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KISS Still a Monster 40 Years Later

Canadians have always embraced KISS.

In the shock rock band’s early days, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were playing rooms a far cry from the arenas and stadiums they are now known to fill with pyro and solid rock thunder.

“Canada has always been great to us,” Stanley said in a recent interview with The Vancouver Sun. “Our first tour included lunch rooms and cafeterias of schools in Edmonton and Calgary when nobody knew who we were. So we’ve always had a great time, whether it’s in Moncton, Sudbury, Lethbridge — places where people go, ‘What are you doing here?’ and we say, ‘You don’t decide where you’re born but we decide where we play.’”

Forty years later and with a 20th studio album in tow — the old school, Detroit-style rocker Monster — little has changed about KISS’s philosophy: Rock and roll all night, party every day.

Doing so, KISS continues to offer a fan-oriented experience like no other band can, a recipe that has generated millions of KISS Army members, and licensing and merchandising revenue like few acts on the planet boast.

Celebrating the kickoff of its latest Canadian tour with a press conference at its KISS Army Depot pop-up store at Vancouver’s Tom Lee Music, KISS was staking its claim that fans have always craved the merch.

“The whole idea with the KISS Army Depot was to let the fans run their own store,” Stanley said. “It’s a guerrilla store, so-to-speak. It circumvents the big business and it allows the fans to have the say of where it goes.”

A number of the pop-up stores have appeared across the country in some of the cities where the band will be stopping: Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary — even though the recent flooding has forced the band to cancel its performance — and Toronto.

“Our sympathy goes to anybody who has to live through a natural disaster,” Stanley said of the Calgary cancellation during the band’s press conference Thursday. “Calgary is a great example of the resilience people have. We stand with them and, as soon as we can, we will be going back to try to cheer everybody up a bit.”

If in 1973 KISS’s brand of hyper-sexualized, overly macho rock draped in leather costumes and trademark symbolic characters makeup were made to shock — Stanley’s Starchild, Simmons’ Demon, Frehley’s Spaceman and Criss’ Cat Man — today the band is an instantly recognized and respected entity.

“The media said, ‘They are cannibals, they’re from outer space.’ We ignored all that stuff,” Simmons said. “That’s all kid’s stuff — do what you and don’t worry about what people think or say or anything. When we started out, we played our instruments, we wrote our songs — we got on stage and we were who we were.”

“It was shocking when we first started out because it was new,” Stanley said. “You had the magician pulling the rabbit out of the hat. Ultimately, you have to have content. Maybe the shock value is gone, but now it’s a monument, an institution. It’s something that’s lasted 40 years.”

Read more of the Ottawa Citizen article by clicking HERE.

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