With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony looming closer, neither Kiss nor the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation seem ready to relax the entrenched positions that led to the group's decision not to perform April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Kiss, according to frontman Paul Stanley, is upset that the Rock Hall plans to induct only the group's founding lineup and tells Billboard that discussions about subsequent members "was shut down as a non-starter."
Nevertheless, Stanley says Kiss feels that honoring the other six musicians who have played in the band is "a very valid argument considering that there are people who played on multi-platinum albums and played for millions of people and were very important for the continuation of the band. And clearly when you've got a busload of Grateful Dead (members) who have been inducted and guys in the Chili Peppers who nobody knows who they are because they played on the very earliest albums are inducted...The list goes on and on of the inconsistencies. Now, I'm not pointing fingers at any of those people, but I'm certainly pointing a finger at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The only consistencies are inconsistencies and the rules clearly are there are no rules because the criteria for how and who gets in is purely based upon a personal like or dislike. And when I feel we're being treated unfairly, I have issues with that."
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation CEO Joel Peresman says that the decision about who to induct from any band is made by the Rock Hall's nominating committee as well as an adjunct group of "scholars and historians" familiar with specific inductees and genres. "This isn't chemistry or physics; it's not an exact science," Peresman acknowledges. "Sometimes there's an entire body of work up until (the artists) are inducted, other times it's a specific period of time that established the band as who they are. With Kiss there wasn't one person here who didn't agree that the reason Kiss was nominated and is being inducted was because of what was established in the 70s with Ace (Frehley), with Peter (Criss), with Paul and Gene (Simmons). That's what put them on that map."
Peresman adds that Kiss "is a unique situation where you have artists who wear makeup as part of what the band's about," but the Rock Hall felt that the later members -- including current guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, who are wearing Frehley and Criss' makeup, respectively -- "are fine musicians who...basically have the same makeup and are the same characters that Ace and Peter started. It's not like they created these other characters with different makeup and playing different songs. They took the persona of characters that were created by Ace and Peter." Persman notes that last year Heart was in a similar position, where the Rock Hall chose to induct the original 70s sextet and not later musicians that played in the band.
But Stanley feels the situation with Kiss is a bit more personal. "That it's 14 years on (of eligibility) and we're getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a clear indication that the people who hide behind that moniker don't like us, but it reached a point where it was so absurd and ludicrous (to exclude Kiss) that they caved," he says. "It's like them swallowing a teaspoon of medicine they don't want. It's a bitter pill for them to swallow, so they're making it as small as possible."
Stanley says that the Rock Hall asked Kiss to perform as the original quartet, in make-up, but he and Simmons -- who have been playing with three-time Kiss member Singer again since 2002 and Thayer since 2004 -- were not confident the performance would be up to standard. "Honestly, I don't want to roll the dice and possibly negatively impact on what I personally have been involved in building for 40 years," he explains. "I have too much invested at this point. It really is a can of worms that I feel is better off left closed." Peresman, meanwhile, says the Rock Hall has no plans for a performance stand-in for Kiss at the ceremony. "We have other artists, other inductees showing up and performing when they can," Peresman says. "We're very hopeful that Ace and Peter and Paul and Gene come and accept their award. We're obviously honored to have them inducted."
And Stanley expects that to be the case.
"There's been a lot of issues, and perhaps the best way to deal with them is to celebrate the four original guys and go there and get our award and to look past the differences that will always be there," he says. "It doesn't change the big picture; we have differences and we will continue to have differences. It doesn't change who I want to play with and who represents Kiss. There are a lot of people who are great inspirations to me, and still are, who are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and for that reason and the fact that fans want us in there, I graciously and vigorously will be there to accept the award. We should salute and enjoy an evening that celebrates what the four of us started. But just because I'm getting inducted doesn't mean it's turned into a love fest."
This week, Kiss announced a co-headlining tour with Def Leppard. Stanley, meanwhile, publishes his autobiography "Face The Music: A Life Exposed" on April 8, with book signings being put together throughout the month.