February 24, 2010
KF: That segues us into "Unplugged."

ES: To me, it was kind of bittersweet at the end of it. Once we got to do "MTV Unplugged," I knew it was cool. We played with the original guys. It was cool getting to play double drums onstage with the original band and to be part of that.

But it was also kind of awkward because I knew all the rumors were flying around. And look, it was very obvious that Peter and Ace and their managers were definitely jockeying position to try to get Gene and Paul to do a reunion tour. Look, it wasn't just Gene and Paul trying to MacGyver the whole thing. Absolutely not. That was something that was going on from Ace and Peter's camp. There's no doubt about it.

I have to say in looking back that I didn't think that they would do a reunion tour. I thought it couldn't happen. You have to remember we rehearsed for a week in New York before we taped the show and just from what I saw from the interaction and from other facets, I just didn't think it would happen. And when it did, I was kind of surprised. Was I surprised at the success of it? Yes and no. I didn't know that it would be that big. Honestly, they didn't know it was going to be that big. I don't think they had any idea that that thing would blow up and be so huge that year.

You know, I don't blame Gene and Paul for doing it. I know I would have done the same thing. But personally at the time, I didn't think it would happen and I didn't think it could happen. But you know, everybody rose to the occasion and stepped up the plate. And they made it work and it was a huge success.

KF: You kind of went into my next question, which was about "MTV Unplugged" being a big factor in leading to the reunion. So you did have a sense that was the destiny for KISS at the time?

ES: Bruce told me that he always thought that at some point they would probably come back and do a reunion. He thought it was probably inevitable. But you have to remember at the point I had only been around for maybe four years and Bruce had been around for 11 years. He'd been around a lot longer. He really knew more about the inner workings of how Gene and Paul worked and what went on with KISS.

But at the end of the day, it's all a business. And it's about survival. Some people don't like when musicians start talking about music and business because to them it's very emotional. They don't like when it's talked about as an item, or a product. But at the end of the day, that's what you are, you are in business and you create a product. Your product is your music. That's what you're promoting, that's what you're selling. And that's how you make a living. If somebody is not selling TVs in the style that they make then they have to find a way to make a different style that consumers will buy or they go out of business.

Same thing with a band. If people don't want to come to your shows or if they don't like the music you make or don't like what you're doing, they really do vote through participation. If people aren't buying what you're doing or aren't liking it and supporting it, eventually you see change.

KF: The early '90s were a difficult period for a lot of rock bands.

ES: Yeah, let's face it, in the '90s -- not just KISS -- but a lot of bands had a problem selling tickets and albums.

I was playing with Alice Cooper before I played with KISS and I did Alice's tour in 1990. Now mind you that was the beginning of the '90s and grunge was just about starting to take off and getting a real buzz. But it hadn't taken a foothold yet. In 1990 Alice had a hit record, "Poison," a Top 10 record, and "Trash," a platinum record. I did the tour and that record and tour were a big success all around the world.

The next year in 1991 he came out with "Hey Stoopid" and he hired Desmond Child again and put this big production together thinking that the previous record was a platinum record and it was like, "Okay, we're poised now to go back to the next level. We can go to do a bigger production and bigger shows because we just had this hit record, and this next one should take off as well."

Well, guess what? By the time it came out in 1991, there was the Gulf War, and music had really started to change. I remember I was on tour in 1989 with Badlands and could see things starting to change. But fast forward two years ahead, that Hey Stoopid Tour was a bomb. And that record didn't sell for Alice.

And we did a tour in America called Operation Rock 'N' Roll in 1991. It was with Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Dangerous Toys, and Metal Church. It was five bands doing the sheds. It was a good package when you think about it. Let me tell you, that tour was a fucking bomb. That tour was such a bloodbath. I'll give you a good example. I remember playing the Chicago World Amphitheater, which holds like 35,000, and there were like 2,500-3,000 people at the show. That's it.

Music had really changed a lot. All of the sudden, that style of music was dead. All the bands like Alice Cooper, KISS, Judas Priest -- any of those hard rock or even metal bands. I mean I remember Iron Maiden when they switched singers they could barely play even small venues. People sometimes have short-term memories, it wasn't just KISS that was affected by this.

For me it was kind of tough, I joined the band at the end of 1991 so in 1992 "Revenge" comes out and by that point, people didn't care for that kind of music. And here we had made this great record that got really good reviews and seemed to energize the band. The band tried to take on a tougher look, a tougher sound. We got away from all the colorful clothes. All of the sudden, everyone is wearing more black leather -- it was almost like an older KISS vibe in some ways without it being in makeup. But guess what? Wrong timing. The music scene had changed. And people weren't interested in that kind of music then.

And so we did a few tours -- South America, Asia, Australia, the U.S. But we didn't do that much touring. You could see that it was tough for bands to go on tour. And Gene and Paul still wanted to work and be creative. They had to ask, "What can we do different to mix this up and get some interest?" [We did] the whole convention thing, which ended up turning into "MTV Unplugged," and that whole thing ended up spawning the reunion tour. So in a lot of ways, it created a ground swell and a renewed interest in KISS.

In a way, it's a very cool story. Unfortunately for Bruce and I it turned out to not be a good thing. But it's still great because the bottom line is we are still part of the KISS "family" whether we're in the band or not. I've been in and out of the band a few different times because of politics or because or business decisions. And that's okay. That's just the way it works. As much as you try not to take it personally, because it's what I do for a living and it does affect my personal life, but I also understand that there is a bigger picture here. People make tough choices. Sometimes they really like you and they don't want to make those choices but they realize that it's for the survival of their business.

At this point in the conversation Eric has to take a brief call regarding getting his equipment arrangements ready for the upcoming European tour.

ES: Tim, I'm sorry.

KF: You're just a busy guy, Eric (laughs).

ES: I have to take care of this stuff. When you go to do a tour in Europe or overseas, even though it seems far away, you got to start doing all this stuff way early. Because if you wait to the last minute, sometimes you run into problems and then you realize it ends up costing you a lot of money if you wait too long. If you do stuff way in advance, you don't get hit with cartage and shipping. Let me tell you, you can cut your costs in half by just doing things early.

KF: You said something in your last answer that I wanted to hit upon. In 2004, you had been out of the band a second time and Paul and Gene asked you to come back. Was this an easy decision for you?

ES: Well, Tim, I look at it this way. Sometimes some of those things -- to me they are personal. I don't necessarily need to share all of my emotions or sentiments about every little thing I do.

Think of it like an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend that you decide to get back together with. Are you going to want to tell everybody if you have an on-and-off again relationship with somebody? Do you want to tell everybody what you went through? Not necessarily. Maybe your personal friends or your family. But for everybody me, the bottom line is that I play drums for a living and that's what I want to do. That's what I've always wanted to do from the time I was a kid. And that's what I've been blessed and fortunate enough to be able to do.

One of the hard things to learn to do is to understand the politics that go along with being in a band. It's not easy. It sucks sometimes. The politics and business side of things is what makes it very difficult. It's what eats a lot of people up and chews them up and spits them out, because they can't deal with the emotional roller coaster and all the business side of things. It's a very tough business.

And you know, think about this. A band -- you can take something from nothing, creating songs and an entity, if you will, and all of the sudden turn that from nothing in a garage into a multimillion dollar business. That's the potential of a band. Four young kids starting off in their basement and all of the sudden they come up in the right time, right place with the right music, and all of the sudden it blows up and becomes huge. And now there's a multimillion dollar corporation or business, if you will. Of course, if you're fortunate enough to have success. Those are the exceptions rather than the rules. Most bands don't reach that success and most musicians don't really make much money, or very few do.

KF: KISS is certainly an exception.

ES: I've been at this for a long time now. People that are like established rock stars that are the guys from the original band, say the guys from Queen or Gene and Paul or an Alice Cooper -- these guys have been around and created their band and have been there for the long haul. They've been fortunate enough not to make too many bad missteps with their business or they didn't get involved with drugs or drinking. There's a chance that some of them have held on to some money and/or have been able to have enough longevity and ride out the bumps and the ups and downs and they have been able to have real financial success. But most, I've got to say, 99 percent of the people I know have not made any money in this business.

They just don't. If you are fortunate enough to either have your own band have success or you're smart enough to make the right decisions to hang on to the money you have from your success, you're pretty fortunate. If you are fortunate enough to be a journeyman or a guy that has been able to make a living working with other bands or for other bands like myself...believe me, the older I get, the longer I've been doing it, I realize how fortunate and blessed I have been.

I also believe that it's not just luck. It's just not good fortune. I've worked hard for the things I've done. I've made some good choices, I've kept my noise clean by not getting involved with drugs and drinking. Those are big important things. Sometimes people don't like to talk about that stuff because it doesn't sound cool. But the reality is, what's cool about being a fucking drug addict? Or what's cool about being an alcoholic? There's nothing cool about it.

But sometimes the problem is you think it's cool when you're a kid because you don't know any better. But when you get older and you see what happens to people that lived that lifestyle for many years, then you see all of the sudden, "Wow." The casualty of it -- that's the wake-up call that tells's too bad.

Part of growing up is you're supposed to be rebellious. That's the beauty of rock and roll. Rock and roll is supposed to be about rebellion. It's always considered a young thing. But guess what, that was because rock and roll was a new thing. Nobody knew where rock and roll was going to end up. Nobody knew in the '50s or the '60s that now you fast forward 50 and 60 years, and guess what? Who would have thought that the Rolling Stones would still be playing that many years later and be in their 60s? Or bands like Alice Cooper, KISS and Aerosmith? Because there were no rules before us. Nobody ever set any rules or guidelines saying, "Okay, you have to stop once you turn 40 or once you turn 50. Rock and roll is not cool anymore after a certain age." There were no rules. So everybody is kind of still defining the rules, or I should say, making and breaking the rules as we go along.

My father was a musician and he played up until his late 80s. He was a musician for his whole life, that's how he made a living.

KF: What instrument did he play?

ES: He played violin and saxophone. He was a society bandleader in the Cleveland area. When he was younger he used to play in bands touring around the country and he was a bandleader on some of the cruise ships back in the early '50s, the SS United States and the SS America. The ships that used to go from New York to London and then onto Paris. Before there was rock and roll, there was a kind of music that was popular that people did.

The point I am making is that I saw my father made a living as a musician his whole life. Nobody said, "Okay once you get to be 65 you have to stop playing." That's what he did, that's what he knew. There were no rules. I think bands should play as long as they feel like it or as long as they want to, whether it's individually as a musician or collectively as a band.

And I think long as people want to see us and KISS still wants to play for people, we should do it.

KF: Who do you cite as your top drum influence?

ES: That's a tough one because I like so many. Although I never try to emulate or go down that style of music or drumming, to me Buddy Rich was the greatest drummer that ever lived.

When I grew up Buddy Rich was on TV all the time and I got to see him live a couple of times. So I was exposed to a lot of the big band style of music and I really appreciate those type of drummers.

And I would say that I was influenced by the drummer's role in the band and even though I play rock, I tried to always approach my role in a band as a rock drummer kind of like a big band drummer in the sense that the drummer in big bands -- he would really drive the band. The great big band drummers were the guys that really had power and could drive the band. And I always felt that that's the job of the drummer in a rock band. To take that kind of approach and do the same thing. Really lead the band and drive it in a live sense and really kick the band in the ass.

KF: Who would ever draw the parallel between big band music and Eric Singer?

ES: Well, it's a philosophy that I have always tried to crossover from one style of music to another.

Sometimes the way I approach the drums, even in a rock sense, is similar to that. I try to listen to the vocals and listen to the melody lines and accentuate parts of those things -- be melodic with it and support some of those vocal lines and solo lines. And that's what a big band drummer would do in that music. So I try to take that approach and apply it to what I do in KISS or what I've done in other rock bands.

KF: That's an interesting approach for a rock drummer.

ES: I think it comes from my upbringing and from me being influenced by those kind of bands. I played some of that style of music in my father's band growing up but I would never say that I'm a jazz or big band kind of drummer. But I did play some big band stuff and did that kind of music starting at 14 years old so I definitely have that as a background.

Most people don't even know that about me. They just know me from playing in rock bands and when I started with Lita Ford. And that's all they know. They don't realize my roots were really from a different kind of music, even though I listened to rock music from the time I was a little kid in the '60s. That's what I've always wanted to play and aspired to do but playing in my dad's band gave me a totally different style of music to be brought up under and to be influenced by. And I have to say I see the value of it because I was able to apply what I learned, and what I learned really works for all music, in my opinion.

KF: Take me back to the first time you recorded professionally in a studio. What was that experience like?

ES: Well my first studio experience was probably doing demos back in Ohio with friends in local bands that I played in. But my first record I ever did was that Black Sabbath record, "Seventh Star" -- that's the first record I ever did and that was in 1985 when we recorded it. It came out in, I think 1986.

My first record was done back then, 25 years ago. Even though I had done some demos and recording with people before, I never had anything that was officially released as a record until then.

For me it was pretty heavy to have no experience and all of the sudden your first record is a Black Sabbath record (laughs). It was very cool though. The one thing I have to say, every step of the way, I always kept my eyes and ears open because I realized that you better have a very, very fast learning curve because you may not get another opportunity. In other words, if you don't take advantage of these opportunities that are presented to you right now you may not get other opportunities down the line. I kind of grasped those moments and had a very good work ethic and was very focused on everything I did at all times.

I always tried to keep my energy level very, very high because I think that's important. People recognize when you come in and you're upbeat, you're energetic and you don't get burnt out. You have plenty of gas in the tank, if you will. People notice those kinds of things and they see your work ethic and your attitude and they go, "Oh, this guy has a good ethic, he's willing to work hard and he's not watching the clock." Those little things, you kind of don't realize that people notice that and that's sometimes what will be the difference between you and the next guy and why they may want to use you or continuing working with you. Because they see that you bring those things to the table.

We all know there are a lot of talented musicians out there -- a lot of great drummers, guitar players, bass players. But just because you're good doesn't mean that you're right for a particular situation. And that's the trick, learning to be the right guy for the situation.

KF: You mentioned 1985 so I have to stay in that time period for this question. A person who looks like you appears in Olivia Newton-John's "Culture Shock" video. Was that you, and if so, what can you tell us about that gig?

ES: Yeah, that's me. Actually that was filmed in 1984. It was recorded at the old Starwood Club in Hollywood. And that was done because I was playing with Lita Ford at the time.

I'll give you a couple of fun tidbits. Olivia Newton-John was pregnant at the time so that's why you never see a lot of good body shots and her clothes are kind of looser. She was like five or six months pregnant during the taping of that. And her nephew played bass in the video, I remember he was Australian and he told me he was her nephew. And I was just hired to be in the video and the way it happened was, David Mallet -- I think he did some stuff with KISS actually...

KF: Yes, he did "Tears Are Falling" and some stuff with Def Leppard.

ES: Yeah, he did a lot of big video stuff back then. He had done a couple of Lita Ford videos and when he went to do the video they wanted to use a more rock-looking band for Olivia Newton-John's video. So he called up one of the guys in Lita's band and said, "Hey, I want to use the band guys for this video." Well, I had done Lita's videos. Randy Castillo was the drummer before me in Lita Ford. The other two guys, Gordon Copley and Bobby Donati, were also in Lita's band. And I think David Mallet called Gordon, the bass player, and said he wanted to use us for Olivia's video. So Gordon called me up and that's how I got hired.

I was always spinning the sticks a lot. So I remember David Mallet saying, "Let's get some shots of the drummer because he's doing that cool stick thing." (laughs)

KF: Another obscure 1980s question. When Mark St. John died you were quoted as saying he'd approached you for the drum spot in his band White Tiger. What's the story behind that?

ES: Well what came up with that, I had just done the Gary Moore tour in 1987 and after the tour was over Ray Gillen and I, we worked together in Black Sabbath and we had talked about maybe doing something on our own one day. This was back in the beginning of 1986. As it turned out I ended up leaving Black Sabbath to go play with Gary Moore and Ray ended up leaving also and he started working with John Sykes in one of the early versions of Blue Murder. And that didn't work out, the Gary Moore tour finished and Ray and I kept in touch. We heard that Jake E. Lee was fired by Ozzy so we both thought that Jake was a really great guitar player and we heard that he was going to try and put together a band at some time. We thought he'd be a really cool guy to work with.

We ended up contacting him. Ray came out to L.A. to stay with me, I was living in an apartment with some friends. We finally got a hold of Jake and started jamming with him. Well, at the time Ray was staying at my house, other people were trying to put bands together. So I remember Mark St. John called around that time and he was looking for a drummer and wanted to know if I was interested, but I told him I was already trying to work on this potential band with Jake. We didn't even know if it was even going to happen.

In fact, at the same time I remember Lanny Cordola and Greg Giuffria asking Ray Gillen and I if we would want to try and get together. They were trying to put together what became...

KF: House Of Lords.

ES: Right. I remember Lanny coming over and talking to Ray and I and he was trying to put a band together. I had known Lanny for a few years before when he was in another local band in L.A. and we became friends. Lanny was a really great guy and a great player. You know, everybody was trying to put together new bands then. Ray and I really had our focus on seeing if we could get something happen with Jake because Jake was a guitar god. He had a big name and everybody thought he was great. We saw what we thought was a lot of potential for a group situation. And that ended up becoming Badlands.

The funny thing is that I remember when Mark St. John called me, by that point I was already involved trying to do the Badlands thing. I remember later on Fred Coury from Cinderella had called me. Wait, did he call me then? I think Mark actually called me earlier about that because I remember Fred Coury, I had met him a year or two before that. I met Fred around 1985. He was looking to see if I knew of any drummer gigs and I told him that Mark St. John was looking for a drummer for White Tiger and I told him there was a band called...this had to be 1986, because I remember telling him that there was this band -- because I was asked to play drums in Cinderella...

KF: Really? I didn't know that?

ES: I was playing with Lita at the time. The record company A&R guy asked me if I wanted to play drums in this new band that he had signed from Philadelphia. But I was already planning on going in and playing with Black Sabbath so I didn't even know what they sounded like or anything about them. I remember I told Fred Coury when he asked me if I knew of any drum gigs, "Mark St. John from KISS is putting a new band together and there is this band from Philadelphia called Cinderella. You should check them out." And I told him to call Derek Shulman, who was the A&R guy at Polygram. And he called them up and went down and auditioned and got the gig.

KF: I love Cinderella, and by the way that Badlands debut has some great stuff on it. "Dreams In The Dark," "High Wire," Winter's Call," "Seasons"...

ES: Cool, thank you. It's hard to believe that that record came out 21 years ago. And somebody just re-released it now. Somebody just sent me a link two days ago and said it's coming out on Rock Candy Records and there's like a 16-page booklet.

KF: That album has been out of print for quite some time.

ES: It usually goes for like $30 to $40 on eBay. It was available in Japan for a longer period of time. But this Rock Candy Records just released that and the second album, "Voodoo Highway."

KF: The Cinderella gig is something I never knew about. With that in mind, is there one project or gig that you most regret passing on in your career?

ES: Well, Tim, I could go down the list of the shoulda-woulda-couldas.

There was a chance where I was asked to be in this band, I had no idea who they were. And it turned out to be Cinderella and they ended up having a double-platinum record and opening up for Bon Jovi and having huge success as a new band. At the time, I thought, "No, I am going to play with Black Sabbath." So I went and played with Black Sabbath.

There was a lot of turmoil and problems in the band, and I remember recording "The Eternal Idol" album in 1986. We were at Air Studios in Montserrat and I remember our producer, Jeff Glixman, telling me that the Cinderella record had just gone gold. And while we were recording it also went platinum. And I was thinking, "Fuck, I was asked to be in that band." And here I am in a situation...look I loved playing with Tony Iommi, the guy wrote the best metal riffs in the history of metal, period. And it was a great experience to get to play with a guy like that. But unfortunately I was in the band at the wrong time. I was there when the band was having a lot of difficulties with management changes and lineup changes and it was just a very unstable time for the band. Unfortunately, what I thought was going to be a great experience turned out to be a not-so great experience, although getting to play with Tony was great. That was just the wrong time to be in the band. And I think I did what everybody would have done. That situation kind of fell part and I ended up leaving to go with Gary Moore, which ended up being a great experience.

One thing led to another...put it this way, at the end of the day, you can't talk about regret because everything you do leads you to the next thing. Even if it's a bad experience it leads you to the next thing. If you don't do what you do now, you may not meet some of people that you meet. Even though the situation you're in now may not be the ideal or best situation, the people you meet is what shapes your future.

I'll give you a good example. I did the Badlands thing -- that turned out to not be a good situation for me. I had a falling out with the guys and to me it ended up being from what started out as potentially great, it turned out for me to really not be a great thing. And it left a bad taste in my mouth. I'll be very blunt and honest and won't try to pretend like it didn't. But had I not been in Badlands, I would have never met Paul Stanley. We recorded some of the record in New York and had I not been in New York, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet Paul and get recommended for his solo tour. Because of doing that, that's how I ended up in KISS.

KF: Everything happens for a reason?

ES: Absolutely. Same thing with Black Sabbath. Had I not been in Black Sabbath...we talked Bob Daisley into playing bass on "The Eternal Idol" album -- Bob is the one who was playing with Gary Moore and said, "Gary Moore needs a drummer and I think you'd be good." And he recommended me for the gig and I auditioned and got the gig because of meeting Bob. So I went from a situation that wasn't working for me that had led me to a situation that did work for me.

And you know, that's how life works. Sometimes you have to suffer through some bad things or not-so great things to help you do better or greater things. You've got to take the good with the bad. Some of my greatest experiences I've had have been because of KISS and some of the not-so great things have been because of KISS. But all things in life are that way. Nothing is always great or all positive. It's a balance. I've had some ups and downs, I've been in and out of bands a few times as we all know. But those things happen because of business decisions. And those business decisions were about survival.

I've got to say, I give Gene and Paul credit. They've had to make tough choices many times in their career. And they've been able to make those tough choices even when they probably deep down knew it was very difficult and probably didn't like having to do it. But it's called survival of the fittest. And they want to keep this big machine KISS somehow always moving forward or always surviving. And guess what, you've got to make tough choices.

I know a lot of the fans don't understand that and they don't like some of the choices the band has made. But you want to know something, let's look at it. 37 years later we still have KISS to talk about because they're still here and they're still relevant. And the band still does great business and it still means a lot to a lot of people.

You've got to give Gene and Paul credit for surviving through it all. I know a lot of people don't see it that way, but they don't really understand what it's like to be in a band. We all have a romantic view of being in a rock band. We thinks it's the Three Musketeers. And you know, sometimes it starts off that way. Sometimes it is a bunch of guys that are just best friends -- they're young, they're hungry and they experience all these great things together. They create something from nothing and turn it into a multimillion dollar successful business. And that's the great success story part of it. But unfortunately some people don't realize how rare that is and how unique and beautiful it is. You have to cherish that.

And Gene and Paul, because they know that they've worked hard for it and it doesn't happen for everybody, that's why they take it so serious. Unfortunately some people don't take those things serious in music and that's why they don't survive and they fall by the wayside. And I'm not trying to preach what people should and shouldn't do. You can only do what works for you. At the end of the day, we all make our choices. They say you make your bed and you have to sleep in it. Everybody that's ever been in the band, that applies. That applies to me and everybody that's been before me. If you make bad choices, guess what? Sometimes you get bad results from those bad choices and you've got to live with those choices.

KF: You really seem to still be at the top of your game musically these days. Do you maintain a practice regimen? How do you keep your chops up?

ES: The last couple of years I've been playing a lot so when you're out there doing it...and I also go to the gym, which I'll be starting soon. You know, we're going to Europe to do that TV show and some press, and once I get back I'll start going to the gym all the time and doing cardio and light weight training just to get my body strength up and get my regimen going for a tour.

I'll be 52 this year, and the reality is I'm not a kid (laughs). Believe me, it's even hard to believe for me. We all know that you start feeling your age in certain ways, your eyesight -- all the sudden you're holding the book further away from your eyes to read once you get in your mid-40s. There are things I notice, your joints start to ache a little bit more and your recovery time maybe isn't as good day to day. My energy level is always high, as you can tell (laughs). I've always had a lot of energy. I am pretty mellow in the morning, but once I get going and drink coffee, then forget it (laughs).

When it comes to drums, cars, and watches -- you know, the things that I have passion for -- I think you can probably hear in my voice the way I talk about things and the way I articulate subjects, you can tell when I like something or when I have passion for it because I'll obviously talk about it and my energy level goes up. When it comes to drums, KISS -- basically music and the bands I've played with -- I have passion about it all. I am passionate about the things I do and the things I've done. Even the things that didn't work out for me as we talked about, you have to take the good with the bad and roll with it. But a lot of times because you're passionate it makes you sometimes volatile to your emotions, so I do get sensitive emotionally about certain situations when they don't go the right way or work out. But that's kind of what fuels you, you have to be emotional and passionate about the things that you like and do. That's what makes you good at something, I believe.

KF: If you're a betting man...

ES: Is this about Bruce Kulick?

KF: (laughs) No, not about Bruce. If you're a betting man, does this KISS lineup record another studio album?

ES: (pauses) I wouldn't rule it out, put it that way. Do I know for sure if anything like that is going to happen? No. I don't know anything for sure with KISS. Nothing is for sure with KISS. Everybody always wants to know about what the future holds. But I always tell everybody to try and just enjoy what's going on now rather than worrying about what may or may not happen.

I find it very interesting. Everybody will sit there, "Is KISS ever going to do a new record?" So we finally did a record. Once the record comes out, everybody starts asking, "Okay, so are you guys thinking about maybe doing another record?"

KF: Well, you know how KISS fans are.

ES: I'm like, "Wait a minute." (laughs) Everybody talked forever about KISS doing a new record, and we do a new record. Now instead of talking about the record and enjoying the record we just did, and enjoying the moment now -- everybody talks about what the band did in the past or what they may or may not do in the future. Instead of just living in the here and now and going, "Hey you know something, KISS is out now. They're a viable entity. The band sounds great. The band gets along great. The band is just about to do a European tour again."

Maybe there will be more stuff in the future, more American stuff or more stuff in all parts of the world. I hope so. I hope the band keeps going as long -- as long as the band is able and capable of touring and recording, I hope that's what we do.

KF: You hit on an interesting point. Some of my favorite rock bands are bands like KISS, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Journey, and Heart. As much as I want my favorite bands to be around forever, it's just not the reality. Recently, I've really been trying to take the attitude of, "It's not going to be around forever, I am going to try my best to enjoy it while it's still here."

ES: Let me ask you this, what do you think of how Heart is now?

KF: Well they have Ann and Nancy Wilson obviously -- who are like the Paul and Gene of Heart, in essence -- and they have a relatively new lineup. I saw them live three times last year and Ann and Nancy still sound amazing. I am glad they are continuing and they are actually finishing up a new studio album now.

ES: Look at them, look at how they really morphed and at their very early days, when they were really Zeppelin-y.

KF: Yes, I got into them in the 1980s with the stuff like "These Dreams" and "Alone." And then I went back to the older records. I love albums like "Dog & Butterfly," "Little Queen" and "Dreamboat Annie."

ES: That's the stuff that I like. I love that early stuff. I love that drummer, Michael Derosier. That guy is a great drummer. And I love Denny Carmassi, who took his place. Denny is one of my favorite drummers. But that original band, with that Fisher guy...

KF: Roger Fisher, Howard Leese and Steve Fossen...

ES: That original band, that was a great band. Those songs are killer. The sound, they were really Zeppelin-y back then. To me, there's another band that goes to show you. You can't live in the past because it's not 1978 anymore. They're not going to stay like that.

KF: Well, I guess it's similar to KISS and what you were just saying.

ES: That's exactly it. Every band, you know -- look at Def Leppard. They've had how many different guitar players? Any band that's been around a long time, you're pretty much going to end up seeing at some point they're going to have to make a change because someone's either going to become ill or they're going to end up having personal issues where they can't continue on, whether it's drugs or alcohol or otherwise, or they just don't want to do it anymore and the rest of the guys do.

I mean, nobody should tell a band that they shouldn't tour or can't tour. You know who decides that? When nobody buys the tickets. Most people want to see the music. Look at Alice Cooper. Alice has been touring since, I don't know 1998, like 12 years and now he's touring this year. It will be like 13 straight years where he hasn't taken a year off or any break. He tours every year. And sometimes it's a little tough when you want to keep touring all the time and keep going to the well.

The point I'm making, there's a guy -- he still tours, the band changes all the time. It seems like every year that somebody comes and goes in his band. The bottom line is the music lives on. They go to see Alice and they want to hear those songs. The thing is Alice didn't create that music on his own. He did it with those original guys from the original band. But that's not going to happen. He's not going to play with those original guys again. One, he doesn't need to do it and it's not going to happen for business reasons as well. Yet people still want to hear those songs.

I think you see that with a lot of bands. Whether it's Styx...

KF: Journey.

ES: Journey. All those bands. I mean the bottom line is, if you like the music and you like the songs, go and see it and enjoy it. To me, as long as the band at least does a good job and does it reasonably well. That's what counts. If you see a band and they're really horrible, then I can understand it. I'm talking about when they start getting replacement singers. To me, the hardest thing is replacing the singer.

You've got to find a guy that can sing your material and do it justice. Look at Foreigner.

KF: I saw them with Kelly Hansen a couple of months ago and you could close your eyes and it almost sounded like Lou Gramm.

ES: I think Kelly does a great job. Is he as good as Lou Gramm was in his heyday? No. But not many people are. Lou Gramm in his heyday is as good as it gets. He's like Paul Rodgers -- those guys are like world-class singers. Kelly is a great singer. No one is going to be Lou Gramm but that's okay. You know something that is great? If you love their songs -- and God knows they've got a lot of great songs -- and you want to go hear them, that's as good as it's going to get.

Same with Styx. Styx is really great. I think Styx is a better band now than they ever were with the original band.

KF: Really?

ES: It's a whole different band except for Tommy Shaw and J.Y. Young and let me tell you, I go and see Styx every chance I can whenever they come around. I saw them a bunch in the '70s -- the original band -- and the band they have now is the best band to me.

See I have no problem when people change members as long as they do it justice and it's good. It's just I have a problem when it's not good. I think we're good. Some people go, "Oh, I don't care if a band technically plays better, it's not the same." Then you're getting hung up on the past because you want it to be 1978 all over again. They want Journey to be the same Journey, they want Foreigner to the same Foreigner and KISS to be the same KISS. They want all these bands to be the same. But it can't be. It's not 1978 anymore. It's 2010.

You know, thank God for YouTube and things like that. You can sit there and watch all this cool stuff and reminisce and relive your memories.

KF: I don't know about you, but I spend too much time watching old videos, concert footage and interviews on YouTube.

ES: That's the beauty of it.

KF: Every incarnation of KISS had recorded a studio album, save for this one. That has now changed with "Sonic Boom." What does this album do for this lineup?

ES: Well, I think all it does is it solidifies and cements KISS, period. KISS survives. KISS is like a chameleon. It's learned to change colors and adapt to its environment, and it's still a chameleon at the end of the day. And it adapts to its environment to protect itself and survive.

Maybe it's not the best analogy, but I think it's a reasonably fair one. To me it's a survival game. The fact is KISS already won many years ago by just having longevity and the success they've enjoyed.

Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. The band went in because the band had the right energy, the right focus and the right direction and basically no pressure of trying to compete against anything, except maybe it's own self. And going in and doing it in a very comfortable, relaxed, but focused, way with a purpose...I think that's why we were able to make a really good record and kind of return to some of the roots of, like I said, the way records were made in the past and making a KISS record the way KISS records were made. Keeping it more like a KISS style, just straight ahead fun rock and roll.

That's what KISS is about. KISS isn't trying to solve the problems of the world. KISS is trying to make you forget about those things, even if it's temporarily, to have an escape and a release. Going to the show, you just go and enjoy the whole experience. It's almost like a religious experience to a lot of people. It brings people from all ends of the world together -- it doesn't matter what culture or language, it's the common language of KISS and enjoying the spirit of just having a good time and having fun. And it's hard to believe that now it's become so multigenerational -- kids from 3 to 73 are liking KISS.

It's definitely part of Americana. It's a recognizable band and recognizable brand. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. That's what gives KISS part of its legacy, because it is such a well-known band and brand. Coca-Cola or Pepsi are part of Americana. Everybody thinks about Coke, McDonald's, Burger King, Budweiser and all these kind of things -- to me, KISS has become part of what we recognize as part of the Americana landscape, in a good way.

KF: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and KISS...

ES: (laughs) You can't take it too seriously. The bottom line is this. KISS is just a band, they just make music. I know it has a big impact on some people's lives, sometimes in a very profound or very important way. And that's great. I respect that people look at it from that serious point of a view. But we just make music. We're not politicians, we're not solving problems of the world, we're not finding cures for diseases. God knows, I wish that we did. But I do know that it brings a lot of joy to many people's lives and it has helped people through some rough times.

KF: I'm a big believer in the power of music and the positive effect it can have on people.

ES: Music is definitely a cure for many people's problems. It gives people hope, it gives people something to divert their attention away from when they are not happy. Music can be very medicinal. If we're able to bring any joy into people's life because of that, I think that's a good thing.

And if people don't like something, that's fine. You don't have to like it. Guess what, don't go to the concerts or don't buy the records. The only thing that I find very annoying or irritating -- or I shouldn't even say that -- the thing I find completely ridiculous or ludicrous is that somebody that will sit there, "Oh, I hate KISS." Okay, that's fine. But they still will keep going on chat rooms and boards and continually bash and bash and bash and bash everything the band does. I'm thinking, "Wait a minute. Let's back up to the beginning. If you hate the band, why do you care about what they do? Why do you spend time going on a Web site complaining and bashing the band over and over again if you don't like it?"

If I am watching TV and I see something on TV that I don't like, guess what? I change the channel. And I put on something that I do like or that I do want to watch. If I don't like a band, I don't go to a concert. I don't give them my money. I don't buy their ticket or I don't buy their records. And I don't support it. I don't waste energy sitting there going, "I hate this because they're not doing what I want. They're not doing things the way I think they should do it and I am going to keep complaining and stomping my feet."

Now people might go, "Woah, woah...the fans are what keep you alive and without us, you have nothing." Well, that's true, if you don't have fans you don't have a band, you have no career. But majority rules. If enough people are happy with what you do and they want to come to the shows and support the concerts, and buy the records and enjoy it, then let those people enjoy it. And if you don't like it, then you have to say "Okay, I don't like it. I'm not going to support it." That's okay. But don't sit there and get mad because you don't like it and also get mad because some people do. I don't understand that mentality. It's just music, guys. It's just music.

KF: You know, I'm on message boards and I know what you're talking about. A lot of fans are extreme and have opinions, and I'm no different. We were talking about passion earlier and obviously for a lot of KISS fans, they have a passion and a lot of history with the band...

ES: I understand.

You know something Tim, I look at this way. KISS is what it is. If you're a KISS fan, you should enjoy the fact that KISS still exists and wants to make records, wants to tour, wants to do shows and wants to do things. Be glad that they still do it. You may not like everything they do, but that's okay. Celebrate the fact that the band is still an entity that exists on some level. Even if it's not the level or the way you want it to be. Because, guess what? If it's not this way, there may be no KISS. Is that better? I don't think so.

KF: Eric, I know you've got to run. On behalf of KissFAQ, thanks so much for all of your time.

ES: You're welcome. Honestly, I don't do this that often. I mean we do press and stuff but we're usually on a quick timeline and moving onto the next interview. And once in a while, I don't mind doing this when I know it's for a dedicated fan site. I think those are the times when we should do it because people dedicate a lot of time and energy to a site. We owe it to try to give something back to show we support that you support us.