Q&A: PAUL STANLEY OF
September 21, 2010
By Ed Masley - The Arizona Republic
Photo by: Emmanuel Lozano

Thirty-five years after taking the gospel of rocking and rolling all nite (and then partying every day) to the masses with "Alive!," Paul Stanley swears this latest Kiss tour is the best they've ever done. And they're touring an album, "Sonic Boom," that's been proclaimed the costumed rockers' strongest effort since "Destroyer," the platinum classic that followed "Alive!" and gave the world "Beth."

But chances are Paul Stanley would be feeling pretty good about himself regardless. That's just how he is.

Here's Stanley on what makes this tour the Hottest Show on Earth.

Question: When you say this is the Kiss tour to see, why is that?

Answer: For the last few years, the crowds have just been getting bigger, but beyond that, what's been cool is that not only are the people at the concert saying it's the best show ever, the reviews look like I wrote 'em.

Q: Will this show be markedly different than the show you did here in October?

A: Well, you know, we're not suddenly wearing red hats and rubber noses or anything (laughs). What this band is built on is predictability, in the sense that when you pay your hard-earned money, you know you're gonna get your money's worth. So the only surprise would be that it's a bigger, better show. At this point, any band with money can buy lasers. Anybody can buy smoke bombs. Anybody can buy explosive devices and everything else. But you can't be Kiss.

Q: Are there any other artists whose stage shows you admire?

A: Not really.

Q: Were there artists whose stage shows or approaches inspired you?

A: Of course. None of us would be here without the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. I love all the bands that came out of England when I was a kid. Most of the bands here looked like they just rolled out of bed. You had to put a screen behind them with lights because watching the band was so boring. At the same time, your English bands were delivering a great show where everyone looked like they cared. That's what Kiss was born out of. We wanted to be the ultimate band that gave the audience everything they deserved. Basically, we got out of the audience, stepped onstage and said, "Lemme show you how it should be done."

Q: At what point do you think you got to that level, of being the ultimate band?

A: I think from the very beginning, we were miles ahead of anybody else in terms of what we were doing onstage. But since then, the victory lap has been 35 years.

Q: I read that you'll be playing hits on this tour that you haven't done in a while.

A: The problem with a Kiss show at this point is there's only so much time and too many songs.

Q: Do you ever slip in songs that weren't as big?

A: There's a reason that songs aren't as big. It's because they're not as good. The audience, by the vast majority, wants to hear the songs that it knows best. Who are you playing unpopular songs for? Certainly not the people who paid for the tickets.

Q: Right. I guess I didn't know if there were hardcore fans who . . .

A: Well, sure, there are hardcore fans. And the hardest of hardcore fans have to realize that there's an audience there of 15,000 to 100,000 people and most of them have an overview that may not consist of the same requirements.

Q: Will you be doing anything from "Sonic Boom"?

A: You betcha. "Sonic Boom" is us not only being proud of our past, it's putting our boot in the present and mapping out where we'll be going in the future. It's not the last Kiss album. It's the first Kiss album of the next stage.

Q: Some reviews have called that your best album since the "Destroyer" days. Do you feel that way?

A: Totally. A great band can make a great album. When people lose sight of how grateful they should be to be in this lofty position of being in Kiss, not only does the band suffer, but ultimately the fans suffer. We're in a position now where the band has a great time on and offstage and that makes for something that's undeniable and can't be faked.

Q: When you talk about people losing sight of how grateful they should be to be in this lofty position, are you referring to (drummer) Peter (Criss) and (guitarist) Ace (Frehley)?

A: Sure. In this case. Others have come and gone, too.

Q: Is there anything you miss about having them around?

A: Honestly? No. And I'm not saying that begrudgingly. Truthfully, it's never been more fun than it is now. And I give them their due, which they are owed in volumes. The band never could have existed without Peter and Ace. But the band could never be around today with Peter and Ace.

Q: Is the makeup on for good now?

A: For good. With every passing year, those personalities are more iconic. Those characters are way bigger than any of us. So it would be a discredit to both the band and the fans to change anything.

Q: It seems as though the critics came around on Kiss around the time you put the makeup back on. What did you think when you started seeing that kind of reaction?

A: Do I court great reviews? No. Do I accept them graciously? Absolutely. The fans have always loved what we do. And it's a bonus to have great reviews from the critics. We certainly made it this far without them, but it's nice to have them on board.

Q: I hear you may be heading back into the studio by early next year. Is that true?

A: I would say we'll be back in the studio by February and that should mean that an album should be done fairly soon after that.

Q: Is it going to be in a similar vein to "Sonic Boom"?

A: Well, none of us have learned how to play violins or trumpets in the meanwhile, so I think it'll be pretty much on track.

Q: How do you feel about not being inducted to the Hall of Fame yet?

A: Oh, who cares? If it matters to fans, and they champion the idea, then of course we would accept it if we were inducted. But we don't need a group of 10 or 15 guys who sit in a back room deciding who their favorite band is, especially when you start looking at some of the people who are getting inducted. It's a joke. C'mon. Patti Smith? Interesting, but how far are you from Peter, Paul and Mary?

Q: Do you have a favorite Kiss album?

A: No. There are so many great ones. I'm really at the moment jazzed with "Sonic Boom," but we've got a collection of albums that is pretty heady stuff.

Q: Do you think people can get the Kiss experience from listening to a record?

A: Well, I'd have to say that probably 80 million have gotten it through buying albums. But we are undoubtedly a live animal, and we're best seen in our natural habitat.

Q: What's your favorite part of any Kiss show?

A: The beginning, the middle and the end, I guess.

Q: That's such a Paul Stanley answer.

A: Hey. What can I tell you? I am me.