Paul Stanley: Boom Times
GW In Kiss, you wrote so many of the songs, and you were the lead singer. Does it bother you that to the average person on the street Kiss is “that guy with the tongue”?
STANLEY That’s the kind of question that only somebody who knows music would ask. But I think it’s fair to say that Gene’s persona and his look are what has come to be known as the epitome of the Kiss image. If the band had to be summed up in one face, it would certainly be his. Look, we all have different aspirations in life, and Gene’s is to be in a spotlight all the time. Anyone who isn’t deeply aware of the band as a musical force would naturally assume that Gene is the central part of the music, whether it’s as the front man or lead singer. He’s certainly got the biggest mouth.
GW We’ll give him that.
STANLEY But with time, hopefully everybody becomes comfortable with their role and thankful for what it is—and not too concerned with what it isn’t. Everyone around us certainly knows that this album wouldn’t have happened without my asserting to some extent how we should have done it. Gene and I are different people, but we’re both very much essential to the mix.
GW Gene can be quite confrontational. Is he that way with you?
STANLEY No, no. He knows when not to rattle his saber. You know, Gene is very much about getting a rise out of people and saying things that will elicit a reaction. But our relationship isn’t about that. We have known each other for 40 years. Our bond is much deeper and much more genuine than that kind of thing. But yeah, he’s certainly a piece of work.
GW Being that he is, as you said, into getting a rise out of people, is he the first one who said, “Hey guys, what if we put on makeup?”
STANLEY Look, he would take credit for inventing water.
GW That’s not what I’m asking.
STANLEY Yeah. I would hope that he would be generous enough to acknowledge that the synergy and chemistry in the band resulted in much of what we did in the beginning. I think as an only child Gene was probably much more used to saying “I” and “me” instead of “we.”
GW We’ve talked in the past about how, in the early days, Kiss’ presentation was more transgender glam/New York Dolls before you went with the cartoon superhero look.
STANLEY In the beginning, before we ever had a record deal, we initially were more glam, and we used lots of colors in our stage outfits. Once we saw the New York Dolls, whose waists were as big as our wrists, we realized that we looked more like linebackers in drag. Quickly, Gene and I looked at one another and said, “The colors have got to go. How about we go to black and silver?” That’s when we really formed clear identities for each one of us. It wasn’t meant to be kabuki, but it was much more graphic than glam.
GW So what was it like to go back and rerecord a bunch of the old Kiss songs?
STANLEY It was actually a lot of fun to revisit those songs. Because over the years of playing them, while we certainly presented them with their core identity and sound, we weren’t playing them the way they were initially recorded. So to go back and re-cut those songs was almost like going back to school or looking at your old snapshots and recreating the poses.
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