How does KISS star Tommy Thayer shoot rockets out of his guitar?

KISS performing live at the Dutch Forum, Milan, May 2010
KISS performing live at the Dutch Forum, Milan, May 2010 (Image credit: Henry Ruggeri/Corbis)

There are artists that know how to put on a show. And then there's KISS. In a recent interview with Guitarist magazine, Tommy Thayer explained how his live showpiece stays on target:

"Basically, you have a pyrotechnic shot that's attached to the back of the headstock and it's all done electronically. It's done safely, too, as it's not just a matter of hitting a button: you also have to engage what's called a kill switch before you can go to the firing button.

"The guitar had to be kind of a custom, so I called Gibson and I picked a black Les Paul. Some wiring had to be installed, so space was routed out up the neck, and it's a pretty technical and impressive piece of machinery.

"There are three shots for that part of the solo, so there are three buttons: you shoot the rockets and it's a lot of fun. I remember the first few times I was nervous because I didn't want to screw it up.

"People say, 'That's such an Ace [Frehley] thing, why do you guys do that?' But we don't look at it that way: it's a KISS thing. It's part of a KISS show. End of story."

For much more from Tommy Thayer, including exclusive video and the full skinny on his signature Epiphone Spaceman Les Paul, check out issue 359 of Guitarist magazine, on sale now.

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