Finally. There is something to being the last to the autobiographical “party” and KISSleader/frontman/producer/songwriter Paul Stanley “gets it”. The first to throw down the gauntlet, Gene Simmons, released an autobio which was pretty fulfilling in terms of understanding his unique upbringing but pretty unfulfilling beyond that. Next, you had the head-scratcher that was Ace’s story; seemingly detached and devoid of detail and even more unfulfilling. Finally, Peter checked in with “Makeup to Breakup” a book jam-packed with drama and controversy but loaded with suspect motives and questionable recollections according to many who were along for the ride.
Now, the man we’ve all known to be a bit more private and in control comes to the table with his story, one that typically takes the high road compared to all the bragging and shock value contained within those efforts. That said, its never boring because Paul and his collaborative partner Tim Mohr keep things firmly rooted in truth and definitively in his voice. As someone who’s interviewed Paul a couple times and listened to countless Paul interviews, I have to say it would feel pretty bizarre were “Face The Music” not presented in such an organic way.
What really makes this book a must-read is the fact that Paul goes into detail about his real life and relationships with key figures in the KISS mythology in a much more intimate way than any of his countless past KISS publicity interviews. Some of the memories of the struggles faced by beloved characters like Eric Carr, Bill Aucoin are not pretty, but then again Paul focuses an even brighter spotlight on his own quirks and troubles. Stanley seems to revel in the cathartic process of telling his story and emphasizing the high levels of emotional pain he endured, whether describing his partial deafness and childhood facial abnormality or the emptiness he felt during the many years he felt abandoned by women, band mates and associates he trusted. Whether creating music, painting or writing this book it’s clear that Paul is all about pure self-expression and is creating out of that need moreso than any other factor.
The KISS fanatic in me was glad Starchild focused on getting every single word in that mattered (ultimately a beefy 400 plus pages of text) rather than reveling in showing more photos or more of the minutiae we have come to expect. Since Paul was such a huge part of the songwriting and music of the KISS I grew up on in the 80’s, it was especially nice to read Paul’s take on stubbornly refusing to let KISS die during that era. The musical details in this book and the recollections of creative peaks and valleys far outweigh the details of rock star extravagances and play a large part in what makes this book such a 360 from a book like Peter’s. Could it have used even more of a close-up look at certain albums or periods of Paul’s creativity? Possibly, although the argument can be made Paul had already covered much of that ground in the previous official KISS books “Nothin To Lose” and “Behind The Mask” so that wasn’t really the point here.
The level of self-introspection and real world reflection that Paul Stanley puts forth here is unheard of in terms of rock bios. His thoughts on his children, his parents and his place in the world are refreshing and personal, contributing to the book feeling like the once in a lifetime chance an autobio is SUPPOSED to feel like.
As a longtime fan, I feel this is the best KISS autobiography because it is clear that of all the guys, Paul was the least concerned with grabbing “shocker” headlines or moving product and most concerned with getting it right, something you could say about his entire run steering the good ship KISS. “Paul Stanley, Face the Music” is great, even for non-music buffs and an obvious purchase for KISS fans. If you havent picked it up already, buy it!
Paul Stanley “Face The Music” book appearances
Thursday, May 15 Warren County Public Library – Bowling Green, KY 7pm
Friday, May 16 Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN 11am
Friday, May 16 Anderson’s Bookstore – Naperville, IL 7pm
Saturday May 17 Indy KISS Expo
Sunday, May 18 Barnes & Noble – Boston, MA 4pm