As KISS delved into farewell tour that figures to last for two years or more, lead singer and guitarist Paul Stanley said he knows what he’ll miss most about the band he co-founded with bassist/singer Gene Simmons back in 1973.
“There’s nothing really that can compete or come close to the combustive emotional nature of what we do on stage and the connection to the fans,” Stanley said in a telephone interview. “That’s something that’s irreplaceable. …There’s nothing to compare it to.”
But fans won’t have to worry about seeing a mopey or overly sentimental Stanley on stage as he grapples with the reality of the final Kiss tour. In fact, in typical fashion for a band that has never been short on bravado, Stanley said the “End of the Road” tour will be a festive occasion.
“This is really a time of joy, and for us to be up there and celebrate what we’ve done together,” Stanley said, noting their fans will be a key part of the experience.
“It’s much better than finishing a tour, let’s say, and then a year later deciding you don’t want to go out. In that sense, you’ve called it quits. But this is so much better for us and better for the fans to go out there with the highest of spirits and the greatest of shows.”
KISS will appear at Jiffy Lube Live on Sunday, Aug. 11. The music begins at 7:30 p.m.
Indeed, the show is bigger and bolder than any KISS has taken on the road, Stanley said. That’s no small endeavor for a group that revolutionized the rock concert in the ’70s not only by donning their famous makeup – Stanley as the starchild, Simmons as the demon, original guitarist Ace Frehley as the “space ace” and original drummer Peter Criss as the catman – but with state-of-the-art lights, enough pyrotechnics to light up a Fourth of July and even a few flashy stunts, such as Simmons breathing fire, all while decked out in elaborate costumes and high-heeled platform boots.
Of KISS’s original four members, only Stanley, 67, and Simmons, 69, are still playing with the band.
“The show this time really is the ultimate KISS show,” Stanley said of the farewell tour stage production. “With that in mind, we wanted to put together something that really raised the bar, not just for us, but as happened over the years, raises the bar for every act out there. “That’s a good thing because the fans win because of it. This show is more bombastic. There’s more pyro. The lights are stunning. The automation involved, the computer synchronization is unlike anything we’ve ever done. And yet it doesn’t lose. We don’t wind up with something that’s technical and sterile over something that’s passionate and gritty. So it’s a marvel, I’ve got to tell you. It left us speechless when we first saw the finished stage. And for us to be silent is a miracle in itself.”
The show will also offer more for fans on a musical level, with a longer set – 22 songs -- than KISS has played on recent tours, all crowd-pleasing selections.
“It’s a diverse and really great overview of all the eras of the band,” Stanley said.
The wide-ranging set list means fans will get a final chance to see KISS perform core songs from each of the band’s three primary lineups – the original edition with Frehley and Criss, the 1980s/early-’90s lineup with Bruce Kulick on guitar and Eric Carr (and later Eric Singer) on drums and the current edition with Tommy Thayer on guitar and Singer on drums.
Each lineup had considerable success, and in all, KISS has sold more than 100 million albums. The original lineup was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
So why did Stanley and Simmons decide it was time to do a farewell tour? Simply put, they didn’t want to risk reaching a point where they couldn’t deliver the kind of performance fans expect.
“We are not any other touring band. If we were wearing T-shirts and jeans and athletic shoes, we could do this into our ’90s. There’s no reason to stop,” Stanley said. “But take any one of those bands and put 40 pounds of gear on them and they wouldn’t make it through a tour. So it just has reached a point where we just felt let’s go out there and be at our best, knowing we can be at our best, and not look to the future. Let’s stop when we believe we can deliver the best KISS ever.”