BORN AGAIN WITH WALMART'S SONIC BOOM
August 18, 2009
"Is there any way to play it back on a man's level?" says Gene Simmons, requesting more volume and rolling his eyes at Conway Studios in Los Angeles. Kiss are finishing up Sonic Boom, the band's first new studio album in 11 years, and the God of Thunder wants to hear the songs played back at maximum loudness.

The band announced today that the 11-song Sonic Boom will be released October 6th in the U.S. and Canada exclusively in Walmart stores. The album will be part of a three-disc set that includes a CD of re-recorded greatest hits and a live DVD from a recent tour stop in Buenos Aires. "The world's biggest retailer," Simmons boasts in a statement, "had better get ready for the hottest band in the world and hire more cashiers." The band will celebrate the new LP at a September 25th gig at Detroit's Cobo Arena.

Back at the studio, Simmons and lifetime musical partner Paul Stanley radiate supreme confidence as they reveal the new songs, which reflect the same charged in-your-face sensibility, if not the actual sound, of their classic '70s work. The album was produced by Stanley and is the first to feature the current lineup of guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer (who replaced founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss early this decade).

Kiss have remained active as a hugely successful touring act around the world, but the new album is a surprise from a band that hasn't released a studio album since the disappointing Psycho Circus in 1998. "We tried to do a Kiss album, and it was an ill-fated attempt because there was no real band," says Stanley, relaxing behind the control board at Conway, his shirt opened to a chest of medallions and chains. "For a band to make a great album, it has to share a common purpose, and we didn't have it."

In the years since, the lucrative Kiss licensing juggernaut rolled on, both Simmons and Stanley released solo albums, and the Simmons family became reality TV stars. And Kiss played the old hits to massive audiences around the planet. "Things happen when they're ready," says Stanley. "We couldn't have made this album without Eric and Tommy. I've known Eric now for 20 years. He's been in and out of the band, and the best times are when he's in."

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Kiss started jamming and collecting song ideas in December, and by the spring began recording as a band live in the studio to analog tape. "Modern Day Delilah" is classic hard rock with thundering guitars and a wailing Stanley vocal. There's a '70s guitar grind to "Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)," and thundering pop hooks within "Russian Roulette," as Simmons sings, "You got me where you want me... take a bite," before unleashing a ripping Thayer solo.

"The great thing about these tunes is that we can reproduce them live. Just four guys," says Simmons, standing in black leather and cowboy boots with silver tips. "We don't have to prove anything to anybody. All the nay-sayers who didn't understand it, we walk on their graves in our 8-inch platform heels. If you want to say rebirth or born again, you're goddamn right. There's a sense of pride here. When you get up onstage with these guys, you look over and you go, 'Wow, I'm in Kiss.' "

Sonic Boom track list:

Modern Day Delilah
Russian Roulette
Never Enough
Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)
Stand
Hot and Cold
All for the Glory
Danger Us
I'm an Animal
When Lightning Strikes
Say Yeah

Kiss Klassics:
Duece
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
Hotter Than Hell
Calling Dr. Love
Love Gun
I Was Made For Lovin' You
Heaven's On Fire
Lick It Up
I Love It Loud
Forever
Christine Sixteen
Do You Love Me?
Black Diamond
Rock and Roll All Nite

Kiss: Live In Buenos Aires DVD:
Duece
Hotter Than Hell
C'Mon and Love Me
Watchin' You
100,000 Years
Rock and Roll All Nite