Eric Carr Tributek


                     Eric Carr, 1985
This phone interview was conducted on November 8, 1989, when various members of KISS were promoting the 'Hot in the Shade' album and upcoming U.S. tour.  Not surprisingly, Eric Carr was very involved in donating his time and energy to giving the press interviews - especially to all of the KISS fanzines and newsletters for whom he always showed his enthusiasm and appreciation.  Because KISS ROCKS was a fan club/newsletter long before it was a merchandise website, I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Eric, which was originally printed in the November and December 1989 issues of the fanzine.  Speaking with Eric that evening was an absolute pleasure, and only a mere 2 years later would I truly realize what a rare honor it would be, to have been chatting so casually with such an extraordinary musician and human being, in an interview that very few people have seen...until now!  So enjoy and long live "The Fox"!

JON RUBIN/KISS ROCKS: Eric, how are you?

ERIC CARR: Hi Jon, how are you doing?

JR: Fine, thanks!

EC: I'm doing fine, and everything's great.  The new album's doing real well, we have a couple more videos to shoot next week, and we're starting to plan the tour stage and setting up rehearsals. It's all coming along just great.

JR: Where do you think your first stop will be on the new tour?

EC: Actually, it looks like Texas, but you never know.  It may change.  Europe has been pushed back, so we'll start rockin' right here in the U.S.

JR: When you hear the title "Hot in the Shade", what are your first thoughts?

EC: I think it's a great, great album.  It's the best thing we've done in quite a while, and it's got a lot more of the attitude of the older KISS - just real straight ahead rock n' roll.  Not so much heavy metal, or pop, but really where I think KISS should be and what we should be doing.  I don't think there's any filler on this LP, because I think all of the material is really strong, and I'm still in shock that I have a vocal track on the album!  I love the song, and everything on the record is really cool.

JR: Tell me a little about the song "Little Caesar" and what the title means.

EC: Well, the phrase has been around quite a while.  It's also a pizza place somewhere!  The term 'Little Caesar' is kind of about this little tough guy...a gangster who doesn't take shit from anybody.  Now, Gene, from time to time, would call me that whenever I spoke out about something that I felt strongly about.  So he'd say it as kind of an admiration nickname.  I wanted the song to be sort of autobiographical, so it would be something that I would be convincing at singing, and that title just seemed to work.

JR: Well since we're talking about lead vocals, I wanted to ask you if you were comfortable singing lead vocals on "Beth" for the 'Smashes, Thrashes & Hits' album last year.  Were you?

EC: In all honesty, I realized - along with Gene and Paul - that there obviously are going to be some fans who don't like it because they would call it sacreligious, but others who would like to hear it.  I was a little uptight at first about doing it, but once I thought more about it, Gene and Paul assured me that it would be great for me to sing it.  So, I just went into the studio with the same attitude I had when I played my first show with KISS; I'm going to do the best I can, and people are either going to like me or they won't.

JR: I think you made the right decision, because it turned out excellent!

EC: Thanks!  Basically, I'm doing it the way Peter did, but with just a cleaner voice, and it's got my quality in it that lets the personality in my voice come across.

JR: Now about the new video...I just saw "Hide Your Heart" and I really think it's awesome.

EC: Glad you like it!  We wanted to visualize the story because the song itself is not like "I love you baby, now get your ass over here."  I think it's cool that there are no dancing girls or asses shaking all over the place.

JR: I agree, that decision is really a step away from what we're used to these days, not just with KISS but with so many bands, and it's impressive.

EC: Yeah, we're all really happy that we decided to do this at this time.  Me personally, I haven't been particularly enthusiastic about our last few videos.  You know, who cares about seeing the girls when everybody wants to see the band.  That's what's important, KISS is important.  I think we look great, and the attitude is there, and I'm real happy with it.

JR: On the inside sleeve of the new album, I saw you all put kind of a public service announcement about AIDS.  First, I think you should be commended for doing this, because it will help a lot of people who have faith in you, but don't know what's going on and-

EC: Well, that's what we wanted to do, plain and simple.

JR: My second part to this is to ask if you think the band felt any responsibility to speak out against AIDS because so many of KISS' songs are so sexually-oriented.

EC: Now, people will do what they want to do.  I mean, before music was even invented, people were fucking each other.  Honestly, the cavemen didn't have guitars, and they were still doing quite well fucking each other, you know?  So, it's not fair to make us partially responsible for something like that, but certainly, the fans listen to what we do, and that's why we put the message on there in the first place.  You have to figure, the fans are listening to every single word you say, so why not say something specifically that's gonna do them some good?

JR: Very cool.  I saw you in the audience at Paul's solo show at the Ritz earlier this year and you were cool enough to meet with fans afterwards and hang out.  What did you think of Paul's solo gig, from a fan's point of view?

EC: Oh, I loved it!  I thought it was great and it got me pretty excited watching a guy like Paul rocking.  It made me just want to jump up and play.  I wished that I could have been down there because Paul actually wanted me to do the tour with him, but then he realized that it just wouldn't be right.  It wouldn't be a solo tour anymore.  It would look like just half of KISS.  Then people would begin to wonder 'why is it just them two playing?' and all that stuff, so Paul put together a great, great band, and they were really tight.

JR: What did you think of Paul's performance specifically?  I thought he was on fire that night.

Jon Rubin and Eric Carr
Jon Rubin with Eric Carr at Paul's solo show at The Ritz in NYC, 3/11/89
Photo by Cliff Rubin

EC: Paul was playing and performing better than I'd seen him in quite a while.  He was really happy and he was just getting his rocks off.

JR: Do you think that kind of improvement will make him even better on the upcoming KISS tour?

EC: You know, I'm not trying to say that he hasn't been pulling his weight, because he is the ultimate performer - he's the greatest.  It's just that I saw a different sense in him because he was doing something different than he had done in who knows how many years.  He wasn't getting up on stage doing a KISS show, but he was doing his own thing...whatever he wanted to do, however he wanted to do it.  There's a much different feeling when you're doing that.
Eric Carr backstage 1988
Eric giving the thumbs up to a KISS ROCKS newsletter backstage on the Crazy Nights tour, 1988
Photo by KISS Alliance
JR: You've played your share of club gigs in the past.  Were you in a lot of bar bands before joining KISS?

EC: I was in one bar band from 1965 to '69, then I was in another one from 1970 to '79 - a 9-year bar band!

JR: What was that experience like?

EC: It was great.  We started off as a Top 40 band, because Top 40 in 1970, you have to understand, was all different types of music.  But then in the later 70s, we started moving towards more of an R&B sound, and then by the late 70s, we were a disco band.  By 1979, we decided to kind of call it quits because after 9 years it was very discouraging, and that's when I found about KISS.

JR: How familiar were you with the old KISS albums right when you got in the band?

EC: Truthfully, I knew a lot of the stuff, but not every little detail of each song.  From time to time, I'll listen to some old KISS that we've never done live, but I don't usually.  That's one of the things I really should listen to more of, but I just don't.

JR: Cool.  About your drum influences, I've always seen pictures of you sporting that famous Led Zeppelin shirt.

EC: As a matter of fact, I wore that one yesterday, but it's starting to look kind of raunchy these days!

JR: My question is, although you don't mimic his style, you seem to be very influenced by John Bonham.

EC: I can't say this for everybody, but at least 85% of all of the rock drummers today have gotten influences from Bonham, and all have recognized how great he was.  Every band in the business - guaranteed - has tried to do something with that Bonham sound, which shows that everyone from A to Z has listened to him.

JR: What KISS song or album attempted to get that 'Bonham' sound?

EC: The whole 'Creatures of the Night' album, definitely.  Again, it's not the effects, the studio, or anything else that makes the drums sound that way like Bonham did; it's the player that makes it, and that's why he's so great.

JR: In your spare time, what other kinds of music or other artists do you enjoy listening to?

EC: The last couple of years I've been listening to a good amount of Anthrax and Metallica.  I've just recently gotten into King's X, who I think are un-fucking-believeable.  Sometimes I'll listen to a little old Van Halen, or some Beatles, Zeppelin stuff, classical music...I like a lot of different things.

JR: You're living in New York City these days, right?

EC: On top of Manhattan, looking down on the city.  It's really cool.  I bought the place in July, and I'm still fixing it up.

JR: Too bad you can't play drums in your apartment...

EC: Yeah, that part really sucks!  It's a real problem for me because I should practice more, but I just can't.  I've tried electric drum pads, but I hate them.  I even had a huge, double-bass electronic kit in my last apartment that I played on through headphones, and I had that for maybe two days and that was it!

JR: Do you play any other instruments besides drums?

EC: Yeah, I play bass, a little keyboards.  I play some guitar...

JR: But drums will always be your claim to fame?

EC: Well, yeah.  It's the one that's made my livelihood, but it sure doesn't write songs.  When I was a kid, I went through a lot of musical phases, and one was when I'd learn everything that The Beatles ever recorded.  After I started drums, I fell in love with their music so much that I just wanted to learn everything.  Unfortunately, I never followed up on all of the other instruments, but I still enjoy myself with them.

JR: It seems that you are a man of many talents.  Have you ever thought of doing a solo album, or did that ever come up in KISS?

EC: I really don't see why not to do any of that.  I'd love to see it happen.  At some point there was once a real possibility of doing solo albums, all four of us, just like they did in 1978.  This was in 1981.  We took it only as far as getting the album cover art done, so they paid the same painter who did the original ones, and he painted the portrait of me, with the light behind me, exactly the way it would have been if it were released.

JR: Oh God, that sounds like a serious collector's item!

EC: Yes!  I'm so proud of it, and I've got that on my wall.  It's just like the other ones, you know, it says 'KISS' and 'Eric Carr.'  I love it.

JR: You mention that this all took place in 1981.  What do you think of '(Music From) The Elder'?

Solo painting
Eric's solo portrait by Eraldo Carugati, who painted the 1978 solo album covers. Ahh, what could have been!
EC: I think it's a great album, but it came out at the wrong time.  We got a bad deal and it was a very weird time.  Without getting to into it, it was not the right time to do what we did.  When we went into it, I wasn't sure about it and I told the guys that, but once I understood it more, I got into it just as much as everyone else.

JR: It's a tough situation to come into.  I mean, your first KISS album being a concept LP.

EC: It was very hard.  The material that I was asked to play was just so different from what I was used to, which was mainly the influence behind KISS' sound.

JR: When you say 'the influence behind KISS', I automatically think of The Who, Zeppelin and the Stones.

EC: I grew up with that all, and I used to play stuff by the Stones all the time.  And of course, Led Zep and The Who were also tremendous parts of my life.  Incidentally, I just saw the Stones last weekend at Shea Stadium, it was incredible.

JR: Do you go to a lot of concerts in general?

EC: Actually, not that many.  I've been wanting to recently, though, because I don't usually like going to clubs all just doesn't appeal to me.  Lately, I've seen the Stones, I saw King's X, and I saw Child's Play at some place, who I thought were real good.  I jammed with Paul about a month ago at the China Club.  Stuff like that is always fun.

JR: Hey, that sounds awesome!  What did you play?

EC: "Rock and Roll" and "Whole Lotta Love" from Zeppelin, the Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman", we did "All Right Now" by Free...

JR: Who else did you play with that night?

EC: A couple of the guys from Saraya, a friend of ours played bass...oh yeah!  We also did "You Shook Me All Night Long" from AC/DC!  It was a great set, I was going nuts!!

JR: When you're getting ready to play a live show, what do you do backstage to get you all ready and pumped up to perform?

EC: I use the bathroom a lot (laughs).  Yup, the toilet is my best friend before a show.  No, seriously...I don't have to do anything.  If anything, I need to slow down.  My adrenaline sometimes is so high that it can even act against me.  When we used to open up the show with "Creatures of the Night", the song got so fast because of all the excitement on stage that it eventually sounded like shit.  Because the song is a mid-tempo tune, it sounded so slow live that we that we kept on picking up the pace, and that led to the problem.  As far as before the show goes, no matter how I feel, or no matter what's on my mind, the second I hit the stage, it all goes away man, and the attitude shows.  It just takes it all over.

JR: So Eric, is KISS Exposed II going to come out?

EC: Yeah, it might even be out next summer, depending on when we have the time, but there definitely will be another Exposed.

JR: I think we'll expect to see a little bit more of you and Bruce this time around!

EC: Yeah, me too!  Well, it all depends.  If the monkey is there, I might want to go to the beach instead.  You know, that monkey was hot!  Why would I want to be in a video when I could go to the beach with a monkey?

JR: Only a few weeks ago, Ace's new solo album came out.  Are you interested in ex-KISS members' projects, and if so, what do you think of Ace's?

EC: I have 'Trouble Walkin'', but I haven't listened to the whole thing yet.  I really like "Do Ya", and "Hide Your Heart" is really good.  I like our version better because I'm used to it, but Ace did a really good job with it.

JR: Any songs that you would like to cover with KISS, in the studio or on stage?

EC: Although that's an interesting idea, we haven't given it much thought.  I loved doing "Won't Get Fooled Again" live, that was such a gas.

JR: On another topic, you and Paul live here in New York, and Gene and Bruce are out in California, correct?

EC: That's exactly the situation.

JR: Well then, do you and Paul get together often? <>

EC: Not that often, to be honest with you.  I have my things to do and Paul does too.  But whenever we can, we try to get together.  Basically, it's always been that way.  Everybody wants to do their own things when they're not working.
Eric backstage 1990
Eric holding another KISS ROCKS newsletter
before going onstage in 1990

Photo by KISS Alliance
JR: That makes sense, considering you're living with these people for a good part of the year anyway.

EC: Yeah, when you're on the road, you are going to be living with these 4 guys for eight months.  It's like a marriage; in order to make it work all the time, it's nice to get away.

JR: At this time, I'd like to thank you sincerely for everything you've given us over the years, and especially this interview.  The new album is excellent and I can't wait to see you on tour soon!  I also want to thank all the guys in the band for acknowledging all of the KISS fan clubs on the inside sleeve of the record.  That was a thrill for me!

EC: That's okay, man.  Without you guys, where would we be?  You make it all worthwhile.  You guys are all great.  We wouldn't be doing this without any of you.

JR: Thanks again Eric, for your time and generosity in giving us this interview.  You're the greatest!

EC: Thanks!

*Special thanks to Gilda Caserta of KISS FIRE and KISS CENTRAL for making this interview possible!


EC: Now p