Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: December 2009
Brian Rademacher: Hi Bruce. So how was your recent tour of Australia?
Bruce Kulick: Great, we had a good time. It was a really cool set list. We played like 20 songs and quite a few songs from the KISS era, which I’m known for. It was cool. I only did one "BK3" song because the record is really not out yet. It comes out Jan 29th for Europe and Australia. and
Feb 2nd for North America,
"North America gets the original digipack design."
Brian Rademacher: Just wondering, when I reviewed "BK3" the press material that was sent to me said it was released on Frontiers Records and after the review the new press material said you were signed to Rocket Science. Can you explain that to me?
Bruce Kulick: How that goes down I’m not sure but I am signed to Frontiers in Europe, Australia and Japan, and I’m not trying to play favorites but in North America I’m signed to Rocket Science and that I’m more excited about. They are the people that did Ace’s new record. North America was going to get the original packaging.
Brian Rademacher: How much of "Carnival of Souls" musical direction was your idea?
Bruce Kulick: Well you have to understand that the band at the time was trying to fit in, in a way, to be competitive with some of the darker music that was popular in the 90’s and they wanted a darker version of "Revenge". They knew they weren’t going to work with (Bob) Ezrin again that’s why they reached out to Toby Wright, who had experience with ALICE IN CHAINS, SALIVA and KORN. Toby came in to co-produce and I was asked to play some riffs. They really liked a lot of the ideas I had. If you love "Carnival Of Souls" you can thank me but if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t blame me. I was just a soldier trying to come up with a direction that was absolutely lead by Gene and Paul, and you know in the KISS camp you have all those divisions. The only thing that would matter is a album like "Rock And Roll Over" or "Alive" and nothing non-make-up means anything. So obviously maybe "Carnival Of Souls" is like "what the hell is that". Some people think "The Elder" was a bizarre album too. I knew how to play my role and do a good job and I feel we accomplished that for the most part but I don’t like the mixes on "Carnival Of Souls". That suffered because they told everyone in that camp about the reunion tour. That was the focus of their attention at that point understandably, because there were huge offers coming in financially for the guys with the reunion. So that album we were doing didn’t get all the attention that it deserved. I still stand by the record; it’s definitely a milestone in KISS’ history when you think about it.
Brian Rademacher: Which KISS tour was the most enjoyable experience?
Bruce Kulick: I would have to say the "Hot in the Shade" tour was my favorite. We extended the set list and I think it was fun coming out of Leon’s mouth! We also had a great bill with SLAUGHTER and WINGER. They both had success with gold and platinum records. It was like three bands with huge albums out at the time and that was really exciting. But I still like to talk about things like my first gig at Madison Square Garden during the "Asylum" tour or playing Donington with IRON MAIDEN with over one hundred thousand people there. Those were some big highlights for me.
Brian Rademacher: Which KISS tour was the least enjoyable experience?
Bruce Kulick: Well "Animalize" hit a certain level of success. It was a welcome turn around for the band because it was that decline from "The Elder" to "Creatures" and "Animalize" was a step up. Suddenly there was a platinum record and people were coming to the concerts. But then we did "Asylum" which I think had some really great tracks on but the artsy-fartsy cover and the outfits being a little to "appropriate" for the era but not very timeless, and all of a sudden the ticket sales weren’t too good. I don’t think we had a proper single off it like we did with "Animalize". So there was a lot of stress on the tour and it wasn’t making enough money and I was sensitive to it and I said and I walk into this. That was a little stressful for me, but I can’t say any of the tours for me was a big letdown or anything. When you need to reassess a tour or cut back or anything, if you know Gene and Paul’s egos, that hurts them cause they know what it’s like to be absolutely at the top and never see an empty seat in an arena and also you feel that pressure when they feel that pressure.
Brian Rademacher: I’m a KISS fan from way back and to tell you the truth when I went to see KISS I really wasn’t paying attention to your guitar playing. I went to see KISS, to see theKISS stage show. Now when I listen to the new BK3 I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. You kick ass!
Bruce Kulick: Maybe there was too much Gene and Paul distraction!
Brian Rademacher: You worked on a track called "The Stranger In You" on the Chris Laney "Pure" album. How did that all come about?
Bruce Kulick: Chris actually sang for me on a tour maybe about five years ago in Scandinavia. He’s a terrific guy and great singer besides a great producer, engineer and songwriter. The internet is a great tool and Chris reached out to me and we did instant messaging and sent me the song and we worked it out. We didn’t even have to go in the studio, I jammed it out right in front of him which is an easy way to co-write with people, and he even had me involved with other songs that he is working on currently. I actually hope that if I put a tour together for Europe my first choice would be Chris Laney as the front man, I think he’s an amazing singer. You know he’s the king of melodic rock.
Brian Rademacher: Getting to the new CD "BK3", were there any vocalists or any artists you wanted on the CD but couldn’t get?
Bruce Kulick: Jokingly, I would love to have Paul McCartney on my record, like that’s going to happen! Not really, I mean I always had an alternate person if the first one couldn’t happen. I was thinking of Robin Zander to do the power pop song that Doug Fieger sang on but Doug was willing, able and available, so why not. He did a terrific job on "Dirty Girl".
Brian Rademacher: You’re very laid back on the tracks you sing on. Do you get nervous when you have to take over the lead vocal spot?
Bruce Kulick: It’s not a natural thing for me at all. I feel my voice is my guitar (so) it’s really hard. That’s why I have a producer (Jeremy) and I’ve seen him work with other people. He has a way of getting what he hears in his head out of what that person could do the best and he was able to do that with me. Even if he had me do it three times in the end we ended up with what we needed. I allowed myself for him to push me and the results were what he wanted.
Brian Rademacher: There are many great tracks on the CD with my favorite being "I’m The Animal". I like the upbeat sound on that track and I thought Tobias (Sammet) and Eric (Singer) did a great job. So far hearing from fans, what are their favorite tracks?
Bruce Kulick: It’s too soon since only my inner friends and journalist like you got to hear the entire CD. I like all the tracks as long as people have a favorite, so it don’t matter what song. You’re not the first person to say that’s a great track. Matter of fact in Australia since I can’t sell the entire CD yet because of the release date I released these nicely packaged EP’s which that was the song I included and I added two songs from the UNION years. UNION was something I was proud of that never got over exposed. I made a run of a little larger than I actually needed but you always do that. I gave fifty copies to the label in Australia and he was absolutely thrilled, because the Tobias track was one of his favorites and this will help in setting up the heavier stations that are in Australia. Eric did a great job on the drums very aggressive and classy playing. Tobias is not necessarily known everywhere but he is a monster singer. He’s a little guy but a monster singer!
Brian Rademacher: I also thought that Corabi did an amazing job on "No Friend of Mine". I like the subtle sound with acoustics.
Bruce Kulick: John, who works really well with me, had a goal of doing a song that is as good as any UNION song we did and hopefully better. I think "No Friend of Mine" is at the top of anything that John and I did. I’m thrilled with that song. That was the one song that I did perform with BK3 over in Australia and it went over really well. I was impressed. It wasn’t easy for me to play because there is a lot of fancy guitar in it.
Brian Rademacher: How did it go down in asking Nick Simmons to sing on the release?
Bruce Kulick: That came about with Eric being aggressive asking me to ask Gene to sing first. We were up there at Gene’s house and Gene said sure. It was another time when I was at Gene’s house and I was going to say something to Gene about Nick and before I had the chance Gene offered him up. I knew from the TV show Nick had some musical aspirations and before I even had a chance to ask him Gene said what about my son Nick. I was thrilled and told Gene absolutely and I have news for you, if you didn’t ask me I was going to ask you. Then spending time with him and seeing what he liked and what was on his iPod and what Jeremy had floating around that Nick could write lyrics to, if he chose to, and sing on. Right away he chose "Hand of the King". I think he definitely made that song special, his vocal style being a "Gene-Jim Morrison" is quite interesting.
Brian Rademacher: Was Gene in the studio when Nick did the track?
Bruce Kulick: No. Gene was totally hands off and Nick is so smart, clever and funny. I have to give it to Gene and Shannon both their kids are really amazing. The first performance he did was really good and we wanted him back to do some harmonies by then he came in and wanted to sing it again and we let him and that is actually what you hear. He was really down, getting emotional as he could with the song and those are great lyrics. Nick really showcased great on that track. I loved that I had some of my best guitar playing on that track too.
Brian Rademacher: What about Sophie (Simmons), was she asked too?
Bruce Kulick: No, I saw on an episode where Sophie did some sort of pop song but I was not trying to turn my record into the Family Jewels. I was just so proud to showcase Gene and his son Nick.
Brian Rademacher: I noticed I don’t see Bob (Kulick) on their. How come?
Bruce Kulick: I do a lot of work with my brother and it’s all good. We talk business and strategy and he’s a big part of my life we, do a lot together but not this time.
Brian Rademacher: For me the most emotional tune was "I'll Survive". I can only imagine what went through your head when you got shot in 2003. So what went through your mind?
Bruce Kulick: It was a very surreal experience. I can’t really describe what it feels like to have a bullet going through your leg; no less one grazing your head. You kind of go into shock a bit. How I got shot was a miracle because having a bullet go through a fleshy part of your body is a gift from God. A bullet can cripple you or kill you and the bullet that grazed my head I could have been killed or blind or whatever. Within a month, on a warm October day I’m sitting here in my room strumming those cords of the song that became "I’ll Survive". It shows you the strength of music and your soul and the inner feeling that makes you heal. If you ask me what song moves me the most on the record I would say "I’ll Survive" because it’s a personal statement for me and I’m really proud of that song.
Brian Rademacher: Were you asking God for any special favors?
Bruce Kulick: I do have a pendant of a Jewish star that is very much understated on me, it’s something you wouldn’t notice right away. It’s small and it was on me that night. Even if I have to take an x-ray it doesn’t come off my body. That means a lot to me.
Brian Rademacher: With having an amazing career are you still as humble as I remember you back in the KISS days and I really never seen you pissed off.
Bruce Kulick: I have my moments, you’re lucky enough not to have seen them but thank you. I think I am very accommodating still. The only times I get upset is if people play games with me. I mean I get pissed off at my amps a few times and some of these stores don’t service their amps. Generally I like to treat people the way I like to be treated. Why be a prick?
Brian Rademacher: What was it like when you gave your first autograph?
Bruce Kulick: It was odd, really strange. It had to start with KISS and that had some weight to it. I’m sure I was asked for autographs back in the BLACKJACK days but hey it’s still flattering to this day. The weirdest thing is when they ask you to sign their body so they can get a tattoo, that’s the weirdest thing.
Brian Rademacher: Is everyday a work day if you go out?
Bruce Kulick: I have to admit I’m a "type A" workaholic, so yes.
Brian Rademacher: Getting a little off beat… when you think of Eric Carr these days what goes through your mind?
Bruce Kulick: As you know it was recently the anniversary of his passing on Nov 24th. Strangely enough that was the first time I got to see KISS in make-up with Eric Singer. I always think of a positive thing. Someone recently sent me pictures of us on the bullet train in Japan in ’88. They weren’t new to me but I was happy they shared them with me. It was fun to see, we had a good time. Eric was the kindest to the fans and the most unusual too. The guy would have a chocolate candy bar for breakfast, which I’ve never seen. Eric was super talented and gone way too early for all of us. I think he left his legacy. Whenever I do "God Gave Rock N Roll To You" I think of him. He was a special part of that song, that video and the entire break down sections of the song. He’s in our KISS world and will not be forgotten.
Brian Rademacher: Well Bruce it was great talking to you again.
Bruce Kulick: No problem. Take care, bye.