ERIC SINGER ROASTED: TALKS KISS, ACE FREHLEY, PETER CRISS:
July 17, 2007
Drummer Eric Singer was recently interviewed live onstage at the 21st annual NY/NJ Kiss Expo by rock & roll comic C.C. Banana. Part serious interview and part comedy roast, the exchange has been transcribed and is now available online. Topics include original Kiss drummer Peter Criss, Eric’s numerous hirings and firings from the band and Ace Frehley’s experimentations with Viagra. A few excerpts from the interview follow:
C.C. Banana: You first became part of the Kiss family by playing drums for Paul Stanley on his first solo tour in 1989. How did you get the gig and was there any talk at the time that you were being considered to fill the Kiss drum slot?
Eric Singer: Well, at that time I was in New York, recording an album with Badlands. They had the same management as the guy who played bass on Paul’s solo tour, Dennis St. James… whose real name is actually Dennis Feldman. Why do Jewish guys in the music business always try to Americanize their names? Anyway, Dennis mentioned to the management that Paul Stanley was planning a solo tour and was in need of a drummer. Since by then I had already finished recording my Badlands tracks, they sent me over to the Kiss management office, which was literally around the corner from my hotel. There I met with Paul and gave him some of the CDs I’d played on. He actually ended up hiring me based solely on those credentials. Realistically, I had no reason to think I’d wind up drumming for Kiss because Eric Carr was still in the band at the time. The next year, Kiss did the Hot in the Shade Tour and it wasn’t until the following year that Eric Carr became ill. That’s when they had me play drums on God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You for the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack. After that, they began considering me for the band and for their upcoming album, which ended up being Revenge.
C.C. Banana: In 1995, it was you who suggested to Gene and Paul that they should let Peter Criss sit in with the band at one of the official Kiss Konventions. This set off a chain of events that ultimately led to a reunion of the original Kiss lineup, causing you and Bruce Kulick to be fired from the group. Looking back, how badly did you want to kick your own ass for making that suggestion?
Eric Singer: Well, it was Gene and Paul who told me that Peter wanted to come down to the convention with his daughter. They wanted to know if I would be uncomfortable with that. I told them that not only would I not be uncomfortable, they should let Peter come up and play. That led to the taping of MTV Unplugged, which eventually led to the full reunion. But they still had no idea how things were going to play out with Ace and Peter. So if the reunion ultimately didn’t work or if the tour was a flop, they already had the Carnival of Souls album in the can and they still had Bruce and me on retainer. That’s why they kept us on the payroll, so they could just pick up where they left off. We were sort of a “Plan B.” That part wasn’t so bad because we were still getting paid while they were out doing the reunion tour.
C.C. Banana: Were they actually paying you enough to make it worth your while to sit around and do nothing while Kiss was on tour without you?
Eric Singer: Well, they were out there making millions while we were at home just collecting a paycheck! Until one day when I got a call from Gene… I think this was sometime in July 1996. He’d called to say that Kiss would soon be coming to L.A. to play The Forum and that we should probably get together for a meeting. I knew right then, I was about to get fired! The next day, I listed my car for sale in the newspaper.
C.C. Banana: In 2001, you got the call to return to Kiss at the tail end of the so-called Farewell Tour, replacing Peter Criss for the Japanese and Australian dates. What was it like putting on the make-up and costume and performing with the classic Kiss line-up for that very first show?
Eric Singer: Actually, the first time I wore the make-up was for the first photo session. Paul was the one who put it on me because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Ever since then, I’ve done it myself and by now it’s just like doing a paint-by-numbers! But yes, the first time I put on the make-up before a concert was kind of freaky. Our first shows were in Japan and we hadn’t actually done any production rehearsals in make-up. I just remember looking out at the stage during the concert and thinking, “Wow, that’s Gene Simmons… that’s Ace Frehley… that’s Paul Stanley… and they’re all in make-up… and I’m playing drums!” It was kind of like a good acid trip.
C.C. Banana: Did they give you your own costume or did they make you wear Peter’s smelly old one?
Eric Singer: No, they made me a new one. Peter and I are the same size but I’m built a little differently. The boots fit almost perfectly but Peter’s costume is a little bigger in the middle because I’m a bit thinner. Although at the moment I’m a little chubby, so I don’t think I’d fit into either one!
C.C. Banana: Do they let you hang onto the costume or do they make you leave a deposit and check it in at the end of the tour?
Eric Singer: No, I get to keep it! I’m smart, I made that part of my deal! I actually have two complete costumes — two different ones from the two tours I’ve done.
C.C. Banana: Do you ever put on the costume just for fun? Maybe for Halloween or entertaining dates on the weekends?
Eric Singer: Uh… no.
C.C. Banana: In 2003, you were kicked out of the band again when Peter Criss returned for the World Domination Tour with Aerosmith and the recording of the Kiss: Symphony album. At the time you were so upset that you vowed never to work with Kiss again… and yet, here you are. What got you to finally change your mind and do you feel like you’re always getting sloppy seconds?
Eric Singer: Oh, I am always getting sloppy seconds! But you know what? Sloppy or not, at least I get to eat! As for why I went back… you know how Gene signs his autograph with a big dollar sign? That’s why. Money talks and bullshit walks. Bottom line, I play drums for a living and whether I like it or not, it’s still a business. Gene will tell you the same thing. It’s not “music friends,” it’s “music business.” So I have no regrets.
C.C. Banana: Speaking of Peter Criss, it was recently announced that he will soon be releasing his first solo album in 13 years. Will you be playing the role of Peter Criss on that, too?
Eric Singer: Hey, I’m open to it! You never know, I might get the call.
C.C. Banana: Have you ever been in the presence of Peter Criss while wearing the make-up of Peter Criss?
Eric Singer: Not yet. But there’s still time.
C.C. Banana: Have you ever received a kiss from a member of Kiss?
Eric Singer: Ace might have tried to kiss me at some point. I remember Paul telling me that once back in the old days, they were all sitting around the dressing room and for whatever reason, Peter just went over to Ace and put his dick on Ace’s shoulder! Then Ace turned around and kissed it!
C.C. Banana: Note to self — don’t put dick on Ace’s shoulder.
Eric Singer: Ace has a giant schlong too, you know. One night before a Kiss show, he actually took Viagra because he wanted his dick to be hard during the concert. When I asked him why, he said, “So people can see me get hard in the costume.” He even tried snorting it once!
C.C. Banana: Ace Frehley snorted Viagra?
Eric Singer: Yep! He thought it would get into his system faster. So Ace snorted the Viagra… but do you know what happened? His nose swelled up instead! True story! When I tell this stuff to people, they think I’m lying or embellishing. But it’s all absolutely true. Anyone who has ever worked with Ace will verify it. You’ll never meet another person like him. Ace Frehley stories are the absolute best.
C.C. Banana: In that case, tell us another Ace Frehley story!
Eric Singer: Well, Ace was really mad at Gene and Paul while we were on tour in Australia. One night before a show, we were all in the dressing room, putting on our make-up… all of us but Ace. Apparently there had been some schism earlier in the day so when he finally did show up, he was really mad and really late. He came in without saying hi to anyone, put his bag down and went over to this big chalkboard that happened to be in the dressing room that night. He then proceeded to draw a huge pentagram on it, putting our initials on all 5 points — G for Gene, P for Paul, E for Eric, A for Ace and D for Doc, our manager. Then he came over to me and whispered in my ear, “Something bad is going to happen in the show tonight. I just put a hex on Gene and Paul.” I swear to God, he actually said this! Apparently Ace had been hanging out with a magician the night before and the guy had taught him some black magic. Anyway, nothing happened that night but the next night we played the same place, so Ace came into the dressing room again and added even more symbols and stuff to the chalkboard.
C.C. Banana: Did anything bad happen that night?
Eric Singer: No, nothing happened that night, either.
C.C. Banana: I think I liked the penis story better.
The entire interview is available here: http://www.CCBanana.com/sludge/20questionsericsinger.htm
Courtesy of www.CCBanana.com