KissFAQ has launched Back In The Solo Album Groove: The KISS Albums. 35 Years Later..., an ambitious multi-week retrospective dedicated to arguably the biggest milestone in KISStory: the 1978 KISS solo albums. Today, the site has published an interview with Carol Kaye, who worked as the band's publicist at the Press Office, a subsidiary of Aucoin Management.
The following are excerpts from Kaye's interview with KissFAQ's Tim McPhate:
On the scope of the solo album project:
KF: In the context of the 1978 record industry, just how big of an event was the KISS solo albums?
CK: "It was huge. It was huge. The buzz, the momentum and the excitement leading up to the releases and then the actual releases. And of course, people were like, 'Is Gene selling more than Paul? Is Peter pissed off? What about Ace?' It was really crazy. But that wasn't coming from the band; they were happy for each other. It wasn't an internal 'let's see who sells more' [competition]. It wasn't that way at all. But it was an amazing thing. They were on top of the world and being part of it, we were just thrown into this with them. From the minute we got into the office in the morning, the phones were ringing off the hook. We did crazy, crazy things. We did fun things. I remember doing events like the one where there was a painted Volkswagen on display at Sotheby’s with all of the KISS faces on it and we had a big press event about that and [wrote] press releases about it. It was so creative and that's how I still think of my business. I try to be an extremely creative publicist, which I learned from the greatest band in the world."
KF: The press kits for the solo albums have been described as comparable to those put together by major Hollywood studios to promote movies. Just how atypical were they for a music release at the time?
CK: "The press kits were beautiful. They were chock full of photos and press clippings. It wasn't printed out on a Xerox machine (laughs). It was beautiful, heavyweight [paper]. Bill always did everything the best that it could be. They were beautifully copied, they were glossy. Everything about it was first-class."
The press' general reaction to the four solo albums:
KF: Indeed. Generally speaking, what do the recall the feedback being from the press in terms of their reaction to the KISS solo albums? For example, I believe I've read that some press might have been confused upon hearing Peter's album.
CK: "Well, I think that people were very surprised when they heard Peter's record because they didn't expect that from Peter. I think they were really thinking that all of the solo albums would be much more inline with KISS music. So when they heard it with his jazz influences, they were confused. They didn't expect that. I thought it was amazing because each solo album just showed the strength of each artist. Paul and I were very close during that time and I spent a lot of time in the studio with him at Electric Ladyland Studios while he was recording this record. And he had these lush background vocals, you know [the girls in] Desmond Child & Rouge. His record is the iconic straight-ahead rock and roll record. There are songs on there that just stand the test of time. Gene's record was fantastic. Ace's record, obviously [he had] 'New York Groove'. And then Peter's [album] - it just showed the strength of each as songwriters. And then you were able to say, 'OK, I see how each part of this created and made up the sound of KISS'."
On fullfilling the goals of the promotional campaign and KISS' infamous appearance on The Tom Synder Show:
KF: Depending on who you talk to, the KISS solo albums were either a success or failure, in terms of results. But how would you gauge the success of the solo albums' promotional campaign? Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish?
CK: "Absolutely we did. I mean, they were the greatest band to do publicity for. Can you imagine - what better speakers are there than Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley and Peter Criss? They each had such distinct personalities. I remember one of the first television bookings I did was The Tom Snyder Show, which is now infamous."
KF: Yes it is.
CK: "The talent booker for the show was Donald Berman, who now is very much a part of The View. But I will never forget standing on the side of the stage when they were being interviewed and Ace was... a little tipsy (laughs)."
CK: "And there was that back and forth going on with Tom and Ace and the bear. But you didn't really see a lot of it, you know they broke to commercial. I was convinced that I was getting fired. I was like, 'I'm getting fired. This is crazy.' (laughs) But you know, these became iconic moments in rock and roll history. It was like that all the time. It was on 10 - or 100 - all the time. Full steam ahead."
Read the full interview here
(Photo - Peppy Castro and Carol Kaye, courtesy of Carol Kaye)