by Elianne Halbersberg
From the December 2009 issue of Premier Guitar
What do you remember about 1975, if you were around? Inane sitcoms on network television. Gasoline shortage. Recession. The resignation of a corrupt U.S. president. But if music was, and still is, your heart and soul, perhaps what stands out most in your memory is the way your life was changed by a KISS album - their first, self-titled: loud, heavy on the guitars and melodic rock, recorded on tape.
Thirty-five years later, some things haven't changed. Inane network television. Gasoline shortage. Recession. A KISS album - their 19th original studio project and first new album in 11 years, Sonic Boom: loud, heavy on the guitars and melodic rock, recorded on tape.
Thirty-five years is an impressive stretch for any relationship, particularly one that began this way: "He was wearing overalls and he had a beard," Paul Stanley recalls of his first meeting with Gene Simmons. "I didn't like him. Steve [Coronel, friend and co-writer] said, 'Gene, Paul writes songs also.' Gene said, 'Oh yeah? Play one.' I did. He looked at me and went 'Eh.' ... I wasn't crazy about ever seeing him again..."
So much for first impressions. On their second meeting, Stanley and Simmons locked into a groove that has outlasted most marriages. Together, they have survived the best and worst of times: venom from the media, personnel changes, a fragmented and imploding music industry. Through it all, the recording and relentless touring continued, and KISS fans, the loyal millions, never wavered.