Kiss frontman Paul Stanley says the band’s reunion with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss for 1998’s Psycho Circus was such a nightmare that it almost put him off the idea of making another album.
The project followed the successful 1996⁄97 reunion tour that delivered the first shows with the guitarist and drummer since 1979’s Dynasty trek. The 13-month run saw the original Kiss lineup perform 192 dates in 25 countries on its way to grossing US$143.7 million and their most successful tour to date.
Stanley has referenced the poor attitudes and work ethic of his former bandmates over the years while co-founder Gene Simmons says there’s no chance of any future reunions with the pair despite their induction into the 2014 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
But Stanley reveals things were not well within the Kiss camp as they began work on their first album together since Dynasty (Criss did not perform but is credited on 1980’s Unmasked).
The frontman tells Chris Jericho’s “Talk Is Jericho” podcast: “Everything was wrong. Psycho Circus was kind of like the result of a cancer that was building. We had gotten back together — we brought those guys back — and they were just completely apologetic and remorseful and thankful to be back.”
“And we never said they were gonna be equal partners. Why would they be equal partners? The band had existed without them. So, that being said, nobody should start a collection, although they might need it now.”
Stanley declares: “Those guys won the lottery twice. And when they came back, they were pretty broke. And we could take ‘pretty’ out of that. And yet it wasn’t too long after things started to happen again that they started doing the same stuff. And it just became ugly and no fun.”
Stanley reveals some of the behind the scenes antics that he and Simmons were faced with from Criss and Frehley.
He explains: “The idea of doing Psycho Circus … the idea behind doing it was much greater than the reality of doing it. ‘Let’s do an album together.’ ‘Well, wait a minute…’ You’ve got guys who are trying to renegotiate deals, and we’re talking to lawyers more than we’re talking to them, and this idea of, ‘I should have this many songs on the album.’ And honestly, I’ve been writing songs for fifty years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at what I do. So it just became ugly and sad.”
There was no band unity during the project, with all four members appearing on only one of the album’s ten tracks. Frehley sang his composition, Into The Void, and performed guitar on two others, while future/current Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer handled lead on the rest; Criss played drums on Into The Void while session drummer Kevin Valentine is featured on the remainder of the record.
Stanley has managed to find a silver lining in the project after all these years.
”Psycho Circus was such a nightmare to make that it kind of turned me off to the whole idea of making another album But then at some point I thought, I don’t want that to be our last album. It’s not a good memory. Although Psycho Circus has turned out to be a great song; it’s terrific.”
Kiss will return to the UK to close out the Download festival on June 14 and have just announced plans to perform their 1975 breakthrough album, Alive!, in its entirety during next autumn’s Kiss Kruise V.