Mark: We appreciate you taking the time for a chat, as you have been in studio all day recording, and gearing up for the tour. This is the Kiss End of the Road tour, that starts January 31st in Vancouver. What kind of rehearsals have you guys had up till now, it's right around the corner?
Eric: New stage and show and all that stuff in the rehearsals. Kind of interesting that we were kind of going back to the old workman-like attitude about approaching more serious stuff. I kind of like it in a way. Here's the one thing, since I've been in the band, I don't wanna say we took it for granted, but we realized that it was easy for us to kind of rehearse a minimal amount and then just go out on tour and play a bunch of shows. Especially Tommy's there and I know a lot of the material. I'm very familiar with a lot of the older material. And Tommy and I can pretty much learn most things relatively easily. One thing that I will say, Tommy and I would always come in very prepared for rehearsal. So, as soon as we start the first rehearsal, we can run all the songs down. It might be a little bit wobbly here or there for a day or two. By the second or third day, boom, it's like riding a bike. You're rusty a little bit, a little wobbly, two or three days in, it's like boom! So, I think we all kind of took it a little bit for granted because we always were prepared, mainly Tommy and I, we made it easy for Gene and Paul in all reality. And that's not disrespectful to them. The truth is we all kind of took it for granted that it was not hard to just go and rehearse a few days and go on tour. But we realized, now, because we wanna be more serious about it and we're a little older, you know, there's a thing that you call your sea legs. It's not like we couldn't go out and play at any time. But the point is, when you are playing, you get in a groove after a while when you're on tour. Because you build up your endurance, your strength, and all those things. And you can't do that until you actually do it for real. So, we felt like, why don't we start practicing like two three days a week in Sicily, starting a couple months before. So, this way, right when we start off, we'll have more of our sea legs. You know, when people do car races, they time trials all week long, fine tuning the car and trying to get things dialed in so then they can actually do it when it really counts in the real race. So that's what we're doing, we're preparing ourselves for when it's gonna really count. I mean, the only way you can do this, as much as it's fucking boring to practice all the time, you got to do it. It's like going to the gym. After a while you get used to it, and before you know it, you have really good body strength, your stamina's there, and it's not so hard.
Mark: Working out is hard for a lot of people, as is practicing.
Eric: I'm telling you, it's a lot easier when you're younger to just go out, and you get a little bit of pain for a few gigs or a week and then no big deal. But when you're older it's not that easy. You can tell yourself that you're 30 years old, or 35 or 40 years old. The reality is I'm 60 years old, so I have to be mindful, prepare myself and taking care of myself and actually, I'm glad that we're doing it this way, because we need it. You know?
Mark: What's the difference in the stage setup this tour?
Eric: Well, I can't tell you what the stage is, but I can just tell you this. I just saw it for the first time the other night. On Sunday we went to Las Vegas where they had it set up to show us the look of things. And it's really, I don't wanna say slick 'cause then people get the wrong impression. It's really beautiful, and cool, and slick, and all those good things. I would just say this to put it in perspective. I'm not over hyping it. Put it this way. If you've gone to a lot of concerts and you've seen any other types of bands, and this is not about a competition or comparison, but any band that's out there with a really high level, high production concert, that's out there on tour, this is absolutely on that par easily with anything else that you're gonna see or have seen. That I can say with confidence, no doubt about it. But it has that Kiss feel. So, the difference is there's no other hard rock band that does this kind of a show. Usually you see pop bands, you know, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, those type of acts, Justin Timberlake. You're gonna see, usually, those type of acts with these types of productions. Maybe Muse, obviously, has that kind of production. Maybe Metallica did some stuff like that. But generally, there's not hard rock or metal bands that are associated with those types of productions. Wouldn't you agree?
Mark: Yes, absolutely.
Eric: So, that's what people are gonna see. And the one thing I like is that there will still be a lot of the traditional, and I mean in a respectful way, the traditional Kiss elements are absolutely there and inherent in the show, because that would be pretty much impossible to deny doing that. So that stuff is there and doesn't get lost. Kind of like, oh, Kiss (unintelligible) Britney Spears now with some Onyx Hotel thing. No, it's not that at all. With a bunch of dancers and all, no, no, I don't mean it like that. You see, the highest lights, laser, pyro, everything that you could think, automation—So, with everything that's automated, pyro, video, laser lighting techniques, hydraulics, everything that you would see at any of the highest levels on any show that you may have seen to date is incorporated in this show. I was surprised to see Gene and Paul not only impressed, but actually also very happy. Don't forget they've been doing this for 45 years. A lot of the stuff that we see out there, they invented. Kiss and Kiss style shows kind of started with them. So many times, you see stuff in a show, you go, "Yeah, Kiss was the ones that started that back in the 70s." So, it's associated and getting credit, rightfully, given to Kiss as the inventors of that whole over the top big giant shows and lots of pyro. Put it this way, I was impressed, and I don't get impressed that easily. I'm usually just kind of very middle of the road about everything. You know? And I've seen a lot of good shows and productions in my life, so I think I have a good point of reference to go on. But I would just say that if we were all impressed and really blown away, I would like to think, and I'm pretty much confidently going to say that I think people will be too. They will be very surprised. You got to look at it this way. If anyone does anything, a new record, whatever, people say, "Oh, yeah, well, everybody says that. 'This is the best work we've ever done,' or 'This is our biggest tour or best tour.'" Well, what are you gonna say? "No, this really sucks, and I hate this record?" Of course, whenever you do something you believe in that moment in that day, hey, we just made a cool record. I really like it. 'Cause you're emotionally connected and attached and invested in that. So, of course you believe it's good and you think it's good. Only can you look back in hindsight and go, "Well, I thought that was good, but maybe it wasn't as good as I really thought, and maybe the other thing we did was better." 'Cause now you have points of comparison and reference. But you don't have a point of reference in the moment when you're doing it. But I will say this, this stuff is real cool, very cool.
Mark: This sounds amazing for the fans. Sounds like a ton of effort being put into this tour. Let’s talk drums.
Eric: Just by talking to me in general, you'll probably end up finding out something about me just in general. I'll be honest with you, I don't like talking about drums unless it's with another drummer or if it's a music magazine thing or an interview or something. Other than that, I never talk about drums, 'cause I just figure it's boring and I don't want people to think I'm talking about myself, 'cause I hate that. I don't wanna talk about myself. I'd rather talk about what other people are doing and stuff like that and find out what people are doing. But obviously, in this instance, you have a goal that you're trying to achieve.
Mark: Will you be using the same drum kit from the last tour, or are you coming out with something new for this one, if you can share about it?
Eric: I have a custom-made fiberglass kit, Pearl kit. Basically, I had a guy named Billy Baker in Nashville. He has a company called Baker Drums. I found him on Facebook 'cause I just saw somebody posted this really cool, retro, he made Kiss retro replica kit, which I thought was really cool, out of mirror ball tile and stuff. I had a mirror ball kit before, but that was done in a little bit different style, and it was made by a custom drum builder in Cleveland, Ohio, by a company called Fortune Drums. A friend of mine that I knew from Cleveland named Dale Flanigan, he built that kit by hand, which was amazing. That was in 2012 when we did that tour with Motley Crue together. I saw this kit on Facebook last year or earlier this year. I wrote to the guy, I said, "Hey, I want that kit." It was all fiberglass concert tom kit like an old 70s Kiss style kit, and I was just so impressed. This guy basically took old drums, refurbished them, and used a lot of new parts as well. So, basically, it's new/refurbished retro kit, so it's literally exactly like a kit you would've seen a lot of people play in the 70s, a Pearl kit, fiberglass kit. But we did alterations and customized it to my liking and with some details and (unintelligible) that I wanted to make it user friendly for my needs. That's what's gonna be great. If you look at my new concerts, if you haven't seen photos, I'm wearing leather pants and a leather vest, and it's very, I would say, Hotter Than Hell era Kiss style look. That's the era of Kiss that I was always influenced by and impacted by. So, I really, I would say probably going more for that vibe. And it's totally as a tip of the hat and out of respect to early vintage Kiss. Like I said, everyone has their era of Kiss, if you will. My era of Kiss was '73, '74, '75, those first three records. That's the Kiss that I was influenced and impacted by, I would say. When Kiss first came out, I was 15 going on 16. I saw Kiss right when I was 16. So, I wasn't a little kid like a lot of kids who discovered Kiss, discovered them when they were really young, like five, seven, eight, nine years old. So, to them, their impression of Kiss was different than my impression. I didn't look at Kiss like superheroes like Peter Pan or Superman or anything like that. I grew up in that early 70s glam era with Sweet, Alice Cooper, T. Rex, Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Queen, all those kinds of bands. To me, Kiss was just another cool looking band that had this real vibe and a great show, and they just took it over the top. I looked at them in the same level as all those other bands I just mentioned, and I was influenced by all those same bands. In fact, when I first saw Kiss, I thought they were more of like a British style band, because they definitely had more of a Europe, British, English vibe and look to them with the costuming and stuff. Most of the American bands weren't like that. When I think of American bands, maybe more like the Eagles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grand Funk Railroad. American bands didn't have that look and fashion. They didn't like that. So, Kiss, to me, was different. That's what, to me, made them cool. Was like, wow, we got an American band now, besides Alice Cooper, we have an American band that really gets it. They look great and cool, and they have great clothes, and costuming, and vibe, and they have shows, they were theatrical. You didn't see that really out of American bands. I mean, think about that time. What other American band besides Alice Cooper was anything like that? There wasn't any. Maybe New York Dolls, but they were more like trying to dress androgynous. They were like the English London glam look. They were more like trashy, like I said, almost like cross dresser androgynous look.
Mark: You have any cymbal changes? And what factors in your cymbal choices for this?
Eric: I use Zildjian cymbals. I always have my whole life. I was just talking today with one of my friends about figuring out what cymbals to use, 'cause I've always pretty much used either all 18 crashes or all 19-inch crashes, everything the same size, everything flat, everything symmetrical. I try to go for symmetry on the kit. But you know, I have a feeling I'm gonna change it up a little this year, maybe use some different size crashes. Maybe some 16 or 17, 18 and 19, I'll mix it up, not everything exactly the same. And I'm not 100% sure what I'm gonna use. I'm gonna put my kit together with the drum tech starting the first week of January. He's gonna come out, we're gonna build it all together, set it up the way I want it, and have it all put in place at that time. So, I'll be able to probably answer that better around a month from now, to be quite honest with you.
Mark: Why are your cymbal's mounted so high, as some may not know?
Eric: Well, I have very long arms. I'm short, I'm five foot six, but I have really long arms for my size. I probably would've been a good boxer if I had the right punching coordination, because my reach is really good. So, the thing is if the cymbals are too low, it feels weird, like I don't get the right angle to hit them the way I want. And part of it is it's an aesthetic, it's for a visual as well, no doubt about it.
Mark: What's your preference in in-ear monitors? What are you using now?
Eric: Well, I'm not 100% sure what we're using, because I don't order that stuff. We were using the Jerry Harvey Audio ones, or Ultimate Ears before. I went back to using an older pair because they were a little bit brighter sounding and less bass, and I kind of like that punchier sound. I was using them in the studio when recording, and the one wire came out, and I couldn't get it to go back in. And I had just got them back from repair. So, I got to get them fixed again. So, I tend to like the older ones. It's really more of a personal choice of how you like your sound. I don't like sub bass and a lot of low end and stuff on stage around me. I find that it washes out the drums.
Mark: What's your warm-up routine for the shows?
Eric: I used to warm-up with a couple of pedals and a little pad and spend 20, 30 minutes and really get to warm-up probably. I have a routine that I do where I, basically, play paradiddles, but I move the double stroke around inside of the paradiddle. I find if you do that over and over, you're basically incorporating singles and double strokes. And most drumming is really a combination of both of those strokes, singles and doubles, and some flams here and there for warming up. But generally, I just play single and double strokes a lot. I found that I have a little, like I said, I have a little paradiddle exercise that I do. And if I cycle that routine over and over, I find that that's a really, really good warm-up.
Mark: With all the technology changes over the years, how did you cope with the changes? Like clicks and tracks.
Eric: Put it this way. Unless you're an old school band that doesn't care about that, it's gonna serve you good to learn how to play to a click track, because when you go in the studio, whether you like it or not, sometimes your bandmates wanted you to use it. And then you got to use it if that's what they want. If you can't do it, you're gonna have a problem. There's a lot of musician older school guys, I guarantee you, I know that some of them, they can't play to a click, they just can't do it. They didn't take the time and the discipline and put the work in to do it. What I've always done to help myself, a lot of times when I would practice when I was younger, I had a drum machine and put the drum machine to a beat or to a pattern and I would practice exercises and fills always playing to the drum machine, so I would always be developing my time and my (unintelligible). A lot of times when I practice, I'll put on hip-hop stations and play along to hip hop beats only because for one reason, they're programed with a drum machine, so I know they're gonna be on time. I don't dislike the music, but I'm not a big fan, per se, of that style of music. I use it as a tool to help me. So, I find a lot of hip hop and rap music is a great tool to practice to. Some of the beats that these guys program, when you go to physically play them like a real drummer, you find out that they could be pretty challenging sometimes, or tricky because of the syncopation. A lot of guys that aren't drummers, the way they program drum beats are gonna be sometimes very inventive because they don't think like a drummer. They wouldn't do what's typical or expected. And that's, I think, not only a unique thing, it's a good thing. It gets you to think outside the box. But it's a great practicing tool, no doubt about it.
Mark: I learned something tonight. Thank you for the free lesson.
Eric: What's that?
Mark: What you just told me, as a drummer, I never thought of it like that.
Eric: Think about this. Everybody has a radio or a phone with on-air radio or you can access music online for nothing on YouTube. You can plug it into a computer. You can go and find any kind of hip-hop songs like that. Don't think of it like, "Oh, I hate this music." Everyone's first thing that they say, "I hate rap. "I hate that rap crap." You're not looking at it from whether you like the music. You're looking at it like, hey, all that shit's done with a drum machine. It's all got different tempos, different types of styles of beats. What I'll do, for example, I'll put on a station and go, okay, I'm gonna learn to play that beat. I'm gonna learn the beat and just play the beat over and over, and no fills, nothing. Just from playing even and learn to keep my timing together. Then all the times I'll go, hey, I'm gonna have fun with it. I'm gonna play my own beat against that beat, or I'm gonna play a bunch of fills, or I'm gonna solo over it and play really busy and just see how far I can stretch it out, like what I'm capable inside this particular groove or this beat. You know what it is? It makes for very fun and interesting practicing. We know how boring and mundane practicing routines can be to a book or just to a click track. That's boring after a while. So, the best thing to do is mix it up. Like I'll put on smooth jazz stations, 'cause smooth jazz is usually not as technical drumming-wise. Most smooth jazz or adult contemporary music tends to have a lot of nice cool drum beats, but it's not overly complicated. So, you don't have to worry about, "Oh, I can't play that kind of jazz with that fusion stuff." You don't have to be that kind of drummer to still use it as a tool. I've always used these things I'm talking about as a way for me to practice, to make it fun and interesting.
Mark: Are you a fan of Roger Earl, the drummer for Foghat?
Eric: Yep. My first concert ever was Foghat. 1974, and they had that album Energized out, and Marshall Tucker Band was the opening band on that tour.
Mark: When you discovered Roger, what drew you to his playing, and was there a particular song that you heard first that made the light bulb turn on?
Eric: Well, they used to play I Just Want to Make Love to You, their version, on the radio on Cleveland. I bought Energized. That album, to me, to this day is one of the greatest rock records. It's so good. There's a couple songs on that record where he double tracks the drums. He plays two tracks of drums over it. He played another track over the top one. So, you can clearly hear it.
I'm a big fan. I saw them at my first concert ever. Randy Mueller, the sound guy, used to be Alice Cooper's sound guy, so I'm friends with Randy for many years. Randy told Roger that that was my first concert ever and I was a big fan of his. Roger's like a lot of those English guys. He's got that swagger and that swing and that feel that English guys do. I don't know what it is, they're just better. A lot of American drummers might have maybe some more technical aspects of their drumming or maybe more chops a lot of times. But there's no doubt that those English guys, I don't know what it is. For such a small island, for them to produce so many amazing musicians and amazing bands that had so much influence on all of us, it's pretty incredible.
Mark: Collecting watches and vintage drums, those are hobbies of yours?
Mark: Can you tell me just a little bit about each? What's your favorite piece you've found?
Eric: So, the watch thing, it just came from that. You got to remember I'm 60 years old. There's been a really obviously big resurgence in over the last 10 years of people getting the Swiss watches and mechanical watches. Obviously smart watches are very, very, very big. I'm not a fan of it. Somebody gave me an Apple watch about a year and a half ago. I tried wearing it for a week or two, and then I realized, you know, I'm not that guy. I like a mechanical watch. I think I'm always fascinated by its micro mechanics. You're wearing something that somebody made and assembled. A lot of it's done, obviously, by CAD/CAM machinery and computers now and all that stuff. We know that. That's technology for you. But it's still kind of a living breathing little machine that's ticking and living on your wrist. I've always been fascinated with the fact that man has been able to be so good at micro mechanics, if you will. Getting into vintage drums, I think that just goes for me playing drums at a young age, and then realizing as I got older, oh, I always remember seeing so-and-so play a drum kit like that. Either it was a certain brand, or a certain color, or certain type of finish or material. So, I played Pearl Drums. I've been endorsing Pearl for almost 33 years. You know, when I was younger, I played Rogers Drums. I still have the two Rogers kits that I had from when I was younger, the one my dad bought me in 1972. It's a silver sparkle. That's a '72. I have another kit that's an early 60s Rogers, Cleveland Rogers as people like to call them. I bought that at a yard sale in 1980. I still have those. They're white marine pearl. I had a Tama kit in the mid-70s, but I sold it to buy a Sonor kit, 'cause I really loved the Sonor drums, like Steve Smith and Tommy Aldridge played back in that era. I bought them in '78 I think. It's red mahogany veneer. It was a big double bass kit. So, I was playing Sonor drums from about '78 to about '86. When I first moved out to LA that's what I was playing, Sonor drums, and I got the gig with Lita Ford. I was playing Sonor drums then. That first Black Sabbath album I did, I played Sonor drums on that record. And then at the time we were getting ready to go on tour, I was trying to get an endorsement for the tour, and I thought I was gonna get a Sonor endorsement. They said they were gonna give me an endorsement, and then all the sudden they changed it and said they’re not. It went from yea to nay. And then, literally, Pearl Drums called me up. They said, "Oh, we saw your ad in Billboard magazine for a Black Sabbath tour, and we want to give you an endorsement," and I've been with them ever since.
Mark: What's your favorite drum piece you have?
Eric: I have a lot of cool kits. I probably have about 35 or 40 drum kits, close to 40 drum sets now I'd say. So, I got some really cool ones. I have a lot of old Gretsch, a lot of old Sonor, 'cause I love the Sonor, a lot of old Pearl, a lot of cool vintage Pearl kits. I have a couple Rogers kits, like I said, a few Ludwig kits. I have a Hayman English drum kit, which I just got refinished. It's really cool. It's in midnight blue, which looks almost like an indigo snake kind of a blue, almost a blueish black, really cool looking. In really nice shape, I got that from London, from the UK, from a drum shop from a guy named Nick Hopkins. If you ever go to his site, he always has a lot of cool stuff. But most of the stuff he has tends to be a lot of English stuff, he'll have Tamcos and Premier, and sometimes stuff you'd find over there, you know, European brands, Beverly, Premier, ASBA. I don't know if you know that brand. ASBA was a French brand. They were the first ones to make stainless steel drums way before Ludwig. It was ASBA, A-S-B-A. I have one kit that's really cool. It's a stainless steel Sonor kit from around '75. Supposedly, they only made three prototype stainless steel kits, and I've got one of them. I bought it from a guy in Holland, I think, or Scandinavia or something like that. That kit's probably just unique because, it's not polished stainless steel like Bonham's kit. It's like a brushed stainless steel. Both a 12 and a 13, and 16 and a 22 bass drum. I guess that's when they were called Champion model drums. The Champion drums became Phonic series, and then they did Phonic Plus, and then Sonor Signature. But before they were Phonics, they were called Champion. But they look kind of the same. This was when they were still using the square lugs, like what you saw Steve Smith or Tommy Aldridge play in that period. That kit's really cool 'cause it's unique. But I have to tell you, if you're gonna ask me, "What's your favorite kit," it's probably my silver sparkle Rogers kit, 'cause I got that kit for my 14th birthday in 1972 at a store called Sodja music, S-O-D-J-A in Cleveland. I remember it was in the showroom. Now, mind you, if you lived in Cleveland, you're probably gonna play Ludwig or Rogers drums mostly, 'cause Rogers used to be in Cleveland originally. So, obviously, everybody knew the brand in that region of the country. Some of them played Slingerlands or maybe some Gretsch. But generally, most guys we knew had either Ludwigs or Rogers. And I remember they had a bunch of kits, this was one of those stores that had two sides to the store, two storefronts if you will. They had a little shelf in the front window that they would put drum sets set up in to advertise. I remember the kit being set up in there. It was the only kit they had that had a 24-inch bass drum. I remember thinking I wanted that big bass drum. It had two rack toms, 12, 13, 16, with a 24, and a metal Dyna-Sonic snare. So, my dad bought me that kit. I had a blue sparkle Dixie drum set which was made pearl. My dad traded that in and got the Rogers kit with a couple cymbal stands, the hi-hat seat and snare stand pedal, and some Zildjian cymbals. It came with a trap case and the cloth bags. And I remember it was $600. I still have that kit. Earlier in the year I had it completely refurbished. It looks killer.
Mark: Well, out of all the bands and projects you've worked on, what's been the most personally satisfying as far as drum tracks go?
Eric: Drum tracks, oh my god, that's hard to say because that's kind of an ambiguous thing. You know, I've done some other projects where I really liked the way I played drums on the stuff. I did a record with this band that Tommy Thayer produced, a band called 28 IF, two eight I-F. The reason the guy came up with the name, if you look on The Beatles Abbey Road album where they're crossing the road. There's a Volkswagen Beetle parked on the street, and the license plate on the Beetle is two eight I-F, so that's where the guy got the name of the band. 'Cause people would always say, "Why is it 28 IF?" Well, that's why. That record was really cool. I flew up to Portland, Oregon. They rented a kit in studio. I used a Yamaha Recording series kit, I remember. It was kind of a natural wood colored one. Most of the Recording series kits that I'd always seen were always either black or lipstick red and white. But this one was a natural brownish color. And I remember the kit sounded really, really good, and it was a really nice sounding studio. It was one of those perfect storms. The gear sounded good, the drums sounded good. It was all rental gear, I just flew up to do it. We went into a rehearsal room, rehearsed a couple days. The guy taught me the riffs. And the great thing about it was the guy was completely open minded to let me interpret his music and his riffs the way I heard it and felt it, and I was even given a lot of input for the arrangements and parts. "How 'bout if I play this and this?" Tommy Thayer produced the record, so they were very receptive and open minded to me having input. And I was really impressed by that, that they were just so cool about that. 'Cause most people wouldn't be. If you ever check that record out, I think there's a lot of really cool stuff on that, very cool stuff.
Mark: I will check that out. You also sing backup. How much do you feel that adds to the overall sound? And what's your favorite track to sing backup on currently?
Eric: Here's the thing. I love singing. I don't mind it 'cause I enjoy it. I'm always singing all the time, and humming, and whistling, 'cause I love music. The things that I don't like about singing live is it really takes away from me being able to be a more physical drummer like I was in earlier years when I wasn't having the demand on my singing all the time. So, that I don't like. You can probably hear my voice is a little hoarse today. But my voice is hoarse because I've been in the studio for the last two days doing a record with Paul Stanley. He's doing a record with that Motown thing he does, that Soul Station. I got to give Paul credit. I told him, I said, "Paul, you are fucking nuts because you have unbelievable energy. You're always doing stuff. You have three kids. You're always painting, writing, flying out to do art shows, rehearsing," and he still does all the things with his kids, makes all of their events and stuff. I guess he's living life to the fullest, 'cause, man, he sure is always doing stuff. Here we've been doing all these rehearsals and all this stuff and then, literally, we went into the studio to cut a record in two days just to do all the basics. We did all the rhythm tracks and stuff today, for the rhythm section. Tomorrow the horns are going in, but I did the drums. Basically, we did six tracks yesterday and three today, and I knocked it out.
Mark: Who will be your drum tech for this tour?
Eric: Lorne Wheaton, have you heard of him?
Mark: Yes, I have! Outstanding tech and stage manager. He was the tech for Neil Peart, Steve Smith and many more.
Eric: I haven't met him yet, I've only spoken to him on the phone. He's my new drum tech. He's good friends with John Aldridge. They're both coming out here to put together my new kit. John's building me a rack, and they're putting it together in the beginning. So, when we get there, just reach out to me a week or two before. I'll just tell them that you're there to shoot drum pictures for me for my endorsement companies and I'll get you the pass.
Mark: You got to be wearing yourself out.
Eric: I'm good, I'm good. Honestly, I wasn't expecting to do it, but I thought, you know something? It isn't that hard to do. We've played these songs before. Everybody knows the material. And to be honest with you, all the guys that play in that project with Paul and in that band, those guys are all really serious top-level type guys. They do a lot of studio work. These guys are session dudes. It's like going out to lunch and having a meal with your friends. Put it this way. They live in that environment way more than I do. I mean, we've played all these songbooks. We literally just went in there, got the sounds on Tuesday night and then we started cutting yesterday afternoon, and we were done by one o'clock today. So, we barely did it in a day and a half. And the good thing is no song took more than two takes. We played to a click track, 'cause obviously, we want it to be locked tight when we play together. Every song was done in one or two takes, all nine songs. When you're playing with good guys, that's how you can do it. Mind you, I'm not lumping myself in with some of those other guys, because those guys, they are a different kind of animal. I'm more of a live drummer. I never thought of myself as a studio drummer. I always thought of myself as a live drummer. Because I try to be visual and try to be entertaining, and those kinds of things when you're behind the kit. I know that some of these guys that are playing in that project, they couldn't play at Kiss. They don't have the right style. They just wouldn't be able to hang in that environment. It's not their wheelhouse. But they're fantastic musicians. They're fucking so good, all these guys. It's scary how good they are.
I kind of am a certain way. I think I do it to keep myself balanced so I don't get too high and I don't get too low. Because I know when I was younger, I would tend to be to emotion about stuff. Let little things bother me too much and get too upset or get your hopes too high and things don't happen, you're really affected or devastated, that kind of stuff. In this business I've realized you got to learn how to just keep a real equilibrium and don't get high, don't get low, just kind of stay in the middle and maintain that, and that'll serve you better in the long run. So, sometimes people mistake that for being like, "Oh, I don't give a fuck," or they think I'm jaded. "You're not impressed with anything anymore." It's not really like that, but I have seen enough stuff to know what I think is really impressive. I saw Lady Gaga earlier this year, and I thought she was fantastic. I though Muse had a really amazing cool show. I liked it. Did you ever see them?
Mark: I have not yet this year, I have before, amazing set. I'm always working with bands going on little two- or three-day tours. This last year I missed a lot of my normal bands I would just go watch because I was out of town on assignment with a band.
Eric: How do you know John Aldridge?
Mark: I was covering the Def Leppard and REO show, in Kansas City, one of my first photography shows. I've always been just basically for the drummer. I'll do the whole band, but I concentrate on the drummers. I noticed John was up there fiddling with the drum set before they came on, so I asked the security guard, "Can I go take a picture from the side of this guy?" He goes, "Well, that's not the drummer." And I said, "I know that's not the drummer," but he let me take the photo, and that one photo started a very good friendship between John and I.
Eric: John’s a great guy. He’s done a lot of engraving stuff for me.
Mark: I know he engraved 12 drums for you earlier this year, didn't he?
Eric: Yeah, he's been doing a bunch. I just sent him 10 more. Pearl came out with a signature drum for me, and they only made 200. So, I bought 10 of them off of Pearl and had John engrave them special. They were just chrome over brass. They still look nice, but black nickel chrome looks better, 'cause the contrast. I had him do a bunch of stuff for me last year. Pearl did a special thing when it was my 30th anniversary, they had John engrave a special drum that they gave me as a gift. Then they did another one that we auctioned off and raised money to help this Compton charter school system supporting one of the inner-city schools. We gave them all the money. So, then I had him do some drums for me. Some of them I used as gifts, some of them I sold as stage break drums. He just did a new one for me as a prototype. I said, "Kind of do your own thing." I sent him a pattern that I wanted him to put on it. He posted it the other day, and he said, "Well, here's something different." And it is, it's like a tiger stripe pattern. I said, "John, just fill in the blanks whatever you want. I'll let you just do what you want with it." And it looks cool. The thing is I wanna take advantage of his artistry 'cause he's very good with making the ornate cool stuff.
Mark: I really want to thank you for taking the time and talking drums, have fun on the tour.
Eric: You need to do a drum book, and you need to call the drum book Give the Drummer Some. Because, you know, that's an expression that people used to say in the old days, "Hey, let's give the drummer some. Why don't you give the drummer some?" Let the drummer take a few bars, they'd give him an acknowledgement. Back in the day when drummers were a big featured solos and part of a big band, the drummers were always featured big time. It wasn't just about the drummer, but the drummer, he was a big part of what happened on stage. No doubt about it, that's undeniable. And that changed. Somehow rock and roll came along and then it turned into being all about lead singers and guitar players. And here's my opinion about why that happened. There's always been sex appeal attached to drumming and all that kind of stuff. But I think what really changed it was managers started realizing whoever owned the songs, therein lies the wealth, because the money in the publishing was so vast. And they started realizing, whoever writes the songs, we have to make sure we cater to their ego. Human beings, especially musicians, as we know, they're very ego driven and can be very influenced by their ego very easily. And I think managers started realizing, "Oh, if I keep telling this guy he's the greatest thing ever, and I make sure that he's always happy and he's the focal point, and all the attention's about him all the time, he's gonna listen to me. And then I can kind of control the dialog of what those are in this band, and I can get them to do things that suit my agenda. I'm sure somebody might say conspiracy theory. I think that's based on the truth in my opinion. That's definitely based on the truth.
Eric Singer is the drummer for the American rock band Kiss. Eric also drums for Paul Stanley's solo band, of which he was in the studio with, recording new material, just hours prior to this interview. I don't ask about the makeup, it's been asked enough, what I do ask is about the upcoming tour, and drums, two things maybe he can't or doesn't want to talk about.
I want to know what makes this incredible musician tick. Singer likes to talk, he also holds nothing back. He did both. What started as an interview for our John Bonham book, turned into a very cool chat with one of the most amazing musicians around. Kiss fans, here is your peak into the 2019 End Of The Road tour. For Singer fans, maybe something you didn't know about him. Maybe something only a few know. We do talk drums. Eric has an official Facebook page: Eric Singer-Official. His website is www.eric-singer.com
By Mark Schierholz Photos from live show in Kansas City February 27, 2019
Eric Singer drummer for Kiss