VIDEO: KISS makes Maui visit

Feb. 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS were on hand for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Star-Advertiser photo by Christie Wilson)

Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS were on hand for the blessing of their new Rock & Brews restaurant on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Star-Advertiser File)

BY CHRISTIE WILSON / cwilson@staradvertiser.com

WAILEA, MAUI » Paul Stanley is sipping chicken soup and chatting about high cholesterol and hip replacement surgery.

It’s not exactly the kind of conversation you’d expect to have with a founding member of KISS, which after 40 years is still one of the most successful rock bands in the world.

At 62, Stanley — whose KISS persona is “Starchild” — still exudes a youthful aura, dressing in jeans, a gauzy western-style shirt, heavy silver neck chains and shoulder-length, black hair. As he dipped his spoon into a large bowl of soup while sitting inside Ko restaurant at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Stanley explained that he brings his own food with him when he travels.

It’s one of the ways he stays trim and healthy in order to keep up with his incredibly crazy schedule that in recent weeks had him strutting the catwalk at the John Varvatos fashion show in Milan, Italy, performing at an NHL game in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and hosting a reception in tiny Paia town on Maui for the soon-to-open Rock & Brews restaurant.

Stanley and fellow KISS band member Gene Simmons are partners in the chain, along with Michael Zislis of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and rock industry veterans Dell and Dave Furano. (The family-friendly Maui restaurant is expected to open Thursday, Feb. 6, serving American classics — wings, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and salads — and an impressive collection of craft beer.)

Despite their rock-god status, both Stanley and Simmons were down-to-earth, friendly and funny during our brief chat on Jan. 27. The interviews took place the day after the Grammy Awards.

We asked Stanley if he had been keeping tabs on the music industry love fest and whether he listens to any new music.

KISS is a 2014 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — a long-overdue honor fans would argue. When asked who he would install in his personal hall of fame, Stanley quickly rattled off a half-dozen all-stars: Led Zepplin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. For Simmons, the list includes Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and others who first defined the genre.

As for KISS’s entry into the rock pantheon and his band’s legacy, Stanley had a lot to say.

Simmons, dressed in all black and wearing dark glasses and a sleek, tailored leather jacket that is 25 years old — “I can button it and there’s room to spare,” he boasted — isn’t impressed by most of today’s music stars. He said they lack the kind of “spectacle” that is a KISS trademark. He did single out one performer, though.

Stanley has been a regular Maui visitor since the mid-1970s, and joked how he wished he’d bought property in Wailea before the resort boom.

“Maui is my go-to place for vacation,” he said.

Since he is constantly traveling, Stanley’s idea of the perfect Maui getaway is “to do a lot of nothing.”

Getting in the ocean? Not so much.

And Simmons?

“A Jew on a surfboard? That doesn’t sound appealing,” he joked with the dry delivery of a Catskills comic. The savvy business mogul said he prefers to spend his downtime — if you can call it that — “making deals and meeting powerful people.”

It’s not often you hear a hard-core rocker talking about living in moderation, but Stanley — who has four children ranging in age from 2 to 19 — said proper diet and exercise are essential to staying on the road, even after hip, knee and rotator cuff surgery.

Despite ordering a sensible fruit plate for lunch, Simmons, 64, said he doesn’t worry too much about maintaining a healthy lifestyle; he relies on good genes.

Simmons, who didn’t need any encouragement to flip through the photos on his smartphone showing the band in concert around the world and numerous KISS-branded products, talked about some of his new ventures, including the KISS arena football team in L.A. and related reality TV show, as well as an upcoming role on “CSI” playing “a part I was born to play: a character named Gene Simmons.”

It’s obvious he doesn’t plan on kicking back any time soon.

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