Original Kiss drummer Peter Criss has been quite a busy "cat" since parting ways with the group after its highly successful co-headlining tour with Aerosmith in 2003.

Original Kiss drummer Peter Criss has been quite a busy "cat" since parting ways with the group after its highly successful co-headlining tour with Aerosmith in 2003. Currently hard at work at his own recording studio, Criss is laying down tracks for an as-yet-untitled solo album.

"I started writing this stuff a couple of years back, actually," Criss tells Billboard.com. "I was procrastinating, that's the big thing with me. So I buckled down, we started building this studio, it's here, and we've been working on it. It's exciting -- I've got a whole bunch of new material. It's going to be really good."

Criss is best known for singing Kiss' more tender material ("Beth," "Hard Luck Woman"), and the upcoming album appears to be cut from the same musical cloth. "It's kind of like a ballad album," he says, "but that doesn't mean it's Frank Sinatra meets Nat King Cole. It's kind of like maybe Led Zeppelin meets Nat King Cole. It's like 'Rubber Soul' -- the Beatles are a big influence to me. There's some of Clapton, some of Hendrix."

Joining the drummer in the studio is guitarist Mike 'Angel' McLaughlin, who previously played in Criss' early '90s eponymous band. He says the sessions have spawned "a very relaxed, fun vibe. And [it's] a lot more creative as well, because we have the comfort of being here with Peter, and he's been so gracious."

Criss is also working closely with Charles Kipps (who has written for Aretha Franklin), as well as Tom Perkins, with whom he previously collaborated on Bill Cosby's animated series "Fatherhood."

"We started talking, and we found out we shared a lot of the same attitudes towards music," Perkins says. "We've become friends, and he called me up to do this. I was absolutely thrilled with it."

Criss purposely decided to work with friends rather than big name rockers. "I had a choice of going out, and getting all these per se 'rock stars' to play on this record," he admits. "I chose not to because I really wanted this to be my baby. It's kind of an autobiographical album, because most stuff I write, I like to write about my life or things I believe we should have in life -- not that I'm trying to save the world. I write things from the heart, and they're pretty much true things. Music should be enjoyed. It shouldn't be a task -- it should be a lot of fun."

A tour in support of the album remains a possibility ("I would love to go out and play with this thing -- I'm just going to leave it up to the guy upstairs and see what happens"), and Criss would like to see it released during the "humid" months.

"I'd love for it to come out this summer," he says. "People are out of school, the radio's on a lot, people go out a lot more, they're not in the house and I think it's a better shot for me to have my music listened to."