INTERVIEW: KISS Talk About Their Rise From The Streets Of New York To The Stages Of The World

by (@BHSmithNYC)

Recording at Bell Sound Studios. [Photo:  Eddie Solan/KISS Catalog Ltd.]

Recording at Bell Sound Studios. [Photo: Eddie Solan/KISS Catalog Ltd.]

VH1: The book covers your early days in New York City. Another thing I think is important that people tend to overlook is that Kiss is a quintessential New York band. Could Kiss have happened in any other city?

Paul Stanley: No. We were clearly a product of New York and the streets. We came up during a time where British music was looked upon as the music of the gods. There was a glitter scene in New York. A lot of bands who really were better looking and better dressed than they were at playing music were our contemporaries at the time. I don’t think we ever wanted to be a New York band. We wanted to be a world band. Perhaps that’s why we became a bit disassociated with New York because we’re bigger than New York. We are of the world.

Gene Simmons: It is interesting to note that while Detroit and Liverpool and London and lots of cities have given the world bands that have played stadiums and arenas around the world, other than Kiss, New York has never given the world a stadium sized rock band. Not one. There’s Kiss and there’s nobody else. You can talk about Ramones and everybody else; you’re talking about club bands. So if New York is such a great rock town, it was on a certain level, but to get to the top you’ve got to appeal to the world.

VH1: You also had a work ethic that many of those other bands didn’t have. Your closest contemporaries were The New York Dolls but they didn’t tour like you did. How many months straight were you on tour in those first three years?

Paul Stanley: It was one long tour. We would see a day or two off on a calendar but for the most part we were always gone. We would sometimes be doing two shows in a night because a show would sell out so quickly. You know, the bands you spoke of from New York City, most of those bands were more concerned with hanging out than actually rehearsing. That’ll get you so far. At the end of the day you’re going to have to play a song and do it well. For a lot of those bands the music became the soundtrack for their fashion show. They looked great. There’s no arguing. When Gene and I saw The Dolls you just looked at them and said “These guys kill us at looking androgynous.” We looked like football players. We went “We can’t beat The Dolls at being The Dolls but we sure as hell play better than them. Now let’s find out who we are.” And that was really the start of us finding the Kiss look.

Gene Simmons: It’s worth going back for a second because I remember it like it was yesterday. We went to the Diplomat Hotel. We wanted to check out The Dolls because they were a few months ahead of us. We looked at each other going “Wow, they look great.” As soon as they started playing we put our fingers in our ears and went to each other “We’ll kill them. We’ll shit on their pretty clothes.” Critics always loved the band and we loved their style but I don’t know anybody that does Dolls songs.

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