bio - Missing Piece Group

Gene Simmons: bass/vocals
Paul Stanley: vocals/guitar
Tommy Thayer: guitar/vocals
Eric Singer: drums/vocals
“We’re a real, flesh-and-blood rock and roll band with people who’ve spent 40 years
doing what we believe in.” – Paul Stanley
January 2013 will mark four decades since Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, then
members of a band called Wicked Lester, joined up with drummer Peter Criss and
guitarist Ace Frehley to form KISS. Forty years later, having racked up 28 U.S. gold
albums along with 40 million U.S. and 100 million in world sales, Simmons and Stanley,
with longtime members guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, return
stronger than ever. Released through Universal Music Enterprises, Monster is the 20th
studio album in their historic career, set to come out in October.
The 12-song, straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll album features collaborations from all four
members in an effort that shows KISS at the top of its game. Monster is the group’s first
studio album since the band’s 2009 smash success Sonic Boom, and was also produced
by Paul Stanley with Greg Collins at Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA, and The Nook
in Studio City, CA.
“We weren’t interested in making just a great KISS album, but a great rock album that
lived up to the bands we loved growing up,” explains Stanley, “the ones who got us to
play music in the first place.”
The album’s first single, the full-throttle rocker “Hell or Hallelujah” outlines the group’s
long-held “take no prisoners” philosophy, what Stanley calls “a battle cry that
encapsulates the entire record… one way or another, we’re going to do it our way.”
“There are no symphony orchestras, boy choirs, keyboards, outside producers or guest
songwriters,” boasts Simmons. “The best thing we did was turn inwards to ourselves.
Tommy and Eric have revitalized the group with a work ethic and the talent to back it up.
This is a real band effort. KISS has become a behemoth. We are going where no rock
group has gone before.”
Monster represents KISS’ nod to the music that first inspired them to pick up their guitars
and flamethrowers and don makeup to entertain millions. The group goes back to their
own beginnings with the Who-like “Freak,” while Gene lives up to the title track’s
declaration on the raucous prehistoric punk rock of “Back to the Stone Age” and the
bludgeoning, self-referential “The Devil is Me.” “Take Me Down Below” is one of
KISS’ classic sexual double entendres in the mode of “Love Gun” or “Lick It Up.”
Guitarist Thayer takes a solo turn on his own with “Outta This World,” a tribute to his
KISS “spaceman” character, while drummer Singer provides the vocals (and the
inspiration) for the Stanley-penned arena anthem “All for the Love of Rock & Roll.”
“We’re all Anglophiles in this band,” says Simmons. “America may have invented rock
and roll, but England knew what to do with it. They gave us the Beatles, the Stones, Led
Zeppelin and the Who.”
With the same lineup that also played on 2009’s Sonic Boom, Monster is a true KISS
band effort, with all four contributing to the writing and everyone getting a turn at lead
vocals. This is an album that immediately does for the new century what great KISS discs
like Destroyer did for the ’70s, Creatures of the Night the ’80s and Revenge the ’90s.
“My goal was to use everybody’s skills in whatever combination would make for the best
songs,” says Stanley. “Writing credits are not a right, they have to be earned. It makes
everybody up their game and turns us into a team. There’s a healthy chemistry and
camaraderie in the band that is unmistakable. Everyone is committed to making the
whole better.”
Guitarist Thayer, who has been with Gene and Paul more than 20 years, shines, whether
it’s via the Led Zeppelin/Chicago blues/“Helter Skelter” riffs in “Wall of Sound,” the
wah-wah solo in the “Honky Tonk Woman”-meets-AC/DC fireworks in “Eat Your Heart
Out,” the Chuck Berry rave-ups in “Shout Mercy” or the energy of his own “Outta This
“This is by far the most involved and integrated in the KISS recording process I’ve ever
been,” says Thayer, who co-wrote 10 of the album’s 13 tracks. “I had a lot more freedom
to be myself on this album. You don’t hear a band that’s been around as long as KISS
making a rootsy, honest record like this.”
Drummer Singer, who first joined Paul’s solo band 23 years ago, and has been with him
ever since, sings the lead on “All for the Love of Rock and Roll,” a song Stanley wrote
with him in mind.
“My motivation is the music,” says Singer, who has also played with Brian May and
Queen, Gary Moore and Alice Cooper in his long career. “I’m a blue-collar guy in that
way. I approach playing drums in KISS as a job, no different than a fireman, a school
teacher or someone who works in an office. I think I’ve earned Gene and Paul’s
confidence and respect, but it took some time.”
Monster finds a band with its legacy firmly in sight, a chip on their shoulder and a desire
to prove there’s more to the KISS spectacle than meets the eye.
“In many ways, this band started as a fantasy and evolved into a flesh-and-blood entity,”
says Stanley. “The fact is, we’re not cartoon characters. We’re real people who have
spent 40 years doing what we believe in. The makeup of those personas is part of what
we are, but underneath, we’re human beings.”
“We’re about authenticity,” says Simmons, the mastermind of not just the band’s music
but a multi-million-dollar merchandising empire that includes everything from coffeetable books to coffins. “The KISS Army is ruthless. They’d skewer us if we put out
records that weren’t great. We pushed ourselves on this album, to make not just ourselves
but our fans proud. We try to hit a home run every swing we take. If we’re going to win,
win big.”
It doesn’t get bigger than Monster, or KISS for that matter, 40 years old and ready to kick
the asses of any young rock pretenders out there.
“We’re a band at this point in our career where we can live up to our own legend,”
concludes Stanley. “Legends can be confining because they’re cloaked in myth. I’ve
always maintained that obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of your goals. If
you know where you’re going, you don’t see what’s in your way.
“KISS has always been about attaining whatever we think is possible. It’s about
celebrating life and going against the odds for what you believe in. As corny as that may
sound, it got me where I am, and the naysayers will have to live where they are.”
The Monster is KISS at its larger-than-life best.
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