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Peter Criss Interview
Part 1

I was very lucky recently to receive a phone call from none other than Peter Criss. It was originally planned for a week earlier but I got a very nice phone call from Peter's wife Gigi, explaining that all his interviews had to be cancelled. To be honest I didn't like our chances of getting another one, but true to her word Peter phones me dead on 6PM on the 16th!

Peter rang to tell me about his new album, something that he is very very passionate about. He was a great guy and sincerely hope it does well so we can see more creative work from him in the future.


Here's part 1, the next part should be complete later this week.

PC Hi Paul! How you doin?

PF I'm great thanks, how are you?

PC I'm doin' great.

PF Thanks so much for ringing tonight.

PC Well, you guys are the fans, what the fans want, I'm putting something out for you guys and everyone else so hopefully we can talk a little about it.

PF Cool! I don't know if you're aware of KISSin UK, but it's one of the few UK KISS websites around and we have a lot of Peter Criss fans over here on the site patiently waiting for your album.

PC I think it's wonderful! Gigi got me this one, I'm off to the city tomorrow and doing Ed Trunk, and I've got some other satellite stuff to do for the rest of the week, so I've got to stay in the city for the next 2 weeks as the album will be coming out on the 24th... and I'm freakin' out!

PF Like you mentioned, you're due to release One For All in a couple of weeks, can you tell me a little about the album?

PC Well it's autobiographical if I can put it that way. It's an album you know, and if you look up 'album' in the dictionary it's kinda a combination of family, growing up and going through all the goods and the bads and the up's and the downs. It's about life man, and I haven't changed much. Peter Criss hasn't changed - I know who Peter Criss is - he's the same guy who started a historical band called KISS and I've also had roots in jazz and Motown way before I got in and started the band with the rest of the other 3 guys. So I have not lost that you know, I still love strings, I love horns, I love violins, I love cellos, I'm still a hopeless romantic! Writing Beth was a wonderful thing, I won a Peoples Choice for that.

PF Still a great song

PC There's not many, you know, singing drummers today. You've got Don Henley, Phil Collins, Ringo Starr and a few others and Peter Criss I believe! It's a very low number of drummers that write songs and perform so I'm in a really rare place and I will finish a book and that's what brings me to the album. My books going to take a little time, but the point I didn't think about is that people always sit down, not as many people as will now hear my music, and feel what I'm singing more so than what I'm writing.

PF Sure, how did it all start?

PC I started writing this thing a couple of years back cause I was building a studio in my house as I was going along, my guitarist was sending me little tunes here and there. I actually started the first song which was You Don't Have Anything but I re-did it to Send In The Clowns by Sondheim - it's a very a-la Broadway type thing, but this whole album has got to to with songs. I wrote 2 songs for the fans I literally and strictly wrote for them.

PF Was that Faces In The Crowd and Memories?

PC Yeah, Faces In The Crowd and Memories. It's a song where I'm sticking my nose up my fans butt - good! It's where it deserves to be! I wouldn't have a beautiful big house today and a beautiful wife and wonderful life and great health if it wasn't for my fans. When I've had, excuse me while I get a drink of grape juice [pauses].

PC Sorry, I get passionate about my new thing!

PF So you should be!

PC You know I started my life when I had my down-times, previous to my up-times , and I believe everyone goes through down-times, whether they know it or not. You get these shitty times and all of a sudden the party's over and you don't know what's happened. And that's where I was at at one point, so all of that started this whole idea of writing songs for the fans. When I was really going through shit in the early 90's when my mother was dying of cancer and the tabloids said I was living in the toilet, it was insanity. And yet my fans; KISS fans; Peter Criss fans, were there to lift me up and they could feel I was still great you know, I was never nothing less in their eyes. And I thought a lot about that on the reunion, the Psycho Circus and the Farewell definitely, but when we finally went to play Melbourne with the Melbourne Symphony which was a 
gas - but Ace wasn't there.

PF Yeah, a lot of the fans missed him from that.

PC That's not the band I started, there's 3 guys, other guys which should be on there, then I call it the original band. And when he wasn't there it really depressed me, big time. But he wasn't and here's my road manager dressed like him playing his licks. So it was very hard for me, I don't know about the other 2, but for me to put up with that. And I felt all sorts of stuff, so on my album I wrote a song called Space Ace - I wrote for Ace and it's very out there 'cause it should be - I think he's an alien from another world [laughs].
PC So it was interesting, I wrote 2 songs for my wife, I wrote songs for the fans, I really feel about them and I think they feel about me. I wrote some songs where you find someone you love then you loose them, and you find someone new. Its very positive. I find Peter Criss songs are very like little stories of life kinda, and I feel my pain and my blues and if I'm not feeling that and putting it in my music then it's bullshit and I'm not really giving what I was born to do - and that's music. I don't buy this rock-star shit, this legends stuff, it's baloney [laughs]. I'm a musician, I'm from Brooklyn and I grew up very poor and I know what it's like to be up and down and I'm at a stage now where I'm re-creating and re-planting Peter Criss. I've got a studio now in my house where I work vigorously and I finished a rock album over this winter all the music was recorded while my guitarist stayed in my guest house.

PF Yes, I've heard you've been busy with more than one album.

PC So we said lets do the rock album now, 'cause this albums all about ballads and da-da-da-da, I really want to do a kick ass rock album. So he spent the winter here, and not only did we do that, we also finished my swing album.

PF So you've finished all 3 already? I didn't realise the other 2 has progressed so far.

PC Well, close to it, I've finished the rock thing, I'll work over the summer on the lyrics for it and some more melodies. But yeah, we mastered literally all the drums and guitars.

PF Cool, I look forward to hearing those. And this new album?

I'm really excited. This album is personal, the first song is about 9/11.

PF Yes, I did hear that you wrote a song about what happened that day.

PC You guys over there weren't here for that, it was very heavy if you're a New Yorker. And to watch it was even harder.

PF Were you in New York at the time it all happened?

PC No thank god, but I was home and I got home from church (I still go I'm a very spiritual Christian man and I believe in god so I go to church now) and I came back and my wife said a plane hit the building. And I said, oh that's bullshit, its ridiculous, must be one of those little planes and [pauses] surely when I sat there the second jet hit and I knew we were in big trouble. It was like the world was ending, and people were just running from this mass of black smoke and insanity. So I went into the city after that and I raised $9 million.

PF Wow, that's a lot of money.

PC It was for the firemen and policemen and, you know, emergency squads. And along with me was Paul Shaffer who was there - Paul and I go way back we were very good friends. I don't know if you know Paul Shaffer?

PF From Letterman?

PC Yeah, he's from the Dave Letterman band. Paul is a legend as far as I'm concerned. And we got together and he's on this album, and we got Will Lee who's on bass. I don't know if you're familiar with Will Lee - he's go to be one of the hottest bass players in rock & roll today. And I got this girl, Jenn Johnson I'm actually doing a duet called It Doesn't Get Better Than This and it's a song I co-wrote with Charles Kipps, he's a gentleman who's been involved with Bill Cosby for 30 years and he wrote a few things with Aretha Franklin and The Temptations and he also did the movie Fat Albert. He's got a few Grammies, no not Grammies, he's got a few Emmys - and he wrote some of the lyrics on It Doesn't Get Better Than This.

PC But One For All is magical, and it was very heavy. I had this melody of this whole thing. It's about being against the war 'cause I'm definitely protesting 'cause I think war is sick. I've seen so much of it in my life as I'm older now, it breaks my heart to think it's never going to end. I would love to see that before I'm kicking up daises. But I felt that in my own little way it's not We Are The World like Quincy Jones, but my feeling about what I think about war and how I feel about war so by titling it One For All, there's a slogan here called One For All, All For One.

PF Yeah, I guessed that's where it came from

PC It's probably actually a British thing before an American thing, it's probably from the 3 Musketeers or something. And I used that title and I designed the cover with the world spinning and it's got all the flags of all the countries, including Britain, Spain, Italy, all of them, it's just goes on and on and on. And the bad guy in the picture - myself. I put all the lyrics inside and on the front cover is an old two-wing aeroplane pulling a banner that says my name and it flies around the world. And it's very cool, I think you're gonna dig it and I think the fans are gonna dig it. It's taken a lot of work and it's the first time I've ever produced, I've never produced an album before.

PF Yeah, I was going to ask you about it being the very first time producing an album.

PC Well, I thought I was closer than anybody in the world, I really do what I wanted and I've been with Bob Ezrin and Eddie Kramer and Vini Poncia and I think I've learned a lot from those guys. I'm very personable about this album since it was mainly done in my home. And I knew I had guys like Paul Shaffer and Clifford Carter who done all the arrangements of strings when you hear it he's absolute genius, and Will Lee and people like that around me. I had great engineers it was really not that hard, but at the same time a tough job and I wouldn't do it again [laughs].

PF Never again?

PC There was a lot of decisions and a lot of money, I paid it, my own money went into this record it's on my label, my new label I'm starting. So it's kinda exciting for me 'cause I'm outta the band and I'm really being an artist again which I love being. And I'm kinda doing what I love to do and that's playing music.

PF I really look forward to hearing it, it's been a little while since your last album Cat #1 was released, I recently put it on the iPod and it still sounds fresh today [interrupts]

PC ..and it was a nightmare 'cause the company was shit! I signed a deal with them and before I knew it they had horrid distribution. And I walked in one day and our CD's were piled to the ceiling and I was like what are all these thousands of CD's doing here? And that company went to pot, they went right down the tubes. And by the 2nd year I knew it was a nightmare [laughs] oh my god it was a nightmare. But a lot of the songs I'm very proud of, especially Blue Moon Over Brooklyn.

PF Blue Moon is by far my favourite song on that album, lots of feeling.

PC Thank you!! And I love to have my momma on it. But again, that album did not get the fair distribution. I'm now with Sony/Red which is one of the biggest in the world and they're distributing it worldwide not just America, so also in Britain, Japan and all over the world. So I'm very lucky to get this deal and they gave me a wonderful deal, I'm very happy with it. I'm just excited that in a weeks time I'm going to be doing a signing in Virgin Records in New York over here. And I'm told there's already a thousand KISS fans coming so I'm very excited and I'm like wow man, cool! Again, I don't fool myself, I 
know that I have a 4-tier, you know 4 guys that started a historical band, as a 4-tier I have my percentage of fans that I think I'll do okay with. The peter Criss fans and some KISS fans, so I don't look at it like it's going to be a huge 'to do' I just think it's going to do fine and that's okay with me. As long as the fans get this, cause I promised this to do a solo album a few years back and I got emails - "where's your album, where's your album"! Now I get the greatest emails in the world from my site so I'm very very excited.

PF I know a lot of people are really excited for the album, especially when you look at Gene's recent effort where there just wasn't much feeling in his songs - I think that's what makes you stand out to KISS fans.

PC Feeling is what it's all about. You know what I mean? Like every time I play my drums I feel like I leave a piece of me on that stage. And when I sing, I sing from the heart, I play from the heart. I think that's no BS amongst the KISS fans at all, they truly know if you're a real fan and if you've been a fan for the "read deal" as I call it. You know then that the feeling is there, there's a special feeling I have and it's not there when I'm not with them, that's why they don't do well.
The point of it is that I believe in that, with this album I've put so much of my real true things on it pertaining to when I wrote the songs. Like a previous album was about how bad civil war is, this one's more about how bad this war is. And we fell in love with one another, I worked with a great childrens choir, who were just so cool. And I've never worked with children, only from what we done with Bob Ezrin's kids on God Of Thunder on Destroyer. So to bring in a bunch of kids again and do the whole chorus was really cool for me a very special moment to this album, very rewarding.

Click Here to read part 2!