RMS: For the European tour, KISS added 2 more songs from ”Sonic Boom,” plus ”Crazy, Crazy Nights” and ”God Gave Rock and Roll To You.” Were the two latter songs added because they were big hits in Europe?
ES: Ultimately, the band does what it chooses to do, but we do listen (to people’s suggestions). Doc McGhee, as the manager, is going to have a different perspective that’s different than us, being in the band – playing. He said, ”I think you guys should do these songs.” We knew that ”Crazy Nights” had been a big hit in England. Gene & Paul thought it would go over well in England, but I remember one of them saying that we’ll probably have to drop it after we get out of England because people won’t really care about it. It turned out it went over really well in all of Europe.
I think sometimes that we need to be reminded – in the band – that there’s whole generations of fans that grew up on different eras of KISS. To some people, ”Revenge” is their lineup of KISS. Or ”Crazy Nights” or ”Asylum” or ”Hot In the Shade” or ”Lick It Up” or ”the Elder” – whatever. Each different group of fans has a different time line of ’that’s the KISS I know’ or ’that’s the KISS I grew up with.’ ’That’s the first record I bought’ (etc.). So it’s really hard, after this many records and this many years, to try to do something off every single record. Because, some of those records are better than others, obviously. And some of that music probably holds up a little better over time, over some of the other stuff. Bottom line is – you have to play a majority of those hits that people are familiar with. The ”Detroit Rock City,” the ”Love Gun,”Lick It Up,” ”Black Diamond,” ”Deuce.” People expect to hear those songs, no matter what.
RMS: So, do you think the setlist and the show for the ”Hottest Show On Earth” is going to be the same as the ”Sonic Boom Over Europe” tour?
ES: We’re gonna find out in about a week, when we get together and rehearse. A lot of times, instead of thinking so much ahead, sometimes you just do things when you get to that moment. Right now, we’re all on a break. When we get to rehearsals next week, I’m sure we’re going to go, ”Are we gonna do all the same songs?” or maybe add something. We talked about trying to change some things, maybe. Sometimes, it’s best to start off with what you’ve already done. Cuz everybody – the lighting crew, the techs, sound guys, the band – has a kind of familiar rhythm – if you will – of what we’ve been doing. And it’s easier to just kinda get back on that path and get fired up. And then, if we wanna change stuff, we can think about doing that. Because along the way (in Europe), we did add ”Beth” and Paul started doing a little bit of ”Forever” and one night he played a little bit of ”Shandi.” Sometimes, we can get a little more comfortable, and get a little more loose, and think about adding some different songs, or changing stuff around. I think it would be welcome to do that. We’ll just have to wait and see.
RMS: (Going back to) ”Sonic Boom.” Again, with ”Sonic Boom” not since ”Rock and Roll Over” have you heard anything (on a KISS record) like a cowbell or tambourine per say.
ES: We ALL felt that when we were working on the record, was that we weren’t trying to make an old KISS record, but we were trying to approach it the way old records were made. Not just KISS, but records in general – in the 70’s. Meaning, a band getting together, hashing out the idea in a rehearsal room, then going in to record it. And playing TOGETHER, in a room – playing together, recording tracks together. Rather than me playing along to a drum machine, and someone just playing a guide guitar part. We played together as a band. I think that whole approach (is more conducive). KISS is a ROCK AND ROLL BAND! So the band was going, ”let’s just play and write songs that are more in the style of the old KISS.” Meaning, more of the ”Rock and Roll KISS.” Not trying to be ”Heavy Metal KISS” or ”Grunge KISS,” or anything. Let’s just be KISS. We’re just making a record because we can, and we wanted to. It was the right reason to make a record. I think that shines through. I think that shines through, that we weren’t about anything else other than just making a KISS record. Bottom line is – not only myself, but Tommy and I are both KISS fans. I was definitely influenced, and a fan, of those first 3 KISS records. Since I knew we weren’t going to have keyboards, we were just gonna play – 2 guitars, bass and drums, and just have it straight ahead. We said, ”Hey, this is cool. Let’s just make a rock record.”
My (personal) approach was, ”How did KISS approach the records in those days?” I love ”Dressed To Kill.” That record has a lot of cool songs and KISS riffs. So hearing the cowbell, which was very prevalent on those early KISS records, I thought that was the cool thing to do. To me, it was a tip of the hat to Peter (Criss). Kind of like, Peter used to come up with some cool approaches and styles in the early days. And being a KISS fan, I liked that approach to what they did. To me, I thought I’m gonna bring a cowbell in, and I’ve used it a few times throughout the record, if you noticed. That to me, is almost like a KISS-ism – if you will – having the cowbell on those songs. It’s something that Peter used to do, and I thought that was always very cool. I have to give total props and total respect to the original band and what they created. They formed the sound of KISS. (And) I wouldn’t be in KISS if it wasn’t for them.