KISS COMES BACK TO DETROIT ROCK CITY
By Gary Graff
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kiss’ first album, but the theatrical rockers — who, of course, coined the term “rock ’n’ roll all night and party ev-er-y day” — are hardly letting it go by quietly.
The year so far has seen the group’s original lineup inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and frontman Paul Stanley put his autobiography on the New York Times best-sellers list. Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons also began their ownership of the Arena Football League’s L.A. Kiss, which is being documented on a new AMC reality show, “4th and Loud.” The group also released a new compilation, “Kiss 40,” and re-released its catalog on vinyl, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for the first time ever and struck a deal with Major League Baseball for an extensive line of branded products.
And looking forward, Kiss is planning some documentaries — including one about its 1975 visit to Cadillac, Mich. — DVDs, a sequel to the band autobiography “Nothing To Lose” and more.
“There’s a lot of stuff, and all very exciting,” notes Simmons, 64.
But Stanley, 62, says that’s all part and parcel of Kiss being Kiss and nothing out of the norm just because it’s been 40 years.
“Every year is an anniversary, y’know?” notes Stanley, who was born Stan Eisen. “Is it more meaningful because it’s got a zero on the end? Not to me. Every day surviving and moving, moving forward and keeping Kiss vibrant and vital, it’s an anniversary. We’re not going out there to do anything except what we do.”
The Israeli-born Simmons (nee Klein), meanwhile, says he and Stanley — along with current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer — view the 40-year mark as proof they were right, and Kiss’ many naysayers were wrong.
“I think they’re missing out on an important point, which is go out there and enjoy life,” Simmons explains. “The Scrooge mentality simply does not work. You can hate Kiss, but come to the show. You’ll have the time of your life. It’s uplifting. There’s nothing negative. There are enough problems in the world without guys who wear more makeup and higher heels than your mom waxing poetic on all sorts of issues. We make you forget about the traffic jam and the fight you had with your girlfriend. It’s just magic time.”
Kiss was pleased the Rock Hall finally got it this year after years of campaigning by fans. The group’s induction had its share of drama: Stanley and Simmons, angry the powers that be would only induct the original lineup, refused to perform with former members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. But their speeches were warm and heartfelt, and the moment worked for all concerned.
“It’s an honor because it was important to the fans,” Simmons explains. “I really doesn’t mean that much to me. But it’s also a slap in the face, because they didn’t honor Eric and Tommy, who have been in the band longer than (Frehley and Criss).
“On the other hand, I’ve got nothing to complain about, so I hope none of it comes out like sour grapes. It’s been very, very good, and there’s more good to come, I can promise you that.”