“Kiss is like an army or a sports team,” Stanley tells UCR ahead of his Saturday exhibition at New York’s Wentworth Gallery, where he’ll show off his new original paintings, hand-painted signature Ibanez guitars, mixed-media originals and limited-edition metal artworks. “When the MVP is no longer playing or retired, the team doesn’t call it quits. On a battlefield, an army, when they lose soldiers, doesn’t wave the white flag. Somebody else picks up the weapon and runs forward. So in one form or another, I believe there will always be a Kiss.
“I didn’t invent the wheel,” the singer and guitarist continues. “I may have polished it a bit, but what am I, except a combination of all of the people who inspired me? When I added my individuality to it, it became essentially what people know as Paul Stanley. But to believe that I’m the only person who can do that is a bit self-centered and egocentric. Is there somebody else out there who could pick up and wave the flag? Absolutely. I’m not saying there should be a copy of me. I’m not a copy of anybody else. But I’m certainly a combination of many people that inspired me.”
Stanley previously said Kiss has the right to “evolve” without him as a means of survival. “There are bands touring at this point with one or no original members, and I have no problem with that because it didn’t happen overnight,” he said in 2018. “It was a series of changes over years or decades. If someone were to say, ‘Well, there’s no original members in one of the versions of Yes,’ I’d say, ‘Who cares?’ It sounds like Yes and the pedigree is Yes, so is it Yes? Yes!”
Earlier this year, bandmate Gene Simmons also mused the concept of a “Kiss” tour that featured no original members. “The Blue Man Group and Phantom of the Opera tour around the world with different personnel,” he told Let There Be Talk. “There could and should be a Kiss show, kind of live onstage with effects and everything else, but also a semi-autobiographical thing about four knuckleheads off the streets of New York that ends with the last third as a full-blown celebration, a full-on performance.”
As artists from classic rock’s halcyon days continue retiring from the road due to age or health issues, they’ve gone to creative lengths to keep their music alive for new audiences. In May, Swedish pop superstars ABBA debuted their Voyage virtual concert residency at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to rave reviews. Stanley ranks among the production’s fans and thinks it’s the only successful show of its type so far.
“I think it’s terrific,” he says. “I’ve only seen excerpts of it. When we’re back in Europe, I’ll of course go see it. I think that when it’s done properly, installed into a theater — as opposed to setting up a screen tonight in Pittsburgh and tomorrow night in Boston — it has to be done with a lot of care and a lot of knowledge of technology to pull it off in a way that allows you to transcend and escape reality. The ones that have been out there other than the ABBA one are cheesy. They point more to what’s lacking than what should be there.”
Before he can think too hard about a prospective virtual Kiss extravaganza, Stanley has to fulfill his live commitments, which are currently scheduled through July (although Simmons recently said they plan to add “another 100 cities” to the itinerary). Kiss also just released a Creatures of the Night 40th-anniversary expanded box set, with more reissues to follow once the band can shift its focus from the road.
“We’re far from done. I’d like to say that this is the end of the road, but they keep paving more road,” Stanley says with a laugh. “The only people that seems to bother are the people who hate us. Quite honestly, they’ve never mattered and they still don’t. The people who want to see us are thrilled. The people who wish we’d go away are going to have to wait. And in one form or another, we’re never gonna go.”
Kiss Lineup Changes: A Complete Guide
An in-depth guide to all of the personnel changes undergone by the “hottest band in the land,” Kiss.