In the run up to releasing the new Kiss album Monster, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons oversaw the release of a massive retrospective book covering the band’s lengthy history — a process that led to some conversations about former members.
The duo was originally paired, of course, with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley — finding their widest fame during a period from 1973-80. By 1982, however, Spaceman (Frehley) and Catman (Criss) were out, replaced by drummer Eric Carr (Fox) and guitarist Vinnie Vincent (known as the Wiz, his makeup was that of an Ankh Warrior).
Mark St. John also briefly served as guitarist, before Bruce Kulick took over for a 12-year stint, the longest of any member save for Simmons and Stanley — but also a period in which Kiss did not wear its iconic makeup.
Eric Singer, Kiss’ current drummer, took over after Carr was felled by cancer in 1991 and continued until the original lineup reunited between 1996-2001. Singer then returned yet again when Criss departed yet again. Frehley’s last performance with Kiss was in 2002; he was replaced by current guitarist Tommy Thayer, who had done sessions work on 1998’s reunion project Psycho Circus. Later in 2002, Kiss appeared with the current grouping of Thayer, Simmons, Singer and Stanley — this time, wearing the original foursome’s makeup.
Both Simmons and Stanley, in a new talk with NoiseCreep, credit Thayer and Singer with giving the band a needed second wind.
They “not only revitalized the band, but revitalized us — Gene and me,” Stanley tells NoiseCreep’s Chris Epting. “There’s a vitality and a joy that Gene has and that I have that had been sorely lacking for longer than I can remember. And longer than the public will ever know.”
The franchise, they say, was threatening to become moribund — thus the need for outside help on Psycho Circus: Sessions musician Kevin Valentine handled most of Criss’ parts, too.
“We’ve always tried to paint a picture that, in some ways, emulated what we grew up loving, which was the Beatles, the idea of four guys who loved each other, who lived together, who ran down the street together — that was mythology,” Stanley says. “And perhaps in the same way, we created a mythology that came back to bite us in the ass because it wasn’t all true. And unfortunately, some of the people who were part of the story actually believed it.”
Stanley and Co. are set to release the new album Monster in October. It is Kiss’ initial project since Sonic Boom three years ago, and will again be produced by Simmons.
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A look back at our recent thoughts on Kiss. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: KISS: News that Kiss is back in the studio, working toward the 2012 release of a new project called Monster, got us scurrying back to our old album collections. And not just because of those fond memories of playing air guitar with former guitarist Ace Frehley during Kiss Alive. Bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons said something interesting about the sessions: “This new record feels heavier than (2009’s) Sonic Boom. It feels like a connection between Destroyer and Revenge. Those were but two of the favorites we discussed here.
KISS – DESTROYER RESURRECTED (1976; 2012 reissue): The longer I listen, every time, to this whole album, the more I just want to go and dig out Alive! — the up-against-the-wall double-live concert document from the year before that conveys all of the force, and humor, of Kiss in a way this often over-wrought studio effort just never did. First-time Kiss producer Bob Ezrin, and therefore Destroyer, just keeps screwing around — even on this new remix, dubbed Destroyer: Resurrected. When it’s good, there’s fun to be had … and, especially on tough groovers like “God of Thunder,” it almost gets there. When it’s not, though, the project is weirdly disconnected, like it’s trying to sound interesting, but instead just sounding silly.
FORGOTTEN SERIES: KISS – REVENGE (1992): There is one non-makeup Kiss record that certainly belongs in the conversation with the band’s best work. Released in 1992, Revenge came on the tail of two snoozers — 1987’s Crazy Nights and 1989’s Hot in the Shade — that were completely lost in the keyboard-laden, ballad-heavy 1980s radio rock sound. Revenge, though, was a different beast. There were still plenty of mindless sex and party anthems. It wouldn’t be a Kiss record without those. But there was a darker, heavier edge to the album, which was loaded with Gene Simmons’ gruffer vocals.
Remaining dates for 2012’s “The Tour,” featuring Kiss and Motley Crue:
Aug 24: Grand Junction, CO – Rock Jam
Aug 26: Tulsa, OK – BOK Center (on-sale 3/30)
Aug 27: Maryland Heights, MO – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Aug 29: Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota State Fair (on-sale 3/31)
Aug 31: Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend MusicCenter
Sep 1: Noblesville, IN – Klipsch Music Center
Sep 2: Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagra Pavilion
Sep 4: Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
Sep 5: Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sep 7: Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sep 8: East Troy, WI – Alpine Valley Music Theatre
Sep 11: Allegan, MI – Allegan County Fair (on-sale 5/5)
Sep 12: Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
Sep 13: Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Sep 15: Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Sep 16: Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center
Sep 18: Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Sep 19: Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
Sep 21: Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
Sep 22: Wantagh, NY – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Sep 23: Hartford, CT – Comcast Theatre