Eric Singer describes Kiss as "rock meets Barnum and Bailey's Circus," making it his ideal band.
"I always liked the entertainer-type drummers," said Singer, who first joined Kiss in 1991. "For me, I feel Kiss is the perfect band as a musician, a performer and an entertainer."
Singer wears the cat-face makeup, which began with original drummer Peter Criss, who came up with idea because he said he has nine lives. The long-tongued bassist Gene Simmons is the Demon with bat wings, guitarist Paul Stanley the Starchild, and former guitarist Ace Frehley was the Spaceman.
Singer enjoys wearing the makeup: "It allows you to let loose and be whoever you want to be," he said. "It's almost like when Superman would put on the cape or Batman would put on the mask. In some ways, it gives you the ability to take on a character or a persona of whatever you have inside of you or how you want to perform."
Risks from sitting on a drum riser include breathing pyrotechnic smoke and being peppered with flames when Simmons spits fire. But that's the price you pay to be part of the biggest spectacle in the history of rock music.
Simmons explained the philosophy behind Kiss, which has marketed itself skillfully. The singular rock band featuring pop harmonies has sold 100 million albums. Kiss has probably sold more merchandise than any other band, and the Kiss Army fans are the most fanatical in rock 'n' roll, Singer said.
"We had our show, we had our levitating platform, we had our bombs, we had our costumes and we had our Kiss logo," Simmons said in "Kiss, the Early Years" (Three Rivers Press). "Kiss would always perform on time, period, and would always deliver the goods."
"Gene and Paul are not just musicians " they're entertainers," Singer said. "It's always supposed to be the greatest show on earth and an over-the-top presentation. I get it because I was a fan. Once you saw them, you were hooked because they really gave you a visual presentation, not just the music."
Singer met Stanley when Stanley was working on his first solo project in 1989. Two years later Kiss asked him to fill in for the ailing Eric Carr, who had replaced Criss. Singer, a watch collector who has marked time for Queen guitarist Brian May and Black Sabbath, first worked with Kiss on a movie soundtrack and later on the album "Revenge." After Carr died of cancer, Singer joined Kiss full time.
"And the rest is 'Kisstory,' " Singer said. "It was a really awkward time for me. It was mixed emotions. I was really excited, but I also felt really bad."
Singer left the band in the mid-90s, when Criss and Frehley rejoined the group. They both left again later. Tommy Thayer now plays guitar. Other guitarists have been Bruce Kulick, Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John.
Singer also plays in Alice Cooper's band with bassist Chuck Garric, a 1985 South Tahoe High School graduate.
"Kiss, in my opinion, took it to the next level," Garric said. "When I was a kid, I would run home from school put on 'Kiss Alive' and think to myself, 'One day, one day I'll rock the world with one of the best drummers in rock 'n' roll from one on the hottest bands in the land " Kiss!"
Simmons and Stanley are the constants over band's 35 years. Replacing either of those two, who do most of the singing and songwriting, might be impossible, Singer said.
"Like in all things in life, never say never, and anything's possible," he said. "But I think it would be really hard to replace Gene or Paul. Nobody can forget, nor will we forget the original four guys. It's because of them that I am talking about Kiss to you today. But bands change and bands evolve.
"I don't say this to kiss anyone's ass but to me there's only one Paul Stanley. You could never find somebody who can do what Paul does. Not only is he the voice of Kiss and as a frontman, Paul's going to go down in history as one of the best frontmen of all time of rock. He's one of the few guys whose done it with a guitar strapped around his neck the whole time."
Stanley's wife is expecting her third child, which means Kiss' four shows this month will be the last chance to see them for a while. But don't worry " Kiss will return.
"I'm sure there will be more Kiss touring in the future," Singer said. "After the success we had this year, it makes perfect sense to keep going out and do this again."
Singer also plays with Garric in ESP, an acronym for the Eric Singer Project.
"ESP just a fun side project for me," Singer said. "It's a chance for me to play some cool songs with my friends. I played in my father's band, which was American songbook, like Cole Porter and Gershwin and all those standards, as well as big band and swing. I'd never played in a cover band. We play songs by Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Kiss and Queen. I like having Chuck, because he can sing. He likes to do the Mötorhead. And I don't have to tell you what a great guy he is. He's a bandmate and a real friend."
By playing in three bands together, Singer and Garric have developed into a solid rhythm section, Garric said.
"When we play live, we listen to each other " nobody's pushing or pulling," Garric said. "We've been playing together for so long and in different bands, I know what he's thinking. It's a powerhouse when we get down to business.