TO HEAT UP THE NIGHT
September 16, 2010
By Jim Beal Jr. - Express-News

The current Kiss tour is called The Hottest Show on Earth. And the band has been working across the country in some of the hottest weather going.

Still, guitarist, singer and songwriter Paul Stanley has, without complaint, been donning what he calls "the uniform," pulling up his boots, painting the star over his right eye and hitting the stages.

"It's murder," he said from an Atlanta tour stop. "But I'm in Kiss. Every night is my moment of glory. That's what sets us apart. We'll do our shows if it's 40 degrees or 140 degrees. If you can't do what you're supposed to, give the money back."

Sunday, Kiss - Stanley, bassist/tongue wielder Gene Simmons, Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thayer (guitar) - will take over the AT&T Center. It's a safe bet the Kiss Army will be out in force.

"I think there's a big difference between rock bands and Kiss," Stanley said. "Rock bands tend to be very age specific, but Kiss is tribal. A Kiss concert is like a meeting of the world's biggest secret society. Everyone is in it together. It's cool to go to a Kiss concert and see your neighbors and the people from down the block."

That Kiss Army doesn't have to ponder the meaning of Kiss songs.

"We sing about self-empowerment," Stanley said. "Our songs are about believing in yourself and celebrating being alive. It's not deep, but it's profound in its simplicity. Let other people tell you how to save the world and save the whales. That's great, but we all need a night off."

That said, Kiss is involved in social projects. $1 from each ticket goes to the Wounded Warrior Project.

"We're at about $300,000 right now," Stanley said. "The people we're giving the money to are the people who make freedom possible. They're coming back home broken in body or spirit, and we're trying to help them heal. It's a Kiss initiative, but I explain every night that we're happy to be making that donation and that our fans can make more of a donation. Don't give 'til it hurts. Give 'til it feels good."

The Hottest Show features chestnuts such as "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock & Roll All Nite" as well as tunes from the latest CD, "Sonic Boom."

"It's difficult choosing the sets. There are obviously songs we have to play," Stanley said. "But we also have to change it up. So we're doing some songs we haven't done in a long time, including songs from the first album."

Kiss shows have long made use of technology.

"Technology can be a great thing or an instrument of strangulation," Stanley said. "We use technology to sharpen the blade, so to speak. We have video screens built into our amplifiers. But there are no moving sidewalks with male dancers jumping on each other while someone lip-synchs. I'd rather go to karaoke. At least at karaoke people are actually singing."

"An excuse I've heard for lip-synching is the singers say they can't dance around and sing at the same time. They either need to get a better vocal coach or work out more. Spend 35 years with Gene standing on your shoulders and you'll stay in shape."

Kiss is known for balancing music and a rock 'n' roll circus.

"The only people who question that are people who don't like us. They act like being a showman hides a deficiency. It's ridiculous," Stanley said.

Don't expect to see Stanley doing reality TV like "Gene Simmons Family Jewels." "To each his own," he said. "I'm too busy living real life. That pseudo lifestyle television is time consuming."

In his spare time, Stanley makes visual art, giclee on canvas, acrylic on canvas and sculptures. Subjects include self portraits, abstract landscapes, blues legend Robert Johnson and angels.

"My paintings are unbelievably successful," he said. "Painting started off as a diversion. It's something I do for myself. I don't paint on tour. I don't bring my brushes on stage, and I don't take my guitar in my art studio."