Friday, October 22, 2010

Drummer Allan Schwartzberg Talks About His Work With KISS

Drummer Allan Schwartzberg who played on KISS' "(Music From) The Elder," "Animalize" and Gene Simmons and Peter Criss' solo albums was recently interviewed by Here's an excerpt from the interview: The other major rock artist you worked with is KISS.

Schwartzberg: Yes, that was through Bob Ezrin. You’ve played on a lot of KISS tracks. You started off on Gene Simmons’ first solo album.

Schwartzberg: Yes, we went to The Manor in Oxford, England. We lived in the house and he was going out with CHER at the time. So, Cher and Chastity (as a little girl) were with us. We made the album using the entire Manor house. We had cables strung everywhere. We couldn’t see each other, but we were all connected by phones. I thought it was a great creative record. The producer was Sean Delaney and he was a super creative guy. He invented the make-up for KISS. He co-wrote a lot of their greatest songs…

Schwartzberg: Yes, exactly. He was absolutely brilliant. You also worked on drummer Peter Criss’ solo album.

Schwartzberg: Yes, with Peter Criss sitting on the floor next to the drums. Yes, and that’s never made sense to me. Why? Because Peter Criss is a drummer, but yet you’re the drummer on his album. Please explain.

Schwartzberg: For some reason, he was out of commission, but the reason I did the KISS stuff in the first place was because Bob Ezrin had a problem with Peter’s playing as was the case with many other groups. I did a lot of ghost playing. I did Alice Cooper’s Muscle Of Love without credit. Not on every track, but I played on four or five tracks. Jack Richardson and Bob Ezrin did co-production on that. Did you simply do overdubs on that or did you actually play on the original tracks?

Schwartzberg: They called me in and I did the drums over (without credit). There was a big tall blonde guy playing drums with them at the time and they weren’t happy with his tracks. From what I’ve been told, he never knew and I guess he eventually found out, but he didn’t know it wasn’t him… That’s kind of crazy. That’s one album I didn’t even know about. I knew that time frame the band was having internal problems and eventually brought in other players, but up until that point I always assumed that The Alice Cooper Group albums were played by the Alice Cooper Group.

Schwartzberg: Well, that’s how they wanted it to be. I understand they didn’t want to complicate things and I got paid. Though it would have been nice to get the credit. So, I did that and Bob Ezrin told me that with Peter (Criss) he would say ‘Peter watch my hand,’ and he would move it up and down. Then, he would say, ‘Peter when my hand comes down that’s when you hit’. He couldn’t get him to do it and he couldn’t get him to play with a click track… it was a problem in those days for drummers to play evenly. The shit would sound great and rocking onstage, but when you’re making an album if it’s not even it just doesn’t make it. You can’t have the time of the song be uneven. It just doesn’t work. It’s called ‘sloppy’ and your foot stops tapping and the listener stops listening. You can tap your foot to all the great records even those from the ‘50s and ‘60s.” Bob’s relationship with KISS dates back to the mid-70s. Did you do any work for Bob on a KISS album before the Gene and Peter solo albums? Did you play on KISS’ Destroyer album?

Schwartzberg: I’m trying to remember. I did… hmmm. I’m fuzzing up on that one. I know I did KISS’ Animalize. Did I do something on Destroyer? I don’t know. I really don’t know. There are a lot of rumors out there as to which KISS albums you actually played on…

Schwartzberg: I did The Elder. Right, you did the track ‘I’ on The Elder. Bob wasn’t happy with Eric Carr’s drumming, so he brought you in.

Schwartzberg: I did it that out an Ace’s house in Connecticut, but it was more than one track. What’s been ‘released’ to the public is that you only played on ‘I’, but the story of the ghost musician is always much different than the ‘official story’. A band will begrudgingly admit to have a ghost musician play on one track when, in reality, they know it’s fifteen, right?

Schwartzberg: Yes, yeah. It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than one. It doesn’t matter. The crazy part about that album was that Bob wanted me to double my drum part exactly. Play it over. He didn’t want to use… …studio tricks.

Schwartzberg: He literally wanted me to double the part and that’s like tracing over what you played in a moment in time. It’s such a bitch to do. It was very hard. That Elder was supposed to be the start of another industry for KISS. They had the cartoons ready to go. They had the books. There was KISS World. It was going to be gigantic with this amazing marketing thing, but somehow it didn’t happen. It just fizzled. It just died. The album wasn’t that good unfortunately.

Schwartzberg: I guess not.