Monday, July 8, 2013

KISS Hit Victoria, Journalist Eyes Paul Stanley From Audience | Greg Pratt

When KISS played the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena recently, what I really wanted was to get some time to sit down and talk face to face with singer/guitarist Paul Stanley. I even went so far as to jokingly put together a moderately successful online petition (hey, 57 people signed, not bad, if you’re asking me) to help make it happen. But it didn’t happen; management said no, and I was left watching the show, dreams thwarted, still having the time of my life.

KISS know what they’re doing. They played the hits. They played a few new songs that people pretended to enjoy; they pulled out “War Machine,” a killer kinda-deep cut. They’ve been doing this for so long it’s impossible to think of anything negative to say about it that isn’t glowingly obvious. They know what they’re doing, and they did it perfectly this night, just like the night before, and the night after. KISS put on one of the best, most fun and enjoyable concerts in rock music; they did in Victoria and they will continue to.

But, to you, Paul Stanley, I say this: I really wanted to sit down and look you in the eye, and I wanted to have a conversation as two grown men. I wanted to ask what you think of the fact that other grown men consider you a god when you sing kinda buffoon-ish rock songs while wearing funny makeup for a living. I wanted to ask what it’s like living in the shadow of a man like Gene Simmons.

Paul Stanley, I wanted to ask about your art, about your musicals; I find this fascinating, that a rock star has this side to him but it’s so rarely discussed.

Paul Stanley, I wanted to talk about the dark spots in KISS’ past, but I know you don’t like talking about that too much. I’m sorry, but I find it extremely interesting; I wanted to ask about how you’re so proud about the current incarnation of KISS but how I don’t really think many people really have too much interest in the current incarnation of KISS. I understand that line of questioning makes you a bit upset, but it’s what would have happened.

You see, Paul Stanley, when I was a kid I was one of those guys who thought you were a god. I don’t anymore. You seem nice, and you seem down to earth, and I kinda feel bad that you have to deal with being in a band with Gene Simmons. I wanted to talk about that.

Paul Stanley, I would have liked to have told you about the kinda embarrassing collection of KISS stuff I had as a kid. I would have liked to have told you about how listening to your records when I was a kid totally informed my music listening choices for the rest of my life. I would have liked to have told you about how I spent hours wondering why the spines of some of the lesser-loved albums in my KISS cassette collection were yellow (imports, I guess, because no one in North America wanted stuff like Unmasked).

When it all comes down to it, Paul, I’m not really a KISS guy anymore. I mean, some great albums back in the day, yes. And some very underrated ones later (I actually kinda love Unmasked). Saw you play once, when you were touring Revenge, which was the last album you made that had any songs on it that I could actually remember. It was a really good album, and I would have liked to have talked about that briefly. But, yeah, I’m not really a KISS guy anymore. You know, the makeup, Gene Simmons, the endless selling of absolutely anything you guys can possibly think of selling (I would have asked about how you can sleep at night, and that would have been awkward)… it’s all a bit much for a 36-year-old man to handle. But, man, if it wasn’t for KISS, my life would be drastically different than it is today, so I wanted to thank you for that.

I wanted to ask about how you’re actually transcending being a rock band and how one of you said once that when you’re all dead and gone you want four other dudes to be behind the make-up, being KISS (at least I think one of you said that; maybe I made that up, feel free to use that). It’s like you’re almost immortal, and you’re just a guy who sings rock songs about being in a rock band.

And, Paul Stanley, I wanted to ask you what it is I really ask all wildly successful rock stars: are you happy?

Maybe next time. Until then, thanks for finally coming to Victoria and putting on a kick-ass, classic rock show, filled with insane pyro, silly stunts, and timeless tunes. Come back any time.