An Oral History of Kiss’ ‘Destroyer’: ‘It’s a Miracle We’re Alive’

Kory Grow | Rolling Stone

When Paul Stanley thinks about Destroyer, Kiss‘ high-concept fourth album, turning 40, the only word he can summon at first is “unbelievable.” “It’s stunning,” the singer-guitarist tells Rolling Stone. And then he regains his humor. “To think that it was 40 years ago is absolutely mindboggling. Because I’m only 40 now.”

“It seems like yesterday,” drummer Peter Criss says. “I do believe, personally, that album was Kiss’s ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Let me overstep my bounds [laughs]. But I do believe it was our ‘wow’ album.”

 From the opening scene-setting radio broadcast foretelling a Kiss fan’s death before the anthemic “Detroit Rock City” to the album’s big-beat closer, “Do You Love Me?”, and impressionistic, avant-garde hidden track “Rock and Roll Party,” Destroyer proved that Kiss were more than costumed headbangers. It presented a wide swath of emotions, from the moving mega-ballad “Beth,” which won the People’s Choice Award that year, to the boot-stomping, blood-spitting “God of Thunder” to the R&B rave-up “Shout It Out Loud,” all of which became concert staples for the group. And even though the fantastical sleeve art presented the group, which also included vocalist-bassist Gene Simmons and guitarist Ace Frehley, as a jaunty foursome on aWizard of Oz–styled journey of destruction, the songs proved they reveled in positivity. It was a turning point.

The group recorded the LP in a couple of sessions with producer Bob Ezrin, whose prior credits at that time included smash records by Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Aerosmith. “We had done three albums, all that sold far less than what we expected,” Stanley says. “Then our manager, Bill Aucoin, gave us the idea of creating a sonic souvenir, almost like something you would bring home from the circus, a memento that captured what you had experienced. That became [1975’s] Alive! Finally, we’d had a hit. Bill said, ‘You could easily go back to where you were if we don’t come up with something that really ups the ante.’ He suggested we work with Bob Ezrin.”

The producer pushed the group to new heights, and helped them craft their commercial breakthrough. Although Alive! was the group’s first gold record, Destroyer was its first to sell a million copies in less than a year. It’s since been certified double-platinum.

To celebrate the legacy of the record, Rolling Stone spoke with Kiss’ four original members, as well as Ezrin and cover illustrator Ken Kelly.

“It’s a cinematic album,” Stanley says. “It’s an album that takes what was the norm and turns it into IMAX. The screen suddenly widened and what we were doing had such atmosphere.”

Kiss; Destroyer; 40
Kiss, circa 1977 Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Paul Stanley (vocals, guitar): I had met Bob, funny enough, in a stairwell in Toronto when we were doing a TV appearance.

Bob Ezrin (producer): It was at CITY-TV in Toronto. They were in full regalia with their seven-inch heels and their huge costumes. It was, like, a walking Mount Rushmore coming down the stairway at you. Paul was very charming and very pleasant. I just said to him, “Are you happy with your records?” And he said, “Yeah, why?” And I said, “Well, you know, if at any point you decide you’re not, I would love to work with you guys.”

Stanley: I was fairly cocky then, although quite honestly, I never liked the sound of our original albums, and to this day it mystifies me how the engineers and people we were working with couldn’t capture the live sound.

Ezrin: I don’t remember how much longer it was, maybe a year later, I got a phone call and was asked to go see the band play live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were playing to 9,000 or 10,000 pimply 15-year-old boys, who never sat down for the whole show. It was unbelievably energetic, exciting, theatrical, powerful and just fantastic. It was pure, balls-out, testosterone rock. What was missing for me was the broader audience. So after I told them I’d do the album, the underlying mission behind the record became that we were going to try and reach out to women, as well as young men, and we were going to try to expand past just heavy rock and into the world of pop.

Gene Simmons (vocals, bass): Destroyer was ultimately a major leap forward for us because of Bob Ezrin. We were basically a garage band. We were just knuckleheads, guys who turn it up to 11 just because we can. We didn’t know anything. We could barely tune our guitars. Before Destroyer, we just did what we did: We played, we wrote songs up to the level of our musicianship, and that was about it.

Ezrin: With our mission in place, we picked certain kinds of songs to do. We did a lot of the writing in New York City at Paul’s place, Gene’s place and my place. Continue reading

20 Things You Might Not Know about Kiss’ Destroyer

WMMS

On March 15th, 1976, Kiss released their fourth album, Destroyer, which means that today, the iconic record turns 40. We all know the effort is one of the band’s classics, but here are 20 things you might not know about it:

  1. Destroyer was certified platinum on November 11th, 1976, the band’s first album to ever achieve platinum status. It’s since gone on to be certified platinum a second time for sales over two-million units.

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  1. Destroyer was the band’s first album to spotlight outside musicians, including the Brooklyn Boys Chorus and members of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra.

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  1. The band started recording sessions for Destroyer at New York’s Electric Lady Studios on September 3rd, 1975. Their first demo was the Peter Criss-sung “Ain’t None of Your Business.” The song didn’t make the album, but was later sung by the group Detective, appearing on their 1977 debut.

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  1. Even though he is not credited, Dick Wagner, a guitarist from Alice Cooper’s band, replaced Ace Frehley on “Flaming Youth” and “Sweet Pain,” plus he played acoustic guitar on “Beth.” Ace reportedly wasn’t showing up consistently to recording sessions.

Read the rest HERE….

15 Years Ago: Eric Singer Replaces Peter Criss in Kiss Read More: 15 Years Ago: Eric Singer Replaces Peter Criss in Kiss

Ultimate Classic Rock

Steve-Jennings-Kevin-WinterOn March 9, 2001, Eric Singer began his second tour of duty with Kiss, performing while wearing the band’s famous “Catman” makeup for the first time at a show in Yokohama, Japan.

Original drummer Peter Criss‘ own second stint with the group, which began with the highly successful 1996 reunion tour, had ended acrimoniously a few months earlier, with Criss angrily destroying his drum kit during the last U.S. show of the original lineup’s farewell tour on Oct. 7, 2000.

Criss and Kiss were reportedly unable to come to terms on a contract extension that would enable him to perform on the 2001 Asian and Australian dates of the tour. So the band recruited Singer, who served as the group’s third drummer between 1991 and 1996, following the death of Eric Carr. (Singer and longtime guitarist Bruce Kulick then both stepped aside for the band’s full-makeup and costume reunion with Criss and original guitarist Ace Frehley.)

This final spate of 2001 Farewell Tour concerts, which began in Yokohama and ran for 15 dates through April 13 on the Gold Coast of Australia, mostly went off without a hitch. Still, the decision to have Singer wear Criss’ makeup (and two years later, to have current guitarist Tommy Thayer don Frehley’s “Spaceman” designs) caused some controversy among fans, and resulted in some sharp criticism from Criss.

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Kiss New Album To Be Recorded In 2016? Paul Stanley Feels Band Can Move Forward Without New Music!

Youth Health

Paul Kane

Paul Kane

It is expected that the legendary rock band “Kiss” might start working on their new album sometime later in 2016.

Band member Gene Simmons revealed in an interview last year that the band will start work on the new Kiss album some time in 2016.

“It will happen when we have time,” Simmons said, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. “I have music in me that needs to come out. I recently wrote a song called ‘Your Wish Is My Command.’ It feels like a Kiss song and it just needs to be released on a [new] Kiss album.”

“First we have to finish a whole slew of shows. That will take at least until the end of this year.”

The bassist said that the band members are planning about the new Kiss album and that band mate Paul Stanley will play the role of producer.

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Q&A: Ace Frehley

Matt Kelemen | Las Vegas Magazine

QA_Ace_Frehley_t1024Ace Frehley’s public profile may be at its highest since before he left KISS in the early ’80s. His 2014 album Space Invader cracked the top 10 on the Billboard 200, a heavy-rotation promo campaign for HBO’s Entourage used his 1978 solo track “New York Groove,” and an all-covers all-star album titled Origins Vol. 1 is highly anticipated among fans old and recent. Things have never been better for the nine-years-sober, clearheaded and down-to-Earth guitar hero, save for the lack of spare time to finish the follow-up to his 2011 autobiography No Regrets. He spoke recently to Las Vegas Magazine‘s Matt Kelemen.

How has the past week been, since you announced the upcoming release of your covers album?

Well, it’s been a flurry of excitement, you know? The biggest news is that Paul Stanley is singing on the record. All the KISS sites are buzzing over that news, and I think everybody’s going to love “Fire and Water” when the record comes out April 15th. All the other songs on there are just as strong. I’m really thrilled with the way the album came out, and Warren Huart, who mixed Space Invader, did a great job mixing this album. It’s going to be a very special record, I think.

I imagine your life has been a rollercoaster ride since the news dropped.

Yeah, I did a photo session Friday. That took five hours, a couple of thousand photographs. So I’ve been weeding through those this week and trying to get the best ones. I’ve been really busy, but I’m really excited about hitting the road. The tour kicks off in Houston on the 26th.

How much of the material from the covers album are you going to play on your upcoming tour?

We’re just going to do one of two songs, because nobody’s heard them. The only song people have heard is “White Room” and that’s one song I really can’t do live because I gotta play wah-wah on that and I can’t have pedals on the floor. I trip over them (laughs).

I didn’t expect you to play “White Room.” Maybe the Thin Lizzy song (“Emerald”) or “Cold Gin,” which might give Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready an opportunity to guest with you.

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Me and my guitar: Ace Frehley

Rob Laing | Music Radar

The original Spaceman talks us through one of the initial run of Les Paul Customs Gibson’s Custom Shop built for him.

Ace Frehley’s Origins Vol. 1 album will be released on 15 April via Entertainment One Music, featuring guest appearances from Slash, Mike McCready and John 5 on covers of classics by artists including Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Thin Lizzy and The Rolling Stones.

ACE FREHLEY Performs In Dallas

Blabbermouth

JAM Magazine has uploaded video footage of original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley performing live at the Bomb Factory in Dallas, Texas on February 28. Check out the clip below.

Frehley will release “Origins Vol. 1”, a collection of twelve newly recorded classics from Ace‘s formative years featuring some of the biggest names in rock and roll, on April 15. Most notably, KISS frontman Paul Stanley joins Ace on FREE‘s hit “Fire And Water”. This collaboration marks the first time that Ace and Paul appear on the same studio recording since KISS‘s 1998 reunion album “Psycho Circus”. Other guests are none other than Slash trading leads on THIN LIZZY‘s classic “Emerald”, Lita Ford singing and playing lead on THE TROGGS staple “Wild Thing”, ROB ZOMBIE guitarist John 5 playing guitar alongside Ace as he sings his classic KISS composition “Parasite” for the very first time, as well as Jimi Hendrix‘s “Spanish Castle Magic”, and PEARL JAM‘s Mike McCready also plays guitar with Ace as he finally sings his KISS “Alive!” mainstay “Cold Gin”. “White Room” is also an iTunes instant gratification track, meaning fans who pre order the LP on iTunes will receive the CREAM cover song instantly.

Paul Stanley of Kiss proves he has plenty of soul in San Juan Capistrano

Robert Kinsler | OC Register

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 12.12.27 PMIt’s no surprise there were plenty of Kiss fans on hand at the Coach House on Friday night to catch the local debut of singer-guitarist Paul Stanley’s new group dubbed Soul Station. But what may have been a bit surprising to some unschooled members of the capacity crowd was not only the complete lack of any KISS classics in the set list, but the fact that “the Starchild” performed sans makeup and never even touched a guitar during the 90-minute performance.

The good news is the 64-year-old hard rocking icon’s performance was very good and made for a fun-filled night of music courtesy of his outstanding backing 12-member ensemble, Soul Station. Stanley and company crackled life into more than a dozen soul and Motown classics in versions that featured arrangements mostly faithful to the studio versions while gaining an additional edge played live.

Opening with a rousing version of the Temptations’ “Get Ready,” this was a performance where every song covered was a bona fide classic. As Stanley noted after the opener: “Tonight’s about a lot of the music I grew up loving.”

Stanley used his falsetto as the instrument of choice throughout most of the night, generally able to hit all the high notes associated with iconic ballads – the Delfonics’ “La-La (Means I Love You),” an especially impressive take on the Miracles’ “Ooo Baby Baby” – and uptempo soul standards, such as Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” Stanley even showed off some dance moves on Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

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Rock & Brews Restaurant to be part of new redevelopment of LA airport

LA Biz

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 12.21.56 PMRetail development company Westfield said it has completed the first phase of of a $508 million redevelopment of Terminal 1 Los Angeles International Airport, which introduces Southwest Airlines customers to new retail and dining brands.

The overhaul comes on the heels of the grand opening of Terminal 2 at LAX and was spearheaded by Southwest (NYSE: LUV) and LAX operator Los Angeles World Airports. Westfield is developing a dining and retail collection featuring 24 destinations and promises a “reimagined experience with a hip, modern California feel.”

The first of three phases includes the opening of six retailers, including Rock & Brews, a restaurant from Kiss front men Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley; Be Relax, which provides massage, nail and facial services; retailer Brookstone; gift shop I Love L.A.; surfwear shop Sol Surf; and candy store Treat Me Sweet.
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In addition, Southwest is upgrading the customer gate areas, giving the terminal a fresh new look while providing more efficient customer service.
“Together with Southwest Airlines and LAWA, we’re creating a new energy and vibe and a more holistic customer experience,” Keith Kaplan, Westfield’s vice president at LAX, said in a statement. “We’re bringing the terminal to life by activating gate areas and engaging customers with a unique design, inviting sightlines and integrated dining and retail.”

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