Interview With BRUCE KULICK
Interview By Lord of the Wastelend
Though hes been out of the spotlight since he left KISS in 1996, Bruce Kulick has
remained busy with bands like Union featuring former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi as
well as his current stint as touring guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad. Bruce has also
released 2 solo albums, including the excellent new TRANSFORMER disc. Unfortunately, he
made a reappearance in the news early on October 16th when he was shot by a stray bullet
outside a Hollywood club. I was given the opportunity to talk with Bruce and get the real
story about what happened that night, as well as his thoughts on KISS, his own solo
material and his autobiography. Sadly, I was alerted just 4 hours prior to the scheduled
interview that Bruces father had taken ill and was hospitalized which was expected
to put our interview on hold. Being a long-time KISS and Bruce Kulick fan, I was
disappointed that my chance to speak with one of my most revered artists was not going to
happen. I dont have to tell you that when the phone rang and it was Bruce on the
other end what a pleasant surprise it was. Given the circumstances, his effort to keep the
interview time went above and beyond the call of duty. After dealing with musicians who
talk to you like theyre doing YOU a favor or dont bother to call AT ALL, it
was a real treat to have someone whose music I grew up listening to turn out to be such a
nice guy. Before I had even asked a question, Bruce wanted to know where I lived and how I
was fan. Plus, he sent me a free CD! Enjoy this interview with one of musics few
First of all, Im happy to be able to be sitting here talking to you today. As
a KISS fan since I was 13 years old, when I saw the headline splashed across the Internet,
KISS Guitarist Shot Outside Hollywood Nightclub, my heart sank. Its been
18 days since the shooting, so how are things going in general?
Well, in general, pretty good. The only thing crazy today is that my Dads in the
hospital, so Im dealing with that now. Hes pretty old. I tried to send you an
e-mail this morning but I was having problems with my AOL e-mail account. Im
actually visiting my parents and I just came back from the hospital then I have to go eat
with my Mom because shes lonely because hes not here, so if we can do this in
about 15 minutes, that would really help me out.
Absolutely! I appreciate you even taking the time to talk today under the
circumstances. Lets get right to it
Ive read a few conflicting reports
about the shooting that occurred a couple weeks ago. Can you give me the real
Sure. I wasnt at the Rainbow Bar & Grill. I was just leaving The Key Club to
see my friend Brent Fitz, who used to be in a band, Union, with me perform with Vince
Neil. Everything was all great at the club and when Im leaving the club, you have to
walk a little bit up the block to cross the street because Sunset Boulevard is kind of
crowded and they make you use a certain sidewalk to get across the street. Im not
even at the corner of the first block when all of a sudden I hear gunshots-and to be
honest I didnt know what it was-but all of a sudden I felt something crazy happen to
my leg and then I realized they were bullets when the other one whizzed by my ear and kind
of nicked my head, which was really scary. At that point, I was thinking how can this be
happening and Im thinking there are dead people up the block and that Im just
really lucky that thats all that happened because who knows? I had no idea what was
happening because I didnt see anybody in an argument or a fight or with a gun. I
told my friend that I was walking with to get down and take cover but by then there
werent any more gunshots. You could hear that there was some sort of commotion up
the block but I didnt know what. My friend asked me if I was okay and I said,
No, Im not. Fortunately there was a deputy who worked with the Hollywood
police who came over and said the ambulance was coming. I was trying to call 911 on my
cell phone but it was busy. I think everyone that was on that Rainbow patio was trying to
call 911 also knowing that somebody was shooting a gun. I didnt really know much
about what happened until much later when they took me to Cedars-Sinai. I was very
fortunate that the temple would was just a scratch that bled and scabbed over and was a
little swollen, but obviously didnt go through my head but it was close. For a leg
injury, even though Im in pain from it, it could have been much worse too. It went
directly through the side of my leg above the knee missing a bone or an artery, which are
the really bad things a bullet can hit so they did some tests to make sure that was what
happened and basically sent me home! I was s shot, treated and released (laughs)! Oddly
enough, for a bullet that passes through your leg, they dont suture you or anything.
They just let the body heal itself, so right now I have two very funny looking scabs. The
first week they were oozing and messy and really ugly but right now theyre just
really weird, just two scabs on the side of my leg.
Are you able to walk at all?
I am walking. I can feel it. It bothers me. Its not terrible pain where Im
on heavy drugs or anything but Im still not happy about it! Im lucky to be
alive and I know how bad that could have been with such a random act that it was. It was
not much different than getting caught in some kind of drive-by, or being in a bank when
someone starts shooting. The whole thing was pretty crazy. Everything has been quite
surreal since then to be quite honest. I havent been able to make much of it one way
or another. Im just happy to be alive! When food tastes good, Im very happy if
you know what I mean (laughs)!
I guess you appreciate life a little bit more after that!
Is there any lasting damage or is it too soon to tell yet?
Right now, the doctors feel I can make a full recovery. I dont know how long it
takes to really feel normal again. They cant say for sure because its a
bullet. Its not a surgeon going in and doing it the perfect way but all things
considered, Im pretty fortunate.
You have a show with Grand Funk Railroad coming up on Sunday. Will you still be
playing that show?
Yeah, Ill be going on Friday. I was just in Winnipeg over the weekend. The doctor
told me last Thursday that I could fly and Ive been doing physical therapy to get
the leg stronger because I was off it for a week. Its weird how that feels when you
lie around for a week with a lot of antibiotics and drugs in you. Just getting around is
hard. Outside of being extremely cold, Ive done okay with it. It doesnt feel
all right but its not like I have to stay at home either and for that Im
really grateful. So anyway, Im flying to Fort Lauderdale on Friday and then Im
flying up to Toronto to do a KISS expo and then Ill be back home on Monday. For the
rest of the year, Im really going to be taking it easy. I was going to go to Europe
and do some dates in the second half of November but those are postponed because its
just to hard to deal with right now.
Will those dates be made up eventually?
Id like to but I dont know when I can. Before I venture out and make a big
trip to Europe, I want to really feel 100%. I know I can do the Grand Funk gig and get up
to Toronto. Its not just my name on the marquee, its the whole band so I may
not be running around on stage but Ill be playing well.
Well Im sure all the Canadian KISS fans will make you feel at home in Toronto
on the weekend.
On a bit lighter note, you have a new album out called TRANSFORMER. How is the album
doing so far?
This is the second solo record of mine. The first one was called AUDIO DOG and
Ive just been doing it myself, selling it myself over the Internet. In fact, I did
just get distribution in Canada through a company called Plastichead. Theyre based
in Vancouver, in fact. Im not sure what kind of stores they service but its in
the system, lets put it that way. They got their first shipment a couple weeks ago
actually. It wasnt anything timed with my incident if you know what I
mean (laughs)! A guy who works for that distributor is a KISS fan and he contacted me.
Theyre fairly large. I used them also in Europe. We were able to get a certain
number of discs out there and that works for me because even though I sell a lot of them
through my own website and personal appearances, its nice to get some distribution
so people can find it. Obviously the orders have increased a bit since I had my incident
because of all the publicity it got
not that I asked for it that way (laughs)!
Its a great record. Its not on a label. I did it myself and it sounds as good
as someone putting it out through a label. It just makes more sense in this day and age
for an artist like myself to be able to have total control over it. There are a lot of
famous artists that are doing things the same way as myself maybe on a larger scale, like
Prince but taking that control and not having a label tell me what to do and how to do it
is quite empowering. The people are getting a really honest vision of what Im into,
so for that Im very proud. Ive gotten some really nice reviews for it. I
remember one newspaper down in Florida reviewed it right next to the Led Zeppelin DVD
(laughs), which is crazy to me! He gave me three stars and gave Led Zeppelin five. To me,
the Zeppelin is ten times five if you know what I mean because theyre a brilliant
band and one of my favorite bands EVER! But just to be reviewed on the same page is really
an honor. But again, because I do it all myself, I can still make money and its
really about the fact that I can get my vision out there and for that Im very
grateful. There are a lot of artists who are very talented that are in their bedrooms and
there is just no way for them to get their music to anybody. At least I have this fan base
from the KISS years and my other groups that Ive worked with since KISS, people are
aware that Im out there. And now that I got shot, people who forgot about me are
aware that Im still out there (laughs)!
Speaking of your post-KISS groups, is there any chance that Union will get back
together? I was really sorry to hear that the band was on hiatus because the first album
was probably my favorite record of 1998!
Well thank you! We did THE BLUE ROOM after that as well as a live album, which is a
little harder to find. I actually get a lot of people asking about Union. I thought we
were a terrific band and we have those three discs out that people can enjoy. I dont
think were going to get together to do something but I am working on a DVD with a
friend of mine who owns one of those DVD companies that puts together live band stuff. He
is the same guy who did the Eric Carr story on video and DVD.
TALES OF THE FOX?
Yeah, thats right. The DVD is about halfway done actually. If I didnt have
my issues this month, I think wed be a little further along but either way, it looks
likely that we can get this thing put together in the spring. The artwork is all done.
Theres still some songs that have to be edited because what it is is a couple of
performances that we did before we went to Argentina back in 2001 and then we have a link
to another performance we did at a musicians institute which is kind of cool because
it was in a theatre and the footage of it is really tight. Then we had live gigs in
Argentina and Sweden-big live shows that we didnt have a lot of cameras for but we
have enough to intersperse with the other concerts. Then theres a couple of bonus
tracks that I want to put on that are the original demos that we got the record contract
with and a couple songs that we didnt put out on record and thats going to be
on there. There will also be a link to a page with ALL the merchandise we put out, which
is nothing compared to a band like KISS but still interesting, you know? I would like to
think that people would like to see those items, from the promotional merchandise to the
things from some of the other countries we went to. Im very excited about it! At
least its halfway done. I got to see it about a week before I got hurt and Im
very pleased. On TRANSFORMER, I actually asked John to sing one of the songs. Theres
a song that I knew that I couldnt sing because it needed a really aggressive
bluesy-rock voice and thats not my vocal style so he sang that song and Brents
the drummer on BOTH my solo records. He was the drummer in Union, as you know, so one of
those tracks on TRANSFORMER is a kind of mini-Union reunion! Its a song called
Just My Life. By the way, do you have either record?
I have AUDIODOG but I havent got TRANSFORMER yet.
Well give me your address and Ill make sure that Nancy (Kulick.net webmaster)
gets you one.
She actually has one on the way! I was hoping to get it before the interview but it
hasnt shown up yet.
Oh, OK. She may have already sent it but with Canada, it may take a little longer.
Ill double-check for you and make sure you get it. It could be there tomorrow!
(NOTE: In fact, the CD showed up two days later-thanks Nancy J!) Ill mention it to
her tonight if I speak to her so shell be aware of it. Usually Im pretty good
at being on top of things with interviews and all but right now Im all confused with
whats been going on (laughs). I have other friends, of course, that helped take care
of me because Im not married or in a real significant relationship with anybody but
Nancy has really helped me out since I got hurt. Ive basically relied on her for
everything. But well take care of it and make sure you get the disc.
That would be great, Bruce. Id really appreciate that! Another thing
youve spoken of in the past is your autobiography called HONORABLE DISCHARGE. Is
that still going to be released?
Yeah actually last month because I knew my schedule wasnt going to be that busy,
I was going to get into it but then this crazy thing happened. But now Ive got a
great chapter for it!
I was just going to say that maybe its a good thing you got delayed in getting
the book out with this latest development!
As much as Id like to have said it was ready six months ago, its not a
story thats going to go away. As time goes on, I remember even more things that I
want to include in the book. The guy Im writing it with has been in the industry for
years but this year he got a really great job over at Warner Brothers and Atlantic who
keep him crazy busy, too. But the rest of the year is quiet and Im looking forward
to that so Ill be able to take some time and make some progress with it. Im
actually hoping to get it out next year.
Is it going to be a book like Motley Crues THE DIRT with lots of mud-slinging
or will it be a more serious book?
To be honest, thats not really my style. There are certain things that I had
frustrations with in being in KISS but I knew what that gig was about. I could never write
a book like THE DIRT because Im not a recovering heroin addict or an alcoholic who
killed somebody in his car, you know (laughs)? My life isnt quite like that but I
still think I have a compelling story of what its like to fit in with one of the
biggest bands in the world and Ive worked with other interesting people who we
havent really looked at too much for the chapters. Artists like Michael Bolton, Mea
Loaf, Billy Squier. All around, I think its a great story. I know when THE DIRT came
out-and its a great book by the way, I did enjoy it. When I talked to some business
people, they were like, Well if you can write something like THE DIRT! and I
thought about it and even if I wanted to make up something about Gene and Paul,
thats not what I want to do. Thats not who I am. I didnt sleep on the
floor of a roach-infested apartment with five guys. Thats not my upbringing.
Thats not my story. I was just a nice guy from Brooklyn who loved music and was
turned on to playing guitar. I worked at it, met the right people and was given
opportunities that I was able to make a career out of. I think thats a great story
too, but the big publishers want to hear youre going to slag someone so bad or
youre just total scum that survived (laughs). And thats not me.
In their eyes, thats what sells, right?
I still think my story could sell, too, but more than likely Ill self-publish and
put this thing out myself so the people who really care about me-who are the ones I want
to get it to-will really enjoy the book.
On the topic of KISS, if you were asked to rejoin the band would you do it?
A lot of people have been asking me, What if they asked you to put the makeup on
and be Ace? In one way, thats a real uncomfortable position to be in because
many people know me after all these years as Bruce. I wouldnt say outright,
no, but I would be asking how much job security there is? How long will you be
doing this? Ive got a great gig with Grand Funk Railroad that I dont want to
give up. Theres no way I would want to do one tour as Ace. It seemed obvious for
them to move on with Tommy Thayer because, first of all, he was already working for them,
and second of all, he doesnt have a 12-year history as himself with the band, and
thirdly, he used to be an Ace Frehley in a pretty popular cover band in the early 90s. It
seemed like a no-brainer to put Tommy in the makeup and say instead of him being their
tour manager and who works for them in many capacities, OK, now play guitar! I
do miss the guys. I do miss the music. Im still very proud of everything I
contributed but it never came up. I was never asked so I didnt have to make the
decision. But if I had been asked, I wouldnt have said yes unless I knew I was taken
care of. With Tommy, if Ace wants to be back in the band, he can go back to being tour
manager, you know? Where would I be? I wouldnt leave a great gig like Grand Funk
just to fill in for Ace. I think thats why I was never asked.
Do you think that was the position Eric Singer was put in when they brought him in
for the Japanese and Australian tours in Peter Criss makeup but as soon as Peter
decided he wanted to play again, Eric was out?
Well they never made him any promises I know that. At the time, it wasnt like he
had a conflicting issue either. It was easy for him to say lets go. In fact, I think
he was even able to keep his commitments with Alice Cooper. He didnt appreciate the
fact that he thought he was going to be playing the Symphony gig. He was told about it and
then all of a sudden Peter Criss is playing. Im not sure if he was asked again if he
would do it but Im sure hed want some guarantees.
Have you seen the KISS Symphony performance?
I only caught little pieces of it. I thought the idea of it, as much as its been
done with a lot of other rock bands before is cool but
to be fair, I really
havent seen the whole thing. I was in Australia shortly after they did it to do my
own solo tour and a lot of people were telling me about it. Most of the people in
Australia seemed to really enjoy it.
It was a fantastic show! Quite a spectacle. Everything and more that I expected it
to be anyway.
Thats the best country you could do it in, too. Im not sure how its
been received here. The KISS/Aerosmith bill is a wise one, though. Ill probably
catch them in L.A.. I was going to see them in Las Vegas but then I got hurt so I
How much input did you have in putting together the KISS Box Set that came out in
I got a credit because they really wanted to make it complete. I had a couple of weird
studio things that I offered them and they did wind up using a few things. I was always
good with DAT tapes and keeping an eye on things. Do you remember what it was?
It was the Outro from the CARNIVAL OF SOULS bootleg that didnt
show up on the final album.
Oh yeah, I still had that on a DAT tape. I was always there for the mixing. There was
also the demo for Little Caesar that I think they considered as well. I showed
them a few other things but they just used those and I obviously appreciate the credit for
What are your feelings on the CARNIVAL OF SOULS album? It came out 4 years after it
was recorded and received a lot of negative feedback from fans that thought the band had
lost their way. Even Gene and Paul seemed rather hesitant to promote it.
Well, Im glad it did come out because I didnt think it would. Lets
put it this way, the record company pays you, or rather Gene and Paul, to do a record. You
do the record and take the money. What do you think theyre going to do?
Were putting it out! If you dont want us to put it out, then give us
back the money (laughs). Its not like theyre going to say, Okay,
well just keep it on the shelf forever. So they put it out.
I really enjoy that album and Ive received a lot of flack for saying so, but I
think that you and the rest of the band were taking a risky but interesting step in your
career. Musically, I think the band was at the top of its game!
Thanks. Well, we were just trying to do a bigger, darker REVENGE. There are some moody
moments on there that people have blamed on me but thats where the band was headed.
Its not like I took the direction. I did get to contribute a little more with the
You had co-writing credit on 9 out of the 12 songs on the CD. That was also your
first lead vocal performance, as well, with I Walk Alone.
Yeah that was pretty wild! I feel that Ive grown a lot since then but it was nice
to have the opportunity, which I really do appreciate.
How do you rate yourself as a singer?
Well Ive worked with some great singers so Id think Im average but I
think people appreciate it. Ive found that even though I dont have the range
or the conviction Id love to have, because I really mean it when Im singing,
thats why people like it. I have had some people review me against big bands with
singers and they say that the vocals are weak but I only really care about my fans and
they do want to hear my voice. They want to hear me tell the story and sing the song and I
appreciate that. Ive been spoiled though. Ive worked with a lot of really
great singers so I know Im not on par with them but I like the fact that when
Im singing a song, its something that came straight from my hart and my mind.
For the two solo records, the lyrics are mostly mine. For AUDIODOG, I had some co-writes
but I wrote all the lyrics myself on TRANSFORMER. Its good for me to have my own
If you had to name your most favorite and least favorite KISS albums, what would
I love REVENGE obviously. I wasnt always wild about HOT IN THE SHADE. There are a
couple of good tracks but there are too many songs on it. It had kind of a loose direction
on it as far as Im concerned. Of course each album I was involved in had songs that
were really terrific. The records didnt always come out exactly as I had envisioned
it but in general I dont want to complain. I feel CRAZY NIGHTS featured me a lot
because I had a couple co-writes. REVENGE certainly showcased the band in a positive way.
Im just glad I was in there long enough so it wasnt just a little blip, you
know? I was there long enough to make an impact on the band.
You mentioned HOT IN THE SHADE and this is a question that I have never seen
how did Michael Bolton end up co-writing Forever? Did you introduce
him to the band because you worked with him in the band Blackjack right before joining
Yeah I introduced Michael to Paul. Of course, Michael knew who Paul Stanley was but he
had never met him. At the time, Michael was just starting to break as a solo artist and as
a songwriter and Paul liked to experiment in writing with different people, so thats
how that happened. They got together in L.A. and wrote the song. I dont think
theyre buddies now or anything (laughs) but it was a great co-write that became a
hit for us. Michael once said that hed love to write a big power ballad for KISS so
there you go!
Its a great song!
Many people still use it at weddings.
Its my favorite KISS ballad. Its WAY better than Beth, in my opinion.
Thanks. I was really happy with the solo too. People always ask about that.
When I see that video, I still get a chill during the solo actually. When I saw the
MTV UNPLUGGED performance that KISS did, you executed that solo flawlessly-and live in one
take, no less.
Well, thank you very much!
You did another project with Eric Singer called ESP. Will there be a follow up to
the ESP album?
Theres no plans for it. Theres a couple business people who have talked to
us about doing one but it was just cover songs that were fun to do at the time. It took a
lot of work to bang out that record. Its not always just quick and easy like
youd think. If we could get together and rehearse and record 10 songs pretty quickly
maybe then. It was just a fun thing. Ace Frehley got to play on Foxey Lady,
but no plans right now.
When you played with Ace at the UNPLUGGED show, was that kind of a weird thing?
Yeah it was weird. It was obviously the beginning of the end for me but I always knew
that would happen at some point. I also knew that MTV was very interested in whether it
could be a reunion which of course was a catalyst for them to go off and do it and quite
If I had to craft the true Last Show that KISS would perform, it would
feature each and every living member of the band, including Mark St. John, Vinnie Vincent,
yourself, and Eric Singer in a big jam session at the end much like you did on the
Well I wouldnt say no to that, but it would be weird if 4 or 5 of them were in
makeup and then what happens to those of us who arent in makeup and the outfits
(Laughs) I guess you might stick out a little on stage!
Its like when I go to the KISS Expos and these people dress up like Gene and
Paul, Ace and Peter and theyre these giant creatures walking around and there I am
in my leather coat (laughs)! Thats one of the odd things about the band but
thats also what made them famous. Do you have one more so I can get upstairs and be
with my Mom?
last one. Your 50th birthday is coming up in December. Looking back over
your career, do you feel like you still have a lot to say musically in the hard rock/heavy
Well I see people like Paul McCartney who I saw twice last year and kicking total ass
and hes 60 or something. Jagger is still out there. Some of the guys in Grand Funk
are a little older than me. Gene and Paul are older than me too. It doesnt bother me
as much. That fact that I could have died a couple weeks back makes me REALLY look forward
to 50, you know? I guess in some ways before it was like, OOOOH!!!, now
Im okay with it (laughs).
(Laughs) 50 doesnt seem so old anymore?
No, 50 doesnt seem so old (laughs). I certainly dont feel it either, even
with my injury. Ive been in great shape lately, which is really helping with my
recovery, of course.
Well, I hope you carry on with a safe and speedy recovery, Bruce. I wish you all the
best and best wishes to your Dad, too.
Thanks a lot. Remember to send me you address information again and Ill make sure
Nancy has sent you a disc.
Absolutely. I appreciate it. Thanks Bruce.
Thanks again, Sean. Good talking to you. You be well. Thanks again for everything.
Thanks to Nancy at Kulick.net and Rhonda at Saenz of the Times PR for setting
up the interview.
Band Website: www.kulick.net