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Peter Criss: The Cat That Got The Cream

Living legends don’t come much more legendary than Peter Criss.

Famed for his tenure as the original drummer for rock ‘n’ roll gods KISS, Criss spent his KISS years under the guise of The Catman, sharing a stage with the band as they released some of the best rock music in history, carving a wedge into the books of fame. After his departure from the band, Criss has remained a firm favourite among the genre’s percussion greats, releasing his own material and performing in world-renowned venues. But, as they say, all good things come to an end. Earlier this year, Criss retired from music after an amazing career.

Comfy cosy in his PJs and settling down for the evening for this interview, Criss already sounds like a man quite at home with retirement. At the time, he wasn’t quite off the touring circuit just yet. The buzz around Criss and his final Australian performance back in May, which was a very final and very intimate event, had the drummer undertaking an absolute plethora of interviews – Criss is still very much loved and very much in demand. “It’s kind of like, my heart feels really big. All the nostalgia, Australia has always been so cool to KISS,” he says. “The minute we played there it was like, ‘Holy mackerel, we could do this forever!’ It was hectic, the love we got was very cool. “Over the years I’ve been asked ‘why do you always play there?’ But you know what? I love you guys.”

About these (now-passed) final shows of his, Criss says, “my guitar player Michael [Stone], he said, ‘I’ve got all these instruments, we can make it [his final tour] really intimate’, you know, none of this big whoop-dee-do rock star crap. This means I can really play some cool shit that I want to do, stuff I never had a chance with the guys [KISS], do my thing. After this, I’ll be retiring – one more show at home [New York City] and then, that’s it.

“Then I’ll grow a big heavy white beard,” Criss continues with a chuckle, “I’ll write my screenplay and do some other stuff. We’re working on our new home right now, so things are good.” As final as he is about these last performances, Criss talks of the life that is to follow in a relaxed and welcoming way. Life has been good to Criss and the way in which he’s chosen to go out is, as Criss says, more intimate and the performances a more musical option than the more flamboyant farewells his peers have embarked on in recent years. It’s a refreshing idea and a far cry from the experiences Criss had when last he played with the band that made him a household name.

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