Paul Stanley on Why KISS Outlived Their Critics
It's hard to imagine a time when KISS didn't exist. A friend wearing a Gene Simmons mask introduced me to their music when I was five years old, living in Germany. The Berlin Wall hadn't fallen yet. He revealed the KISS Double Platinum as if he were holding the holy grail of heavy metal. Since then, I've watched the band reach the height of their stardom in the late '70s, the nightmare of losing their makeup (and in essence their power), to the rise from the ashes in the '90s with the original member reunion.
Roger Caldwell Paul Stanley, still bullish after all these years
Their painted faces mesmerized me, and I devoured their TV movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Starchild, Space Ace, Catman and, my personal favorite, the Demon battling evil robot doppelgängers: they were my superheroes.
They were a lot people's superheroes. "There are more people than I can count that have KISS tattoos," said Paul Stanley in a recent press conference with journalists from across the country and Canada. "That's like being a lifer in the Army. Anybody can put on a uniform and take it off, but when you tattoo yourself, you're in it for the long haul. So that's an incredible sign of dedication."
These "lifers" are part of the "KISS Army." Legend has it that a mob of fans once surrounded a radio station, demanding to hear KISS. Today, their legion is innumerable. "Knights in Satan's Service" is one of their more notorious monikers. But with soldiers from four generations of fans, it's not hard to imagine why people outside of the tribe would not look fondly on a bunch of people celebrating a fire-breathing demon onstage singing about the god of thunder.
"I think you can't have the dedication we have from our fans unless they sense the same dedication to them," said Stanley. "We may not always do what fans are happy with, but we stick to our guns and do what we believe in, and it's ultimately what we think is best for the fans."
It must be working. For 40 years, grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, sons and grandsons have been descending upon arenas and amphitheaters like a tribe to watch what some would call, "The greatest music show on earth."
And now they're bringing the greatest music show on earth to Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas on Saturday, July 13, as part of their 40th anniversary celebration, which also includes the release of a Paul Stanley memoir, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, and a vinyl box set, KISSTERIA, a compilation of 40 tracks, one from every major album, live selections and an unreleased demo from 1977.
"Look, the band is firing on all cylinders," Stanley said. "We're out there to do a victory lap, although the race is not over yet. There will be more races. But this is a celebration of everything we've done to date."
Head over the page to hear what Paul thinks about the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and the new stage design!