You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world....I don't think that introduction needs to be finished without knowing what band made that quote the calling card of their career. Having sold millions of albums and touring the world relentlessly for the majority of the past four decades, while fronting the legendary band KISS, Paul Stanley could easily relax, retire, and enjoy the success he has achieved during his career. What more success could he achieve and how would that success be defined? If you're Paul Stanley, success is what makes you happy. Success is LIVE TO WIN - Paul Stanley's first solo release away from KISS in 28 years and it is the end result of his burning desire to create new music that has his personal philosophy stamped all over it. LIVE TO WIN grabs you by the ears and smacks a smile on your face. If you're a fan of KISS, you won't be disappointed. LIVE TO WIN picks up where the KISS hits left off. Having just welcomed a new addition to the Stanley family (Paul and his wife recently celebrated the arrival of their first son) and getting ready to hit the road in support of his new solo release, Paul checked in with the RAG to give a little insight into his philosophy of LIVE TO WIN.
RAG - Why did you decide to release a solo release at this point in your career? Some people may argue the point of why not just release a KISS release...
Paul Stanley - I've already done KISS. I'm sure people are aware of that. The truth is that for a long time, while everybody else was running off doing other projects outside of KISS, I've always felt kind of like the keeper of the flame in KISS. I didn't feel the band might not be impacted tremendously by me also going off and doing things. I just kind of figured that when the time is right I'll do it. For the time being, I let everybody else run off and do everything else they feel like doing. At this point, it really felt like KISS is as solid as ever. I felt that it was time for me to do an album of my own and it's an oppurtunity to really do something to please myself.
RAG - LIVE TO WIN is comprised of a great mix of heavy rocking songs and a couple of slow tunes in there. I think people will be surprised at how much LIVE TO WIN rocks. Going into writing mode for the release did you entertain the thought of steering your writing towards the heavier songs? Did you feel that you had to come up with songs that at least matched or surpassed songs that you have been well known for?
PS - I didn't aim for anything. I was aware that if I did an album that sounded like my first solo album someone would say that it sounds too much like my first album or he hasn't grown at all. Then I was also aware that if I did an album that didn't sound like my first album, someone would say it doesn't sound like the first album and he's trying to do something new. You're damned if you and damned if you don't. None of that stuff is of any interest to me. It's all part of LIVE TO WIN. I don't listen to what other people have to say. I set my goals for myself and that is all that matters. People who say I shouldn't, couldn't, that it's impossible, or if it's the right or wrong direction, etc. - none of that matters to me. It's only about me pleasing myself.
RAG - Was it easier writing songs then without having any restrictions of meeting a certain criteria of say writing songs for KISS? Was there more freedom to expose yourself in the songs a little more?
PS - I would like to think that anything I write has some of me in it. You have to put some of yourself into it. There's alot of songs on this album that are very much about me. I'm either singing about my philosophy of life and philosophy that's gotten me to where I am. ...or I'm singing about relationships with women. (laughing) Two big parts of my life!
RAG - Are you itching to get back out playing live on the road and back into the clubs doing your own thing? (The last time Paul toured as a solo act was back in 1989)
PS - Totally. I'm so excited about getting out there. There's something about playing live. There's something about being free to play whatever I feel like playing. As much as I love the KISS situation, being in a band means compromising and sometimes I think it also means diluting. So the focus of my upcoming tour is purely me and what I want to do. It doesn't have the down points of being in a band.
RAG - What was your decision in choosing to have the ROCKSTAR house band serve as your backing band for your upcoming tour?
PS - We had watched that show last year and quite honestly the thing that blew me away on that show was the band. I would watch it and anybody I know had nothing but good things to say about the band. I always thought from the first time I saw that band that that was the band I would want to work with.
RAG - Will the live setlist be heavy on your solo material?
PS - I'm going to play songs from both solo albums. Additionally, I'm going to play songs from KISS because those are also my songs. Those songs are part of what got me to where I am. They are the foundation of everything else I have done. It's funny - when someone says "Will you play KISS songs?", I have to remind them that they are KISS songs in the sense that KISS played them but they are songs that I wrote. I would be doing myself and everyone else an injustice to not play "Love Gun" or "Detroit Rock City" and to not play some KISS songs that have been overlooked that I enjoy and maybe have never been played live.
RAG - What is your opinion on LIVE TO WIN? Are you happy with the songs you came up with?
PS - What I tried to do was make sure that everything on the album is songs that I wanted to hear. I didn't put anything on the album that I wasn't really 100 percent sold on. When doing a solo album, you really get to cater to your desire or your own taste. I just figured that if I made the album I wanted to hear - other people would like it. Whether it sells 5 copies, 5000 copies, 50 thousand copies, or 5 million copies, it really doesn't matter. It won't change my life actually. It's something I wanted to do and again it's part of living to win and the fact of making the album I wanted to make. So, I'm happy.
RAG - Is LIVE TO WIN a stepping stone to more solo releases in the future? PS - For sure. I promise you I'm not going to try to do one solo album every 28 years. P - Alot of people look at KISS as a touring act, and not an act that is still producing albums. LIVE TO WIN gives those people something viable to grasp on to...
PS - I hope so. I feel great about it and it's a really good reflection of what I'm doing. You can't please everybody and I don't intend to. I don't try to.
RAG - On a side note, you received some positive critical reviews of your performance in Phantom of the Opera. Any chance of revisiting that role or taking on any other roles?
PS - Of course. It's always a matter of time and whether that time is available. You have to have a show that would like you to come into it and you also have to have the desire to do it. I've turned down shows because to do it right is alot of effort and if I don't believe in something, I don't believe in doing it. I'm a big believer in anything that I do I will win at and I want to do it to the best of my abilities. I would love to do more and I intend on doing more. It's just a matter of finding the time and finding the right project.
Paul Stanley's new release LIVE TO WIN is out now on New Door Records/Universal Music Enterprises. For more information log onto www.PaulStanley.com