Considering Evan Stanley grew up watching his dad, Paul Stanley, play guitar in Kiss, most people would assume he’s a dyed-in-the-wool disciple of the Hottest Band in the Land. Sure, his dad’s exploits influenced him, but there’s more to Evan Stanley than kabuki-clad lineage.
“A lot of people think I came out of the womb playing guitar,” he tells us. “I’ve been around it forever because of my dad, and, of course, he was an influence.
“But the biggest thing was when I went over to a friend’s when I was around 10, and he played Smells Like Teen Spirit on a cheap, out-of-tune acoustic. I ran home and said, ‘Dad, I need to learn guitar.’ He showed me a D and an A chord and said, ‘If you remember these in the morning, I’ll show you G.’ I woke him up at 6am the next day, showed him the chords, and I was off and running.”
From there on, a burning desire to take the stage was stoked in the younger Stanley, leading to the formation of Amber Wild, a band potentially on the cusp of success.
“I’m in a great band now where I’m fronting and playing guitar, which is like my dad – but the way I got there was very different,” he says.
“The pandemic lifted, and I was like, ‘Fuck, I have to get out and play.’ I met Tommy [Lowrey], the drummer; Jacob [Massanari], the bassist; and Marsh [Via], an insane guitarist, and we clicked. We play off against each other in a way not many do. I wanted to bring back that kind of classic guitar exchange.”
The early returns on Amber Wild are good. So good that Kiss penciled them in for the final 19 shows of their End of the Road Tour.
“To be able to open for Kiss was unreal,” Stanley says. “Music has always been something I share with my dad; it’s been a special part of our bond. I’m so excited to be a part of this last run. It’s a dream come true.”
How did Amber Wild get together?
“It started during the pandemic when I was looking for an outlet to play live. Being in front of people on stage is a form of connection I can’t get enough of. I needed that outlet to express what was happening inside me and express it in a way words can’t, and that’s when it began.”
Tell me about your songwriting process.
“The best advice I ever got was, ‘Treat it like a job.’ That means I show up every day and write. It doesn’t matter if I’m feeling it; I do it every day. But I love playing guitar, so even if I’m having an off day, inspiration will strike. It’s easier to capture lightning in a bottle if you don’t stop. And the truth is there’s no better feeling than cranking my guitar through my Hughes & Kettner amps. They’re inspiring because they’re packed with cool tones that let me dial in things I’ve never used before.”
I can’t help but notice your Rock N Roll Relics Thunders has a leopard print like your dad’s B.C. Rich Eagle from the early ’80s. Was his guitar an inspiration?
“Let me start by saying Rock N Roll Relics makes the greatest guitars I’ve played. Better than vintage Gibsons and Fenders, no joke. I’ve got a silver sparkle on the way, but I love my leopard print one!
“It’s not directly inspired by my dad’s, but it’s not a coincidence, either. With the world I grew up in, his stuff was around me, so some of it had to sneak in, if only subliminally. I’m a huge Kiss fan. I love glammy stuff; the visual is important because it’s a form of expression.”
Which of Amber Wild’s songs best defines the band?
“We just came out of two long rehearsal days, and I brought in this idea, which was cool but was missing something. But as soon as we got in the room together, we banged it out quickly, and it’s probably the most balls-out song we have. I love it; it’s hooky, punchy and like guitarmageddon. It’s called Breakout, and we’ll release it alongside Sliver.”
Having grown up within the Kiss machine, what does opening for them mean to you?
“It’s surreal. The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize how special my dad’s work is. I was so close to it, so I never understood the scale of it. But now that I don’t live with my dad, I see that Kiss’ impact on music and culture is huge. I get to see that firsthand, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it, but the chance to connect with people at this level has me more stoked than ever. I’m ready for it.”