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Paul Stanley Talks Stage Presence, Photography, and Reconnecting with Ace Frehley

If you want the best rock 'n' roll concert in Arizona this summer, you'll have to travel south. Rock legends Kiss kick off their 'Freedom To Rock" tour at AVA Amphitheater in Tucson on the same day we celebrate America's independence. Nothing says Fourth of July like a Kiss, right? Lame puns aside, the band has been very supportive of Wounded Warrior Project over the years, and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the charity, which is surely in the spirit of the holiday. We recently caught up with guitarist Paul Stanley and discussed tour preparation, giving the photographers what they want, reconnecting with original lead guitarist Ace Frehley, and one of the best YouTube videos to ever exist.

New Times: You're starting your summer tour in Tucson on the Fourth of July; how do you prepare for a tour these days?
Paul Stanley: The same way I prepare for every week. You go and make sure you're in the best shape you can be. Once you suit up, you've got a lot more on the line. I not only have to be great, but I have to exceed people's memories of what Kiss is and what they remember. For me, it's not about competing against other bands; it's about competing with the legacy and the history of this band. To do that is something that is a part of my DNA. I'm not a fanatic, but I'm certainly working out every week regardless of a tour. But maybe I put the pedal down a little harder before a tour starts.

Do you guys have actual rehearsals at this point in your career, or or do you know the material pretty well by now?
Despite knowing the material, we would no more go out onstage without rehearsal than somebody would go into the ring to fight the fight of their life without training in the gym. You don't do that; it's not going to give the best results and for us. We have so much on the line. We have this history that people are so connected to, and I think it's always been our obligation and commitment to not only live up to what people will remember but to exceed it. That's a pretty big challenge. It's not to be taken lightly; it's always a matter of training and working with the band to make sure that we're at our best.

You've been in Kiss for 40 years and you've been playing these songs forever; how do you keep it exciting not only for yourself but also for the fans?
Life is exciting, and I hope that's contagious. I'm having a ball, and every time I hit the stage it's a victory lap. At this point, we've made our point and we won. For me, those songs are classics. For me, we've created something iconic, and I'm not only in the band but I'm a fan of the band, so for me to see the band and hear us playing and to see the fervor of the audience — how could I not be excited? It's an amazing position to be in, and one I don't take lightly, and one that I celebrate every time I hit the stage.

Visually, the image of the band made you guys larger-than-life characters. Your interaction with photographers during your shows is like no band I've ever shot before. Is that interaction something that's always been important to you?
I tend to say "I'm not a ham; I'm the whole pig." I enjoy it (as do all of us), making sure the photographers get what they want. Because when we give them what they want, the people get what they want. It's just a way to channel something to the fans. It's a source of getting our images and what we're all about to our fans. You can't fake that. What you see in those photos is real. It's psychical, it's sweaty, it's not necessarily easy, but it's joyous. To disregard the photographers is to disregard our audience because our audience wants those photos, our audience wants to see us, so to snub the photographers or to ignore them is to ignore an aspect of what our fans want, and we're about giving our fans what they desire.

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