July 29, 2010
Guitarist Thayer aces KISS' 'Spaceman' role

By Paul Clark

The classic metal band Kiss will play tonight at Riverbend, featuring founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley along with drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer. We talked last week with Thayer, who replaced Ace Frehley eight years ago as the band's "Spaceman" character.

Question: You came to Kiss by way of the band Black 'n Blue and after playing with a Kiss tribute band, and you actually started with Kiss as a kind of "Man Friday", is that correct?

Answer: All of the above. I'd been with Black 'n Blue in the '80s, and we were lucky enough to open for Kiss. The relationship evolved from there, through all the ups and downs.

* Take our KISS quiz

Q: You're a better musician than Ace is - do you think beneath all the face paint you've carved out your own identity?

A: When I came in, in 2002, I had big shoes to fill. Ace had a legacy and really helped established what Kiss was. It's a slow process, but I'm the guy now.

Q: Tell us about Wounded Warriors, the war veterans' charity your band helps support.

A: For each ticket bought on this tour, we donate $1 to Wounded Warriors. We have great appreciation for all our servicemen and women who protect our liberties. My dad's a retired brigadier general, I don't know whether people know that.

Q: Do you support the war?

A: Are we getting political?

Q: We don't have to.

A: It's really not something I want to get into.

Q: Gene Simmons recently called critics "an unnecessary life form." Do you think the negative criticism for Kiss is unfair, and maybe irrelevant?

A: I don't go as far as what Gene says. Some have been negative over the years but we've received lots of favorable reviews for (this year's European tour) and for (new album) "Sonic Boom." It's all good to me.