Members: Bruce Kulick
Pile driving intensity. Mind-bending leads. Addictive pop melodies. It's no wonder that a musician as versatile as Bruce Kulick has been venerated by artists as disparate as Meat Loaf and Kanye West. If you ever play Six Degrees of Bruce, the former KISS/current Grand Funk Railroad guitarist's curriculum vitae will keep you busy for hours. And that unyielding creative energy permeates his third solo LP, BK3, from the explosive hard rock arrangements to a jaw-dropping guest list boasting members of KISS, the Knack, Toto, Motley Crue and more.
After getting his solo feet wet with 2001's Audio Dog and 2003's lovelorn Transformer, the veteran axeman began working with producer Jeremy Rubolino in early 2004, finally commencing recording in 2006. As ideas and collaborators gradually fell into place, so did a newfound confidence within the third longest-tenured KISS expat, a too-often-unsung driving force amongst 12 years of their classic records from his uncredited work on 1984's Animalize to his quintessential performance on 1992's Revenge. "With [BK3], there was no compromise, period-and I was bold enough to ask people to get involved," Kulick says. "This record was done with an 'every song has got to be amazing' [mentality]. Once we got Gene Simmons and his son Nick committed, the album took a turn where we had to get more songs that complimented the powerful recipe that was developing."
Not only did the compositions begin to change, but Kulick pushed to assemble his own rock 'n' roll dream team, including longtime friend John Corabi (the Scream, Motley Crue, Kulick's own Union), Knack main man Doug Fieger, Toto axe authoritarian Steve Lukather, Edguy power metal stalwart Tobias Sammet and even current KISS drummer Eric Singer.
"There's a common thread with the record, and that's my guitar playing," Kulick explains. "And the approach Jeremy and I took was the production values should be up to Revenge standards. It's a very diverse record, yet [you don't] feel like, 'What's that tune doing here?' Many albums lack cohesion with different vocalists, but I know that my guitar playing is the glue on BK3."
The battery of songs is indeed impressive. The psychedelic-leaning "I'll Survive" was inspired by Kulick's infamous random 2003 shooting on Sunset Boulevard. Just as personal is album opener "Fate," a powerful statement of intent in which he offers multiple playful references to obscure KISS songs. Of course, as creative director of such an ambitious endeavor, Kulick also steered his many guest vocalists' visions. Gene Simmons' "Ain't Gonna Die" promises that the icon's legacy will never wilt in the face of mocking tabloids, and Hollywood mind games are assailed again in Fieger's poppy "Dirty Girl," examining the likes of Paris Hilton. "No matter how much she has, it seems it's never enough." Kulick laments. Elsewhere, Corabi combats himself on the tortured "No Friend of Mine," Lukather matches Kulick's virtuosity on lone instrumental "Between the Lines" and Nick Simmons nails his inspired, fantasy-driven recorded debut, "Hand of the King," all leading to the optimistic, orchestral closer "Life," conjuring the spirited insight of longtime idol George Harrison.
"There was the clear goal of making absolutely the best record that I could put together," Kulick concludes. "I feel like this is my Revenge."