The Catman is Peter Criss! Peter Criss is coming to Australia “One Last Time” to play an exclusive farewell show in Melbourne as well as making an appearance at the Kiss Konvention this May. Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles had an amazing opportunity to speak to the legendary Peter Criss ahead of the show who spoke in detail about the show, teaming up with long time guitarist Mike McLaughlin and glam rockers Sisters Doll and that there are a few surprises in store.
It must be hard to believe that it is coming down to your final two shows before that’s it?
Well, you know everything must end! I have come to the point in my life where I am seventy one and so is Clapton, Jagger, Rod Stewart and Paul McCartney. We’re all in that age bracket and I have seen a lot of us leaving and that upsets me. I’m in great health, feeling dynamite and it has been a long time since I’ve felt excited about anything like wanting to play and sing and really enjoy myself.
After fifty years in the business a lot has happened to me, I beat cancer and now I’m a ten year survivor of male breast cancer. Men get it so be very aware, early detection will save your life and I’m a big activist of that. I’m a catholic and I really believe God saved my life and it has changed my life in immense ways I can’t explain to you. After I wrote my book and I went out on tour for Sony I got to meet my fans who are the most amazing people on the planet Earth. Those are the guys who put us in the Hall Of Fame and made my life so wonderful. I cannot believe the respect and love that our fans have, they’re crazy, and I love it! There’s no one like them in the world and you guys have always been so respectful to us and always welcomed us with open arms. I cherish my gold and platinum records from Australia.
It was a magical moment for me to play with the Melbourne Symphony. I couldn’t believe this kid from the streets was playing in front of sixty musicians, I was shaking in my boots that night I was that nervous but I’ll never forget it. I gave it a lot of thought one night and I said to my wife, you know what? Let’s go over and do a show and I heard that the Sisters Doll are great, I’ve got my old guitarist back in Mike McLaughlin and I’ve got some other surprises. I wanted to do it in a more intimate atmosphere, I didn’t want big arenas and that bullshit. For me this is exciting and then I get to do one more gig in my home town New York in June.
There’s other things I want to do. Again I’m seventy one, I’m working on kids book, I have a rock album I couldn’t finish when I got cancer at the time and now I’m able to finish it. It will be out next year and there’s other things I want to do now with my family and my wife. I think you need to know when to say ok I want to have fun and enjoy the rest of my other life that I have.
It must be a tough decision knowing when to call time?
I’m blessed that I can do this, I really am! I’m lucky I didn’t pick a nine to five and I am blessed with this forty years of my life. I’ve been famous, I’ve been so blessed by God for so many things. To be in the Hall Of Fame, to write the biggest record in the band and get a People’s Choice Award for that was an amazing moment in my life. I feel like I really want to give back and Australia has always been so giving to us, respectful in a lovable way that I feel what a cool place to play before I pull the plug. I want to do this for them. It should be dynamite and I think the attitude will be great.
It will be a really magical moment and I’m trying to make it the best that I can make it. Again, my heart is fifteen but my body ain’t. I realised that after five days of rehearsal and we have been rehearsing hard for the last five weeks. I heard that the Sisters Doll are great to have and I’m so excited they are doing this with my guitarist Michael who is a brilliant guitarist. I have a few surprises so I’ll be covering the spectrum in a way Peter Criss always wanted to do. I’m doing some stuff I have never done in my life but I’m going to take a shot and try it and enjoy myself. It is going to be a great night.
It is great having a few surprises but having a full career of material to choose from must make for a hard decision in working out the set list?
It’s not easy! We went through a million sets and I’m comfortable with the set. We’ll see how it goes…
Do you still enjoy the Kiss Konventions, meeting fans, signing heaps of merchandise and posing for lots of photos?
It makes you feel like you’re five again, trust me! Rock ‘n roll makes you feel young forever and the forever feeling that I get when I’m around the fans. I don’t feel like I’m seventy one! The fans have these albums and they’ve got this gleam in their eyes that they’ve wanted me to sign for the last thirty years. When I get a chance to take a picture with everyone, you get a hug and this and that, it really means a lot I’ve noticed as I’ve got older.
When you’re on stage and you’ve got a hundred thousand people you don’t really know anybody and no chance to meet the bands. I’ve got to meet them over the last ten years and that’s a big reason why I am doing this. They contacted me and said Peter ‘why don’t you give us one last show’. Even if I do I still get people who say I didn’t like it and that’s how the world lives today on their twenty first century computers, it wasn’t like that back in my day.
Are you excited about the next phase of your life?
Hey man, couldn’t have put together a band than Kiss. It was great years I had with the boys whatever we did. Life goes on, for me doing this is a really great foreclosure to my career. I have had an amazing career and had everything that a guy could want. It is time for me to enjoy my family now. I have a grand daughter and I have a lot of things I want do than the music. I’ve been immersed in the music for so many years it’s time for some other things now.
Is there anything you will miss about playing live?
I don’t miss it any more, I’ve been on it most of my life and no Christmas’s at home, no Thanksgiving it really is a tough life. It is not as glamourous as people think, you never really see any place that you play apart from the hall and the hotel. I want to travel also and take my wife around the world and see all these great places that I’ve played and have the time to stay there and enjoy it like Prague, Paris, Italy, Netherlands, jesus man South America… we’ve been everywhere but I never really stayed there. I’d like to do that now.
When you look back on your career what achievements stick out the most for you and the ones you’re the most proud of?
Playing Madison Square Garden here is the biggest achievement in my life. Playing to mum and dad in the biggest hall in the world is a pretty big achievement. To find out about many big time drummers because of me and that they saw me when they were younger from Steven Adler to Marky Ramone the list goes on. To see these drummers go on because of me such as Tommy Lee I think I’ve made a difference in a lot of guys lives and they are rock stars because I played. That is an amazing feeling and achievement.
Do you get worried about the future of rock ‘n roll and where it is going?
I think rock ‘n roll is over personally! I’m a twenty first century guy and I have been around since the day that The Beatles were on stage, I’ve been around when music was Motown… I’ve been around! What’s going on today ain’t my cup tea and that’s another reason why I just want to do my shows and call it a day because the great days of rock is over. The sixties and seventies were the times to be around. I saw Jimi Hendrix, I saw the real Who, the real Zeppelin, The Beatles and seen the Stones many times now that I know them and we’re friends. Over the years a lot has happened to me and I got to see all these great acts and what I see today doesn’t rock my cradle and doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t care for a lot of the music.
I think you had to be really creative back then and put out great album covers, you had to spend more time doing things. Even playing on stage for the first time we had to come up with all those crazy stunts and levitating drums. We were early pioneers and no one was doing that when we started out. Now everyone does it, so it isn’t big news any more. It is time for me to get off the train as it’s not a great ride any more. I don’t go out to concerts much anymore because I don’t enjoy myself because I get constantly harassed, people with phones wanting to take pictures, I can’t really sit and enjoy the concert or have a good time so I’m more of a home body these days. The world has changed my friend.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Peter Criss “One Last Time” Date: Friday 12th May 2017 Venue: The Sofitel On Melbourne, 25 Collins St, Melbourne
Tickets: Available for purchase through Ticketbud.com https://shoutoutloudevents.ticketbud.com/peter-criss-one-last-time
KISS Konvention Date: Saturday 13th May & Sunday 14th May 2017 Venue: Wick Studios – Leslie street Brunswick
Tickets: Available for purchase through Ticketbud.com