“You wanted the best, you’ve got the best. The hottest band in the land. KISS!”
Thus spake the band’s original road manager J.R Smalling on their now legendary 1975 slab Alive, (and later updated to the hottest band in the WORLD for the ’77 follow-up Alive II).
Now 42 years after that now-infamous utterance and 45 since their incendiary, genre-defining self-titled debut, KISS are calling it a day.
The band is in the middle of an eye-wateringly long End Of The Road tour which kicked off in Vancouver in January and will hit Newcastle on November 23.
Speaking to Newcastle Live KISS frontman Paul Stanley said in no way would these shows be bittersweet affairs.
“Rather than it being maudlin or sad, it’s joyous,” he said.
“I mean it’s deafening. There are some nights it’s hard to hear the band on stage because the audience is just out of their minds. And we are up there with such pride.
At 67, you could forgive Stanley for wanting to rest on his laurels a tad, but if you’ve seen any footage from the tour so far, you’d know that this is a band still at the top of their game and a world away from phoning it in.
“First of all you have to love what you’re doing – it’s all about passion, pride, and discipline,” he said.
“For us to go on this final tour meant so much to us in that we wanted to raise the bar once again and also definitively say who we are and why we’ve lasted this long.”
While the tour is taking the band to the far-flung corners of the globe, Paul said that the Australian leg was one the band was definitely looking forward to, given our decades-long love affair with the band.
In fact, Australia was one of the first places where KISSTERIA really took off, sparked largely by their first tour Down Under in 1980.
There are loads of great songs from Dynasty, Kiss, Alive, Destroyer – we’ve got some good ones. Our biggest problem is we’ve got too many good songs.Paul Stanley – KISS
“I have to say that the emotional connection and the memories of Australia are enough to fill a book,” Paul said.
“Just last night someone asked me where are some of the greatest places to play and the first one I said was Down Under.
“You have a country filled with amazing people and it really resonates with me. I have a connection there that is not only decades deep but full of amazing memories.”
After 45 years at the top of the rock and roll tree, it’s pretty much a given that there are going to be some highlights but for Paul, when it comes to KISS there are just too many to mention.
“My gosh, there were so many of those moments,” he said.
“Certainly I have to say when we got our first gold album was a major moment, playing Maddison Square Garden which is a high point in anyone’s life and coming to Oz in 1980 which was the start of KISSTERIA and this incredible connection to you great people.
“It’s all been eye-opening for me and incredibly gratifying for me because I’ve always believed in what we do and have people fill and arena and be raising their voices and hands in agreement, yeah, that’s amazing.
“And it’s been 45 years but hitting that stage nightly now after doing 90 shows so far it only shows again how unique KISS is and our fans and the people who have never seen us before are just gobsmacked.”
But is there an album or song that Paul is proudest of?
“That’s interesting for me I have to say obviously many of the older albums are classics but the last two albums we did are two of my favourites – Sonic Boom and Monster are great albums. We plat those sometimes back-stage and say to ourselves ‘wow, this is great stuff.'” Paul enthused.
“There are loads of great songs from Dynasty, Kiss, Alive, Destroyer – we’ve got some good ones. Our biggest problem is we’ve got too many good songs.”
Despite lineup changes over the years (the 2019 iteration features original members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons with Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thayer (guitar) the cult of KISS has loomed large over the rock and roll world.
But what is it about the band that resonates so strongly with audiences after all these years? For Paul. it’s about much more than just rock and roll swagger and killer riffs.
“I think what it comes from is people realised that we have always been the underdog and that we’ve always led by example not by telling people how to live their lives,” he said.
“All we’ve ever said is believe in yourself and know that the only thing that stands between you and success is hard work, Go out and be who you are proudly and that’s what we’ve done. And against all odds here we are 45 years later.”
Given that KISS are one band that describing as larger than life would be an understatement, it would make sense then, that in this day and age, music biopics are doing big business at the box office (Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman et al) that a KISS feature film would be a sure-fire winner.
Well, good news, KISS fans.
“Interestingly enough you’re not the first person to talk about a movie. the truth is people have wanted to do a film for decades but honestly I’ve never been attracted to the idea unless it was great,” Paul said.
But, I have to say there’s a treatment right now which is good so we are rolling up our sleeves and looking at it quite seriously.”
Well in that case, who would draw the bigger star power, Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons?
“Oh my gosh, we’ll leave that one to casting,” Paul laughed.
Catch KISS at their Coates Hire Newcastle 500 Supercars show at Number 1 Sportsground on Saturday 23 November. Get your tickets here.
WIN: Want to get up close and personal with KISS? Well, we are giving you the chance to win a three day trackside ticket for two people to the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 including GOLD concert access.
Oh, and you’ll also win a meet and greet with both KISS and The Screaming Jets! (Total prize value $2390!)
Terms & Conditions By entering the ‘Newcastle 500 Supercars Concert Giveaway’ competition you are subscribing to the Newcastle Live weekly email newsletter. Entries close at midnight on Wednesday 13 November. The competition will be drawn on Thursday 14 November, 2019. Winner will be selected by a panel of Newcastle Live representatives based on the best answer. Winner will be notified by email.