Matthew Wilkening | Ultimate Classic Rock
The song, which you can hear below, marks the first time the couple has released an original composition together. In an exclusive interview, they talk about the challenges of combining their differing musical styles together.
Although Lisa, a longtime Kiss fan who first saw her future husband perform with the group in 1986, fronted a rock and roll band named Phantasy in high school (favorite songs to sing: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “One Way or Another”), her tastes run more toward “standards” artists such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. In fact, she spent three years performing songs like “Over the Rainbow” at one-woman cabaret shows in New York City.
Lisa explains that she was reluctant to perform in front of Bruce at first. “I hadn’t sung in years, and he kept saying, ‘I know you can sing; I’ve heard you sing!’ It took me about a year to sing for him. Since then, we just have fun in our living room. He plays and I sing along. We’ve wanted to do something together for many years.”
As it turns out, the couple’s 2014 wedding provided the spark for their first collaboration together. “She made a suggestion,” Bruce explains. “She played a song for me that Barbara Streisand used at her wedding, called ‘I Dreamed Of You.’” They decided to record their own version to use for the ceremony.
“We cut it as a trio. I played jazz guitar, because I always had an affection for that – although I obviously never really did that with Kiss. Although, the knowledge from my little bit of dabbling in jazz guitar helped me with chord inversions and doing things creatively. Like the breakdown in “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II,” there’s some jazz chords in there! Anyway, we did our first dance to that song, and we recorded it professionally and released it more as just a celebration of our wedding.”
The ceremony was also the first time “If I Could Show You” was played in public. “One night we were just listening to different songs that didn’t make the cut for [Bruce’s 2010 solo album] BK3, and I said, ‘Why didn’t you do that one?’” Lisa remembers. “He said there were already too many ballads. I told him one day I would love for you to put that on your next solo CD, or I would love to sing it sometime. So, we called on our friend Andrew London to help finish the lyrics and sing and play the song on piano. And that was the song that played as I walked into the wedding with my son.”
Eventually, the couple decided to record their own version of the track, a decision Bruce did not take lightly. “I know my wife could sing; I know she loved rock. I knew she loved Kiss. We played at the Rock and Roll Fantasy camp, we did “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and everyone was like ‘oh my God, your wife is amazing,’ that kind of thing. But entering my world with this song, that was a very serious turn of the page, and something that really needed to be handled in a bigger way. I believe in my wife, and I love her voice, but this is the first time it was going to be us, and not a homage to a standard. This is an original song.”
After initially considering recording the song acoustically, the Kulicks decided to go all-out by adding bass and drums. “The biggest struggle was putting the ingredients together, and at the same time being honest with ourselves and organic with it,” recalls Bruce. “The worst thing would have been for Lisa not to be Lisa, or for me to totally get out of her way and not to play melodically and passionately the way I like to play lead guitar.”
Lisa admits to hitting a bit of a snag while figuring out her vocal approach to the track at first. “I watch a lot of The Voice. So, I’m listening to Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson, and thinking, ‘OK this is the approach that I should probably take to please the [production] team.’ But instead Bruce said, “what are you doing?”
“That’s when I looked at her, like she went to another planet and came back with a lobotomy or something,” Bruce continues. “Wacky stuff, I don’t know what she was doing.” Lisa concludes, “I was trying to sound like one of those artists. It didn’t go over very well at first, and I wasn’t comfortable, so I sang it again – and I sang like me.”
Asked if they were nervous about the reception “If I Could Show You” might receive from Kiss fans, Lisa shares a humorous story about the couple’s acoustic performance at the 2017 Kiss Expo in Indianapolis: “One of the biggest compliments I had was when a fan commented, ‘I wanted to hate it, but I couldn’t, I loved it.’”
“Making it something that could fit my music and her style was the challenge,” Bruce explains. “But now that it’s done and it’s been born, it’s up to people to give it a shot. I’m not sure how the fans will take it. But I believe in it, and I believe in what we did, because it was honest and we did it out of our love and music and desire to create something together.”
As far as future plans for the duo? “My schedule is pretty brutal to be honest,” Bruce says. “We are keeping this real organic, I’m not blocking time from Grand Funk to do a world tour with my wife.” For her part, Lisa “would hope that someday there would be a Kiss fan that wants to play that song at their wedding. That would be so touching to me.”
However, after the popularity of their recent living room / YouTube cover of “Christmas Time is Here Again” they are considering recording an EP of Christmas standards at some point in the future, and Bruce admits to fantasizing a bit about a possible acoustic tour overseas. “I don’t know if you know Switzerland,” he jokes, “but it’s really beautiful. Wouldn’t it be great to have a working vacation, 10 days in the Swiss alps?”
“If I Could Show You” is available through Apple Music / iTunes and Spotify (embedded below).