Former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick has addressed Ace Frehley‘s recent comment that Bruce blows Tommy Thayer off the stage.
In a chat with “That Jamieson Show”, the original KISS axeman stated about Bruce: “Of all the guitar players that have taken my place in KISS, Bruce by far blows them all away, as far as I’m concerned. He’s definitely the best guitar player.
“When Tommy gets up there and does my solos, he tries to play ’em note for note, but he doesn’t have the swagger or the attitude,” Ace explained. “Bruce used to play my solos, but he’d kind of make ’em his own, and he’d switch notes a little, and he had some originality. Tommy is just going through the motions. Bruce, by far, blows Tommy off the stage.”
Kulick reacted to Frehley‘s compliments during an October 21 interview with Rob’s School Of Music. He said (see video below): “I always knew that Ace liked me — he would say kind things about me. Not that I think he commented too much on KISS and everything. His relationship with them is very different than it would be for me. I was just one of those lucky guys who stepped in. And what I think he’s reflected on, which has been wonderful, of course, is the fact that I was able to take signature riffs of his, but then make it my own, so I think he appreciated that. Now, clearly, Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] do want Tommy to be the ‘Spaceman,’ which means to play more like Ace, and Tommy always knew that stuff better than me. So it was part of his job description, if you get what I mean, and I don’t fault him for it. I think he does it great. And I’m good friends with Tommy.”
Bruce also talked about the fact that he got to make a guest appearance on “Origins Vol. 2”, the sequel to Ace‘s 2016 collection of cover songs that inspired the original KISS guitarist.
“I think it’s a really cool thing that I got to be on a track and to have me represented,” Kulick said. “And, of course, his fans are really rabid about him, and many of them, of course, are supporters of the non-makeup [era of KISS], but the ones that aren’t, they got some exposure with me.”
Two years ago, Frehley told Yahoo! Entertainment that he had “nothing bad to say about Tommy… You know, it’d be one thing if Tommy would have invented his own character, invented his own guitar solos,” he said. “But unfortunately, he’s copying everything I do, note for note. There’s not much leeway for anybody to say what he’s doing is original. I don’t know how I could handle that, you know? I don’t think I could step into a situation and be somebody else. It’s almost like being a robot. Poor Tommy. My heart bleeds for him.”
In March 2019, Thayer admitted to Argus Leader in an interview that his addition to KISS in 2003 as the replacement for Frehley was met with some backlash from the band’s fans. However, now that he has been in KISS even longer than Frehley‘s combined years, he says that he has become more comfortable in the lead guitar role.
“I have to be honest, when I first came into the band, there was some pressure,” Thayer said. “It was kind of a no-win situation when you’re replacing somebody like that. There’s a lot of fans who are unhappy with this and I understand. They followed the band for a long time and it’s hard to see things like that change sometimes. After a few years went by, I got more confident and more comfortable in the situation, as time goes on, it continues to be a growing experience and something that I get more used to.”
Thayer told Rolling Stone magazine that he had no discomfort about wearing Frehley‘s makeup. He explained: “First of all, I didn’t have any input on that. That was a decision that those guys made. There was not even a conversation about it, because I think it was so obvious, that they weren’t going to introduce new characters 30 years into the band. I never thought that there should be some new designs or something. I thought that would have been ridiculous. And the only thing is, you’ve got a lot of push-back from some of the diehards. And that’s understandable. Hey, you know, if you lived in the seventies and KISS was your favorite band, and that’s what you grew up with, and suddenly there’s another guy wearing that makeup, I can understand how some people, it might not have appealed to them as much. But as time as gone by, a lot of people have changed their mind.”
Back in 2015, Thayer refused to criticize Frehley after Ace spoke out against Tommy in an interview, describing him as “just a guy up there copying me and trying to move like me and trying to sing like me and trying to play like me.”
Thayer told Australia’s The Herald: “I don’t want to get into a back-and-forth, but I’m sure you can kind of assess what you think when you hear all that.
“I think [Ace] had every opportunity in the world to continue in KISS and be in KISS as long as he did the right thing, but it worked out better for me and he has to lead his life,” he continued.
“As far as the jabs and all that, he can say that stuff and I’m not going to say anything bad about him. I just wish all the best to everybody in whatever they’re doing.”
In 1984, Bruce joined KISS, and accompanied the band on the “Animalize” tour and continuing with them until the 1996 reunion tour. Bruce is heavily featured on “Kissology – Vol. 2” and “Vol. 3”, the band’s DVDs spanning their historic four-decade-plus career.