KISStory incomplete without Blazefest ’94

KISS BlazefestI hope you aren’t too jealous when I tell you this was one of the hottest shows ever performed by the band in any line-up configuration because, if you missed it, your KISStory timeline lacks a key ingredient. Thank god for Youtube — we can go back!!

It was April of ’94, the Revenge Tour was over, MTV Unplugged would be in August, and soon there after KISS would re-unite with Ace & Peter to conquer earth a second time. Of course, we had no clue then.

See, KISS always finds a way to stay in front of their audience. This was just another example of them being creative in coming up with cost effective solutions to do so while biding there time for, as always, what’s coming next.

The band had decided to do a couple of radio-sponsored one-off’s as it were to help promote the new venture / album, KISS MY ASS, in which a host of music legends would be performing & recording their favorite KISS songs at Gene’s behest including Toad The Wet Sprocket, Anthrax, The Gin Blossoms, Lenny Kravitz, Garth Brooks and even (yup) Stevie Wonder! Only KISS sets up their own tribute album. Well, at least then anyway; the duets may be coming soon.

Little did we know, and let me know if I am wrong, but this show may be the very last time Bruce Kulick performed live in concert with the band ‘plugged’ as it were and the very last performance of the Kulick/Singer/Stanley/Simmons roster.

scan0007Maybe that’s why they gave it so much love but it makes me  wonder (yes, it makes me wonder)  if they knew this might be the case. Or, maybe they were just rarin’ to play, having been off the road a bit and now performing without, as Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap once said, “all the mucky-muck” of a full blown tour scenario.

Another cool thing was that the boyz performed a set list picked entirely by fan voting that unearthed GOIN’ BLIND, I STOLE YOUR LOVE, STRUTTER, and, a major highlight, a hot version of GOT TO CHOOSE. As I recall, and listen back now, Bruce played his very best and seemed way more comfortable in this setting, on a small stage with encroaching amps and an audience he could reach out and touch. Eric Singer, who is always solid anyway, played seemingly inspired getting to play some of the cuts that he and Bruce had perhaps never played live with the band.

Want more gravitas? The band performed on a completely stark stage with no effects whatsoever: no KISS sign, no smoke, no blood, Only the banner of the now-defunct Chicago station The Blaze that stood behind them. For us Chicagoans it was refreshingly blue collar and natural, like seeing Cheap Trick @ Cubby Bear or something. This was like a gym with a stage on one wall, no seating, no stands. A mid-western barn-burner of sorts.

At the time, it was the best I had ever heard them. And so was the sound itself. Given the fact that they just flew in with guitars, the less robust PA resulted in a way warmer sound  than the typical KISS concert.  But what really struck me as a KISSTorrian was seeing and hearing the living breathing proof that KISS, with no frills, in an intimate setting, were simply a top flight rock & roll band firing on all cylinders. That night it felt to me like they had finally become as close to classic KISS as possible with the new line-up.  They had seasoned as a group. Even KISStory has it’s irony.

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BRUCE KULICK talks shop

Congrats on BK3 Bruce, are you happy with how it has been received? I am very pleased with the CD and the reviews and the fans reactions. They could all tell I really put my best foot forward shall I say. It has distribution but at the same time you can buy it from me. What concerns me are the BK fans who don’t know about it! They are missing out.

What is your favorite hook on the record?  So many really…. I think “No Friend Of Mine” has a great hook and John Corabi really sells the song with his vocals.

How does the writing process work for you? It is different all the time, but it does usually start with just jamming something on the guitar and things start to happen. When I collaborate, things can really pick up speed quickly and suddenly there is a song.

Gene’s son Nick Simmons sang on the single “Hand Of The King”, is there any irony in that? I guess you could say the title has something ironic in it! He did a great job and it was his lyrics.

You have had a long relationship with ESP Guitars, why ESP? They are really like the LEXUS of guitars. Quality and durability.  I have been using them for many years now.

Is Brian May of Queen an influence of yours? He is one of the best of the best. What tone and note choice. YES.

Have you gone full-on digital or is there still a place for analog in your world? I have my turntable out now! But recording-wise it is digital.  I do use lots of vintage gear to record though…

Do you have a favorite Beatle? I would have to say Paul for his amazing body of work and talent, but John is there only a fraction behind him.

Any tips on surviving a world tour? Don’t eat the mayo! Seriously. Take care of yourself, and pace yourself. Traveling is hard sometimes.

You are ‘tweeting’, how’s that going for you? Good… I don’t do obsessively like some, but I do update things that are going on for me. Not the “what I had for breakfast” kind of tweets! But people want to know what’s up ~