Showbiz Analysis: Rock Legend Paul Stanley on KISS and Creative Success
By / Parade
KISS co-founder Paul Stanley has been especially busy this summer. With the band’s Freedom to Rock Tour rocking cities across the U.S., and the launch of their new multimedia project KISS Rocks Vegas, Stanley’s schedule has been packed, but he’s not complaining. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon has always believed in working hard to make creative dreams happen—and he’s been doing it for over four decades now. I was thrilled to catch up with Stanley for my podcast Whine At 9, where we discussed the power of KISS and creative fulfillment.
Not many bands have had the staying power of KISS (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer). And Paul Stanley recognizes and appreciates that. “I’m blessed, but I work hard to maintain a standard. The bar that we set for ourselves is pretty, pretty ruthless and unrelenting. We expect a lot from our road crew, but they do it because they see we’re just as hard on ourselves. We played our first show of this tour—it was 103 degrees outside and that’s where we were playing. It doesn’t matter. We’re KISS. We have an incredible legacy to uphold, and many people come to see us for the first time and all they’ve heard is a legend, and it’s up to us to live up to that and go beyond it. So we wear that with great pride. Every time I get on stage, for me it’s a victory lap.”
KISS has always been about immersing audiences in an experience. And the band has been going on that journey with their fans each time they play. Whether it’s live or via DVD or CD, the KISS mission is the same. “I want people to come to our show and be there—be present. I’m there…We want to have an experience of celebrating rock and roll, and celebrating life, success, the pursuits of the individual—things that are really important, that are timeless,” says Stanley.
Did the singer/songwriter ever think that KISS would have the staying power and impact he has witnessed 42 years into the game? “To be honest with you, I have always believed that if you do what you love and love what you do you’ll find others who have the same point of view…if you address your needs and if you address the things that matter to you, it’ll resonate with somebody else.
“So did I necessarily think that we would play a stadium in South America and everybody would be singing a song I wrote on my sofa? No. But it makes sense… I think what we do, and what I try to do, is something that’s universal. It’s personal, but in the same way that I’m not really that different than the people who come to the show… if I love something, more than likely they will. Did I think it would be this big? Yes and no. I hoped for five great years with the band and here we are four decades in with many, many people saying that on this tour the band’s never been better, and that the show’s never been better. And I tend to agree with them,” Stanley says.
What advice would the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer give others who hope to find creative success? “I think the key to success is doing what you love and what we owe ourselves in life is to find something we’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be music. It has to be something that you are fulfilled by. And if you’re fulfilled by something, the success will probably come. And if it doesn’t, you’ll still be fulfilled. There’s nothing worse than pursuing something that you don’t believe in. Then if it fails, what have you got to show for it? If you do something you love doing and you pursue what you in your heart feel is worthwhile, then that doesn’t change. The success is a bonus.” I love it when rockstars are cool and wise.
Read more about Kiss Rocks Vegas on Parade.