WHO IS KISS’ RIGHTFUL FRONTMAN? PAUL STANLEY ANSWERS
Margie Goldsmith of Business Jet Traveler spoke with KISS’ Paul Stanley. Portions of the interview appear below.
Business Jet Traveler: You were born with microtia, a congenital condition that caused deafness and a stump in your right ear. Did kids make fun of you?
Paul Stanley: Relentlessly. I was very defensive and insecure. I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.
Business Jet Traveler: Would you say that microtia helped to shape your personality?
Paul Stanley: It certainly was at my core, and although I feel I’ve resolved most if not all of the issues, they don’t leave you. You just come to terms with them.
Business Jet Traveler: You’ve called the makeup you’ve worn in Kiss a defense mechanism to cover up who you really were.
Paul Stanley: I think it was an extension and a magnification of either a part of our personalities or who we would like others to believe we were.
Business Jet Traveler: There have been a lot of strange dynamics between the band members. How’s your relationship with them now?
Paul Stanley: It’s terrific, but part of that’s based upon getting rid of people with whom you can’t find common ground. The key to a great partnership in business, bands, and life is knowing its limitations. If you don’t expect anything unrealistic, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for your band to be your family, you’re better off going out and finding someone to marry.
Business Jet Traveler: Gene Simmons implies that he’s the frontman for KISS and, in your book, you say you are. Who is?
Paul Stanley: A frontman is the person who does the talking and who gives a group its identity and communicates to the audience. There’s only one person on the stage who does that. If that’s the definition of a frontman, then it’s undisputable [that I’m the frontman]. If you interpret frontman as something else…if it’s being in the media, well then, it’s different.
Business Jet Traveler: What has KISS tried to accomplish musically?
Paul Stanley: We’ve tried to stay true to ourselves. I believe in the law of commonality, which basically means that we are all very similar, and if I fulfill a need in myself, then I’ll be fulfilling a need in someone else.
Business Jet Traveler: What did it mean for you to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Paul Stanley: It was a victory lap. We have historically been despised by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and we have been eligible for 17 years. Being inducted was overdue.
Business Jet Traveler: At your concerts, you lead the audiences in saying the Pledge of Allegiance—very unusual for a rock concert.
Paul Stanley: We needed to reinforce that patriotism and loving your country is always cool. It doesn’t mean you always agree with the people in charge, but we should be proud of the basic tenets and what the Founding Fathers envisioned.
Business Jet Traveler: What are your politics?
Paul Stanley: They vary. I am reluctant to get too deep into politics, and I don’t expect politicians to get too deep into music.
Business Jet Traveler: You’ve said that Rock & Brews is supporting the Wounded Warriors Project and local school programs.
Paul Stanley: At every opening, the first people through the doors are vets to whom we serve lunch. It’s a way to give them a quick thanks and take advantage of media coverage to spotlight organizations that help to bring these people back into society and to try to do for them what the government doesn’t. Freedom is only free for the people who don’t pay the price, and the people who do and make it possible are owed so much on their return. It’s a crime how they get shortchanged. Rock & Brews champions the military and first responders and makes sure that we support local organizations.
Business Jet Traveler: Three years ago, you started Soul Station, a group that plays ’60s and ’70s soul classics. What made you create this band?
Paul Stanley: I’ve always been steeped in soul music, Motown, Philly soul. I just thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to recreate those songs the way they are supposed to be played?” What makes these songs so great is the groove and the lyric. The idea of being able to faithfully and respectfully and reverently recreate them was something that I thought would be amazing. And to be on stage with these consummate players who have played with everyone from Smokey [Robinson] to Stevie Wonder to Whitney Houston—we all love this music.
Business Jet Traveler: What do you think about the state of rock music today?
Paul Stanley: Too much of it is faceless and interchangeable; between that and autotuning and mechanical beats, there’s a loss of what made all the music that came before so great. What we loved about Motown and Philly soul and the Beatles era was its imperfection and spontaneity. You’re missing that now.
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