Bruce Kulick Remembers Eric Singer’s First Kiss Show: Exclusive Interview
On the 25th anniversary of Eric Singer’s first concert as a member of Kiss, the band’s guitarist at the time, Bruce Kulick, has shared some memories of that moment with Ultimate Classic Rock, adding to our Singer’s own recollections.
It was April 23, 1992 – one day short of five months since the death of previous drummer Eric Carr, and weeks before the release of the band’s 16th album, Revenge, which had been recorded after Carr’s cancer battle left him too ill to continue working. Singer remembers feeling calm and focused before performing at the Stone in San Fransisco, while his bandmates Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Kulick were exhibiting signs of nerves.
“The club tour was a shock,” Kulick says of the short run of promotional concerts designed to break in Singer. “Just being backstage in that environment was not so unusual for me – but Paul and Gene had been in arenas and festivals for such a long time. It was so obvious to all that, with all the drummers we looked at, Eric had the right chemistry for Kiss. I pushed for him, but there was no resistance, just a consensus for him to be the guy.
“Once Eric Carr had shared with me that he was having open heart surgery, I was very concerned. When cancer eventually took his life, it was devastating, and very sad to lose such a close friend. The first session for Kiss after his funeral, I was asked to play lead guitars on the drum solo track ‘Carr Jam’. That helped me heal as it was a tribute for him.”
Singer – who was touring with Alice Cooper and had previously been a member of Stanley’s solo band – was originally asked to record a cover version of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” for a soundtrack, then later to appear on half of the Revenge album before completing the LP with Simmons, Stanley and Kulick.
“It was very evident to me that Eric Singer was not only a great drummer that would complement the style of Kiss, but he could take direction if needed,” Kulick says. “I spent a lot of time talking to him about the dynamics of the band. Since he’d worked with Paul in the past, that experience helped make him comfortable for an audition. He was very sensitive about the passing of Eric Carr. He showed respect as if he knew the band is a family, and our family lost a member. Not an easy role to walk into.”
And Kulick confirms Singer’s recollection of the band’s logo wrong appearing incorrectly on his drum kit, which Stanley pointed out the moment he’d seen it. “Eric learned how many details are important in Kiss,” he says. “It was fun to see Eric get it right, and he continues to have a clear vision of exciting drum kits onstage for every tour they do.”
He also notes Singer’s welcomed sense of humor. “We always have fun hanging together, goofing around and picking on each other,” he recalls. “Gene probably gets the most ribbing, since he’s larger than life. Eric’s energy is quite supercharged, so there were rarely quiet moments. In many ways, his personality, for the dynamics of the band was familiar. Eric Carr joked as well. I was quiet most of the time. And you all know how Gene and Paul love to interact! So it was easy to have Eric Singer enter the Kiss family.
“I knew way before the first show he was going to do an amazing job, but the energy and performance that night just confirmed what was already known,” he continues. “Eric listens, loves guitars, knows how to be a team player both musically and personally, and loves all eras of Kiss music.”
Singer later discovered that he’d been chosen over one of his heroes, Aynsley Dunbar, for the position. “Aynsley is a legend on drums – it just didn’t fit in Kiss,” notes Kulick. “That would be like Steve Vai in Kiss. Steve’s an alien on the guitar, so gifted, but it doesn’t make a good match for Kiss.”
The only possible sticking point was the color of the new drummer’s hair, Kulick says. “Kiss has big black hair, always,” he points out. “But he’s blond! A carefully discussed decision allowed his golden hair to be a part of the Kiss Revenge era. It was a smart decision, and it made us feel more natural together. Eric Singer was meant to be the new drummer of Kiss, and his long ongoing tenure proves that very clearly.”
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