Paul Stanley Says Face the Music is the Most Honest KISS Autobiography Ever Written
For KISS founding member Paul Stanley, living the past four decades in the spotlight has been the easy part. His autobiography, Face The Music, is different than many of the rock bios that populate the marketplace. Born Stanley Eisen, the singer/rhythm guitarist reveals his difficult upbringing in New York City and the traumatizing affects of being born with one ear, along with a dysfunctional, unsupportive family. Add to that being called "Stanley the one-eared monster" by the neighborhood children, the rocker was engulfed by insecurities even as his band was selling out stadiums across the globe.
Stanley's book completes the cycle of every original member of KISS penning his own take of what happened during the iconic outfit's formative years, which at this point, is Rashomon-esque. But Stanley's book traces his personal ups-and-downs even as the chaos that encompassed KISS swirled around him and the band hit peaks and valleys along the way. We caught up with the Arena Football team owning rock star shortly before his induction in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame to hear about his book, his insight on the band's history and what it feels like to finally be accepted by the rock elite.
You didn't waste any time jumping right into things and setting to the tone with a dark, revealing intro. Why did you decide to start the book off that way?
Because there was no other way to write it. Autobiographies, especially in the entertainment field, notoriously have a tendency to go towards self-congratulatory filler, imaginary accomplishment and stories of dubious factual basis. I had no time to waste to do that. So for years, I had no intention of writing a book. But then I started thinking that my life could possibly inspire somebody else, and could give someone else some hope or reinforcement and I'd like to write a book that my kids could read as they get older to understand what it took for me to become successful. That was the redeeming goal that made me want to write a book. It was the idea of being able to reach out and do something for other people including giving my children a better sense of who I am.
You're the last of the original KISS members to pen his own autobiography. Did that, in any way, have anything to do with the timing of the writing?
I think those other books, from what I've seen, veer from complete fantasy to distortion of reality. In two of those cases, it has to do with the reality that defense lawyers don't like to put drug addicts or alcoholics on the witness stand. Now when I say drug addict or alcoholic, it doesn't mean they currently are, but in any 12-step program, they'll tell you it goes on forever and it's a permanent illness. At its worst, it certainly distorts your thinking and perception of reality. So two of those books you have to take off right away. I think Gene's book was a bit focused more on a different area. I'm not looking to commend myself for what I've done, or what I've supposedly have done. All I was looking to do is document my life how I see it. It's not a book about KISS, though KISS is a part of it. The feedback I've had so far, and I've had some very reputable people read it, could give a rat's ass about KISS. But it's the inspirational and human element of the book that is more gripping and inspiring than anything else.
When you went into your childhood, it was deep and vivid, especially about the insecurities and emotional abuse you went through. Was it hard to rehash those memories and relive those moments?
I've been told that the book is brave and I've heard people say when I started writing it that it was going to be difficult and emotionally taxing. The fact of the matter is that I don't find it brave because it has a happy ending. I couldn't have written the book if I was still stuck there. For me, I found the book enjoyable to write. It wrapped up all of the loose ends for me and I'm acutely aware of my life and what's gone on so with no revelations it was a way of telling the story in a way that I thought people might be able to identify with. I think it's interesting for people to see somebody who they might hold in high esteem or look up to or idolize or pick whatever term you want, that is just as human as they are. The problems are the same and ultimately the solutions are the same.
What is it like driving down Sunset Blvd. and seeing the congratulatory billboard commemorating KISS selling one million copies of Alive!? Considering all you had been through to that point, between skipping school and hanging out by the guitar shops, was it the proverbial "Holy Shit!" moment or was it "okay, let's keep this thing moving?"
Of course it's holy shit how far have I come, not where I want to go yet. I've always maintained the drive to achieve and by 1975-1976, I hadn't felt like I scaled a mountain.