October 09, 2009
Guitarist decides to Kiss and tell about new album and how he wound up in one of the world's biggest rock bands

Tommy Thayer plays guitar like an ace, or like an Ace, rather.

When Ace Frehley quit Kiss for the second time in 2002, Thayer, who had been hired as an assistant to the band, was the obvious choice for a replacement. Thayer had even re-taught Frehley how to play his own parts when the original lineup of the band first reunited in the mid '90s.

"It was actually kind of a fun thing," says Thayer, who sports the spaceman look that Frehley popularized in the 70s. "Through the course of these guys' solo careers in the '80s they maybe meandered off into different directions. You know, they didn't play certain things the way they used to... So it was just about reconnecting with the exact way they were doing it before. So I was able to help."

Lately Thayer has been able to do a lot more than just help. The newest member of Kiss has multiple writing credits on "Sonic Boom," the band's latest release, which came out Tuesday, and he even sings lead on the song "When Lightning Strikes."

"I'm amazed that we've actually went and did a record," says Thayer. "Paul and Gene were so ambivalent about it for years, understandably so... when you're a band like Kiss that's an important historic act, you've got to be careful if you're going to do a studio record. ... By the time we finished recording the record we all looked at each other and thought, 'This is pretty good, this doesn't suck.' You can never tell until you finish it."

First Kiss

"I was a 13-year-old kid up in Oregon and I used to go to the magazine stand and buy this magazine called Circus magazine. They'd have all these great articles and color pictures of hard rock bands. I saw this band called Kiss and I was just blown away when I saw the pictures because they looked awesome, you know. They had a great image. You know, tons of great hair, big platform boots with leather cool outfits and this makeup and cool guitars and this big stage with all of this pyro going off with Marshall stacks. I was like, 'Wow, that's my kind of band!' It's the ultimate band. That's how I kind of initially got hooked. And then for Christmas I asked for the first Kiss album and my parents got me the first Kiss album for Christmas. And I was forever hooked."

Best Kiss

"That's a tough one. There's so many great songs. Maybe 'Deuce.' That's the old show-starter from way back when. But you know the new album, I'm really, really proud of that, and I love all those songs. 'Modern Day Delilah' is a lot of fun."