INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY THAYER by Christopher Lee
Photos by: Brian Lowe, Steve Jennings, Al Soluri, Scott Legato, Hab Haddad, © KISS Catalog Ltd.
It's not everyday, more like every "100,000 Years" that Crypt Magazine gets a chance to interview a member of one of rock n' roll's most legendary and enduring acts, so when we were granted such an oppurtunity, we wasted no time! HERE is an exclusive interview with none other than Tommy Thayer of "the hottest band in the world" KISS where the loquacious Christopher Lee got the inside scoop on what drove the band to make such a "Monster" as the upcoming 20th studio album due in October! It's "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll"! What can we say, we risk life and limb, working day and night to bring you quality music journalism that the other's can't, won't, or just plain don't, and Chris Lee think's he's "Goin' Blind"!
Crypt: Good morning Tommy!
Tommy: Good morning...
Crypt: Where are on planet earth are you? New York?
Tommy: No, we are in Philadelphia still.
Crypt: So when did the KISS/Motley Crue tour end, a few days ago?
Tommy: No, no, we are still finishing it actually, we have 3 more shows in America this weekend, tonight, tomorrow, and the next date. And then uh, we have a few days off then we go down to Mexico and do one show with them in Mexico city, and then play Monterey, Mexico on our own a night or two later, and then thats it for the KISS/Motley tour, which has gone by so fast it surprises us how fast it went.
Crypt: Well it sounds like it's been going great, cause if not, it would probably seem to drag on forever!?
Tommy: Oh yeah, it's been a fun tour, all the show's have been great!
Crypt: I saw the Irvine show in August, I noticed when you guys performed "Lick It Up" at that show, though you probably did it the whole tour, whose idea was it to go into the middle portion of The Who classic "Won't get Fooled Again" in the middle of "Lick It Up"!? I absolutely went nuts when you guys started playing it, I personally thought that was absolutely brilliant!
Tommy: Well you know, I think it just evolved that way, I think originally when we were doing "Lick It Up" we went into that, you know, that finger picking part that I do that "na na na na na" (mimic's guitar riff), and I think we used to do that, and we didn't do The Who thing, and then we just did the uh, kind of the finger picking part, just kind of a little breakdown and Paul would kinda go into this ya know, "I want you" audience rap, and then I think it evolved, just eventually, he just started doing that "Won't Get Fooled Again" line and then we felt it just happened spontaneously. Allot of things happen that way actually, its not like we plan it all out at first, it just evolved into that from something else (laughs). But we were partly doing that thing and then it just evolved into The Who thing and then it became a whole "thing", ya know? It wasn't even planned, it kind of evolved that way naturally.
Crypt: I loved it, it reminded me of the 96' reunion tour, because every night once that song came on through the house PA, you knew KISS would be onstage in a matter of minutes! So now that Monster is finished, what do you think of the album?
Tommy: I think its a high water mark for us Monster, uh, its coming out in a couple of weeks, and we couldn't be more excited, more proud of a great studio record than this one! Ya know, its been a long time coming, we actually finished the record probably 6 or 8 months ago, but its just taken a long time for the release schedule, putting the deal together with Universal, and then also we did the Kiss/Motley tour, so we didn't want to drop the record right at the beginning of that. We wanted it to have its own kind of place, ya know, instead of just being part of the KISS/Motley tour which was great. So anyway, ya know, we're super excited about it, and uh, its really a bonafide "BAND" record, band made, band produced, by Paul Stanley, and uh, we did it all ourselves which is very gratifying, because it kind of reminds you of when you were a young band in the garage starting out, and we approached it the same ways you did back then. You wrote tunes on your own just with the guys, you rehearse them, and then you play them live, or ya know, work an arrangement or go record them, and there was no other people involved, like an outside producer, or an outside writer, or, even the record label didn't have any input in terms of what kind of direction or what kind of songs they should be, or "we're missing a radio song" or a single, none of that. We just did it with no agenda, its very organic and true to the heart!
Crypt: I agree, Monster sounds very natural, ya know I have always thought that there's a certain little, that even though Gene & Paul are like brothers, there is still a "healthy competition", as far as which guy can pull off a better song. I've always felt like the two of them have a little bit of that, would you agree?
Tommy: Yeah I was gonna say, uh, I think thats part of the dynamic of KISS, Gene & Paul obviously are brothers, they have been together for a long time, and very successful, they continue on, they have that longevity and history together. But they are 2 completely different personalities, and I think it's that edge between the personalities, and maybe a little competition too, is the thing that drives ya know, the performance and the uh, it drives the whole thing a bit and I think your right about that. That's definitely part of the dynamic!
Crypt: Cause personally I think Paul is usually the better songwriter, the better performer, even though Gene is amazing too, BUT if there was any record where all the Gene songs pretty much ate all the Paul songs, this is probably the record! Gene is on fire! I thought "Out Of This World" and "Wall Of Sound" are very memorable, and "The Devil Is Me" is amazing, classic Gene! The first time I heard them I just yelled "WOW"! They just sound great!
Tommy: Ya know, the key to real success in a band is great collaboration, and to have a great collaboration you have to be comfortable, and you need to respect the other people that you are working with, that your in the band with, and feel comfortable, and also like I said, want do it. The collaboration on the song writing and even in the recording process, even though Paul's the producer, and he's driving the car, its good to have 4 guys who are all comfortable collaborating and open. I've been in bands where that just doesn't really happen naturally in that situation. I'm sure there's allot of bands out there, where ya know, you hear stories, and because of the the tension in the band, they can't, ya know, easily collaborate or be open to suggestions and things like that, because it's too difficult personality wise (laughs). Again, in this situation, everyone's so comfortable and everybody truly wants to hear what the other person has to say, and its a great environment for creativity.
Crypt: Well bands start off as a gang, and the dynamic always changes, whether you make it or not, the same forces that brought you together seem to tear it apart. Referring to a previous band of yours, I always thought you guys were a very tight unit, like a brotherhood, cause despite the mainstream success, there were never any lineup changes, you guys never strayed from the course.
Tommy: Well we were, especially in the beginning, uh, but then things become convoluted, I'm talking about Black N Blue, after several years, personalities change and people get frustrated, and uh, maybe certain people are doing drugs, drinking, or doing things things are not conducive. It got messed up towards the end too, that's part of why we broke up, but its not uncommon, I mean, it happens to many, many bands that way, uh, the outside influences come in and people's egos, insecurities, and it creates a complete negative environment that sometimes you just can't overcome. In previous versions of KISS I've seen it too, I was there (laughs)!
Crypt: I can imagine...
Tommy: But it's unfortunate that it happens more often than not.
Crypt: Of course because there are lots of artists who let all the trappings blur their vision, and then there are guys like Gene who denounce drugs and are all business...because it took allot of hard work to get where they are and they know better than to blow it!
Tommy: Yeah exactly, ya know, and in this situation, we're all at a point in our lives where every one of us, all 4 of us, are completely, ya know, thank god that we're where we are and so fortunate. Ya know, you need to respect that and carry on with a great attitude cause we're so blessed, so fortunate to be in this position in the first place!
Crypt: Let's change gears here, so what do you think of Gene's acting abilities!? Like when you first saw Runaway or Never Too Young To Die?
Tommy: I think Gene's a pretty, I think he's a very talented actor, and I was always impressed when he was in movies, ya know, even when he's on TV I thought that their TV show was always impressive because there's something about him that drew people in and there was, ya know, a positivity, a certain kind of good feeling about it, cause their all good people and the kids are great, so I've always admired Gene in that respect.
Crypt: Gene is very "outre", an old Hungarian word I learned from an interview he did in the 90's describing Lon Chaney, me and my brothers still recite some of his lines in "Runaway".
Crypt: Going back to Monster, what would be your favorite song on the album!?
Tommy: Ha ha ha! Well I love allot, I mean, I love 'em all in different ways, I was really happy with the approach and the recording, the sound, the guitar tones, and the solo's I'm completely happy with, and uh, very happy that we came up with good stuff. Favorite songs maybe "Long Way Down", "Out Of This World", "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll", "Wall Of Sound", ya know I co-wrote allot of these, so they're all kind of uh, I'm close to all of them.
Crypt: Well just like Sonic Boom, the album has the vintage KISS trademarks bringing together both elements of 70's and the 80's KISS styles, so is that Eric Singer on "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll"? He sounds great!
Tommy: Yeah that's Eric singing, Paul wrote the song, the thing I love about that song, it's one of those bonafide classic rock n' roll songs.
Crypt: Yeah it has a definite rhythm and blues classic rock n roll feel to it.
Tommy: Yeah, it has a great timeless sound to it, I think the song will stick around for a long time and will be very popular.
Crypt: Do you guys plan on shooting a video for "Hell Or Hallelujah"?
Tommy: Ha ha! I haven't heard any plans to do a video for "Hell Or Hallelujah" right now, ya know, doing videos these days for bands, for rock n' roll bands...
Crypt: Is kinda pointless?
Tommy: Yes, pointless and a waste of time because, where do ya play it? We'd rather just go out and play great live shows and people see us for real, that makes more sense.
Crypt: so when does the album come out?
Tommy: Um, I think its October 9th.
Crypt: And what touring plans do you have for Monster, when does KISS plan on attacking the US?
Tommy: Ha ha! Well, nothing in stone yet but uh, 2013 is gonna be another big year for KISS just like 2012 was, ya know, especially with Monster coming out in October here, we got allot of touring, and allot of playing to do, we're gonna cover allot of area doing it.
Crypt: You are going to be very busy!
Tommy: Oh yeah! I look forward to it.
Crypt: Cause I remember when KISS had the exclusive deal with WalMart for Sonic Boom, along with the KISS corner, a few stores in Florida I frequented didn't have the record the day of it's release. And that is why the record debuted at #2 when it should have been a guaranteed #1 for the band finally! I was shocked! And I think its time to start a campaign among KISS fans on the internet to get the word out about Monster, so there's no misunderstanding this time, and we the fans, give you, a #1 record! Because KISS is longgg overdue! It's about damned time, I'm with Gene when he says "fuck the rock n' roll hall of fame, I'll buy it"!
A #1 record speaks very loudly to the critics!
Tommy: Ha ha! Well, we're gonna be pushing hard and I think that this record will debut very high and hopefully it will be a #1, we'll see what happens! Things will be different this time.
Crypt: Well, I will have a review of Monster up to coincide with this interview, but it won't be easy, because you can't objectively review a record by one of your favorite bands with 2 paragraphs! You guys are the last of the greats, whose left to worship after KISS!?
Tommy: Ha ha ha! Your great Chris, I sure appreciate that!
Crypt: Well Tommy thanks for taking the time to do this, I wish you guys the best of luck with the album and look forward to seeing what new surprises the ultimate live rock n' roll band has in store for the new year! Here's to a #1 record!
Tommy: You got it! Thanks again!© 2012 Crypt Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
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