REKINDLING THE FIRES OF A ROCK ICON
October 09, 2009
By A.D. Amorosi

When you're a member of KISS, you're a demon or a star child from your first cigarette to your last dying day - especially if you're the 36-year-old band's remaining original members, bassist/reality TV star Gene Simmons and guitarist/painter Paul Stanley.

In talking with Stanley, it becomes clear that the passage of time has brought a wealth of subjects to consider. There's the new KISS CD, for example, titled Sonic Boom. But before discussing that, Stanley dwells on the approaching close of elder super-arenas such as the Spectrum, where KISS set many a night aflame. "When I was a kid, those arenas are what I dreamed of playing," he says.

Stanley also jokes about not caring that KISS - never a critics' darling - is finally being considered for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "KISS' hall was the 80 million people buying our albums," he says. "That said, we've had hard-core fans that fought long and hard to get us in, and if we do get in, we're gratified for them."

Stanley produced Sonic Boom alone ("Democracy is overrated. Besides, someone has to lead the charge") and cowrote this, the band's first new album in 11 years, with longtime partner Simmons.

Both things stem from having sworn off making new music after the band's first reunion album, 1998's Psycho Circus, turned out to be what Stanley deems disastrous. He ascribes much of that failure to personality issues. "There are missteps to making albums when people see the band as ways of furthering themselves rather than the band," he says, obliquely referring to former band members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

With newer members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer firmly entrenched and fully versed in the KISS glam-metal ethos, the band set about to make Sonic Boom sound like classics from the 1970s heyday. " 'Love Gun' was certainly one we looked toward," Stanley says of a KISS-centric reference point. "We don't really care about what's trendy now. Just because you can write different music doesn't mean it belongs on a KISS album. Sonic Boom sounds like what KISS should sound like."

KISS and Buckcherry play at 8 p.m. Monday at the Wachovia Center, 3601 S. Broad St. Tickets: $25-$128. Contact: 1-800-298-4200, www.aeglive.com, and www.comcastTIX.com.