Former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick has defended Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons for having current KISS members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer dress up as Peter Criss‘s and Ace Frehley‘s respective “Spaceman” and “Catman” personas.
Speaking to the “Decades With Joe E. Kramer” podcast, Kulick said: “I don’t disagree that it’s something to discuss, but I’m very, very clear in my opinion. Look, when [Paul and Gene] first made some [lineup] changes, they didn’t want the new drummer, Eric Carr — God bless him — to be the Cat. Eric was a tremendous player and so important in the band, but even he had a real dilemma about his makeup. And at the last minute, instead of being like a Hawk, or whatever the hell they had for him, he became the Fox, and it worked out really great for him. And then, of course, Vinnie [Vincent] was the Ankh.
“I mean, how many characters can you be?” Bruce continued. “And then I think they got blindsided with Ace. First, Peter, all of a sudden, pulls a move or something, the way I’ve heard the story, where they were on tour and Gene and Paul were just, like, ‘Call up Eric [Singer]. We’re putting him in the [Catman] outfit.’ It was, like, if he was behind the kit, it wouldn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Eric Singer does a fantastic Cat. And then by the time, Tommy was always ready to step in. Tommy had been in a [KISS] tribute band — COLD GIN, it was called — at times, even though, of course, he had his own successful band, BLACK ‘N BLUE, back in the ’80s, ’90s.
“I think Gene and Paul made the right decision, [even though some] fans don’t like it,” he added. “They’re carrying on more with these iconic characters, just like the way you do merchandise and the way the face masks kind of represent something very, very powerful. And they both do it with the right respect.”
According to Kulick, he was glad that he was never approached to rejoin the band and wear Ace‘s makeup after Frehley left for good back in 2001.
“As much as I miss being in the band, for me, if suddenly, after all those 12 years of what I’ve done, through ‘Asylum’, ‘Crazy Nights’, ‘Hot In The Shade’ and ‘Revenge’ and all that body of work, being me, to suddenly, ‘All right. Now I’m gonna be the Spaceman,’ that would be really weird. It would just be weird. And especially when part of what the Spaceman [does] is rockets out of his guitar… You know what I mean.
“I still know how important [those] non-makeup years were, even though it doesn’t have that superhero look… The superhero/comic-book character vibe, let’s face it, Gene and Paul do that so well. And I think Eric does it admirably. But he’s behind the drum kit, and he’s playing his heart out and singing great. So no one has to be that critical. ‘Oh, he’s not acting like the real Cat.’ Tommy probably has the biggest burden, in a sense, but I think he does it well. He plays Ace‘s riffs super clean and does all the tricks. And he’s really kind to the fans, and he’s good team player for those guys, besides being, like I said, a talented musician.”
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.