At the 2016 NJ KISS Expo the KISS Army descended upon the Hotel Somerset-Bridgewater to celebrate their favorite band: KISS. For those that haven’t been to one of these events before, there are various vendors, with tables overflowing with merchandise, special guests taking photos with fans and autographing items and other fun happenings for everyone to enjoy.The headlining guest for the 2016 NJ KISS Expo was Eric Singer, KISS’ current drummer and one of the band’s longest-standing members. Other than Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, Eric has been in the band the longest – even longer than Ace Frehley or Peter Criss.I had Eric Singer autograph a pair of drumsticks I bought on KISS Kruise IV in 2014. I figured they would look great framed with the autographed drumhead I bought on the ship a couple years ago. I also had Eric, and Bruce, autograph the translucent page in the hardback book that came with The Box Set KISS released in 2001. Over the next few years, I hope to have additional current and previous members of the band sign this page, including Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and Tommy Thayer. While meeting current and former members of the band is great, I’d argue that most KISS fans enjoy hanging out with each other even more. We go to events like this to reconnect with old friends and to make new ones. I had countless excellent conversations with people I’ve spoken with before and those I just met. Bonding over our love for music, everyone was smiling and having a good time.Two of the most popular KISS podcasts had tables at the 2016 NJ KISS Expo: The KISS Room and Three Sides of the Coin. The KISS Room recorded a live show that ran for more than three hours and I was lucky enough to take part in it. I also recorded a video message for Three Sides of the Coin, which will be included in their 200th episode.
Throughout the day special guests took part in Q&A sessions in one of the ballrooms at the hotel. Guests included artist Ken Kelly, who painted several of KISS’ most iconic album covers, Dennis Woloch, former KISS Art Director, Tim Sullivan, producer of the criminally underrated film – Detroit Rock City – about a group of boys in the 1970s determined to see KISS live, and many more. Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer’s Q&A sessions capped off the day. Bruce talked about a variety of topics, including famous guitar solos he played, what it was like sharing the stage with original KISS guitarist, Ace Frehley, and drummer, Peter Criss, during the band’s MTV Unplugged performance, which lit the spark for the immensely successful Reunion Tour in 1996. In addition to other questions, Eric was asked what it was like when Gene and Paul requested that he wear the “Catman” makeup and whether or not KISS will record a new studio album. I even had the opportunity to ask Eric a question, which you can see in the video below.
This year’s NJ KISS Expo was infinitely better than the last one, which took place in 2014. This time around there were more and better guests and, as a result, more fans showed up. Also, having two popular KISS podcasts at the Expo, recording segments with fans, created a fun, energetic and spontaneous environment that was infectious. The day flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great follow-up to the KISS concert I attended on September 1 in Allentown, and it has me excited to board the ship for KISS Kruise VI in the first week of November. If you have a chance to attend the next NJ KISS Expo, do so. It’s a one-of-a-kind event every KISS fan should experience.