Gene Simmons Addresses Paul Stanley’s Songwriting Skills

In a recent Q&A, KISS’ Gene Simmons talked about the creative process of their 1976 album, ‘Destroyer.’ While discussing the songwriting, he praised his bandmate Paul Stanley’s talent in writing lyrics and compared their skills.

KISS achieved remarkable success with their ‘Alive’ live album in 1975. It was considered a breakthrough in live albums because it successfully captured the band’s performance and the atmosphere in their live shows. It received gold certifications in the United States and Canada and was released as their fourth album, and was more successful than the previous three studio albums; ‘Kiss,’ ‘Hotter Than Hell,’ ‘Dressed to Kill.’

Hence, it was difficult for the band to beat ‘Alive’s success with new studio work, the expectations of the critics and the fans were high, and they were more under pressure than ever. Being at the peak of their career, the band wasn’t going to allow their new album to cause their downfall in the industry, so they had to work very hard to create ‘Destroyer.’

The bassist, Gene Simmons, recently addressed the pressures in the making of ‘Destroyer’ and talked about songwriting. Paul Stanley was the primary lyricist of KISS, but Simmons’ contributions were not a lot less. The bassist stated that Stanley has always been more in control of what he was doing, and since the next album was very important, Stanley showed commitment and focus on producing something worthwhile.

While Simmons also contributed to the album, he stated that Stanley beat him because he was more organized. Simmons wrote songs whenever they came to him but Stanley committed to the process and came up with things in a more technical way.

Here is how Simmons praised Stanley’s songwriting skills:

“Well, I have to tell you the strengths of Paul as a songwriter – he’s always been much more focused than I am. ‘We needed this kind of a song and that kind of a song.’ And he’d sit down and bang it outright! And I remember at the beginning, when we first started, we were always constantly talking about vibe and song titles and what kind of songs and lyrics should be in the band.

And I said, ‘I’m going to write a song called ‘Black Diamond,’ sort of a next-door cousin to ‘Brown Sugar,’ about a girl who walks the streets, ‘Black Diamond’/’Brown Sugar,’ who’s got sauce and grease on her…’ At any rate, what happened was – Paul beat me to the punch. He wrote the song right away because he was focused. I, on the other hand, just meander like a rat going through a maze not knowing where I’m going.

So I write all kinds of material, things that sound Beatle-esque, things that sound semi-pop or jazzy, and stuff like that. So coincidentally, some of that material wound up on ‘Destroyer,’ like ‘Great Expectations,’ which I just wrote because it came. And so, I don’t know if I answered your question, but I love the sound of my own voice.”

‘Destroyer’ came out in March 1976 and received a remarkable amount of success that paid off their hard work and Stanley’s determination. It was the first KISS album to receive a Platinum certification in the US and was remembered as the album that the band matured with. In their previous studio albums, KISS had a more raw sound, whereas, in this one, they showed what more they are capable of, which reflected in their future successful career.