "the bald guy" from The Smashing Pumpkins.

Wright was behind the desk when Kiss recorded their 1997 ‘grunge’ album Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions. Known for his work with Alice In Chains, Wright was the man Kiss believed could give them a similar sound.

He tells Rockpages: “I remember getting into a big argument with Gene about the direction of the album. He said he wanted to be like that ‘bald guy.’ And I said, ‘What bald guy?’ Gene said, ‘The one that’s on top of the charts.’

“Of course, he meant Billy Corgan. I remember telling him, ‘Listen Gene, you’re a legend. Why you wanna follow anybody’s footsteps?’ Eventually his point of view was that he wanted to sell more records.

“Immediately, I got back to him and said, ‘Make a great record and it will sell.’ Carnival of Souls was a bit of a departure from the Kiss sound and that’s why they hired me. I was very successful on that genre.

“I think that record would have been huge for Kiss if they had released it properly right after we finished making it in 1995.”

The album’s release was delayed because Kiss were offered a fortune to reform their original line-up. But curious fans got hold of a bootleg of Carnival Of Souls which became extremely popular, forcing Kiss to release it officially – although they never toured it.

Wright also speaks about his work with Alice In Chains on the Jar Of Flies EP. He says: “When Jar of Flies came along they were just coming off of the Lollapalooza Tour and they were really hot. They just wanted to get into the studio and lay it down what they had. It turned out that they didn’t have any songs so what we did was spend 10 days jamming in the studio. It was a very loose recording session.”

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.