With Kiss playing Blossom Music Center this week, we thought it would be a good time to catch up by phone with Euclid hometown hero and heavy-metal drummer Eric Singer. Singer, 54, has lived in Los Angeles for 30 years and has been a drummer for Kiss, on and off, for the last 21 years. He has also played with Alice Cooper, Lita Ford and on solo tours by Kiss' Paul Stanley.
Where are you now in the tour?
We played a sold-out show at the Minnesota State Fair last night. It's a 44-city tour. We just added Mexico City and Monterrey.
Where did you grow up in Cleveland?
Euclid. I graduated from Euclid High School in 1976.
When did you start playing music?
My dad was Johnny Singer. He had a society club band. They went from being a trio to a 15-piece band, depending on the gig. I started playing drums with him when I was 14. We played a lot of country clubs on the East Side. I was later in a band with Mike McGill that would become Beau Coup with the Amato brothers [Frank and Tommy] and Dennis Lewin.
Then you moved to Los Angeles?
In 1983 I moved out to the West Coast. The idea was to study music for a while, or take lessons. But within a year I was playing in Lita Ford's band. She was dating Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath and I got some gigs from him. I played with Gary Moore [Thin Lizzy], Brian May [Queen] and did 13 tours with Alice Cooper.
How did the Kiss thing happen?
I was hired for Paul Stanley's solo tour in 1989. I've been on and off with Kiss for 21 years now. For the last nine in a row.
How much of a pain is all the makeup?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. But being in this band is a lot of work. All the makeup and costumes can be cumbersome. Especially when you play outdoors in Phoenix when it's 115 degrees.
Did you grow up a Kiss fan?
I saw them open for the New York Dolls at the Allen Theatre in 1974. I still feel like a fan to this day. Sometimes I see a kid at a show in the front row and I think, that was me. I've been blessed. Retaining that feeling of being a fan keeps me passionate about doing this. You need to be passionate to do this.
Have you ever met [original Kiss drummer] Peter Criss? Is it awkward?
We've met. He's fine. We don't socialize or anything. I realize that fans want their bands to stay together forever. But that's because they've never been in a band. Know how hard a relationship between two people can be? Imagine that with four or five people. Sometimes a band has to change to survive. Sometimes a guy has to leave a band as a survival tactic. Life happens. Things change. It's not a perfect world.
How do you stay healthy on the road and in the heavy-metal world?
I don't smoke or do drugs. I hardly drink. Maybe a glass of wine with dinner. I had one drink last night after the show. A vodka and soda on the rocks. I nursed it for an hour. Even that is rare for me. My way of staying healthy is getting rest and eating well. That's the key. I spend 22 hours of my day getting ready for the two hours onstage. I've never missed a show in my life.
By Michael Heaton/The Plain Dealer