INTERVIEW WITH FORMER KISS AND CURRENT GRAND FUNK RAILROAD GUITARIST BRUCE KULICK
Date: April 7, 2020
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (third and sixth photos)
“I have known Greg [Prato] for sometime now, he did a quote as did Eddie Trunk when I was promoting my album ‘BK3.’ He’s also been a big supporter of my era of KISS. I spoke with Greg for about two hours when he was putting together ‘Take It Off: KISS Truly Unmasked.’ I haven’t gotten a chance to read the book yet, I have just skimmed through it.” Bruce Kulick like everyone and every musician’s life has come to a complete halt due to COVID-19. Kulick has been busy posting clips on his official Facebook page.
Sleaze Roxx caught up with Kulick in December of 2009 as he was getting a jump on his ‘BK3’ album which was released in February of 2010. “I think I’m going to get a chance to check it out!,” says Kulick playfully. “I’ve been trying to stay busy, this week and last I have been engaging fans with KISS guitar riffs. I love the response that I’ve received from the fans. I’m like a non-essential provider!” Once we got him going, the script was out the window and we just went wherever Kulick wanted to go and we touched on a lot of stuff that we didn’t touch on last time around — Blackjack, Michael Bolton, Billy Squier, KISS, M.O.B.B, Union and of course his current gig with Grand Funk Railroad. “I want to say that we’ll all get through this, I’m there for the fans through the videos I’m putting online and they’re there for me by watching them and commenting on them. We’ll be okay.”
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve been posting some clips on your official Facebook page and taking us into KISS songs via the riff or solo.
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, that’s been helpful to me in doing something positive with the tragedy going on at the moment. I think if I can bring some joy or distraction to someone, I’ve accomplished something. The fans have been hitting me fast and furious with suggestions. I can’t do them all. A lot of the suggestions I like. I will get to most of them. There’s some things that I can’t play from my earlier days in KISS. The material was just very different. I have been doing stuff with my wife Lisa that will go online soon and then there’s the everyday life. I call that ‘hunting and gathering’ [laughs]! Everything you do now is a ‘risk.’ Our lives have been turned upside down.
Sleaze Roxx: I know although you’ve been featured in ‘Take It Off: KISS Truly Unmasked,’ you haven’t read that book yet.
Bruce Kulick: [Laughs] I will have time now! [Laughs] I think that book has come out at a time where I’ve really been out there at the forefront carrying the torch for the non-makeup era of KISS. I will get around to reading it, I just got out of ‘turtle shell’ mode. I was like, “Oh my God, what’s going on here!” I’ve been hit financially like everyone else in America or around the world, but this has been a great opportunity to connect with the fans and I’m doing just that. Lisa and I have some favorite TV shows, thank God we have that. You can’t hang out with your neighbors, you really can’t. Thank God for Lisa, when we do have to go to the store to pick something up we can at least be together! I’m glad people are taking this [COVID-19] more seriously around here, a week or so ago, not. I have to tell you I would have never guessed that going into 2020, that my home would be my stage. It’s unbelievable. I like you and everyone else, I’m doing the best I can.
Sleaze Roxx: You were talking about timing earlier about Prato’s book, but also you’ve been getting critical acclaim for you and your band’s performances on the KISS Kruise. There’s like the second wave of KISS non-makeup era appreciation happening here.
Bruce Kulick: Oh, absolutely, I feel like there’s a lot more attention from the fans when it comes to my era with the band. There’s a lot of fans that were introduced to KISS when I was in the band. They come from all walks of life. They manage Wal-Mart, a doctor, a lawyer or a truck driver. If you do what you do well, you have my respect. When I had to leave in ‘96 after the success of the KISS ‘Unplugged’ performance, people were aware of the musicianship that existed in the band between Eric Singer and I, but after 20 years of people hearing about KISS in makeup, it was kind of like ‘Star Wars’ when it was rebooted people went to see what it was all about. I understood that it was the original guys, they put the makeup on and people were excited to either see it again or see it for the first time. That carried on, then it carried on and it carried on [laughs]!
It then reached a point where Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] couldn’t continue with Peter [Criss] so they called on Eric Singer to step into the role and the makeup. Eric is such a tremendous drummer. I was genuinely happy for him. I still am. Then when Ace [Frehley] started dropping the ball, it was seamless for them to go with Tommy Thayer who does such a fantastic job as the ‘Spaceman.’ If I had been asked to step into the ‘Spaceman’ role, it would have been really awkward for me. I get asked by the fans a lot, “Well, why aren’t you there?” I think Tommy stepping into the role was a lot more natural than Bruce Kulick becoming the ‘Spaceman’ and shooting rockets off of my guitar. I would have had to play the songs, note for note like Ace. I don’t think I could do that and remain happy in the band. Tommy does that to perfection. I was never required to learn the classic stuff note for note, but if you’re going to be the ‘Spaceman’, it would have to stay true to the way Ace plays it.
That’s not to say that I don’t play the classic songs with respect. I play the Grand Funk Railroad songs with respect, while injecting my own style into them, like I did in my time in KISS. I would lose my ‘liberties’ if I stepped into the ‘Spaceman’ role. I’m friends with Tommy. We’ve gotten closer over the years on the KISS Kruise. We’ve spoken a lot on the Kruise. He once said to me “Hey, I never got into the Floyd Rose whammy bar thing. How do you play “Crazy Nights?”” I said, “Don’t worry about it. Play it how you play it. It’s what works for you. I don’t take any offense and you don’t need to copy how I do it.” Tommy’s style is so much closer to Ace’s than mine. I have a unique style to my approach you can hear it on “Tears Are Falling,” “Who Wants To Be Lonely,” “Unholy” and even the acoustic solo on “Forever.” I am proud of my body of work for that era of KISS. I’m embracing it. The fans are embracing it. It’s all good.
Bruce Kulick and his band performing Hot In The Shade medley at KISS Kruise IX on November 1, 2019:
Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
Sleaze Roxx: It sounds to me like you were probably relieved that you weren’t asked to step into the ‘Spaceman; role. And how would have handled the feedback from the fans, because there’s a segment of the base, myself included, that have been critical of Singer and Thayer playing a ‘role.’ There’s some brutal stuff that is posted online.
Bruce Kulick: You’re right. I was relieved. I think if I had been asked and done it, I think it would hurt. I know that Tommy and Eric avoid… I’m close to both but I’m closer with Eric. They avoid reading things online. Their best medicine is to just do a great job every night and not read that stuff. I’m shocked that sometimes someone will leave a snarky comment toward me! I’m like, “Really?” I don’t get into that stuff and I don’t like anything negative on social media and I never do or post anything negative. I won’t allow anything negative. There’s times I read something and I choose to ignore it. Everyone has a voice these days. They have a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. You said it! I was relieved, but how could I not have ‘entertained’ the idea if I was asked?
At the time when they swooped Tommy right in, I was already in Grand Funk Railroad and I was and still am pretty happy with my role in the band. Sure it wasn’t KISS, but it’s a great gig. Now think of it from this angle. Let’s say they made the right proposition and I took it, then Ace wanted back into the band. Where would that have left me? No KISS gig and no gig In Grand Funk [Railroad]. Oh and by the way, this is my 20th year in the band.
Sleaze Roxx: Grand Funk have such a reputation for being a great live act. Has the band entertained recording a live album or DVD during your tenure in the band?
Bruce Kulick: That’s a fair question. I know years ago, Don [Brewer] and Mel [Schacher] — there was talk between the two of them about doing something but for whatever reason, Don didn’t put much of a push to make it happen and it was dropped. Don handles the business end of Grand Funk and I’m just happy to have the gig. I think Don didn’t think that was a need for a new product since the gigs are constantly coming. We’re all about entertaining the casino and festival crowds. We’re less about a band with new material. I’m sad it happened that way, but that’s the way things go. I think there’s KISS fans that have come out to see Grand Funk and they realize just how well I fit in with this band. Grand Funk predates KISS. In fact, this is a band that influenced Gene and Paul. It’s interesting when KISS fans come to see the band. They are surprised how much Grand Funk they actually know. We do in the area of 40-50 shows yearly, which is enough so I can be at home more and it also has allowed me to do the KISS Kruise.
Paul Stanley was a Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp in New York years ago, where Mark Farner was a guest and I got to know Mark really well. Paul was so excited that Mark was there. He sang background vocals when Mark was on stage. He [Mark] was a little edgy at first because he knew I was in the band, but when he realized how much I respected him and his body of work with Grand Funk, he loosened up and opened up a little more. We got along so well that he asked me to back him up when he went on Howard Stern and performed “I’m Your Captain [Closer To Home].” I’m so blessed. I remember when I came in to KISS, Eric Carr was miserable. He had recorded ‘Creatures of The Night’ and there had been a change. They took the makeup off on ‘Lick It Up’ and then he recorded ‘Animalize’ and there was another change. Then I came in there was yet another change [laughs]! I was like, “Man, quit complaining! You realize how many drummers want your gig?” I looked at the positive side of things. We were playing arenas, which were packed. What was there to complain about? I brought that same attitude to Grand Funk. We’re doing great business. I’m rewarded financially and I get to play the style of music that I like.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there a particular song you play with Grand Funk that gets you all fired up?
Bruce Kulick: I know this is going to sound like a softball answer but I get featured throughout the set. There’s a song where I don’t solo on one of their biggest hits “Some Kind of Wonderful.” I remember it was about 4-5 years into my time with Grand Funk, we were doing a gig on Memorial Day weekend and the promoter or someone holding the event suggested to Don about doing “The Star Spangled Banner.” Don comes up to me and says, “Hey Bruce, do you know how to play “The Star Bangled Banner?” And you know I performed that on the ‘Revenge’ tour and was featured on ‘Alive III.’ I was like “Yeah, I know how to play that!” It’s been in the set from then on. We then go into what I call the ‘heavy metal trio’ song for Grand Funk called “Inside Looking Out.” I get a nice solo in there and the live version clocks in at like eight minutes. It’s the closest thing to my time in KISS where I’d do something like “No. No, No.” I never get bored playing that. It’s become one of the centerpieces of the set.
Grand Funk Railroad performing “Inside Looking Out” at Spotlight29 Casino in Coachella, California, USA in 2009:
Inside Looking Out – Grand funk Railroad – LIVE – Spotlight 29 Casino, Coachella, Ca. Awesome Bruce Kulick Solo
Sleaze Roxx: The Bruce Kulick Band performing KISS non-makeup era classics has become one of the highlights of the KISS Kruise. I don’t know what the arrangement is but I would imagine that it would do decent business off the ship. Or do you think it would lose some of its magic if you took it off the ship?
Bruce Kulick: I hear what you’re saying there. There’s no better setting for a set of deep KISS cuts from my era than on the KISS Kruise. We include some hits on there like “Tears Are Falling,” “Turn On The Night” and stuff like that. I’m always careful of what KISS is doing on the cruise. There’s no reason to do the same song. There’s some cross-over when they decide to do something like “Crazy Nights.” There’s so much material to choose from with these guys that I play with Zach Throne [bass], Todd Kerns [vocals/guitar] and Brent Fitz [drums], who are just so talented. We have done a great job going deep and putting together the setlists. Having said that, you have 2,500 die-hard KISS fans on that ship that go crazy. We love it!
We have been approached about doing something by promoters, but it’s challenging finding the time with Brent and Todd having their main gig with Slash when Guns N’ Roses isn’t doing anything. I think if we were able to do some shows, I think we could go to stronger markets and it would do well. Would it be as exciting to the fans as it is when we perform on the KISS Kruise? I don’t know. We haven’t tested the waters mostly due to our schedules. We are perfectly happy if the only place where we perform is on the KISS Kruise, a KISS Expo or some other event that is KISS related that brings KISS fans together. If we did a series of shows and looked at the strong markets, would it be on the east coast or would it be Europe? Then we’d have to look at the expense of taking that outside of the KISS Kruise. I’m not going to miss Grand Funk shows. We need to be able to make money because at the end of the day, we do need to make a living.
The part of the equation which we haven’t been able to do much of at the moment is writing. We have done some of that through Facetime. We’d like to record some music. I’d like to issue an EP or more. At this point, I don’t know if we’ll record more than three or four songs. That’s realistic and doable. I think there’s a market for that. Certainly, it would be appealing to the KISS fans and possibly even to the Slash fans that have followed them [Todd and Brent] through The Conspirators. I don’t know if you know this but we call ourselves Bruce Kulick and The Vegas M.O.B.B., which stands for ‘Members of Bruce’s Band,’ which I think is kind of clever. That’s just the perfect name for the guys [laughs]! They’re terrific performers and people. I’m blessed.
Sleaze Roxx: I love that you’ve considered recording material. I don’t know if that material would sound reminiscent of the era. You could do the three to four new songs and cut five to six KISS classics from your era with the M.O.B.B.?
Bruce Kulick: I agree. I’d love for that to happen. I think anything that we did write, we’d all have to love ourselves and that it would somehow have a connection to my era of KISS. I let you in on this, everything that we have written so far does have a thread connecting to my era of KISS. I’m excited about it but at the same time frustrated that we haven’t been able to make the level of progress that I would like with it due to our current ‘adjustment’ that we’re all having to face at the moment.
Sleaze Roxx: I have to ask you about Blackjack, which I was aware that you were a part of and I actually found the vinyl at KISS convention in Seattle. I loved the sleeve. It was shaped to look like a deck of cards. If you could, give us a little something on Blackjack?
Bruce Kulick: Absolutely. I still keep in touch with Michael Bolton quite a bit, there was a time when he became famous as the singer that your mother probably loved. There, he was winning a Grammy… He distanced himself a lot from his past. I can tell you that he really does love rock ‘n’ roll. He has mentioned to me on a number of occasions that the one thing that he would like to do is make a rock record. I think he has had industry people ask him about doing that. I’m not going to sit and stare at my phone waiting for him to call me, but I do know that he knows that I could assist him with making that record. We always enjoyed writing songs together. In fact, Blackjack has been used by some rappers. Kanye West covered us [“Maybe It’s The Power Of Love”] and Jay-Z sampled one of our songs [“Stay”] though we weren’t credited for it, which is an entirely different issue.
I’ve known Michael for several years. I backed him when he was on the East Coast. He signed a deal but the label didn’t want it to be a solo act. They preferred that it be a band. So that is how I got involved. Sandy Gennaro, who was our drummer, recently sent me some sheet music to one of our singles “Love Me Tonight” which is really cool. We were then joined by Jimmy Haslip who was our bass player. He later went on to be a member of The Yellowjackets. I think Blackjack was a really formidable band. We made our first record with [producer] Tom Dowd [Allman Brothers, Black Oak Arkansas, James Gang]. We were on Polydor. They had spent a lot of money. They put out full page ads in the trade magazines. The record came out and it did decently, but it wasn’t a gold record.
I loved working with Tom [Dowd] but Michael really had a hard time working with him. When a label picks a producer and you’re the young up and coming band, you do what you’re told because they know better. It was frustrating but as I reflect on it now, Tom had a style that didn’t work well with Michael. It just didn’t click. I’m sure you know people who a friend of yours really like but you just get along. The vibe is wrong. It was just so tragic, because here was a guy who the label was spending so much money on and who had this incredible track record and it just didn’t work. It was fucked to be quite honest. You can hear it on the record that Michael is singing really uncomfortably. I have played the record for my wife Lisa and she can detect that Michael isn’t singing like he’s into it. Years later, he was considered one of the biggest names in pop music, but a lot of people didn’t know that he got his start doing rock music.
On the second record ‘Worlds Apart’, we worked with another famous producer Eddie Offord [Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Yes]. I was a huge Yes fan so this was a thrill for me. We headed to Woodstock, New York to record that album. Eddie had a very bad year. He had delved into drugs. He was barely there, because he couldn’t not be in that condition. It wound up being the band and the engineer that ‘produced’ the album. So here we were, our second album and we once again had to prove ourselves and we had a producer that couldn’t get it together — not good. The guy that helped us get the record deal worked with Led Zeppelin and Bad Company, so we were excited because they saw something in us too.
Blackjack‘s “Love Me Tonight” song:
from “Blackjack” 1979 Polydor Records usa
We were a talented band, but the timing wasn’t great and then there was the politics within the label, because as you can see, we all went on to have success on our own. Michael went on to become a huge pop star. He co-wrote the KISS hit “Forever” with Paul Stanley. Sandy went on to work with The Yellowjackets and I think he got a Grammy from his work with them. The stars just didn’t align. To top it off, the guy that signed us to Polydor was fired, so there you go! It just wasn’t meant to be. I played guitar on Billy Squier’s ‘Tale of The Tape’ which was also produced by Eddie Offord. I passed on going on tour with Billy because we were going to take Blackjack on tour to promote the second record. It never happened! We were waiting for tour support. It never arrived. The label guy was fired and Billy Squier went on the road. He didn’t have a hit but made some waves and as you know, he recorded his second album and you know what that did. If I had left and gone on tour with Billy and left Michael and the guys, I don’t think I would have landed the gig in KISS. You just don’t know what fate has in store for you, but may I tell how I felt when the next year, Billy Squier was the biggest thing on the radio and I was sitting at home? Six months later, Paul Stanely is looking for me to help them out on ‘Animalize’ and I had my foot in the door with KISS.
Sleaze Roxx: All roads lead back to KISS.
Bruce Kulick: Oh yeah, that’s everyday of my life!
Sleaze Roxx: You were in Blackjack with Bolton, who co-wrote “Forever” with Paul Stanley. You recorded with Billy Squier who opened for KISS in the ’70s with his band Piper.
Bruce Kulick: Everything is connected. You’re right. So, Blackjack breaks up and Michael goes back to Connecticut with the plan to become a songwriter. He thinks he can get a publishing deal and write songs for a living. So he does and realizes that he has a knack for writing great pop ballads. So the next thing he does is he rebrands himself ‘Bolton’ from ‘Boloton.’ He puts out a record. It’s still rock and now I’m on tour with him, because he needed a good guitarist. So we’re out supporting Bob Seger. We were offered like three weeks. Bolton used to do some covers in the set like “Rocky Mountain Way” which he used to do in the clubs. The next thing I know is the Seger people were like, “Okay, you have one original album and you’re doing a bunch of covers. That’s not going to cut it for us. What can you do that’s original?” So Michael and I had a conversation and we decided to do some Blackjack songs in the set, even though it is a Michael Bolton show!
Sleaze Roxx: I know you often get asked this, John Corabi just left The Dead Daisies. He’s been out doing his solo show in and out of that band. How close are you guys to firing up Union again? There’s an awful lot of ‘unfinished business’ with that band.
Bruce Kulick: Sure! I’m for it! That could happen in the future because there’s people that have interest in that band. John and I performed at a KISS Expo last year. I remember we couldn’t rehearse so I gave John four to five songs to relearn and I had my angel wife Lisa do the rest of the set. He was off the hook [laughs]! The promoter wanted us to do an hour long set. John was freaking out because there was no way we could realistically do an hour without rehearsal. That event in Indy got us closer again, because there was a period of time where he was just so busy that we didn’t see much of one another. We did see each other when The Dead Daisies did one of the cruises. We talked. I knew he wasn’t happy and I knew that was going to end for him. He’s amazing. He’s a one man band. He’s still got that amazing voice and he has a wealth of material to cover. I’m so happy for him and I’m sure we’ll pick that up again. I don’t have an aversion to doing Union again. I have always been proud of what John and I created with Union. If we get a chance to do it again in the future, I welcome it. Absolutely.
Bruce Kulick and John Corabi performing live at 2019 KISS Expo:
Acoustic Show by John Corabi and Bruce Kulick And Mr. & Mrs. Kulick’s Performance
Sleaze Roxx: I love the Union records. ‘The Blue Room’ didn’t get its due. “Do Your Own Thing” is one of my favorites and it’s heavy.
Bruce Kulick: Well, thank you. It’s funny Lisa knows ‘The Blue Room’ better than she knows the first album! Thank you. Those albums will stand the test of time. I think my solo albums will stand the test of time. That’s why I saw if you’re recording anything, do the best you can, so when you release it people can enjoy it forever.
Sleaze Roxx: You recorded a live album, you balanced it out with Union songs, KISS songs, Mötley ’94 songs…
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, we also included some acoustic stuff. The one frustration that I have even though it’s on the business end of things, is that I have no rights to the Union stuff. While that’s the case right now, it doesn’t mean that the label won’t make it available to maybe do something cool like release it on vinyl, explore the catalog or revisited, or something. All of that can be discussed, because the people involved on the business side of that are fans of mine and they like me. It’s funny how many times I’ve had a business proposition about doing this or a vinyl release and I have to say “It would be great, but I don’t own it.” When I walked into that [deal], it was oversight. I look back at that now and say “Why did we sign a contract like that?” That’s one of the reasons I funded my solo albums and I will be doing the same with M.O.B.B.. I’ll be damned if I will let anyone control it.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you keep in touch with [bassist] Jamie Hunting? You reconnected with Corabi and Brent is in The M.O.B.B..
Bruce Kulick: Jamie and I have connected via Facebook a few times. I heard that he was living in Hawaii or something. What a bass player! He’s to me very eccentric and eclectic — what a unique character. John got to know him better. He always looked up to me as like an older brother, because I handle a lot of the business end of things. He’s a super talented guy, but what he’s up to right now or where he’s at, I’m not sure.
Sleaze Roxx: As far, as ‘Live At The Galaxy’ did you do any ‘touch ups’ to it?
Bruce Kulick: Not really, no. In fact, there’s some feedback on that recording. What happened was that we had an opportunity to do some shows like that at a pretty decent venue in Orange County. We knew Cinderella was going to be recording that night so we asked if we could be recorded too. We didn’t get a soundcheck, so the only thing that might have been fixed if there was some technical thing. Union was one of those bands that could pull off a ‘plug and play.’ We could show up, plug into some Marshall stacks and go. Unlike KISS’ ‘Alive III’ which we went over with a fine toothed comb and things were touched up and audience things were fixed, the Union record was as live as you can get. One thing that I would really like to do with The M.O.B.B. is to play a KISS’ ‘Alive III’ set. I would do that in heartbeat. I love playing some of the old KISS stuff too that’s not from my era.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ll mention the KISS studio albums that you recorded and you give me a song highlight. Let’s start with ‘Asylum.’
Bruce Kulick: I’ll always say “Tears Are Falling” but I’d say I think it’s a song that KISS has been playing at times and that’s “Who Wants To Be Lonely.” I think my band killed it when we did “King Of The Mountain.” See what you did? It’s hard to pick one! It’s really a powerful record and I didn’t even mention “Trial By Fire.”
KISS‘ “Who Wants To Be Lonely” video:
Music video by Kiss performing Who Wants To Be Lonely. (C) 1986 The Island Def Jam Music Group
Sleaze Roxx: That’s one of my favorite deep cuts.
Bruce Kulick: I remember writing that on a four track and presenting it to Gene and he jumped right in. He was so comfortable with it. He actually changed the title. We had a different title for that one at first then it turned into “Trial By Fire.” I think it was titled “Live Fast, Die Young” or something like that. It was an era where Gene and Paul were producing me and making my lead play almost impossible [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: What about ‘Crazy Nights’? You brought in Ron Nevison. It was keyboard heavy…
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, the keyboards are mixed heavy on that one, it was Ron’s vision. He was like ‘King Midas’ with radio hits with Heart, Ozzy Osbourne and everything. I loved him, I know Gene was petrified! It was so funny! I think there’s a good balance. It was interesting to have a ‘pop rock’ kind of producer to do a song like “No, No, No” for example and it worked! He did make one glaring error. We should have done “Sword And Stone.” “Crazy Nights” is a fantastic song and title, co-written by Adam Mitchell and Paul. It’s the one song that Brian May really knows, so I’m his favorite KISS guitarist, you know what I mean? Because it’s the only KISS song he knows! It was a huge record in England. ‘Crazy Nights’ is a record I’m really proud of.
Sleaze Roxx: I’d like to hear a guitar oriented version of “Turn On The Night.”
Bruce Kulick: Oh man, the Diane Warren song, yeah when we [The M.O.B.B] do it it’s heavy.
KISS‘ “Turn On The Night” video:
Music video by Kiss performing Turn On The Night. (C) 1987 The Island Def Jam Music Group #Kiss #TurnOnTheNight #Vevo
Sleaze Roxx: What about ‘Hot In The Shade?’ I really like “Rise To It” and “Boomerang.”
Bruce Kulick: “Boomerang” was me very “manakia” one day. I occasionally smoked some good pot back then and started to work on the riff. I know I was out of my mind. I know Paul hates that song [laughs]! Whatever. Eric Carr loved playing the double bass on that. “Little Caesar” is one that I really liked. I really need to explore that album a little more. I know there’s stuff on there that we can play on the Kruise. I think “Hide Your Heart” is a classic hit and of course how can you forget “Forever”?
Sleaze Roxx: At the time you were working on ‘Hot In The Shade’ were you aware that Ace was also going to record a version of “Hide Your Heart” for his record?
Bruce Kulick: In talking to Paul, Bonnie Raitt had looked at it, Ace looked at it and ultimately recorded it. It didn’t matter. Paul felt it was his song and we were doing it. Paul actually had that song even earlier than that but he brought it in for the record. I’m glad he did. It’s a good song.
Sleaze Roxx: Then there was ‘Revenge’ and you got a chance to work with Bob Ezrin.
Bruce Kulick: I’d like to do an entire set of just the ‘Revenge’ record. “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” is such an anthem from my era of KISS — what production, quality and musicianship. “Unholy” and “Domino” are two great Gene songs. “Spit” is also unbelievable. “Paralyzed” — we did that on the cruise — and “I Just Wanna” is another great song from that record. I contributed one song for ‘Revenge’ and that was “Tough Love.” I think that was an important song for the record. That had a great riff. There’s also “Heart of Chrome.” Man, I just love that! Then there’s “Carr Jam” where we used the old “Breakout” riff! If Eric hadn’t tragically passed, I don’t think it would have been looked at. What a book end to the body of work and a way to close ‘Revenge.’
KISS‘ “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” video:
Revenge 1992( Eric Carr )
Sleaze Roxx: Was there anything left over from the ‘Revenge’ sessions?
Bruce Kulick: [In Gene Simmons’ voice] One song and for one millions dollars, I will give it to you [laughs]. It’s called “Do You Wanna Touch Me Now” which Gene co-wrote with ‘Snake’ Sabo from Skid Row. Eric Singer and I talk about that song every year. I gave a copy of it to Tommy when he was putting together the KISS box set. The guys know I wouldn’t do anything notorious with it. I respect them and respect the body of work, but I have an unbelievable version of that song and only dear friends have heard it by me playing it on my iPhone. I’m really surprised that we didn’t finish it because it is a great song. Bob Ezrin wasn’t ever happy with the melody ideas that they had for the song, but it’s a smokin’ track.
Sleaze Roxx: Would that be a song that you could revisit with ‘The M.O.B.B.?’
Bruce Kulick: That’s not a bad idea actually. I would certainly throw it up in the air to see what happens but we’d need the writers’ permission since it’s not a song that has ever been released. I have a great relationship with Gene and Paul and the Skid Row guys have always been great. We’ll see what happens.
Sleaze Roxx: Then there’s ‘Carnival of Souls.’ I really love “Jungle” which you co-wrote and you performed in the set with Union.
Bruce Kulick: Thank you. Yeah, we always did that with Union. I love that song, I’ve been doing that in clinics. “I Walk Alone” is a highlight for me. I think “Rain” is an amazing Paul song. The ballad “I Will Be There” is a strong one,.“Hate” is great because it set the pace. “Childhood’s End” is very cool. A lot of fans go crazy over that record. It’s not a favorite of Paul Stanley’s but that’s okay. I know sonically that could have been EQ’d better, when we mixed it. Producer Toby Wright had a vision and by that point, Gene and Paul had let the cat out of the bag that they’d be doing the reunion tour. Gene and Toby were not that comfortable in the studio. Paul was thinking about… his boots for the tour! You know what I mean? I didn’t know that after we did ‘Unplugged’ in August, that everyone was after them to do a reunion tour?
Here we were in November and why aren’t we recording? I’d call Gene and I’d ask, “Gene, why aren’t we recording? We have the songs.” He’d say, “I’ll get back to you.” He’d call back in like an hour or two to give me the dates we’d be in the studio. I was like, I’m having to remind him to get into the studio to record ‘Carnival Of Souls’? At the time, I didn’t know that they were in negotiations with Ace and Peter. I didn’t know that they were being offered arena and stadium tours, so from my point of view you can see how that behavior was very odd. So there we were in the studio, then at times, they would disappear to make phone calls. It’s funny how when you don’t have all the information, it’s not obvious, but when you start to realize the veil is lifted, then it all made sense. It was hard on Eric Singer and I when this happened. I stayed the course and things worked out. I do think it’s poetic that the only song that I sang in the band was titled “I Walk Alone.”
Bruce Kulick and his band performing “Jungle” live at the KISS Kruise on October 31, 2018: