Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LA KISS: The AFL’s Newest Rock Stars

  www.onlyagame.wbur.org | (Joel Ryan/AP)

Last weekend the Arizona Rattlers topped the Philadelphia Soul to win ArenaBowl XXVI. But that’s not the biggest news coming out of the Arena Football League. As we mentioned last week, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS are bringing an expansion team to Los Angeles, aptly named the LA KISS.

Paul Stanley provided Karen Given with the scoop.

KG: Why did you want to own an AFL franchise?

PS: Why not? That would be the simple answer. But truly, I reflect on my career and what I’ve done over the last 40 years and who would have thought that something that I dreamed and we all dreamed as kids would turn into something so much more than a rock band? It really has turned into a lifestyle and a way of life. But on top of it, people should get their money’s worth. You know, bang for your buck, I’ve always believed. And having come from audiences where I was certainly one of the dissatisfied people who would see a band on stage and go, “You know, they think they’re doing me a favor, and I paid for a ticket.”

Here we are in Los Angeles without a football team. Anaheim is the second largest media market outlet, and the Honda Center is a place that we’ve played. We know it well, so why not? AFL is something that’s unique even within football. It’s interesting that some people seem to think of it as the second-stringers, but let’s be very clear: a diamond is a diamond. When you’re talking about the upper one percent of, you know, available players, that’s not too shabby. It’s just very intriguing. These guys are incredible athletes, and I don’t think of it as Arena Football, I think of it as “Adrenaline Football.”

KG: Well, Southern California fans are generally only interested in rooting for the very best. Will the LA KISS deliver?

PS: Absolutely. You know, I don’t speak as loudly as perhaps my partner, but I make sure everything I speak about comes to pass. The team is going to be fabulous. We’re also going to involve entertainment. There’s so many periods during the game, there’s so many times where there could be something going on — other than someone dressed as a hamster running around.

KG: Will the team itself be different from others in the Arena Football League? I mean you’re not going to require the players to wear makeup or anything like that, right?

PS: I’m also not going to require them to carry a guitar. This is football. This is not Cirque Du Soleil or a rock ‘n’ roll band. But it certainly is incorporating some of the mentality that has made KISS a juggernaut. We will make sure that on all fronts, whether it’s the players, the cheerleaders, or the entertainment that it’s really something that you want to go to again and again.

KG: In 2004 Jon Bon Jovi founded the Philadelphia Soul, which went on to win the 2008 AFL championship. But the Soul and the rest of the league temporarily suspended operations in 2009, and Jon Bon Jovi didn’t come back for an encore. Is KISS planning to make a longer run of it?

PS: Well, we usually play a very long set. There were problems within the AFL in terms of the financial structure of it, and all that has been straightened out, so we’ll be stronger than ever, and we will be the proof.

KG: Season ticket holders will be invited to a free KISS concert at the Honda Center. What other promotions have you got cooked up?

PS: They will be revealed.

KG: You and Gene Simmons look like you’re still in pretty good shape. Any chance the two of you will make it onto the field?

PS: It’s a fool who doesn’t know his limitation. You know, as a kid, I remember thinking I was very strong, and I loved fooling around and wrestling with my friends ’till I got beaten and somebody busted my arm, and then it wasn’t so much fun. And I remember playing football as a kid and really enjoying it until I went sailing through the air and landed on my stomach and knocked the wind out of me, and I went, “You know, this isn’t for me.”

You know, so I will stay where I belong. But that being said, I will be accessible. Going to a game, it’s great to have a great corporate suite to go to, but I prefer being down with everybody. I mean who doesn’t want to be up close and see things up close? So if you see me there come say hi.