In a new interview with Guitar World, KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer was asked what he thinks his legacy will be with KISS. He responded: “I don’t know if many people realize this, but I’ve been the lead guitarist in KISS longer than any other KISS guitar player. But I will always be known as ‘the new guy’ though — no matter what happens. I’m ‘the Ronnie Wood‘ of KISS.
“My legacy will be a guy who came in, worked hard, and was the glue that kept the band together for a long period of time,” he continued. “I think the kind of character and personality that I have is that of a team player and somebody who can bring people together and bind things together.
“And I think the reason that we’ve done so well and so consistently in the last 20 years is because of the personalities, the give and take, and the ability to keep everybody happy… and keep working together on a professional level.
“It works well. I’ll probably be that guy that has been in the band longer than anybody else besides Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley], that kept things together, and was the glue that made it work.”
Nearly three years ago, Thayer admitted to Argus Leader in an interview that his addition to KISS in 2003 as the replacement for Ace Frehley was met with some backlash from the band’s fans. However, now that he has been in KISS even longer than Frehley‘s combined years, he said that he has become more comfortable in the lead guitar role.
“I have to be honest, when I first came into the band, there was some pressure,” Thayer said. “It was kind of a no-win situation when you’re replacing somebody like that. There’s a lot of fans who are unhappy with this and I understand. They followed the band for a long time and it’s hard to see things like that change sometimes. After a few years went by, I got more confident and more comfortable in the situation, as time goes on, it continues to be a growing experience and something that I get more used to.”
Back in October 2018, Frehley told Yahoo! Entertainment that he had “nothing bad to say about Tommy… You know, it’d be one thing if Tommy would have invented his own character, invented his own guitar solos,” he said. “But unfortunately, he’s copying everything I do, note for note. There’s not much leeway for anybody to say what he’s doing is original. I don’t know how I could handle that, you know? I don’t think I could step into a situation and be somebody else. It’s almost like being a robot. Poor Tommy. My heart bleeds for him.”
Thayer told Rolling Stone magazine that he had no discomfort about wearing Frehley‘s makeup. He explained: “First of all, I didn’t have any input on that. That was a decision that those guys made. There was not even a conversation about it, because I think it was so obvious, that they weren’t going to introduce new characters 30 years into the band. I never thought that there should be some new designs or something. I thought that would have been ridiculous. And the only thing is, you’ve got a lot of push-back from some of the diehards. And that’s understandable. Hey, you know, if you lived in the seventies and KISS was your favorite band, and that’s what you grew up with, and suddenly there’s another guy wearing that makeup, I can understand how some people, it might not have appealed to them as much. But as time as gone by, a lot of people have changed their mind.”
Back in 2015, Thayer refused to criticize Frehley after Ace spoke out against Tommy in an interview, describing him as “just a guy up there copying me and trying to move like me and trying to sing like me and trying to play like me.”
Thayer told Australia’s The Herald: “I don’t want to get into a back-and-forth, but I’m sure you can kind of assess what you think when you hear all that.
“I think [Ace] had every opportunity in the world to continue in KISS and be in KISS as long as he did the right thing, but it worked out better for me and he has to lead his life,” he continued.
“As far as the jabs and all that, he can say that stuff and I’m not going to say anything bad about him. I just wish all the best to everybody in whatever they’re doing.”