June 23, 2011
By Jackson Holtz, Herald Writer

Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer gather in a dressing room before taking the stage.

It takes two hours for each man to apply their own face paint and step into their elaborate costumes.

"It's a time of anticipation and preparation prior to the show," Thayer said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "It's a transition into KISS."

Rock 'n' roll, fake blood and a whole lot of black-and-white face paint. Add platform shoes, pyrotechnics, outrageous costumes and the result is the "Hottest Show on Earth."

KISS, the iconic '70s band, is scheduled to perform tonight at Comcast Arena Everett.

The show marks a return to touring after a six-month hiatus and kicks off an 18-night run across the western United States and Canada.

"I can guarantee the show will be bombastic and fiery, figurative and literally," Thayer said. "It's going to be everything that KISS is about."

Since 2002, Thayer has played lead guitar and filled the roll of Spaceman, taking original member Ace Frehley's spot.

Thayer, 50, bought the first KISS album when he was 13. He never imagined he'd one day be part of the show.

"It's hard to believe things like that actually happen," Thayer said. He filled in after Frehley went his own way.

The band has been at work on a new album, expected out at the beginning of 2012.

It'll be a follow up to the successful "Sonic Boom," released in 2009.

Tonight's concert is expected to include songs from the latest album, plus KISS classics.

Seeing a KISS show is a once-in-a-lifetime must, Thayer said.

In the early '70s, Simmons adapted the theatrics of Alice Cooper into a kind of comic-book style stage show. He added the face paint and codpieces. Simmons, who has been controversial for his political views and misogynistic comments, has been known to spit fire and once even lit his hair ablaze.

Today, Simmons, the Demon, is known for being the star of his reality TV show, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels."

"When you see Gene on his TV show, that's who he is," Thayer said.

Tonight fans will be coming to see Simmons play the bass guitar and rock out.

The show is a carefully rehearsed and choreographed event, including computer precision tricks. A stage crew of 60 drives about a dozen semis from venue to venue.

"We don't cut any corners," Thayer said. "Nothing runs better than the KISS crew."

Thayer, who grew up outside Portland, said he enjoys playing in the Pacific Northwest.

"It's like coming home," he said.