Paul Stanley Talks About Nikki Sixx's 'Ludicrous' Slams on Gene Simmons and Why Prince Was a 'Genius'

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in West Hollywood
Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley attend the Morrison Hotel Gallery Hosts Kiss Exhibit at Morrison Hotel Gallery on February 13, 2016 in West Hollywood, Calif.

It's one thing for Paul Stanley to take Kissmate Gene Simmons to task. But woe be to anyone else who wants to do it -- and that means you, Nikki Sixx.

With Kiss preparing for the worldwide May 25 screening of its Kiss Rocks Vegas concert film and the early July launch of its summer Freedom To Rock tour, Stanley has been the fulcrum of some pointed social media exchanges during the past week. He took Simmons to task on Twitter for some derogatory interview comments the bassist made about Prince's death, calling them "cold, clueless statements." Simmons subsequently apologized via Twitter. But when Sixx later slammed Simmons as a "bully" and claiming that "nobody in rock" respects him, Stanley posted a sharply worded Facebook retort calling Sixx's comments an "unimportant but annoying squeak" and directing him to "please shut up, find another way to be in the news and get off your self inflated pedestal."

Nikki Sixx Calls Gene Simmons an 'Overrated, Lucky Guy' After Controversial Prince Comment

"It's just silly stuff, honestly," Stanley tells Billboard. "It's one thing to call somebody out and to have a point of view on somebody's quotes, but then to just harp on it...You have to be suspect of the motives. Whatever questions I have about things that Gene has said is one thing, but to beat him into the ground becomes self-serving. It just gets annoying. For other people to harp on it and beat it into the ground is not something I want to sit by and listen to. When somebody starts to denigrate or take potshots at your contributions or your band or anything else, when you consider the source it gets to be ludicrous."

Stanley and Simmons have no need to, er, Kiss and make up ("We've been together for 40 years -- that says it all," Stanley notes) while Sixx responded to Stanley's Facebook post, writing, "I will give him a standing ovation for calling out Gene himself publicly, then trying to hold my feet to the same fire. But you can't save him (Simmons)."

And Prince, as it turns out, has been near and dear to Stanley's heart since the Starchild saw Prince play at the Bottom Line in New York in support of his second album, 1979's eponymously titled Prince.

"I grabbed a bunch of people and brought them down to see him, and he was amazing," Stanley recalls. "He was electrifying and (backstage) he was very, very nice although incredibly shy, very polite. You couldn't help but follow his trajectory over the years. I think that as great as we saw him we didn't realize the true scope of his genius until he was gone. That's always a tragedy."

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With their own Prince-gate behind them, Kiss is read to rev up the machine for 2016, starting with Kiss Rocks Vegas, a Fathom Events one-night-only showing filmed during the group's nine-show November 2014 residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. (Theater and ticket details can be found at FathomEvents.com and kissmycinema.com.) "This is one show," Stanley says, "so if it seems cohesive and there's nothing jarring in terms of continuity, it's because it was one night. You can't help but be aware that in essence it's now or never; It's like stepping into the ring and you're hoping that you're in top form, and if not you draw on your well of determination to pull out all the stops. I think it was a great show. There's a great connection and intensity between us and the audience that's palpable. To do a show in a venue that small and yet do a show that's that large only made us that much more colossal as figures."

It likely won't be the last residency for Kiss, either. "We'd love to come back. Perhaps we would do it in a different venue, and that's something that we're looking into," he says. "But the concept of doing a residency is appealing. It's easily one of my favorite stage shows that we've had. I totally enjoyed it and the reviews were ecstatic and raves, and I would love to do it again."

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Kiss is incorporating some of the visual technology of the Vegas show into the Freedom To Rock Tour, which kicks off July 7 in Boise, Idaho, and will play mostly the smaller markets where the band built its Kiss Army during the first years of its career. "We built our following by going to the heartland and going to middle America, so for us (the tour) is basically a return to that," says Stanley, who's featured on a rendition of Free's "Fire and Water" from former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley's new covers album, Origins, Vol. 1.

"When we first broke through, when Kiss Alive! was just simmering, we were playing the Toledos and the Daytons and the Des Moines. It was at the arena in Dayton when I peeked through the curtain and I really got the full scope of what was happening. The place was packed and this had been going on for a few nights with no end in sight. So those places mean a lot to us, and it'll be great to go back to them."