45 years. 4 iconic personas. 4 current members. 6 past members. 20 studio albums. 8 live albums. 13 compilation albums. An excess of 100 million albums sold worldwide. 1 final tour.
With a massive career spanning 45 years cementing their status as rock’n’roll icons, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are ready to throw in the towel – but you can bet they’ll be going out with a hell of a bang with their mammoth End Of The Road World Tour.
Following the band’s announcement detailing their plans to retire, Aussie fans were waiting with fingers crossed to hear if the rockers will be heading Down Under for their final hurrah – and the Kiss Army’s prayers were answered when the legends revealed plans for a run of shows across Australia and New Zealand next year in what will be the ultimate celebration for all the band have conquered over the past four decades.
“It all started with Paul and Gene,” explains lead guitarist Tommy Thayer. “They wanted to do a tour, a real final ending tour, bigger and better than any that we’ve ever done while the band still is in their prime.
“They didn’t want to wait until too much time goes by,” Thayer continues. “The band’s been so great the last 5-10 years, if we’re going to do something like this, now’s the time. We want to go one more time around, and hit each city one time, and then definitely call it the end, the End of the Road.”
For those that might remember, this isn’t the first time the band have call it quits with a final tour. In 2000, the band set out on a farewell tour with 142 shows that ran into 2001, only to declare the next year that they weren’t quite ready to hang up their platform boots and pack the makeup kits away.
Unlike their first farewell, they mean it this time.
“I think that was different circumstances,” Thayer says, referring to the first farewell tour. “19 years ago, a couple of years after they had done the reunion tour with the original band, they were having a lot of the same problems within the band that they had originally, and so I think that at the time, Paul and Gene were looking at it like it was a farewell to that version of the band, the original version.
“I don’t know if they were really planning on ending it, but I know that they weren’t happy with where things were at. It wasn’t long after that, they rebooted the band, and I came in, and then Eric Singer. The last 17 years have been incredible, and the last 10 years have especially been phenomenal.
“The band’s never been in better form,” he smiles. “There’s a great spirit and energy within the band, and we love touring and playing together and spending time on the road. That’s why it’s time to do this now while every thing’s going so well. We hate to say good bye, but at some point, you have to do it, and we want to do it while we’re on top, and go out and do the show that again that Kiss is famous for.”
That show Thayer is referring to is the blistering live shows that saw the group originally rise to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s. With their elaborate live performances, a Kiss live show would include everything from fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets to levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics.
“It’s really a celebration of 45 years of history, and we’re going to come out with the ultimate show. I know that everybody always says that, but we’ve literally got a whole new production,” Thayer reveals. “We’ve already been rehearsing for a couple months, working on a great song list that includes more songs than we would usually play; songs from every era of Kiss. The seventies, eighties, nineties, and present. And then we’ve been working on an amazing production, a new set that’s gonna be just over the top. It’s gonna be the biggest, baddest thing we’ve ever done.”
The band’s first wave of the End of the Road shows will commence January 31st in Vancouver, British Columbia and hit arenas throughout North America and Europe before they finish off the year with a six-date run of arena shows Down Under.
“We’re going to be fine-tuned by the time we get to Australia, I promise you,” Thayer laughs. “The shows are going to be huge, and that’s the great thing about Australia… The first time Kiss came to Australia was in 1980, and it’s always been huge there, every time. It’s been one the most incredible places for us to go. We love the people. We love the country. We love your culture, and the fans are amazing down there,” he continues.
It’s been a long road for Thayer and his involvement with the legendary rockers. From first picking up a guitar at 13 years old, to performing a support slot for Kiss in 1985 with his original band Black ‘n Blue and having Gene produce their records, Thayer went on to help create the band’s Kisstory book, tour manage the last reunion of the original Kiss lineup, as well as co-write music and produce the band in the studio in the ’90s. It wasn’t until 2002 when Kiss hit the stage for a private show in Jamaica which saw Thayer donning the Spaceman persona following Ace Frehley’s departure that same year.
The group, now back in makeup and costumes at this stage, went on to perform a special concert in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in February 2003, which was not only Thayer’s first public show as a member of Kiss that would be recorded and filmed for future release, but it would be set up unlike any in the group’s history.
“The Kiss Symphony in Melbourne was my first official show in Kiss,” he reflects. “It was great; I was new in the band and had this great opportunity. I was a little nervous though because we were filming a documentary and a live concert plus recording it for a live album, so it was all happening at once. I knew this was my chance. I gotta make this great, and it all worked out really well, but I have to admit I was a little nervous to begin with.”
While Thayer had contributed small parts to earlier albums, his big moment as guitarist came with 2009’s return-to-form Sonic Boom (the band’s first album in 11 years) and the 2012 follow-up and final KISS studio album Monster. This cemented Thayer’s footprint in the illustrious plateau of the band’s music and live show.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Thayer says. “For 17 years now, I’ve got to do what every kid dreams about. Every kid in his bedroom at home pretending he’s playing in a huge rock band, playing air guitar. I get to do it for real, and I get to be the lead guitarist in Kiss. That’s every kid’s fantasy, and I’m honoured that I get to do that and continue to do it. It’s something that you don’t ever get tired of, and it’s one of the greatest things in the world. Yes I’m still the new guy, but I’ve been in the band 17 years, and with a 45 year history, I think everybody’s real confident about doing it all one last time.”
With the impending end to Kiss, this will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen the band, and the last chance for those who haven’t.
“While this whole tour could go for a couple years, we’re only going to go to each city one time,” Thayer says. “This is an opportunity for people that have never seen Kiss. It’s now or never.”
KISS hit Rod Laver Arena on Thursday November 21 and Friday November 22, 2019.
Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek.