KISS guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley recently spoke to Pennsylvania's TimesLeader.com about the group's decision to carry on without original members, guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss.
"Interestingly, the only people that seem to want to know why you've come back are the people that wish you wouldn't," Stanley said with a chuckle. "It's been an amazing response, and the turnouts have been incredible. I couldn't have wished for anything this good. Not only big crowds, but huge, boisterous approval of the show. The only thing louder than the band is the audience."
According to Stanley, keeping the re-formed original line-up together for just five years was challenging.
"I don't think a lot of people know the half of it," he said. "It was very difficult. Ace and Peter ... sometimes the problems that are there from the beginning don't really go away. They may recede into the background, and then they rear their ugly head again.
"Ultimately, the most important thing has always been KISS, and KISS is a tradition, a legend and something that the public wants on no uncertain terms," he said. "The band has never been better. ... The set that we're playing and the flexibility we have now is amazing, and the crowd response — and I mean, to the die-hards — is fanatically positive. People are coming over after the show and saying 'This is by far the best I've ever seen the band and by far the best show I've ever seen.'"
With regards to the band's decision to give new members a new costume and new makeup character in the early '80s after Frehley and Criss first left the group, Stanley said, "The fact is that those original notions — ours or anyone else's — were a mistake. We spent 30 years building KISS into the icon that those images are. You could take a picture of KISS arguably anywhere in the world, and people would know that it is in fact KISS, but they wouldn't necessarily be able to name all of the members. That's the point. To dilute what KISS has built with a lot of hard work — and not always from the same people, mind you — by having to come up with 'giraffe-boy' or 'ant-man' is ridiculous. It ultimately compromises the fan, and the fan — and I mean the vast, vast majority of fans — want KISS and want KISS as those four iconic images."
Though Stanley chose not to comment on the musical abilities of Frehley and Criss, he did say playing with the new band has been liberating.
"I would rather talk about all of the positives over the years and let the live band, and everything that we are and everything that encompasses us, speak for itself," he said. "'We virtually became prisoners of our own set list, and that was also because of some of the internal problems. To now be able to celebrate all that we are and all that we've accomplished is glorious, and it's what we should be doing."
When asked about his upcoming solo album, Stanley said that he plans to unveil it early next year but wouldn't reveal any details.
"Talk is cheap, and the last thing I want to do is sell sizzle," he said. "I'm more about selling steak. It's very easy to razzle-dazzle people with a tap dance and all kinds of stuff, and then afterwards they kind of wonder what they actually got. I'm spending time making sure it's a great album with great songs, and I'll let it speak for itself."