By Jeb Wright
Eric Singer is the long-time current drummer for the band Kiss. He got the gig after being chosen to play drums for Paul Stanley’s solo band in 1991.
When then Kiss drummer Eric Carr came down with a terminal illness, Singer was brought in as his replacement. Singer later exited Kiss on 1996 when the band brought back original Kiss drummer Peter Criss for the Alive / Worldwide tour.
Singer moved on and played several years with Alice Cooper’s band. When Criss was asked to leave Kiss, Singer came back… but he was asked to wear the famous Cat makeup in 2001.
In the interview that follows Singer discusses making the choice to wear that makeup, as well as the upcoming Kiss tour and their new movie Kiss Rocks Las Vegas.
Singer likes to talk. He has a lot to say. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Singer tells it like it is. He shares early memories of being a Kiss fan, discusses rock ‘n’ roll and even says why neither Nikki Sixx, Gene Simmons nor Paul Stanley’s opinions on Twitter matter much to him. (If you’ve seen him play, his drums do most of the talking.)
This is a real chat with a real rock star… who just happens to have remained a regular guy.
Jeb: We are both Led Zeppelin fans, so I want to know about the first time you heard John Bonham play drums.
Eric: I grew up in Cleveland and we had a great radio station WMMS, the home of the Buzzard. Zeppelin was obviously played on the radio. If a radio deejay started playing songs on the radio then people paid attention. Radio programmers were very important to breaking bands. They would pick up on stuff like this band that was getting played in Cleveland. David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen and many other bands were broken on that radio station in Cleveland. Same thing with Rush. Cleveland was the first station to play Rush. They would play a lot of bands that others stations didn’t catch on to initially. Zeppelin, in their formative years, got played on that radio station a lot.
I have an older sister, so her having those records made me aware of them at a young age. When they first came out I was ten years old but my sister was fourteen and she bought those records and brought them home. I was made aware of many bands because of my sister.
I have a funny anecdote about Zeppelin. In seventh grade my brother, who is a year older, took me to a party. We used to have a lot of the same friends since we were only a year apart in school. We were in the basement and I am sure kids were sneaking drinking wine and stuff.
“Immigrant Song” was out and I remember hearing it really loud. It was my first exposure to people partying and guys making out with their girlfriends. Some of the guys were drunk and I will never forget the image I have. The “Immigrant Song” was playing and this girl was sitting on a barstool in the basement… one guy was kissing the girl and the other guy was feeling her up while the “Immigrant Song” was playing. I remember thinking to myself, “I guess this is what rock ‘n’ roll is all about.” I swear to God that is my earliest memory of Led Zeppelin. It is always that. I was probably 12 at the time.
Jeb: Sex, booze and rock ‘n’ roll.
Eric: In reality, it was sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll… I like to keep the drugs out but yeah, back then it really was that.
Jeb: That’s a great memory. Now, you have some fun stuff coming up with Kiss...
Eric: I think we start in Tucson on July 4th on this tour. We have a movie out, Kiss Rocks Las Vegas, which was an ‘in theater’ experience. It is only going to be one night in each city. I think it was in 1,100 theaters at once.
Jeb: I am fan of the music. When you joined Kiss, you were in the right place at the right time. You played with Paul Stanley on a solo tour and then Eric Carr passed away and you were present. Did you think back then that Kiss would end up being an important part of the American story?
Eric: Well, the one thing I admire… everybody has their own point of view. There are people who do not like the branding or marketing approach to a band. No matter what you think of it, it happens.
The Beatles were probably the first band to master this. Marketing can influence bands on a musical level as well as a business level. The Beatles were the ones that kind of really started it with Beatlemania… it was a lot like the Kiss Army. The Beatles had the toys and the dolls. People are not even aware of all of the different merchandise the Beatles had in the Sixties. They never realized fully at that time what a viable market that could be. Somebody told me, and I may not have my information correct, but I heard somebody signed a licensing deal for very little money because they didn’t realize there would be that potential like now.
Every Marvell movie that comes out now has dolls and masks and stuff. You can get a Spiderman glove that shoots silly string. It’s fun. Think of the Ramones… their T-shirts are everywhere. It is the same with Motorhead. If everyone that bought a shirt bought a record of Motorhead or the Ramones then they would have a ton of gold records.
Those were not big bands in terms of sales. Ramones fans get mad at me when I say that. No, I am not putting them down. I’m pointing out the reality that the band that you think that was so big wasn’t a big band.
Jeb: “Rockaway Beach” was their biggest single and it went to number 66.
Eric: That’s my point. I don’t say this to be mean. The point is they were not a big band… that’s my point. Let me give you another example… it is all relative to what you know, or what is around you.
When I was a kid I went to a lot of concerts. I loved UFO because of Michael Schenker. I saw them around 1974 for the first time. They opened for Nazareth at a theater. It was the first album Michael was on. It was the album with the UFO flying over a house… it was the first one with Schenker on it. Anyways, I thought UFO was great so when they came to town I would go see them every time.
When I look back now, the reality is, Jeb that they played a 1,000 seat club. To me, they were rock gods. They came out dressed really cool. The funny thing is that when they put out the live album, Strangers in the Night, they had gotten quite a buzz. That record was getting played a lot on the radio, at least in Cleveland. They came to town to support the record.
A lot of people don’t know this story… you can read about it on the Internet. The great thing about the Internet is that you can learn about all of these stories. You can even go to SetList.com and see the set list for concerts you saw as a kid. I’ve gone and looked up concerts I went to when I was a kid and reminisced.
Here is funny story… Tommy Thayer was from Portland, Oregon. We grew up 2,000 miles apart from each other but we have a lot in common. We went to the same concerts on tours for bands. We liked the same bands and we bought the same albums. We had the same musical experiences as kids. It is unbelievable how much we were cut from the same thread even though we lived on opposite sides of the country. We both loved UFO, I think.
When UFO went on tour, Michael went MIA and they had to get another guitarist to fill in. He always had problems with drinking and I think some mental illness issues, obviously. I think he had been in a mental hospital before because of the drinking. Anyways, when they came to Cleveland… now this record is just taking off and getting a real buzz. They played the Cleveland Agora, which was a 1,000 seat club.
By then, Schenker was a guitar hero. He won guitar magazine polls over Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore. In America, they were an opening act, or a club band. I am not trying to diminish them, they were big clubs. We thought they were rock gods and we thought they were bigger than they were over here. The band comes out and Paul Chapman is on guitar. I was like, “Who the fuck is this guy?” Don’t forget, back then you didn’t have the Internet to tell you that Michael Schenker is not on this tour.
The great thing back then was that the experience you saw in your city was a unique experience. Now, everyone is looking at the set list and they see it is the same list every night. In the Seventies you would have never have known that, as you would only know what they played in your city. You got your experience and your memories. Now, everyone knows what they are going play before you show up. It is like with Christmas. Why should I wrap this for you? You already know what I am getting you, so… fuck it, I will just give it to you. I mean, what kind of experience is that? Think about it.
UFO came out and Paul Chapman is playing guitar. I knew right away it wasn’t Michael. All of these dopes in the audience are screaming, “Oh Michael, Michael.” He started doing a solo at the front of the stage and they are reaching for his legs and screaming ‘Michael.’ I am thinking, “You people are fucking idiots, that’s not Michael Schenker. Michael Schenker has blond hair and he plays a Flying V. This guy has dark hair and is playing a Les Paul and he looks nothing like him. It just goes to show you… nowadays that wouldn’t happen. You go on the Internet and you will find out what’s really happening. You will know very fast.
Jeb: You have a cool career. You’ve played with two artists, Kiss and Alice Cooper that really balance songs with business sense and live entertainment.
Eric: I think it is obviously great from a personal level as I was very influenced by both bands and a big fan of both bands. When I think about the influence… both of those bands, and the unique thing about both is that I was not influenced by the drumming aspect of those bands. Drumming wise, no offense, but when I think of drumming influences it is not Peter Criss and Neal Smith, who were the two guys in those respective bands that I think of. I respect what they did inside of those bands and with those songs at the time.
The music and the presentation was really the big overriding influence to me from those bands. When I think about when I was a kid, neither of those guys were influences. I was more into powerful drummers like John Bonham, Cozy Powell and Denny Carmassi of Montrose. I like Alice Cooper and Kiss as a band and I liked their songs and the style they did it.
When I try to explain that some people take it the wrong way. They think I am trying to be disrespectful or disparaging to them. No, not at all. I absolutely respect what they all did. I have to be honest, as individual drummers they were not influences on me. They were not the style of drummers that I looked at and said, “That is the kind of drummer I want to play like.” I looked at Ian Paice, Bill Ward and John Bonham. I loved those drummers. Sometimes the music can influence you. Sometimes it is the look and sometimes it is the drummer.
Another drummer was a guy named Bobby Caldwell who played with Johnny Winter and Captain Beyond. He was in Armageddon. He was the American Ian Paice. Anyone who was around that generation knows who he is and what a great drummer he is. He is not a household name at all. Everyone knows Johnny Winter but not his drummer. Bobby absolutely, for me as a drummer was very impactful and was a big influence to me as a kid. He never played in any household name bands.
The point I am making is that the influence can go either way for many reasons. Sometimes you see a guy who looks cool and you cut your hair or buy clothes like them because you dig how they looked.
Jeb: What is the difference between being in Badlands and being with Kiss?
Eric: Badlands is a good example of the extreme opposite of Kiss. The music is an integral part of both. With Badlands it was about being more rootsy of the influences that we, as individual guys, had. We wanted to make a band of the stuff we liked playing as kids. There was Led Zeppelin influence, Grand Funk Railroad, Cream, a little bit of Mountain... Hold on---my cats are going nuts.
One cat just jumped up here and ran right across the computer and there is cup of coffee up here. I had that happen once—a cup of coffee spilled on the computer. Luckily, it didn’t do much damage. I put honey in my coffee now. Back then, I used cream but no sweetener. I spilled it on the keyboard and the guy told me the reason I could clean it all up was that there was no sugar. The sugar would have eaten up all of the electronics. Because I had no sugar in it I only had to replace the keyboard. It was a lesson learned about spilling coffee all over your computer… if you have sugar in it then you’re fucked.
Jeb: Back to Badlands…
Eric: The point I was making about Badlands was that it is kind of the antithesis of what Kiss is. It is a different style of music and Kiss is very visual. Badlands was not visual.
I don’t want to speak for someone else, but Jake E. Lee had just gotten out of Ozzy’s band. He had a big Eighties glam look. I think he wanted to tone it down and get away from that whole thing. Not just musically, but stylistically. The music he played with Ozzy was really cool. The original demos we did with Badlands was more Ozzy and Sabbath in the guitar style that Jake played with Ozzy. We were leaning to that style of riffing early on.
We ended up with more songs than were used on the first album. The early stuff was absolutely more riffy and heavier. I kind of liked it more, to be honest. I wanted us to be more Ozzy and Sabbath-ish. I think we all generally liked a lot of the same music.
Jeb: Bands were pushed and pulled by record companies for an image of some sort and a certain radio sound. They wanted to sell music instead of letting a band be a band.
Eric: Yeah… exactly. Here is the thing, when you try to put a band together with people and you bring different personalities and different musical influences… everyone has influences. Once you come from a somewhat known or established point of view in the public eye then that’s what you do. Jake came from Ozzy and he was known as playing a certain way. When he did Badlands some people pushed back and they didn’t initially like it or respect what we were doing. I kind of understand why. They were used to him being a certain way.
Jake was a great performer. We had a lot of pyrotechnics on stage. I think people were either expecting or wishing he was going to be more that way and he wasn’t. He was going back through his influences, which was cool. Had things worked out between everybody over time we probably could have developed a better chemistry. The chemistry was always a little awkward between some of the people in the band.
One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to love each other and you don’t have to be best friends to be in a band. When you started jamming in bands it was usually someone you went to school with or they were in your neighborhood during your formative years. The way you approached playing music was that you were just jamming with your friends. When you get older you start playing with a guy who lives in the other side of town or some kid who moves in from another state. Soon, everybody is from a different place.
As you expand, your experience of different player’s changes. Everybody brings their own collective experiences to the situation and not just yours. You can’t expect everyone to be on the same page and in the same mindset. When you were kids you hung out with kids that you did things in common with. You went to concerts and you jammed with them. Now, you’re in a different city and playing with people from different cities. To have that common bonding ground that you did as a kid is just not going to happen, or it is not easily going to happen. The only thing you can hope for is that when you get in a room and play music you can bond. When you’re onstage or in a rehearsal room where you’re writing… then that becomes your common ground. You can be completely different people.
Everybody does not have to be likeminded to make good music. If you have a good relationship and a mutual respect then that is going to contribute to having a better overall dynamic. It is tough being in a band. People use the analogy of being in a marriage and it is a lot like that. You are married to three or four guys and you are constantly trying to coexist with all of your egos and personalities. I think having good social or people skills will serve you better in the long run if you can learn that. You can compromise and be compassionate and patient with each other.
Some people don’t have enough patience. If you have patience then you’re the guy who helps keep the whole thing together better.
Jeb: Kiss is full of personality. Gene and Paul are very public personas.
Eric: They choose to be. Everything is a choice, Jeb… it really is. You can say, “Hey Eric, I really like the way you play on the first Badlands record. That was a big influence on me.” I can say, “Wow, thanks a lot, I really appreciate that.” I can also go, “Does he really mean that or is he just saying that because he is interviewing me right now?” Even something as simple as a compliment can be like that. How you choose to deal with it, or process that, is your own choice.
Gene and Paul choose to be involved with Twitter and Instagram. I don’t do Twitter and Instagram. If anyone sees anything that says those accounts are me, they are not me.
Jeb: In Kiss, do you ever just shake your head? Like they did with Nikki Six and Prince and all the comments. Do you say, “Here we go again?”
Eric: I will just say this… There is a perfect example between all of those people involved of why I don’t do that social media. With all due respect to Nikki, Gene, Paul or any celebrity. Honestly, I don’t give a flying fuck what anybody thinks about politics, religion or social issues.
We are talking about music today and you’re asking me music related questions. If I have a point of view or an opinion about stuff then it is okay because we are discussing music related topics. If I go on a diatribe of how I don’t like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or people using certain bathrooms or all of this stuff… I know how I feel in my heart. I know whether my feelings or thoughts are racist or not, or whatever… I don’t need to go and share my opinion with the entire pubic.
Why is my opinion more important than Joe Public? It is not. The fact that people for some reason want to think that their opinion is or they feel they have to spout-off on any point or platform… The problem with giving people a platform to do it is then they are going to do it. It is like I said, it is a choice. If you feel that you need to tell everybody how you feel on these issues because you are a big celebrity then that’s okay. But you’ve got to be willing to take the heat that goes along with it. I personally, like I said, all due respect to them… I just don’t care what these other people think about those issues. If I am sitting talking to you about an issue about a politician or how we are handling immigration and we are just talking topically on any subject then that is just one-on-one discussing topics. We are not going to do that in an interview.
Motley Crue… I was a big fan of them growing up. I like their songs and I like them, but I don’t care what they think on these other issues.
Jeb: You talk about making choices. You made a choice to wear the Cat makeup when you replaced Peter. You went through all of that shit when you put on the makeup.
Eric: What do you mean ‘went through’? I still do.
Life is going to deal you all kinds of stuff, it doesn’t matter what you do. Just think about this, I play drums in Kiss. It is called life. Everyone is going to suffer heartbreak, death and loss. Everyone is going to have some success. All of those different types of things are going to happen. They are all connected so we have to deal with them at some point or another.
Nobody is exempt from life. I lost my father and I lost a brother. You know what? Someone else is going to lose their father and their brother, too. Because I play in Kiss does that mean for me it is way more difficult? Just because I play in a band? Is it more difficult than it is for Mary the cash register clerk at Target somewhere in Oklahoma? Absolutely not. For me, I think it is humbling to put yourself in with the rest of the world in all situations. Everybody is going to experience these things. Life can sometimes be tough and cruel at times.
When I first joined Kiss it was an awkward situation. All of a sudden I am asked to play in a band that was a big influence to me as a kid that I really loved. I am going, “Wow, I am asked to play in Kiss!” Look at the circumstances though… I knew I was getting an opportunity and a very positive thing was happening for me personally in my life by being asked to join Kiss. The scenario under how it was happening was not so fun. It happened because somebody else was dying. Out of the ashes of tragedy there is something good that grows. You have to look at life and say that is the way that it goes.
There is always going to be the ebb and flow of positive versus negative; every negative situation, even if you learn a lesson from a bad experience. If you come out of it with more knowledge and experience that you can take forward to another situation down the line, or you can impart that experience and knowledge to help them get through a difficult time, to me that is what that is all about.
I don’t let the whole situation with Kiss… I know some fans get mad when I say this, but I mean it… we are talking about a fucking band that puts on makeup and wears high heeled boots. When I say that people say, “You don’t get it.” Yes, I do get it. They are telling me that Kiss is their life and how important it is. How about me? I fucking play drums in the band. You don’t think that is important to me? I play drums for a living. This is what I do. This is how I make a living. It is not some hobby. It is something that I turned a love of, and worked hard and passionately to turn it into a way to make a living. You have to learn to approach it that way. This is how I make a living so this is how I’ve learned to approach it.
Sometimes I hate to say this but this is how I pay for everything that I do. It is the way our system works. You get a job. You make money. That is how you pay for your shit. In that regard it is pretty elementary. For fans who think I don’t understand… I absolutely understand. I’m a fan too. I make it real simple.
I always tell friends that my favorite era of Kiss that influenced me and that I relate to the most is the original band and those first three records. You know why? Because for me, just like everybody else says… everyone has their Kiss, if you will. I am using Kiss an analogy but it applies to anything.
My Kiss was the very first Kiss that came on the scene in 1973 or 1974. I saw them on that first tour. They opened for The New York Dolls. I bought those records. I know the impact that they had on me and everybody around me at that time when they burst onto the scene. That is the Kiss that I relate to.
Later on, the later versions…. not so much. I always followed Kiss and I liked everything they did and I respect everything they did, but the other versions didn’t influence me during that time period.
I am talking about 1974 to 1975… for me that was the time line that really affected me. I have many friends that will say their version of Kiss was Animalize or Hot in the Shade or it was another era. How can they say that? But I respect what they are saying. For that person, that is when they discovered Kiss and that was the time of their life when it really affected them and they had a connection to them. That is THEIR Kiss. You need to be somewhat understanding and respectful to that. Everybody has a different time line of the band when it emotionally connected with them. That goes for a lot of bands. Led Zeppelin has fans like that. For some, Physical Graffiti was the album that hooked them, but for me it was the first three albums. It is the same with Alice Cooper. For me, Alice Cooper… I was still a kid when he first came out. I remember School’s Out, but for me it was Billion Dollar Babies that hit home for me. Welcome to My Nightmare and Goes to Hell were huge for me.
It is all relative. When I think of the age I was at then, it makes sense of why that period affected me. It was the age I was at.
Jeb: Mine was Kiss Alive as I am younger than you...
Eric: With Kiss, I point this out to people. People say they related to this guy in Kiss and I ask them how old they were. Sometimes they say, “I was eight years old when I first saw the band.” I say, “If you were eight years old and you saw any band that you liked then you would think they were Gods. You would have thought they were a lot better than they really were just because of your knowledge and experience you had at the given time.”
How much musical knowledge do you have at eight years old? Not a lot. If you see a band like Kiss come on stage at that age and you see that spectacle, how could that not blow you’re fucking mind as a little kid?
I’m not saying this to take away from Kiss at all, but Kiss was really about the show. What attracted you to them was that image and that show. If Kiss just stood on stage and played songs without the show then I doubt they would have held your attention.
Jeb: Kiss captivates the attention of people that don’t like them.
Eric: That is my point. You can’t deny the undeniable. I’ve never tried to replace Peter Criss or Eric Carr. It is like a train. It comes into the station and they say, “We need another person to keep this train running.” You need another person to shovel coal to keep the engine running. I just got onboard and now I am one of the guys in that fucking engine room helping keep that locomotive run. To me, that makes a lot of sense when you put it into basic terms.
I understand that you can’t try to take the emotional factor out of the equation. To fans that is impossible. It is not going to happen. They only, you know… they wear their hearts on their sleeves and they look at it from an emotional point of view. I get that and I respect it. You’re not going to get me to think that way. I have a unique perspective in Kiss.
Think about this…Tommy and I were both Kiss fans growing up. We were influenced by the band musically and visually.
Tommy is a couple of years younger than me. I never dressed up in the makeup or nothing as a kid. Tommy actually did. I saw a picture of him as a little kid dressed up in Ace’s makeup, which is cool.
When I saw Kiss I literally was one month shy of sixteen. You know at sixteen you’re a teenager and you want to be cool so you’re not going to go dress up. By the time they got huge I was eighteen years old. Kiss was huge by 1976. I am now eighteen years old and I am seeing all of these little kids liking Kiss.
Now, think back to when you were that old… would you want to go to a concert with a bunch of little kids? It was almost like going to see Justin Bieber or Britney Spears or The Backstreet Boys.
If you go to a Justin Bieber concert there are a lot of little girls who are like ten and twelve years old. I think all of those artists have done great things and they are hugely successful but I am just pointing out that all of these little fucking kids like Kiss and they are going to concerts with their moms. They were like Donnie Osmond or something. They were in Tiger Beat. It was not cool at eighteen years of age to want to do to a concert where kid are there with their moms.
For me, my interest in Kiss totally waned because of that. I was too cool for school. Now, when we play shows I think it is fantastic that we have people of all ages coming to see a Kiss show. You have little kids with their parents and the parents of the parents. You have three generations. Kiss at times is almost like going to Universal Studios or Disneyland or Six Flags. They are like one of those iconic amusement parks. When you go there you know you’re going to get Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. To me, Kiss is kind of like that. It has an Americana quality to it, if you will. They are iconic. I think it is a spectacle and I think everybody should see Kiss at least once in their lifetime.
Jeb: Did you have any inkling it would grow to this status when you joined the band?
Eric: No, of course not.
Jeb: What is like preparing for a Kiss tour? Do you do a lot of rehearsal?
Eric: You have to remember that a lot of it is going on behind the scenes. We have a production manager and a lot of work goes into just doing a one-off show. There are technical aspects and logistics involved. What are the effects are you allowed to use? How much pyro is allowed? What are the restrictions? How high is the ceiling in the venue? What are the hanging points? How much production can you fit into the venue and what is legal? Will the fire marshal allow this or that?
It changes from night-to-night. When you go to put a tour together you decide you’re booked to play A, B ,C, D, E, F, G…. the entire alphabet of venues and cities… the production manager has to talk to the people at every venue to let them know what we plan on bringing and what we want to do on any given night on any given show.
There’s all that work for every individual show. It all has to be worked out. Then there is the routing. They have to put the tour together. We play in Cleveland and then we have to route the next night to Pittsburgh and then Nashville is next and that is a six hour drive. We have to load out by a certain time to make the load in the next day. You have to get the travel booked and the hotel for the band and the crew. All of that has to get worked out and you try to ultimately get a routing that makes sense. You have to be able to get from one place to another in a timely fashion.
After a while it becomes like Groundhog Day… like that movie… but in a good way. If you can get that consistency happening day in and day out then it’s going to be good.
The one thing you can’t control is your individual self because you’re not a machine, you’re human. Some days you’re going to be sick or have less energy or whatever. If you can create the environment that is the same and consistent, then in my opinion that gives you the ability to focus. I know my drums will be set up the same way and they will be tuned the same and they feel the same. The more consistency I have then I can gravitate to that as a sense of security. I may be tired and I may not feel good on a certain day, but everything sounds okay and everything is in the right place. If things are not working right or the room does not sound right then you get preoccupied on other things instead of staying focused on playing and performing.
Jeb: Anything new coming on this tour or is it just the normal over the top Kiss show?
Eric: Well, we will have a different stage set. The stage set will be close to what we do in the movie Kiss Rocks Las Vegas. That set in the movie was built specifically for The Joint which is at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.
We didn’t have to set it up and tear it down, so we could build stuff specifically for that venue as it was a stationary thing. When you have to travel you have to think about setting up and tearing down the equipment.
It is almost like having an all-season tire on your car. I look at what we do and it has to be like an all-season tire. It has to work for an outdoor shed, or an indoor theater or arena. It has to be able to work in every configuration you are going to play.
Jeb: Will there be another record?
Eric: I have no idea about that. We always get things where one person says one thing because they want to do a record and the other says another thing. When we did Sonic Boom and Monster I never thought we’d do another record and then all of sudden I hear, “Let’s do a record.”
The mindset before we did Sonic Boom was “Why bother doing a record? Nobody cares.” That was the mindset of the people within the band. This goes on in every band.
Why do you think bands tour and then they say they are going to retire and then they don’t? You have Scorpions out there playing right now and they retired. So did Ozzy, so did Black Sabbath… so did Kiss. Everybody retired and then came back. Judas Priest did it. They all retired and they are all back out there playing again.
I don’t think it is fair for people to want to pick on that. I think bands should do what they want to do. They should play as often as they want or they don’t want to. Make a record or don’t make a record. To me it doesn’t matter.
Rock ‘n’ Roll is supposed to be about being a free spirt and being rebellious to a degree. You make up your own rules. Since when is there a set rule for rock ‘n’ roll? Rock ‘n’ Roll is a nonconformist sort of attitude.
If you don’t want to tour then that is your prerogative. Then, if you change your mind, go tour. Why are people wrong for doing that? Woman do it all the time, don’t they?
People should do whatever they want. Look at the Rolling Stones. How long they stay or not doesn’t matter. Those rules have never been defined or set. Why? Rock ‘n’ Roll is not really that old. The Rolling Stones have been around the longest. I think it is great that they are still playing and I think they should continue to play as long as they want. You know something… they should decide when they don’t want to play anymore. People may decide for them.
The people may decide for you at some point. Take AC/DC for example. I don’t mind who should be singing for them. That is a decision for them to decide. People getting all up in arms is silly. We don’t know the politics of what is really going on between Brian Johnson and the guys in the band. The bottom line is whoever owns the band or runs the band or it is their band then they have a right to do what they want. If you like a certain brand of car then that is the brand of car you drive. If they change the design or whatever then you can change. It is that way with clothes and music and everything.
Everything is a choice. You choose where you want to live and how you want to live and you do what you want to do. If you don’t want to do it then go with your wallet and don’t support it.
Jeb: Dennis DeYoung said to me the other day that there are two kinds of music. There is music you like and there is music you don’t like.
Eric: There you’ve got it.
Jeb: Last one: What is something about being in the Kiss family that would surprise us to know?
Eric: I would say the fact that there is no sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll mentality at all. To me, it is rock ‘n’ roll that is the one thing that is there.
As you get older you learn things. I know it is not cool to say it, but as you get older it becomes more work-man like. I am not saying it is all work and no play... I am saying as you become more successful and as you become more serious about it then you take it more like a serious as a heart attack type job. I mean that in a respectful way.
To me, that’s where the longevity comes in. That is where the survival tactic comes in. You have to treat it with the respect it deserves. You have to treat it like it is your job. You’re responsible for your own well-being and in turn you show more respect to fans by treating this professionally and showing that you give a fuck.
People don’t like to hear about the business side of it, but it is called the ‘music business’. It is not called the music friends. It is a business. I play drums in a band, but my business is making music. This is how I make a living. The sooner people accept and understand that then you can go back to just playing music for fun and for passion.
Always be mindful that it is a business and the choices you make are many times business decisions. If you’re not going to keep that part of the equation then you’re going to get fucked.
I learned very quickly that other people -meaning promoters, agents, vendors, managers, lawyers and accountants- know it is a business and they treat it as a business. They absolutely pay attention to the business side of it, and if you don’t then somebody else will and then you’ll wonder why you don’t have any money at the end of the day. All of your money will disappear because somebody fucked you out of it.
Many bands learn that the hard way. I mean many bands. I am sure that you’ve done interviews about this. Ask Dennis DeYoung or anyone that started out in the early days in the heyday of a lot of these land shark managers that really learned how to work the system and basically fuck bands out of their money. This has gone on throughout history. It is not just music, but it is this way in business in general.
They say a fool and his money are easily parted. That’s why I tell people not to be foolish. I know it sucks and nobody wants to think about it, but take the time to have a good general understanding of the mechanics of how the music business works. Know where your money comes in and what it goes through and where it ends up at the end of the day. Know where it is all going. Pay attention to where the money is going and to who is paying the bills and how it is getting spent. At the end of the day you get what’s left over. You don’t take what comes in first… everybody else does. You get what’s left over.
If you pay attention to what comes in first then you’ll probably have more left over.
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