August 20, 2010
KISS perform tonight at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ


A few weeks ago, Eric Singer found a mirror in his dressing room. He took a moment to stare at the 52-year-old man in the red, white and black makeup, amused by his reflection.

Wow. This is great. I'm getting to do something I always wanted to do.

"I'm trying to learn to really appreciate those moments when you're in them," Singer said during a recent phone interview. "Rather than thinking, 'Oh wow, that's cool that I played with Brian May 12 years ago.' Or, 'That's cool that we're going to go play in Cleveland, my hometown, in another few weeks.' "

Enjoying the ride

Singer, three times a member of KISS, twice replaced by original drummer Peter Criss, knows there may be a moment when he relinquishes the reins a third time. So he tries to enjoy each appearance on "The Tonight Show." He soaks up those minutes when the band sits together in the dressing room, applying makeup.

And though the pyrotechnics and makeup offer challenges most bands never have to confront, he wouldn't trade this spot behind the drums.

"I always say the world keeps spinning whether you choose to participate or whether you choose to get off at some point," Singer said. "So you might as well participate."

Singer, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer will bring their inimitable mix of music, pyro and onstage theatrics to two metropolitan area venues this month. The group still hasn't kicked open the door to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the band has kicked open just about everything else.

Could it be that somewhere along the line KISS - the blood-spitting, fire-breathing, face-painting band from the '70s - became a piece of Americana? Like McDonald's or apple pie, if you believe Singer.

"I tell everybody, I don't care if you've never liked KISS - if you don't know their music or you don't like it - you've got to see KISS at least once in your life," Singer said. "And you will walk away going, 'That's a cool show and that's a great thing.' "

Younger audiences

The gig isn't without headaches. Singer admits that the costume is restrictive. He actually sweats less, which may not be a good thing, because the makeup closes up his pores. And don't get him started on the pyro ...

"I like the pyro as long as they have the bombs blowing up farther away from the stage," Singer said, "cause when they're on the stage, they are so damn loud and it kills my ears."

The explosions may be getting louder, but Singer said the crowds are getting younger and younger.

"There's literally little kids, 3, 4, 5 years old, up to adults and grandparents," Singer said. "So it's become a real truly family event... I liken it to Disneyland, Universal Studios. It really is like going to one of those special events."