Peter Criss, who helped Kiss to its highest-ever charting single, continues to excoriate his former band for continuing with new members performing in the classic makeup that he and fellow founding member Ace Frehley originally wore.
They’ve been replaced in recent years by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, who now appear in their familiar space man and feline-themed get ups. Criss places the blame for this blatant marketing ploy squarely on remaining co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
“I am the Cat Man; there’ll never be another one,” Criss tells Eddie Trunk in the recently posted video below. “They’re wearing our makeup — and they didn’t before they realized how much money could be made wearing the makeup. … I think they realized the power, and that’s when the came up with ‘it’s not a band, it’s a brand.’”
Criss was with Kiss from its hard-scrabble founding in 1973, through 1980 — and then again from 1996-2001. Frehley, guitarist in the band from 1973 to 1982, also returned in the 1990s. That second-act reunion, however, eventually turned sour — and both Frehley and then Criss were eventually replaced. Kiss just issued its second studio effort with Thayer and Singer, called Monster.
“Although Gene and Paul are the major members in the band, Eric and Tommy, to them, it’s a job,” Criss adds. “He’s playing Ace Frehley licks to the T; Eric’s playing my drum licks to a T. They’re still playing the same songs that we made famous. … There’s a whole new generation of kids that are clueless about what Kiss is all about. They go to see them now, and they think: That’s Kiss.”
It was Criss, however, who sang the legendary power ballad “Beth,” which went to No. 7 on the Billboard charts — become one of just two gold-selling singles ever for Kiss, along with “I Was Made for Lovin’ You.” “Beth” also joins 1990′s “Forever” as Kiss’ only Top 10 singles.
“I was the guy, and so was Ace, in that bathtub dying our hair blue-black, getting dog collars, playing shit-ass lofts, not making a dime, lugging equipment at 3 in the morning in the freezing cold,” Criss says. “There’s a lot of soul in that, and you can’t take it from me. You never will. These guys can wear it all they want, because they’re making a buck … but I’ve met a lot of people in the world, and they’re not buying it anymore.”