Saturday, July 31, 2010

KISS At Hershey Park Stadium Tonight

CHRIS MAUTNER/The Patriot-News

KISS tour recruits new generation of fans, Hot dogs. Apple pie. Chevrolet. And ... Kiss?

Quite so, according to Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who argued the band is an integral part of American culture.

"Kiss has become a part of Americana. It's very much a part of the American landscape," he said during a recent phone interview. "When you come to a show, it's like taking the kids to Disneyland. There is that kind of spirit at the shows."

To keep that spirit alive, the band is dedicated to ensuring that it delivers as much spectacle on stage as possible.

"What we're doing is taking what we did last year [on tour] and adding more aspects to the show to make it bigger and better," he said. "We take Kiss and improve and enrich it and make it better."

So what can we expect at Saturday's concert at Hersheypark Stadium?

"If I tell you, it ruins the surprise," Singer said.

The band is touring in support of its first studio album in 11 years, "Sonic Boom." Singer said that while the group will perform a few songs from "Boom," which fans and critics say harkens back to the classic, '70s-era Kiss, it's not going to neglect fans who want to hear the classics.

"You can't do too much new material," Singer said. "As much as die-hards want to hear the obscure songs, the majority wants to hear 'Detroit Rock City' and 'Love Gun.' Kiss is very much a show band and has a lot of energy to bring and maintain. Getting too obscure or veering away from what fans know is not the best idea."

He should know. Singer has been a member of Kiss, which includes guitarist Tommy Thayer and original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, for a while. He initially drummed with them from 1991 to 1996. He then rejoined the band in 2001 after the reunion with original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley fell apart.

Since then, Singer has worn the "Catman" makeup in concert that Criss made famous. Does he get grief about it from die-hard Criss fans?

"Of course," he said. "But I learned a long time ago, people will like you, love you and hate you for any reason, or no reason at all. I'm not going to make everybody happy, and I accept that.

"It's just a band. We just make music. I'm not solving the problems of the world. Ultimately, it's about having a good time and having fun."

And Singer is dedicated to ensuring that concertgoers have a good time.

"No matter how you feel on a given day, it's the one job you don't get to call in sick," he said. "I've gone onstage and played when I had a bad flu with chills. I've never called in or missed a show. You feed off the fans. The minute you see [the audience] it energizes you and helps you get through the tough times."

That dedication has apparently resulted in a resurgence of interest in the band, especially among the younger generations, Singer said.

"There's a renewed interest in Kiss now," he said. "There's a new generation of fans that's helped us be reborn and re-energized. The whole thing has become multigenerational."

Singer says Kiss is a unique band.

"There's a certain empowerment being onstage and in costume. It's a unique, special feeling. Knowing the crowd is with me is a very empowering situation. Putting on the makeup takes it to another level. It's a crazy shield that lets me be whatever I want."

So how long does it take to get into that make-up anyway?

About two hours, Singer said. "It gives you a chance to focus in," he said. "Applying the makeup, you can't rush the time it takes to do it. It's like preparing yourself for battle. It helps us focus in and channel the energy, so by the time we hit the stage there's no wasted effort."

Kiss performs at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium. Cost: $131, $75.50 and $45.50 Tickets: Giant Center, 717-534-3911.