Sienna Hernandez could not believe it when Gene Simmons, co-lead singer of the iconic band KISS, visited her home last year.
Hernandez, now aged 12, has liked KISS — especially Simmons — ever since she can remember. Yet, the Texas native also couldn’t believe it when she was recognized as Executive Producer for Simmons’ 50-year collection of solo recordings and never-before-seen photos housed in a box set called The Vault. We recently chatted with Hernandez about her unique experiences.
How did your Vault experience with Gene Simmons come about?
I first met Gene Simmons when I was nine, and my family and I were on a KISS Kruise. Since I am a huge Gene fan, my parents surprised me and bought me one of his bass guitars. The bass came with a Meet & Greet with Gene, and also a bass lesson. During that lesson, he asked the group if anyone had any song ideas, and I raised my hand. That is the day I wrote “I Hate Multiplication” with him. We have seen each other a few times since then, and when the time came that he was looking to produce a lifetime box set, The Gene Simmons Vault, they called and asked me if I would like to serve as Executive Producer.
Gene’s plan was to travel the world and hand-deliver The Vault to everyone that bought one. He was going to have a Vault event in Dallas, and they asked us a couple of weeks ahead of time if we would like to host the event at our house. So, we got our house ready and 150 people, who all bought The Vault, arrived to meet Gene and receive their signed Vault from him.
Some kids idolize current pop stars and celebrities. Why Gene? Why KISS?
I have always liked KISS’ music because it was different than what the other kids were listening to. And, I have always loved what Gene looked like on stage. Anytime I got the chance to dress up like him I would.
What’s your favorite KISS song and why?
I can’t choose a favorite. I listen to different KISS songs when I am in different moods. Right now, I’d say that my favorite one is “Freak.” It’s not one of their most popular songs, but I really like the message and the lyrics.
What have you learned from spending time with Gene?
He gives me advice about something every time I see him! He has told me to always to walk into a room with confidence. I can own my space. I just have to believe in myself. He tells me he is proud of me. He makes me see how important it is to work hard to achieve my goals.
What’s it like to spend time with such a superstar like Gene?
While we were making The Vault, I went to his house, and he came here for us to meet in a studio in Dallas. When I was at his house, he gave me a tour and showed me his own KISS museum. It was really cool. In the studio, we listened to tracks that he wanted to include in The Vault. I got to critique them, like if I thought they were too loud or too long, stuff like that. I also told him what he could do with the songs–like what current artists might sound good singing the songs. It was a long day, but really fun!
Where do you go from here? What are your plans as far as supporting Gene and KISS?
Well, I noticed that even though KISS has some kid fans, there really were no kids talking about KISS. There are so many adult KISS fans with podcasts, websites, Facebook pages, you name it. But there were no kids doing it. So, I recently started a show called KISS by Sienna. It’s a YouTube show where I share my love of KISS and I hope to inspire other kids, teens and maybe even adults to learn more about KISS and collect KISS stuff.
How did you feel about the recent announcement that KISS is giving up touring?
I’m bummed that they are on their last tour. But they’re almost 70, and wearing those heavy costumes and tall boots must be hard. I respect their decision. But I’m still sad. But, they’ve said that this “End of the Road Tour” can take up to three years to get in all of their stops. So, I know I will be seeing them a few more times! Everyone else should see them too, even if they are not KISS fans. Because they put on the best live show there is!
What do you like to do or hope to achieve in life?
I am an actor and a model. I also sing and write songs and play on my school’s basketball team. My hope is to continue to get better in everything I do. Hopefully, I can make the high school basketball team and maybe get a college scholarship. Career-wise, I know I will do something in entertainment. I just don’t know what yet.
KISS, End of the Road World Tour will be in San Antonio September 8 and Houston September 9.
Cover: Sienna Hernandez and family in the home of Gene Simmons (right). Photo courtesy Sienna Hernandez.
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.