How Bryan Adams Wrote ‘War Machine’ for Kiss
When Bryan Adams wrote “War Machine” for Kiss, he had a “live context” in mind. So he was pleased to hear that, 40 years later, the song remains a regular part of their shows.
The Canadian was invited to work with the band as it was putting together the 1982 album Creatures of the Night. They’d decided to record a version of Adams’ “Rock and Roll Hell,” which was previously covered by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
“[Kiss] asked me to come down and meet with them and maybe help out on some other songs,” Adams told Eddie Trunk on SiriusXM. “I went down to Los Angeles. Gene had a guitar riff, but he didn’t have a song. I thought it was a pretty cool guitar riff. I didn’t finish the idea when I was in L.A., but I took it back to Vancouver.” At home, he began working on the concept with cowriter Jim Vallance, “and we came up with ‘War Machine.’”
After being told by Trunk that Kiss still performed the song – it was part of their record-setting New Year’s Eve show last month – Adams responded: “Well, I’ve never seem them live. So I’m glad to hear it worked out.” He explained his thought processes as the song came together, noting "that’s exactly what I was thinking, that you could make this a really exciting song based on the lyrical content.”
Listen to Kiss' ‘War Machine’
He said he had suggested “Rock and Roll Hell” from the perspective of “Let’s just see if this flies ... and they liked it.” Bachman-Turner Overdrive recorded the song on their 1979 album Rock n’ Roll Nights, "so it did have a tiny bit of a life beforehand," Adams added. "But the Kiss version is by far the best.”
Trunk also asked Adams about how his relationship with Kiss led to the 1983 song “Don’t Leave Me Lonely,” which featured a cowriting credit with late Kiss drummer Eric Carr and ended up on Adams' 1983 album Cuts Like a Knife.
“Eric had brought an idea to me; I think it was just like a drum-guitar or might have been a drum thing, and I turned it into a song and gave him credit on it,” he explained. “I wrote the song with Jim, again, and Eric. It was proposed as a Kiss song. … I guess they didn’t do it, so I thought, ‘I’ll do it’.”
Looking back on his early ‘80s interaction with Kiss, Adams said, “I would have been a broke songwriter and really grateful for the opportunity, and to this day [I’m] still very grateful for the opportunity.”
Listen to Bryan Adams' 'Don't Leave Me Lonely’