Peter Criss Recalls His KISS Reunion

peter criss

“I went to a personal trainer, a blackbelt, and I’d have to get up at six o’clock in the morning. I hated this,” Criss laments. “I’d see this guy around seven thirty for about three hours. He was always, ’Give me 20 more pushups, 50 more sit-ups!’ I hated this man. My body ached so bad, if it wasn’t for Advil I couldn’t get out of bed. That’s how bad it was.”

But he wasn’t done. “After he’d finish up with me, I’d go to another place with just me and another drummer, lock the doors, and pound the drums for two more hours – just drums on drums – and then go to band rehearsal for six hours. Seven days a week. It was cruelty, but it put me in the best condition I’ve ever been in my whole life. All of us, we went to serious training and we rehearsed really hard. Nobody left that rehearsal until it was done. And the crew worked as desperately hard as we did.”

peter criss

The Catman Kit

Drums: DW
1. 22" x 18" Bass Drum
2. 14" x 6" Edge Snare
3. 8" x 5" Tom
4. 8" x 6" Tom
5. 8" x 7" Tom
6. 8" x 8" Tom
7. 15" x 13" Tom
8. 10" x 8" Tom
9. 12" x 9" Tom
10. 16" x 14" Floor Tom
11. 13" x 10" Tom
12. 18" x 16" Floor Tom
13. 14" x 11" Tom

Cymbals: A. Zildjian
A. 10" Splash (inverted)
B. 22" China Boy High
C. 18" Crash
D. 6" Zil Bell
E. 19" Crash
F. 14" Quickbeat Hi-Hats
G. 12" Splash
H. 22" Ride
I. 9-1/2" Zil Bell
J. 8" Splash (inverted)
K. 12" Splash (inverted)
L. 22" China Boy Low

Peter Criss also uses Drum Workshop hardware, Ahead sticks and gloves, ddrum electronics, LP percussion and Remo heads.

Despite the strict regimen, for the first time in his career, Criss had to face every drummer’s nightmare in the middle of the reunion tour – carpal tunnel syndrome. “When I developed carpal tunnel syndrome I saw a doctor in Chicago who works with the Bulls,” Criss says. “I’ve been wearing these special braces they’ve made for my hands. They’ve got this weird clay, I feel like a child, I’ve got to play with this clay every day and do these special stretches. I should have done this when I was a younger drummer. You’ve got to start when you’re young, because when you get older you feel it. It might not have gotten this far if I would have stretched, if I would have practiced on the pad before the shows. I used to see guys do that and think they were crazy. But I’ve realized that it’s something that drummers need to do.”

And the most harrowing night for Criss came during the reunion tour, when his drum tech had to sit in for him. “The pain was so bad that I just couldn’t play,” Criss sighs. “The place was packed, it was in Columbus, Georgia. There was something like 20,000 people, and it was too late to say adios or they would have destroyed the place. I had to make a really hard decision, it was the first time in my whole career I canceled because of something wrong with me. Once, years ago, I played with a broken hand and a cast and would put the stick into the cast and tape it and play. But I can’t afford to do that anymore.

“So my tech, Ed Kannon, sat in,” Criss says, “The band called him in and said, ’We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is you’re going to play tonight, and the bad news is that Peter can’t.’ And he had to say yes or no. This guy’s been behind me for five years. So he sat in and he said it was the heaviest two hours of his life. He said he didn’t know how I did it, by the middle of the show he was already burned out.” Burned out or not, the show went on, and Criss was able to finish the tour with a strict warm up regimen and perhaps a more careful eye on the set list.

During the 1996—97 tour, KISS hammered through its backlog of hits, much to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of die-hard fans who attended the shows. Now, with the release of the band’s reunion album, Psycho Circus, the KISS army can look for the first collection of brand new material from the original lineup since 1980. “I’ve always thought that we hadn’t done our best album yet,” Criss says. “Now that we are really focused, and – I hate to say it, but – older guys, it’s time to do a really great album. We’re even all playing much better than we played as kids, and things have changed – studios have changed, drums changed, everything has gotten better and easier for us.”

With all the puzzle pieces back in place, Criss and the “hottest band in the world” are determined to once again give the best to the people who want the best. “We’re back,” he says. “This is scary. It was heavy at first, but I started getting comfortable with the idea that a lot of people were working for us. I’m very appreciative of it. I really thank God for giving me a second chance for this.”

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