Eric Singer, KISS Drummer And Watch Collector
Interview by Elizabeth Doerr / Quill & Pad
Talking to Eric Singer about watches is like cramming four months’ worth of casual shop talk into one hour. He’s so enthusiastic that it’s pure pleasure to converse with him.
Since the advent of social media, it’s become apparent that Singer is really, really into watches – though, interestingly, he is able to keep his otherwise very private life out of the media. He has attained a degree of fame as the drummer for KISS and dons the Catman makeup.
Singer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, his father a local big band leader. With music in his blood, he began playing drums at an early age, which probably helps to explain the large number of acts and bands he has been associated with. An excellent and passionate drummer, Singer is a popular musician in the hard rock scene.
“I’m blessed,” he says. “I play drums for a living, and that’s what I always wanted to do, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. I learned one most important value in life, which we’ve probably all been told: whatever you do, find something in life that you have passion for, so that way it’s not really work.”
Despite that, Singer does work hard, and his work is acknowledged globally by millions of impassioned fans.
Acts that Singer has drummed with include Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Lita Ford, Gary Moore, The Cult, Brian May, and his own ESP Eric Singer Project, but that list is by no means exhaustive. He first joined Kiss in 1991 following the death of Kiss’ second drummer, Eric Carr.
Between 1996 and 2003 the band alternated between Singer and original Kiss Catman Peter Criss. Since 2004, Singer has been a permanent member of the highly successful rock band, whose career spans 40 years and 30 gold albums (a record for any American band) with worldwide sales of more than 100 million records. In a nutshell, Kiss is one of the bestselling rock acts of all time.
His early loves
In addition to a love of music, Singer also inherited a love of timepieces from his father.
“My father gave me my first watch when I was like five, a German manually wound mechanical watch, which I still have, although the crown’s missing,” Singer explains in his typically enthusiastic manner, uncharacteristically revealing something rather personal.
“My dad had a couple nice watches,” he continues, describing a LeCoultre triple calendar moon phase from 1951 in a rectangular case that turns out to be one of the favorites in his extensive collection. “Really cool watch.” In fact, in addition to the one his father gifted to him, it is this timepiece that really kicked off his own enjoyment of watch collecting.
He also describes a small Gallet chronograph of his father’s that taught him about timing. “My dad, who was a musician, told me he used to use that chronograph to time band breaks. He’d say, ‘Okay, you’ve got fifteen minutes,’ and he would start the stopwatch function.”
Aside from reminding him of his father, he underscores that chronographs are just cool for their functionality. “It’s a timing device. I’ve used chronographs for years; if you’re at rehearsal and want to time the length of a song or the length of your set. Say, we need to play an hour and a half, okay, we’ll have somebody else do it, and nowadays they do it with an iPhone app or something. But we time how long so we can put together a set and make sure we have enough music.”
Singer owns hundreds of watches. But it’s hard to discern a golden thread through his collection – except for the chronographs. Basically he buys what he likes. “Look, I buy watches for the hell of it, ’cause it’s sunny outside,” he laughs.
I’ve found over the course of my time in the watch world that there are usually two types of collectors. For one, there are those who retain an approximately set amount of watches, and have no problem selling something from the existing collection to make room for something new.
Then there are watch collectors who keep all of their watches. Singer belongs to the latter group. “You know, I always joke and say watches are like kids. You wouldn’t sell or trade your kids. So, it’s hard for me to part with watches. But once in a while I’ve traded somebody or sold one to someone. There were some times when I sold some older watches and I thought later, ‘Why did I sell those’?”