Tom: Hi Eric, what's up?
Eric: Not much
Tom: Eric, thank you for taking the time out for talking to me.
Eric: Thanks fine.
Tom: Well first I just want to tell you I got the single and its amazing
Tom: As far as your childhood is concerned, when did you start playing drums?
Eric: I started playing in '64 when the Beatles came out. Music became my life and I just got attached to Ringo and the drums. And from then on I really didn't want to do anything but play drums, and be in a band and be famous. The weird thing is that my uncle had a drum set that he had given me when I was about 7 or 8 years old. And I had smasehed the shit out of them, I didn't even play them, I just broke them up. I didn't want them, I just wasn't ready at that point. But once the Beatles came out that was it.
I formed a band when I was like sixteen and we played bar mitzas and weddings. We played disco, top 40, rythym and blues and that kinda stuff.
Tom: When did you first ever hear about KISS?
Eric: Oh I don't know, sometime in the early 70's
Tom: Did you have any of their albums?
Eric: I didn't have any of their albums but I knew a lot of their music.
Tom: So you weren't a fan you just knew of them.
Eric: I knew of them, I was a fan and I loved what I heard. I wasn't a fan of any band at that time.
Tom: Can you tell me about how you joined the band?
Eric: The last band I was in was a copy rock band, I joined them in December 1979. After about 3 months the keyboard player quit and we continued as a power trio.
Well sometime in May or June I went to this place called Poets on Northern Blvd in Queens and I was going to play there the next night with that band. And I just went there to hang out, and the keyboard player walked in and I hadn't seen him in months. He came down to see us next night. After we were down he said "Eric, you gotta get out of this band." I said I know, I already told the guys that I was quitting. He then said, "Why don't you audition for KISS.?"
I said like get out of here, no way. I didn't believe him at first. He said he read that KISS is looking for a new drummer.
the very next day I went out and bought Unmasked, I got the telephone number of Aucoin Management and told them I was a drummer and I want to audition for KISS. They said send a tape of your playing, a picture and a resume. I sent it in a bright orange folder because I figured that that there would be so many of these on the secretaries desk taht maybe, just maybe it'll attract her attention.
Sure enough, that's what happened. She saw my folder and grabbed it first. They called me and I went in the next day to meet Bill Aucoin. He gave me a list of songs to learn for the audition, in the event I was called for the audition. He told me I should shave my mustache off because they wouldn't want to see me in my mustache.
I spent the rest of that day learning the 5 songs.
Tom: Which 5 songs were they?
Eric: Black Diamond, because they wanted to hear me sing. Detroit Rock City, I think maybe Dr. Love
Tom: Love Gun maybe?
Eric: I don't recall them all. "Is that you" I think was one of them from Unmasked which I love anyway. Possibly "Shandi."
Tom: That song had a good drum beat.
Eric: When we did that first tour in Europe and Australia we were playing all those songs. "Shandi" I loved playing live. "I Was Made for Loving You" might had been one of them.
Tom: That song was never given a chance as a single.
Eric: Which one?
Eric: It was a little too pop. I think its a great song.
Tom: After being hired did you expect any resentment from the fans?
Eric: I was expecting it and I was prepared to it. I said to myself that I was going to do the best that I can, like I've always done.
I prepared for it, no shit, it never really happened.
Once in a while I would see a kid hold up a cardboard sign saying "we love Peter." No boos or anything. Honest to God I prepared myself for the worst and nothing happened.
I think KISS fans are so loyal. They want the band to be there and that's the most important thing. If I was cool enough for Gene, Paul and Ace to pick me, then I was cool enough for the fans.
Tom: How did you feel during the first few shows?
Eric: Where, in Australia?
Eric: It was unbelievable. It was like Disneyland. When we had gone down there you have to remember KISS had never been to Australia. So all the hysteria of KISS that was happening in the seventies was building up in Australia. These kids were waiting seven years to see KISS. I was lucky enough to be there when we went over. We got the key to the city, it was just great.
Tom: Tell me about those Rio dates. Words can't describe it.
Eric: They can't. Rio was great, the place was big, it held like 160,000 people or more. The people who are opposite you in the stands are like four blocks away from you.
We took limos from underground up to the playing field and then we had to be driven up to the steps of the stage. Me and Paul in one car. When we drive up to the field all you see is a sea of flashbulbs going off. It was the freakiest thing. We just looked at each other and said "Holy Shit!!"
Tom: and for Paul to say that, I'm sure nothing would phase him at that point.
Eric: After all that he had been through to see this was beyond belief.
Tom: How come the Creatures tour was stopped, and why didn't you play New York?
Eric: I didn't know. And I didn't know the Creatures tour was stopped. How do you consider it stopped?
Tom: Well, it was supposed to be about 100 dates. Wasn't it?
Eric: It was, but sometimes things change. Depends on scheduling and things like that. We went through the states.
Tom: As far as the New York area is concerned you only played I think Rochester and Glen Falls.
Eric: We didn't do Nassau?
Eric: Sorry about that.
Tom: What is your favorite KISS record that you played on?
Eric: Creatures by a landslide! That's my personal favorite. I just listened to it about a week ago, I hadn't listened to it in about 7 years. Its a great fuckin' album. Its a really good album and I'm really proud of it.
Tom: What was your favorite tour?
Eric: Animalize. I had gotten rid of the notions of girlfriends. It really wasn't working for me. I was tired of getting my heart broken. So I decided to go out and have a good time on that tour.
That should have been the tour that followed Creatures, because we had the same attitude on that tour that we had recording Cretures. We came back to kick some ass. We were having a ball. The stage was a great stage, it was my favorite stage so far that I've ever played on.
Tom: Which one of the band members do you hang out with the most?
Eric: Usually I spend a lot of time with Bruce because we work on material.
Tom: Can you tell me about "Little Caesar?"
Eric: "Little Caesar" I'm very happy about. "Little Caesar" started out as a rhythym track that I brought to Gene. I brought four things actually. Three of them were semi-complete. One of them was a really great ballad. But Paul came up with a really cool ballad that fits us better. I just let Gene hear "Little Caesar" basically as an extra thing, I never thought he would consider it. But he loved it and we started working on it.
Bruce and I went into the studio to cut the tracks. All the instruments are Bruce and me. I play drums, I play bass and Bruce plays all the guitars. Its like funk rock. It's kind of Zepplin-ish. I'm real happy with how my vocals turned out. I think this one of the better things on the album.
Tom: How are Paul's songs on this record?
Eric: I think they're better in attitude this time. His attitude was like "let's get back to basics." He wanted a little rawer sound, so to speak. It's kind of like an older sounding KISS album.
Tom: What's your favorite song off the album?
Eric: I like "You Love Me to Hate You" a lot. I like "Rise to It" a lot. "Forever" is a great ballad. And I like "Little Caesar" a lot.
Tom: Who came up with the album title?
Eric: Paul came up with the title. The graphics on it came from me looking through a magazine and seeing a picture that was similar to an idea that we talked about.
Tom: What were some of the other titles that were thought of?
Eric: Oh God! There's a list a mile long. "Crimes of Passion" was one of them. "Crimes of Punishment" was one of them. They were cool titles but they didn't seem to be right.
Tom: Did you ever think that you would ever sing lead?
Eric: It wasn't like I wasn't allowed to sing. Whenever we're working on songs for an album the person who writes the song usually finishes the song. I have difficulty finishing, I always have to come up with partially completed things. Which I've done in the past with "All Hell's Breakin' Loose" and "Under the Rose."
But when a guy comes up with a song for an album he usually has the whole thing done in his head and he's got a vocal on it. And he usually knows how he wants it to sound. So the guy that does the demo sings it.
Tom: Tell me about the "Hide Your Heart" video?
Eric: There's no dancing girls. We're kinda like secondary to the thing. It's a story about these two guys that are in love with this one girl and how it unfolds and what happens. It's kinda like a West Side Story thing. The band looks great and the video is a lot tougher than what we've done in the past few videos.
Tom: Are you psyched to get out there and tour?
Eric: I can't wait to get out. It's been much too long, I don't like being home. I'd rather play. This tour is going to be really big. We're gonna have the biggest show we can have. It's gonna be different not like the old KISS shows. We're gona go out there and kick some ass.
Tom: Eric, I want to thank you again for taking the time out to talk and best of luck with the new album and tour.
Eric: No problem, take care dude!!
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This interview is © 1989, 1997 Thomas Valentino & The KISS Asylum.