© (P) 1998 Mercury/PolyGram Records.
Paul Stanley, Curt Cuomo
The preconceived (some might say contrived) concept that served as the basis for KISS' reunion album. "Psycho Circus" was more about the whole marketing concept behind the album and the commercial tie-ins that included: A 3-D tour, comics and magazine, and other licensing opportunities. Early on it was decided to gear the album towards the "Psycho Circus" theme. The marketing tie-in was the brainchild of manager Doc McGhee and started making press in late-1997.
The title track was written by Paul Stanley and Curt Cuomo, though Bruce Kulick and Bob Ezrin helped Paul demo the song prior to the recording sessions. According to Bruce Fairbairn, "Getting in Paul's car and listening to a demo of that. We didn't have an opener for the record. We didn't have anything that was going to start things off. And he just looked at me and said, 'Check this. This is it...' We both sat there and looked at each other and started to laugh. Because that was it" (KISS Online w/ Bruce Fairbairn). With the extended introduction KISS finally had the animal circus introduction that mirrored one that the Beatles had once used. For the track Paul was attempting to write a big visual track, similar to "King Of The Night Time World."
It's generally thought that Paul played lead guitar on the track, and Bruce played bass on the song in addition to the demo. However, it is equally possible that the solo is Tommy. Like many songs on the album, it's more clear who isn't playing! "Psycho Circus" became the band's first #1 US single, albeit on Billboard's "Mainstream Rock Tracks." While it may not have been the standard charts, it did at least mean that the track was getting plenty of radio play, even if the album wasn't flying off store shelves.