Steel Panther Drummer: 'KISS Is More Influential Than Nirvana'

Singer Michael Starr not as confident about the answer. Who do you think is more influential?

Ultimate Guitar

Steel Panther were recently asked an interesting question in relation to this year's Rock Hall inductees - who's more influential, KISS or Nirvana?

Responding to Artisan News' question first, drummer Stix Zadinia somewhat confidently noted, "KISS," but singer Michael Starr wasn't as certain, giving a more elaborate answer.

"Really? God I have to say I'm dramatically affected with what happened to Nirvana. I really am. I mean, that really changed - it f--ked my world up, man," Starr kicked off. "I was rockin' with KISS and Van Halen, all of a sudden boom, this guy with short blonde hair comes out with a dirty sweater and some big jeans and I was like, 'Damn, s--t's changing!'

"But I didn't change," the vocalist stressed. "You know why? 'Cause heavy metal rules. Anyway, I think that they both had a lot of relevance in the transition of each style of music, but it combulates into a fundamentical..."

After being instantly ripped by his bandmates for using words like "combulates" and "fundamentical," Michael continued, "So you combulate these bands together, you can't put them in the same thermicity because intermatically, times are changing, incrementally - it happens man, and there's nothing you can do."

In related KISS news, bassist Gene Simmons touched on the matter of Philip Seymour Hoffman's passing, giving the late actor zero sympathy. "I don't think it's sad at all," he told Rolling Stone. "He was white in this racist world. He was f--kin' rich. And he was a movie star. If you wanna take your life, good luck to you. You know what's sad? A loving husband or mother who crosses the street and gets run over by a truck. That's sad. Because you didn't have anything to do with it."

Back to the big question - who's more influential: KISS or Nirvana? Let us know in the comments.

142 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Kiss definitly took marketing to a whole new level.
    Is that really how we define influence tho? I know the question is not very specific, but other than the make up, KISS didnt show up and change the course of the music scene forever. i am NOT a nirvana fan boy what-so-ever, but we must acknowledge that what they did surely change all of rock 'n roll forever.
    It's hard to compare, because of the generation difference. Nirvana obviously had more impact to the younger people as of now. However, I read many interviews over the years by accomplished musicians/guitarists, and they all say they were influenced by the like's of kiss when they started playing. Ace Frehley was the first guy for example with Dimarzio pickupups and advertising them in his 3 humbucker guitars. Look at Dimarzio now, one of the top pickup company. Now I wouldn't say he's the reason, but pretty influential . Kiss also took theatrics to a whole new level, and I can't help but notice, that after them the whole hair scene came up with people dressing up and having big theatrical shows. So as it stands, maybe not as influential now, but certainly for a lot of your favorite guitar players and musicians.
    Second Rate
    Whether you like their music or not, many pioneering musicians in various subgenres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal that have emerged since 1980 have routinely cited Kiss as a reason they picked up instruments. Based on the fact that one of you has what appears to be a picture of Gary Holt as your avatar, and the other is called DimeBatteryDrrl, I'm going to assume you're both fans of "extreme metal." If you are any kind of fan of that type of music, and deny the influence of kiss, you are a madman.
    "God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you Gave rock and roll to everyone (oh yeah) God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you Put it in the soul of everyone"
    "Back to the big question - who's more influential: KISS or Nirvana? Let us know in the comments." UG, you are asking for the virtual version of the Cold War to start right here.
    I want to say Nirvana. Kiss were influential when hard rock was still being developed and there was a lot of room to experiment. By the 90s, tons of different styles were already in place, and Nirvana basically came along and completely changed the game. Kiss just seemed to develop what was already happening sound-wise. I think i'm going to give it to Nirvana because of that. Plus, I just like them better
    I like your comment , and agree that sonically/musically,Kiss were not influential at all.However, lots of styles were being blended in the late 80's when Nirvana came along,and Kurt borrowed well.Even from Kiss! Nirvana's blend of MELODY and acid hangover/depressoid lyrics is irresistable , and Butch Vig made sure it sounded great on the radio (how often do you hear Bleach?). Great melodies are always fashionable.
    KISS were incredibly influential. Their sound informed much of '80's metal, and they were vritually the hard rock equivalent of Velvet Underground: just about everyone who ever bought "Alive" started a band, from Poison to Pantera.
    Steel panther will be super influential just wait 15 years and Hair bands will again be more popular than electronica!
    I would very much like to see a full on Hair metal revival sort of as if the 1980s were happening all over again. That would be better than this post-grunge trash, by which I mean Nickelback...
    There seems to be a thrash metal revival that is pretty awesome, I'm pretty sure Hair can make a comeback soon
    I don't wanna piss any Panther fans, i really like them myself. But come on, their interviews are basically a comedy show and a (funny) joke. Do you really expect to get a serious answer from them ?
    I think he's right there. Kiss influenced a HUGE amount of bands when it comes to stage shows and ''doing your thing'', hell even Rammstein claim Kiss have been one of their biggest influences. Most of the rock and metal musicians born in the 70's and 80's I know stated, that Kiss was the biggest thing when they were kids. ...but doesn't change the fact that I hate Kiss ( and Nirvana ).
    I swear to god the UG writers come together and discuss how to start shitstorms
    wasn't KISS an influence on nirvana? so therefore, by extension, an influence on every band that was influenced by nirvana?
    Not really. If people drew from the element of their sound that was inspired by KISS then yes KISS influenced them. But if people were influenced by another part of Nirvana's sound then KISS shouldn't get any credit.
    I mean... it's not even close, is it? KISS didn't change anything in music. Nirvana changed everything. I think Tom Petty said the only band more important than Nirvana is the Beatles, and it's pretty tough to argue against that.
    You know what album changed everything? Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf
    SFTD is a great album but it didn't change anything.
    I know, I was joking. That was a reference to the guy who keeps mentioning that album on every single "top 10" article just to troll the shit out of them. Seems like my fellow UGers got up on the wrong side of the bed today, though.
    KISS were the inspiration for several of the first generation of visual kei bands. While visual kei now is a completely different genre, the early influence of KISS is pretty important. And I say that from the viewpoint of really not enjoying KISS's music. You might argue the irrelevance of visual kei - I can see that, as much as I love it - but then you still can't say KISS changed nothing.
    I'd have to say KISS. Sure, Nirvana started a new generation while KISS just enhanced theirs, but as far as musical and performance influences go, KISS have this one.
    I have to reluctantly agree. KISS were more influential but not in a good way. Ever wonder where boy bands like N'Sync come from? How about crappy pop-metal bands like Poison? That's right... KISS laid the groundwork for terrible bands to be very successful based on gimmicks and image. Nirvana helped to bring punk rock and art rock to the masses in the early 90's. They weren't even close to the first but they helped introduce millions of suburbanites to music that may have never gotten out of specific scenes. So... KISS is more influential but Nirvana is a BETTER influence.
    Dude you need to go back further back in history than KISS to find aggressively promoted shitty pre-fab boy bands. Try all the safe pretty boy knock offs that record companies tried to jump on after Elvis. Then there's the massive success of The Osmonds, Jackson 5, and The Monkees in the 60s. You could even throw in the very early Beatles. Yep KISS did their uber marketing well, but associating them with boy bands is just wrong.
    lol, if you think KISS were the archetype for disposable pop, you have literally no idea what you're talking about. Teeny boppers have existed since the 50s. If you want to dislike KISS for whatever legitimate reasons, fine, but it might help your argument if you got a clue. KISS wrote their songs, played their own instruments, and started their band. Not even close to the same thing, so I'm not sure why this revisionist history is considered a fair point.
    "He was white in this racist world. He was f--kin' rich. And he was a movie star. If you wanna take your life, good luck to you. You know what's sad? A loving husband or mother who crosses the street and gets run over by a truck. That's sad. Because you didn't have anything to do with it." Harsh but true.
    Not really, no. People don't just commit suicide because they want to. You might not feel he had any problems, Gene apparently doesn't, but until you've tried being him you don't know. Even if everything was more or less fine in his life externally, pressure or any number of other things associated with success could've ****ed with his mental state. If you think you or Gene Simmons - or anyone else - has any idea what it was like to be in his position, or that you or he can judge a man's death to be less tragic because he committed the deed, you are vastly mistaken. Worse, Simmons' issue seems to be that he was a rich, white man. This particular git might be living easy off his latest line of toilet paper but his ego's even bigger than I thought if he thinks he can claim insight into the life of someone he didn't know (I'll admit that's an assumption - but can you imagine him saying that about a friend?). That said, I guess being rich must be great for Simmons at least, he's got so little worth complaining about he's resorted to bitching about the lives of people he's never met.
    To be honest, I should have done half a second's research there - he was having drug issues at the time. Does being rich or white make that not a problem?
    At least Nirvana/Kurt made the music he liked, not what the "market" liked, Nirvana did'nt do it for the money, which KISS did/does. Nirvana played underground music that got mainstream attention.
    Kinda ignorant comment. Kiss didn't make a dime from their first few albums and those albums still contain concert evergreens (Deuce, Strutter, Cold Gin, Let Me Go Rock N' Roll, C'mon and Love Me, Black Diamond, Rock and Roll All Nite, etc.)Kiss definitely polished their sound once they got popular, but besides the production the style of songs/songwriting isn't really that different. I think there's a strong argument that they started and continued doing the style of songs they wanted.
    They may well be more influential, but I just don't think the whole world of music and pop culture radically changed when Kiss hit the scene. When Nirvana hit, everyone had to change and rethink what they were doing. Not just punk bands, metal bands, or alternative bands, but one way or another. The market changed. The whole youth culture changed. Either way, I like that this guy said his opinion while still being respectful to Nirvana.
    He's probably right. I mean, there's so many guys in bands that talk about a KISS record being their first record and stuff like that.
    I'd say that at times kiss can be mire influential than nirvana and at times nirvana can be more influential, goes with many other bands to, but that's just my opinion.
    I like Nirvana but I don't think they were influential in a good way, most of the bands they influenced are terrible, and also, ever since then there is no exciting rock bands, all rock bands now are alternative, which is weird because it's not that alternative if every other new rock band is alternative too.
    It's like most things. First wave (and to a lesser extent) second wave genre bands tend to be the best. But once you get to third and fourth wave bands the bad outweigh the good. We seem to be in a time where there seems to be a lot of third and fourth wave bands.
    I think alternative rock has run it's course now, it's lasted way longer than most sub genres and it's boring.
    What would you even define as "alternative" rock? These sub-genres have got to go. Its a shame that people will just make up a genre any time a band comes up with an original sound. Can't people just make the music they want to make? Stop worrying about genres of music that you don't enjoy. If someone else loves it then it is obviously just as important ad whatever you may like.
    You could argue that people just haven't taken to the new sub genres very well (metalcore, electronic rock etc)and so people stick with alternative rock. I get what you mean but people in general seem to dislike the new wave of stuff and are more inclined to listen to alternative
    Yeah, "Alternative Rock" has always been such a vague term. I remember in the early 90's every band that didn't look and sound like Winger was called "alternative". It's been almost 25 years and countless bands later and so many people still call all or most of them "alternative". It doesn't make much sense anymore... In 1991 it was fair to call Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Faith No More "alternative rock" but by the time you had bands like Nickelback and Creed selling millions of albums it was just ridiculous to call them "alternative". Alternative to WHAT? Glam metal bands that your older siblings or parents listened to in the 1980's? That term just needs to go, it doesn't mean ANYTHING anymore.
    "Most of the bands they influenced are terrible" is a pretty ridiculous statement to make. If you know where to look then you can find great music. You just gotta look for it. Yes, they were copied by plenty of shitty bands, but thats the same for any hugely influential band. There are plenty of exciting and groundbreaking bands around today. You just need to find them because they won't be getting played on FM radio.
    I was going to argue the same about KISS. They were really influential in that they shifted the focus from the music to the spectacle. I'm not saying that you shouldn't put on a good show but you should know a band by the music as opposed to a gimmick.
    In my opinion, the only good band that sounds like Nirvana is Nirvana. Most of the other stuff is so cringe-worthy.
    Man, good thing his opinion really matters
    Haha I know right everyone's going crazy about something the drummer from steel panther says I'm a big fan of panther but who gives a ****
    Who gives a shit? You two and everyone else who posted in this thread, a durr.
    Back to the question: I think it's a draw honestly. Kiss' fingerprints are on many things, from stage-shows to genre's like glam rock and glam metal, and also heavier types of metal. Nirvana's influence is more obvious (mostly because post-grunge bands basically copy Kurt's style rather than being just influenced by it) but is more limited in scope than Kiss' influence. Kiss also have mainly influenced styles, genres etc. that are not at the moment popular. Due to being more recent, Nirvana's influence is again more relevant at this point in time. In my eyes it's a draw.
    I would have to agree with you that it's a draw. Although KISS wasn't terribly innovative with their sound, the way they conducted business and portrayed themselves in public/on-stage left a huge legacy on rock. They're still (sort of) around and continuing that legacy even though everybody is just about sick of Gene Simmons at these days. Nirvana on the other hand was very short lived, but they came crashing into the mainstream hard and brought a bunch of other great early 90's Seattle bands with them. Although they had been around for a few years before "making it big", once the whole world heard about them, radio and MTV practically changed overnight.
    Dark Canuck
    Since UG doesn't find it news-worthy, I'm here to spread the word that Big Wreck released a stream of their new song. Its the title track for the upcoming new album, "Ghosts". Feast your ears fellow guitarists. Listen at, its rather delicious.
    this is ****ing stupid. art isnt supposed to be a one up contest they were both obviously influential. UG needs to stop instigating.
    Its not even a question. KISS are way more influential, I can't stand em, but its true.
    This is an decision based solely on what you can tolerate more easily--the sophomoric, misogynistic, masturbatory, junior-high clunkers that Kiss made a career out of writing--or obnoxiously vague, overtly-angry, screaming, whining, drug-induced noise rock of Nirvana. Kind of an arbitrary choice for the individual.
    Kiss is a mediocre band that had a unique stage show. Nirvana was deff the better band, but I might have to give it to KISS only because they started in the 70's
    all these arguments seem retarded. Nirvana was the type of band to just make the music they felt in their hearts. KISS keeps doing the same thing because it's what their sound molded into over the years. Two completely different bands. It's like trying to compare apples to oranges. Most people like them, the weird people hate them for dumb reasons, but they have differences that satisfy the need of our ears.
    But the question isn't who's better, it's who had the bigger influence? So we should be asking ourselves do we see more artists making music purely to make money or do we see more artists making music for the love of their art?
    Kiss is definitely more influential than Nirvana. Gene and Paul may be dick heads, and Ace and Peter may not be the best musicians, they wrote great music in the 70s. And again, Ace may have not been the best guitarist, but tons of kids saw him and he made them want to be a guitarist. Wouldn't you want to if you saw a larger than life musician on TV? I would've assumed Ace was a superhero if I was growing up back then.
    Many kids wanted to be in a band when they first saw Kiss, yeah. But the same goes for Nirvana. Not only that, but the already existing bands changed their sound to conform to a similar aesthetic. And the bands that didn't change or were not aligned with their aesthetic were dropped by the wayside (i.e. Hair Metal stopped dead cold). Pop culture changed and people started dressing like them and the Grunge scene they popularized. Pop culture's attitudes shifted to reflect Nirvana's; it became more slacker-ish, snarky, and sarcastic. That became the norm. But who knows.
    I just hung up a Cobain posted today, actually. But I love Kiss a lot more than Nirvana. These arguments are stupid. You can't compare grunge to classic/hard rock. Kiss is more influential though
    Kiss has probably one of the most famous images in music but I doubt people know many of their songs. Nirvana has a lot of songs people actually know of and one everyone knows so musically I'd say Nirvana. I'm no fanboy before haters comment, personally I don't quite understand the worlds love for Nirvana, I don't mind them but I rarely listen to them, they get quite overplayed.
    I do have to say, I hear a lot more KISS songs on the radio, in ads, in movies, etc. than I do Nirvana songs. I'd bet more people outside the rock/metal community would know more KISS songs than Nirvana. Or at least a tie.
    KISS more infuential than Nirvana ? In some areas, yes. But in the same vein, Alice Cooper is more influential than KISS. He might not have sold as many shirts and sock puppets, but his presentation and his music have had a much bigger impact, I do think.
    Is Gene only pissed because Hoffman died of a drugs overdose? Because if not then he could just re-use that paragraph to talk about Kirt in his acceptance speech. Just replace 'film star' with 'rock star'. But some how I dont think that will happen.
    Who the hell is Steel Panther..?
    As far as I have understood, they're a semi-satirical band - They play glam metal, and focus on all the things that made people hate it, with twist. They make dumb, but funny music on purpose. They enjoy playing it of course, but they're aware of how hated it has become since the 90's - However, they decide to handle it with self-irony, taking what made glam hated, and making it extreme, just for the heck of it. They do it for fun, and though they won't openly admit it, they are kinda saying "Yeah, we don't take this seriously, but what the hell, it's fun!" - In that self-ironic promotion, they differ themselves from the likes of Motley Crue, and Poison, bands who took that image seriously, and which have nowadays dissolved into bitterness and irrelevance.
    KISS started because they wanted money, fame, and girls - Nirvana did it for the music. Idk
    Nirvana definitely didn't do it for the chicks. No one in Kiss would sleep with Cortney Love out of pure respect for themselves.
    I think it was Alice Cooper that had the biggest influence on Kiss! Plus, Alice Cooper was quite a bit more melodic, with a better sense of humor. Most Kiss tracks I've heard, I perceive as noise. (Sorry for that). Oh dear, that wasn't the question, was it.....
    Didn't Nirvana drive around in a beat up van upon which Cobain had painted "KISS"? Damn straight KISS influenced more bands than Nirvana. But Gene is still a tool.
    KISS started because they wanted money, fame, and girls - Nirvana did it for the music. Idk
    This question is almost unanswerable, KISS influenced so much when it comes to the metal side of rock where Nirvana put alternative rock on the charts, each band did a completely different thing for music, and I think both are good things.
    Nirvana influenced more people musically and influenced the musical side of the industry more, but KISS influenced stage presence and entertainment more. Done
    OMG! Nirvainer is like mer faverate band like Fereva! Kert Kobaine is the illezt guy ever! He givez me my keyberd lessons every wednezday. Who wood wanna to listen to a chick band like kisses anywayz!?! Dave Grehl is my lunch lady too!!