One-On-One With KISS Lead Guitarist Tommy Thayer
From November 4-9 I was on KISS Kruise VI, and a few days prior to this trip I interviewed KISSí lead guitarist, Tommy Thayer.
KISSology 4 was supposed to be released in November 2011, yet it still hasnít seen the light of day. Why?
I donít know if it was officially slated to be released then. Itís still on hold. Itís about 85% done. I put it together and produced what weíve done so far. KISSology 4, like the other KISSologies, will chronicle a certain era of the band. It will chronicle the band from early 2001/2002 up until the current date. It will also include vintage footage from the KISS archives that people havenít seen.
Getting back to your question, I donít know if I have a good reason why it hasnít come out yet. Thereís just been so many other things going on, and something as important as that, has to have its own window of time where itís focused and committed to, so it gets the right attention. Sometimes that kind of stuff happens.
A project like that is timeless so you have more flexibility where it doesnít have to come out at a certain time. Weíre waiting to find the right time to put it out so it gets the attention that it deserves.
Speaking of unreleased material, when can fans expect another deluxe edition similar to what you did with Love Gun?
I think the intention was to do a series of deluxe editions, like the Love Gun Deluxe Edition. Before that Destroyer Resurrected was released. We had the idea of doing one for Creatures of the Night. But when I looked into supplementary material, like bonus tracks and demos, things that we could beef it up with, I didnít really find anything in our archives to do it properly, so that was set aside. Itís not to say it wonít happen again. But, sometimes, certain eras and certain records we donít have enough supplementary material to do it, and that was the case with the Creatures idea.
At the Mohegan Sun concert on October 29, Paul said to the audience that KISS is going to release a new studio album. When will you guys start writing material for it and recording it?
I think itís still in the idea phase. I donít believe anything definitive has been decided yet for that. Within the band, weíve talked and thrown some ideas around. It would be nice to do another record.
Eric has said he doesnít want to be in KISS if Gene and Paul arenít in the band. When Gene and Paul eventually retire, what would you do?
To make a proclamation about whether or not Iíd continue to be in the band after Gene and Paul retire, to me, personally, doesnít make sense. Thatís why Iím not saying, ďHereís what Iím gonna be doing in five years.Ē How can you possibly say what youíre going to be doing because we just donít know. I like to take things day by day, and weíll see where it all goes. Iíve been around KISS and the organization for a long time, and I hope to continue that. Regarding what happens with Gene and Paul and the band in the future, I donít think anybody knows for sure.
A small segment of KISS fans canít accept you performing in the ďSpacemanĒ makeup and attire, even though youíve been working with the band for decades and been KISSí lead guitarist for nearly 15 years. How do you deal with this relentless onslaught of hate from narrow-minded fans?
It really doesnít bother me. You canít be fooled by a handful people that go on websites and complain. Some people complain about everything, really, not just whoís the guitar player. In that context, it doesnít really mean anything to me. If anything, I chuckle and smile when I hear things like that. It really has nothing to do with whatís happening in reality. Put it this way: KISS continues to go out and play big shows and be the phenomenon that it is. I give more merit to that fact, than what a few oddballs say online. I donít really care.
Why donít you and Eric sing more songs live?
KISS has been playing and recording for more than 40 years, and Gene and Paul sing most of the songs on the albums. Thatís what KISS is known for. So when we play live, Gene and Paul sing the majority of the songs. Iíve only sung a couple songs on record and a couple others live. Itís a huge catalog of albums with hundreds of songs. When you look at it that way, itís pretty easy to understand why they sing the majority of the songs we play live. Eric and I sing a few songs live and a lot of backup vocals, and we love it. Like I said, thatís why those guys sing most of the stuff, because they wrote and recorded most of it. Thatís what people expect.
If you could sing more songs live, which ones would you choose?
If a song was written, recorded and sung by one of the guys in the band, and thatís what fans have heard for years, then thatís what people are expecting to hear live. But if that guy isnít in the band anymore, and itís a popular live song, then someone else has to do it. ďShock MeĒ is a KISS song thatís always been popular, so it makes sense for me to do that one. The same case with ďBlack DiamondĒ or ďBethĒ with Eric. The problem with the new songs like ďWhen Lightning StrikesĒ and ďOutta This World,Ē new songs off new records, frankly a lot of people donít know them. When youíre playing live thereís a dynamic and energy to the show, and when you play new songs that nobody knows you lose the energy. (laughs) Itís that plain and simple. When you have a career as long as KISS, you have to play what people expect and what gets fans excited, and thatís where the energy comes from. You see the same thing if you go and see Paul McCartney or the Rolling Stones. Itís just the way it is.