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Endurance of Kiss: 35 years of staying power to show in more than two hours on stage

Gene Simmons, left, and Paul Stanley of Kiss will play the St. Pete Times Forum Wednesday as part of the Kiss Alive 35 World Tour. They are also promoting a new album, Sonic Boom, written on off days of the tour.

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Gene Simmons, left, and Paul Stanley of Kiss will play the St. Pete Times Forum Wednesday as part of the Kiss Alive 35 World Tour. They are also promoting a new album, Sonic Boom, written on off days of the tour.

Did Gene Simmons just make a lewd comment about my mom? And did the Demon just call me a woman? And what was that hand gesture by Paul Stanley? Did the Starchild just flip me the bird on a major network affiliate?

All these neuroses fired in my head as I interviewed — on television, no less — the glam-rock kings in Kiss, who appeared in full makeup for a recent televised press junket. The glam-rockers play the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday. They are also promoting a new album, Sonic Boom, their first full-length in 11 years.

In a just-for-fun twist, I pulled on my fancy pants, hopped in an anchor's chair and chatted up bassist Simmons, singer Stanley, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer via satellite for ABC Action News. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

So Tampa Bay gets U2 and Kiss in the same month. Let's throw down: Which band has the hotter live show?

Stanley (not even close to taking the bait): I think this is a very lucky time for Tampa. You'll want to be there for us. We're on the tail end of our Kiss Alive 35 World Tour, our biggest, most successful tour ever. It's a helluva show: great pyro, bigger video, bigger stage. We have to live up to our own expectations and we've done it in a big way.

Your new album, Sonic Boom, captures that vintage '70s sound, that unmistakable Kiss dynamic. The songs, especially first single Modern Day Delilah, are loose, off the cuff. How'd you pull that off?

Simmons: On our off days during this tour, we'd get together in Tommy's hotel room, whip out some guitars and start writing the songs right there and then. Within a month and a half, we were in L.A., rehearsing, recording.

Stanley: It's not a retro album. Gosh knows, the last thing we need is an album that sounds like it was recorded 35 years ago. But we wanted to say unequivocally that this is Kiss. It's got the commitment. It's got the energy.

After 35 years, you're older and wiser

Simmons: Actually, we're stronger and more experienced.

And more handsome.

Simmons: You're absolutely correct about that, my dear.

Now that you're older, stronger, wiser, how is touring different? Is there less partying every night, more working out every day?

Thayer: The band is in better shape and has more vitality than in a long time. The spirit is there. We're feeling united.

Stanley: In those early days, a headlining band like us was playing for 90 minutes. But the era for us playing just 90 minutes is long gone. We're onstage now for sometimes as long as 2 1/2 hours. So we have to be in far better shape.

Gene, I gotta get this off my chest: My mother has a huge crush on you. I find that both cool and disturbing.

Simmons: What's her name?

Mary Daly.

Simmons (dropping his voice low and lascivious): Ah yesss, I remember Mary …

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.

If you go

Kiss

7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $16.75, $36.75, $76 and $126. (813) 301-6500.

Endurance of Kiss: 35 years of staying power to show in more than two hours on stage 10/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 18, 2009 5:30am]

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