Greg Prato of Guitar World spoke with KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer, excerpts from the interview appear below.

Guitar World: Have you made any changes to your rig for the recent KISS tours? 

Tommy Thayer: I’ve been tried and true for over 15 years. I probably have four of those Duotones with me and I run three cabinets on stage – one is underneath the drum riser and then two are offstage running in stereo. It’s a traditional guitar-into-the-amp kind of sound.

Guitar World: How would you compare your signature Les Pauls to a regular Les Paul?

Tommy Thayer: The Les Pauls I play on stage are made by the Gibson Custom Shop – they’re not my signature models. I’ve done four different signature guitars with Epiphone through the years…

…They’re all guitars like I said, modeled after a ’58 or a ’59 Les Paul Standard. But they’re enhanced aesthetically with the finishes that look cool and look very ‘KISS.’ Mirror pickguards and stuff like that.

Guitar World: How has your guitar playing changed since you started playing with KISS? 

Tommy Thayer: I like to think that I continually get better. [Laughs] I still work on it – I still practice. I’m more comfortable now than when I first got in the band 20 years ago. But that’s to be expected…”

Guitar World: Which KISS songs are your favorite to perform live? 

Tommy Thayer: My favorite KISS song when I heard the first KISS album [1974’s Kiss] was Black Diamond. I still love playing that one live.

[Original KISS guitarist] Ace [Frehley] had some fantastic, very signature solos back in the day, and I love playing those solos. Every kid grew up on that stuff, and I’m the one that gets to play it night after night, so I’m very fortunate in that regard.

Detroit Rock City. Another fun one is God Gave Rock n’ Roll to You II – with a great Bob Ezrin-esque melodic guitar section in the middle of it.

Guitar World: Is this really the end of the band? 

Tommy Thayer: You’d have to ask Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] that question. That’s the plan, and legitimately what we’re doing. 

None of us are getting any younger, particularly Gene and Paul – they’re edging into their 70s now. To do a KISS performance, it takes a lot more than your average band to do this. KISS is in a different category in terms of the physicality and what it takes to actually do a show. ..

Guitar World: What are your plans for after KISS?

Tommy Thayer: I don’t have any. I’m not a ‘What are you going to be doing in five years?’ kind of guy. I’m just looking at today and focusing on that…

Guitar World: What do you think your legacy will be with KISS?

Tommy Thayer: I don’t know if many people realize this, but I’ve been the lead guitarist in KISS longer than any other KISS guitar player. But I will always be known as ‘the new guy’ though – no matter what happens. I’m ‘the Ronnie Wood’ of KISS

My legacy will be a guy who came in, worked hard, and was the glue that kept the band together for a long period of time. I think the kind of character and personality that I have is that of a team player and somebody who can bring people together and bind things together.

And I think the reason that we’ve done so well and so consistently in the last 20 years is because of the personalities, the give and take, and the ability to keep everybody happy… and keep working together on a professional level. 

It works well. I’ll probably be that guy that has been in the band longer than anybody else besides Gene and Paul, that kept things together, and was the glue that made it work.

Read more at Guitar World.

Tommy Thayer is also featured on drummer Carmine Appice’s soaring track Mystified, which appears on the legendary drummer’s Zeus 25th Anniversary Box Set

Image credit: Ross Halfin

Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus

39 Responses

Leave us a comment

  • genesraccoonwig on

    Hope everyone had a great Christmas and looking forward to a Happy and Healthy 2022.

    My 2 cents on Tommy…
    He is a dependable hired hand for Gene and Paul to pull off the Spaceman character. That’s it.
    He is not an originator he is a imitator.
    As others have said, when I think of Kiss, i think of Ace (Peter, Gene and Paul)
    Tommy should be thanking his lucky stars that Ace has not been the most dependable (understatement of all Kiss understatements)

    While Eric is in similar shoes as Tommy, at least Eric is talented and a hell of a drummer.

    • robert davenport on

      I agree almost 100% I also hope everyone had a wonderful holiday ~ I think Thayer is a pretty talented guitarist as well as a loyal friend and employee , I’ve been told he’s a very nice man as well- I’m not sure who decided to have Thayer completely mimic ace , turns out to many kiss fans me included it was a horrible idea , I idolized this band as a kid just like millions of other kids , to see this BS lipsyncing fraud version of kiss just makes me sad –

    • Myk on

      Requiring Tommy mimic Ace’s mannerisms on stage as well as on guitar wouldn’t be the first decision that KISS made that everyone else thought wasn’t a good decision .

  • Stadler on

    Every time I read these comments I think the same thing: thank GOD it’s not the original four. I saw that last tour with Peter, and it was EMBARRASSING. It’s one of the few shows (out of the hundreds I’ve seen) where I’m convinced there was a shadow musician backstage. You could HEAR drums, but the sounds weren’t matching the (half-hearted) movement of the arms. I’m a life-long Kiss fan – since ’78 – and I’ve seen every incarnation of the band (I don’t think that was Mark St. John I saw on the Animalize tour, though) through thick and thin, and I finally got to bring my daughter to see them on the Def Leppard tour in ’14. She knew it wasn’t Ace and Peter, but didn’t give a rat’s ass. The next morning my then-girlfriend (now wife) showed me my daughter’s Instagram. Her post? A picture of the stage exploding during Rock and Roll All Nite and the caption: “Greatest night of my life!”

    Good enough for me. I’m going to enjoy what we have, not pine for something we don’t (and likely wouldn’t be what we remembered even if we did).

    • Doug R. on

      Well, I too am a lifelong KI⚡⚡ fan as well, since ’74, and the majority of us that grew up with KI⚡⚡ do give a rat’s ass about phony KISS! And it’s not about wanting Ace and Peter back in the band, it was never about that, I never would’ve had an issue with Thayer or Singer being in the band if they were allowed to be themselves, as every other member of KI⚡⚡ was allowed to be EXCEPT for Thayer and Singer.

    • Kermit the Starchild on

      I’m so glad I don’t have to watch the joke of what the band has become. Based on clips I’ve seen they can barely move and what Milli Vanilli Stanley is perpetrating on paying customers is an absolute travesty.

      The guy sounds like a cross between Urkel and Kermit the Frog. I just watch the clips from Barcelona and laugh. Total embarrassment. I agree Peter can’t play but what little skill he has left is much greater than listening to Paul croaking through songs. No wonder they use backing tracks and lip-synch. This band is a shadow of its former glorious self.

    • Rattlehead on

      I 100% concur, Doug! Today’s KI$$ is a phoney tribute to themselves.

      I am stoked that Stadler’s daughter had her “Greatest night….” at a rock and roll concert. The “imposter issue” probably doesn’t matter to the younger generation, and she enjoyed herself listening to live rock music with an explosive stage show.

    • Doug R. on

      In my opinion, KI⚡⚡’s stage shows were just as big and exciting in the ’80s as they were in the ’70s, even without the makeup. I know Gene and Paul like to think of KI⚡⚡ as a brand first and a band second, but to me it’ll always be the other way around, because without the music, which always comes first, there would be no brand. It’s a shame that most of today’s younger generation will never appreciate or care about all the great music that KI⚡⚡ has made over the years, only the stage show.

Leave a Reply