Earlier this year, the Kiss Army got the moment it had been waiting for, and it turned into a hot mess.
The band's long-awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a time to celebrate, did more to stir up old tensions among band members past and present and create confusion about the nature of Kiss. The Hall of Fame committee had a hand in that, allowing only the four original members to be inducted, and insisting that Kiss perform the ceremony with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
That didn't fly with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who wanted all the Kiss members inducted and refused to perform without current members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. There was sniping in the press, and it all ended in a stalemate with Kiss not performing and no one particularly ecstatic about the proceedings.
With that behind them, the fab four are back on the road again doing their things: a greatest-hits set with the blood, smoke, fire and high-wire act fans young and old have come to expect. They'll get to see Kiss' new interactive "spider stage" designed for the European tour last year that supported 2012's "Monster" album.
On board this time is Def Leppard, a spandex band from the '80s with its own flashy stage spectacle. In a recent teleconference, the 62-year-old Stanley, who released his memoir "Face the Music: A Life Exposed," talked about all things Kiss.
On the induction:
"The Rock Hall was really not much more than a mosquito buzzing around my ear. Ultimately it was and always will be about our music and our fans, and no small organization with a big name can call the shots and decide what is or isn't valid or what does or doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. No matter who may own the name, it's ultimately what the people decide."
On this tour production:
"I believe this is the greatest and really the best stage that we've ever had. We took it through Europe and it was a huge success. We call it the 'spider' stage because the lights are actually in the shape of a spider and dangling down onto the stage and I wanted a stage where the lights and the stage were one, instead of having lights hanging from the ceiling. It's by far the best thing we've done. The band is firing on all cylinders. Between that and celebrating our 40th year, we're out there to do a victory lap, even though the race isn't over yet. This is a celebration of everything we've done to date."
On the music vs. spectacle:
"Ultimately it's got to be great music. Anybody can set off bombs and fireworks and all the rest. Any band with money can do a Kiss show, but no other band can be Kiss. We are a rock band and have always been a rock band. Our roots are in bands that we loved growing up. We enhanced it with a great show, but ultimately nobody will buy -- for decades -- music that isn't good. The songs have stood the test of time."
On touring with Def Leppard:
"We've always tried to have great bands on tour with us, and now more than ever, we want to make sure that people get their money's worth and have a night of great music with songs that connect with you emotionally and serve as snapshots of time. It doesn't get better than that. Anybody can set off bombs and fireworks -- all you need is money to do a good show -- but nobody can be Kiss, and that's why we go on tour. [Our fans] are not even our fans, they're our tribe, and to bring Def Leppard along, they're just a great band."
On supporting Wounded Warrior Project, which aids injured service members:
"We have been very vocal over the years about our obligation to our troops and to the people who serve voluntarily and put themselves in harm's way so that we can live in a free society. I can't say enough about the people who serve on our behalf. What we do wouldn't be possible without what they do. I love being on stage and letting people know that there's nothing corny about patriotism; there's nothing corny about celebrating this great country."
On his memoir "Face the Music":
"It was great to document something that I believed could be inspiring to other people and have that not only confirmed by my reading it, but every day having people come over to me and say the book moved them and inspired them. That's the only reason for me to do anything."
On Kiss fan loyalty:
"You can't have the kind of dedication that we have from our fans unless they sense the same dedication from the band. The only way you can be in Kiss is you not only have the ultimate respect for the band, but you also have to have that same respect for the fans. It's intertwined. If you lose that, you're no longer in this band. I've met more people than I could count who have Kiss tattoos. That's like being a lifer in the Army. You can put on a uniform and take it off, but when you tattoo yourself that's for a lifetime. That's a sign of dedication."
On Kiss' legacy:
"Time tells all. What has happened over time is that those critics and the naysayers and the people who were clueless to what we were doing, they realized that we were a pure rock 'n' roll band. We didn't add anything to hide what wasn't there, but added to enhance what was there. Over time, the people on the streets became the critics and the executives. That's part of our victory celebration. We have outlived the doubt and, in essence, taken over.
On being the real deal:
"The reason people still buy tickets to see the classic acts is because you know we will deliver the goods. There are countless acts nowadays that have downloads in huge numbers, but you don't want to go see them live, because they haven't learned their craft. They sing on a song that was put together in somebody's living room on a computer and then auto-tuned. You know damn well that those people are not going to be able to put on a show.
"The ones who have enough money to put on a great show are invariably dependent upon a bunch of dancers jumping over each other and a microphone that isn't turned on. I don't want to hear this nonsense that it's impossible to dance around and sing. It didn't stop the Temptations. It didn't stop Ike and Tina Turner. It didn't stop James Brown. When you come to see Kiss, you know that you're seeing the real deal -- something that has been proven time and time again."
On renewed meaning of songs:
"All of these songs are songs of victory, songs that celebrate winning. That we're here 40 years later and singing these songs is a source of incredible pride and accomplishment. Each one of those songs is a celebration of going against all odds, going against the critics and the people who didn't like us, and winning. These are the songs of a battle won. Going out on this 40th anniversary tour is a way for us to restate who we are, put our eight-inch heels firmly back on the ground, and let people know that the legend lives -- that everything they've heard remains true. This is a band unlike any other band, and you only have to come see us to know it."