Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On the Tommy Thayer “Spaceman” Les Paul Standard Outfit guitar:
Tommy: “A year or two ago I contacted Epiphone, which is really a part of Gibson, the same company. I met and talked to Jim Rosenberg, the president, and told him I would love to do a Tommy Thayer limited-edition Les Paul signature guitar. He loved the idea. The reason I went to Epiphone and not Gibson is because I wanted to make a signature guitar that was high quality, had great playability, was well made, had great performance, but was also something that was completely affordable for everyone. That’s why we’ve done an Epiphone, and that was my preference from the beginning.
“Jim and I just deal directly with each other; we don’t have any intermediaries. We just talk on the phone, and email. I just sent him the exact specs for that original silver sparkle top that the Custom Shop had done for me in ’06. Jim made the point that it was important we replicated the guitar exactly right down to the detail of the same tuners, the exact same pickups, the same parts, bridge, all the details being exactly the same as the original guitar. He said that fans really scrutinize that, and want replica guitars exactly like the originals. That’s what we did; we made an exact replica of the original one, and it turned out great. We actually ended up using Gibson 498 pick-ups, Grover Deluxe tuners, all the exact same parts.”
On KISS no longer using outside writers:
Tommy: “In the ’80s with the beginnings of MTV and the video revolution, I think that bands and artists began to take a slightly different approach to writing. It was about creating something that was going to work well and sell well on video, on MTV and on radio. Therefore, the idea of bringing in outside writers was popular then because you wanted to write songs that were more single-oriented and more hit-oriented. The success of a band depended on that; being on MTV and on the radio, you had to have hit songs one way or another if you wanted to succeed. I think it’s evolved now where bands and artists don’t find that to be the most important thing anymore, and it’s not what drives the process like it used to in the ’80s. Now it’s more organic again, where we just write songs because we love the music. We love the raw, rock ‘n’ roll, rootsy songs that we’re writing. That approach was just simpler and more honest, actually. It’s more real, more what we really are. In that regard, I like that better.”
On writing with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons:
Tommy: “It’s interesting writing with Paul and Gene, but I think I wrote more with Paul for whatever reason. Paul and I would get together quite often, and work out song ideas. It’s really inspirational for me, because Paul is a guy that has been doing this for a long time. He’s very experienced and very smart about his approach to songwriting, and just influences in general. People don’t realize it, but Paul and Gene are huge rock fans as well. They love the rock music that they grew up with, and that’s still very much a part of what influences them when they’re writing. I’ve learnt a lot from them because a lot of the stuff that they’re influenced by was a little before my time. They’ve turned me on to a lot of great bands from the late ’60s that I wasn’t privy to because it was before I was aware of what was going on. [laughs] I came into music more in the early to mid-’70s because I’m a little younger. Learning from them and enjoying a lot of the things that they love has been a great experience. It’s just phenomenal.”
Read the entire interview at Metal Forces.