Paul Stanley has a simple mantra for everything he plans to do in the future: "If it's not fun, it's not worth doing," he tells UCR.

Kiss played what will reportedly be their final live concerts as a group at the end of 2023, wrapping up a 50-year career with two shows at Madison Square Garden. Of course, there's an asterisk, as the band revealed at the end of the second MSG performance that there will be a new era of Kiss -- one allowing them to continue virtually in avatar form.

The revelation has triggered an expected amount of discussion and debate, something which the singer and guitarist addressed during the conversation. "The purpose, ultimately, is not that we're being replaced by flying avatars," he explained. "It's just another way of diversifying what Kiss is."

As he was getting ready for his upcoming art exhibition at the Wentworth Galleries in Florida on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24, he joined us via Zoom to discuss some of his latest artwork, what he's thinking about doing musically post-Kiss -- and why the band stopped making albums.

Tell me about your new series, The Other Side. What ties this collection together in your mind?
What ties it all together is me. I’ve always appreciated and certainly never felt in any way worthy of a comparison, of course, to Picasso. What I loved about Picasso was when he was asked to describe himself as an artist, he said, “If I had to describe myself, I’d describe myself as an artist without a style.” I think that’s worth emulating. I think that’s worth always keeping in mind. I understand that people like to perfect a technique. I’m more interested in just finding ways to express myself. I purposefully try to avoid getting bogged down in technique or a technique. I’m constantly trying to find ways to avoid too much thought. Because for me to reflect who I am, honestly, means not thinking about who I am. But rather, being it -- or doing it.

Paul Stanley's 'The New Dawn'

Paul Stanley - The New Dawn
Mad Ink PR
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"The New Dawn," which is part of this collection, has what seems like a Southwestern feel to it.
Well, I very much love and I would say, again, rather than emulate something -- being inspired or absorbing [something], whether it’s folk art or tribal art. The honest, primitive nature of it is something that I’d love to make sure is in my work. As opposed to understanding or learning color relationships and things like that, which I have no desire to be a part of. It’s always interesting that people tend to say I’m fearless with color -- or the colors I choose are so striking. Well, that’s because I use the colors that I think work, as opposed to using the colors that side by side make sense on a chart. It’s a way for me to stay as honest and reflect myself as much as possible without premeditation.

What was the challenge of working on some of these pieces? Are there certain pieces that stick with you because of the experience of working on them?
Not really. I have to say, what changes over the course of a year is my emphasis or how I approach painting. A lot of my newest pieces don’t look much like my older pieces. Yet, they’re very, very much a reflection of me today and my life today. Could they be analyzed? Sure. I find it really interesting how many ways my art has changed over the years. Again, the only thing that has been consistent is color. I like the freedom of not looking back. Sometimes, I look at some of my paintings in a way that you would look at baby pictures of yourself. As I’ve said, rarely do I toil over anything But also, at some point, I had to come to the realization that what may be effortless for one person is impossible for another. That’s part of what I think validates what you do. You don’t equate the value of something with the time spent on it. Because something could take forever and just look overworked. Something else can go rather quickly and be fantastic.

Paul Stanley's 'Guitar Dreams'

Paul Stanley - Guitar Dreams
Mad Ink PR
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We spoke early on as we were getting into this conversation about the separation you keep between your art and music. What do you still want to do musically?
I’ve thought about that. I’m not really sure. With Kiss, it really reached a point where clearly, the band is rooted in our past and living up to it. As much as people would say they wanted a new album, the truth was, it didn’t matter how good it was. It doesn’t have the gravitas of the importance to somebody that an earlier album has. Because those were snapshots of somebody’s life. Those were moments that they can relate to a song. So that just became a bit frustrating, in terms of working hard to do a great album and having it kind of glossed over because somebody, understandably, wants to hear “Love Gun.”

I get it. But judging some of the newer material on its own merits, it was and is as good. The great stuff from the last two albums, I’d say, is as good as anything we’d done. At that point, it just became clear that if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. Musically, at this point, I was actually thinking, if I went out and played, what would I want to play? Well, I love [my] Soul Station [band], because it’s music that I’m passionate about. To hear those songs live is thrilling, to be a part of something that lush and big. I love the people in the band, so Soul Station, for sure, that’s a must. As far as going out and playing with a band? I just don’t know. I imagine I’ll do it. But at this point, I don’t know what I’ll do.

READ MORE: Kiss Albums Ranked Worst to Best

You're in an interesting place, because the idea of you going out and playing shows with a band, there's less baggage. Because you're not putting on the suit like you have with Kiss for the past 50 years.
I think what becomes most important is to have not only the freedom, but accept the freedom to do it your way. In other words, I’m sure there are fans that are disappointed with what Robert Plant does. But to his credit, he’s doing what he enjoys. It has its audience that understands that he’s not replicating Led Zeppelin, nor could he -- any more than Wilt Chamberlain could go on the court and shoot like he once did. It’s physically impossible. The idea of playing is appealing, you just have to realize that everyone won’t be happy with what you do. But if you’re happy, you’ll find other people. If something appeals to you and it fills a need in you, it will fill a need in someone else. Then, it’s just a matter of the scale.

If you do go out and play with a band, are there parts of the Kiss back catalog that you'd like to revisit, deeper cuts?
I don’t want to try to replicate Kiss. That is what it is. And it’s so special and unique that it can only fail. If the idea is to duplicate that, that doesn’t have any appeal to me. I guess I would have to figure, what does appeal to me? That’s still up in the air. Certainly, at this point -- and it always has been the case -- it has to come down to, what makes me happy? If it doesn’t make me happy, the happiness it might bring somebody else is going to be hollow for me.

Kiss Solo Albums Ranked Worst to Best

Counting down solo albums released by various members of Kiss.

Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

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