Paul Stanley on the KISS legacy, Rock Hall

Paul Stanley of rock band Kiss performs during a concert on their Latin America tour, at the Jockey...

Paul Stanley of rock band Kiss performs during a concert on their Latin America tour, at the Jockey Club in Asuncion November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Adorno

Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

KISS frontman Paul Stanley finally faced the music and the timing couldn't be better.

It took years but his autobiography, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, came out just a few weeks before KISS gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday night and prior to the band’s summer tour with Def Leppard that hits Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on Aug. 12 for its only Canadian date.

“For decades I staunchly refused to write an autobiography because Orwell said, ‘Autobiography is the most outrageous form of fiction,’” the 62-year-singer-songwriter-rhythm guitarist tells QMI Agency in a Canadian newspaper exclusive.

“It wasn’t until I realized that my story could serve a purpose, that it could inspire, and could reach far beyond KISS fans. It’s really more about facing adversity in life and facing issues and how you choose to deal with them, and hopefully, overcome them.”

To that end, Stanley’s book begins with a strong Canadian connection.

He had a personal epiphany during his late ‘90s Toronto run in the lead role of The Phantom Of The Opera, a character he so connected with because he was born without his right ear and is deaf on that side.

It was during that experience when Stanley was approached by the agency AboutFace to be an ambassador that he started to feel “calm and centred,” for the first time in his life.

He had been bullied as a child, felt unloved at home by a domineering mother and resentful father dealing with his mentally unstable, sometimes violent sister, and signed himself up for therapy as a teenager after avoiding social situations and having recurring nightmares.

As an adult he also found himself feeling friendless and later was a divorced father of one until he met his second wife with whom he had three more children and remains happily married.

“Toronto was pivotal in so many ways and it makes that city mean that much more to me,” said Stanley.

We caught up with him down the line from L.A. recently to talk about the band’s upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and to find out if there’s an end in sight for life on the road.

Are you still in therapy?

I think that therapy is the best conversation in town. It’s life school. It’s such a life perspective. There’s no Svengali pulling strings and telling you how to live. It’s a great conversation where you speak with somebody who’s got no vested interest. It’s terrific.

You write in the book that “sex was my alcohol and touring was an open bar.” Any regrets?

The book isn`t not tawdry. It’s not gratuitous and I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. And quite honestly the end result of my indulgence versus some others (alcohol, drugs) speaks volumes in itself. I’m here lucid, clearheaded and successful for four decades.

Your KISS bandmates don’t always come off great in the book. You write “teamwork wasn’t (bassist Gene Simmons) strong suit,” drummer Peter Criss was a troublemaker “who could barely read or spell,” and guitarist Ace Frehley “was the laziest person” you ever met, not to mention an alcoholic. What has their reaction been to the book?

Some acknowledge it as accurate and some, although it is accurate, it is understandably painful, and I totally understand that. And nothing was said vindictively or to hurt anybody but it is my story. It had to be told honestly.

Was it just coincidence that the book would come out mere weeks before the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction with your original bandmates?

Totally. First of all, it’s a surprise that grudgingly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems to have had no choice but to induct us. They don’t like us. It’s a privately owned boys club. And this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has nothing to do with the public’s point of view and the people behind it are not fans of ours. Once they decided to induct us it doesn’t suddenly become a lovefest.

Was there talk of a KISS performance at the induction at one point but it disappeared?

Upon being told that we were going to be inducted they wanted the original lineup to play in makeup and before that we (he and Gene) had said, ‘What about the induction of some of our other members (drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer in the current lineup)? Some of whom have played on multi-platinum albums, did world tours for ten years?’ And we were told ‘That’s a non-starter,’ which I think is arrogant considering that the people who decided (we are being inducted) are pencil pushers. ... So that was a bad place to start.

And thus no performance?

So when we were asked to play with the original lineup, honestly I spent 40 years doing this. I never quit the band once let alone twice. And to roll the dice with nostalgia when people are going to see a lineup that doesn’t exist anymore wasn’t a crap shoot I was going to play.

So there has been no resumption of any kind of friendship with Peter or Ace since they left KISS?

No but ... we are connected for life. We created something in the beginning that all four of us were part of. And had some amazing years as a band, so not to negate that, we couldn’t have done it without Ace and Peter, and we couldn’t be here with Ace and Peter.

The biggest shocker to me was the way the book ends with you saying you look forward to the day you’re replaced in KISS?

I would be foolish to believe that there’s not somebody else out there or certainly more than one person who could bring something equally meaningful to the band. It would be a tremendous honour for me to know that I was right.

Do you see an end in sight for yourself on the road?

Many years ago I wanted to try to have some sort of finite guess of when it would end. Look, I’m 62 years old and having the time of my life. So for me all bets are off.

Any plans for another KISS studio album?

We have two albums that I would like to consider new in the last five or six years and we have a vast catalogue at this point so we have no plans at the moment to go into the studio, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson

jane.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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