In a recent interview with Yahoohe explained that the relatively unknown group used to take advantage of lax performance deals to improve their reputation, which exacerbated the situation and led to an unusual proposal from their label boss, Neil Bogart.
“I think the bands that had to follow us knew they were screwed,” Stanley said. “At first they didn’t know. There were definitely some bands that, when they saw us, started laughing. They didn’t laugh after we played.”
You can watch the interview below.
Stanley noted that “what we were doing was so new back then that we could get away with things that you can’t do anymore because the headliner [contractually] won’t let you. … I mean there were headliners who wanted to go on with a Kiss sign behind them! You know, we just put the Kiss sign up and didn’t take it down. … No one thought ahead to say, ‘Well, is that band going to use pyro and do they have a sign and this and that?’ It was all uncharted territory. So we pretty much did whatever we wanted, and we quickly gained a reputation that made it hard to find gigs.”
That’s when the manager stepped in. “Neil Bogart had us come into his office in Los Angeles and — so help me — he said, ‘It’s getting impossible to get you on any shows. Could you possibly play any worse? Could you, you know, don’t play like you do?’ We looked at each other. … It was like, ‘Um, do you want us to, like, suck?'”
Kiss did not respond to the suggestion and continued to push their luck until their fourth album, Alive!, secured their status as a headline act in 1975. “It was a lifesaver for us,” Stanley said. “Because it had really become almost impossible to find bands that would let us open for them.”
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