TOMMY THAYER Says 'It's Crickets' When KISS Plays Lesser-Known Songs Live

May 19, 2017

Maggie Wright of Full Metal Rock conducted an interview with KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer prior to the band's May 7 show at Oslo Spektrum in Oslo, Norway. You can listen to the full chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On how the band approaches choosing songs for their live setlist:

Tommy: "That's always a challenge, because there's so much back material and so many records that have been recorded over the years. The first KISS record came out in 1974, so we're looking at forty-three, going on forty-four years now, that's a lot of material to choose from. And, of course, you have the classics and so many people are depending on hearing those songs and if you don't play them, they get pretty pissed off. Then there's die-hard fans, the purists, who want to hear the deeper cuts, we try to throw a few things in. But then again, the masses, it's crickets sometimes with some of those songs. It's a fine line. We try to balance it out the best we can."

On why KISS often doesn't play any material from their most recent studio album, 2012's "Monster":

Tommy: "Again, you've got the classic songs, and I'm going to be honest with you: Not as many people know the stuff that's on 'Monster', the most recent record that came out a couple of years ago. Just because, as you know, records aren't selling like they used to. The record business is in a huge decline. The sales aren't there. People aren't getting the new music as much. So I guess that's reflected when we decide on what songs to play."

On going up on one of KISS's many stage lifts:

Tommy: "Luckily, I don't have a fear of heights and that sort of thing. Paul [Stanley, guitar/vocals], actually gets a little shaky. He gets clammy hands when we come down at the beginning of the show. [Laughs] Going up on those lifts, you just have to have faith in the fact that they're really professionally put together and it's all really rehearsed and it's safe. That's the most important thing to begin with. You go up on those things the first few times and it's even higher when you get up there than it looks from where you're standing down below."

On getting comfortable being a part of KISS after formally replacing Ace Frehley in 2002:

Tommy: "By the time we toured the first year I was in the band, we were touring the U.S. and North America and we played shows like at Madison Square Garden. I remember being onstage, for instance, at the Garden, I'm thinking 'Oh My God. How did this happen?' It's kind of mind-blowing."

On whether his career path resembles the 2001 "Rock Star" movie that starred actor Mark Wahlberg:

Tommy: "It's a lot like that movie, actually. People have referenced that before. They say 'Your story, Tom, is a lot like that 'Rock Star' movie that Mark Wahlberg was in.' It's kinda like that. It's like a real-life version of that. I think that was based on the JUDAS PRIEST thing, [Tim] 'Ripper' Owens and his whole thing. He was a big fan and played in a tribute band and got to be in JUDAS PRIEST for a while. It's very interesting. When you put your mind to something, it's interesting how life evolves and reveals itself. People say 'Tommy, you're smart. You have this all planned.' Actually, I didn't. It all happened in a weird way, one thing leading to another. I didn't have a big long-term plan. I just loved doing it and being around the music business and being in bands. I just followed my passion and this is where it ended up, which is very cool."

On KISS's willingness to put its name on various merchandise:

Tommy: "It's interesting because KISS really is an enigma. KISS is a different band than your average-type band. Most bands, people say, 'Oh, where's your credibility? You can't do that kind of thing, or this, or 'Scooby-Doo'. Come on.' KISS, we can pull it off. We can do it."

KISS kicked off its month-long "KissWorld" tour on May 1 at the Olympijskiy Stadium in Moscow, Russia and has European dates scheduled through May 31 at London's O2 Arena.

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