Why ‘Long Way Down’ Was Probably Kiss’ Final Single
The members of Kiss have always been their own biggest fans and staunchest advocates. The face-painted rockers' steadfast belief in themselves helped them prevail over addiction, lineup changes and shifting musical tides throughout their long career. It even resulted in a pair of late-era triumphs — 2009's Sonic Boom and 2012's Monster — that reached No. 2 and 3 on the Billboard 200, respectively.
Despite these robust chart peaks, there was no denying Kiss' outlier status in a rapidly changing musical economy that prioritized streaming and digital downloads over physical album sales — a classic rock band's bread and butter. It was obvious in the atrophying first-week sales from Sonic Boom (108,000 copies) to Monster (56,000), and in the failure of Monster's second and final single, "Long Way Down," to enter the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart upon its release on Oct. 23, 2012. Despite Kiss' best efforts, the track's hearty glam-rock stomp failed to connect with a large audience — and it will likely mark the last single they ever release.
Ten years later and amid their sprawling End of the Road farewell tour, Kiss seemed in no hurry to issue a follow-up to Monster. Co-bandleader Paul Stanley discussed the futility of rock bands trying to compete with their catalog of hits in an August 2022 appearance on the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast.
When asked if a new Kiss album was in the works, he said (via Blabbermouth), "No. Because at this point, I came to the conclusion that it can never compete with the past. Not because it's not as good, but it hasn't the connection to important times in your life. It doesn't have that patina to it of, 'Gee, I remember I heard this song when I was 18,' or, 'I heard this song when I was on my first date or whatever.' You can't compete with that. It's more than a song; it's a snapshot of your life at a certain point."
Listen to Kiss' 'Long Way Down'
Stanley maintained that some of Kiss' newer songs were "every bit as good as anything I've ever written," but they simply couldn't compete with their time-honored classics as a consequence of their newness. "Somebody says, 'Why don't you do a new album?' You do a new album and do a song — we have one song, 'Modern Day Delilah', which is as good as 'Love Gun' or any of these songs, but it hasn't aged. It's not like wine that has a chance to have grown in importance. Not just because of what it is, but because what it's surrounded by."
As a result, the singer and guitarist said he wasn't champing at the bit to write a new Kiss album. "I think it's setting myself up for disappointment," he surmised. "Not crushing disappointment, but when you put your heart and soul into doing something and it kind of gets a polite nod, there's other things I'd rather do." (The band collaborated with pop group Momorio Clover Z for the 2015 Japan-only single "Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina.")
Kiss also exercised this philosophy onstage. For all of its muscular, T. Rex-style crunch and swagger, "Long Way Down" appeared in only five set lists throughout 2012 and 2013. The rest of Monster withered similarly, except lead single "Hell of Hallelujah," which the band performed more than 160 times between 2012 and 2018, according to setlist.fm. Still, that's a far cry from the '70s smashes "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "Detroit Rock City," which have both been played live more than 2,000 times.
Singer, bassist and consummate businessman Gene Simmons was more direct in his reasoning for Kiss not releasing new music: They wouldn't get their money's worth out of the endeavor. "Not to say we don’t enjoy the creative process, but Kiss is not a charity," he told Classic Rock in May 2022. "Working your ass off to have somebody download or stream your music for free is not my idea of how things should be. When you don't put a value on music, it doesn't have value. So all that's left for Kiss is what’s happening now: the End of the Road tour."