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Discover everything you wanted to know about the Elder!



"Elder" Related!


Rob Freeman (2012)
Decorated producer/engineer offers a fascinating account of KISS' pre-"Elder" sessions at Ace in the Hole Studio in early 1981, meeting Bob Ezrin and how the project ultimately relocated to Canada.

Christopher K. Lendt (2012)
Former vice president of Glickman/Marks Management recalls the state of KISS in 1981 and the band's ambitious bid to redefine their career.

Kevin Doyle (2012)
Award-winning engineer shares his vivid memories of recording "The Elder," including capturing Gene Simmons' vocal performance on "A World Without Heroes," recording multiple days of spoken word dialog, and how the album ultimately evolved into the "Bob Ezrin show."

Brian Christian (2012)
The associate producer of "Music For The Elder" goes on record about not only his experience, but how KISS fans were ultimately not ready for the album...

Michael McCarty (2012)
Uncredited engineer Michael McCarty sheds some light on KISS' "Elder" sessions at Phase One Studios in Toronto...

Waring Abbott (2012)
Renowned photographer of many iconic KISS photos recalls his "Elder"-era sessions with the band.

Dennis Woloch (2012)
Longtime KISS art director details the creative process for the unusual album artwork for "Music From The Elder."

David M. Spindel (2012)
Renowned still life photographer recounts a different kind of photo shoot featuring a door, table, chairs, and a "messenger."

Bill Finneran (2012)
The first-ever conversation with the man who constructed "The Elder" door.

Chris Makepeace (2012)
A brief conversation with the Boy who had "the light in his eyes and the look of a champion, a real champion..."

Tony Powers (2012)
Key "Music From The Elder" contributor goes on record for the first time about his "Odyssey" with KISS.

Corky Stasiak (2014)
Recording engineer goes on the record about his work on "The Elder" during the final overdub sessions.

Bruce Gowers (2015)
Emmy-winning director of Queen's iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" video chips in his recollections of working with KISS.

Paul Flattery (2015)
Producer from Gowers, Fields & Flattery fills in some blanks regarding the conceptual treatments for KISS' videos for "A World Without Heroes" and "I."

Jerry Watson (2015)
Director of photography puts the spotlight back on the KISS videos for "A World Without Heroes" and "I."

Charles McCracken (2012)
American Symphony Orchestra bassoonist Charles McCracken on his brief moment in KISStory.

Ida Langsam (2015)
Publicist pro discusses working with KISS during a challenging time in their history and trying to get word about "The Elder" out to the masses.

Antony Parr Revealed (2012)
A conversation with spoken-word actory Antony Parr's daughters, Kate Parker and Jennifer Parr, who filled us in on their father's storied career and their recollections of his involvement on this mysterious KISS album.

Bas Hartong (2015)
Phonogram International's A&R manager gives perspective on the state of KISS in 1981 and shares his recollections of Bob Ezrin's "Elder" presentation for the label.

Jerry Jaffe (2015)
PolyGram's head of rock promotion on why "The Elder" had a scarlet letter attached to it and why getting KISS radio airplay in 1981 was a lost cause.

Chip Taylor (2015)
PolyGram head of A&R and Hall of Fame songwriter on expecting to receive "the rock and roll record of all time."

Tim Trombley (2015)
"Music From The Elder" production coordinator details his recollections of the album and recounts his role as Bob Ezrin's assistant.

Bob Ezrin (2015)
Legendary producer speaks on "The Elder" in his own words.

Additional Related!


John Storyk (2013)
Renowned studio designer recalls his work on Ace Frehley's Ace in the Hole Studios in Wilton, CT.

John Picard (2015)
Picard is the guitarist/co-songwriter for the Kings, a Canadian band Bob Ezrin was concurrently producing while working with KISS on "The Elder."

Melanie Chartoff (2015)
Multitalented actress looks back on a "Fridays" adventure with KISS.

Mark Ravitz (2015)
Stage designer recalls working on what was at the time an unnamed 1981–1982 KISS tour design.

Chuck Klosterman (2012)
From the packaging and the meaning of "Odyssey" to analyzing Paul Stanley's disdain for the album, New York Times bestselling author/KISS fan dissects "Music From The Elder"...

Ty Tabor (2012)
King's X guitarist discusses being one of the proud few who liked "The Elder" upon its release and the simple reason why the album didn't catch on with the majority of KISS fans, plus other odds and ends.

Seb Hunter (2012)
Writer/director of unsuccessful "The Elder" film goes on record regarding his feelings about the album, details his film's progress and when he hopes to officially approach KISS, and fires off a message to his critics.

Brian Brewer (2015)
KISS fan Brian Brewer was the winner of "The Elder" script in the 2000 "KISS: The Auction" hosted by Butterfields/Greg Manning Auctions. As owner of the sole copy, Brewer reveals never-before-revealed insights into the "Elder" film that never was.

Robert V. Conte (2017)
KISS' 1990's catalogue consultant recalls his encounters with "The Elder" and working with the band on various projects.



The Elder in His Own Words: Bob Ezrin


By Tim McPhate

Legendary producer speaks on "The Elder" in his own words.

"I've had mixed feelings about The Elder for decades now. When we began the project, it was a grand notion, full of what I thought were "important" ideas and music. And we pulled out all the stops. It truly was a BIG production with orchestras, actors, concepts, co-writers and tons of ear candy.

We came into the project with Great Expectations but instead we somehow ended up with the wreck at the end of Detroit Rock City.

When "The Elder" was done and released, it was a great disappointment -- perhaps even something of an embarrassment -- to the band, the record company and me too. Plus it was a commercial failure; the band's first.

I've been quoted in the press expressing my regret at having prodded them into attempting something like this. Sometimes I've made jokes about it saying things like "we should have been shot" or comparing the label playback to "Springtime for Hitler." Sometimes I've tried to justify the intention and other times I just talked sadly about the failure. I've also stated that I had just come off "The Wall" and was in a concept album frame of mind at the time, which is probably true. In a way, the entire 70's were filled with concept driven projects for me from "Berlin" to "Schools Out" to Peter Gabriel and culminating with "The Wall." So I know that factored heavily into my tendencies at the time.

But the bottom line is that I was wrong in my intuition that they needed to do something that dramatically different from what they had been doing up till then. In hindsight, Ace was absolutely right in his feeling that all this concept and drama stuff was bullshit and that we should just get back to Rock 'n' Roll. For that band, at that time, making a superhero concept album was a bridge too far and the audience spoke with their feet as many of them ran away from it as fast as they could.

But viewed in a different context, decades later, I think it may not be the awful mess that I had come to believe it was. When it was played for me recently and I really sat and listened to it for the first time in forever, I was actually amazed at the textural and musical sophistication of it as well as its sense of humor and the absurd. Some of the performances too were really stellar and a few of the songs were much better than I remembered when viewed on their own merit. Some, of course, were still not up the standard the band needed then and I take responsibility for that. And it was unquestionably over the top and melodramatic.

But listening to it now, I began to understand what motivates the die-hard "Elder" fans who would occasionally stop me and wax almost religious about the album saying stuff like "it changed my life" or "it was genius!" I always just dismissed those people as strange, and would remind myself that even The Shaggs had a rabid fanbase.

But listening recently I found myself fascinated by it, like they were. I didn't really get the storyline anymore -- or at least I wasn't distracted by it. I was too busy enjoying the soundscapes, the performances and the sheer bravery of the thing.

And that reminded me of the moments of sheer joy when we first finished some of those songs, or first read Lou's lyrics, or first heard Stanley nail some of the high notes, or first heard Gene's intimate vocal on "A World Without Heroes," or when we first heard the orchestra play Michael's majestic charts. Those were heady and beautiful moments during which we were all pretty sure we were making a masterpiece. But then it wasn't quite that, was it?

And I know that Paul went through a period of disappointment in and even anger with me for what he felt was my falling down on the job. He has sometimes said that I was often absent without leave and that my drug abuse affected the quality of the album. But in listening now, I marvel at the amount of detail and intention there is in the album and I see that my recollections of endless hours of crafting the final piece were also true. As I've said in the past, for me it was a time of personal upheaval and heavier drug use. Unquestionably that affected my performance. It certainly changed my diurnal rhythms and I was that vampire who stayed up all night poring over things and then leaving little post-it notes before dawn for the engineers -- lists of things to do when they came in the next morning.

But, whatever time of day the work might have been done, there was clearly a shitload of it in this album, done by all of us.

When we began the project, I spent the most time with Gene and Paul. Ace was out in Connecticut and a bit removed from the conceptual process. He didn't believe in it anyway.

My sense is also that, in retrospect, Paul might have become disenchanted with some of his own performances on the record, like perhaps the vocals on "Just A Boy" or "Odyssey" both of which we uncharacteristic of him. This might have added to his anger with me because I encouraged him to do it. At the time, I thought both were important for the character and that he sounded amazing singing them. Unfortunately, he didn't sound like the Paul Stanley that most of the fans wanted to hear at that time. But then, years later that bravado, range and dramatic sense played out brilliantly on the stage when he transformed into The Phantom and pulled that voice back out to the delight of months of sold out houses. So there was a place for that part of him, though perhaps not at that point in the band's career.

Gene and I were like two kids working on a comic book -- which was actually a large part of the motivation to do this story. Gene was a comic fanatic, as was I. And the band was even perceived by some to be "comic book superheroes," which I think sat just fine with him. So here we were at his house going over storylines and drawings, combining the fantasy world of heroic comic books with the power of rock and we believed we were on to something really cool. In fact, before we ever started recording, we told the story of "The Elder" to a bunch of people, not just band members but collaborators, designers, Bill Aucoin and a few other inner circle folks who all thought it was very exciting -- or at least that's my recollection. Now in the fog of history, almost no one admits to having been a fan of the idea. But I remember that we had convinced a lot of folks that this was going to be amazing.

We never convinced Ace though. He did his best to do his part, but his heart was never really in the thing. It all felt too contrived to him -- and he was right about that then. KISS perhaps could or should do something like "The Elder" now; something truly radical and apart from their normal stuff. I think people would sit up and take notice. But for that band, at that time, this was an unnecessary contrivance.

One of the things I learned in doing this project was how truly talented those guys were and how much they had grown as musicians from the days of "Destroyer." Most great musicians have a form of genius that is mostly expressed through their craft but that also bleeds out into other areas of their lives. And I have to say that both Paul and Gene are great musicians each in his way but also two of the brightest, most ingenious and accomplished artists I've ever had the privilege of working with. And all of that was brought to bear in the making of this album.

Bob Ezrin
June 8, 2016
Nashville, TN

It's decided, "We're doing a concept album." Does Bill Aucoin need to be in the loop or is it maybe you and the band making that decision?

Bob Ezrin: When it came to making the records then, the band led the decisions, because they were already really big by that time.

They had some political capital at that point?

They had capital, political and artistic, and I think that they were able to say "we want to do this."

You're not recalling any reluctance from Gene and/or Paul.

No.

It was, like, "Let's do it."

Yeah... We thought: "this is great. How interesting." We're doing all kinds of interesting, strange and wondrous things, you know. And we were playing around with other writers too which we hadn't done before.

Yeah, I can't wait to get into that.

Tony Powers, who is a friend of Paul's. Paul brought that song in.

Tony actually said that he met Paul at this place called Cafe Central in New York, a hangout for musicians and actors. And it was a fascinating conversation. So Paul and Gene embraced it.

Paul picked "Odyssey" because he wanted to sing that heroic song, you know, and he wasn't arguing about that. He loved it.

Interesting.

And "I'm Just a Boy" when we did that together in that little studio in Aurora.

It's like a little four-track studio, you said, like a demo?

It was a four track studio and we played everything ourselves. I played drums, which was stupid because I'm not a drummer. I just whacked the drums, you know, to do the things we needed and we sang all the parts on it. We thought we were really on to something. It felt like we were composing almost classical music. Stanley is a brilliant musician on so many levels and he's also inspiring to work with so I got totally carried away with the excitement of that writing session.

We started off making a different record and were in Phase One Studios near Toronto for a few weeks until the console caught on fire. We were having pizza, at the front of the studio and I don't even know why I went back to the control room. I went back to the control room to get something and I walked into the control room and I smelled smoke -- it smelled kind of strange and then all of a sudden, I looked at the console and literally, the center core of the console just went...

Boom.

It just started going... in flames!

What kind of console? Do you remember?

It was an old Neve. And it erupted in flames and all of our tapes were on the floor and then it was like a mad scramble to get the tapes out before –

Before they burn.

Or before the sprinklers went off... Either one would not have been good. So that, you know, that was pre-Elder days.

The decision to move the project to Canada; was that strictly for you wanting to be close to home?

For sure. But this is sort of the equivalent of what we did during Destroyer, when I lived in New York. Each of the, the guys would come to my house... Sometimes together and sometimes separately. They'd come to my house with stuff they were working on; with their demo ideas, um, that we would flesh out at my house.

And then we'd take them into the studio. So this was the equivalent of that. First Stanley came up to Toronto and we did some stuff together, and then Gene came to Toronto, out to the farm.

Obviously there's a certain point where you're recording at your farm. Your farm was located exactly where?

King City, Ontario.

That's its own city? It's around Toronto?

It's north of Toronto.

Can we get a visual picture? A farm invokes a certain type of imagery. Are we talking acres of land and it's literally a farm? Or was that more of a nickname?

No, it was a horse farm. And it had a very small barn on the property. As you came in off of (the main road), you came down a 300 yard drive to the left of which was the neighbor's property, to the right of which were my fields. And then it ended just before the house where there was a small barn to the right. That's where our horses were. Past the barn, there was a front lawn and down the front lawn was a pond. And then the house was large, but modest, just a farmhouse. Behind the house was another field and a big hill. The farm was surrounded by 100 acres of conservation land. So I only owned 10 acres, but it was 110 acre expanse.

Do you still have the farm?

No, I sold it. Anyway, when Gene showed up in his limousine and came down the long mucky drive, he comes up to the front of the house in his alligator boots --

And leather pants probably?

And leather pants... and steps into the mud. We put him upstairs in the guestroom, like next door to the kids. We had four kids upstairs. And Gene.

That's great.

It was hilarious. One of the things that attracted us to that house was that, for whatever reason, they built a bomb shelter down in the basement. So there was this big stone room in the basement that was everything proof, including soundproof. So the idea I had was to use that as the record room and we'd drive the Record Plant truck up, because I loved that truck. And with some people that I knew, that I had worked with in other contexts. Like Rick Hart who had worked with me on Roberta Flack and "The Wall" too. Having the truck downstairs was great on one hand. But on another hand, it was just too rural.

Well, that being said, Toronto has no shortage of studios...

Well, no. Toronto's got no shortage of recording studios, but I was living 40 miles north. So it wasn't trivial for me to get back and forth during the day.


(Bob's rear cover credits sketch)


Whose idea was the dialogue? Was it your idea, like, "Hey, let's put dialogue in between the tracks"?

Well I think Gene and I probably came up with the idea of making it sound like the soundtrack to a movie that hadn't been made yet.

And it wouldn't have been taken out because, again, these were established actors, especially Robert Christie and Antony Parr. I think they're out of the Stratford School.

They were out of Stratford. Yeah, they were real actors. I remember hiring these people.

You personally found them?

Oh, yeah, for sure.

We uncovered a receipt. Robert Christie got paid $1,000 for his work. He and Parr have since passed away. I did find Christopher Makepeace. He recalled you giving him a brief tour of the studio. It's interesting to note Christopher Makepeace is nowhere to be found on the album -- he's credited, but he's not actually on the album. So, again, the dialogue was recorded and it was taken away at some point.

Isn't that strange?

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