Whether it's timeless, hard-hitting rock and roll, an unforgettable visual presentation or that relentless merchandising, KISS breathes fire in every aspect of its being, and, of course, very often literally.
With the first round of dates of the band's End of the Road farewell tour announced, Kiss's iHeartRadio ICONS sit-down in New York with Q104.3's Jim Kerr was no exception.
Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer are saying goodbye to life as Kiss. But the group promises that on its final tour, which will likely extend through 2021, fans will see a band going out, not with a whimper, but at the height of its powers.
"Kiss has been everything that I ever imagined and so much more," Stanley says. "My dream when we first got together was to have five years. Bands had never gone 10 years. We came out of an era before us … you had teen idols who once the fans got tired of ... they were gone. … But what happened with rock and roll was that as bands started writing their own tunes, the audience grew with them."
Now almost 50 years later, Kiss is still hellbent on exceeding expectations. That band has completely redesigned its live show for the End of the Road tour, which begins in January.
"You realize that whenever you see any rap star, rock star, country star — when you see their show, you're seeing Kiss DNA in their show," Simmons explained, addressing the band's influence on arena stage theatrics.
He later added: “Our legacy is that we’ve raised your expectations.”
The band's final act will be a celebration of its history, including of every artist who helped create Kiss's classic catalog. Yes, that means co-founders Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are invited, too.
"It isn't a celebration of any particular lineup," Stanley says. "I'd like everybody whose been in this band to show up and do something. ... This is a celebration of everything we've lived with [the fans], and that's what the celebration is."
The front man adds that it's "a time to put aside all the bickering" and say goodbye the right way.
But there won't be another lineup overhaul. As Stanley has pointed out before, the current lineup of the band has been in place for nearly 20 years. He believes Kiss has never played better, and he's never been happier with it.
Simmons echoes that sentiment.
"This entire band shares a very deep work ethic," he added. "We show up on goddamn time! … There are many acts that feel as if they’re doing you a favor by getting rich and famous in front of you. … [The fans] are our bosses, and what you want, we’re going to give you but in spades…”
Singer, who has been in the band for some 25 years (longer than anyone other than Stanley and Simmons), has been a fan of Kiss since the band's first album. He says he used to tell his friends he wanted to one day be "in a band like Kiss." Now that he's in the band Kiss, the drummer says he has never taken it for granted.
"I always like to pride myself in saying I was one of the first fans of Kiss," he explained. "Being in the band is surreal because I know what it’s like to be [the audience]."
Thayer has worked with Kiss since the '80s in various capacities. He helped create the band's Kisstory book, he tour managed the last reunion of the original Kiss lineup, he also co-wrote music and produced the band in the studio in the '90s.
One day, when Frehley didn't show up for a gig, Thayer got the call to take the Spaceman's place. He saved the day, and he's been in Kiss ever since.
Everything about the End of the Road tour will be in reverence to Kiss's legacy. From the costumes, to the (hopefully) special guests, to the longer-than-ever setlist.
As far as where Kiss's final show ever will be, Stanley says they're not entirely sure. Wherever it is, they know it will be meaningful.
"...Based upon the demand, it seems certainly within reason that we'd end up at some point where we started..." which would be at home here in New York City.
Get Kiss's End of the Road tour dates here.
Photos: Chris Owyoung for iHeartRadio