KISS’ Paul Stanley on Patriotism, Football and His ‘Treasure Trove’ of Demos

By Brian Ives / http://radio.com

KISS is in the midst of their latest U.S. trek, dubbed the “Freedom to Rock” tour. The marketing and message of the tour proudly displays the patriotism that has become increasingly prevalent in the band’s branding over the past few years. Many of the tour materials see the band draped in the American flag, and the band’s iconic logo is often decorated in red, white and blue.

Frontman Paul Stanley says that this has been an active choice by the band in recent years. “Absolutely,” he tells Radio.com. “Perhaps it’s happened as we’ve become more enlightened to the world, and to the plight of others.”

He, and the band, feels particularly passionate about supporting the military, which they have done actively over the years; on this tour, they hire veterans to work on their crew on every show. “So many Americans think that freedom is free,” he says. “It’s only free for those who don’t have to sacrifice to make it possible. People risk life and limb and come back damaged in all kinds of ways, and hardly receive the recognition, let alone the treatment and necessary services that are needed. And the people who serve on our behalf, when they are impacted by their service, we sometimes forget that their families are impacted too.”

“Saying that you love the country means that you love the diversity of people here,” he continues. “And caring about the plight of the military. I would feel that I’m short-changing myself to not do that.”

These days Stanley and his bandmate and partner Gene Simmons share a few other business interests outside of KISS. One of those is the restaurant chain, Rock and Brews. He explains his philosophy for the business. “I’ve always found that if I address my own needs, I address the needs of other people. It’s a great restaurant that pays tribute to the music that we all love—classic rock—and you can bring your kids, it has an indoor/outdoor design. We have food that, if you could serve it at home, you’d have guests all the time, and anywhere from fifty to a hundred craft beers.”

He notes that Rock and Brews works to have a more positive impact on the communities that it enters. “We serve local craft beers, we try to bring in local produce, we try to support the neighborhood. It’s very easy for an establishment or business to come into a neighborhood and plunder it. We see our place as being members of the community and being good neighbors. Whether that means having an opening day event supporting local military support groups, or making sure that we’re serving the best fresh food, it’s something that feels great to do. It’s not a ploy to sell t-shirts on the way out—although we do sell t-shirts—it’s really a great, great restaurant. We have great pretzels; we bring our dough in from Germany. We are determined not only to have a great place to socialize, but a great place to eat and drink.”

Another business concern is the arena football team, the L.A. KISS. When news broke that Simmons and Stanley bought a football team, it was a bit of a surprise in both the music and sports worlds. “Well people sometimes say, ‘Why?’ I say, ‘Why not?’ I don’t live within the boundaries or restrictions that other people do. I like to challenge myself, and I define myself by those challenges. Whether it’s having an arena football team or starring in Phantom of the Opera or having a career as a painter… for me, it’s all about seeing who I am. I never know what’s coming in the next chapter, but I’m open!”

Like Simmons, Stanley concedes that he isn’t a huge football fan: “I’m a fan of competitive sports, and I’m a fan of people pushing themselves to find their limit. Although I certainly never spent a lot of time going to football games, to see these people out on the field, is breathtaking and exhilarating. To see players who are in the upper 1% of the top players… sometimes arena football gets a bad rap because people think that they’re second stringers. The fact is, there’s only so many positions in the NFL, and there are many, many fabulous players. To watch these guys up close, is, for me, amazing, it’s a huge adrenaline rush, and to have a vested interest in our name being on it, makes it that much more exciting.”

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