Micki Free: Music Business Lessons From Kiss’ Gene Simmons

TThis is an interview recently published on Ultimate Guitar (and conducted by Joe Matera). An interview where one great musician talks about another, even greater musician. And if it’s possible (though not necessary at all) that you haven’t heard about the interviewee – Micki Free – you are definitely familar with who he discussed. Gene Simmons.

But first, Micki. You might have heard his guitar playing on Shalamar’s Top 20 smash “Dancing in the Sheets” from the Footloose soundtrack, the Grammy Award-winning “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills” from Beverly Hills Cop, hard-hitting band Crown of Thorns, or maybe albums by Janet Jackson.

In the interview, Free talked not only his just released American Horse album, but also what he took from Gene Simmons – and this is what caught my interest the most.

Read few excerpts from the interview below:

Gene Simmons has been very integral to your career?

Micki Free

Yes he has. Gene discovered me when I was seventeen years old in the mid-west playing in a little rock band and from there we became good friends. The first time he saw me he looked at me and said, ‘you’re star!’ So I came out to L.A and Gene managed my career for about twenty years.

And as you know, Jean Beauvoir and I had a band called Crown Of Thorns and we were on Interscope Records. Gene and Paul [Stanley] actually managed us and got us that recording contract with Interscope Records in the first place. So Gene played a big role in my life as musician slash entrepreneur as well. I follow my creative ideas a lot because of what I call, the Gene Simmons School of Learning.

And that is because of how he runs his business. Gene is very intelligent as we all know, and a bit cut throat but that’s the music business. He is a brilliant businessman and he has the pulse on things to come. And I admire Gene for that and being on his team has opened up a lot of doors for me.

What is the most important lesson you learned from him?

He taught me this way in the beginning, and it was, to follow your heart and take your shot. Do the best you can and with the best of your abilities and stick to your guns no matter what anyone else says to you.

Take advice, hear constructive criticism but at the end of the day it is your decision. Even when Gene managed me personally he’d say to me, ‘look I work for you, you are the boss Micki so I can give you my opinion and what I think I would do but at the end of the day, you instruct me on what you’d like done’.

As we all know Gene is a very successful business man who also has a lot of his critics.

Yes, but he taught me how to take it too. When I first got in the business, critics used to say mean shit about me and it really kind of hurt my feelings. So in the beginning Gene said to me, ‘that shit is like rain off a duck’s back, don’t worry about it. Put your head in the sand and move ahead and do what you know best and at the end of the day, if you believe what you have done is up to your standards as a human being, and you did all you could to make it right, then you have reached your goal’.

And I firmly believe that and that’s how I live my life now. With this American Horse record, I did it, with no rules but my own rules. The best thing a reviewer said to me recently was, ‘you know it’s a great album but this music is not in style’. I replied, ‘I love that, thank you so much’. I am not the flavor of the day it is not what I want to be. I don’t want to dress up and have a weird name like Three Doors Up or Vampire Dorks. I could care less. I write blues rock stuff and that is what I do. And I didn’t want a career as a comedian because I am not a comedian.

In Europe your music especially has found a connection with the audience.

I love the European mind set for music, as they understand it and get it. You don’t have to be the flavor of the month there. We do laugh about it, we say, ‘Hey if the UK is good enough for Jimi Hendrix then it is good enough for Micki Free!’

Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.