September 10, 2010
Kiss' drummer, a Northeast Ohio native, says band's latest stage extravaganza is truly something to behold

By John Benson

Having spent the last quarter of a century rocking and rolling all night and partying every day, Cleveland native and veteran rock drummer Eric Singer (born Eric Mensinger) can't wait to get back home when Kiss plays Sunday at Blossom Music Center.

"That's where I have a lot of roots and that's where all of my dreams started, playing drums, jamming with friends and playing in local bands," said Singer, calling from Raleigh, N.C. "It all started there, and for me it will always have a special place. I started going to concerts in 1974, and the first time I saw Kiss they opened up for the New York Dolls at the Allen Theatre. And then I saw them at the Akron Civic Theater when Rush opened for them. That was on the ‘Dressed to Kill Tour,' later in 1974 or early '75. And then they came to the Allen Theatre again in '75. I still have the poster that I got from Record Revolution. I have it framed at home and it says, "Kiss, with special guest Journey."

Singer has been on quite a journey himself since he left Northeast Ohio in the '80s and started touring as Lita Ford's drummer. Soon thereafter, he found himself in Black Sabbath — a band he remembers seeing in concert exactly a decade before at the old Richfield Coliseum — and working with artists such as Olivia Newton John and a solo Paul Stanley from Kiss. Naturally, it was the latter connection that led to him joining the band from 1991 to 1996, 2001 to 2002 and then 2003 to present.

Even though Singer has been in and out of the band for a decade, the 52-year-old remembers when it first hit him he was a part of the legendary group he saw way back at the Allen Theatre.

"The first time I ever wore makeup in 2001, when I first came back to the band, and (guitarist) Ace Frehley was still in the group at the time," Singer said. "We were in Japan, and I remember playing drums, looking down at them and having this really weird, surreal feeling and thinking, ‘Wow, this is a trip. I'm playing drums in Kiss.' And I really feel like I had this out-of-body experience. That's something I'll never forget. The bottom line is at the end of the day I'm still a fan."

As far as the reason why he's lasted so long as the Kiss drummer, who on stage wears the Cat Face makeup made popular by original member Peter Criss, Singer points to his Midwestern work ethic, which involves being prepared, being professional and being on time. Furthermore, the drummer said that his hard-working mind-set fits perfectly into how Kiss founders Stanley and Gene Simmons view the band as a business enterprise. And business is currently good with Kiss touring in support 2009 album "Sonic Boom."

Then there's the band's latest outing, billed as "The Hottest Show on Earth Tour." Singer said it's the group's biggest to date. Sure, such a declaration seems cliche - every band claims to be on its biggest tour, blah, blah, blah) - but the percussionist backs up his claim with the fact that Kiss is employing the same pyrotechnic expert Motley Crue used last summer. While the Crue boasted 189 effects in its show, Kiss is employing a whopping 484 effects. That's a lot of boom.

"Nobody has a show like we do," Singer said. "I'm up there breathing that (expletive) and getting blown up every night. It's unbelievable. It's like an assault on your eyes and ears. It's a great show. I guarantee you'll walk away with a smile on your face. I always say Kiss is like one of those things that everybody needs to see in their life. Everybody should see the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or the Universal Studios Tour. And to me everybody should see Kiss at least once. The show is about celebrating life, celebrating a good time and getting people's minds off the negativity and things that maybe aren't going so well in their personal life. It's a bit of escapism, if you will."


What: The Hottest Show on Earth Tour" featuring Kiss with The Academy Is… and The Envy.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Blossom Music Center, 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls.

Tickets: $26.50 to $131 at Ticketmaster outlets.

Info: 216-241-5555