History of KISS Otaku

History of KISS otaku

I thought it might be interesting to provide some history of KISS otaku, the website that got it all started. DeuceNews did a interview with me that discuss alot of the history, so here it is…

Hi there KISS freaks!!! Today I have the amazing role to talk with the one, great and only creator of the first ever official KISS web site in the world: Michael Brandvold!!!

Mike is a very well know name in the KISS camp and nothing can be added to better paint his role in KISSTORY, but I wanted to talk about him mainly for the new KISS fan generation and also because everybody should know:
KISS Otaku is back!!

Hi Mike, Just few words about a legendary name for us “old” KISS fans: KISS Otaku, can you tell us some tips about the “beginning”?

Hi Fabio, well the beginning, which incidentally was 14 years ago May 11th, had no grand plans, no long term goals; I simple wanted to teach myself how to program html. Back then there were no books, no classes, no Dreamweaver… nothing! You had to teach yourself by writing all the code by hand in a text editor. I have always loved KISS fanzines but didn’t like the costs involved in producing them… costs to print, costs to mail, etc. This new thing (in 1995) called the web seemed like a great way to produce a “magazine” but have the readers come to you with no heavy costs associated. So, I needed to decide on a website to create. Being a “die hard” KISS fan and always looking for the littlest tidbits of news I thought “build a KISS website!” The site started as a couple pages devoted to information on the Official KISS Conventions and a list of official KISS merchandise.

When it was launched in 1995 it was literally the 5th website on the internet devoted to KISS. Think about that! I often hear from fans, and even from Gene Simmons, where did you come up with Otaku? What does Otaku mean? Right around the time I launched the site the very first issue of Wired magazine was released (I still have it by the way) and there was a article inside about The Otaku. Otaku is Japanese and roughly translates to mean… fanatical. The article discussed all these various groups of Otaku in Japan. I thought that was a perfect description for a KISS fan. Plus, I didn’t want to take the easy way out and name the site after a KISS album or song. So KISS Otaku was born… KISS fanatics.

KISS fanatics…yeah, we’re a damn cool big fanatics family!!!

Listen, would you like to share some nice flashbacks of your experience living next to our heroes?

They are so many! All the shows, backstage experiences, KISS expos, KISS photo and interview sessions! The entire experience has been amazing and something I would never trade. I still remember when Gene left me a voice mail asking if I would be interested in a business proposition. As Gene said he presented me with a door. He can’t make any promises about what happens if I walk through the door, it is my decision if I walk through the door. But the door could hold great opportunities. It sure did. It led to so many great changes and events in my life. I remember the very first show I covered for Kissonline, the Halloween show at Dodger Stadium. There I was with a All Access laminate and the ability to walk wherever I wanted and take pictures of whatever I wanted. Everything I did at KISS Otaku and Kissonline was done through the eyes of a KISS fan, not a corporation, not someone just hired to do a job. What would I as a KISS fan like to see? What would I like to read? What would I like to share? I think this is what made the sites stand out amongst all other sites. They were not just news sites, they were not just gossip. It was about a community of KISS fans sharing their KISS artwork, KISS tattoos, stories about buying a new album and listening to it for the first time. Before blogs and social networks became all the rage I built functionality into Kissonline that provided blog type updates. Functionality where fans could comment, share reviews, upload photos. I was working on a concept where the fan could change the entire look of the site to match their favorite KISS member… a Demon look and feel, a Starchild look and feel, etc. All of these are now common in most websites; KISS were doing it before everyone else. Some other great moments were being in the studio for the Got Milk ad. Traveling the world to see the band live, especially the chance to visit Australia. Interviewing Paul Stanley regularly for his Paul Speaks feature on the site.

I remember those days….and then, everything came to an end, why?

Times change and life moves on. I was never an employee of KISS directly, they were just a client of the company Signatures Network that I worked for. New opportunities presented themselves and I needed to do what was best for me financially.

Well, coming back to nowadays, months ago I received a twit “Fabio thanks for following! If you have a RSS feed of your KISS news I would love to include it on the @kissotaku Twitter.”

What? Mike is following the deucenews??? what an honour!!!

So you’re back!! Tell us about KISS Otaku 2.0

I have done the KISS website thing, twice. First with KISS Otaku and then with Kissonline. I did not want to build another KISS website. Why, there are so many of them now and Kissonline has it covered. When I started KISS Otaku KISS did not have a official website. Why compete now with Kissonline. I also do want to get into the drama of the KISS webmaster world again. I have been there and have no desire to deal with the petty egos that can develop with some webmasters. So, what do I do? Well I have always been a early adopter of internet technology and social networks. Back in 2000 I was using a website called UPOC to send out SMS new updates to over a 1000 KISS fans. I sent out live updates from the first show on the Farewell Tour. If this sounds familiar it should, it was very similar to Twitter. I have been on Twitter almost since it’s launch. What a perfect tool! No website for me to build, just send out the links to the real sources. The fans follow and decide if they want to click the links. I just drive the traffic to the source of the news. I have always hated when someone on Twitter sends a link that goes to a blog, which then has a link to another website to read the story, a story which is just copied from another website. Just send me to the original website! That is what I am trying to do. It just makes no sense to me to build a website that takes the news that is already posted somewhere else and repost it. Just link to the source, that is what the web was built for. Anyway, so I setup KISS Otaku as a Twitter account for fans to follow. It was the first KISS account setup on Twitter. It is great to see that the band has now setup their own Twitter account, but there is so much more they can do with it. Last year when I attended a KISS show in Northern California I did live Twitter posts during the show. I was tweeting the setlist as it was happening, with a photo. If Kissonline were setup with a RSS feed they could have every news story on the site automatically sent out via Twitter. Now I am also taking the KISS Otaku Twitter account and using to post links to pictures of various items I have collected over the years, some items very rare in the eyes of a KISS fan; items such as the invite to Paul Stanley’s 50th Birthday Party or the Call Sheet from Peter Criss’ last show with KISS.

Yes I saw all that, what a great and cool memories to share!!

Planning for the next future?

You know I have no real plans. Just like the original KISS Otaku I am just letting it decide where to go, letting the fans decide. I am not trying to be the source of KISS news, I am doing what I as a fan think would be cool. I am going to post more audio clips that I have collected over the years… radio ads, original interviews, etc. More photos from my collection. More collectibles and rare items. Kissonline is the only news source that matters, I am not about trying to break the news. Who cares. Here is a link to a headline or something I think is cool and hopefully other fans will also think it is cool.