PAUL ANSWERS FROM WASHBURN FORUM
May 05, 2010
Thanks to everyone for sending in their questions. Due to the overwhelming response, Paul was unable to answer every question, so we picked out the questions that were most frequently asked and most relevant to these forums and then a couple of stand-out questions.

Q: What made you decide to work with Washburn Guitars for your stage and signature guitars?

A: I think the key to great success is always a great team and great collaboration. That's why over the years I've sought out new partners from time to time. Washburn in an earlier incarnation had a terrific team, whereby there was no red tape to cut through or hoops to jump to see a design through from sketches to prototype. With the new Washburn team, I'm feeling that same excitement and the Flying V is the first indication of great things to come.

Q: When you sat down with Washburn to create your signature model, what was your main priority in what you were looking for?

A: I wanted very much to go back to a classic workhorse of mine during the 70s. At that point, I found that less was more. I had disconnected and removed one of the pickups on my original V and then had a mirrored pickguard made for this single pickup configuration with two controls. I missed the simplicity and directness of that approach and also missed the physicality of playing a V, so I decided to resurrect it, faithfully. It’s important to remember that any guitar that I make available to the public, is first and foremost, played and valued by me.

Q: What are your favorite features on a guitar? What do you look for when you’re designing a new signature guitar?

A: All of my guitars are based upon the combination of materials and aesthetics that made the classics that I grew up with and grew up wanting, so great.. In other words for me it's hard to beat the combination of a mahogany body with a maple cap humbucking pickups and a set neck.

Q: How do you pick the finishes of your signature guitars?

A: The classic look of the band has always revolved around black, white and silver and for me, it's most comfortable and in keeping with ongoing tradition that makes KISS unique and familiar.

Q: How important do you think "character" is in a guitar? Your signature obviously has an unorthodox style to the body shape and such. Do you think the audience, regardless if they are guitar players or not, cares about how the guitar looks on stage?

A: I do. I think that how a guitar looks is important to the player in that a guitar that a musician feels embodies their personality will bring out certain things in them that another guitar probably won't. In terms of live performance, I think the right guitar conveys and reinforces an attitude.

Q: What ever happened to that awesome Rhinestone Flying V that you used on the Rock and Roll Over Tour?

A: I still have that guitar and its brand spanking new grandson is onstage with me every night on the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour.

Q: Which is your favorite guitar to tour with?

A: Up until this last tour, the PS2000 has been my number 1 "go to" guitar on stage. But now, with my single pickup flying V, it feels like I have gone full-circle to where I once started. It sounds and looks awesome.

Q: Have you ever thought about designing a double-neck guitar?

A: Because of my high energy performance and belief that a live show should entertain, double-neck guitars have always been a challenge for me. I have designed some in the past that I was very happy with and should the need arise; I will take another crack at it.

Q: What do you look for in your amplifiers?

A: Most of what I tend to use is based on a Marshall Plexi. As with certain guitar characteristics, the classic Marshalls embody the essentials that make the cornerstone of my sound. That being said, there are many terrific tube amps that are based on those specifications.

Q: What happens to left over guitar picks from the tours and how many picks does KISS go through per tour?

A: I don't think there are ever leftover guitar picks on the tour. As soon as they get stuck on the microphone, I flick them into the crowd. It's a job just keeping them ready for me.

Q: As far as stage production goes (e.g., lighting, amps, effects, etc), what has been your favourite, or most impressive, improvement in recent years that you really like?

A: I think the biggest leap forward for live shows was the advent of wireless systems, which we actually pioneered and road tested for the originators, Schaffer-Vega. Funny at that point we almost had to tell the audience that we were wireless because they often didn't believe we were playing because we weren't plugged in. The freedom that the wireless system and ear monitors have given has taken all of the barriers and barricades off of the stage.

Q: We've never seen you play a Fender. Do you have any specific likes/dislikes about them?

A: I have a couple of terrific Stratocasters and although I love playing them, they are not part of what I do or the school that I come from, but in the right hands, they are understandably one of the true icons of rock 'n roll.

Q: Do you ever sell and/or intend to sell some of the guitars in your personal collection?

A: I have in the past sold quite a few of my guitars and the ones that I have retained are ones that are connected to me both sonically and emotionally and have a much deeper personal value to me.

Q: What type of music do you listen to and who have been your biggest influences?

A: I listen to all types of music and feel that there are only two types: good and bad. Music is like food. If you only eat one type you are malnourished. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something different. As a writer or musician, in general, I believe you are better off bringing influences to your music that are outside of the type you might play.

Q: How have you stayed focused on making music and getting up on stage in front of so many people throughout the years?

A: As long as I love what I'm doing, I can do it honestly and with commitment and passion. Any bad times you go through help you to determine how much something means to you by what you're willing to do to revive or resuscitate it.

Q: Do you have any tips on how I can improve my guitar technique?

A: The same rules apply to anything you challenge yourself with and want to excel at, it's all about practice. There's no substitute.

Q: Do you have any tips on how I can improve my singing technique?

A: It's always important to support your voice from your torso and diaphragm and keep it out of your throat. Too many aspiring singers shred their throats thinking you can squeeze notes out of it. You can't. The more you can incorporate your head tone, supporting it with your diaphragm and chest, the more you'll avoid wrecking your throat

Q: Do you do anything special to keep the wear and tear on your guitars to a minimum?

A: Nothing. Like women and many other things in life, a lot of things look better from a distance than up close. My guitars take a beating on tour.

Q: What advice would you give to your son Evan about playing guitar and making music?

A: My son is a phenomenal guitar player and my only advice to him early on was to dig as deeply into the roots of what he loves and discover where it all started, rather than being consumed with copying the current guitar hero per se. I made that point to him by reminding him that Jimi Hendrix didn't start by playing Purple Haze.

Q: For the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour, will you play some medleys like you did in 2001 in Australia???

A: There are no medleys in the current show, but I think that this is by far our best show and set list to date.

Q: When will KISS be coming to my town?

A: Keep checking the Kiss website. We will be announcing US shows probably within the next few weeks. We are in the midst of our European Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour and have decided that we're having too much fun to stop.

Q: My question concerns the BEST BALLAD KISS ever recorded. Why was “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” not released as a single? It is much better than Aerosmith's “I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing”. I feel you were robbed of a #1 single.

A: I believe it actually was, and sometimes the resistance we've met at radio has made airplay impossible, but ultimately, you all listen to what you choose.

Q: There has been some KISS tablature published throughout the years. Does KISS give the companies the exact tablature?

A: As close as some of them may be, there are obvious subtleties that are missing. The challenge, whenever playing someone else's music is to find the nuances. When you do, you unlock "that door".

Q: What is your songwriting process?

A: With writing, I tend to come up with a musical idea first and then build on that both lyrically and musically. My lyrics tend to come from stream of consciousness and organically what sings over chord changes or a riff and then it's just a matter of filling in the blanks.

Q: What do you think about bootlegs?

A: I think that any time someone steals what isn't theirs; it's criminal and should be dealt with accordingly. Nobody has the right to sell what isn't theirs. Nobody has the right to decide how much your work is worth, what you deserve or what you should get. The whole notion of bootlegs and file sharing is as criminal and ridiculous as me calling stealing your car, sharing transportation. You can't sell what you don't own.

Q: Is it true, that there one day will be an official "KISS The NEXT Generation???

A: The band has never been stronger, had better reviews, bigger turnouts, or had more fun. There is no end in sight and we are proud of where we've been, thrilled with where we are and excited by where we're going.

Q: If KISS were to play their last show, would Ace and Peter play?

A: I'm not sure that when Kiss plays its last show, I'll be playing.

Q: If Eric Carr were still alive, what would be the chances of him still being in the band?

A: That's too hypothetical a question. His loss was a tragedy and it's pointless to hypothesize.

Q: What do you think of Anomaly? And is the reality show with Ace a go?

A: Honestly, I've never heard the whole album. For me, the most important thing is that Ace is alive and hopefully doing what he loves. As far as a reality show, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Q: Grant me one wish: Never let Peter Criss and Ace Frehley be members of KISS again.

A: Your wish is granted.

Q: Is it true that Eddie Van Halen wanted to join KISS and that Eddie Van Halen wrote the guitar solo for Love Gun?

A: I have no knowledge of that being so. No, Van Halen was not a known band at that time, so that would be impossible. The solo was actually based on a solo from a song called "We Ain't Got Nothin’ Yet" by the Blues Magoos.

Q: Do you have material for future new album?

A: Yes. We had such a great time making Sonic Boom and it was so easy, effortless and the results were so terrific that there doesn't seem to be much doubt that we will do another.

Q: When can we expect the next studio record?

A: No idea, but I'm sure within the next year or two.

Q: Do you have any plans for releasing more live footage DVDs?

A: There is a Kissology 4 in the works.

Q: What are your future solo plans?

A: I currently have no solo plans; when KISS is firing on all cylinders, that's good enough for me.