KISS and Mötley Crüe team up for an 'intensely sweltering' tour

Aug 23, 2012 | Posted in News & Updates

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch
BY DANIEL DURCHHOLZ • Special to the Post-Dispatch

Tommy Thayer 2012

Guitarist Tommy Thayer of U.S rock band, KISS, performs on stage at the Kentish Town Forum, north London, Wednesday, July 4 , 2012, in aid of the charity Help For Heroes. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

MaybeKISS should have christened this tour “Hotter Than Hell Revisited.”

The band’s current set of shows, a co-headlining bill with Mötley Crüe, has been playing outdoor venues in blistering heat. Given the legendary group’s penchant for pyro, pancake makeup and leather outfits, the concept of rocking and rolling all night long seems physically challenging, to say the least.

“Every night has been intensely sweltering,” says KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. “I think the hottest was in Phoenix a week or two ago. It was a 105, 110 degrees when we were onstage. ... It was just the hottest, most intense show I’ve ever played, and everybody else in the band thought the same thing.”

And yet, KISS has persisted, prodded on somewhat by a friendly rivalry with the Crüe.

“It’s a healthy competition,” Thayer says. “And it’s not even a competition. It’s just a healthy vibe. We’ve all known each other for a long time. So the spirit is high, and everybody’s lovin’ it.”

Funny: “Healthy” is not a word often associated with Mötley Crüe.

“I know,” Thayer says with a laugh. “But surprisingly, these guys are great, and they’re all on top of their game right now. Their show is incredible.”

As for KISS, the challenge is in trying to top the larger-than-life spectacles the band has put on in the past.

“That is a challenge,” Thayer admits. “Everybody knows that the KISS show has its classic elements and songs. And if you don’t do those things, people are upset. So the challenge is to bring out a whole new stage show that’s exciting and more over-the-top than last time, but keep those classic elements in there, too.”

One new element to the show is the song “Hell or Hallelujah,” the lead single from KISS’ forthcoming album, “Monster,” which will be released in October.

“We’ve been tempted to play more, but we don’t want to give it away,” Thayer says. “This is the YouTube age.”

The album is a “100 percent band album," Thayer adds.

"We wrote all the songs — no outside writers," he says. "It’s like ‘Sonic Boom’ (2009), but this one takes it to another level.”

Thayer is still technically the new guy in KISS, though he’s been playing with the band since 2002 and was with the organization even before that. Drummer Eric Singer first signed on with KISS in 1991.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have fronted the band since its beginnings in the early '70s. Thayer admits he still can’t believe his good fortune in being asked to play with his heroes.

“When I’m going over to Paul’s house to write songs, I kind of pinch myself,” he says. “It’s like, ‘I’m writing songs with Paul Stanley!’ ‘Cause I grew up as a fan.”

As for KISS’ blustery bassist, Thayer makes a case for the Simmons most people don’t know.

“Well, he’s a very, very interesting guy, to say the least,” Thayer says. “He’s been a great person in my life and has given me a lot of opportunities. ... At the core of it, he’s a good guy, and he’s got a good heart. But he puts up a barrier and a wall with his shtick. He’s actually a very kind person, but most people don’t see that.”


When 7 p.m. Monday • Where Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights • How much $35-$135 • More info