Writer/photographer John Harrell recently conducted an interview with KISS frontman Paul Stanley for a cover story in the Japanese magazine Burrn! A few excerpts from part three of the chat follow:
Burrn!: In talking about songwriting you have written some killer songs. I remember something that Eddie Van Halen told me once that the hardest thing to do was to write a hit song but you have written tons of hit songs.
Paul: "I have certainly written tons of popular songs. Whether or not they were hits in the classic sense of being a Top Ten on the radio, I've always tried to write songs that were accessible, that were memorable and familiar enough that by the second verse you could virtually sing along. I've always tried to write songs on an acoustic guitar because to me if it doesn't sound great on one guitar it's just not a great song. A great song is not about the arrangement, a great song is a great song. There is a lot of PINK FLOYD that is incredibly well-produced and very atmospheric and sonically brilliant but every one of those songs is a gem. To put it bluntly you can't polish a turd (laughs). For me when I'm writing it's got to sound great on one guitar, it's got to sound great sitting in my house or wherever I'm writing or it's not good. It can't be written with the flaws in it with the plan that the flaws will be covered by gloss or production."
Burrn!: Do you follow a particular formula when you write?
Paul: "If there's a good idea then only to try to keep it interesting from beginning to end and to cut away anything extraneous, cut away the fat. If it's not needed then cut it out. I think somebody once asked Michelangelo how he took a block of stone and sculpted a horse? And he said that he just cut away all the pieces that don't look like a horse (laughs)."
Burrn!: (laughs) I know that Steven Tyler has had problems in this area so with your stage voice, your vocal has it caused a strain in singing those high-end falsetto notes?
Paul: "No, I remember probably five years ago my throat doctor asked me if I was dropping keys. In other words are you changing keys to a lower key register so you can sing and I said, lower key? I can sing higher than I've ever sung! When we were out with AEROSMITH, Steven insisted on a day on and a day off and I said, 'Steven, we were doing four or five shows a week, you know five shows a week and I was singing for two and a half hours a night! Day on and a day off, this is a holiday to me!'"
Burrn!: Does KISS have a label deal? Are you still with a record label?
Burrn!: Because I noticed on the DVD that it says "Kiss Records" and I thought "Great, this should have happened a 100 years ago."
Paul: "We did that basically because with our deal with Sanctuary or anyone at this point we want to have total control. And we have also earned the right to not be with anybody when there is no reason."
Burrn!: So am I to think that the band is not working on new material or have no interest in releasing a new album?
Paul: "I'm not opposed to it, I'm not opposed to it under the right situation of going back into the studio with the band."
Burrn!: Yeah, but------
Paul: "That's all I can say. It would take the right situation and the right---"
Burrn!: Maybe in-between Gene's TV shows you can get a few days in the studio (laughs).
Burrn!: Well I'm sure with the new fire in the band with Tommy and Eric that these guys are raring to go.
Paul: "Well, yeah, Tommy would love that."
Burrn!: With your solo record tell me about that a little bit. Did you write it all yourself, was it material that you already had? I mean you've had 28 years to do this since your last one.
Paul: "Yeah I'm not a fan of taking old material and trying to put a new coat of paint on it. All of these songs were written for the album."
Burrn!: So when you sat down and said hey, I'm going to do a solo record, why did you sit down and say that you need to do a solo record?
Paul: "Because I wanted to do an album where I could bring in people to play on the songs that I wrote rather than write the songs for the people who were going to play them. I wanted to be able to have the freedom to be myself without any restrictions or thoughts about what was right for the band."
Burrn!: So did you like that better for a change, not having to worry about a whole band, you being in total control and just having to worry about what you thought rather than pleasing three other guys?
Paul: "Well, even in a studio situation with the band I still liken it to everybody can be in the car going to the same place but somebody's got to be in the front seat so it's not like everybody is in there like we're raising our hands to get unanimous decisions or majority rules. But this was a situation where I didn't have to spend any time explaining why I wanted to do something or had to leave material out for someone else's material. This is about me and it's about seeing who I am today again without any restrictions."
Burrn!: So when will the record "Live To Win" come out?
Paul: "I think we should pretty much sign a deal in the next week or so. I was pretty adamant that I find a place for it where I was getting more than a deal; I was getting a company where the field people, the people who actually have to go out and sell this and promote it like it or love it. For me to bust my chops and do a great album and then give it to somebody just because there's a paycheck I might as well bury it in my backyard." (Paul has since signed a deal with Universal Music and his solo CD will b released in September. — Ed.)
Burrn!: So you plan on touring?
Paul: "Yes, I will."
Read the entire part three of the interview at KissOnline.com.