A Conversation With Eric Singer
By Michael Cavacini
For me, 2014 was the year of KISS. I was lucky enough to meet all of the current and original members of the band, and I was in Brooklyn when Paul, Gene, Peter, and Ace were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I also interviewed Paul Stanley and received one of his autographed signature guitars as part of a meet and greet. And I closed out the year with two Ace Frehley concerts and meet and greets, not to mention my seabound voyage on KISS Kruise IV, where the band and I were “Dressed to Kill.”
My biggest KISS highlight of this year so far? Interviewing KISS’ current – and best – drummer: Eric Singer. As you can see from the interview below, we covered a lot of ground. Having the opportunity to speak with my favorite drummer for an extended period of time was an absolute joy, and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
Earlier this year I interviewed Deen Castronovo, best known for being Journey’s drummer. And when I spoke with Deen he mentioned that you two are friends and that you helped him out earlier on in his career.
I’ve known Deen a long time. I first became aware of him when he was in Wild Dogs. I like the way he played on that record. I remember telling Pearl, “You guys should really sign this guy. He’s really great.”
When I spoke with Deen he told me that when he was a kid he wanted to be in either Journey or KISS, and he wound up being in Journey. Did you have a similar dream growing up?
Oh yeah. I was a big KISS fan. And I don’t know if Deen told you this but at the time they were looking to replace Eric Carr, Deen was one of the drummers they considered. Deen told me that he spoke with Gene Simmons on the phone several times and that he sent Gene videotapes. Then Deen told me, “I never heard from Gene again and I found out that you, Eric, got the gig.” That’s what Deen told me.
But Deen is great and went on to be in Hardline, Bad English, and of course, Journey. And he has a phenomenal voice. It’s a natural gift from god. I show people videos of him and say, “You’ve gotta’ check this guy out. He’ll blow you away.” He should be the lead singer of Journey because he’s the closest you’re gonna’ get to Steve Perry, in my opinion.
You’re a great singer as well. However, you didn’t get a studio lead vocal on a KISS album until Sonic Boom. When you came in to do Revenge, did you think you’d get a chance to sing on the album? Was it even a consideration at the time?
No. When they first asked me to be in the band, they didn’t know I could sing at all. I did a little bit of singing backgrounds for the Revenge album in the studio, but they didn’t know I could be a lead singer on a tune. That they didn’t know. And to be honest, I didn’t really know either.
When I first started playing with them, I remember going to rehearsal and saying to them, “What parts do you want me to sing?” And they didn’t even realize I could sing. I told them, “Well, I can sing a little bit, but I’m not sure which parts.” So, Gene would say, “OK. Can you sing this part?” And I would go, “No, that’s too low for me.” And he said, “OK, you sing this part and I’ll sing that part.” And that’s the way it developed. Song-by-song I started to see what I was capable of singing and what I was comfortable doing.
Now it’s gotten to the point where I sing a lot. I sing all the high harmonies in the band. But that’s not something that was intentional or known, in the beginning, that this was something I was going to be doing. They didn’t know I could do it, and neither did I. I knew I could sing a little bit. I just didn’t know how much.