Kiss have unveiled their ‘new era’ as a virtual band at the last show of their farewell tour.
The band have seemingly bowed out of live performing at their huge Madison Square Garden show last night (December 2). They will reportedly be the first US band to become virtual.
In the encore, the band’s remaining members – founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, along with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer – left the stage, revealing their new digital avatars. After walking off stage, the digital avatars performed “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”.
“Today, A New Era Begins. #KISSARMY, the end is only the beginning!,” the band wrote on social media. “KISS have been immortalized and reborn as avatars to rock forever.”
AP reports that the avatars were made by George Lucas’ SFX company, Industrial Light & Magic. They were also made in collaboration with Pophouse Entertainment Group, which was co-founded by ABBA‘s Björn Ulvaeus.
The two companies previously teamed up to create the ABBA Voyage show in London, which also features the Swedish band performing as digital avatars. Our five-star review of the show praised the avatars, remarking that “you can’t tell the difference between man and machine.”
In a roundtable interview, Stanley said: “What we’ve accomplished has been amazing, but it’s not enough. The band deserves to live on because the band is bigger than we are. It’s exciting for us to go the next step and see Kiss immortalized.”
“We can be forever young and forever iconic by taking us to places we’ve never dreamed of before,” Simmons added. “The technology is going to make Paul jump higher than he’s ever done before.”
CEO of Pophouse Entertainment, Per Sundin, said that the new avatars will allow Kiss to continue for “enternity”. He revealed that unlike ABBA, the band would not perform on stage alongside the virtual band, as “that’s the key thing.”
“Kiss could have a concert in three cities in the same night across three different continents,” he said. “That’s what you could do with this.”
Simmons has previously hinted at the band’s virtual transformation in interviews. Speaking to 519 Magazine this November, he said that “this tour is the end of the road for the band, not the brand.”
“KISS is a universe of its own – movies, merchandise, maybe even Broadway,” he continued. “The band will end, but the KISS experience… it’s immortal.”
He also spoke about the physical challenges of touring, and why the band were retiring from the stage: “We are the hardest-working band on stage. I’ve got 40 pounds of armour and all the rest of it and seven-inch platform heels. Each of the dragon boots weighs as much as a bowling ball. Physically, it’s tough to do that.”
There has been speculation that the band might take up residency at Las Vegas mega venue The Sphere. However, Stanley was quick to shut down rumours, commenting: “I can’t speak to it in any other way except to be honest with you about how I feel now, and the way I feel today is … I can’t really see that happening,” he told the outlet.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re done.”