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Last year, Kiss revisited 1982’s Creatures of the Night for a massive 40th anniversary box set, and Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley recently sat down with American Songwriter to discuss the pivotal album, the band’s tenth studio effort overall.

Recalling how Creatures was the band’s last record to present them in face paint before they unmasked, for the first time, with the following year’s Lick It Up, Stanley said, “It was more difficult for Gene to take off the makeup because he was lost without it. He had created such a strong persona that it took another album and the lack of embracing of Creatures by the public to make him realize that people were listening with their eyes and were tired of what they were seeing, and we needed to do something drastic.”

As for the heavier sound of the record, he reasoned that with 1981’s disastrous Music from ‘The Elder’, “We gummed the music. We had no teeth. We were more concerned with our contemporaries, and our friends’ opinions than our fans’ opinions. We were looking for approval from people who we would never get it from or we would get it at a cost to the people who really mattered, the people who made us in the first place.”

As a result, Stanley said, “Gene and I realized that we were on the brink of not extinction, but implosion. We had lost our understanding or respect for our success. The music wasn’t good, and we were off to different things that diluted it even further, so we had a moment where we really realized how much the band meant to us. Creatures of the Night was pretty much a declaration of restating who we were and writing songs without any impact from people around us, or anything except who we are at our roots.”

He continued, “Creatures was the start of proving ourselves again to our fans. And it wasn’t going to take one album. To this day, I think it’s just a terrific and untainted album, because we did it without anyone giving us input, and we had Eric Carr, who was a fabulous drummer, and now we could do the kind of music that we hadn’t been able to.”

And yet, he said, “Once we finished it and put it out, it was met with a lukewarm response by most people, and that was because people had enough of us, and understandably. We kind of lost our focus and lost our way. We got off at the wrong exit and kept going.”

Added Simmons about that period in Kiss’ history, “The guys were starting to be better looking than their girlfriends, so it was a very unsure time. The fact that Creatures came out pretty decently, we can look back proudly at it as a real triumph. Despite the hurdles, we were still able to deliver the goods.”