INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Like all his fellow musicians, former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick had to take a break from touring and many other activities in 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic. There was no Grand Funk Railroad summer tour, KISS Kruise was canceled, and the list goes on. On a personal side, Bruce suffered a huge loss last May when his big brother Bob Kulick died unexpectedly at the age of 70. Despite everything, the man has remained positive and active. Bruce has been working on new music for his upcoming album. He was also a guest on Ace Frehley’s ORIGINS VOL 2, released in the fall, and he has worked with his wife Lisa and multi-instrumentalist Todd Kerns on several projects, including the KISSmas Masquerade live stream show just one day before this interview. Here we go!
WHAT’S GOING ON?
First of all, I was delighted to see you back in action yesterday, in the KISSmas Masquerade show. When was the last time you played live before this?
Bruce Kulick: Actually, a Grand Funk Show in March. You know, like March 7 or something like that? I flew home, seventh or eighth. I was aware that something could happen then because I have a good friend in China. And he was warning me, you know? And we see the rest. Within that week, it was like, “There you go.” You know? Upside down.
Yeah [laughs], okay. You’ve been playing guitar professionally for over 40 years, almost 50 years. But now, after such a long pause, what was it like to get back on stage in front of an audience, even if the people were now behind the screen?
Bruce Kulick: Well, I have to admit, even though there was just Lisa in the living room, it did feel like a real gig. I have to say. And the rehearsals were fun because I had not, I mean, Lisa and I were doing things, especially during the lockdown. And that’s always fun, and actually, I had more time to do things with her. Because we were both stuck at home, and I’ve always wanted to do things with her. And knowing that I couldn’t, there’s no Grand Funk gigs; everything was postponed. No KISS Kruise. Everything’s postponed, you know. But actually, just having taught over to rehearse, that felt really great. It just was very musical. And it’s always fun to collaborate with somebody, go over arrangements and endings, and work on parts and all that. And then, of course, we won over when Lisa joined us. So, I actually did feel like I had a small combo in my home. Cause we’ve been very careful in taking the virus seriously, and we’ve only had repair people, or only when there was a business thing. There was a couple of times when someone had a– regarding private signings, where we’re able to interact safely, and I could sign the stuff that would be shipped to the customers. But I haven’t– gone anywhere outside of– I just haven’t done anything socially, or musically, outside of my wife before Todd entered. And I think all of you know how busy I decided to make myself. Because without the gigs, I had more time to explore some things that are related to my career, especially, of course, my KISS connections, you know? And honestly, typically, someone argued for a guitar session, I’d have a friend to go to. And typically, if I had a– if I needed a video done or something, for promotion, I’d ask the friend to help out. And now I’m doing it all myself. And I had to learn that. And that was interesting and frustrating at times and very rewarding as well. So, this whole period, I’ve– I’ve been doing as much I can– and you know me pretty well? “Laughs”
Yeah. I think so,” Laughs.”
Bruce Kulick: You know that I always have somebody helping me and handling my business and stuff when needed. But I do like to manage as much as I can on my own. But I have– I realized I couldn’t delegate everything. And the more that I come to learn and do, the better it would be because then my vision would really be there. You know what I mean? Things like learning how to use iMovie, learning how to use GarageBand to record become another tool for me to promote myself and work on my creativity.
That’s great. Actually, one of your fans in Finland wanted to ask the following. He has noticed that you have finally started learning these new recording techniques. You may have already tested Pro Tools, maybe Logic, or something else. So, have you already found new ways to use and take advantage of these technologies?
Bruce Kulick: Yeah. And the same thing with– when people would ask previously, “Hey, can you do some video for us?” it was always pretty primitive. I mean, I have– GarageBand is just the regular Apple program. Logic is the better one. I mean, it’s supposed to be a lot better, but that’s when you’re going to do much more, I think. I’m going to work myself up to Logic. But right now, for doing guitars, which is all I’m really required to do, or some backing tracks, GarageBand’s done a great job for me, and I’m really happy with it. And then, iMovie. And there’s better programs and bigger programs out there that some friends have, but the truth is what I learned on iMovie– and Lisa got me started because I made her do the first few, and then I realized she got so busy with her artwork and everything that I just couldn’t ask her to do it. I wanted her to fill her orders, her bling art. And then I said, “You know what? There’s so much of this that reminds me of GarageBand. I’m just going to really dig in and keep doing it.” And it’s become easier and easier, like most things that you have to learn that has a big learning curve as we call it. But there were other parts to that too. I didn’t have time to really– because of the things prepping for this gig. And there was something else that Todd, Lisa, and I also did this past week for a corporate gig, okay, where we filmed at a beautiful room at a casino, actually. And that’s just a private thing that would be sent to the corporation that booked me. But from that, I hope to get more things. But there was a lot of prep for that too.
The last video kind of anniversary I wanted to do was for the anniversary of my last gig ever with the band. Okay? And I had no time to film myself. I had actually just to do a voiceover, but I learned how to do that because maybe the set up to videotape yourself and to say it well– you know how easy it is when you’re doing voiceover? You just keep doing it until it’s right. You get your timing. You could edit it. With video, you better be good. Because how much can you edit on camera when your face is moving, and you’re right there in front of the camera? So, I’ve become adaptable that way. And I will absolutely admit that I’m kind of able to put my own creative take on things. Because I always have my opinions about things, and I’m not a real hard-ass. A lot of people online sadly have that typewriter in front of them, and they just are negative all the time. But I know what I like, and I know what my vision is. And I’m one of those guys that, even when I’m done– because I realize, “Well, I know this is really good, but, man, wouldn’t it be great if I stuck little bells in when Bing Crosby’s hitting the bells in the video and Lisa’s like, “Would you stop already? We’ve got to get ready for the next thing.” So, there’s that kind of like “you’re never done” kind of thing.
NEW MUSIC AND KISS ANNIVERSARIES
Like you just said, you’ve now had time to learn new stuff and techniques. Does that also mean that now you have had time to work on some new music?
Bruce Kulick: Yeah. I mean, this is something I talked to Todd about yesterday. We had a little– obviously, we were so excited to perform and everything finally, but I wanted just to give him an overview of how I was looking at 2021. And one of the things that Todd, Zack Thorne, and Brent, Fitz, and I were talking about months ago couldn’t happen. But we wanted to start off with one song from my Kruise band and offer that and then see where the virus was heading, what was happening with the pandemic, to see if we could record some of these originals that we’ve been kicking around? Because I presented originals to them just about a year ago. And Todd and I– usually individually, we were doing it. Once the pandemic hit, we were just doing it on FaceTime. I’d show them the song, and Todd would work on some lyrics. There’s a couple of things I’ve started up with Zack online again. Brent had to do some important stuff for his family. He was actually up in Canada for many, many months when his parents needed his help. But those two guys and I have worked quite extensively on originals. The song that we were thinking of doing actually like a month or two ago was actually something from my KISS years. But outside of laying a little template on my computer, I never got to the next level. I told Todd, I said to Todd– and they all know this. First of all, we’re all kind of scattered a bit. But I always have to take the initiative and be the guiding, “Let’s go. This is what we should do.” Because it always comes down to it’s my band, and if there’s money that’s going to be laid out or there’s– besides, I have the technology. It’s going to be me to do it. So, I suddenly started to– first of all, this KISSmas Masquerade came in, the corporate gig came in, and then there was all this desire for new merchandise from me. People always asking, “Why don’t you do this? Why aren’t you having this? When’s the next mini guitar? Where are the multi swirl guitars?” And I have to admit, I see the KISS fans, and it’s really remarkable to me. But it’s kind of like the way I am about the Beatles and other bands and other artists I collect too, that they have a really big, big appetite for that stuff. And let’s be honest, the current KISS generally rehashes in very creative ways everything from their past. And, well, what about my era? They don’t do that a lot, and obviously, they have the opportunity if they wanted to. So, I’m like, “Wait a minute. I want to celebrate this. I want to celebrate that.” For example, a couple of my latest offerings on my merch page were so successful, but they took so much time. And I explained it to Todd, especially because we were talking, and I just said, “I hope you know that I still want us to do the recording and that stuff, but my merch store became so important. These gigs we got became– the amount of micromanaging, and I have to do for all that just takes up all my time, so. And I always get other work, too, these cameos. I do guitar lessons that I do, and I’m shocked at how much video content– how many really fun anniversaries came up regarding my KISS years between 1984-1996, those good numbers – 25, 30, 35 – I don’t usually do 33 anniversaries or 22? ”Laughs”
When we talk about KISS, it seems that there’s an endless line of Anniversaries coming all the time.
Bruce Kulick: There were some people who are a little more guilty of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a round number if it happened on that day. 31 years ago or 36 years ago or 21. I’m the one I like the– how could I ignore Asylum 35 years? How could I ignore that? I can’t. And we just started the tour of which a good friend of mine, Michael Edwards, who helped me a lot with archiving and artwork and things, and he’s a big audio fan. He had that Who thing synced from the footage that he found, plus my audiotape. He was like, “Look, Bruce, November 29. You got to get this thing ready,” and I’m like, “Done. I’ll do it.” Of course, I did it like three days before because that’s my life, but that particular video share with ”Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It just really hit a home run around the world. People loved it.
Now that you mentioned the “Won’t Get Fooled Again” video, it’s truly is great. But, as you know, many fans, including me, are still really hungry to see more professionally filmed stuff from the Asylum tour. But the fact seems to be that such material simply does not exist?
Bruce Kulick: There aren’t. Not professionally shown. Now, there were some bits from a very rare tape I had with no audio that was done for a promo. I only used a tiny bit of it because I got it in a really weird way, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still not what the fans really wanted, so that’s why when Michael was able to put that together, it is a home run. I mean, everybody was freaked out. Even Paul Stanley retweeted it, and that’s the first one of my videos that those guys did something with, so I was very, very proud of that. Look, I’m happy to serve that up to the fans because I do care about them. I loved what we accomplished, yeah. When I was in the band, I didn’t always know how important it would be 35 years later, but right now, I’m thrilled. There are people who don’t understand why I want to celebrate it, but I know they’re in a very small minority. And the majority of the people just go crazy for this, so it’s my pleasure to serve it up. And I’m kind of glad that I don’t have any pressing detail of another anniversary until maybe “Crazy Nights”? I kind of thought about doing something regarding the Asylum videos because there was a story there, but when these two gigs came in, the corporate and, of course, the Kissmas 2020 thing, I didn’t have a lot of time to do it, so we’ll see. I have a Christmas song now I’m working on for Lisa. I finally looked at the music to make a court chart for the song, and that has to come up this week. It’s never-ending, I’ll be honest. And you know when you want to promote things well, it’s harder because you got to do a little more, so it’s always something going on. I’ve never been busier. It’s been pretty wild.
WORKING WITH ACE FREHLEY
One really interesting thing you did this year, I think you actually recorded your parts some time ago, but you played on Ace Frehley’s “Origins VOL 2” album. So, how that thing came up, and how do you like the results?
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, I mean, I was aware of Paul working with him on the other one. Of course, Ace has been hovering around the Gene and Paul world for the past few years. And I knew the label guy that was involved with helping is for his product. And I made a mention to him. I said it would be fun for me to do something with him on the next one. So Ace and I hit it off really well on the Kruise we did together. So it was pretty easy. He suddenly texted me out of the blue, and now it was at least last April. Not this year, of course. And it took a while. And I think they had aspirations of putting it out almost late last year. Then it was spring and then, of course, the pandemic. So it didn’t come out until this fall, I believe. I did the work so long ago, and that was when I would go to a local studio friend’s house here in Las Vegas, where I’m living. And we had a good time. I know he was so excited, the engineer because he’s a big Ace fan. So it was interesting that Hendrix was chosen. I was really happy about that, of course, and what’s funny about it is that I think his last tour, he was turning down a whole step because Gene got used to that and his band got used to it. And Gene’s band became Ace’s band. So long story short.
Next thing I know, can you cut it a whole step down? So now I’m taking a guitar and changing the tuning. That was the only part of the session that got me a little uncomfortable because my guitar didn’t feel the same way because Tommy and those guys are now used to playing a whole step down, but I’m not. And my guitar acted kind of a little crazy. Again, I’m just being very specific now. It’s not anything necessarily anybody else would notice. And he let me be the main solo, and then he joined me at the end of the song, which I thought was cool. I know he was really pleased with it, so was his engineer. When I got the record from the label, I listened to the entire thing, and I have to admit, I think it’s a great record. Yeah, they’re all covers, but they’re great songs, the performances are solid. And in some ways, I even think “Origins Vol 2” is better than “Origins Vol 1”. And I’m not just saying that because I’m on it, but I just think it’s really a consistent CD. And I know the label has been pushing it a million ways with multiple vinyl reissues. So, it’s pretty cool. I got to say.
BOB KULICK TALK
One thing we have to touch a little bit, of course, is the death of your brother Bob Kulick if it’s ok for you?
Bruce Kulick: Yep.
Bob died last May, so it’s been several months already.
Bruce Kulick: Well, I guess about almost seven months, he died at the very end of May. So, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December.
Is everything settled by now?
Bruce Kulick: Honestly, things are way, way more settled. Still not 100%. But first, it was a shock. Second, it was obviously traumatic for both Lisa and I because we did have a rough time for the previous year. So, to then suddenly be the one that would be handling his affairs and walking into the house because there was no significant other at the time. Bob’s ex-girlfriend was obviously traumatized, and we stay in touch, and we’ve chatted quite a few times. But she wasn’t involved with him for over six months, so she didn’t know everything. And what was most interesting was some people that were friendly with him towards his passing that reached out to me. One actually stopped by the house when Lisa and I were there figuring out what we’re saving, what has to be gotten rid of, you know what I mean, donated and whatever, furniture or stuff like that, because it’s really hard. People that pass away basically alone, with very little family, the burden is on us. But anyway, this really sweet girl came by and said, “Oh, I was friends with your brother. We dated for a little while, but then we just became friends. And he cared so much about you. And I was worried for him, especially with the pandemic. And I asked him what’s going to happen to you if something happens to you,” you know what I mean? Because everyone was fearing mortality during the pandemic, the lockdown, either from the virus or just like what’s going to happen? You know what I mean. And I know my brother was clearly frightened because if he’s built like me, which he pretty much was very similar, I was freaked out too like everybody else. And he flat out told this girl, “My brother will take care of it.” Meaning if he met his demise, I’d be there. Other people, that were helping him towards the end with some business things and legal things reached out to me and said, “Oh, he spoke so highly of you. He loved you, and he felt really bad about everything, but he had so much respect for you,” which, again, was really wonderful for me to hear and very hard for me to hear because then why did he have to be so impossible with me? I tried the best I could, but I reached a point in that last– especially in the previous six months, when he got more extreme with his behavior towards me and my wife, besides other people, but I’m not going to speak for other people. That I realized the only thing I could do was just protect my family and not say anything to anybody publicly, and just try to deal with it – you know what I mean – the best I could. The more that Lisa and I went through everything at the house and heard from these people, the more we realized that he was in a lot of pain. He was in a lot of emotional turmoil. It was all confirmed that he was 70, and he was in a bad way. Okay. He couldn’t see it any other way.
There were friends of his that would reach out to me and say, “Bruce, please, you really– I wish you guys could work things out.” And I’m like, “I don’t think you know the whole picture.” I’d have to explain. And sadly, of course, those people within a short period of time would reach out to me, telling me, “Oh, my God. Your brother just did this to me, and said this to me, and said that to me. I’m really concerned.” And I said, “Okay. I’m really sorry. Now you know why I can’t speak to him.” And he goes, “I do. What should I do?” You know what I mean? And I’m like, “Oh, my God.” So what was so sad for Lisa and I was friends of his that he was able to be close with actually– then him being difficult with them, and then them sharing that with Lisa and I after we tried to isolate ourselves from that pain of what he was doing and experiencing it again. You get that. It wasn’t like I told you so. It was like now you understand, and yet, I had to suffer with them even after I was able to put up my distance and my wall to protect my family, to protect my emotions, to protect me. So that was really tragic. Now, the biggest relief that it took months, and it was a lot to do with just pure bureaucracy, the pandemic, and the coroner’s office being overwhelmed with death. I finally find out that I didn’t know what happened to my brother. I mean, the police were very clear with me that they didn’t see any foul play, but they never say, “Oh, and he died a natural death or whatever.” They’re not going to say. It goes to the coroner. They do a report. I requested every report you can have. Finally, I remember. It was his ex-girlfriend who was so obsessed with trying to find out what happened. She calls me and tells me that they said that they sent the report. So that wasn’t true, though. I don’t know who she spoke to, but I called again after being patient as I could, and I get someone on the phone, and I said, “Look, this is really hard for the family and some close friends. They said that you mailed it. I don’t have anything. We know the mail has been terrible, and that I think you guys all know that with the pandemic. Things that should take four days takes four weeks sometimes. So they said, “No. We didn’t send the report. We’re still waiting for one more signature. We had a lot of turnovers here at the coroner’s.” Whatever. And I said, “Well, can you at least read something to me? Tell me what happened?” And they said, “Oh, yes. Definitely.” And that’s when they said, “No.” And then she reads off something that’s typical of a heart condition that you die from. And I was very clear with the lady, and I said, “All right. You’re positive it doesn’t say anything about any other cause, medications, or any of that? “No, Sir. We couldn’t announce it that way if it was, okay, because it all coordinates. Okay.”
So, I was able to share that on Facebook, but I do need everyone to know, and I was happy. I was so relieved because I knew that he went to bed like any other day for him during a scary pandemic time in America, but he didn’t go to bed emptying a bottle of– which you hear so much of from all the celebrities that die of an overdose of something sad. But after, when I got the full report, I did share it with some doctor friends. And, yeah, they agreed with it. They said, “No. He didn’t intentionally do anything.” In some ways, he wasn’t exactly taking care of himself the best way. But that was Bob from even growing up with him. He was the one that would be a little more extreme about things, okay, so. But again, he didn’t take his life. And that was a really big relief. And I know when I mentioned that he didn’t get a chance to see that doctor maybe. Well, that’s the same as all of us who could get into a doctor during, especially in the spring. But I don’t know if– it wasn’t like he stopped the medication he was on or doubled up on a different medication. I think it was a perfect storm for him to go in a natural death from having some issues at 70 and not really taking care of yourself. But nothing intentional. I think he was under a lot of stress. I think he saw a lot of his– sadly, his mission of saying terrible things about everyone in his life basically and going on a path of trying to get the respect that all the fans always had for him anyway but doing it in a very– using lawyers and rattling people for money. And that’s not a healthy approach when he easily could have embraced the kind of successes that he’s had, and had he had so many great successes.
But he chose a more aggressive, negative approach to winning something for him. And I knew that. I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t adjust it. I couldn’t tell him that you get much more without the stick, if you know what I mean. It’s a silly expression. I think I’m not saying it right. But you get what I mean. Honey always gets much more than vinegar when you want to influence people. And he was just hitting everybody with a stick. And it was so tragic to see him do that when the fans– yeah, the press will pick up on the negativity. But the point is, the fans really– now, of course, now when he’s gone, people out of the woodwork, the response is just incredible. And I’m so happy about that. I’m happy to see that. And if there is a way from the afterlife that someone’s aware of it, God bless him. I know he’s smiling about it. But you don’t have to be gone to see how much talent you had and how important your career was. But this was what happened. And in many ways, from some of the professional people that had to help Lisa and I manage my only sibling, and I have no other really close, close family. I have some cousins. That’s it. They all said that this doesn’t end well for Bob, this behavior. They all said it would hurt. And they also reminded me. And there’s nothing you can do, Bruce. There is nothing. And I’m not going to give away the people or what they are. But these are professionals you want to talk to when you’re having like, “Oh, my God,” you know what I mean? “This is what’s going on in my life.”
And my one closest wise cousin that I spoke to, he said the same thing. They all said the same thing. You can’t help him. But this is not going to end well for him. And I wish he would recognize that. But he wasn’t going to. But I’m relieved it wasn’t where he got into a fight with someone, and someone stabbed them or something horrible like that. He didn’t know he was going to expire that night. And Lisa and I were so frightened to go into the home when the coroner gave us his belongings and everything. And that’s not a great feeling to want to have. Lisa didn’t want to go. And I said, “We have to. We got to go.” And then we were like, “This looks like he got out of bed and died in the bathroom.” And that was what the coroner told me, which is so tragic. But the truth is, in a way, it was a relief because the place wasn’t trashed, and it didn’t look– there was fresh food in the refrigerator. You know what I’m saying, so. And you asked me, “How are you doing now it’s all settled?”
Well, I’m still putting the puzzle together. I hear from some people that he worked with, “Oh, we were working on this. What do you think? Did you find it? What do you think can happen?” I’m still very, very far from jumping into all of that, if you get what I’m saying. But in the meantime, and that’s the positive thing, from the second it happened, I always wanted to share my love and my respect for his talent and what he means to me, all the positive things with the post of the pictures that he probably never thought to share from his early career to– with the wig, with fitting here, as a child, as a great musician that played with all these people to the– Lisa and I found hundreds of pictures with the hats. Okay? I think it may not be hundreds but a hundred. So, there’s going to be lots of other pictures this year. And the fans love it. On occasion, you see one negative person that’s like, “Why are you doing this?” I said, “Because I think people want to see a more human side of Bob too.” Do you remember the way my brother would always pose with the angry skull face [laughter], you know what I mean, because of that band with the arms crossed.
Bob was way funnier than that. And yes, there was a really aggressive rock-and-roll side to him that he knew how to channel. But he was a silly, funny guy. Lisa and I had to also deal with all the years of things that he had from Stella Stevens as well, which was that relationship with the famous Hollywood actress for 30 years that they were together. So that was all part of our job, too, with Bob’s legacy because that’s also something that Bob was handling. So now, Lisa and I have to handle it. And that’s not tied to necessarily his personal rock-and-roll career, but it’s part of his life. So that was another thing.
Of course, I’m not responsible for Stella. Somebody else came in, and he was very helpful, our good friend Stephen. And Stephen was very close to Bob as well. So Lisa and I were so grateful to have his help because we were a wreck. I mean that month– first of all, that’s the month of riots in LA. Yeah. We’re all in Vegas, but we’re aware. We have friends in LA, and we’re hearing the news from our friends. They’re boarding up the streets. Everyone saw that. The business owners that we’re friends with are on their roof with a gun, you know what I mean, to protect their business. That’s what was going on in America when Bob died. It was horrible. This was all surreal. My brother died, going in his house, having to deal with his belongings, unraveling that, the whole world’s crumbling. There’s a freaking pandemic going on, and people were running around ignoring it anyway. It was a nightmare. And then we realized, “Oh—all the Stella Stevens stuff.” We have to take it too because it’s Bob’s. You know what I mean? Which means it’s mine. Do you see what I mean? It was unbelievable, Marko. I mean, what a month. I was in terrible physical pain. Obviously, when you’re going through boxes and bags and everything in someone’s house, you’re contorting your body. But I was just a complete wreck. I was sweating every night. I remember when I ran to the doctor, like, what is going on with me? And they go like, “Are you under any stress?” I go, “My brother just died.” “Oh, well. Okay. I don’t think you’re going to see that anything’s actually wrong with you.” Yeah. They said it. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. There wasn’t anything wrong with me. It was stress. It was the torture of reality of the world crumbling around you, America looking broken, and my brother dying, and me not really understanding any of it. I mean everything. It was torture. So for an entire month, instead of me being creative, I was just trying to survive. And thankfully, of course, Lisa was very helpful, and so is our friend Stephen. And it was really only us that knew this.
Then a friend would call that was close with Bob that we knew when we lived in LA. And she’s like, “Did you know my husband died of COVID? I’ve been speaking to Bob,” and I’m like, “Oh, my God.” And that was the first person that I physically knew that I didn’t know he died, but she was a wreck. It was just like all I was doing was crying all the time. It was torture, so. I’m so glad I’m beyond that. I’ve been celebrating his music and his career and the reaction from the fans. Great. I plan on doing more. The guys in Balance that band he was in, Peppy Castro. I’m close with Doug. Peppy calls me and says, “I have a song that I was supposed to finish with your brother. Will you work on this with me?” I said, “Absolutely.” And Marko, I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I heard it. I was just like, “Absolutely. I love this.” There are so many positive things about it, you know what I mean, that I want to see happen. I’m certain, and I hope by next Christmas– I know he was working on another Christmas record. There was no way to do anything for that this 2020 Christmas, but maybe if I could figure out the business thing and do it right, I can have something also for next year. So there are so many possibilities.
Bob used to work a lot of stuff with Brett Chassen in the past. Have you been in touch with him now?
Bruce Kulick: Yes. I’ve been in touch with Brett as well too. It’s really fun to put together a lot of these people that Bob revolved with. There were studio people here in Las Vegas that I knew of and maybe only met once, but now I’m starting to get to know them. And I think that’s a good thing. We’re all on the same page about trying to do right by Bob and celebrate all that. So I see a lot of possibilities moving forward. And the great thing about it is all of it’s going to be positive and not about anything negative. And I got to think again that Bob knows that everybody has been showing tremendous respect for his contributions to music.
It was almost at the same time last year when we last called, and we talked a lot about your brother because he had previously canceled his performance at our KISS Expo in Finland, with only two weeks’ notice. Do you remember that chat?
Bruce Kulick: Yes, and it’s funny you’d bring it up because I was thinking about it a minute ago when I was telling you about the doctors. Obviously, I found his doctor, and it turns out I actually see someone from the same medical group now because a doctor I was using retired, and he recommended it. And they told me to go– it was so weird. I go like, “Wait a minute; that’s my brother’s doctor’s group.” And then that guy was very upset about Bob passing away. He even sent a sympathy card to Lisa and I. But what’s more ironic is; obviously, I found that letter that he shared with you saying that the doctor wrote saying he shouldn’t travel.
Now, at the time, finding all that medical stuff, they couldn’t exactly find anything wrong with Bob. But I believe that was the beginning of him being very emotionally stressed about things to the point where things didn’t feel right, but they couldn’t find anything. The only thing I know that they did notice because he had heart palpitations, which ultimately was a heart condition that killed him. But you got to add everything else; the stress, the pandemic, his being– his anger, maybe. I mean, again, no one can quantify that, okay. You know that. No doctors can say, “He died of anger. He died of sadness.” They can’t put that on a death certificate. You know that. All right? And yet, people do die of that. You know that. Okay. The couple that’s been together for 50 years, the wife dies, the husband dies that week because he can’t live, you know what I mean? But they don’t write down a broken heart. No. Whatever was a weak thing in that person’s physiology will be what kills him. But it was really because of their sadness. Okay. But I found that letter, and I remember we spoke about it, and Bob and I were kind of still speaking then in a healthy way. And I was very supportive when he would tell me, “Oh, I had a– my doctor wants me to get this test and that test.” And every time we spoke, it was actually negative, but he still didn’t feel good, you know?
So eventually, the doctor just said, “I don’t think you should take a trip like that.” And Bob and I have mutual doctor friends so that I would reach out to them sometimes, and they would obviously say that he’s wound up enough that he won’t feel good, but there was nothing actually wrong with him except he’s wound up. And everyone’s got to realize how much their emotions affect their physical well-being. And I’m aware of it. That’s why I wear the iWatch, and it tells me, “Breath.” Because it knows that my heart’s beating too much or I’m stressed. So what can I say other than I was happy though I did tell you the right thing that as far as I knew, this was legit. He wasn’t trying to– he shouldn’t have travel because you don’t know what would have happened. I mean, I know that towards the end, some people were telling me things that happened in the previous six months that I wasn’t aware of because I wasn’t speaking to my brother. And they would say, like, “Oh, no, he was supposed to take that flight, but they removed him from the plane.” I’m like, “Okay.” And I remember that happened back in the Meat Loaf days. It’s not like it’s just happened recently. But I’m like, “Okay.” So, in other words, I know my brother. When he was in one of those moods and the flight’s supposed to be half empty, but then they’d cancel another flight so now the flight is packed and that seat that he thought he had, he doesn’t have anymore, he’d take it up with the flight attendant, and they go like, “Sir, that’s your seat. Sit down.” “But I was told–” you know what I mean. And the conversation doesn’t get better. And there are people like that. And unfortunately, those are the battles that, yeah, you could complain and grumble, but you got to let it go. And I have a feeling that Bob wasn’t letting those things go. So that’s what happened next, “Sir, you’re going to have to get off the flight.” And that all ties into that kind of unfortunate side that my brother had, yet thankfully, most of the fans saw a very appreciative, grateful musician who had a tremendous talent. And in many ways, he could be much more social than me because he did like me, especially when people perked up and were excited to see him.
There was a guy that I knew from– I met him at a Grand Funk show, but I knew him from back in the Kiss days, and he came to a gig, and he told me his son gave– he was a young kid, so he was delivering pizza for a place here in Las Vegas, and he wound up in Bob’s house. And when he delivered the pizza to Bob, he said like, “Oh, you’re Bob Kulick. I’m a big fan.” Because he loved all the Kiss things and everything, and Bob invited him in the house and showed him the guitars; you know what I mean? When this guy told me about what happened with his son, I was so fascinated by it. And he said all wonderful things, and he was very engaging. That’s the Bob that I wish I had 100% of the time and not the one going on and saying some of the things he said in those last interviews that were really weird.
I have to say that despite the problems I had with him in the end, I only have good memories of Bob. I met him on many occasions, numerous times, and I did several great interviews with him. I especially remember our KISS Expo in Helsinki, when you, John Corabi, and Bob were our special guests. It was in 2011, and it truly was a great event.
Bruce Kulick: Right. All right. We spoke plenty about Bob, and I want everyone to know that I absolutely plan on continuing to celebrate everything good and not focus on any of the negativity because it just doesn’t solve anything, and it doesn’t help me heal. And it doesn’t change that I tragically lost him, but at least I know that it was just that was his fate. I’m just so proud of all the music and, of course, of that amazing gig I did with him on the Kruise. I’m so grateful for that. Yes, it didn’t really happen again, but that one– it’s hard to beat that gig, period.
THE YEAR 2021
Here we have discussed many things, but if we think about the year 2021, what can all the fans expect from you next year? Maybe a new Grand Funk tour, new music, what all you have now planned for?
Bruce Kulick: Well, it’s a great question. And it’s something I’ve been talking with my wife about because I’m not saying necessarily– I want to do other things with her in the future, too. But we chat because, especially this year with me being home all the time and we’re together, we’re friends in the same circle of KISS people and everything. We’re able to really kick it around a lot. It is exciting. There are some exciting things that I hope can happen, and there’s a lot of unknowns. So that’s why I love the chats with Lisa about more the unknowns, not the ones we know. I’d like to see– part of the unknown is knowing when really live gigging will be accepted and be very, very, safe and become active. And I think anyone making a spring plan is too soon. But beyond that, I don’t know. I don’t know, okay. And anyone who thinks they do, I don’t know if they have enough facts to make that opinion to be real, okay.
I’ve heard some people say 2021 could be another ”off-year.” I’ve heard some people say, “No, it’s all going to be fine by the summer.” And I’m not believing either side, okay. I’m going to wait and see, okay. So in the meantime, I’m really excited, for example, about working with the guys in my band, the Mob. I call them Members Of Bruce’s Band, the Mobb. Because we’re all local, we could probably all get together safely and actually do something, okay, either get the test or just wear your masks and let’s work together. So that’s a goal, okay. And I think it can happen and start in the early part of 2021. The corporate gig, that was Lisa, Todd, and I. And it was only the three of us because typically, the guy would have flown us to Nashville. We would have done the gig – you know what I mean? – in a non-COVID pandemic world, and that would have been it. But the fact that I could create a corporate event for him, that one was shot very professionally, multiple cameras. It’s still being edited and all that, and it’s not released to the company. But the point is from that, and I’m hoping I can offer more things like that to people, okay, in the meantime because just like the success of the KISSmas Masquerade 2020 thing of Todd and I, and then with Lisa, there’s value to entertainment like that in the meantime before it’s safe to be live.
Do you know the former Skid Row drummer Rob Affuso? He’s doing a good corporate gig business with his current band now.
Bruce Kulick: I do because we toured together in Australia, a couple of years ago, and he was part of that Four By Fate: John Regan and Pat and everyone. That’s actually more like a wedding thing, but I don’t know what he’s doing virtual right, now, if that’s what you mean. But he’s got that Soulsystem Orchestra or something?
Soulsystem Orchestras, that’s the thing I was talking about.
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, yeah, no. No, I’m thinking more about bringing– for example, for the corporate gig, I didn’t do the show for KISSmas 2020 or KISS songs because– a corporate gig that’s got a bunch of different people from different tastes of music. We varied it. We had a Stones song. We had a Beatles song. We do a Nancy Sinatra song, and Lisa and I do ”Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Who doesn’t know that? But I like that as another thing that I can do, but it’s still too early to say what I’ll do with it. I’d like the Mobb to do a rock and roll corporate event because those guys could cover every band in the known universe, too – do you know what I mean? – from The Who to the Stones to the Beatles to KISS to everybody. And I love that stuff. So we’ll see. I am recording with my band, seeing if I can offer more streaming content of quality– of course, more of my connections with my fans on my social media, with celebrations, guitars of the month, and more cameos and more guitar lessons. Maybe there’ll be an opportunity. Eric Singer and I have talked about In the Evening with Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick – do you know what I mean? – where we talk about ”Revenge.” We talk about ”Carnival of Souls.”
Are we soon going to see ESP or Union in stages again?
That sounds like a good idea. By the way, have you talked to Eric about doing ESP gigs again at some point in the future?
Bruce Kulick: That’s possible, too. I mean, you know that we all had an auction for Karl Kochran, for Rock and Recovery, that was very successful on Facebook. And I still keep in touch with John. There’s always talk about whether Union does something: Brent, me, and John and Jamie. We’ll see. I mean, right now, I’ve just been trying to get through the holiday thing and those two corporate gigs, my first gigs of the year. So it’s really been exciting. And I’m up for whatever comes in 2021. But most important is that everyone’s safe and productive and healthy. And I’m hoping for the best.
One thing that will definitely happen sometime in the future is the last KISS concert in New York, and as far as I know, you’re involved in that too. It will be a historic event on many levels.
Bruce Kulick: Well, as far as I know, obviously, that date in July of ’21 changed, as you know, even though it hasn’t been re-announced. But I do expect to be there, and I have no idea when it would be, but I look forward to it, of course. I think it’ll be a really magical night. I really do. I have no particulars about it, no meaning, no information, no anything about it. But the great thing is that I’m still really close with all those guys. And they know that I’m a big supporter of what KISS means in my life, and I’m proud of them for carrying on what they do. So hopefully, it’ll be a good celebratory evening. Hopefully, as many of the KISS members, who they would allow, could be involved, and we make it a big celebration. It will be fun.
It’s the time of the last question, but it’s a very critical one. Are you going to watch the Dubai show?
Bruce Kulick: The Dubai show. I might be able to watch it. I didn’t get asked, “Eric, hey, can you get me the pass thing?” I’m certainly curious. I can’t imagine it not being incredibly filmed and shot, and 50 cameras in the whole thing. I think it’s going to be pretty exciting to the fans. I still think that people where they’re so used to concerts. This has been a learning curve for everyone about the streaming thing, but I’m really proud of KISS for jumping in a big way. And when KISS does something, they have to do it the biggest, the boldest and the wildest, and the over the top, so that’s what they’re doing. So I hope to. But the funniest thing is a couple of friends and fans of mine that would say to me, “So Bruce, are you going to Dubai?” I mean, I don’t even go to California; why am I going to Dubai. You know what I mean [laughter]? If they invited me, I’d go. But I’m not part of the show, so. But I do hope to watch it. And I’ll be really curious to see how people respond. And I think it was so clever, KISS 2020 Goodbye. It’s so funny.
This was all about it. Thank you so much, Bruce.
Bruce Kulick: No problem Marko. It’s always great to chat with you.