Bruce's "BK3" Studio Blog

 

- Day 50: FINAL DAY! -



BK w/Silver PRS McCarty & Todd Rundgren

I am proud to say that this day 50 is actually my final blog for the recording of BK3. Of course there are times when tracks are being cleaned and consolidated for mixing, then the days of listening carefully to the mixes, but I really only covered the recording process for my long journey for my CD. I am sure you all know lots of other effort is put into the writing and arranging for the songs before I even get to the studio.

Song number 11 had a different title. I did most of the tracks a long time ago and it was called "What Did I Say". That version of the song was an uplifting track, even though I thought it was not really right. The melody and lyrics not great yet. The best thing this song always had for me was the thematic guitar lines that are such a part of what I like for my music. Jeremy was always hoping we could finish the song, and because of me already offering 3 of the songs from BK3 with my Australian Limited Edition EP, it was only fair for me to agree to get an 11th song done. What made it hard, was we were very used to what we had before. And that meant let's bring in some help.

A good friend of Jeremy's Dan Lavery who is a great songwriter and bass player (The Fray, Tonic) liked the track and took a stab at getting a fresh approach to the tracks we so carefully laid out. Once I heard the results of his labor it was clear I would have song 11 completed. We did have to edit some of the arrangement as Dan suggested a chord change in the verse, but with the magic of the studio not a hard thing to do. Some new acoustic guitar overdubs plus a redo of the bass guitar was all we needed. We also made the bridge of the song, a pre solo to my big solo.

So we came up with some cool harmony guitar lines, that was done at one in the morning that late night, with my PRS McCarty in silver through my Orange Tiny Terror and Marshall cabinet. The bass was my Fender P Bass from 1966 and I let Jeremy do the honors as he has been practicing quite a bit of bass playing lately. We also plugged in his new Line 6 bass amp that sounded very cool with that vintage Precision. I used my Gibson Elvis Dove and a Martin D-18 from 1970 for the acoustic parts, and all the other performances on the track were left intact. Just some arrangement edits and we had a fresh extremely catchy new version of the song. I am not sure about the title yet, but it has to do with what my life is like, always leaving on the road... "getting on the carousel again" to say it poetically.

Singing ANY song is a challenge for me, but a brand new one is harder! Jeremy helped along as always, but then Cliff Calabro came over for the backgrounds, and he jumped in guiding me with the phrasing as well. That team effort made me shine and a big thank you for their help. So the only thing left to do for the CD is approving the mix for this song, as two other titles for the disc have been mixed this week already.

As crazy as my schedule is for getting the music work done, I wouldn't trade my life... no way. You can all figure that I come home from a road trip and the next day, or even the day I arrive back, I am in the studio to record my music. Getting it all coordinated with schedules is a job in itself. What else is left? Well mastering the other 8 songs, (the 3 on the EP are mastered) and sequencing them all is one project. Of course the final artwork is another project to make happen. First a photo shoot with Neil Zlozower and then the artwork, in that order please! And then it will be time to manufacture and promote this CD.

BK3 is something I am extremely proud of. I know you all will have your own favorite tracks, but for me I love them all and of course it was a pleasure to have so many "special guests" appear like Gene Simmons and his son Nick, Steve Lukather, Doug Fieger, John Corabi, Eric Singer, Tobias Sammet, Jimmy Haslip and Kenny Aronoff. All seasoned pros... that made this CD very special. The list would go on and on, and of course I will have my credits for this CD for everyone to see, but I know it never would have been done if not for the very strong belief from my producer Jeremy in what I could accomplish if I worked hard enough for it. His diligence got the best out of me, and for that I am grateful.

More news once I get the other "projects" regarding the CD completed. Thank you all for your support!

 

- Day 49 -


Finally got a chance to get back to work on BK3. Kevin Churko is the engineer that worked with Jeremy and I when Gene Simmons was at Henson Studio last October recording with me for my CD. The reason I mention Kevin (who is Ozzy Osbourne's current producer and a talented writer as well) is that he presented Jeremy and I an idea for a song that we loved. So we got to work once the lyrics and melody were completed earlier this June.

I started off over dubbing big guitars, and most of the parts needed to be doubled. Used some interesting guitars this time around to get some different sounds etc. I used a Gibson 1995 Cherry SG, and a 1980's BC Rich Koa Mockingbird and then my Gibson LP Jr from Kiss Revenge Tour was used as well as the Explorer that I did the clean Domino guitar parts on Revenge. They all sounded killer and the amps used were my old Marshall 900 head and a dual reverb model as well as the Egnater Rebel 20 Watt head. We actually had the Egnater on a very low wattage setting, and it still sounded huge!

The song has many interesting sections and cool "ear candy" guitar parts, so those were added with my new Whale Blue PRS McCarty. Various pedals from my BOSS SD-1 and custom Wah and Geek chorus and Geek vibe pedals along with some other odd ones for added color were used. We also tried some piano in an interesting way in the bridge as that solo section has a different sonic color.

Solos were performed on my new ESP Custom Vintage plus with floyd and humbucker, that BC Rich mockingbird, and my old LP from 53 that has been on so many KISS records. It was fun making this song come alive with all these great guitars and sounds. Bass guitar was added by Jeremy on my vintage Fender P Bass from 1966. That is always the "go-to" bass for big ass bass sounds.

After all that guitar playing, it was time to sing, and the lyrics are fast and furious. The song is fun, and aggressive and that is an interesting combination. By the end of the third day of recording at Stagg Studios it was clear we have created a monster with this song called "FATE".

So enjoy the pictures and more studio work on the last song is coming soon. My long hard journey for BK3 is finally coming to an end and I can't wait for you all to hear the entire 11 song CD. And I hope you all caught the GS's Family Jewels episode called "Memphis". Some music was heard from the song Gene co-wrote and sang for BK3.

More soon. THANKS!

 

- Day 48 -


Final touches on recordings are always fun. The final spices to the recipe of the song, or the dish you are creating. I forgot to mention the addition of a funny bicycle horn, and sport whistles on my day 47. I have to say, I got the horn for my campers at the Fantasy Camp, and Steven Tyler even picked it up when he came to my rehearsal room. He got the joke, but the end of my song "Life" is supposed to be very carnival sounding. The addition of sounds like whistles and the bike horn, added with flute, violin, various percussion instruments and guitars riffing away left and right are the collage of sounds I was looking for to end that song. Tim Cashion, my keyboard player from Grand Funk, recorded lots of instruments in his home studio that really saved me time. Through the magic of Pro Tools, we dropped them in, and added another tamborine and shaker and horn and whistle. I have to admit, regarding whistles, I don't know how the referees blow them. I was out of breath!

Next was singing, which is never as easy for me. I was fortunate enough to have some help with my producers good friend Cliff Calabro. I have known Cliff for many years, and even rehearsed at his parents home in The Bronx, when he was a young boy when I had my club cover band back in 1975. His brother and he were KISS crazy at the time, and even had a bass drum with KISS written on it. So for years later to have him see me in LA when I joined the band, was a very funny coincident. He became friends with Jeremy at some point and of course we all have known each other well since the late nineties. Cliff is a great singer, and he was patient waiting on me doing the hard parts of the song "Life" before he was going to jump in to do the backgrounds.

After about an hour, I zoned in on the vocals, and we were ready for the sweetening. Cliff sounded great and we fooled around looking at the strings that were recorded. We actually even moved a section up sooner in the arrangement, as the song felt SO good with the quartet. Jeremy wrote my favorite chart for this song. Totally George Martin, and he nailed it when I said, "give me that style, I know it will be perfect for the song". So "Life" a song that will be quite a surprise to you all, is finally finished. And waiting and perfecting it was worth the wait for sure.

Only a few more things to get done, and again thank you all for the reviews of the Limited Edition EP that I have for sale.



 

- Day 47 -


Well it has been a long time since I have actually recorded for BK3 due to my schedule this year. Since the first 6 songs were finished and mixed mid January, I have done various Grand Funk shows, went to Europe with ESP for three weeks, and did a KISS expo, rehearsed and performed in Vegas for the Monster Circus, went directly to Australia for guitar clinics and then right back on the road with Grand Funk, and finally did a week at the Fantasy Camp here in LA. Phew. So you see I am blessed with gigging work but that makes it hard for me to book studio time.

Sometimes, work was done which is not worth reporting, as in Jeremy cleaning files and getting the remaining songs ready for the final touches. Last night was finally real studio work, as we needed to add some percussion and most importantly have me sing the song "Life" again. We both agreed that my best was not achieved yet. Fortunately it wasn't too difficult and we got all the verses rather quickly.

Today I work again and get the B sections of the song. There is no real chorus in the song. The entire song as far as I am concerned is so catchy and memorable the way it feels is like your favorite shoes. Strange analogy but true. We have strings on this track that are so Beatles perfect and I just love the entire sentiment of the song. So this is our next to the last tune to get ready to be mixed. Two others are finished and in the process to have final mixes this weekend.

The BK3 EP has given my third solo CD great attention and thank you for all of you that purchased the limited edition item. I had to have SOMETHING with me in Australia for the fans, so I made sure that was ready. If you haven't gotten one, don't miss the boat if you are the collector type. Supply is getting low and have less than 200 left. The songs from Gene Simmons and his son Nick and the one with Tobias Sammet (with Eric Singer on drums), are already mixed, but I was requested to hold off on those tracks for the full release. Music biz you know!

So things are really shaping up and I am so proud of this CD. For all of you that have been patient, it will be worth the wait. The best of Bruce is coming. More news soon.

 

- Day 46 -


What an amazing day in the studio! I asked Steve Lukather from TOTO, (anyone who knows guitarists knows he is a guitar legend) to do some dueling guitars for my instrumental that I told you all about back in October. He is simply hard to watch cause his fingers fly and the tone and ability that he has on the guitar is a wonderful to experience right in front of your own eyes. The song is in Eb tuning and his signature model guitar was in concert tuning so he told me he could play one of mine.

My trusty red ESP vintage plus from 96 was the weapon of choice and as I have always told players, the tone is in the guitarists hands. Jeremy set up a cool sound from my Marshall head (which I love the most), and with nothing but a distortion pedal he brought along from Steve Vai, that he occasionally stepped on, it was straight ahead guitar into amp. If I play the set up it sounds like ME. If he plays the same gear, it sounds like Lukather. So lesson to all of you.

We worked on where he should play in this song... as there were spots in the verses and some empty solo sections for him to fill. He played great of course, and again I was blown away looking at fingers fly. He can capture a Jeff Beck tone easily which is quite a treat for me to hear. He has worked with Beck before and knows him VERY well. It shows. Once we said our goodbyes to him, Jeremy went ahead on picking the parts we could use and fit it into the sections, to give me room to answer him and play with him in harmony. The chorus sections of this instrumental were done weeks ago on my old Les Paul so that was done. By the end of the day we knew we had something very special.

Any fan of mine, or Luke (his nickname in the biz) would agree that this track not only rocks, it moves you without anyone singing. Having that strong rhythm section of Kenny Aronoff and Jimmy Haslip on drums and bass, didn't hurt of course. The next day I did some edit ideas for the song, and we cleaned up the tracks and finalized the edits and guitar parts. Ready to be mixed! So I want to thank Luke for playing as he knows best, amazingly, and Jeremy for working hard on the parts to make it NOT seem like just a "guitar players look at me, look at me" song, but a musical statement from both of us. Can't wait for you all to hear this one and the others.

Some of the songs are already mixed although it is still hard to state positively when I can package and release my CD. But I am very proud and want the music to be the best it can be. More updates on other work coming.

 

- Days 40 to 45 -


Here we go... Last time we left off John completed the song "No Friend Of Mine", but since then there was continued December work for BK 3. After some work in my home on cleaning up tracks, I did a quick vocal session at Stagg Street again to finish up the verses for "And I Know". We knew we just need some backgrounds and that track would be ready to mix.

The following day we had as Jeremy would call it a "Pizza Party" background vocal day! I invited a few friends that I knew could sing, as we had some group vocals to work on. My friend from Guitar Center, Jeremy Lichter, Wally Wingert and his friend Chris, and Ken Gullic came down and we worked on "I Will Survive" and the Gene song "Aint Gonna Die". We did have some awesome pizza and a great time, and Jeremy's girlfriend and her cousin sang along too on the ending part of "I Will Survive". Everyone was really enjoying hearing the new BK music and I was very proud of the work Jeremy and I have done, but you know it feels best when a friend really is into it.

Next day, which was XMAS eve, we had a good friend who has a great voice, Cliff Calabro, to do some backgrounds on "And I Know" and John's track, "No Friend Of Mine". Once we heard what Cliff did with John's track we were done with that song for sure. Except it dawned on me that the intro could use some guitar work, so I used my 2000 RI LP Standard and my trusty Marshall head. Ruby Stone overdrive was in line as well, and it all really made the intro special. And now we were done with that song.

Right after the XMAS break we were in on Dec 28th to do some more last finishing touches on the Tobias Sammet track called "I Am the Animal". I added some riff in the verse, with a 2005 LP Matte finish LP Standard and a new Egnator Rebel 20 head and the usual Marshall Cabinet. Next day we did the same to Nick Simmons' song, "Hand of the King". Added a little riff vibe in the verse with my ESP Red Floyd Vintage Plus that was really affected and will be backward sounding. Geek Vibe pedal was in line for that one, and a Wah. Happily that song was finished as well.

On Jan 3rd I had my big string session with 4 talented players. Jeremy prepared charts for "Life" and "Aint Gonna Die" and that was really fun to hear them play along with those songs. I asked Mark, the lead violin guy, to jam a bit at the ending of "Life" and that definitely was cool. After they were done, I added a final touch to the Gene track. We thought an acoustic would work in a few spots, so I had my Elvis Presley Dove recorded and then the day was done.

I am now proud to announce that TWO songs are mixed and in the can! My goal is to have all the recording done and mixed by end of January. More updates coming.

 

- Days 36 to 39 -


These were all short days, so I am putting them all together for all of you. Days 36 and 37 were vocals days for me. "Life" is a great tune, that needs a special vocal vibe. You might have noticed I sang it back in March, but it was important to readdress. It was sounding good but first really wanted to get another important songs done, called "I Will Survive". This one I nailed quickly compared to the other tune. I sang the bridge earlier in the year, so Jeremy and I were happy with the vibe. I was doubling and even tripling some parts for special sounds.

The next night we re-addressed "Life". After some heated discussions regarding what can we really expect for the song from my vocal approach, Jeremy put an acoustic guitar in my hand and said... play and sing!!! Well it worked. Of course I was just making believe I was playing the guitar, as you don't want the guitar in the vocal mike, but my timing for the song came together much quicker so Jeremy and I achieved what we hoped for. Another song done. Phew! On both those nights Jeremy laid down some piano parts, and they really added a cool texture to the songs.

Next trip to the studio, I did vocals for a song called "And I Know". I originally had very sweet lyrics, and the tone of my disc is getting a bit heavy, so I put a bit of a twist on the words, and it was more bittersweet than the original concept. Jeremy was happy to hear me singing out, as the rehearsals for Monster Circus has me warming up. Because of my rehearsal schedule, I could only get in for BK 3 recordings in the evenings from 10 till midnight or 1PM. I really don't do well past that, as I wake up pretty early to start my day walking the dog etc. Well, I want to get this done, so I was there to get down to business. I sang the chorus's and bridge and we even did some lyric changes. We will do the verses another night, as we might tweak those lyrics a bit then. It is fun to be spontaneous with the words in the studio, and sometimes you even have to finish them in the studio. (Gene did that with us back in Sept.)

My next BK 3 session was with John Corabi. We had worked on this song back in the beginning of the year, and it is very UNION sounding. A great riff and very rock for sure. Only problem, John and are are rehearsing hard for MONSTER CIRCUS and we knew it would be a late start in the studio, and the verse lyrics were NOT finished! So we were brave and bold rolling in at 10PM and got the lyrics done in an hour. Then John was a real trooper going in and singing the song in a powerful manner. FINALLY we have it done, as John moved to Nashville, it has been hard to coordinate everything for this important song. Name of the tune is "No Friend Of Mine".

I have some future plans for a special guest guitar hero, and info on that will be when it happens. More info with the next sessions.

PS - I know that when he is not completely happy with something, even one word, Corabi will let it drive him crazy. Well, he kept thinking about the lyrics for "No Friend Of Mine" and asked me if he could grab one more session so we can update that verse and play with the song again anyway. Fortunately the studio (Stagg Street Studio, in Van Nuys) was available for us, and I wasn't too tired to take a few pix of that session. He updated verse one, and then his voice was so strong we just went ahead and sang it all again. John sounded great, and it was a relaxing productive 2 hours of work on a great song. Thank you John!! The UNION fans, won't be disappointed for sure! I am done with my guest vocalists for now, but do have one more surprise that I will let you all know about later on this month.

Have a great Holiday season!!!

 

- Day 35 -


You all read about the recording of the new instrumental for BK 3, well now it was time to do some guitars. I wanted to be tight with the rhythm section of Kenny and Jimmy, so Jeremy suggested I do TWO parts for the Stratocaster rhythm/riff parts. I used my new white ESP Vintage plus and a Candy Apple Red Fender Relic to get those sounding amazing. Fender Bassman head for one, and the Orange head for the other. We added some Telecaster for chords in the chorus, and a PRS as well. An acoustic (my Gibson Dove Elvis Presley) was added along with piano to make the textures on the chorus come alive.

Once we got that tight, it was time to get to some lead guitar work. My go to guitar is always my old '53 Gibson LP Standard with PAF pickups in it. It's a conversion guitar, for all of you that have knowledge of vintage guitars. This is the guitar from SO many KISS discs, and it sounds amazing. My fave Marshall head was used and NO effects were needed. Got my chorus theme parts done then it was time to get away from it, to see what was accomplished. The song is still very new for me, and Jeremy was excited to have this brand new song added to the BK 3 collection.

As you all know I have been recording for a few years, but I finally do see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the past few months I have really made great progress, doing some killer songs with both Gene and Nick Simmons, Tobias from Edguy and Avantasia totally rocked on one, and I am making plans for John Corabi to sing a strong rock riff tune very soon in early December. So, I can't wait to finally finish. Thanks for your support, as I hear from many of you about my disc and I appreciate the feedback.





 

- Day 34 -


Saturday was an insane day in LA. Fires burning and power outages all over the area. Of course that would be the day I booked a studio and some amazing musicians to do a new tune I wrote about 3 weeks ago (with no title other than INSTRUMENTAL). I realized it was really needed for my BK3 disc. It was funny that I hadn't written one before, but I was determined to have great players to support me. Kenny Aronoff has played with EVERYONE in the business on drums, and he even appeared on a few tracks for me on AUDIODOG my first solo disc. We talked about some studios to book, as my fave place was not available, and he recommended a place here in the Valley called Steakhouse. I knew the room and I was excited to have a chance to book it as they have a vintage EMI NEVE board that sounds really sweet.

Kenny mentioned Steve Churchyard to engineer who has a long list of credits including members of the Beatles, so I was like, DONE!! To round out the day Jimmy Haslip was booked on bass guitar. Jimmy has ghost played on the Creatures of the Night KISS disc, and of course he was in the band I had years ago with Michael Bolton called BLACKJACK. He is another Grammy award winning player I have had the pleasure to know. Google these guys and you will see all the work they have done in the biz. So, with fires 25 miles away and a dodgy power supply, the studio thankfully was up and running.

A bigger problem was a call from Kenny, who was coming back from Palm Springs. He was returning from a show with Joe Cocker and his car hit some road debris and he was lucky NOT getting killed. But waiting on tow trucks and all in the desert heat, that wasn't too much fun for him. Sadly he was going to be delayed by 3 or 4 hours, but we set up what we could and got ready for his late arrival. We lost some time, but I love hanging with Jimmy and Jeremy of course gets along great with him as well. Once Kenny arrived, safe and sound but a bit frazzled, we started rehearsing this tune which is best described as a cross between Stevie Ray Vaughn meets Joe Satriani in styles.

First few times playing the tune was very ruff, but we started to really get it tight by take number 8. By 12 we had our song, and I was able to thank Kenny for making it and playing his ass off as usual. I put down a guide rhythm guitar for Jimmy to play his magic to, and WOW he really was terrific! He is a master bassist and I wanted to feature him on this track, so Jeremy produced the hell out of him. What a pleasure to listen to him do his thing. Long day, but mission accomplished. Steve the engineer got wonderful sounds from all, and my rhythm section played the tune with passion and precision.

More about my overdubs for this track soon! Can't wait to get it done, and it is coming out superb.

 

- Day 33 -


Tobias Sammet is not a name you all know, but he fronts a band called Edguy from Germany and is also in another one that is very popular called Avantasia. I knew of him from KISS drummer Eric Singer and finally heard his voice in Japan this past Feb. when someone played the Avantasia CD at the meet and greet before our show in Tokyo. I asked Eric about him and he told me how talented he is and I should contact him. I had a song for BK3 that I had reserved for Gene, which gave birth to a completely new different song that I told you all about in previous blogs. So what could I do with this great track???

Fast forward to Jeremy and going to the Key Club (Yes that place! For those who remember a crazy time I had back in 2003 when some guy with a gun got crazy, and I was lucky to see the morning light) for a performance of Edguy with Tobias leading the German hard rock band. They were great, and I was really impressed with the band and how well Tobias sang. Of course I had sent him the song as an MP-3 weeks before to see what he thought and he was excited to work on it. We made plans to record while he had a few days off in LA before his long trip back to Germany.

We had dinner at the famous Rainbow on Sunset Blvd the night after his show, and then the next day it was time to hear what he came up with. We discussed lyrics on the internet and we had agreed on an old title I had for a song called "I Am The Animal". I was really blown away with what he sang me in his hotel room, and I knew the next day he would get the song done right. The day we planned to record I figured it would be cool to get some pics of Tobias at the famous Rock Walk on Sunset by Guitar Center.

After that we were off to the studio in the Valley. With some beers close by (he is German you know!), Tobias made his magic and Jeremy and I were completely blown away. His voice is powerful and melodic, and we had him do backgrounds and some doubles for texture. A perfect session from a cool guy. I hope to work with him again in the future. So this track is a bit of a reunion of sorts as Eric Singer is on drums and of course he and Tobias have a connection, and I don't have to remind you of the great stuff with that KISS Eric and I have accomplished in the studio.

So, obviously, I can't wait for you all to hear this song! And definitely visit Tobias' website!

 

- Day 32 -


Finally got some lead guitar work done on the song that Nick Simmons sang. Guitar solo's need to be added later on when getting a tune finished. This way you compliment the vocals in a better fashion. Knowing this track had Nick made me think of some different guitars. I brought out the KISS army in a way... my old LP JR from Revenge tour and the COS disc, my white ESP that is featured on Revenge and KISSOLOGY III, my ESP Signature Prototype guitar that is on COS and the UNION CD's, and my 1979 Ibanez PS 10 Paul Stanley Iceman model that I haven't had a chance to record with.


Jeremy and I set up some pedals and auditioned the various guitars. BTW, I broke out the old MXR distortion plus from REVENGE! The wah was my GEEK modified Hendrix pedal, and plugged into my old Marshall head. All of them sounded awesome (though the strings on a few were really bad!), but Jeremy really loved the neck pickup sound of the PS10. I agreed, and within about 30 minutes the solo was born. Then I added some cool riffs at the end of the song as well.

I really was excited about playing the Iceman. I have owned if for two years, and now it finally has a voice on my BK 3 disc. We spent the rest of the night reviewing the songs, and looking at some of the songs lyrics and vocals needed. Doing an "overview" is valuable. I know I want to drop one, and come up with an instrumental. Guess I better get to work!

 

- Day 31 -


Very proud to let you all know that Nick, Gene's talented son, wrote some killer lyrics for a track that needed something special. Last night he sang in a studio in Burbank Ca, as he is on a short fall break from college. Jeremy and I were thrilled with his tone and passion, and wait till you all hear his unique voice. Will you be surprised he is Gene's son? Not really, you can hear some of the Demon's dark undertones in his voice. But his take on singing comes from a much bluesier place than you could guess from a 19 year old. Nick loves some serious blues singers like Skip James and artists that came from the deep south.

This makes his approach very unique, and as he keeps developing his musicianship, I feel he his potential is huge. He has teased Jeremy and I with some of the songs he is working on, and they are excellent and sound like no one I have heard. Having his style on a song that could best be described as being a slinky hard rock track that could of been on some of my later KISS discs, or one of the two UNION CD's, made a good track come alive. So the big question of could Nick deliver, has been answered in spades. I can't wait for you all to hear the results.

I will be recording my solos for this song very soon. "Hand of the King" is the title, based on some imagery that Nick has had in his head for quite a while he explained to me last night. Keep watching for more BK 3 posts soon! And of course, a special thanks to Nick Simmons and his friend Justin (who plays in Nick's band), for a productive evening of making great music.

 

- Day 30 -


WOW! Finally two days in a row in the studio. Happy to make some progress, and Jeremy and I knew we had more guitars to do for the song Gene co-wrote and sings. I promise this tune will blow you away! We added a different rhythm guitar much like what Paul and I did for Revenge guitar tracks.

It wasn't that easy to know exactly what to do, but I plugged into my Orange Tiny Terror with my new PRS SC 245 which is very much like an old LP. Used a wah moded by the Geek, and added the Creative Labs, boost, and really nothing else. Straight in with the Marshall cab. We had a real vintage guitar track, alternating the wah use. Really brought the rhythm guitars to life. So one side is my old LP from Henson recording session and the other side will be this guitar.

Next was a special part that comes up a few times in the song. I switched to my new ESP Vintage Plus Strat and wanted a Hendrix vibe. Pulled out a funky digital delay pedal, and a BOSS Distortion pedal as well... fooled around and got a trippy sound. Still in the Orange amp. We also plugged the guitar DIRECT to the console and distorted the track in a way I watched Bob Ezrin do... called the CANADIAN method by some, which is basically cranking the gain on a Teletronix LA2A compressor/limiter, to the max, and you get some VERY interesting distortion.

So the combination of those two sounds made the part great. Did a rough mix, and I was VERY pleased with the work. Can't wait to do some more work on that song... we will be adding some strings in the bridge for some extra texture. More next week!

 

- Day 29 -


Back in the studio to work on a bass track for BK 3 with a brand new ESP Vintage P4 bass in creme! This axe is awesome! Even dragged my little Fender home bass amp in the studio to see what could happen, and it rocked. So, progress is being made. More updates soon.

 

- Day 28 -


Back in the studio again for BK3. Did a short bass session for the "Ain't Gonna Die" song (with Gene Simmons) one night last week. Jeremy played the AXE bass we borrowed from Gene. Massive sound from that guitar! Last night I got a chance to record some guitars at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys. Did some leads for the same song. I went for a melodic nasty tone, which will remind you all of Revenge era KISS. Used my Gold Peavey Wolfgang and my Red ESP Vintage Plus.

Had some cool pedals set up, including some from this company called GeekMacDaddy. Go visit the site. The creator Jeff has some great sounding pedals. Vox AC 30 and my Marshall was in full tilt mode, along with some nifty slide parts on the Wolfgang.

We got some great background vocals done as well for the song. I really can't wait for everyone to hear this song. So of course I am happy to be making progress on BK3. My goal is to finish recording by the holidays. So I can then release early 2009. I plan to make some more music next week and will get you all a full report.

 

- Day 27 -


You all know that I have hinted at guests appearing on my BK 3 Solo disc. Well I couldn't be any happier with the news of Gene Simmons contributing a co-write and singing on the new song called "Ain't Gonna Die". This past Saturday Gene, Jeremy and I recorded at Henson Recording Studios, (the old A&M) in Hollywood, CA. Gene invited his Family Jewels show down to capture some of the tracking. Gene's son Nick was there as well. The way they kid with each other is priceless!

Brent Fitz from UNION and currently on tour with Econoline Crush was on drums. Gene really pushed him to play loose and wild, and that made the track very exciting. I played guitar of course, and Jeremy rounded out the session on bass, but not any bass, a Gene Simmons AXE bass! Very cool of Gene to bring it down, as those are quite rare. Our engineer for this session was Kevin Churko who has worked with the famous producer Mutt Lange for years now, and currently is recording Ozzy Osbourne. He did Ozzy's last CD called Black Rain.

Read Gene's story on his site, as things did go quickly even though we first discussed doing a song last year. Due to our hectic schedules, last year wasn't gonna happen. But you all know I am a patient man. And it was of course well worth waiting! This new song exceeded my expectations: very GENE and very REVENGE in style, which I love. Happy to announce that Nick will go into the studio for some vocals on my disc as well. Nick is a natural and his voice is great.

So, a very productive day! I am looking forward to completing the guitar work on the new song, and also getting Nick recorded. More news as it develops!

 

- Day 26 -


Another day in the studio booked to do vocals. Like my work last week, Jeremy had me working to make my voice as confident and soulful as my guitar. We chose the song "Life". It is very Beatles like in its structure, and I did have some George Harrison vibes in mind, but that is just a goal to reach. I always strive to reach what I imagine in my mind, and that is a good ideal to work on attaining. But getting it done is the hard work involved in making it great. I left that day with what I felt were strong verses, but other parts of the vocals were not up to that level. I won't let it discourage me, it'll just make me work harder on singing great.

People who work with me know I am a bit of a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault. But what Jeremy feels most importantly about my singing is to get a strong vibe going, as good as the tone he feels I have in my voice. So the learning curve continues but it is improving each time. So many other things going on right now in my career, I am not sure if I can get in the studio this coming week. More news will come for sure. By the way, I am not really a microphone geek, but the one I was singing on, is quite a cool mic. Anyone know the model? Email me if you know!





 

- Day 25 -


Well after nearly 4 months of not being able to schedule recording on BK3, I finally jumped back in. (Between traveling to Brazil, Mexico, Japan and all over the US was hard to book!) So day one was well... it was like diving in a very deep pool. I didn't really sleep very well the night before. My brain was in over thinking mode! You know when you dream things like your cell phone won't work, or why am I missing my pants!? Frustration dreams. The biggest challenge for me with my solo discs are always vocals. So since almost ALL the guitars and bass are done, it was finally time to take that step.

Jeremy produced me excellently and before we started, he talked to me about what he always felt worked and what didn't about my voice. It was incredibly informative for me to understand better how to take command of my voice the way I can with my guitar. He has worked with so many different singers, and I know his take and approach is methodical and intense, but always with the goal of getting the best performance from the artist. I was a good pupil, and he made me sing in a way I have never heard before.

So, a very successful vocal day. I am not going to fear the next sessions as much. I still plan on some exciting guest singers on my disc as well. But most important right now is for me to make some progress with the vocals. Can't wait for you all to hear the new music. But all good things come with patience. I will keep you all posted soon!

 

- Day 24 -


Well day 24 started with us getting a bass guitar track done for a song named "Bigger Than You". We plugged in all the basses (Fenders at least) and the RI Precision Bass custom that belongs to Jeremy turned out to have the proper growl for the track. Jeremy cranked the system, and even put the subwoofer on for my backing tracks, and it made me lock into the song quickly. "Bigger" is quite UNION "Blue Room" like, and I definitely wanted a slinky vibe to the bass parts. We were done quickly and that felt good to accomplish the bass part without needing to over-think the process. Sansamp PSA-1 was used as the amplifier for the track.

Next up was to add some clean guitar part on the song with the working title "Dream". I used a RI 56 Gibson LP Goldtop with P90 pickups. I played this guitar on the demo and loved the tone, so we fired up a Fender Black Deluxe amplifier and added a chorus pedal for vibe. An old Ibanez chorus pedal was used. I was looking at a Sears pedal that I had with Phasing, but it didn't work. Have to get that one working.... such a cool looking pedal! Very vintage.

Last was just getting the song "Life" put together. We had many tracks from Jimmy Haslip, who I talked about a few blogs ago. We got a great comp of his playing and made a sweet ruff mix of the song. Can't wait for everyone to hear the material. Keep tuned for more updates.

 

- Day 23 -


Back to basses by me and Jeremy. We looked at the song called "Love And Desire" that needed a smokey bass sound, and it took some time to decide if it was the Hofner Beatles bass or something else. Turned out the 1971 Jazz bass was the winner. We dialed in a great tone, and I dug in. The bass needed a quick change of strings, and intonation courtesy of Randy who came by the studio. I really got inspired by the sound, and the performance was finally that "smokey tone" we were searching for. Can't wait for everyone to hear it.

Next up was Jeremy on "If I Could Show You." Jeremy worked the bass on the demo, so he really knew what to do. Once again the Jazz bass won and, after a few amp tweaks on the Tech 21 PSA 1, Jeremy gave a spirited performance on a very sweet love song. So, two basses in one day doesn't seem like a lot, but we really want every note to be great, and we only work 6 hours anyway! I haven't had an 8-10 hour day since the drum sessions with Brent.

More Bass stories coming, and the progress is VERY strong for the disc. Still don't know when I will be really finished, but the music is coming out the way I hoped. A real show of growth and quality from my previous discs. THANKS for reading my progress reports!

 

- Day 22 -


I had a visit from an old friend for Day 22. Jimmy Haslip is an amazing successful bass player who was in Blackjack years ago with Michael Bolton. He went on to form a fusion band called "Yellowjackets", which is a Grammy Award winning group. We have some mutual friends in the business, and I had stayed in touch with him, so he could come play on my CD. I chose the song "Life" cause it needed a very fluid bass line. It was actually quite different for Jimmy to play on, as he is such an improviser, but he played with a command of the bass that is out reach for Jeremy or myself.

First we started talking about everything current, like Grand Funk (he knows the singer Max VERY well) and then we moved onto KISS. Well, HERE is some KISS news I did NOT know! Creatures of the Night had many session guys, which I knew, but I did not know Jimmy played bass on three songs! He definitely remembered "Danger" as one title. Jeremy was freaking out, and I was shocked to think it was my ex Blackjack bass player from '79 playing with KISS a few years later! Gene didn't mind, and Michael James Jackson, the producer of that great disc, brought Jimmy in one night LATE in an LA studio. So that is so cool to hear the stories.

Us hanging out and playing around with what bass to use, etc., the day flew by and we only got to work on that song. Jimmy brought a few of his basses, but we really wanted him to play on the Fender P bass from 66 that is so awesome. He didn't mind, as his axes were all 5 and 6 string basses and the song "Life" is so Beatles like it didn't seem right to have that kind of bass on it. Now, Jimmy plays UPSIDE DOWN! So when he plays my bass, which is for a right handed person, he turns it upside down and plays LEFTY on it! Always freaky to me, but he is a natural.

Once we were done with the track, we said our good-byes and realized it had been WAY too long since we got a chance to hang out and do music. Hope to see him again. Thank you Jimmy for coming in and jamming on BK3. And your KISS story was perfect to hear.

There is a list of the names of bands and artists Jimmy has worked with you can check out on the website for "Yellowjackets".

 

- Day 21 -


Finally a BASS day! I love jamming on Bass and between Jeremy and I we seem to be a good team. Sometimes I will play the entire song, but sometimes as we have learned on working with Missi St Thomas, he has a great feel for the chorus, but I will play the verse better! Strange of course but it works so matter whatever it takes for the song to be great.



First up was "And I Know" which we knew would be fun to start with. We pulled out each bass not sure what would work. We had a 66 Fender P Bass, 65 Jazz Bass, 71 Jazz Bass, 72 P Bass in Black, 2006 Custom Shop P Bass, Gibson EB-3 from 1967 and a Hofner Beatles bass from 1965 that my friend Peter brought for me to check out. So we were covered for sure. We used Tech 21's PSA-1 rack mount amp simulator and that dialed in quite quickly some killer tones. Of course a DI signal was recorded as well. So the 1971 Jazz Bass in Sunburst won the first round for this song. AWESOME tone.

Next track we wanted to get the bass done for was "What Did I Say". Jeremy's reissue P Bass had the right tone for this one. He played the choruses and I did the verses and bridge! Sounded killer and that track is so catchy. Can't wait for you all to hear the songs. Last but NOT least was the song "I Will Survive". This track has a real Pink Floyd/ Beatles type of vibe, and of course we wanted to get away from the Fender and try the Gibson or the Hofner. The second we plugged in the Hofner it was as if a ray of light shined down from heaven on us!

It was so huge and musical the sound of that bass! Thanks Peter! I had such fun playing that. The night before this bass day, I played that bass in my home getting used the vibe of the bass Paul McCartney made famous. This one is in great shape, and they are so different from Fender and Gibson basses. I jammed to the LOVE soundtrack CD in 5.1 and I knew that we would get some use from this bass. We all left with a huge smile and Jeremy realized what a Hofner can do! I even looked at old Beatles books to see what settings McCartney had on the bass! Sure enough. The Beatles genius had the best settings OF COURSE!

More blogs on progress coming.

 

- Day 20 -


Got back in the studio for only one day last week, as the studio was a bit busy. Important day, in the sense that Jeremy and I had to overview some songs. The heavy rocker that Eric Singer played on was revisited to see what we will do with that song. Still a work in progress. But it will be great. "Love and Desire" needed the solo put together and then add a harmony to the very end of it. Sounded amazing once we did that. I added a few licks at the end with the same Epiphone Riviera that I used on the solo from a few weeks back.

Next up for review was "I Will Survive" which I wanted to add some more heavy guitars to the bridge and the ending. We were right on track with the sound, and the Gray PRS McCarty did the job with the Marshall 900 head I keep going to. Next was a ruff mix to take home of "What Did I Say". We looked at the song "Bigger" as we haven't visited it in quite some time. We need to update the lyrics a bit, and will be working on it soon.

Last up was taking a look at the song Doug Fieger from The KNACK sang for me. That song is amazing. Thank you DOUG! So a review day, and of course the next recording day will be more PLAYING!

 

- Day 19 -


Started this session with us looking at the song "If I Could Show You". This track is a beautiful love song, and the treatment of it is very important to Jeremy and I. We revisited the acoustics and wanted the guitar to be simpler. We used the Gibson Elvis Dove that sounds HUGE. Next up was to approach the guitar work on that song like Clapton meets John Mayer. I love Eric and John Mayer is amazing as you should know so that was easy to get in that vibe for the song.

I used my fingers mostly instead of a pick for a softer intimate approach on the strings of the guitar. I used a Mexican Red Fender Strat with a maple neck that has a boost built in, called a Powerhouse Stratocaster, I found this guitar in Colorado on tour with Grand Funk. Played it through a Fender Vibro-king amp that was at George's Shut Up And Play studio. No pedals, just the bass pickup of the red stratocaster and a lot of finger plucking! We were very happy with the results and the song is finally hitting the high mark that I am striving for.

Before we ended we had a visit from my friend Peter Schink who is a film editor. (Detroit Rock City Movie for example). Everything is linked to KISS in my life it seems! But that is a good thing! He dropped off his awesome '65 Hofner Beatles Bass that I am planning on using on a few songs for BK3. More studio days coming!

 

- Day 18 -


Finally got some more guitar work done for the BK3 disc. Started off with replacing some guitar for the song "I Will Survive". I kept wondering what was missing from the track once I studied the ruff mix and I really wanted to capture the tone from a Gibson 56 Goldtop with P90's, RI that I recorded the demo with.


Hooked it up with the Marshall head I love, and picked the Captain Coconut pedal that has a great Univibe tone in it. The pedal has three sections, Fuzz Face, and Octavia sounds but the only one I used was the Univibe. The guitar sounded perfect and that swirly tone of the pedal created was the perfect vibe for the song.


We actually started the day with Jeremy playing some bitchin keys with a great Hammond B3 sound for the same song. That is the glue for the verses. I was coaching him and he played some great Jon Lord parts (Deep Purple), even though when I said it sounds like Jon Lord he wasn't really sure who I meant. I had the pleasure to meet him (Jon Lord) in the UK in May at the Fantasy Camp, so his organ playing was fresh in my mind!

I showed Jeremy a famous KISS guitar that will be featured in KISSology III, a beat up Gibson Les Paul Jr from around 1957. I didn't get a chance to feature that guitar for this song, but it was nice bringing it out and showing. Check out how beat and cool it is! Well, Joe was again relaxed at the studio and as much as we only really got to work on one tune, we really got the right parts done.

And that is what the creative process forces you to do. Get the song as close to that indescribable concept that is in your mind, can be a frustrating thing to do but creative people are always striving for it. More studio days coming!

 

- Day 17 -


So working on my BK3 disc once a week is fun, and then again a bit hard to know what needs to be done. Taking notes on all the songs regarding the progress and all is a MUST now. Listening carefully to the ruffs, and comparing the the Demos are important too, although you don't want to get crazy with having Demo-itis (feeling like the Demo is better than what you are doing new).

First up for the day was getting the solo section for the song called "Never Enough". I love this track, (the tune Doug Fieger from The Knack) and I had an idea that morning for the solos to be question and answer like. Different sounds and all communicating with each other. We started with the 53 LP and then answered with the Gibson SG 62 RI. Last riffs were an ESP telecaster for some fancy pickin riffs. The Marshall 900 head did the trick for us. I had my Maxon delay hooked up, and tried a few different delay effects on that one. I was VERY happy with the solo. This song kills. Added one more section of riffs for the end on the old Les Paul. Classic Kulick for sure.

Next up was doing adding a harmony solo line for the song "What Love's All About", and this solo is sweet. I love when there is a melody you can sing along to for a solo section. I used a red Fender Powerstrat that I used to play live with Grand Funk a few years back. Made in Mexico but it rocks. Played it through the Marshall 900 head I love so much. No pedals needed. Next up was looking at some parts for "I Will Survive". This song has so much importance to me, as it about my getting shot in 2003, and the music is very heartfelt. I love the demo so much, and I am being careful to improve without driving myself crazy. We added a heavy guitar that was missing in the bridge, of course my old Les Paul from 53. Again through the Marshall.

Last but not least was doing the solo for a song called "Love and Desire". I used to refer to it as the "Lennon" tune as it is very in his solo style. I used an Epiphone Riviera from 1967, and played it through a MXR phase 100, with the Orange Tiny Terror amp, giving me a classic British tone. I tried some riffs on the demo for this song, so that was our starting point. The solo will be one of the best on the CD for sure. I love that Epiphone. I used it on the Butchering The Beatles song "Drive My Car" with Kip Winger singing a few years back. It screams in a great way.

We did some ruffs and called it a day, as we were just over-viewing the songs as well and seeing what lies ahead for making the songs amazing. Definitely got ALOT done! More soon!

 

- Day 16 -


Had another week of travel with Grand Funk, but found time on my short stay home to do some guitar parts and do an overview of the BK3 disc. First up was my 12 String Martin D20 from 1970, which is VERY easy to play. Tuning, of course, is always hard on 12 string instruments, but we got a great sound from this Martin.

We needed a few parts on the song "I Will Survive". After we got that part done I added a high tuning part as well. Then we moved onto "Love And Desire" for some acoustic parts in the chorus. I used my Gibson Elvis Dove, which is very full sounding.

One more part needed to be done on a very UNION sounding song. No real title yet, but the working title is something with "Dream" in it! Jeremy played the part on the demo, so I handed him the guitar and I was glad to have my 1968 Gibson Southern Jumbo do the honors. He had some cool inversions that I preferred he played. After a few takes we had our acoustic done for that song.


"Dream" is a great track, lots of colors on this one. We had done the heavy guitars and solos on this one very early on, so it was great to hear it finally. The rest of the day we just did some roughs and got caught up with what I need to do next time I record. Joe had fun, as always, resting to the music!

Keep watching for more studio blogs coming up!

 

- Day 15 -


After NOT being the studio for almost a month because of Grand Funk shows all across America, it was time to get one day in while I was back in LA to get some progress on BK3. Not even knowing where to begin, we picked up where we left off. Some acoustics still needed to be done, and one song called "I Will Survive", which deals with my thoughts after being shot back in Oct. 2003, needed acoustics and electric guitars done.

I used first my Martin D18 which sounded cool, and then for a double, since I just picked up a Jazz box (a 1958 Gibson ES 175), Jeremy and I thought we can just mike it and see how that sounded. We didn't need to plug this Sunburst beauty in, it sounded STELLAR just like that. Done with the acoustic guitars, we moved on to electrics.


First up was a '56 Gibson LP Goldtop with P90 pickups that are super sweet. We plugged in a type of rotovibe pedal that was at the studio and we got a sweet swirly tone, plugged into a Fender Blackface Deluxe that was at George's studio. We then needed the other guitar part, for which we used the Boss CH2 chorus pedal and the Creative Labs boost pedal with another new guitar.

I found a nice Fender Made in Japan Stratocaster that is two tone and vintage looking, but with a Rosewood neck. Should be maple, but I love the neck on this guitar. VERY Straty tone, and we had our second part with some little lead guitars thrown in throughout the tune. It was a hot day in LA so we ended a bit early, as it was a good time to run a rough off of a few songs so I can enjoy them during my travels.

More when I get to record next week! ENJOY the PIX!

 

- Days 13 & 14 -


Day 13 started off with some extra guitars for the song called "Life". I realized we missed some things from the demo, so we jumped in with my Gibson SG from 1965 and added some more guitar lines in the B sections. Jeremy worked up an idea on my ES 330. This song has really come along and it is very special in guitar textures. We didn't get too crazy with pedals but did have fun checking out the new Duncan designed LAVA BOX.

We moved onto getting some more parts done for "If I Could Show You", and then "What Love's All About". We wanted to work on a song called "I Will Survive" but we realized Jeremy needed to work a bit on the drum track before we would overdub on that song. I might keep some of the demo guitars on that track as well. We decided the guitar solo on "Life" would come from the demo cause it was just so perfect for the song.

It was a short day, but we were happy how the songs have progressed. Sadly I realized my Red VOX AC 30 needs repair, so hopefully when I get back from the road it will have been serviced. It sounded more than sick! So the ORANGE Tiny Terror gave us the vintage Vox like tones we were looking for.

Day 14 was the acoustic day we were waiting for. Sadly our hard drive was acting up so we wisely took a break, double checked our back ups, and then even had a visit to the APPLE store to get another drive to back up too! So that took up 3 hours, but I relaxed and changed some strings to get ready to record with the acoustics. We jumped first into "Life" and I knew the Martin would be a good choice. It has that 70's sound that is perfect for this song. We played it down about 4 times. I don't mind playing that guitar at all. I found it in Colorado during a Grand Funk show near Estes Park. Had some work done on it and it plays like a dream.

Next up was "If I Could Show You" and we used the Elvis Gibson Dove for that tune. I love that guitar as well, and my brother has borrowed it many times to record with. I think it is on Thomas's new disc as well. For "What Love's All About" we switched to the Custom Dove and that guitar is just HUGE in tone. Also on Thomas's disc of course. Jeremy bought that acoustic on Ebay and it is an amazing guitar. We did some acoustic work for one more tune, "What Did I Say" and then we knew it was getting late. So even though we started off in computer hell, we solved that problem and got some great acoustic tones.

I am back on the road with Grand Funk, so it will be a while till the next studio blog, but I am patient. For the good things in life you always have to be patient!

 

- Day 12 -


First up was for Day 12 of BK3 was working on a song that is really special to me called "Life". The ending of "Life" has a great celebration that will really be exciting once everything is overdubbed, but now it was time for just some simple rhythm parts. I got my trusty 1961 Gibson ES 330 in cherry red ready for the song, as it is already on the demo for the song. We didn't get it going quite right, so Jeremy and I switched to my Reissue Gibson Les Paul Special in faded cherry for the rhythm part. It was played through the Marshall Vintage Modern head that I just got from the good people at Marshall Amplification. Jeremy and I plugged in a vintage Electro Harmonix Memory Man pedal for some nice chorus effect with the guitar.

The B sec parts needed some sweet Beatles sounds, and the choice was an extra sweet 1965 SG Standard and my ESP Telecaster copy. Doubled the lines with those two guitars and it really lifted the song. We plugged in a Vox AC 30 for that for a sure Beatles tone. We knew there was more work to be done on this song, but that would be next week.

We finished off the day with some guitars on the song called "If I Could Show You". This song already has a sweet piano track on it that Jeremy played after we cut the drums for it back in December! We wanted to use some interesting sounds, so Jeremy tortured me with his Double Neck SG for the 12 string sound that would work well. See how happy I am holding it! We went through the VOX AC 30 for that guitar. Some more rhythm parts were done with the ES 345 as well before the day was over.

All in all, making great progress. Can't wait till next week to get these songs finished.

 

- Day 11 -


After a great day with Doug Fieger from The Knack singing on my disc, it was time for guitars again. But first Thomas Ian Nicolas, the actor who has been working on a CD that I have played and co-wrote songs on, needed some finishing touches on the last song to be cut. (Check out his myspace page). Of course as I had all my stuff ready to go, we did the session at "Shut Up And Play". I plugged in my vintage tube echoplex and my Gibson ES 330 and we got some great sounds right away with the new Marshall Vintage Modern head that Marshall got me for the BK3 sessions. THANK YOU MARSHALL AMPLIFICATION!

First we thought the solo lines should be with a slide, but we lost that after we knew what the best parts were. Jeremy and I collaborated on a theme type solo for the song. After we nailed those parts, we plugged in a my ESP Tele for some rhythm parts and in about an hour we were done. Nice chorus sound we got with the BOSS CH-1. Brian Virtue, who has done some engineering for my disc and will mix my music, was engineering and co-producing along with Jeremy for Thomas's disc. Here is the pix after the work was done. Thomas's disc will be mastered about a week from now. So I will get you all news on his work when it is ready. I am really proud of him, and excited I have co-writes along with the session work on his new disc.

I jumped into a song called "What Love's About". This has many textures to capture guitar wise, and first up was working on the main rhythm parts. We chose the Gibson ES 345 and it really had a good tone for the tune. Played through the Vintage Modern Marshall amp. Some picking parts were done on the ESP Telecaster with a Boss Chorus pedal and my Creative labs boost pedal. The bridge needed some different textures and we stated with a Fender Powerhouse Strat, with a MXR phasor on it for some added color.

The breakdown guitars, which never sounded right on the demo, got perfect with my McCarty PRS and the ESP Telecaster. The Orange Tiny Terror was the right head for that sound. We still have solos to do on this song, but as it was only a half day because of doing some recording with Thomas we called it a day. We are getting the best tones and I am so excited about the progress made so far. More recording tomorrow, as I have more work to do! Oh yes, Joe the Audiodog was happy to be along for the session!


 

- Day 10 -


Well, a short day but an exciting one for my new disc. As I have mentioned before, I am approaching this disc a bit differently and I am planning on having some special guests. Well at the Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp a few years back I worked with Doug Fieger who is the singer of The Knack. You all know "My Sharona" of course, what an amazing song, and my friendship with Doug led me to ask him to sing one of my songs for the new BK3 disc. He was excited about it, and after a meeting at his house to listen to the demo, he said a big YES.

The song is called "It's Never Enough" about a woman who is not aware she could have it all, but instead is just difficult with everyone, and just caught up with herself. So a kind of love song, but a frustrating one. Doug sang it yesterday in only an hour as he is quick at the mic, and we took a few pix before he took off. He still performs with The Knack and will be touring in August in Australia. I was glad to grab him as our schedules always were hard to coordinate.

Doug has an amazing guitar collection, and his guitars will be featured in an article in Vintage Guitar Magazine soon. I hooked him up with them, as not everyone knows who the guitar freaks are!

So I am so excited to have that done, and of course there are lots of backgrounds to be done on that particular song, and the solo and arrangement are not quite done, but the main guitars really rock. And now it has a very special vibe going on it, as Doug's voice is so cool and recognizable!

More work will done this week, so be sure to check the next day's work on BK3!

 

- Day 9 -


We picked up where I left off on that song "What Did I Say" by finishing off some harmony lines and then doubling the main riff. The hardest part was finding the right guitar for the job. We settled on the ES 345 SV, which stands for Stereo Varitone. I have a special cable to make it mono. We didn't get fancy with it; it was the proper guitar for the double of the Les Paul. Next up were some harmony lines and we chose the SG Reissue from Gibson, that really has it own ripping sound. We switched to the Marshall set up for that.

Jeremy, who was really pushing me to do the solo, got his wish. I am always so reluctant to do them to be honest. I remembered the solo on the demo, although not by heart. I figured it out pretty quickly and the Marshall and the Boss SD 1 with an analog delay pedal did the trick for the big guitar sound. Guitar wise, I was very happy to say it was the Gibson 58 Reissue that I just got a few days ago. It really had an amazing sound, and I am proud to have it in my guitar arsenal.

We did some harmony parts to the solo at the end with the '53 Les Paul. It was exciting to hear all the lines in that song done. When you all hear the music you will see what I mean. Jeremy and I really worked hard on making these lines a real lift in the tune. And his symphonic brain came up with some unusual harmonies, which I always love to capture and interpret for him. That is what a good producer does.

The sun setting gave me a chance to get this pic with Joe in my car. He really is enjoying the studio and that is a relief for me. I hate when he is uncomfortable, but remember he is the one and only AUDIODOG!



 

- Day 8 -


Well after nearly two weeks on the road ALL over the US it was time to do some recording again for BK3. Back to "Shut Up And Play" in the valley, and it was ready for a song referred to as The London Song. NOT the final title, but when I wrote it the tune had an image in my mind of people singing it in the streets of the UK! Really called "What Did I Say", at least for now.

My buddy from Guitar Center contacted me last week about a Les Paul he thought I would like. Yes, I have too many, but I was not really happy about one I got in the spring for a few reasons. So here was this amazing 58 RI Les Paul Standard, from 2001. Nice custom shop Gibson, very cool top, HUGE neck, and I mean HUGE, but as soon as my buddy Ron showed it to me, I knew this was gonna be good in the studio for sure! I was SO right. It behaved like a champ and the first track was done with this beauty, through the Soldano amp.

Problem was the track we were overdubbing had some issues... the demo bass was missing, and some of the reference guitars were bounced together as Jeremy and I changed the tempo on the song half way through recording the demo. So I had to lay down another reference bass to be sure the track was coming together. We got that done, and then it was time for a sweet Telecaster sound. My trusty old ESP in Burgundy Mist, which I have had forever and has been on many KISS tracks as well, for textures, came out of the case and did the job perfectly. We used my new amp, the ORANGE Tiny Terror. We ticked it a bit by putting a Creation Audio MK.4.23 line boost pedal before the amp, and thanks to the MK AUDIO company for hooking me up with this great device last October at the Arlington Guitar show. Made the Tiny Terror really nice in tone.

We jumped back to the rhythm track and did the Les Paul again to make it perfect now that the bass and ESP tele were done right. We had a picking part to capture which we used some old Ibanez Phase pedal and a BOSS CH-1. Good tone from that combination. Went back to the rhythm part and had a double with the PRS Silver McCarty axe through the big Marshall from the REVENGE days. Great sound now that we had the two big rhythms recorded.


Next was the catchy lines that are kind of like "God Gave Rock N Roll To You". Those were really worked out back when we did the demo. Took some time getting them figured out again as it was so long ago! But first I used my '53 Les Paul Standard through our friend Randy's AC 3O VOX amp. RIght combination. Used the line boost again too! Did the harmony guitar with my other 58 RI Les Paul Standard. This one is Black, and got that at the Arlington Show. Made in 1997. Then we called it a day, as we got the majority of the work done. Will pick up the the third guitar part tomorrow, and may get into some acoustics for the song. More soon!

PS - Joe had a good time again!

 

- Day 7 -


Back to the studio after a great weekend with GFR in Atlanta, and the clinic of course, and then a KISS Expo in St Louis, MO. I only could do one day so it was back to "Shut Up And Play" in the valley. I decided to get the guitars done for a song I call "Lennon", as in a John Lennon sort of way, but the real title is "Can We Just Wait" (at least for now!). Very haunting slow tune, with cool chords that are musical to say the least. Had to capture the best tone for the bed guitars and, after trying a few out for at least an hour, Jeremy and I chose the red ES 330 from 1961 that we love so much. It will be on more of this CD as it has such a great tone.

I brought my ancient EchoPlex, made by Maestro, and it is an old tube one. Got it when KISS was doing Revenge, as a studio called AMIGO was going out of business and they had a fire sale. Great find, as it is such a cool sound. Tubes make things warm and fuzzy we say, and it just gave that track a great tone. We plugged into my '66 Fender Bassman head, and used my trusty Marshall 4 X 12 cabinet.

Next was a 12-string sound, and Jeremy owns a sweet double neck Gibson like Jimmy Page's. I made him tune it, as I hate the 12 strings. Six is hard enough! We put a slight Leslie pedal effect on it, with a Korg G4. Really nice tone. Same amp as track one. Then came a double and some chorus chords to beef that up. I forgot my ESP Tele, as I accidentally took an ESP strat, (case looked the same!) and I know I wanted that Tele sound so the studio owners partner Randy had a nice blue Tele, that did the job very well.

We put an old Ibanez Phasor on that track and added the Echoplex again for the tone it gives. Once that was done, I did an exact double of the ES 330 track with the tele having a little crunch from my Orange amp, the Tiny Terror. Then I added some sweet Harrison Tele riffs for the last chorus. Not a long day, but we got the job done, after a stressful hour of tuning and getting the right track first. That is always hard to begin with a "naked" track. So far the drums from Brent are sounding great.

On the road again, so look for more studio blogs when I return.

 

- Days 5 & 6 -


Well it was time again to get going with the guitars on my BK3 disc. This time Jeremy my co-producer co-writer and I went to "Shut Up And Play" a nice homey place in the Valley owned by a very sweet guy George. I brought some nice guitars, ones I never tour with of course, my new ORANGE amp called the "Tiny Terror" which is great for certain sounds, and of course the Marshall 900 head I have been telling you all about which is just amazing in tone and vibe. We had a Soldano there for some extra crunch sounds when needed. Also pulled into the studio one of my Marshall 4 X 12 cabs which hasn't seen a gig since the UNION days! But it is loaded with Vintage 30 Celestions which are my favorite.

We jumped in were we left off with the tune that I think is one my strongest. (Not real title for that one yet, but I have some surprises in store for that track). We just needed to add one more guitar to that, and then we moved on to one called "And I Know". This song is very catchy and has a great guitar riff. We even worked on the solo for the song. I recorded some tracks with a cool PRS McCarty that I used once with Grand Funk, and Jeremy was quite impressed. It is a rare silver gray color. My main "go to" guitars are still my signature ESP BK model prototype, and my old conversion 1953 Les Paul Standard.

Jeremy's cousin, Vince, who is a fine guitarist at 16, played roadie for me and that is always nice having someone grab the various guitars. He was learning though watching me work! I pulled out the Gibson ES 330 from 61 in cherry red that is so Beatles like in tone. And a RI 56 LP Goldtop that is just killer in cause of its soap bar pick ups, came into play as well. One more great axe is my Custom shop '58 RI LP standard that I got at the Arlington show last year. Very cool tone. It has a rare black finish from '95. Also making an appearance is the BC Rich from the cover of Carnival of Souls KISS CD. Made in 1984 the Eagle Supreme is made of Koa. Nice guitar that was used on KISS's "Jungle" track. So between the guitars and amps, we got all the tones we needed.

Second day was HOT in the Valley, but it was time to work again and Joe was along for the ride as well. At one point he just sat in my arms while I did some guitar riffs! He really is a crazy dog, but what can I say, he is MY DOG. Glad he doesn't mind the volume sometimes. We concentrated on two heavy UNIONish sounding tracks that I am expecting John Corabi to sing on and finish writing with Jeremy and I. These are great catchy heavy tunes, and my new disc is very varied in styles as usual, but these two could have been on the BLUE ROOM from UNION. Brent is on all these tracks too.

So two solid days of guitars, pulled out some cool pedals, vintage VOX one I borrowed from Randy, George's friend, a nice KING VOX Wah Wah that rips your head off, and a crazy overdrive pedal that has a brand name of LOCO. Hmmm... means crazy in Spanish right? Thank you George for your help and kindness at your studio. And your cooking rocks! Also thanks Vince and Randy for your help.

More next week as I keep making progress on BK3!

 

- Day 4 -


Well... back to work on BK3!! Finally have some time to get recording again. As you may know I did drums back in December and January. Brent Fitz (Union/Vince Neil/ Theory of a Deadman/Alice Cooper/etc) did 10 tracks in December and then Eric Singer came in with his crazy schedule to do one song for me in January. Sadly I have not done any more work since. Touring Brazil and Argentina, counseling at the UK Fantasy Camp, and Grand Funk shows now in full swing have made it hard to find time to book a session, but I hope to get a day or two a week now that I am home. Well it was finally one of those days that I could book, and all I can say is AWESOME! Got Brian Virtue (Audioslave/Korn) to engineer this session and that is great as his schedule is tight. We worked at his studio were I have recorded for Thomas Ian Nicolas before.

Big guitars were laid down on a song I call "Rocker" which, when you hear it, will melt your ears. That is the track Eric Singer played on. Just put a few rhythms down, and then added a third tasty riff guitar. Started with my ESP signature prototype neck thru guitar, and then doubled with a 58 RI Gibson Les Paul. Added some tasty riffs on my vintage 53 conversion Les Paul Standard. Jeremy Rubolino (my co-writer and co-producer) agreed that the solo on the demo for this track may have to be a keeper. He played it for me and even Brian agreed that I nailed something special and we can work with it. I was hoping some of the hard work Jeremy and I did on the demos can be used for the final product.

Bass guitar on the "Rocker" tune was shared on the demo by Jeremy and I so we did the same in studio, as he has a good vibe for the verses and I seem to nail the chorus feel the best. Nice distorted bass sound was used. Brian is great at using anything and everything to make things sound huge. I used my cool Marshall head that was the first prototype of the popular 900 series for the rhythm tracks. Much warmer sound then you would expect, but I have done lots of recording with this particular head. Brian has a Bogner that we used for some of the overdubs, and even used it to get the gain for the bass sound. Rip your head off to hear this 1966 Fender Precision bass so powerful. But we were going for a huge Simmons sound if I do admit.

Next up was a very catchy rocker, that sadly doesn't have a title yet. I have some special ideas for it, but today it was getting great sounds out of my ESP signature model for the main track, and then for the verses I added Boss Chorus CE 2 pedal I picked up in Austin, Texas a few weeks back during my Grand Funk trip. Known for its sweet chorus sounds, this sound and part was harder to perfect, but we nailed it in about 20 minutes.

We loved that chorused sound so much Jeremy had an idea for a another clean part, so I just handed him the guitar. He looked shocked, as he wasn't really believing I wanted him to play it for real. But you know instead of him teaching me the part, it was better to produce him doing it. We worked it out and it was a nice icing on the cake for the track. We never got to replace the demo bass, but we will pick up on that one next week. Very excited about how good it sounded. I haven't heard Brent's drum performance in quite a while on this song, and he rocked it great. Eric's performance on the "Rocker" is classic Singer riffing on the drums, to say the least. Glad I don't have to listen to the drum programs anymore from the songs.

So Day 4 was VERY productive and I want to thank Brian Virtue and Jeremy Rubolino for a great day. Also the yummy Thai restaurant that delivered our meal. Great start to the recording of the guitars on my new BK3 disc.

More as I go along. Can't wait to get back to work on it.

 

- Day 3 -


Sorry it has been a while, but with my trip to South America and then the holidays, it has been a while since I got into the studio for recording my new solo disc BK 3. Here are pix from last Saturday, January 6th, when I finally was able to have my close friend and ESP (the band) partner Eric Singer cut drums for a great heavy song. I saved this one for Eric, and when you hear it you will all understand. Right now the title is just ROCKER as it has the classic rock vibe from my days with KISS.

Eric had some ideas for extending the ending when I first played it for him a while back. He really got comfortable, breaking some sticks from hitting hard, sweating it out, and just overall giving the track a great feel. Like Brent Fitz back in early December, he played along with the Pro Tools Demo session for the song. Jeremy Rubolino, my co-producer and co-writer, was quite happy and of course can't wait to cut the real guitars and bass on this track, as Eric did a perfect job of getting the vibe we wanted.

To complete the fun that day, I just got an original 1979 Paul Stanley IBANEZ guitar in great shape. I had to show it off to everyone, and I know I will record with this guitar. Can't wait to show to Paul, as he is the authority on his signature model. This one shows the age, but is in excellent shape. My good friend Ken Gullic who works for FONTANA, the distribution company that is putting out the KISSOLOGY DVD's, came to give out some goodies to Eric and my brother Bob, and of course check out the music and the surprise of the guitar being at the session. We had a great afternoon; even Joe came down and posed in the guitar case!

Thanks to Brett Chassen for his engineering, my brother Bob for his studio time at his Office Studios in Van Nuys, and of course to Eric for his time and talent. Jeremy and I were really excited to do this session and all came out amazing. Thanks to my buddy Ed Seelig from Silver String Music in St. Louis for the great deal on the Paul Stanley guitar.

More when I get back in the studio. Looks like the very top of February as I have some things coming up schedule wise. (NAMM, etc.) One more thing, thanks for all the CD title names. So far I haven't seen the right one (but keep sending suggestions!), so for now the working title is sticking. For now... BK 3!

 

- Day 2 -


EXHAUSTING doing 10 drum tracks in two days but that is what we accomplished. Brent Fitz is not only a great drummer but he is very persistent in getting the best performance possible. We got a good start at 12:30 with him warming up and my dog Joe who is NOT a fan of loud drum hits, certainly had his ears up in the air. But Joe is a trooper as well, and he hung in for the 12 hours digging the music like the rest of us.

We finished a tune I refer to as "Zandertune", as I would love Robin Zander from Cheap Trick to sing it. Might be the catchiest of the batch actually. Brent nailed that one quickly. We moved onto another UNION-ish tune called "Bigger Than You" and the power that I enjoyed from Brent's UNION CD drum tracks were accomplished if not eclipsed.

I have a great love tune called "If I Could Show You" that I wrote this past August. Brent got a groove for that one quickly and I was so happy to hear that song finally being formed with the tracks on the Pro Tool session. Next up was a song we needed to revisit from Sunday called "That's What Loves All About". Things didn't sound right until we revisited the demo and that helped us nail the drum direction quickly. Demo-itis has it uses sometimes!

Now it was time for dinner and to change up the drum kit. I wanted a more Beatles sound, and here is where Brian Virtue my engineer whiz kid dialed up something amazing. Blankets were pulled out and placed on toms, and the snare got miked differently and the cymbals were carefully recorded and I was just blown away at the clarity. Once Brent heard what the new kit sounded like, he got into Beatles mode for the last two songs.

"Life" is my take on what our lives are all about in a reflective way, and the groove was perfect. That track is unique for me and Brent's touch was wonderful. Last but not least is a track I refer to as "Lennon" as I can just think of John singing and writing this song about love and the big issues involved. The title is really "Love and Desire". We were done in time for Jeremy to lay down a piano track on "If I Could Show You" and one more from Sunday's session. Amazing to get it all done in two days. Very happy about this!

The people at Stagg Street Sound were great to everyone, and as long as the days were, we all had a great attitude and we all got the job done right. I want to thank Melody, Gary and Dave from the studio and of course Brent, Brian and Jeremy for the hard work. Of course Joe proved to be the true AUDIODOG and hung in there for me on those long days... so thanks Joe! Also a special thanks to Eric Singer for the many drums used by Brent.

More exciting news about everything coming soon. Not sure when I will have the next session but watch my site for more BK-3 news!

THANKS!

 

- Day 1 -


GREAT to finally start with my new solo disc! After writing songs since the end of 2003, I have officially started the recording on my third CD, which for now I will just refer to as BK 3. More on the title later.

Brent Fitz, straight off the road from a Theory of a Deadman tour, drove from Vegas to LA on Saturday night. Since his drums did not clear customs yet we asked Eric Singer if we could grab some drums for the session. Very cool of Eric to help out with some of his gear for the recording and I will be doing some tracks with Eric later in the month.

We started early on Sunday getting things set up and fine tuning the drums. Brian Virtue is my engineering wiz that I have been working with lately, and of course my co-producer Jeremy Rubolino was there, and they were getting amazing drum tones from the kit. Brent was a trooper, working hard as it took about 4 hours to get the tones right, and then we plowed into cutting drum tracks. We only needed him to play along with the Pro Tool sessions as Jeremy and I did very developed demos for the songs.

By dinner break we had two and we only hoped to get 4 in our first day. We stopped with a song I wrote about my shooting incident from 2003, called "I Will Survive". We got "And I Know" done first, and then we did a song called "What Did I Say". Next was a song that only has a working title that John Corabi will sing on the disc. So as you can tell, a very productive day.

I would like to ask my fans for suggestions for the title of my next disc. I think it would be cool if someone has a great idea, and I will make sure they get something cool in exchange for that if I use it. I have some ideas for the artwork, but it is still too soon to be sure.

More soon with more pix.

Bruce Kulick

 
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