KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer recently spoke with Australia's Heavy magazine. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band's ongoing "End Of The Road" farewell tour:
Tommy: "We feel good. I'm still getting used to this being the last tour. In North America and Europe, we've done 95 shows this year already, with about 20 more to go. I'm still loving being out there. Most all shows are sold-out. We've been packing them in, and the response has been incredible... It's something else. It's over the top. It's definitely the biggest show we've done, and I know that sounds very cliché — you've heard it before — but literally, it's the biggest and best show we've ever done. There's no doubt about it."
On whether the tour is bittersweet:
Tommy: "It is emotional. Every night, we go out there and see the smiles, and actually the tears in a lot of people's eyes. It kind of surprises me sometimes, because I'm not ready for that. You see people with tears, but also tears of joy, loving this band for as long as it's been around. It means a lot to us, and to be on stage each night is just phenomenal. Seeing the response, we just couldn't feel better about it."
On the band's wide demographic:
Tommy: "The multi-generational thing, it's very bizarre, actually. Sometimes I ask kids, 'How did you get into KISS nowadays, and what makes you want to come see this band?' A lot of times, it's because their parents were into it, and they kind of pass the torch. Maybe it's just because the world's a smaller place, interconnected with the Internet. People have been seeing the show on YouTube and online, and I think that's really helped us, even though a lot of times in the YouTube era, bands don't like that because they feel like it gives away the surprise or the secret about what we're doing. It's really spread the word. I think we do a lot of things outside the box. We did a KISS/'Scooby-Doo!' movie a couple years ago. I know a lot of kids got turned on to KISS seeing that movie. There's a lot of things like that. It's a strange phenomenon, but it blows me away."
On the planning and preparation that went into the "End Of The Road" tour:
Tommy: "With KISS, it's probably a lot more involved than most bands because of all the gags and the effects. We each have a solo with great effects. It took a few months to put it together. It starts with the band and our production manager and this stage design company putting together a design and liking that, and then they build it and we go see it in its rudimentary stages. We did that last December. We worked on this for months, and we were rehearsing quite a lot too to make sure this was going to be the best tour [possible]. We put more time and effort into this, honestly, than any tour I've ever been involved with KISS on. We went up to Vancouver a whole month before the tour started just to rehearse and go through the show in the arena and perfect it all."
On how the band chose the tour's setlist:
Tommy: "That's a tough one, but of course, you have to play the classics. You have to play the stuff that gets the biggest reaction, and that's simply what it comes down to. There's a dynamic to the show. It has an arc, and you want to keep building and then it's a climax at the end. You want the best response from the people, so you have to put the right songs in the right order to make that happen. We did work on that, and we wanted to cover all the different eras of KISS from the '70s, '80s, '90s, of course. That was our incentive — to make sure that it's dynamic and that we got the best reaction from the crowd. That just comes down to the greatest, classic KISS songs."
On his first show with KISS:
Tommy: "My first official gig was in Australia at the 'KISS Symphony' show in Melbourne, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. That was quite a coming-out for me. I'd say I was a little nervous going into that one, but I pulled it off... I had been around the band. I was traveling with them, working behind the scenes. I was producing [and] directing videos, and they were having problems with Peter [Criss] and Ace [Frehley]. I was around, and I ended up filling in on a few shows to begin with. There was a private concert and some TV shows in 2002 that I did, so by the time I did the 'Symphony' show, it just kind of evolved naturally. There never was really a moment where they said, 'We want you to join KISS.' I don't even really remember saying that they wanted me to be the guitar player. It was just kind of like, 'Tommy, we're doing this.' The one thing I do remember is I was sitting down having a meeting with Gene and Paul in 2002. I think we were looking at the 'Symphony' show in a couple of months, and they said, 'You'd better start growing your hair again, because you're going to be on stage.' That was my directive — to grow my hair again."
KISS will resume the "End Of The Road" tour on November 16 in Perth, Australia.