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Stanley says KISS has always broken new ground

| Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Say what you will about KISS, but even after all these years, the face-painted foursome still is provocative.

This year, the band launched a first-ever, fan-routed tour, where fans voted on where the band would play. Final site selection weighed population size versus total votes. KISS also this year released "Sonic Boom," its first album in 11 years (which entered the pop charts at No. 2, a career high for KISS).

If you ask Paul Stanley, KISS' co-leader, the band is KISS at its best -- with co-leader Gene Simmons at his side, as well as recent additions Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums).

We talked to Stanley about the fan-routed tour, its new album and why critics and multi-generations seem to love KISS these days. The tour wraps up on Tuesday in Ontario.

Question: How do you feel (the tour) has gone so far?

Answer: In terms of worldwide, it's the biggest and most successful tour we've ever done. It's been not only a great show in terms of turnout and response from the audience, but I've never seen so many great reviews. You have to remember we're a band that's always been loved by the public and hated by most critics. All of the sudden, either those critics are out of a job or they've had a change of heart, because it's suspicious to see so many over-the-top reviews.

Q: Along those lines, I've seen pictures on your Web site of little kids and families at your concerts. Thirty years ago, that wasn't the image people had of KISS.

A: KISS has always been about writing our own book as to who we are and what we are. It usually doesn't follow what other bands are doing. At this point, we are so multigenerational and proud of it. We do have new fans, meaning teens and 20s, but we also have older fans with their kids. For many people, KISS has always been the soundtrack to their lives, so it's passing something along to their kids. I couldn't be more proud of the band and what we mean to so many different people.

Q: Where does that dedication come from• What is it about the band that inspires that in people?

A: I think it's the idea of being the underdog who always manages to win. We've had a career of doing things our way in the face of every known obstacle -- and we do more than survive, we thrive. I think it's an inspiration to other people, that if you believe in what you're doing and if you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you.

Q: Let's talk about your fan-routed tour idea. It got a good response and got a lot of attention. But afterward, I heard some moaning and groaning from different cities. Do you think, overall, it was successful?

A: You're always under a magnifying glass when you do something different. It seemed to make a lot of people happy, and, of course, there's going to be some disgruntled fans. Our goal is not to do that, but it's almost unavoidable.

Q: Is it something you would do again?

A: I think we'd think twice about it. It's always interesting -- we tend to lead the way and, perhaps, sometimes get the sticks and stones thrown at us and plow the way for other bands to do it with a little less bad publicity. When we started putting out merchandise, oh my God, it was sacrilege: "Rock 'n' roll bands don't do that." Well, all those rock 'n' roll bands who wouldn't do it, once they saw the checks they were missing, (they) found their way into fan clubs.

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