Thursday, February 18, 2010
KISS are an iconic band known for their trademark makeup and over the top stage shows. Their non-makeup years, from 1983-1996, tend to be overshadowed by their kabuki inspired legacy. During these years, the band toured and released many platinum and gold albums exposing a whole new generation to the band. One very important member of that era was lead guitarist Bruce Kulick.
Bruce joined the band in 1984 and toured and recorded with the band. He slowly began to find his niche in the band while winning over support from the fans. His guitar playing on their 1992 release “Revenge” is considered by most as Bruce’s best work with KISS and their best non-makeup album produced.
Bruce kept busy after KISS releasing two solo CD and numerous side projects including Union with ex-Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi and the Eric Singer Project with KISS drummer Eric Singer and Corabi also. Bruce just released his third solo CD entitled “BK3” which started generating a buzz months ago on the internet and in the KISS community.
I spoke with Bruce at the KISS Coffeehouse in Myrtle Beach, SC for his CD release party on February 6, 2010. I asked him how he felt about the initial response from the fans and critics on his new release. “Wow, the reaction has been wonderful. It took almost seven years to complete this one. With my other two releases, I didn’t use a talented team around me and I was very single minded. I didn’t look at my other records as trying to put out my own Revenge, which is the benchmark that my producer Jeremy and I committed to. Also, some of the time element was scheduling. I mean, if Gene Simmons commits to working with you but you have to wait a year on him, then you’re gonna wait,” responded Bruce.
The initial buzz on the net centered around Gene’s inclusion as vocalist on one track and also his son Nick on another. So, how did this come about? “Well, Gene offered Nick, but trust me, I was already going to ask him. After watching the show, I knew Nick had musical aspirations, but to be quite honest, I didn’t know that Nick was so good. I also didn’t know how important the song would end up being on my record. It was a major score to get him and he picked a great track. It’s a very sonic sounding song on the record and putting his giant voice on it just made it complete.”
I asked Bruce how the whole KISS Coffeehouse release party concept come together? “It was the record company’s idea. They wanted to do a KISS related thing and since there were no expos scheduled at the time of the release, why not do something here. I had never been here as a featured member of the KISS family and it was just the right thing to do, even though I had to fly over 3000 miles to get here. I mean, let’s face it, the core of my audience is KISS related.”
How different was it to release the CD with everything that is going on in the industry as opposed to your last release? “We definitely went more old school this time. I mean, part of the time factor was that we go it a label and got is distributed nationally. I never had anything like that with my other releases. It’s my first CD available at retail, everywhere from Best Buy to I-tunes are offering it. KISS fans tend to love the whole package, the physical CD to hold, so I spared no expense with a trifold digipak complete with a sixteen-page color booklet. I think it looks great.”
What can we expect in the near future from you? Any touring? “We did a small show in LA at the Cat Club to release the CD and we did a n eight song set. It went off very well. I had Fitz from Union on drums and some other talented guys, but I’m not in a position to say look for my tour starting whenever. It is good to know that I have a great bunch of guys that I can count on if that situation presents itself. Right now, I want to keep this initial buzz going and initial sales could generate more interesting things. I am hoping to do more in-store appearances and interviews. I have the Cleveland Expo coming up in March and I know that I’m just an email or phone call away from something exciting happening at any given moment.”
I played a little word association with Bruce next to see what his reaction would be.
I asked him to say the first thing that came to mind.
Gene Simmons- “Very bright business man who is also a very talented musician, but doesn’t say it.”
Paul Stanley- “Total rock star.”
Tommy Thayer- “A guy who knows how to do whatever job KISS asks him to do and a really great guy.”
Eric Singer- “Amazing drummer who never shuts up.”
Eric Carr- “Very missed, very talented, lost too soon.”
John Corabi- “Bluesy singer.”
Bruce Kulick- “An intolerable perfectionist who is very proud of his new record and hopes that everyone will come out and support it.”
My last question is one that I ask of all my interviews. If you were trapped on a desert island and could have only one CD with you, it cannot be a burnt CD, it has to be an official release, what would you want? “I think I would have to go with ‘Are You Experienced’ by Hendrix.”
The CD itself is an amazing step forward for Bruce. He seems to be more comfortable both vocally and with his playing. It is a bigger, bolder sound from Bruce. It kicks off with “Fate”, a great fast paced song with a unique, almost spoken, vocal type from Bruce until the chorus. There are plenty of KISS references in this song too. Hot lead off track, definitely sets the mood for what’s in store.
Gene’s track, “Ain’t Gonna Die” is next. This song blows away Gene’s contributions to KISS’ “Sonic Boom”. You get a little non-makeup era vibe on this one and Gene’s vocals are great, not to mention Bruce’s solo too. The addition of the string section on this song also adds another layer to this great arrangement.
My favorite track on the CD is next, the mini Union reunion with John Corabi on vocals and Brent Fitz on drums. “No Friend of Mine” is the song and it is stellar. John’s bluesy vocals really standout on this track and just begs for another CD from these guys. Bruce and John have such great chemistry between them that it needs to be tapped into more. A big two thumbs up on this rocker.
Gene’s not so little boy is up next with “Hand Of The King” and I guarantee you that if you have a preconceived notion as to what this is going to sound like, then most likely you are going to be blown away. The song is dark and Nick’s vocal debut proves that he has the chops to pursue this if he chooses to. That, plus a blistering solo by Mr. Kulick makes this a stellar lead off track for this release.
“I’ll Survive” is a great slower number that reflects back on Bruce’s shooting a few years back where he was just an innocent bystander and was the recipient of a shooters bullet; very introspective lyrics. “Dirty Girl” features vocals by Doug Fieger who was the lead vocalist of the Knack. Come on now, we all remember muh-muh-muh my Sharona....right? This is a very rock/popish catchy song with a great hook and chorus. Irony of this song is that with all the attention the song was garnering for Fieger, he tragically passed away shortly after the release of the CD after a long battle with cancer.
“I’m The Animal” features German rocker Tobias Sammet on vocals and ESP/KISS drummer Eric Singer on drums. An instrumental track entitled “Between the Lines” features the talent of Steve Lukather, best known for his work with Toto.
Bruce really does shine on this CD and he should be very proud of the art that he has created. Personally, I think the inclusion of Jeremy Rubolino as producer gave Bruce the push he needed to go that extra mile and strive forward as a musician. Jeremy also co-wrote all tracks with Bruce and plays bass and keyboards too.
I truly hope that Bruce gets the recognition that he deserves with this CD. He is the most underrated member of the KISS family and his contributions have never truly been acknowledged. I hope that Bruce gets to take his creation out on the road and share it with his fans. BK3 is a stellar CD for both KISS fans and fans of great guitar driven rock. Best of luck to you Bruce!