In Part 1 of our interview series with Kiss frontman Paul Stanley, we discussed his paintings, his thoughts on bandmate Gene Simmons, drugs and the band’s extensive use of makeup. Here we address Kiss’ final tour, Stanley’s biggest fear, advice he might give to his younger self and his being bullied in school. Following are edited excerpts from a longer phone conversation.
Jim Clash: You’ve sold hundreds of millions of records. You must be quite wealthy. Why keep working into your seventies?
Paul Stanley: I love what I do. I think that ultimately when you’re in a position to not do something is when you find out how much it means to you. You also find out when you’re losing it. When your career is in trouble, how much are you willing to fight to regain it? Once you’re financially set, at least in my case, the idea of sitting back and watching television or sitting at the top of a mountain is nowhere near as appealing as playing stadiums around the world. I loved it.
Clash: When you all perform with the heavy costumes and makeup – what is it, like 30 or 40 pounds – over time, that takes a toll on your body, correct?
Stanley: Yes. We reached a point where we realized that life and time are finite. When you play beat-the-clock, the clock wins, always. There are no 70-plus-year-old basketball players or football players. In essence, we are athletes with guitars. To do what we do at the level we do it means it’s just a matter of time before we can’t, or that people coming to see us will say, “You should have seen them when they were good.”
That’s where we draw the line. Without any reservation, people will tell you that this final tour has seen our greatest shows, that the band has never been better. That’s great, but it’s just a matter of time before people wouldn’t say that. So mission accomplished.
Clash: Go on a high note, no pun intended [laughs]?
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 16: Paul Stanley attends the Los Angeles premiere of “Studio 666” … [+]
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Clash: Because of your birth defect (Stanley was born without a right ear), you must have been bullied in school growing up?
Stanley: I was bullied a little when I was quite young. But like many people who have issues, you build defense mechanisms. If you’re not approachable, or somebody who is not easy to get close to, chances are that’s your defense. It’s easier to have people not like you because of your behavior than to come to grips with people not liking you because of who you are.
There are two routes in life. One is to be a victim, and the only person’s life whose life is compromised there is yours. Or, you can roll up your sleeves and start working, get yourself the life you deserve. I don’t take well to settling, because I’d have to live with it.
Clash: That said, did you ever run into someone who had bullied you in school later, after you had become famous?
Stanley: Yes, I met one or two. One person said to me, “I’ve got to tell you, when you were in school, you were the least likely to become anything” [laughs]. It’s funny, but if you’re bent on revenge, or showing people up, you’re not living life. If you enjoy your life, it finds its way into success. What you may once have wanted to prove to people, push into their faces, is a waste of time.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 30: Paul Stanley of KISS performs during the 2023 AFL Grand Final … [+]
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Clash: What are you afraid of?
Stanley: Wow [long pause]. I’m afraid of the people I love, my family, suffering or being hurt. The rest I can deal with. Once you have children in a committed relationship, you surrender that you’re the center of the universe to others.
I tend to be an optimist, but not an absurd optimist, where you believe everything’s going to turn out okay – passive optimism. My optimism is that I can make things better. And most of the time, I can. Back to your other question. I’ve had enough surgeries to set off every metal detector at every airport [laughs]. Some people fear surgery. I look forward to it, because it’s the first day of getting better.
Clash: What’s some advice you might give to your younger self?
Stanley: Try to go easy on yourself. You don’t know half of what you think you know, and most of what you think you know will only make your life more difficult.