KissFAQ: Diane, thanks so much for giving me some time to talk with you about your writing career with KISS.
Diane Warren: I love KISS and Paul Stanley's a really good friend of mine.
So the purpose of this call particularly is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band's "Crazy Nights" album, on which of course appeared your first co-write with Paul.
Fuck, 30 years ago!?
Yeah, I'm sorry.
Fuck me, oh my god. That's crazy, how can that be? I was like 5 when I did that song!
(Laughs) You were? And now you're 15!
Yeah, I was a real prodigy. Isn't that funny how that happens? Wow, I can't believe that's 30 years. Jesus, that's crazy.
So, at what point in your life did music become something special, something that you wanted to participate in?
When I was little, you know? I always knew I was going to do this. I kind of always knew I was gonna write songs.
Is there a particular song or artist that was your "Ed Sullivan" moment, so to speak?
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. That was definitely a moment.
There's a whole generation that was affected by that moment.
I know, isn't that crazy? I mean, it's not really like that anymore. It's so fragmented but, yeah.
Did you play any instruments? I believe your bio says that your father bought you a guitar...
I taught myself guitar and then later on I taught myself piano.
Which do you prefer to write with? Do you have a preference?
I write on both. Probably keyboards more, but I love writing on my guitar too. I write different kinds of songs. You know, I'm still like trying to get over the 30 years thing.
So, how does Diane Warren enter the orbit of the KISS world? Were you working with Desmond first, or were you working with Paul Stanley, because Paul was working with Desmond a lot during that period?
I'm trying to think how I met Paul Stanley? Maybe it was through Desmond Child. I'm pretty sure I met Desmond first, I think it was 1986. So I want to say I must have met Paul though Desmond. I don't know how else I would have met him. I can't remember shit. One other really cool thing is from this, aside from a really good friendship, Paul and Gene are great. I've become good, good friends with Paul through the years. I remember him, a long time ago, saying, "You need to make sure you have a trainer. That you always work out," and stuff. You know what, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have had the same trainer for almost 30 years now.
He's been religious about staying fit and taking care of himself as much as he can for the rigors of what he does. He's a great role model for people to follow.
Yeah. He's a great guy.
What do you remember about writing "Turn On The Night" with Paul at this time? How was the session set up? Did you guys meet in person, was it over the phone?
We worked together, I remember that. You know, it was just a fun song. I thought it was a really good song. We wrote some other things together and then later on I wrote a song called "Nothing Can Keep Me From You." I think that was the first outside song that KISS ever did that they didn't write, and that was really cool. It started from doing that song with Paul. It was a cool song.
How does a song like that start for you? I mean, are you working on a keyboard with a melody?
I think I was probably at the piano and he was on guitar. I honestly can't remember, it's a long time ago.
He was a new collaborator writing with you. How do you, do you prepare to write with someone if that, that situation does arise?
Yeah, I don't write with a lot of people. I write by myself usually, so I didn't prepare. I don't prepare, I just come in the room and see what happens.
As much as you can recall, did it happen quickly or was it over a period of days that the song came together?
It was pretty quick. I take a long time on my own songs, but if I'm in a room with somebody it's usually pretty quick. It's 30 years ago, so the hard part is going to be remembering all the stuff! I think it was probably a couple of sessions, but I do remember loving the song when we were writing it.
It became the third single from the album, so Paul obviously loved it as well.
Cool, yeah, he loved that song.
If I was to ask you if there was a Diane Warren fingerprint on the song, would you be able to say that's me without a doubt?
I'm sure I'm in there, all over the place and I'm sure Paul is. I was gonna say, like a big chorus is usually me, but a big chorus is KISS too.
Which would probably be why it was a good combination as well with how the song turns out.
You were obviously coming off the No. 1 hit with the Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." Did working with KISS open any new doors for you, or was it just something on the resume that just expanded you cachet within the industry?
I think it got me writing songs for more rock artists, definitely because of that.
Because Aerosmith came along and after that and Bon Jovi.
Aerosmith, yeah. There was Cheap Trick, Bon Jovi... I wrote with a lot of rock artists, you know. All those hair bands too, like RATT, and people like that. I've always done all kinds of songs for all kinds of people, but the KISS thing definitely opened the door for more bands to work with me.
It might seem a rather inane question, but when you heard KISS' fully-recorded version was your vision for the song fully realized in how they captured it in the studio?
I remember loving what I heard, but I'm going to be honest, it is a long time ago!
It is, there's been a lot of songs for you since!
Yeah, like a million songs ago! But I remember loving the record when I heard it.
Do you recall Paul talking about it as a single possibility or was that something that the just completely handled on his own without talking to you?
I remember he thought it was a hit. We both did.
Success is wonderful, but when a single fails to chart, like this one did, do you ever go back and analyze it, or do you just walk away?
No, I move on.
You walk away?
I move on. The charts don't always matter. The songs can live on. Some of my most memorable songs, the songs people love the most, weren't my highest-charting songs.
You're so prolific, and you've done so many different genres. Do you have any emotional attachments to these songs once they are written or recorded?
Thanks. It depends on the songs. Certain ones will be more emotional, and I'll be more emotionally attached to.
You wrote "(You Make Me) Rock Hard" with Paul for their "Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits" compilation. Was that the following year or was that an idea that started around the same time as when you were doing "Turn on the Night?"
I don't remember, it was like probably around the same time. I think that was my title, and it was kind of a joke.
I have to ask you about "Nothing Can Keep Me From You." KISS fans have a mixed opinion on that, especially with the Aerosmith song the previous year, for the "Armageddon" movie. Paul was originally reported as going to co-write with you for their movie project. Do you recall anything about the situation that happened that resulted in that not happening?
No, I just remember that I played him the song and he loved it.
It was good enough for him then to not need his involvement?
Gene really loved it too. That was great, you know.
The KissFAQ thanks Diane for participating in the Danger Zone, celebrating the 30th anniversary of KISS' "Crazy Nights" album. Diane Warren can be found online at http://www.realsongs.com.
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