According to KISS singer/guitarist Paul Stanley, the group’s motivations to launch its “End Of The Road” tour next year contrast starkly from its reasons to embark on the initial “farewell tour” in 2000, a time when relations with guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss began to rapidly sour.
“I think we reached a point where it seemed like the ideal time, [but] not because it’s a bad time,” Stanley recently told Madison Vain of BUILD Series. “Most bands go through farewell tours because they hate each other, or they stink, and we’re at the top of our game. The band’s never been better, but we also realize that we can only be this good for so long. If we were out on stage in t-shirts [or] if we were out on stage dressed [normally], we could play into our 90s, but we’re carrying 40 pounds of gear. We try to make it look effortless. It’s hard work, but we love what we’re doing, and we don’t really feel we should be out there a day longer [than we should], so rather than be a band that does a tour and then after the tour kind of says, ‘We won’t go out this year. We won’t go out that [year],’ and we fade away, KISS doesn’t know how to fade away. We need to go away and explode, so this is going to be a supernova… There’s nothing bittersweet about it — it’s only sweet. It’s awesome what we’ve done; it’s awesome what [fans have] allowed us to do; and we’re going to go out making everybody proud.”
Fans who doubt that the band truly intends to retire upon the tour’s completion will be proven wrong, Stanley explained. “When we come to your town, it’s over,” he said. “The night that we play any city, that’s the goodbye. That’s the farewell. The tour is going to go on for two to three years because it’s a big world, and over 45 years, we’ve played a lot of places, and we want to visit them one more time and spend that evening with those people.”
Bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons echoed Stanley’s comments about wanting to end on a high note. “Privately, we have the best time in the world,” he said. “It’s the best party you could ever want to go [to]. This party’s existed for 45 years. Imagine being able to wear more makeup and higher heels even than your mommy. Imagine getting up on stage — I get verklempt… I’m going, ‘I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I get to be in KISS, the hottest band on Earth. There’s nothing like that.’ We get along great. For anybody who thinks this that is not the last tour, there are people who believe the Earth is flat. That’s okay — believe what you want to believe. We want to go out on top. To those of you who are surfers, why would you settle for just a regular wave when you can get on a tsunami? Once you’ve been up there, go out in glory.
“From the very outset, we’ve been delusional,” he added. “When you think about it, we were four knuckleheads off the streets of New York. We had this bizarre notion, because we [were] always disappointed by the bands we saw on stage. They sounded great, [but] you’d see them live and they’re looking down at their shoes, or they’re wearing tie-dyed shirts shirts and turning their backs to you. It’s like, ‘Hey, you’re doing me a favor? I gave you money. Give me something.’ So we decided to become the band we never saw on stage. No rules; don’t look over your shoulder to see who else is running the race; put your nose to the wind, and to thine own self be true. Bombast; spectacle; no rules; and at the end of the day, if you go down, go down gloriously… Either you deliver the goods and you’ve got something to say, or get off the stage, so for 45 years, we have [had] a self-mandated idea and ideal, to put together the best show for the most important people in our lives, the fans, which is why to this day, and on the very last show we hope, we will live up to, ‘You wanted the best? You got the best.'”
Regardless of the tour’s degree of success, Stanley believes KISS’s legacy is secure. “I think the interesting thing is, rock bands play music. Phenomenons impact society,” he said. “By that, it means that you influence people beyond what you expect. Sure, there are people who have been influenced and become rock musicians. There are people who have become doctors. I don’t understand the connection, but I think that at the end of the day, we are about self-empowerment. We’re about believing that anything is possible with hard work. I think people can look at us and go, ‘Well, if these knuckleheads can do it, I can do it.’
“I think our legacy goes so far beyond that,” he added, “because it’s really about a lifestyle and an attitude towards winning, towards victory. This is our victory lap, but for a lot of people, it’s the idea that you can do, and instead of living by ‘Why?,’ you live by, ‘Why not?’ What we’ve done is we became the band we never saw, and I think that we upped the ante in terms of what people in an audience should expect. It was a wake-up call, because we had been disappointed so often. When I would go to see bands around the time of [Jimi] Hendrix or LED ZEPPELIN, there were a lot of bands at that time who either sounded great and looked horrible, or looked great and sounded horrible. We wanted to be the band we never saw. In essence, we came out of the audience and claimed the stage. That’s our connection to our audience — that sense of responsibility that we have to live up to what we didn’t see, and what they deserve. That’s the legacy.”