Having recently parted ways with the Universal Records Group (i.e. Mercury/PolyGram), Kiss' Gene Simmons has reportedly been talking to several large independent record labels -- including Spitfire -- about inking a new deal for the band. However, while recent speculation has centered around the release of the group's long-completed Alive IV project, it now appears that Simmons and partner Paul Stanley have in fact been working with producer Bob Ezrin on the act's next studio album, which is unlikely to surface before 2003 at the earliest.
Another subject of much speculation, Kiss' current line-up appears to no longer include guitarist Ace Frehley, who has been replaced by Tommy Thayer during the band's most recent live performances. Drummer Peter Criss, meanwhile, is said to be welcome to return to the fold provided that he accepts the original contract offered to him for the band's most recent tour (which he had previously rejected). However, in the event that he decides to not be part of the group, Eric Singer is said to be the frontrunner to play the drums on the upcoming record and during the subsequent live activities.