Paul Stanley Recalls His Move To Save KISS


Paul Stanley joined an interview on Howie Mandel Does Stuff and talked about the reason behind KISS’s image change and how it saved the band.

KISS became one of the most prominent rock bands of the ’70s by breathing a new life into the scene with their unique makeup, costumes, and elaborate live performances. The band members’ first appearance with their extravagant clothes and masks was in 1973, which marked the establishment of the band’s signature look for most of their careers. However, for a period of time, they took a different path and the members didn’t wear makeup from 1983 to 1995.

During this ‘unmasked’ period, ‘Lick It Up’ received good feedback. They were still able to remain successful in the music scene, even without their trademarked looks. While their image is considered the real secret to the band’s success, Ace’s distinctive solo technique, Stanley’s expertise in vocals, and Gene’s virtuosity on bass allowed KISS to still impress their fans, albeit with a different profile. They returned with their original line-up in 1996 and brought back their iconic image.

The founding and constant member of the band, Paul Stanley, talked about KISS’ ‘unmasked period’ to Howie Mandel in an interview he participated. Stating that the main reason for them to change their stage image was to ‘save the band,’ the vocalist also stated that this was not a very conscious behavior. The vocalist said that the band had a decline at that time and they took off the makeup to survive. He also said that if they couldn’t survive without makeup in this period, they wouldn’t deserve to survive anyway.

Here are Paul Stanley’s views on the issue:

“Taking off the makeup, some people may say it was brilliant, it really came down to… we didn’t have any choice. The band was waning at best, I mean, our sales were way way down and we put out a great album with the makeup on and it was clear to me that people were listening with their eyes, and also, we had changed to members and came up with new makeup. It became that to me was disingenuous.

I think that having Tommy and Eric, who’s been in the band for over 20 years… Eric’s been in and out of the band for over 25 years. Having them wear the original makeup is more genuine to me than coming up with new characters. You know, what do you want, turtle boy, you know, snail man [laughs].

So, that [to take it off] was like… We get a lot of credit for being a lot brighter than we are, it really was a move to try to survive. If we couldn’t survive without the makeup, we didn’t deserve to survive.”

You can listen to the full interview on Youtube below.