INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Bruce Kulick will always be best known for his long career as lead guitarist for rock icons KISS. Bruce replaced his short-lived predecessor Mark. St John in 1984 and during the next twelve years he did several tours with them and recorded six studio albums including ASYLUM, CRAZY NIGHTS, HOT IN THE SHADE, REVENGE, and CARNIVAL OF SOULS. When KISS surprisingly decided to reunite the original line up in 1996, it meant that Bruce’s (and Eric Singer’s) days were then over with KISS. Bruce then formed a brand new band called UNION with former Mötley Crue/Scream vocalist John Corabi. The band released two highly acclaimed studio albums UNION in 1998 and then BLUE ROOM in 2000 before they slowly disbanded. Bruce created another project in 1999 with John, bassist Karl Kochran and his former KISS colleague Eric Singer. The project was simply called ESP (Eric Singer Project), and that line up released the covers only album called LOST AND SPACED later the same year. In 2001 Bruce decided to join legendary American band Grand Funk Railroad and has been touring with them since then. Bruce’s first solo album AUDIODOG was also released in 2001, and it included Brent Fitz (UNION) playing drums on the whole album. The second solo album TRANSFORMER was published in 2003, and it included again Brent Fitz and John Corabi doing some vocals. At the moment Bruce is working hard on his third solo album which will be titled BK3. He’s also involved with a new project called Monster Circus. Grand Funk Railroad is doing another tour in the summer and in addition to all that Bruce appears at a great number of KISS EXPO’s and guitar clinics all around the world. Bruce was kind enough to give some time to us after returning home from the highly successful ESP European tour.
MONSTER CIRCUS AND NEW SOLO ALBUM BK3
The most current thing for you right now is a project called Monster Circus. Would you tell briefly about the history of that project and how you get involved with that one? Also, what kind of plans you have with that project after you’ve done already announced shows? Perhaps more touring, a future release…??
I think the concept of the Monster Circus is amazing. Combining hard rock with Vegas-style performers is awesome. I was asked by Tony Montana and Rudy Sarzo to check it out.
Once I got the idea, I felt great about being involved. We just completed our first three nights at the Las Vegas Hilton. Dee Snider was the special guest. We rocked the house.
I don’t know everything planned for the future, but I am excited about being involved.
Another very current thing for you is to finish your third solo album BK3. What is the current state of that album and when it will see the light of day?
Six songs are finished and mixed. I will be selling a limited edition EP in Australia as I have clinic performances. I will get the rest finished and should have the disc ready for summer or fall release. My work and touring time take away from finishing the full length.
Several exciting names are questing on that album including Kenny Aronoff, Tobias Sammet, Steve Lukather, and Gene and his son Nick. Would you briefly tell how you get all these names to appear on your new album and how it was to work with such people as Nick Simmons?
Gene, I simply asked, and he said yes, and that track is amazing. Gene mentioned recording with Nick, and I was very excited to work with him. He is a really talented writer and singer. Tobias, I know from Eric, and he is terrific. Kenny played on my first solo disc, and I had a killer instrumental that I asked him to record. Steve Lukather is featured with me on that one!
You have mentioned that this album is going to be the best solo album from you so far. How would you describe it compared your older work and is there any plans to do some proper promotion for that one and perhaps try to get it released by some bigger label at some point?
My other two I was not collaborating like this one. I love them both, but this one is bigger and badder! Not sure label-wise, as the music biz is changing more and more to DIY.
ESP in Helsinki 2009
ESP EUROPEAN TOUR
You just finished a successful tour with ESP in Europe. As you know, KISS is now really popular in Europe again. Did you noticed that thing on that tour, I mean you probably had better sales/following, etc. on this tour compared to some previous tours there, right?
Having Eric completing that huge KISS tour, of course, helped and we never OVER play in Europe like some bands… so yes, I was very pleased, and the fans loved our shows.
I interviewed Eric last year, and he said that there is a possibility that ESP might do another release in the future. How do you think about that and IF it’s going to happen, is there a change that you might write some original material instead of making another covers album? You, John and Chuck are more than capable of writings songs as we all know…
When we talked about this tour, he wasn’t really ready to say, lets record music, but let’s see what happens in the future. There is NO shortage of talent to get that done.
THE STATE OF UNION?
Well, I can’t hesitate to ask about the current state of UNION? I recently interviewed Brent (Fitz) last year in Australia, and he said that you actually never broke up? Not much have heard about you since the release of UNION DVD some years ago.. ?
Brent is part of the Monster Circus! He is playing keys and singing. In a way, we never announced we broke up, but we all went on to other projects I miss the band but have been working a lot with John of course and now Brent again. Brent is all over my BK3 disc.
If you now think how that whole UNION thing overall went… why you never made it big time in your opinion? I mean… you had a great line up, good producing, great songs, etc. Was it just timing which wasn’t too good for a band like UNION at that time (when grunge ruled the world)?
The timing of UNION was off. I stand by that music, and I think it is amazing. PERIOD.
UNION: Bruce, Brent Fitz, John Corabi and Jamie Hunting: Live at Stockholm in 1999
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
If I’m right, you’re still a member of GFR as well…? Don’t know if its true but I do remember that once you did accept their offer to join you did a fixed deal with them which included several years/tours with them, right? Well, how is the situation with that now? Also, is there a change that we will someday get a release from GFR where you will be included? ( Probably a live album because Mark Farrier is not in the band anymore)
No fixed deal, I have a handshake agreement and do my job with some very talented players. The songs are great, we put on a killer show, and I love playing with them. Right now no plans for any release with me in the band from GFR, but we do play new songs in the show.
Grand Funk Railroad. Bruce far on the right.
You just recently released a great collection of songs of your early band KKB, thanks for that? Do you have unreleased material like that somewhere which might be released sometime in the future? There must be some “odd” stuff from your Meat Loaf -touring or from Blackjack days somewhere, right?
KKB is the best of the old stuff. The cassettes of things from Blackjack are cool but not worth releasing. Two live tracks of me with MEAT LOAF are on the current version of “Bat Out Of Hell.”
BLACKJACK AND MICHAEL BOLTON
Blackjack was an exciting band, now it’s a kind of cult band, and you gained some success although everybody did find bigger success later on with other bands. Everybody knows Michael’s success by his own, you later on joined KISS and so on. Do you think that Blackjack would have succeeded if you’ve stayed some more time together?
It was again the timing, but working with Michael was a great experience. Jimmy Haslip is also on my BK3 the bass player of the band. He is a hugely successful Grammy award-winning player.
Black Jack: in 1980; Michael Bolton, Jimmy Haslip, Sany Gennaro, and Bruce
KISS AND TELL
Everybody does always ask something about KISS from you, and I’m not going to make an exception here… But tell briefly about the moment when you were first contacted about joining KISS in the first place and how it was to join such a metal/rock band while your musical background included a way different style/music compared to KISS… I mean KISS for sure was something completely different to Blackjack, Billy Squier, Good Rats, and Meat Loaf?
When I was first asked it was to help them out, (Mark was ill) and later on they realized it was time to hire me for good and send Mark St John home. I was very blessed to have such an opportunity.
It’s the time of the very last question… It must have been hard times when you and Eric were told that your services were no longer needed in KISS back in 1996 but you still seem to have a good relationship with both Gene and Paul. You did contribute some material for Psycho Circus, and later on, you’ve played on their solo albums, and you’ve been a part of making KISSOLOGY dvds. How would you describe your relationship with Gene and Paul now and do you see that someday see you would share a stage with them again?
I miss being in KISS, but I don’t miss having a makeup character, etc. Gene and Paul respect what I do, and they know that I really appreciated my years in the band, and what fans they exposed me to. The KISS fans are the best, and of course, during my 12 years I didn’t really know I was creating a part of KISSTORY, and for that, I am very proud of all my contributions. Some of the clothing was funny looking back now, but NOT any of the music and the passion that we all shared for being a great rock band.
That’s all by now. Thanx Bruce !!
Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley, and Bruce in 1992.
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