Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on Their New Arena Football Team

This week, our cover story profiled Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS before they officially launch their new arena football team, the LA KISS inside the Honda Center this month. It's been a big year for KISS. Outside of owning their own AFL team, they've been inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, an honor they do not take lightly. This interview took place before the controversy surrounding the band's decision not to play in at the ceremony, so any of those questions weren't addressed. Not every tidbit from the interview made the main piece, so here are some of our favorite moments from the story that were left on the cutting room floor (including an episode of road rage Paul Stanley experienced while driving home from Anaheim).

See also: Our cover story on L.A. KISS


OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): Were you worried when you used Los Angeles instead of Anaheim to face backlash similarly to the Angels?

Paul Stanley:
The last thing we want to do is come in and play in an arena and not be part of the neighborhood. Whether it's outreaching to children's hospitals or to community service, we are about Anaheim. We're also about Los Angeles. Historically, where a team plays isn't the identification of where that team plays. We are of this neighborhood and we've already shown that to be the case and we'll continue to be that way. The Ducks are our neighbors and good buds.

What is the team going to do differently as opposed to other AFL teams?

PS: Part of the contract with the LA KISS players, they stay to meet the fans. It's not “nice to see ya, hope you enjoyed the game” and they're gone, we want to show appreciation. We want to be the people's team. KISS is the people's band. We've always gone against the grain. I liken the team to an outlaw team and I liken the dancers to outlaw dancers. We play by our own rules, but we are of the community. And when you identify with the players – and you will because you will get to know them – you'll be fascinated.

What do you expect from your players?

Gene Simmons: Don't do the wacky stuff at the clubs. You don't have to go to church every day, but you gotta be smart about it. Be great on the outside and be great on the inside.

What does it mean to you for the team to wear you colors and name?

You have to understand, this is something we built since we lived at home. When that logo was created, I was living at my parents' house. When we first started out, we'd go home after a gig to our parents' homes. This is something we hold dear to us. To put the KISS name and logo on something, we have to be very, very comfortable and feel like it promote and reflect well on us. Like us or not, we play fair. People ask me, “How will you know if the team is good?” I say it's if we win. That's the bottom line and if they don't win, they're aspiring to do so every day.
How does playing in a band compare to owning a team?

PS: The way people see touring is as a cartoon. The rock star lifestyle, being covered with tattoos, pins in your nose, that's a joke. The only way you last as long as we have is by taking what you do deadly seriously and putting pride into it. We have so much pride in what we do and that's what we want to bring to the team. We want guys who know the AFL is misunderstood and that it doesn't exist.

GS: If we had tattoos and razorblades in our eyeballs, just came out of rehab, skirted death and then you got stories from flipped off death and you get covers all that stuff. There's no reason why you can't be a mensch and a rock star. We make our own rules, which is what rock is supposed to be all about.

Why did the Arena League fail the first time?

PS: It imploded under it's own weight by trying to be something that it's not. AFL is not the NFL. That was in a sense, not the kiss of death, a good spoonful of poison. All of that has been remedied and rectified, and we're going to go full speed ahead.

What are you going to do differently for the halftime show?

PS: Do you really want to see a guy dressed up as a hamster running around on the field? That's not entertainment. We're going to make sure we combine the best aspects of the best shows. We want to bring something extra to the sport. AFL has been overlooked.

Were you guys always football fans?

GS: Football is THE American pastime. Everybody talks about baseball, but nothing touches the Super Bowl. You don't even have to be a football fan; it's in your face all the time. This is different. What we're going to be shining the spotlight on is the masses. This isn't a sports story – it includes sports and we're going to be on ESPN – but the reason the reality show is here is so that people should go to our game and have the time of their lives. It's like going to the Olympics. You're not quite sure of what's going on, but the spectacle of it, that's what we're going to do.

PS: You can hate the band, but love the team. They exist on their own.

What does being inducted in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame mean to you guys?

PS: The beauty of receiving membership into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame that's most gratifying about it is that we never kissed ass, we never changed who we are to get accolades or get approval. To me, the rock n' roll spirit means you do what you like regardless of what the critics says, but what your peers say. You follow your own path. That's what we've done. In essence, the criteria that kept us out of the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame is the exact same criteria that's gotten us in. We changed not one iota. We're the same band we've always been.

GS: When I was a kid, I came in at the tail end of it, but Elvis (Presley) was roundly lambasted. But I'll never forget an album cover that I saw at 82nd St. and Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, Queens half a block away from the subway station in a record store. I walked in, and The Beatles had just come out and all of that stuff and there was a big blow-up of an Elvis album and the title of it said 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong. I just went, respectfully, fuck you critics. It just said “Wow” and if we're Godzilla and all we do is destroy and are enormous and epic and all this kind of stuff, that's what we are. And if someone's screaming at us, well, we can't hear you from 52 stories high.

Up next: a KISS road rage story
PS: It reminds me of yesterday I was driving back from Anaheim and I mistakenly started to change lanes and this guy next me went bezerk. He opens up his sunroof, flips me off and starts screaming. I was thinking, “doesn't everyone make mistakes?” Anyway, so I drive next to him…

GS: He breezed past me…

PS: No, you were on the right side of the road because you drive like a grandmother.

GS: Oh yeah, I'm the worst.

PS: Anyway, so I pull up to him and just laugh at him. So he takes off and wants to show off and I look in my rear view mirror and I see the cops! They pulled up next to him and that's the end of him. Justice is served.

GS: He forgot to mention, what was the car make of the guy doing the squealy dealys?

PS: It was a little…

GS: What rocketship were you driving?

PS: One of those new Corvettes. Nice car.

GS: That may have been part of it.

PS: But just because you have the goods, doesn't mean you flaunt them. But somebody will hate you for having them.

GS: There's a difference between having it and mommy and daddy giving it to you. We worked every day and we have some nice things in life, but don't kid yourself, we worked for every penny of it.

See also
10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die
10 Goriest Album Covers
10 Most Satanic Metal Bands

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