Andy Gensler of Billboard spoke with KISS frontman Paul Stanley the band’s merchandise and how it all began. Portions of the interview appear below.

Billboard: Congratulations on KISS’ latest merch milestone, 125 global licenses.

Paul Stanley: We’ve had thousands of licensing partners over the years but my objective has never been to have bragging rights by accumulating volumes of licensing partners; rather, it’s been about using decades of successes as a spring board to elevate our position in terms of gaining higher stature affiliations.

Billboard: How did KISS’ merchandising begin?

Paul Stanley: Organically. We came at a time when fan clubs were frowned upon. Fan clubs harkened back to an age of Fabian and Frankie Avalon and seen as a ploy by management and record companies to sell the flavor of the week. But when we came into being people wanted to align themselves with us. They were the ones who said, ‘We want a t-shirt, a belt buckle.’ It’s very easy to tag us as marketing geniuses, but I would rather say we have very acute hearing.

Billboard: Who came up with the face paint?

Paul Stanley: We did.

Billboard: Was Starboy was your invention?

Paul Stanley: Yeah, it certainly came from me, but there was a syncronicity to it. Something”s going on when four people are on a journey together, so in some way we all certainly impacted each other.

Billboard: Who made the KISS logo?

Paul Stanley: The initial design was done by Ace [Frehley] but the one that to this day appears on everything was actually drafted by me. I did it on my parents coffee table with a ruler and a piece of white oak tag–a kind of poster board. The two S’s are not actually parallel to each other because I did it by eye. When we got our record deal we were asked if we wanted to have the logo straightened and I said, “It got us this far, leave it alone.”

Billboard: Did you ever get criticized for the merchandising?

Paul Stanley: We were snickered at by other bands until they saw the checks we were getting and all of a sudden they joined the parade. I tend to think we live by a law of commonality. In other words, no one is that different from anyone else and when i can provide something that I want and satisfy a need in myself I satisfy a need in someone else.

Billboard: What’s your favorite piece of merch?

Paul Stanley: I love all KISS merch – if I didn’t we wouldn’t sell it. But my favorite items are shirts, shirts and more shirts. Our concerts are a sea of 40 years of Kiss shirts. We’ve done a 1,000 designs and sold close to $5 million in shirts. Also, my family loves playing the Stern KISS pinball game. It’s an incredible piece of technology and a very worthy successor to the original 1970’s Bally model. I also love my KISS credit card.

Billboard: Do you ever turn down merchandising deals?

Paul Stanley: Sure. There is nothing that’s worth doing that is immoral or unethical — I think if you stick with that you’re in good shape. There were times we were offered significants amounts of money for either playing some place we thought was not holding up their end in terms of social, political or humanitarian activity and we also said no to tobacco companies. Over the years, and more so now than ever, I realize I have to answer to my children. They can’t see their father as a fraud.

Billboard: I saw something in the paper about Ace willing to join back up again, any original members reunion possibilities?

Paul Stanley: No. And that’s not coming from any place of animosity. I sang on Ace’s most recent album and did a video with him. I have the connection and the reconnection and to celebrate the good things we’ve done together is terrific. The band as it is—I’ve played with Eric Singer for I think 25 years and Tommy’s [Thayer] been in the band probably 15 years at this point. I have no thoughts of re-visiting the past. With that said I am happy to enhance or do whatever I can for anyone who has helped put me where I am, but that doesn’t include getting hitched again to somebody I unhitched from.

Read more at Billboard.


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Long time ISP endorser, Michael Sweet, has signed on to corroborate with the Michael Sweet Signature model Theta Pro DSP. With a prolific career spanning over 30 years, Sweet has had a plethora of musical accomplishments. From forming his first band, Roxx Regime, to founding the heavy metal Christian band Styrper, playing and singing with Boston, and doing his Sweet & Lynch band/project with George Lynch (Dokken), Sweet has filled stadiums, sold more than 10 million albums and gotten Grammy nods.

Continuing to make music both with Stryper and as a solo artist, Sweet needed a guitar system that was versatile enough to play live in all size venues and to use in the studio. Other criteria was ease of use and portability. Having ISP products already, Sweet checked out the patented Theta Pro DSP™. The floor controller contains the programmable digital Theta preamp with built in Studio quality effects processing and is based on a DSP platform using a 32 bit floating point processor and the latest generation of high quality audio converters. Fully programmable with super high gain and zero aliasing, Sweet took the pedal on the last Stryper tour and was amazed at how easily he could dial in his tone.

“I’ve been in search of the ultimate tone my entire life. It started when I was 12 years old with a Sears Silvertone Amp, an Epiphone guitar and an EHX Little Muff. Then I heard the first Boston album and I became obsessed with creating my own tone that would be as memorable and signature as that. I started preamping with a Lab Series L11 head into a Marshall and there it was – The MS/Stryper tone. Fast forward to 2017 and it’s been perfected and wrapped up into the Theta Pro MS Signature! A box that you can carry under your arm or throw in a suitcase and gig anywhere from clubs to arenas without the need for racks, pedals, amps or cabs. I’ve dialed in my sound, the Stryper sound, effortlessly and programmed presets as well. I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be working with ISP. I’ve tried them all – from Line6 to Fractal to Kemper to you name it and the ISP Theta Pro MS is the best sounding, most user friendly all in one unit available. If you’re tired of digital sounding digital, get the Theta Pro MS and sound analog again!”

After the tour, Sweet talked with James “Buck” Waller, CEO of ISP Technologies, about some features he would like to see. This led to the Michael Sweet Signature Model Theta Pro DSP. The Michael Sweet Theta Pro has all the great features of the Theta Pro DSP and also includes new added software with enhanced Michael Sweet EQ, the Leslie Rotary Speaker Simulator, True Stereo, Ping Pong Delay, a Tuner (accurate to a 1/2 cent), and, of course, Michael Sweet Pre Sets. The chassis are in the classic yellow and black Stryper colors and each chassis has Michael Sweet’s signature. ISP Technologies is excited to offer this new limited addition Michael Sweet Signature Theta Pro DSP guitar pedal. ISP Technologies’ products are based on 30 plus patents in the audio arena, and are manufactured in the USA.

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Page Six of the New York Post reports:

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich says lead singer James Hetfield was “livid” over the technical mishap that left him without a working microphone for the band’s Grammy duet with Lady Gaga.

Hetfield’s verses weren’t audible for the first half of the Sunday performance of Moth Into Flame. He eventually moved over to share Gaga’s microphone for the remainder of the song.

Ulrich told Grammy host James Corden on Corden’s The Late Late Show that Hetfield was furious about the snafu. He said Hetfield is normally a “chill guy,” but it “was not a lot of fun” in the dressing room after the set.

Ulrich said the band “fought through it” and some people told him afterward that even with the mistake, the performance was “great television.”


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As previously reported, Chickenfoot will release Best + Live on March 10th. As part of that recording, the band will release Divine Termination, their first new song in five years. The band has released an official video of the song, it can be viewed below.

In addition to the new single, Best + Live includes over 90 minutes of live music – for the first time released on CD.

Sammy Hagar says, “Listening to this collection of songs from the ‘Foot brings back memories of some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a band. The chemistry between Chad, Joe, Mike and me is very special. It’s almost like visual music — you can see us having fun when you listen to these songs.”

To read more about Best + Live, and to view a soundtrack, please go here.

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As previously reported on this site, Metallica played with Lady Gaga at the Grammy awards this past Sunday night (February 12th). To say the performance was polarizing, is an understatement. From the band not being introduced, to singer James Hetfield’s mic not working, it certainly made for an “interesting” show.

The performance is posted below followed by a couple of reactions, including one from our very own Eddie Trunk.

Eddie’s thoughts:

Comedian Jim Breuer’s reactions:

So, what’s your thoughts on the performance?

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Jason Newman of Rolling Stone reports:

Metallica’s Grammy performance with Lady Gaga may not have gone exactly as they envisioned – a stagehand reportedly unplugged the wire to singer James Hetfield’s microphone before the group went onstage – but as drummer Lars Ulrich tells Rolling Stone, a “slight technical snafu” couldn’t diminish the band’s enthusiasm for their temporary new singer.

What was supposed to be a Hetfield-Gaga duet for the band’s Moth Into Flame accidentally became a half-song, as Hetfield suffered complete mic failure for much of the song. While he would eventually join Lady Gaga at her mic, a visibly pissed Hetfield knocked down his mic stand at the end of the performance and threw his guitar offstage.

“There was a slight technical snafu, but that’s not really something you can do much about,” Ulrich says. “You just learn to live with that side of it. It happened to Adele last year; I guess this year it was our turn.”

The perpetually enthusiastic drummer was more keen to talk about Gaga, the “quintessential perfect fifth member of this band.” “Her voice, her attitude, her outlook on everything is so awesome,” he says. “[The performance] was so effortless and organic and she just has the spirit of hard rock and metal flowing through her veins. It comes really easy for her. There’s nothing contrived; she just has this super warm, easy energy.”

Read more at Rolling Stone.

In other Metallica news, the band recently announced they will be hitting the road in support of their new album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. The tour will begin on May 10th in Baltimore and wind down on August 16th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Tickets go on sale this Friday (February 17th) at 10 am local time. For more information about the tour, including a complete itinerary and where to purchase tickets, please click here.


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