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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kiss still ready to rock and roll

From left, KISS members Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley will land at the Spokane Arena on Friday. (Associated Press / File)

Asked if Kiss plans to release new music anytime soon, Paul Stanley, one of the legendary band’s founding members, responds with a long sigh.

It’s been four years since the band’s last album, 2012’s “Monster,” and Stanley’s band mate, Gene Simmons, has expressed to reporters his desire to get back into the studio. Stanley, on the other hand, isn’t so sure.

“I’m of the mindset now that I’d do another album if it wasn’t just a rehash of (‘Monster’),” Stanley said during a recent phone interview. “I’d want to do something with a little more scope. … If we pushed ourselves away from what we’d do instinctively or most easily, and if everybody’s on the same page and it works, I could see going into the studio.”

Stanley’s outlook seems to be that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. After all, Kiss, which performs at the Spokane Arena on Friday, has been a hugely popular touring act for more than 40 years.

“Bands are classic because you know what they’re going to do and you love it,” Stanley said.

Known for outrageous stage antics and its makeup-and-leather aesthetic, Kiss is as much a brand as a band, with likenesses of its members adorning everything from comic books to pinball machines. There’s even a Kiss-themed arena football team.

The band last came through Spokane in 2011, and Stanley says the group patterned this tour after its 2014 Las Vegas residency. Dubbed “Freedom to Rock,” the show promises all the pyrotechnics and power chords you’ve come to expect from a Kiss concert.

“It’s a big, awesome show, and the band is big and awesome,” Stanley said. “Anybody can pattern their show on what we’ve done in the past, but you’ll never be us. That’s why we’re Kiss, and that’s why we’ve been around 40 years.”

Since breaking through in the mid-’70s, Kiss has amassed a rabid fan base, which dubs itself the Kiss Army. Stanley says the band still tailors its shows to the fans: They’re still playing the songs that made them famous, and you can bet that Simmons is still spitting blood and breathing fire.

“To change the show because you’re bored in the band is an insult to the people paying for it,” Stanley said. “That’s who we’re doing this for. … To go up on stage and rearrange a song just because you’re tired of playing it, then quit! You have a responsibility and an obligation to your fans, and you should take it a lot more seriously.

“I’m damn proud to play ‘Detroit Rock City.’ I’m thrilled and honored to do ‘Rock and Roll All Nite,’ to do ‘Black Diamond.’ I have great pride in what I’m doing.”

Now that Kiss has become a legacy act, Stanley describes each new tour as a “victory lap.”

“We’re not out there trying to succeed or break ground in terms of exposure,” he explained. “We’ve scaled the heights. Now it’s a matter of going out there and justifying our place. It’s great to be considered classic rock because of the company we’re in. It’s pretty rarefied air up there. … We have to prove that we’re worthy of being around as long as we have.”

And even with four decades under his belt, Stanley says he’s often surprised that people are still discovering Kiss for the first time.

“I love when people leave going, ‘What have I been missing?’ ” he said. “It’s all about that joy that people get, and that sense of exhilaration when it’s over, that they rode the biggest roller coaster.”