Återblick – Paul om Psycho Circus

Återblick – Paul om Psycho Circus

Kiss

Examiner.com hyllade Paul med att ta fram en gammal intevju från sitt arkiv, intervjun är gjord i samband med ”Psycho Circus” inspelningen.

When we did the interviews for the Revenge tour book, we discussed the importance of a hit single and you said, ”I don’t want to get caught up in recreating who we’ve been.” Were you concerned that there was a chance of doing just that by reuniting?

Only if it wasn’t done with a full commitment and a genuine desire to do it. If it was for the sake of, as I said, recreating or mimicking what we’d done before, without any deeper sense of commitment or integrity, yeah, sure. If it was just the four of us getting together, a month later slapping on makeup and outfits with no regard for the past, it would be not only risky, but obvious and transparent. If that was the idea, I would not have gone through with the reunion. Six months of rehearsing and rigorous physical training to pick up where we left off was a whole different thing than a half-hearted attempt at being who we were.

Why was it important to tour before recording?

Because the initial event was not a new album. The event – which was far bigger than any album – was us getting back together. That alone was important enough to warrant a tour. Where we went from there was almost secondary. The idea of us getting together and putting on the show we did was far more important than getting an album out and would stand on its own with or without an album. Also, at that point, we weren’t sure how long we would continue. That was only based on whether we enjoyed ourselves, and the only way to know was to do it.

Everyone asks what it was like being in the studio again. My question is this: Who were those four men in the beginning and who are they now?

Nothing really changes. You become more sure of who you are because you’ve lived that much longer being who you are. You hopefully see the wisdom in things you do and the stupidity in some of the others, and hopefully you learn what works and what doesn’t. I don’t think anyone is a different person. Everybody is a more defined version of who they were.

Does the music you’re making now have anything to do with the music you made then?

Oh, absolutely, in the same way that we’re the same people we were. The music is rooted in what we did then and that’s the foundation. It’s recognizable and has the same perspective. Again, it’s a focused, more honed, more sharpened version of what we were doing. To me, ”Psycho Circus” and ”Detroit Rock City” are very similar, not in musicality or chord structure, but the point of view and personality are virtually identical.

Is this a concept album?

In the same way Destroyer was. It’s an attempt to push the limits and parameters of what KISS can do and still remain KISS. It’s us pushing the walls as far as we can and seeing what’s comfortable, but not limiting [ourselves] to one musical style, although they all share a common ground. What we did with Destroyer was make the best album we could, the most varied album we could, and yet stay true to ourselves. Also, we wanted to up the standard of what we expected from ourselves, and that’s what we did with Psycho Circus. The songs work together as an album. They’re not disjoined; there’s a vibe, kind of like a shared atmosphere to the album. In that way, it’s a concept album. There is no thread other than the ongoing theme of the band: strength of the individual, celebrate life and fuck everyone else!

There are no sexual overtones on this album. Was that a conscious effort? Does one reach a point in life where that becomes redundant or trite?

At some point, and I don’t think it’s conscious, but … it’s no secret we like to get laid, but in terms of what we’re singing about on this album, and what’s important, that didn’t fall into a priority. There was enough to sing about just based on the events of the last couple of years: getting back together, playing for two million people. The album centered on celebrating us, the fans, our victory.

Is the magnitude of KISS frightening the second time around or are you prepared through experience?

It was absolutely astonishing. We all knew this was going to be big, and as big as we thought it was going to be – which would have been very big! – this obviously went beyond that. We were very, very … I guess we had a deep sense of gratitude to the fans and masses and it made us that much more committed to not letting them down when they came to see the return of the ”legend.” Nothing would have been more disappointing than for them to think this would have been better left alone. What was amazing to us was not how big it was, but the absolute mania of it again, that we could put a show at Madison Square Garden on sale and 45 minutes later sold out four and could have sold more. That was typical all over the country and it was absolutely awesome, beyond our expectations – and our expectations were very high!

Once again, there is an overflow of KISS merchandise, KISS magazines, KISS books. The band is everywhere. How will you prevent it from becoming ”too much” again?

You can and you can’t. The reality of it is that in a sense it’s … I don’t want to say planned obsolescence, but the reality is there’s supply and demand and all you can hope for is that the demand remains strong and hopefully they don’t get sick of it because they’ve gotten so much. I don’t think that’s the case. Also, I think we’re in a different time. Although my fear the first time around was that merchandise and all that surrounded the band almost eclipsed or overshadowed the reality of the rock band KISS, that is not the case this time because it is very much standard fare and practice that bands have merchandise. The first time, it was a distraction to a lot of people because it was so unique. Now it’s fairly common, and the only thing we can control is a major part of what goes out in terms of merchandise.

You will tour with new songs, new costumes, a new show, and of course a catalog of songs from the original members. But, from 1983 until the reunion, you wrote some pretty incredible songs. Any chance of bringing them back?

We are in a position unlike any other band because, in essence, there are two distinct bands called KISS. Although they are very much tied to and a result of each other, both bands I’m not sure would exist without the other, ultimately. There is a distinction between the two and it’s very, very puzzling at times, but everyone should have our problem! For us to play ”Heaven’s On Fire” or ”I Love It Loud” I don’t think has a lot of relevance or connection to this band, so I don’t think you’ll be hearing those songs, although never say never. But our dilemma is unique in that this band has existed so long and in two different incarnations. It’s unique and brings its own problems, but I agree, we all know there were some great songs. We’ve talked among ourselves, but at the moment we’re trying to draw the line and make it makeup and non-makeup. The non-makeup band sold 10 million albums, so it’s nothing to dismiss, but we have such an abundance of great songs that that alone presents a problem just picking from the original lineup. We have enough material for two hours and what do you leave out or change? We can’t do a show without ”Detroit Rock City,” ”Firehouse,” ”Shout It Out Loud,” ”Cold Gin,” ”Beth,” ”Love Gun,” ”Rock and Roll All Night” – so we are in a very enviable position in that we have too many good songs.

KISS has always been a fan-oriented and fan-accessible band. The last tour was all security and restrictions. How do you maintain contact with the people? Can fans still reach you?

They still do. The fan in the audience doesn’t see any difference in the last tour and tours before. We are as accessible as we have always been. The magnitude and hazards of the show present problems where you can’t have people milling around [backstage]. That would be lunacy. In terms of being accessible, I can’t tell you how many people I meet every day. On tour, the concert hall is not the place to socialize. It never has been. The audience came to see us play, but nobody has much of a problem meeting us. It’s just where. Yesterday, I was getting in my car; a pickup truck pulls up, the guy honks and rolls down his window – he has a KISS T-shirt on.

Do you like what you see in the mirror?

Depends on who else is in the mirror! [pause] Yeah, I don’t have a problem with it. Am I in love with it? I like it.

What do you like about that man?

Really, ultimately, that I just live my life the way I choose to and try to live up to the goals and standards I set for myself. I guess just that I’m really more concerned with what I think than what anybody else thinks, and I don’t compromise and I don’t get … I don’t allow myself to be intimidated or do anything I don’t want to do and I don’t take crap from anybody.

Do you learn more from success or failure? How are the lessons different?

The lessons of success are a lot sweeter, but without failure, you don’t appreciate success. Failure is a reminder that you’re not perfect and that you can be better. If you don’t learn anything from failure, you probably aren’t going to succeed.

What is your definition of happiness?

There are all kinds of levels of happiness. I’m always happy, even when I’m miserable, because if I get rid of the things making me miserable, they are still superficial and surface when you look at what they’re sitting on top of. Life is great and I’m a very lucky guy and that’s always there. There are people who are unhealthy, broke, people who don’t like themselves, aren’t loved, and that’s stuff that makes somebody unhappy. If you have those, everything else is icing on a very, very big cake.

Does rebellion know an age?

No. It’s about knowing yourself, where you stand, and not accepting going against what you believe in. Rebellion is just standing your ground.

What’s with the 3-D thing that’s part of the tour? I hear ”3-D” and immediately think of that black-and-white still everyone thinks of when you hear ”3-D” – that picture of the people sitting in a movie theater wearing the glasses …

You’re not that far off, really. There will be awesome images, huge screens, real 3-D images where you can reach out and feel you’re going to grab them.

Do you ever fear that the production will overpower the music?

It’s pretty hard to overpower us or eclipse what we’re doing. We’re certainly not going to have dancing girls with top hats – not onstage! It’s not a Broadway show or a Vegas production. Our point of view and where we come from is rock and roll, so we try to design a show that moves us and gets us off, and that doesn’t involve women doing the cancan or guys in tuxes dancing down stairs. I’ve seen that, it’s fine, but it’s not us. So it’s not a risk because we’re just a bunch of guys from New York whose taste is rather pedestrian. You’re much more likely to see us going to see Terminator or Rambo than Waiting To Exhale.

You were ready to take off the makeup on the Creatures Of The Night album. Was it difficult to put it back on?

No, no. I’m a firm believer in … I think fate is nonsense because we make our own fate, but I’m a firm believer that when things and time are right, it will reveal itself, the answers will come, and the truth will be obvious, so I had no problem taking it off or putting it on. It was the right time. The problem is when people ask at the wrong time if you’re going to do it and you say no. Then they want to know why you did it. Life, KISS – you don’t know the next chapter. We’re too busy writing the current one to know where we’re going next, but when it gets there, we’ll know.

You have influenced so many musicians. What do you hope they’ve learned from you?

The only thing I’d want anybody to learn is to not listen to anybody. Don’t listen to me. Your answer will be yours alone, and mine is not yours. If there is anything I hope people get from us, it’s that you have someone very unique inside yourself. Believe in that person.

Examiner.com/Alison Richter

www.examiner.com

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