In late October and early November, the eighth annual "KISS Kruise" set sail on the open seas, departing on Halloween from Miami, FL on the Norwegian Jade. In addition to the current lineup of the classic party rock band -- Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer -- the crowds who attended this oceangoing rock experience got treated to tons of great music from a variety of artists and bands.
Perhaps no other rocker outside of the band itself is more closely connected to KISS than longtime ESP player Bruce Kulick. Bruce was a member of KISS from 1984-1996, during the height of what would be thought of as a the "non-makeup era" for the band, and recorded several well-received albums during that period, including 1985's Asylum, 1987's Crazy Nights, 1989's Hot in the Shade and more. Per an interview in Ultimate Classic Rock, Bruce was simultaneously excited and apprehensive about tackling the KISS material that he's rarely revisited in the last couple of decades, having spent much of that time as a member of another iconic rock band, Grand Funk Railroad.
"It was exciting!" says Bruce. "I got so thrilled about some of those songs. When we were rehearsing, I was telling my wife, 'This is gonna go over so well. Even though we know sometimes people make fun of those '80s songs, they're gonna go nuts.' I know the reaction is great, and I'm totally thrilled. None of them know how tortured I was by this. It was a personal struggle for me, to relive my guitar playing from about 30 years ago. Something like a KISS Kruise, I take quite seriously as you imagine. I had a lot to prove. I was up for the challenge, but I didn't realize how intense some of that playing was. So I went through a bit of a shock. I wasn't even sure I could do all that, physically. Because I hadn't done it in so long. It was like a runner who hadn't been running for a while, I had to work up to it."
Bruce Kulik's guitar of choice for the 2018 KISS Kruise was this ESP M-II built at the ESP Custom Shop.
By all reports, the preparation Bruce put into the shows was very worthwhile, and all the crowds reported that his concerts on October 31 and November 3 were mind-blowingly great. Bruce needed a guitar that would live up to his acrobatic playing style, so he turned to one of his many ESPs that was up for the task.
"The guitar I used for the KISS Kruise shows is a black ESP M-II neck-thru that has stock Seymour Duncan Blackouts, with a Floyd Rose. It's a fantastic guitar... powerful and full of incredible amounts of tone."
You can get more information about the KISS Kruise at their web site.