Talking to Paul Stanley of Kiss on the phone is one thing. Talking to him in person in full Starchild regalia — as we did the other day in New York — is something else entirely. For one thing, he's huuuuge. It's not just the eight-inch boots; his hair is giant, too. Perched on a stool with his arms folded and muscles bulging, he looks youthful. (The makeup helps.) But he talks with the sageness you'd expect from a 60-year-old who's been a rock star for almost four decades.
This week Kiss released their 20th studio album, Monster. Though the band is based in L.A., they were in NY promoting the record on SiriusXM. We spoke with him about the importance of not showing up to work drunk, and other topics.
Did you always see yourself not only as someone who would be doing music but also as someone who would be wearing this?
Well, I've worn this for more of my life than I haven't.
You think you've spent more hours in it than out of it?
Oh, yeah. Well, I've certainly spent more years in it than out of it. I'm a lucky guy. I get a chance to live my dream every day. And certainly I would hope that other people pursue the same thing. If you have a dream, you go after it. It's very easy to find people who tell you what's impossible. Invariably, the ones who tell you what's impossible are the ones who failed. So, I'm here because I didn't listen. And if somebody finds talk of self-empowerment corny, well, they should look where they are and look where I am.
Do you still hold fast to that “rock and roll all night and party every day” credo, at this point in your life?
I think that's a state of mind. It's an attitude more than the tangible of partying every day or rock-and-rolling all night. It's more a mindset of enjoying your life. It's not literal.
I don't think it ever was literal–
Oh, come on!
Well, you can rock and roll all night and party every day. But it's more the sense that life is for enjoying…We sing about very basic instincts and things that are truly timeless, and that's about self. Self-reliance and self-celebration. Pride in self. That's what it all comes down to. It all starts with you.
We were watching the infamous Tom Snyder interview [with KISS in 1979 that got derailed by Ace Frehley's drunken goofiness] and were wondering what was going through your mind at that time. It looks like it was fun, but it also looks like Gene was not so happy about it.
It wasn't that big of a fun time because you have to respect your position. You have to respect your job. You have to respect the people that you're trying to communicate with. It may seem funny that somebody is drunk…but the fact is that the root of it was, I believe, a contempt and a lack of respect for the audience and the fans. So, sure. Can you look at it and chuckle? Yeah. I can, too, but I see deeper. And I look at it and say, what a shame to take this lofty position that somebody gave us and spit in it. Spit in its face. By showing up inebriated or unable to connect a sentence. It may be funny on the surface, but what's below the surface is a lack of appreciation for a gift that you've been given.
You seem to take it very seriously.
I take what I do very seriously…and we still have an amazing time. Having pride in it and being serious about it doesn't take away the fun of it. I'm the happiest guy on earth.
Can you smile for us?
Ok, now we believe it.