STANLEY SAYS KEEPING IT FRESH
November 20, 2009
Tour supporting new album comes to Save Mart Center.

By Mike Osegueda / The Fresno Bee

Say what you will about KISS, but even after all these years, the face-painted foursome is still provocative.

This year, the band launched a first-ever fan-routed tour (which drew both praise and complaints) and released "Sonic Boom," its first album in 11 years (which entered the pop charts at No. 2, a career high for KISS).

If you ask Paul Stanley, KISS' co-leader, the band that booms into Save Mart Center on Saturday night is KISS at its best -- with co-leader Gene Simmons at his side, as well as recent additions Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums).

We talked to Stanley about the fan-routed tour, its new album and why critics and multigenerations seem to love KISS these days.

Question: I know you guys are a little more than halfway done with the tour, how do you feel it's gone so far?

Answer: In terms of worldwide, it's the biggest and most successful tour we've ever done. It's been not only a great show in terms of turnout and response from the audience, but I've never seen so many great reviews. You have to remember that we're a band that's always been loved by the public and hated by most critics. All of the sudden, either those critics are out a job, or they've had a change of heart, because it's suspicious to see so many over-the-top reviews.

Along those lines, I've seen pictures on your Web site of little kids and families at your concerts. Thirty years ago, that wasn't the image people had of KISS.

KISS has always been about writing our own book as to who we are and what we are. It usually doesn't follow what other bands are doing. At this point, we are so multigenerational and proud of it. We do have new fans, meaning teens and 20s, but we also have older fans with their kids. For many people, KISS has always been the soundtrack to their lives, so it's passing something along to their kids. I couldn't be more proud of the band and what we mean to so many different people.

Where does that dedication come from? What is it about the band that inspires that in people?

I think it's the idea of being the underdog who always manages to win. We've had a career of doing things our way in the face of every known obstacle and we do more than survive, we thrive. I think it's an inspiration to other people, that if you believe in what you're doing and if you believe in your self, nothing can stop you.

Let's talk about your fan-routed tour idea. It got a good response and got a lot of attention. But afterward, I heard some moaning and groaning from different cities. Do you think overall it was successful?

You're always under a magnifying glass when you do something different. It seemed to make a lot of people happy and, of course, there's going to be some disgruntled fans. Our goal is not to do that, but it's almost unavoidable.

Is it something you would do again?

I think we'd think twice about it. It's always interesting -- we tend to lead the way and perhaps sometimes get the sticks and stones thrown at us and plow the way for other bands to do it with a little less bad publicity. When we started putting out merchandise, oh my God it was sacrilege, "Rock 'n' roll bands don't do that." Well, all those rock 'n' roll bands who wouldn't do it, once they saw the checks they were missing found their way into fan clubs.

At this point, when you guys are about to release an album or about to go on tour, are there still certain numbers you're trying to reach? Or does that stuff even matter anymore?

No. Doesn't matter. I'm in a very fortunate position where this truly is no longer about money. It's about goals. In the case of "Sonic Boom," it's about making the album that we deserve to make for us. By making the album that we deserved, it was the album that the fans deserved.

If you were going to create "the perfect KISS," which past or present members would be in the lineup?

They're in. This is the best KISS ever. Because this is a KISS where you've got four unique personalities, but you've got four people who are all dedicated to the idea of trying to make the band more famous, rather than trying to figure out how to have the band make them more famous. You only have to come see the band to know that this is as good as it gets.