Bruce Kulick recalls Paul Stanley not being that motivated with the type of music on ‘Carnival of Souls’
Former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick was recently interviewed by Andrew Daly for Vinyl Writer Music.
Kulick was asked whether it was his true musical self that manifested itself on KISS‘ album Carnival of Souls and then later in Union to which the guitarist replied (with slight edits):
“That’s a great question, and I see how you would connect the dots that way. But actually, it was more to do with Revenge. So, we did the Revenge Tour and recorded Alive III, which is a terrific record. But it didn’t do as well as we would have hoped, especially with an [Bob] Ezrin producing a movie song “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II.” I feel that music was really changing at the time, and it was getting darker and grungier. We know this, and I think that Gene [Simmons] was really embracing that stuff quite a bit. He liked some of that darkness that some of those bands had. He was attracted to the drop-D tuning and all those things, but Paul [Stanley] was not so sure. He was not a big fan of flannel shirts and all that. [Laughs]. So when we started to work on songs and this had nothing to do with the Reunion Tour, Gene was the one that was really writing and being creative and working on stuff, and I worked a lot with Gene. Eric [Singer] would be involved, and we would jam in these kinds of funky studios and come out of there with ideas. Some actually did make it to Carnival of Souls, and some wound up on Psycho Circus like “Within.”
As we know, the record didn’t come out until after MTV Unplugged and the Reunion Tour, but a lot of the material was written before MTV Unplugged, but to make money and for the band to maybe connect the dots with the past, the Convention Tour started as a brainchild from them wanting some to be in on that action. They figured, “Well, we’ll do one, and we’ll show the costumes, and we’ll perform, and we’ll charge one hundred dollars.” And let me tell you, back then, a hundred dollars was, like, ridiculous. Of course, most of them sold out. A few didn’t do very well. We canceled a few. Looking back, think about what they got for one hundred dollars. It’s unbelievable.
But then the MTV Unplugged thing did force the opportunity for business people to come up and offer Ace [Frehley], Peter [Criss], Gene, and Paul the deal. Obviously, they were going to go into makeup, and that all was ironed out and figure it out post-MTV. So, with Carnival of Souls, we already had a lot done, and Paul knew he had to come up with some songs, and he did lean on me because he wasn’t that motivated with that kind of music. But he still came up with some great things. I love equally what I helped contribute to both of them. And of course, we choose Toby Wright to produce, who’s a wonderful guy and worked with Alice In Chains but knew the KISS history, but still tried to push that narrative of a darker, meaner, weirder record, rightly or wrongly.
I see what you’re saying when you say I must have co-written a lot because Gene and Paul’s focus was elsewhere. Yes and no, but it was also the times. And yes, once we got the studio, yeah, their focus got a little, you know, distracted with all these meetings. And then, all of a sudden, of course, we went in late November, and then by January, they had to tell Eric Singer and me that they were going to do the Reunion Tour but that we’re going to finish the album. It was kind of weird when that was going on. I knew something was up when I couldn’t get Gene to commit. I was asking him, “When are we going to record?” And then, all of a sudden, he would say, “You’re right, I’ll get back to you.” You know, I mean, it’s like since when do I have to remind them to go record? And we were already kind of committed because the record company got the songs, but looking back, I get the overall picture. They’re were going to move into this thing.
I can’t even imagine how hard it was for them to wrangle the contracts where they could be to make it work. But they did make it work, and the rest is history, as we know. And they stayed in makeup. And then, of course, they knew with Ace and Peter that it wasn’t going to be forever. We know that. But with Carnival of Souls, I was working really hard when they were looking for riffs. I kept jamming to my drum machine. I d-tuned the guitar. I got creative, and I’d say, “Paul, what do you think of this?” He would say, “Oh, that’s cool.” I started working with a guy that Paul liked, this guy, Curtis Cuomo. And the next thing I know, we’re presenting some really cool ideas to him [Paul]. And then he jumped right in, and he came up with “Master And Slave,” but he’s missing a bridge. So I jump in, and Curtis is working on some melodies with Paul. So hence I wind up with nine co-writes on an album that almost never came out, as you know.”
You can read the rest of the interview with Bruce Kulick at Vinyl Writer Music‘s website.