Top 10 Bruce Kulick Kiss Songs
For over a decade, Bruce Kulick served as the lead guitarist in Kiss, and his playing and songwriting helped prove the band could stay atop the rock world without their trademark greasepaint. We rounded up a list of the Top 10 Kiss songs showcasing Kulick's skills, which as you'll see, also include bass playing, studio trickery and even taking a turn at the microphone. As an added bonus, we got him to talk a bit about the creation of each track. So let's dig into a too-often overshadowed chapter in "Kisstory" with the Top 10 Bruce Kulick Kiss Songs:
"I had that idea on the road, where I did it on a four-track, very little was changed. What was terrific was the fact that at least my ex-wife was good for one thing. She wound up saying "Come hell or high water, I'll be there," talking about an exciting New York City show or something. And then I went (sings chorus) "Hell or High Waaater," you know what I mean? I heard it in my head right away. Those are blessings, when that happens. Gene (Simmons) ate it up right away, loved it. The only other odd thing was, he heard it a little differently. I was very proud of myself for saying, 'Gene, I'm hearing it this way.' On 'Asylum,' for example, I wasn't very vocal about (it) if I thought they were crazy. I'm the new guy, you know? But he respected what I had to say, and it it would up being how I put it."
"This was an important track from that album. One of the coolest things about it was the fact that Paul (Stanley) had a real point of view about his riffs with Eric (Carr's) drumming, and even what the riffs on the drums would be. Which would push me to figure out the scales that would follow it, those quick breakdown things that happen in the song between the drums and the guitar. I always enjoy working with Paul in the studio, very much so. As compared to live, where he's just the wild performer you know? In the studio he was extremely, I would say the world would be, particular about me interpreting what he had in his head, and he's very creative so it was a good relationship."
"People have asked me, 'Can I hire you to come to my wedding and play the 'Forever' guitar solo?' I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to play it. That's pretty trippy, it makes it pretty iconic too, which I like. It's a different side of Kiss. People always think Kiss is this metal band, and yet there we have a ballad like 'Forever' from my version of the band, and then of course 'Beth,' with strings and everything."
We managed to deliver a slight surprise to Bruce with this choice. "It's not one of my favorite Kiss songs, but it did have that big Kiss chorus… I'd have to give it a listen.. (plays song, at properly loud volume)… actually, it's hipper than I thought, hey thank you, use it, I like it! I forgot there was this whole double-bass drum, wild metalfest lead guitar thing going on."
"Well, with Jimi Hendrix being one of my heroes, I didn't mind quoting 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' I didn't know, of course, that we'd evolve that into such a big part of the live show, like on the ending of 'Alive III.' 'Revenge' was such a labor of love for me, experimenting with a lot of pedals from my closet, the arsenal of things that can color your sound, and of course still trying to be melodic with it. That's one of the songs where I really hit that balance, where I could be gimmicky without being cheesy. That song went though a big evolution, which I talk about on my blog. Anything that was released from 'Revenge' was at it's prime, we didn't let anything go that wasn't cooked properly."
Kulick pretty much runs wild on this highly under-appreciated album, which was largely lost amid the reunion of the band's original lineup. Speaking of the heavy, grooving 'Master & Slave,' one of his eight co-writes on 'Carnival of Souls,' Kulick explains, "That one still had one foot in that dark heavy thing, but not quite as experimental or crazy as some of the other songs on 'Souls.' I think it's one of the strongest tracks on that album."
"Obviously one of the big features of that song for me is the fact that the lead guitar starts the song, that's kind of unusual for any band to do, it's kinda ballsy. So I was proud of that, it wasn't heavily doctored, it was basically a one-take try that I kind of burned on. Get your seatbelt on and step on it, that's just pure energy. Even when I listen to it now, I go, (laughingly) 'I'm glad I don't do that song live, cause I don't want to have to play that!'"
"Oh I love that riff, I was very proud of it. We had to try different keys for it, to make it really shine for Paul. Once we nailed in the right key, and I kinda inverted the riff to make it work, it was smooth sailing. And I played the bass on it. Like I've mentioned before many times, I'm a big fan of Gene's playing, so I try to imitate him, and I know where that's coming from, I just know what he does, it's interesting I was able to survive that well. The Beatles, you know, Paul McCartney played drums sometimes, he played guitar, they swapped around the instruments, it's not blasphemy. In the studio, the creative element of what's best for the song always rules. I can't tell you how proud I am that I have that ability, (with) my bass playing, which was really my first electric instrument. I've been hired for sessions to do it, that's a big thrill for me."
Kulick again takes on both four- and six-string duties on this track, which is built around a hypnotic bass line. "That one, let me tell you, I've done it live with different players, it's not an easy riff to play. I had a very creative moment (creating that) bass line, which then spawned the other guitar line that I answer during the verses. Paul and I and this guy Curtis Cuomo, who was helping with some of the co-writing on 'Carnival of Souls,' we really dialed in some interesting things there. I have some versions of that that I've archived recently. The demo stuff was very very similar to what's on the studio version. I love when the vision's there and there's not a lot of confusion about where it's supposed to go."
Kulick delivers his first lead vocal on a Kiss track with this epic statement of self-belief, which features perhaps the band's most creative use of the recording studio to date, including Beatles and Hendrix-inspired backwards sections. "I have a lot of fond memories of creating this song. I've really been enjoying archiving this stuff recently and digging into it, it's really been opening my mind up. Even just this week, and I thought I had found everything related to 'Carnival of Souls,' I found another cassette where I'm actually playing what became the chorus on a guitar as a verse. I found a lot of the pieces where I realized how I created all of the backwards pieces. It reminds me that I should never be afraid of going for what I hear in my head, you know what I mean?"
See how well you know Gene, Paul and the rest with the little-known facts on this exclusive video!