In conjunction with the CD’s release, KISS Asylum was fortunate to have an opportunity to ask Bill some questions, many of which KISS fans have been wondering about for years.
KA: Is it true that you have the famous rehearsals from ’73 that were shot with one camera in black and white? And if you do, will you ever release them one day?
Bill Aucoin: Yes, I do have it and… we’ll see.
KA: To your knowledge, was the Lakeland show where Ace got shocked captured on video?
KA: There has been a longstanding claim by many Alice Cooper fans that the only reason KISS became such a success was because around 1975 the Alice Cooper band broke up and KISS was there to fill the void. Thoughts?
BA: No, I didn’t feel KISS was following in Alice’s footsteps, although Alice did break down some doors. No one believed a band with makeup would make it to the top.
KA: Most fans know the story of how you financed the Dressed To Kill tour on your American Express Card. When did KISS actually become self-sustaining?
BA: Before Alive we were broke. We started to make money after Alive. Sales went up and we were filling various sized halls. The big money came in 77-78.
KA: When KISS went to record Destroyer what was the mood in the studio? Were you confident that KISS could follow up from the success of Alive?
BA: The mood was very excited and up, and we did know we had something very special. Bob was great. Very brilliant. He did have disagreements with Ace and Peter, but Bob was right.
KA: Was the decision to use Bob Ezrin to produce Destroyer in any way related to the fact he had produced Alice Cooper before that?
BA: We used Bob Ezrin because Bob was a brilliant concept producer. They only thought was whether he would get along with the guys or not.
KA: Gene has stated that the solo album project came about to keep the band together by allowing the members a little time to do their own things. In hindsight, do you think that a short break would have been a better thing to do?
BA: No. We owed records to the label. This way the members had a break from each other as well as delivering four records. The record company made the mistake of thinking they could sell four times as many records. Eventually they all sold very well.
KA: So do you think doing the solo albums kept the original band together longer, or do you think they actually drove the band further apart? Hindsight is a wonderful thing, obviously, but given it over again would you release the solos or go with a normal KISS album.
BA: There was no choice. They needed their own time. If I could change anything it would be the way they were released. There were mistakes with advertising and stores, and fans.
KA: Why 3 consecutive albums in Dynasty, Unmasked, and The Elder that were such a departure from the music KISS had played in the past? Did anybody stop to think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
BA: The record label wanted to open more musical lines including rock, pop and dance. Some did very well. “Beth” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” were two of the biggest hits, and other songs from those albums were big hits outside America.
KA: Was it really in the band’s best interest that the recording of Music from the Elder took place after a blow to the band of losing an original, well loved member a year before? There were rumors that Eric Carr and Ace were both against even doing that record.
BA: Eric wasn’t against the album, although he did want it to be a little more rock and roll. Basically it was a Bob Ezrin album.
KA: Both Eric Singer and the KISSTORY book say that there was another drummer alongside Eric Carr during the recording of Music from the Elder. The book states that Eric Carr didn’t play drums on the tracks “Odyssey” and “I”. Is this true? And if it is, then who was this drummer?
BA: There was one song that Eric didn’t have the proper feel for so we used someone else. Maybe “I”. I can’t remember which one. I don’t remember which drummer we used, but we did periodically use drummers like Anton Fig and Allan Schwartzberg.
KA: Was most of the music heard on KISS’s albums actually played by the original band members themselves, or are there other players nobody has ever heard of before in there?
BA: Yes, there were some other musicians on some albums. It started with Destroyer. Bob Ezrin and Ace had a conflict and Ace didn’t show up a few times, though aside from the odd solo the band played all their parts. Anton Fig played [drums] on Dynasty and Unmasked.
KA: During your time with the band did a “stand in” ever put on the make up and play for a band member at any concerts? [2010 note for context: This question was asked in the wake of drum tech Eddie Canon sitting in for Peter Criss, in makeup, during a Reunion Tour show in Columbus, Georgia]
BA: No, definitely not.
KA: What are your thoughts on the Tom Snyder interview from October 31, 1979? Gene didn’t really seem to have a sense of humor towards the other members.
BA: I loved the interview because it gave Ace and Peter the chance to stand out, and Paul and Gene were upset for that very reason.
KA: How did you get on with Ace? Did you find his behavior in the ’70’s difficult, or were you able to join in the fun?
BA: I got on great with Ace. He is a real sweetheart, lots of fun. He would take the shirt of his back for someone.
KA: Which member of Kiss were you the closest to and do you have a fondest memory?
BA: They all brought their own passion in to the band, but I was very close to Eric. One of my fondest memories was working close with him up until the deadline of the first show to get his costume ready.
KA: Which of the KISS members do you think is most dedicated to bettering KISS (who put in the most)?
BA: Gene. He is a real workaholic.
KA: What would you have KISS do if you were their manager again right now?
BA: Have them put out a better album. The new merchandise is all for financial reasons.
Note: This interview was originally posted on the website KISS Asylum, which I was co-owner/content manager of from 1997-2004. A few questions that would make no sense contextually eleven years after the fact have been omitted in this reposting. Bill Aucoin died of complications from prostate cancer on Monday, June 28, 2010.