Former SKID ROW singer Sebastian Bach has once again defended KISS against claims that the band is using pre-recorded tracks during its farewell tour.
Ever since KISS‘s “End Of The Road” trek launched in early 2019, there has been persistent online chatter about frontman Paul Stanley allegedly singing to a backing tape. The speculation stemmed from the fact that Stanley had been struggling to hit the high notes in many of the band’s classic songs for a number of years.
Bach, a self-proclaimed KISS über fan, weighed in on the rumors of playback tracks being using at KISS concerts while responding to a question from the Syncin’ Stanley YouTube channel at this weekend’s Fanboy Expo in Orlando, Florida. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “My position on that is that if you are in your 70s, if you’re 72 and you gotta put on foot-high monster boots and a Godzilla costume and hook yourself up to wires and fly to the top of the roof and sing, a guy in that age, I don’t really have a problem with a guy that’s in his 70s or 80s that might use the technology to give us a show. I can’t imagine my mom, who’s 81, I can’t imagine her breathing fire and spitting blood. Well, I can imagine the spitting blood part. But I don’t mind the technology being used for its proper thing, like an old dude giving a show, trying his best. But he’s old, right? What I do have a fucking problem with — excuse my language there, but you know who you’re talking to here — I don’t like when I have an opening band who’s 23 and they have the whole show on a click track and the background vocals are going. You can tell so easily — it’s so easy.
“I’m not saying I’m the greatest singer, and you can hear it on my YouTube [videos],” he continued. “I don’t always sing great. Nobody does. Newsflash — not everybody sings perfect every single show. That’s not what rock and roll is. You have good nights; you have bad nights.
“You can’t tell me about using tapes in a video. I know who’s doing it, I know who’s not, and if you wanna sit down and watch the video with me and tell me that you’re not using the tapes, I will tell you that you’re full of shit because I don’t use tapes. And if you do, I’m not gonna pretend that you are on the same level.”
Bach added: “I have seen KISS about four or five times [in the last three or four years], and it’s still the greatest rock show in the world because KISS… There’s no show that has the excitement of KISS. When the lights go down and that bass goes [imitates a low-frequency hum], and then they fucking hit the stage.
“If KISS were in their twenties, I would not like them to use tapes. Or if they were like an athlete one day and said, ‘Oh, I think I wanna be a rock star.’ And then they just get up there and do jumping jacks and have a tape going, I’ve got a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with a 75-year old-man giving me the show that he’s always given, but also… We’re not, as fans, dicks. We should pay respect to a guy like Paul Stanley for everything that he’s done in his whole life. Being of that age and still giving us the KISS show… I feel sorry for people that don’t go to a KISS show… It’s your loss.”
Back in February 2019, Bach praised KISS after witnessing the band’s concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. At the time, he wrote in a series of tweets: “KISS hit the exact same notes in Anaheim that they did in their 30s.
“I listened to Paul Stanley sing his ass off LIVE. I paid tribute to the band that has given us more than any other band that any of us can name. I have seen way more obvious use of backing tracks than with KISS.
“KISS is not lip syncing,” he added. “There are too busy putting on the greatest rock show you will ever see.”
Bach‘s comments came just hours after MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx called out another band for using taped vocals during its live performances after it previously derided other groups for doing the same thing.
Sixx wrote on Twitter: “Certain band out on the road right now putting other bands DOWN and saying that they are a REAL rock band, no background singers,and other old people cranky comments except his lead vocals are on tape.People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks. #GetOffMyLawn #WizardOfOz”
Most fans assumed that Sixx was referring to KISS, especially since KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons has previously slammed bands who used backing tapes for not being honest enough to include that fact on their concert tickets.
After KISS played on NBC‘s “America’s Got Talent” in September 2018, Stanley was asked by Rolling Stone if that was actually a live performance or if he and his bandmates tracked it earlier. “What you tend to do is record it live and that way you know that everything is as it should be,” he responded. “It’s not like going into the studio or anything like that. It’s…with all its imperfections, it’s live.”
In recent years, more and more artists have been given a pass for relying on pre-recorded tracks, drum triggers and other assorted technology that makes concerts more synthetic but also more consistent. For better or worse, pre-recorded tracks are becoming increasingly common for touring artists of all levels and genres and they’re not just used in pop music — many rock artists utilize playback tracks to varying degrees.
This past March, KISS‘s longtime manager Doc McGhee defended Stanley‘s vocal performance on “End Of The Road”, explaining that the “Star Child” “fully sings to every song” at every concert. He explained: It’s enhanced. It’s just part of the process to make sure that everybody hears the songs the way they should be sang to begin with. Nobody wants to hear people do stuff that’s not real, that’s not what they came to hear.”
When McGhee was asked to clarify if he was “actually saying there are backing tracks that [Paul is] singing to,” Doc said: “He’ll sing to tracks. It’s all part of a process. Because everybody wants to hear everybody sing. But he fully sings to every song.”
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