An Interview with Ian Danter of Dressed To Kill

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

By Andrew Daly

Be it as a solo artist, a member of KISS tribute act, Dressed To Kill, or a football commentator, one thing is certain: Ian Danter’s unique flair always seems to bleed through.

On the KISS-related front, many know Danter as Dressed To Kill’s drummer, dutifully playing the role of Peter Criss to perfection. For those who aren’t into music, perhaps you’ll recall Danter’s witty commentary during football matches, which could most recently be heard during 2023’s World Cup in Qatar.

And while those exploits are measurable, to be sure, it’s Danter’s latest solo outing – his third – titled Rule of Three, which is piquing many of his fans of late. If you enjoyed Danter’s first two records, then fear not; you’ll be at home with Rule of Three. So, give Rule of Three a spin if you’re looking for a bit of spice to accent the deep end of your KISS adjacent collection.

Taking a moment to relent after a bustling World Cup, Ian Danter beamed in with VWMusic to talk Rule of Three, Dressed To Kill, his opinions on KISS past and present, and what’s on tap for 2023.

As a young musician, what was the moment which first sparked your interest in music?

I was probably 7 or 8 years of age when I started to appreciate music (and rock music in particular), thanks to my two older brothers who owned Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, and Rainbow albums. I can clearly remember one of them sitting me down to make me listen to Rainbow’s “Stargazer” and being totally wowed by the whole epic, grandiose nature of that tune. I was a rocker from that moment, really. However, I’m also grateful to my parents for making us listen to Gerry Rafferty, The Carpenters, and ABBA on long car journeys as a lad. I loved those artists’ melody and harmony; it caught my ear.

Who were some of your earliest influences that first shaped your style?

Hearing KISS at the age of around 10 made me want to be a musician without a doubt. The first side of Alive! was the first thing I heard by them, and I was utterly entranced by those first five songs on side one – “Deuce,” “Strutter,” “Got To Choose,” “Hotter Than Hell,” and “Firehouse.” That led me to other KISS albums from the ’70s combined with the Lizzy, Purple, and Rainbow albums in our house, which shaped my musical style and has stayed with me throughout.

How would you say that style has evolved as you’ve moved through your career?

As I grew up and discovered bands like Rush, Jellyfish, Cheap Trick, and Journey, I took inspiration from how they wrote songs too. Jellyfish were a huge influence – the best band that nobody else (relatively speaking) has ever heard of! Fair to say that their style influenced me to write a certain way at times, like on “Landscapes” from the new album or a song like “We Believed” from my previous album, Second Time Around

What were some of your earliest gigs where you first cut your teeth?

I would have been 17 when I played my first gig. I was a drummer and lead singer for a three-piece band in Birmingham, U.K., called Minotaur (terrible name!), and we played at a local youth club supporting an established local band, with us playing all original songs. I looked as square as anything, like Dougie Howser, M.D., behind the kit. [Laughs].

But folks were impressed with the fact that I could sing and drum at the same time (it took me ages to get to a reasonable level doing that!). We ended up doing a regular residency at a Birmingham pub every Thursday night, playing covers and originals in the late 1980s. That was where we all really tightened up as musicians without question.

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Let’s dig into your newest project, Rule of Three. Tell me about its inception.

Well, I didn’t necessarily plan to make a third solo album (my second LP came out in 2015), but my old bandmate from Shotgun Wedding, Gray Ettrick, kept inspiring me with great riff ideas he had that he knew I could put to good use. By 2019, I had several songs from those riff ideas he’d given me, several more new songs I’d written by myself, and a few “back catalog” songs from when Gray and I had written songs together in the early ’90s. 

So, I recorded the drums and bass guitars in July 2019 at Monnow Valley Studios in South Wales, but the pandemic in early 2020 put everything on hold until mid-2021 when I could record the rest of the album at studios in Blackpool and Llanelli, plus a bit of home recording too. It was all done by October 2021 and ready to mix.

How about the production mixing side of things? Take me through that process and how the final sounds were honed in.

I have to say that producer/engineer Tim Hamill at Sonic One Studios in Llanelli was vital in making the album come to life. The drums and bass sounds I got at Monnow Valley were a great foundation, and having recorded the final song, “Generation Z,” at his place in August 2021, I was really impressed watching him work on that tune and asked him to mix the album.

Tim brought the best out of all the different recording sessions I’d done and gave the album a really solid base. He liked my rhythm guitar tracks that I’d recorded at home, but he asked me to re-record them all dry, i.e., without any overdrive or effects, and he then fed those parts through the high-quality amp modeling he had at Sonic One. That gave the guitar sounds a whole new sheen that I absolutely loved. 

Mixing it all together was where Tim really excelled for me. I wasn’t with him at the mixing board due to COVID restrictions, but the first rough mixes he emailed me were pretty much bang on there and then. He did an amazing job, and I’m so grateful to him for bringing it all together.

You’re well known as a member of Dressed To Kill. This said, how does your solo work allow you to stretch that perhaps the band doesn’t? 

Well, it’s simply a different set of parameters for me. In Dressed To Kill, I’m playing someone else’s songs and trying to be 100% accurate in recreating the parts from original KISS recordings or live versions. Plus, I’m just on drums for Dressed To Kill; my solo work affords me the chance to play and sing pretty much everything on this album, except for guitar solos which I farmed out to guitarists I really wanted to get involved like Chris Buck (Buck & Evans) or Sam Wood (Wayward Sons) or some female backing vocal parts I needed doing on several tracks.

Conversely, how does Dressed To Kill influence what you do as a solo artist?

Playing KISS tunes as regularly as I have over the years has influenced the way I write as I’ve learned to appreciate the direct nature of the way they wrote rock songs: riffs, melody, punch, all of that. However, I’ve always tried to write lyrics that were a little bit away from the highly sexualized stuff for which Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] was known. Not that I have a problem with lyrics like that, I just wanted to write the most interesting lyrics I could and still do.

Will the material get any time on the live circuit?

I’d like to play it live for sure. I’ve asked my talented bandmates in Leather & Lace (a U.K. theatre show that plays classic rock anthems and power ballads) if they would be willing to be my band for any live shows, and they’re up for it, so that’s great! It saves auditioning for musicians I don’t know at this point.

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

I wanted to hit on Dressed To Kill, the world’s longest-running KISS tribute. How did you enter the fold?

Dressed To Kill was formed in 1990 and, as such, is the longest-running KISS tribute in the world, as they’re still going strong today. I wasn’t in the original lineup; I joined in the mid-2000s and spent most of the next decade playing shows with the group in the U.K. and Europe.

You’re the drummer, of course. As such, you play the role of Peter Criss. With that being said, are you a Peter Criss, Eric Carr, or Eric Singer guy?

It was always my intention to be kind of an amalgam of Peter and the two Erics in the way I played. For example, I played it mostly like Peter on a song like “Cold Gin” but added some of Eric Carr’s flourishes from the versions he played in the ’80s. Certainly, my drum solo fused Criss, Carr, and Singer elements in how I constructed it.

At one time, I was playing the “drum pad” solo Eric Carr played in the late ’80s with those synth pads that played notes above his head (our “Gene,” Gary, played those parts for me from behind the amps on his bass!) and our “Ace,” Danny, did join me to play the Tommy Thayer/Eric Singer combined solo that they performed together on the 2010 Sonic Boom Tour.

What are some of your favorite KISS songs to play live, and which songs do you wish you could play more often?

“100,000 Years” is one I always love playing because of the way it swings and the way Peter plays the hi-hat part in the way he does. “God Gave Rock and Roll To You II” was challenging to play, and I loved that challenge, especially the pattern in the verses that Eric Singer put together. And “War Machine” is a total blast to play, as long as you don’t play it too fast. Keeping the tempo a little slower on that one really helps drive it along menacingly. “Not For The Innocent” is one song I never got to play live with Dressed To Kill,” and I’d have loved to have got my teeth into that. Ditto “Saint & Sinner!”

What is your favorite era of KISS aside from the original four?

I have a real soft spot for the Simmons/Stanley/Carr/Vincent lineup from ’82-84. Vinnie seemed to be developing a real knack for co-writing with Gene and Paul, and they, in turn, kept his playing and soloing largely in check, keeping it melodic without the needless shredding that we later saw in Vinnie’s solo career. I only wish he’d stuck around for Animalize; that would have been a far better follow-up to Lick It Up if some of his songs had been used as was originally the plan… before he got fired! [Laughs].

If you had to pick your five favorite KISS studio albums, which would they be?

Destroyer, Creatures of the Night, Lick It Up, Revenge, and the Ace Frehley ’78 solo record. Destroyer for the leap they took as songwriters and arrangers under Bob Ezrin’s guidance, and Creatures for the attitude, songs, and incredible drum sound. And then the follow-up, Lick It Up, for further refining what Creatures had started with another great set of songs. Revenge was when Gene woke up from his mid-1980s “Rip Van Winkle” moment, and Bruce Kulick came totally to the fore with his fabulous playing. As for Ace’s solo album? Come on! It’s Ace Frehley with Anton Fig on drums and Eddie Kramer on the desk… what’s not to love?

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Many KISS fans have mixed reactions to the band’s current lineup. What’s your take?

There’s a lot of ill-mannered screeching going on about this longstanding Tommy/Eric era, and Gene/Paul bashing appears to have become an Olympic sport for some broadcasters who never know when to shut up and reign it in. I can only say that the 2019 KISS show I saw in Birmingham was right up there in my all-time KISS show list. I’ve seen them over 20 times, and I guess only May 1992’s Revenge Tour tops what I saw a couple of years back. And to those who hate this incarnation of KISS… well, you’re going to have to find something else to detest soon when they stop. Good luck staying miserable!

The world of KISS tribute bands is seemingly deep. What sets Dressed To Kill apart from acts such as Mr. Speed, Cold Gin, and others?

Lasting as long as Dressed To Kill has is a testament to theirs and KISS’s enduring appeal. If Dressed To Kill weren’t any good, they wouldn’t have endured for over 30 years; it’s as simple as that. Plus, whoever has been in Dressed To Kill is a massive KISS fan who wants to recreate the part they’re playing with total accuracy and integrity. I was always told I smiled an awful lot on stage playing as the Catman during my time with the band… why wouldn’t I be smiling? I’m playing my favorite bands’ music for an audience that’s as nutty about them as I am! That’s the good stuff right there.

What’s next for you in all lanes, Ian?

Hopefully, some live gigging in support of Rule of Three, and fingers crossed that the public love this new album as much as I do. I’m also a sports broadcaster (mostly soccer), and I had a blast; at this year’s World Cup in Qatar. I was commenting on many matches for talkSPORT Radio in the U.K. What’s not to love? Lastly, my theatre rock band Leather & Lace is also gearing up for a host of big live shows in 2023 across the U.K. and Europe. So, I’ll be busy, hopefully!

All images courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Andrew Daly (@ajdwriter88) is the Editor-in-Chief of and may be reached at

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