A very excited writer gets his hands on Paul Stanley. Do we even have to tell you this is KISS?
How is life?
Great. It’s like a broken record, everyday I wind up saying ‘I’m a hell of a lucky guy’.
Does everyone who interviews you tell you how big of a fan they are?
It’s amazing. First of all if someone told me thirty years ago that we’d still be doing it to packed houses worldwide I’d tell them they’re out of their mind. Fans still don’t mind me at this age taking off my shirt and no one tells me to put it back on (laughs). It’s astounding to think that five months ago we were in Australia playing with a seventy piece orchestra playing in front of thirty or forty thousand people.
Even when I set up the interview I had to tell my friends who grew with me listening to Kiss and not only that but I guess had that experience of wanting to be Kiss.
The unique thing about us is that the feeling of the band mirrors the feelings of the fans. (Laughs) We are as amazed by this as the fans are.
Where did the idea of working with the Symphony come from?
We had completed the farewell tour with the thought that it was time to call it quits knowing full well that Kiss would continue as long as the fans wanted to, in one form or another. We can’t actually stop Kiss from existing or mutating into another form. But we felt that we should stop playing as a live band. Two years later we learned never say never. It was interesting because I was in a car shop having my car repaired and I was nostalgic thinking about the live aspect of Kiss was over. Then a guy came over to me and said ‘I really loved the farewell tour, when are you doing the thirtieth anniversary tour?’ (We both laugh). When I heard that, a light went off in my head and a thought came ‘you can always go home’. The door never closes. I think the opportunities that come up have to be special. When we were approached with playing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, you know it’s not the L.A. YMCA orchestra they are a top ten world class orchestra, and staying true to Kiss was very challenging. The idea of not toning Kiss down to work with an Orchestra but to kick the Orchestra in the ass and to get them to rock was unique and fell into the category of things we want to do.
Were you nervous about working with the Orchestra and how it might come out?
Once we committed to doing the show I had the idea that the show should be in three parts; Kiss on our own, an unplugged part segment with an ensemble and the third part would be the full onslaught. Once we went into rehearsal in L.A. I remember turning to Tommy [Thayer, guitarist] and saying ‘wow, this is pretty challenging’. Once we realized the scope of what we committed to and we heard the arrangements it was both exciting and daunting.
Did Tommy play with the symphony?
Yeah. Tommy played the Australia and Japan tour. He had played with us numerous times for the past year and a half. He has been working with us for a while. This wasn’t his trial by fire.
I was reading on the Kiss website fans seem so bothered by Tommy wearing Ace’s makeup and playing his part…
What you love about Kiss is that we are independent and do things our way, but that also means we have to do things that we feel are necessary. If it came down to Kiss with a personnel change or no Kiss guess what, you are going to get a change of member because I’m not going home until I’m ready.
It goes out to fans the same way, do you want Kiss to tour and see a great show or do they not want a show?
The other side of it is that the band sounds amazing. I certainly respect everybody’s point of view but it’s not going to stop me from doing what I want to do. I’ve been in this band since day one and it’s not going to be for somebody else’s agenda to determine whether or not I continue. At this point it has to be clear that the door doesn’t swing both ways. When you walk out you are wished well. God knows Ace was a founding member and part of the original blueprint but life goes on and if you decide you want to move on then love goes on without you. That door doesn’t open for you to come back and forth at will.
I like that you answer fans questions on Kissonline.com.
I think that it’s important to keep a personal contact with your fans. I’ve always felt that I didn’t get famous to cut myself off from the people who have made me famous. Although sometimes people may not like what they hear and want answers that fit more their expectations I’m not there to do that either. It’s funny that some people want to believe that there is dirty laundry to be aired and there are certain aspects that aren’t their business. Being in the public eye doesn’t mean I have an obligation to speak poorly about a member or former member. If you want dirty you’ll have to do some digging.
Everyone wants to know what dirty secrets hide in your closet, but you don’t dig into their closets.
Right and obviously the curiosity is on this end because of my position, but I’ve always felt it was a small person who makes themselves feel big by making someone else feel small. I’m not here to bad mouth anyone in the band, it’s not my style.
In the end I don’t think there is anyone who wants you guys to stop.
I’m on board with that. (Laughs)
I noticed something on the site regarding the opportunity for fans to meet you guys at shows. I never heard of that.
A few other bands have done it. The Stones have done it and Aerosmith do it. It’s something special for people who can, bluntly, afford it. People who fly coach shouldn’t be angry at the people who can afford first class. The point is, you are both on a beautiful plane.
People seemed really angry. If it was cheaper, say a hundred bucks rather than a thousand, you’d have a line ten blocks long.
Right, then A – it’s not special and B – what makes this unique and worth the money is the one on one situation. If you don’t have that because there are two or three hundred people backstage it is contrary to what you were trying to do in the first place. It seems odd that the person who is angry is the person who can’t afford it. I understand it in some ways, but honestly life isn’t always fair. You can always meet me at the supermarket for free. (We both laugh)
Or while you are getting your car repaired.
Exactly. Lets just all be happy with what we have.
I did read some fans arguments about the price and I have to wonder what they want, you guys to just walk through the crowd and shake everyone’s hands?
Not surprisingly most of the people who have an idea of how much that backstage package should cost is usually based upon what they can afford.
I think it’s a cool idea.
It’s a whole package, you get great seats and backstage. It’s the E ticket at Disneyland.
Since you have two headlining bands how is the stage show going to work since you both have huge shows?
We’ve designed for this tour a revolving stage. It will cut down immensely on the time that the fans have to wait between acts. It gives each band the opportunity to do virtually their full show.
I read a quote from you where you said something like if you don’t still get the same feeling today as you did when you first started then you should stop. Does it take anything extra to get excited?
The challenge changes over the years but there has always to be a challenge. Whether you are competing with yourself, yesterday, last week, and last year or ten years ago there is always a challenge. There has to be a bar that you are trying to raise and get over. For me there is always that. Plus the band is very eager to go out this time and to be our best. The incentive is that there are people coming to see you and expecting you to be great and you being greater.
I got a Psycho Circus shirt that I gave to my son who has no idea you are a band, he thinks it’s for a comic book or something…
…In a way it is.
Yeah and what is that feeling that generations carry the band on through generations.
The thing about Kiss is that it is so multidimensional. We exist as a rock band and superheroes. We are the total package. There are kids who like us for what we look like and then there are people who would rather we put on a show in jeans. The attraction cuts across all boundries.
Do you ever wonder whether some fans have liked the show more than the music?
I don’t believe that one negates the other at all. If you just want to hear music then just stay home. Who in God’s name wants to go to a show to see somebody up on a bare stage playing music? There is so much more to be done and offered to the fans. If you are going to pay big bucks, at least for me as a consumer, I want to see where my money is going. A Kiss show is a spectacle. It’s an event. It’s the original interactive ride.
I know exactly what you are saying. I go to many rock shows and I do see lots of bare stages and guys just standing in place and I wonder what fans are paying for when they could have just stayed home and heard the same songs on their cds.
I believe you should get what you pay for. If you get a cheap ticket then you should see some guy with a beat up amplifier who needs a shave and a cup of coffee. When you want a Rolls Royce you have to pay for it.
Music has gone through so many changes yet Kiss continues to roar on in spite of it and people still hunger for you guys.
People hunger for the standards and classic tunes most of all. I understand that. It goes back to spending your money. When you’re spending your money you want to know what you are getting. And when you come to see Kiss you know exactly what you are going to get. We aren’t all of the sudden going to turn “Love Gun” into a reggae song because we are bored with it. We go out and play what you expect and more.
Do you see any bands today that could be continue on for thirty years like Kiss, Ozzy or Aerosmith?
There is no reason that rock can’t continue on just like the Blues has. Are you reflecting your audience and singing about things that are relevant to them?
I wonder at this point if there are groups now that my son will listen to in ten years and say to me ‘you can’t relate’ and I’ll say ‘wrong, I listened to that band when I was a kid’.
Hopefully what we are doing is timeless.
+ Charlie Craine