KISS drummer Eric Singer was interviewed by Mark Strigl and Ian McCurdy for a recent episode of the “Talking Metal” podcast. You can now listen to the chat using the Spreaker widget below.
Speaking about KISS‘s decision to exclude lesser-known songs from its concert repertoire in favor of the hits and the classics, Singer said: “I know a lot of people sometimes would suggest or wish that we would play [some deeper album] songs in a normal KISS concert, and I agree to a certain point. But I also realize that if you play obscure songs in a KISS show, it’s almost like when you go see THE ROLLING STONES and they play all these hits and then they’ll go, ‘Okay, we’re gonna play a song off our new album,’ and then everyone sits down and nobody reacts and nobody does anything. And people almost act like they couldn’t care less, because they don’t even know the songs — they just wanna hear ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and all that stuff. So it’s very difficult for bands that have been around for a long time.”
He continued: “I’m not making excuses to toe some kind of dialogue that maybe everyone thinks that Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] always say, but I think they’re [Gene and Paul] right — they’re absolutely right on this one. And this is a problem for a lot of bands. They’ll try to incorporate some new songs, but fans just… When a band doesn’t get the reaction out of new material that they do out of old material, sometimes they start thinking, ‘Okay, people don’t like it. I’m not gonna play it.’ And they’ll attempt it for a couple of shows and then they usually end up taking it out of the set. And you see this happen quite a bit. Some bands will — like IRON MAIDEN, I think, and maybe METALLICA, I’m not sure, but I know MAIDEN will play a lot of new material and they’ll just keep it in there and go, ‘Hey, that’s what we’re doing.’ But some of those bands, I think, have a different type of hardcore audience as opposed to a band maybe like THE STONES or KISS.”
According to Eric, KISS finds itself in a “you-can’t-win situation” where the group’s most dedicated fans constantly ask to see a setlist consisting of rare/deep tracks rather than one compiled of only classic, predictable hits from the group. “You’re gonna have a handful of people that are happy that you did play some obscure or different material, and then you’re get a bunch of other people that say, ‘I don’t know these songs. Why are they playing these songs I never heard before?'” he explained.
“The average fan is not a die-hard when it comes to most bands. I’m talking about music in general,” he said.
In a 2016 interview with The Morning Call, Stanley spoke about how KISS chooses its setlist. “The cream has always risen to the top, and the people expect certain songs and they’ll get those, undoubtedly,” he said. “And we’ll try to mix in some lesser classics. But the idea of playing obscure songs is only appealing to a die-hard fan who knows our albums inside out. To go up on stage and play unknown sons for a handful of people as opposed to playing the songs that everybody wants to hear is really not in our best interests or the audiences.”
He continued: “We want to do the best show and we want to blow away people who get to see us once every two years, five years, ten years. Those are the people who we put the show together for. If somebody come night after night or sees ten or fifteen shows on a tour, well, they may be asking why we don’t change the show up much. But the fact is we don’t change it up that much because once it’s great, you don’t mess with it. If you mess with it, you’re doing it more for yourself than for the audience. We want to do the best show possible.”