Welcome back for Part Two of our two part 1990 vault interview with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS. The interview took place in the midst of the band’s summer “Hot In The Shade” tour. Tragically it would prove to be the farewell tour for drummer Eric Carr who would be diagnosed with heart cancer and die one short year later on November 24, 1991.
You can read Part One of our interview with Gene and Paul here.
August 16, 1990 KISS interview with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Part 2 of 2:
You’ve done a lot of speaking out on censorship and the PMRC.
Gene: “The thing with the PMRC is, women get it once a month and you just have to get out of their way…(pause)…get it? PMS-it’s a joke. (laughs) Unfortunately these people, I think, are well-meaning. but anybody with a silly name like Tipper Gore oughta be ashamed of themselves. That’s like being grown up and calling yourself Bubba. You see a 50-year-old man walking around saying, ‘Hi, my name is Bubba’. Here’s a woman who’s grown up with kids going, ‘Hi, my name is Tipper.’ So I don’t question anybody’s motives in bringing crosses to our concerts and telling me I can’t sing lyrics like ‘Lick it Up’. The motive is good. The motive is, ‘Gee I’m concerned about my kids or the American way of life’ or whatever. But actually going through with these motives is dangerous because in America it limits my rights to express myself any way I want. It’s just un-American. You’re not allowed in this country to tell anyone who to pray to, what to say or anything. We’re allowed free speech. There are a lot of records that I think are in horrible, but I don’t have the right to stop them. I see a lot of religious programs on television that I think are an abomination to God, to mankind, to anybody you pray to or don’t. But I don’t have the right to tell them not to talk. It’s real dangerous stuff.
If people want to label rock albums and lyrics as being too sexy, then I think you ought to start with the bible. There’s some pretty sexy stuff there, and it’s a very violent book. If people are willing to give the bible an X rating, then I’ll take it.
Is there a song on the new album that is particularly close to your heart?
Gene: “I like ‘Betrayed‘ because it started off as a straight ahead rock song and I was complaining one day about how you grow up believing that lawyers, policemen and firemen are supposed to be above graft and greed and all this stuff, and then I read some stuff about some of my ‘heroes’ and found they weren’t as squeaky clean as I thought, and I was just kind of like, ‘Wow, I’ve been betrayed by my heroes and stuff.’ And the song really took a turn. I figured out, look what have I got to complain about? I’m not the only one. The same laws of nature apply to everybody. Everybody’s gotta figure it out for themselves. So the story became a bout a guy who felt that life had betrayed him and the point of the song was really that, when you look at things in perspective, you haven’t been crucified, so what’s so bad? You’re betrayed but you’re not the only one. In other words, things aren’t so bad.
Paul: “I like ‘em all. I like ‘Silver Spoon‘ a lot. I also like ‘Forever’ a lot. ‘Forever‘, obviously when you have a hit it means a lot of other people connect with the song, and if they do, obviously that makes you feel that you hit the nail on the head….or with your head.”
Speaking of ‘Forever’, Paul, how did you end up writing with Michael Bolton, and what’s the story behind the acoustic guitar solo?
Paul: “I’ve known Michael for a long, long time. Despite what Michael is doing now, he used to be a real rock ‘n’ roller. (Trivia fans take note: Bruce Kulick used to play with Michael in a band called Blackjack some years ago). And there’s no denying the guy can sing. We always stayed at the same hotel in L.A., and we would always sit around, and we would spend a lot of time sitting outside and talking and joking around. And in between that we’d say, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta write sometime.’ And I said, ‘Sometime, is now.’ So we went inside and grabbed two guitars and wrote ‘Forever‘.
(The solo)– Bruce had an electric solo worked out and he usually prepares ahead of time and really works out his solos, which is great. But he came in and he played this solo which was good but it wasn’t unique and I said, ‘How about trying an acoustic solo?’ And he laughed. And I said, ‘I’m serious.” And then he got furious. I looked at him and I said, here’s the acoustic guitar’ and I put it down and walked out of the room. And it didn’t take him long. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of ‘Thank You‘ from the second Zeppelin album. It’s really a pivotal thing in the song. It makes the song more unique and special.”
What’s the next step for KISS?
Gene: ”I don’t have a clue. This is like a tornado. The purpose of a tornado is to spin around and have a lot of fun and raise hell pretty much. It goes every which way and everything better get out of its way. All I know is that we’re having a good time and what it all means, I don’t know. I’m not sure it needs to mean anything more than we’re enjoying life to its fullest. We’re gonna continue forward doing what we’re doing: Too put on the best shows we can and make the best records we van. The overall battle plan? I don’t have a clue. It’s going to be as much a surprise to me as it is to you. It’s all about whims dreams and whatever it is I want to do. I’m gonna roll up my sleeves and go do it. Even if that means I want to hang up my rock and roll shoes and go climb Mt. Everest.”
As history has shown us, things have a way of shaking out a lot differently than even the participants anticipated. The “never happen” reunion did happen. The “never wanna put the make-up on and do a nostalgia tour…”, well the make-up and costumes are back on and remain on to this day. Many would argue, more than a decade after the band’s “Farewell Tour” that everything for the last 10 years has been a nostalgia tour. But Stanley and Simmons have not been content to rest on their prodigious laurels, releasing two of their strongest albums in years with 2009’s “Sonic Boom” and 2012’s remarkable, “Monster”.
Watch the 1990 “Forever” video below.
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Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.