& TELL INTERVIEW WITH ERIC SINGER
September 25, 2009
By Dan Kane
GateHouse News Service

The son of a popular Cleveland bandleader, Kiss drummer Eric Singer grew up in the '70s listening to WMMS and jamming on drums with his neighborhood rocker pals.

He found his career path early.

In 1984, Singer went on tour with hard-rock goddess Lita Ford, and a year later joined Black Sabbath. In 1989, he played drums on Kiss frontman Paul Stanley's solo tour, which led to an ongoing gig with Kiss. Singer simultaneously has been Alice Cooper's drummer since 2000, and has played on three Cooper albums to date.

Singer has played with Kiss steadily since 2004, appears on the band’s forthcoming album, "Sonic Boom," and is on tour with the band.

Singer, 51, was on his way to Detroit for tour rehearsals when he phoned to chat Tuesday afternoon.

Q. Tell me about the preshow ritual of putting on your Kiss makeup.

A. It's like the calm before the storm, if you will. The four of us get together and it's like a war room where we're preparing for battle. We're sitting there for a couple of hours and there's always great music. Gene will play deejay a lot of time. He likes to pull out old crazy blues stuff and doo-wop. It's very eclectic.

Q. I imagine you have to be on top of your game with this band.

A. It's a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. People have this misconception that it's all fun and games, and some bands do just get out there and play. But there are higher expectations for a Kiss show. Kiss is a spectacle. It's the circus meets rock 'n' roll. Gene and Paul have always said when they created Kiss, they created the show they never got to see. We’ve got to turn them on visually as well as musically.

Q. Growing up in Cleveland, did you see Kiss in concert?

A. I sure did. The first time was at the Allen Theatre; they opened for the New York Dolls. Then I saw them later that year at the Akron Civic Theatre, and Rush was their opening act.

Q. And now you're in Kiss, playing some of those same songs onstage.

A. There's a certain bag of tricks that Kiss is known for, and songs they've got to do. Gene and Paul have performed some of these songs for 30, 35 years.

Q. From your position onstage, do you have a good view of the audience?

A. It depends on the venue and the lighting. But I can always feel the intensity of the crowd. There's nothing like it. Kiss fans are crazy.

Q. Do you have a big drum solo in the show?

A. The song "100,000 Years" traditionally has the drum solo. I get my chance to shine and the band gets a chance to take a break.

Q. There's a new Kiss album coming out, "Sonic Boom." Tell me about it.

A. It's the first new Kiss music in 11 years. The band got really inspired playing in Europe last year. They wanted an old-school Kiss record with no outside songwriters. We'd go in the rehearsal room, work up ideas, then go in the studio and record. We played live, it's all analog. We think it's a great record. It's coming out Oct. 6, exclusively at Wal-Mart.

Q. Why Wal-Mart?

A. Because it's the biggest store in the world, Wal-Mart can sell stuff at a really inexpensive price, more bang for the buck. You get a CD of all-new Kiss music, a second CD of Kiss classics rerecorded by the current lineup and a live concert DVD from Buenos Aires earlier this year, and it's only 12 bucks.

Q. Tell me about your involvement with Kiss. I know you've been in and out of the band.

A. I first met Paul in '89, when I did his first solo tour. I first joined Kiss in '91, did the "Revenge" tour, went to Australia a couple of times, South America, Japan. Then they reunited with Ace and Peter for a few years. I've been back for good since 2004.

Q. Is Ace Frehley still in the band?

A. No, Tommy Thayer has been in Ace's spot since 2002. Ace didn't want to do it any more, had to tackle some of his demons. This lineup, with me and Tommy and Paul and Gene, has been the same since '04.

Q. How did you start playing drums?

A. Both my parents were musicians. My mother sings and my dad was a well-known bandleader around town. I first played in his band as a 14-year-old — country clubs, dinners, weddings, that kind of thing.

Q. Doesn't sound very rock 'n' roll, Eric.

A. The whole rock thing happened when I met a bunch of kids who were all into music big time and played instruments and started jamming. One of my first bands was in the sixth grade. And I mean just growing up in Cleveland, it was such a great breeding ground for rock 'n' roll.