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KISS – interview met Tommy Thayer

Tommy Thayer: “The people are really into music they are really into rock and roll and heavy metal, so much more than the Americans that’s certain you guys really live it breathe it, you’re more dedicated and that is pretty cool.”
Als je gevraagd wordt om een interview te doen met de lead gitarist van een van de grootste bands op aarde, maar je hebt eigenlijk nog nooit een interview gedaan. Wat doe je dan, je duikt in het diepe en accepteert het aanbod (heel graag zelfs). En dan wordt het spannend hoe wat en waar gaat het gebeuren. Het wordt een telefonisch gesprek met Tommy Thayer en ik kan lekker thuis achter de laptop zitten. En hij is gelukkig een ware professional op het gebied van interviews afgeven. Het resultaat lees je hieronder.
Perry Boleij Ι 21 april 2023

Hi Tommy, how are you doing?
I’m great, good to talk to you, how are you?

I’m fine thank you. I have a few questions for you, but first I have to say this is my first ever interview so be a little patient for me please.
I will, I take it easy on you, you doing a fine job.

The last show on the “End Of The Road” tour is at the Madison square garden in New York on the 2th of December. Is that the real end date or is KISS not able to stop touring
We’ve been touring on the “End Of The Road” tour for the last 4 years now, with 2 years on hold of covid and we are going strong the last leg and we keep going strong till the 2th of December and that would be the absolutely last show of the band touring. Now people getting a little confused sometimes because KISS is not going away, KISS is a valuable brand and an important band and the merchandise will go on.

It seems that you are enjoying everything about KISS so it doesn’t really stop, I think?
Yeah I am, but I will find other things to do, I’m not ready for retirement, I’m in my early sixty’s so I am the young one in the band. So I find other things to do, maybe things that doesn’t have something to do with KISS but we’ll see what happens.

Lets talk about your future and the future of your comrades. What are you going to do wit hall that spare time?
Well I can’t answer for them, but I’ve got other projects I’m doing. I’ve been involved in the wine business up in Oregon with my brother, I have some property that I own, so I’m a farmer. I’m also helping developing some animation projects with some partners, trying to get some television series for children and some Japanese anime for a more mature age. Anyway, different things. I’m the kind of guy who is always doing something, I’m not the sit around.

It’s good to keep going, otherwise you get old?
Yeah that’s really important.

The music business: is it possible you are going to a band, or produce a record?
People are asking if I’m getting involved in another band, or even managing something. I don’t think so. I am in the business for 50 years and I’m not interested in being in another band and managing a group is very interesting, but I think it’s a tough business also especially these days breaking through it’s difficult. I think I had enough of all that kind of stuff and gonna do some other things that probably will not be involved with a band or being in a band.

I didn’t expect that because you are already 35 years or so in the music business professionally, haven’t you?
I’ve been in the music business professionally  for more than 40 years now, and it’s been great.

You work for and  with the band since 1989, will that continue in another form?
It’s possible, like I said earlier, KISS will continue and I may be involved with something, somehow, but I don’t know at the moment. But it’s possible.

I’ve red an article from 2015 about your favourite music and there where all 70’s bands like CCR, Pat Travers, but also the heavier stuff, like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath on that list.
Most of it is because I grew up in that era when I was 13, 14, 15, 16. That’s really when I was forming my blood of my youth. On that age Rock and Roll with that bands it all start happening then.

Do you look to newer bands and listen to them?
Yeah, some, but even The Foo Fighters is not really a new band they have been around for 25 years.

But you don’t listen to the real new bands?
I kind of listen to a little bit of everything, but the newer groups don’t really resonate with me, because I already have the stuff that I love and I think the newer groups always sound like something else. When you get older, you go “oh that sounds like Led Zeppelin”, or “that sounds like KISS, I rather listen to the originals. Then you don’t have to listen to bands who sounds like that band. But if I was an 18 year old kid I’ve been up around bands concerts and going crazy.

Well, I’m 51 and try to follow what’s happening in the music world and I like thrash metal bands for example, so I try to listen to the newer bands also.
That’s not really my thing. I like bands, I like hooks, probably more of the pop element, although I do like loud guitars, but everybody’s  got their own thing, but thrash isn’t it to me, but everybody got his own taste.

If I’m right, you were in Holland 5 times with KISS. What do you think about Holland and do you have a special bond with the country?
The people are really into music. They are really into rock and roll and heavy metal, so much more than the Americans, that’s certain. You guys really live it and breathe it, you’re more dedicated and that is pretty cool. We have always been doing well there and we have a special bond with our Dutch fans, they are special very special.

Monster is the last studio album from KISS, is there a chance that the band records a new album?
I doubt it, because it takes a lot of time to write and record something. It’s almost like it’s not worth it, because nobody generally buys it, the fans will love it, but to the largest feel it doesn’t make any sense. And if you’re gonna play it live, nobody knows the new song, and if you do a classic song that’s what’s gonna get the response. We did that many times, trying to figure out, trying different things.

People say “Tommy why don’t you play ‘Outta This World’?” I don’t disagree, but on the other hand  85% doesn’t even know what that song is, so if we’re gonna play that, everybody is gonna take a piss. That’s the reality of it. You could do other songs, but you don’t get the response at all and that’s our drive. The only exception to that is the KISS Kruise, because there are 90% diehard fans. They want the songs that we don’t play at normal shows. On normal shows people expect us to do songs like ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’ and ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, so we have to play that songs. That’s the reallity of it.

What do you think of cover versions of KISS songs?
Generally, when people cover songs, I go to criticism mode. I got so used to the original version, that the cover doesn’t feel real for the most parts. There might be an exception to the rule, but most of them don’t add something.

There are lots of covers of KISS songs, so I had to ask.
(Laughing) No, that was a good question.

Your story is in my opinion The American dream, first you are a big fan of KISS and staredt a coverband, then you got to work for and with the band and after years of hard work you’d be the Spaceman. How do you see this if you look back?
It is an amazing story. I have to refine myself, it is the American dream: very special. I had a band I really liked when I was growing up, I was at concerts, front row. If you told me back then that I would be part of that for this long… I would never have believed it, I would be in shock. It’s the ironic twist, interesting things happen when you follow your path. If it’s something different you never know what you do, but you have to work hard if you’re in the free world, the US or in Europe, that’s the beauty of it. If you are in some of the other places, you don’t have the opportunities. But if I look at my life, I don’t believe what happened.

Great. My favorite KISS song is ‘Detroit Rock City’, and I have a special connection with ‘I Was Made For Loving You’ and ‘Magic Touch’, because those two songs made me listen to KISS at the age of seven. What is YOUR favorite KISS song?
Oh wow! ‘Black Diamond’, everything of the first 3 albums particularly, ‘Dressed To Kill’, ‘Anything For My Baby’, ‘Get Away’. Later in the 80s, I like ‘All Hell’s Breaking Loose’, there is so many.

You like to play those songs?
Yeah, that would be nice, we play a lot of those songs on the KISS Kruise.

Ok Tommy, thank you very much for your time.
Ok Perry, great talking to you, you did a great interview and job. And I hope to see you in Amsterdam.

Yes, of course I see you on the 12th of June in Amsterdam
That’s exactly, bye bye

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