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  • Sainted Sinners
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Sunday
Jun122011

Bruce Kulick

Bruce Kulick is one of the most underrated guitarists in Rock and Roll today.  Having played in KISS for 12 years, and being a member of Grand Funk Railroad for almost the same amount of time, Bruce Kulick has quietly amassed a career that most musicians dream of.  Arguably a better guitar player than both Ace Frehley and Mark Farner, Bruce has never received the notoriety of the 'original' guys that he has replaced in Grand Funk Railroad and KISS.  And Bruce is fine with that, as he is totally comfortable being the 'replacement guy,' and knows the role he needs to play, when filling the shoes for other guitar greats.  That 'mild mannered' approach is what gives Bruce Kulick his charm, as his fans know how talented he really is, and appreciate the fact that his large amount of skills don't come with a big 'ol ego to match.  Bruce is very fan friendly, as he has appeared at dozens of KISS fan expos and other fan sponsored events over the years, to meet with his fans, sign autographs, answer all kinds of crazy questions and most importantly, share his music.  Since 2001, Bruce has released a string of great solo CDs (three to be exact), as he released the first two entirely on his own, with no label support whatsoever.  While making them available to purchase on the internet, through his website (Kulick.net), the biggest way Bruce has gotten his music to his fans, has been by selling his CDs at the KISS expos - literally bringing his music right to the people.  Although Bruce's latest CD, "BK III" was released on a label - Twenty4 Records - Bruce continues his grassroots approach in getting his music to his fans.
 
RockMusicStar.com recently caught up with Kulick, as Bruce was enjoying a little bit of downtime, recently returning from a European tour with ESP (Eric Singer Project) and gearing up for his annual summer tour with Grand Funk Railroad.  We spoke about everything from KISS to Grand Funk, his involvement in the recent Eric Carr book, and the possibility of a reunion of Union.
 
RockMusicStar:  To start out the interview, I'd like to talk about your involvement in the "Eric Carr Story" (which is a book comprised of interviews about the life and death of Eric Carr).  I know it's been out for awhile, but it kind of flew under the radar for a lot of people, and I hadn't read you doing much press regarding the book.  Did you read the book once it was released?
 
Bruce Kulick:  I read a copy.  Actually, to be quite honest, when I got it, I felt like it was looking at me all the time (as Eric's face is on the cover of the book).  I kind of put off reading it because I was concerned about what feelings it would bring up.  It's a hard thing, reliving anything to do with Eric.  Obviously, there were really wonderful things to think about Eric, but having someone pass away from cancer so quickly, (thinking about) all that was going to be really hard.  So I finally got brave one night, as I had a quiet night, completely free - as I didn't have to work, and I read it.  It is the kind of book that you can read in one night easily.  I was very upset by the end, reliving some of the very sad parts.  I did get a couple of laughs.  Then I saw a few things from some people that I thought were a little heavy handed, one way or the other.  And then there were some people that didn't even belong in there get a quote.  In particular, my ex-wife Christina, at times, I just thought her take was a little wacky.  But she was kind of wacky back then too.  In a way, she was friends with Eric, and he would try to talk to her, especially about relationships with Carrie (Stevens - Eric Carr's on and off again girlfriend, also featured in the book), who was our good friend - who I am still very close friends with, and I remember that it was hard for Eric to make Christina understand some of his issues.  It was just stuff like that.  But it was a good read.  Obviously, I've already said it, if you're an Eric Carr fan, it's a must read.  It was a hard read for me, only because of the tragedy of the story.
 
RMS:  I have to be honest Bruce, I'm kind of on the fence on how I feel about the book.  I was a big fan and friend of Eric Carr growing up, so I appreciate anything being put out in reference to Eric.  I do like the way the book was put together, but I have to agree that there were people interviewed for the book that didn't belong there.  While I respect all of the support he has given KISS throughout the years on his radio show, I am not a huge fan of Eddie Trunk.  I felt his segments in the book were completely self-serving, as he tried to tell HIS story when speaking about Eric Carr.  I also felt that comparing Eric Singer replacing Eric Carr, to the whole Tommy Thayer/Ace Frehley makeup thing, that he is clearly so bent about, was just ridiculous.
 
BK:  You're making a good point, and you know more than the average fan.  Keep in mind, when people are being interviewed for a book, in a way, they're going to talk about what the book's subject is, but in a way, they're going to stand on their soap boxes, and state what they want to state - if you know what I mean.
 
I prefer people are talking about Eric again, and I'm very excited about this company Rocksville Station getting involved with Eric Carr's sister, to help make the "Rockheads" (Eric Carr's musical cartoon project) come alive.  I'm really proud of stuff like that.  We're obviously coming upon the 20th year of his passing, which is completely crazy to think it's been that long.  I hate to dwell on any of the negative about Eric, it was obviously a hard thing, and I was right in the thick of some of it, so it was really hard.
 
RMS:  That leads me to my next question.  I want to commend you on the fact that you came forward and revealed some truths about Eric that weren't all positive, as prior to the book, the only thing ever said about Eric Carr was just all the fluff.  Obviously in real life, there are always positives and negatives, and the "Eric Carr Story" touched on a lot of Eric's insecurities.
 
BK:  You're traveling with someone, you're living with someone on the road - 'behind the scenes' you gotta call that.  Your relationship is much more like a real family relationship.  I really wonder, what are the things our president is insecure about, that only his wife and closest staff know?  It's not really in the nation's interest, for people to necessarily know, "Oh, he gets bummed out about this."  And with Eric being in KISS, everyone thinks that when you have a dream gig like that, you're on top of the world.  But in truth, that's all in your perception of how that person deals with it, and how you're viewing it.  The average fan doesn't get a fair glimpse of what it might be really, to be in Eric Carr's shoes.
 
RMS:  In the book, Eric's sister, Loretta, mentions that there's going to be another Eric Carr CD of previously unreleased material.  Are you involved in that at all?
 
BK:  I'm not involved in that at all, but I can tell you that the CD is going to have a cool (KISS) demo called, "Dial L For Love."  It's a co-write with Gene (Simmons) and Adam Mitchell (with Eric Carr on lead vocals), something I worked on a little bit.  I'm not even sure if I'm a writer on that, I don't even remember anymore.  That's gonna be there which is great, because it's a really good song.  I don't know the rest of the details, you'd have to ask Loretta.  The center point piece of probably what she has is that one song, "Dial L For Love." 

RMS:  You know KISS fans are obsessed with minutia.  One thing you mention in the Eric Carr book, not necessarily related to Eric in anyway, but interesting nonetheless, is the fact that you used to jam with (former KISS guitarist, RIP) Mark St. John during the "Animalize" tour (during which Mark St. John was unable to perform due to having an arthritic condition in his hands, and Bruce Kulick was his stand in).  For the KISS fans who want to know everything, could you please elaborate on your jam sessions with Mark?
 
BK:  It started in the jam room that we had backstage.  I had a healthy mind set about the situation, which was obviously very awkward.  It was clearly going to be my gig, because I had the home field advantage, because I was just touring with them for six weeks in Europe - to a good reaction from the fans, AND Gene (Simmons) & Paul (Stanley) - the two people you gotta impress.  I was actually impressed that Gene & Paul, for whatever reasons, contractually or not, gave Mark the opportunity to come out on tour and learn the show.  Have him sit and see if he can do it, and then go, "Oh!  Mark's got it.  So we got to go back to our guy."  Whatever their idea or point was, there he (Mark) was.  So here I'm stuck with this guitar player guy, who may or may not have the gig.  I wasn't that threatened.  'What will be, will be' was my healthy attitude, so "let's jam!"  You gotta little practice room, a couple of amps, you got your guitar, let's jam a little.  I thought it was a really nice way to make a very awkward situation healthy.  I can't even remember what did we jam on.  I'm not gonna say we did KISS songs, but it was kind of cool to just like plug in, and it kind of broke the ice a little bit, and showed him that I wasn't the enemy.
 
RMS:  Bob Ezrin was also interviewed for the Eric Carr book, and he mentioned a session, or sessions in Toronto, which would have been pre-"Revenge," which included Eric Carr.  Could you tell me what you remembered regarding those sessions?
 
BK:  Bob was totally wrong.  There was nothing in Toronto, it all happened in LA.  There was at one point, a chance for Eric to record on "Revenge," and they asked Eric to jam with us at rehearsal, here in Burbank.  At that point, we were already looking at other drummers to help record the record.  Not looking for the 'new KISS drummer.'  Bob brought in a few guys, who are the 'go to' guys and he wasn't really happy with anybody.  But he knew Eric wasn't at his best, because he was being treated for cancer.  I don't think he (Eric) played really bad, but I know how picky Bob is.  Even if Eric was healthy, if they didn't like the way that he played on some things, somebody else would have played it.  Eric was kind of doomed to start, so it was probably better that he didn't wind up working with Bob.  Eric did, I don't know if I would say 'audition,' but he did ask for an opportunity.  He said, "I'm in shape, give me a shot"  and they were like, "You're not."  It made sense since he hadn't played for quite awhile and just went through open heart surgery.  It was crazy.  Tragic and crazy.
 
RMS:  To segue out of the Eric Carr book and into what you've been doing as of late, I have to say that I'm happy that Eric Singer wasn't slammed in the book, as there were many rumors and accusations being made at the time about him trying to steal Eric Carr's job.

 
BK:  Absolutely not.  He was always respectful.
 
RMS:  Of course.  And I'm sure that as close as you were to Eric Carr, if Eric Singer had done something like that, you wouldn't still be friends with him today.  That being said, you recently completed a European tour with Eric for ESP.  Since it's inception, ESP has seemed to evolve from a 70's cover band to almost a KISS "Revenge" era Mark II, with Chuck Garric as Gene Simmons and John Corabi as Paul Stanley.  Has anyone else brought that to your attention?
 
BK:  Well, we haven't tried to accomplish any kind of revisiting of "Revenge."  I think we do what we like.  It's a little complex with the whole thought process of everything I do with Eric.  We're always careful with doing what we love, and making sure the KISS fans will like it, but at the same time, not just be resting on KISS.  It's always been a little bit of a challenge, but I'm glad people are still interested in what we're up to, apart from KISS.
 
RMS:  Coming up is your annual summer tour with Grand Funk Railroad.  This lineup has been together for the better part of a decade, and you've yet to release any new material, not even a live DVD.  To your knowledge, will there ever be any new CD or DVD releases from Grand Funk Railroad, or are there contractual issues with Mark Farner preventing anything from being released?
 
BK:  I have to say, in the same way that Gene & Paul run the show with KISS, Grand Funk has Don (Brewer) & Mel (Schacher), and they're always very cautious, and not very excited about putting out product.  I don't totally understand it, but I have to respect it, because they're Grand Funk and they've gone through whatever they've gone through, to get to where they are right now.  I feel bad about it, but it's gotta be something that they wanna do.  The important thing of the whole new version of Grand Funk is really the excitement that we can be put in just about any situation, from a casino gig to a 'whatever' gig, and make the crowd go crazy.  In that way, I think we accomplish what they want out of Grand Funk, as opposed to a recording or DVD legacy.  I feel pretty frustrated by it, but I have no recourse.
 
RMS:  I wanted to touch on Union for a moment.  After a few years of the band playing together, it seemed like the band just became inactive - as opposed to breaking up.  Did Union stop performing because of the disappointment in how the band was received, or were there other reasons?
 
BK:  It was a bad time, so I never felt that Union was disappointing, in the sense that we didn't have the goods.  It was a hard time to do anything hard rock.  Things have changed, and were changing then, but not really in our favor.  So here we are, this terrific band struggling, with good material, and a good pedigree, but the music climate was working against us.  I think staying away from it for like 10 years, people might be more hungry, and there could be really an exciting announcement later this year for something, that John and I do with the title, 'Union.'  It could happen.  We're waiting for the stars to align.
 
RMS:  My last question, when KISS finally does a real 'Farewell Tour,' do you think it would be cool if they did something to incorporate all existing KISS members?
 
BK:  Of course it would be cool.  The problem is, I know they never want to see Vinnie Vincent's face again.  Mark obviously we don't have anymore, and it's really only me, Ace and Peter floating around.  I don't think they have a very healthy relationship with Ace or Peter.  I think they love the fact that they can just do such huge successful stuff with Tommy and Eric, and I don't envision them ever going down that way - in including anybody else.  So I just think it's a pipe dream when fans go down that route.