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an interview with...
KISS Longtime Unmasked Guitarist Rekindles Power Trio Days
• ray shasho - june 22nd, 2015
Got to Get Back is the latest release by KKB, a 1974 power trio that featured lead guitarist Bruce Kulick, singer/bassist Mike Katz, and drummer Guy Bois. It’s a hard driving/progressive rock sound reminiscent to the styles of Cream, YES, and King Crimson. The band may have even become legendary if it hadn’t been for their lack of professional guidance. The title track …“Got to Get Back” is a brand new song. Kulick says … “I thought the way we could celebrate it the best after 40 years was actually to record a new song with the same guys, I gave Mike a riff that I thought was similar to the kind of progressive /metal trio style we did back in 1974 and he ran with it and turned into a terrific song.”
Got to Get Back by KKB is a timeless gem performed by three first-rate musicians. (5) Stars!
BRUCE KULICK was a veteran guitarist for “The Hottest Band In The World” … KISS! It was during the unmasking period for the legendary rockers who officially appeared in public without makeup in an appearance on MTV in 1983. Kulick would join KISS as their fourth lead guitarist in less than three years and holds title to the longest continuous tenure of anyone other than Simmons and Stanley (September 1984 to August 1996). Although Kulick never wore the band's iconic makeup, he says …“It keeps my era a little bit more unique and sacred in a sense and I’m there to waive the flag for it.”
Bruce Kulick played on (5) KISS studio albums … Asylum, Crazy Nights, Hot in the Shade, Revenge, Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions. Kulick also appeared on Alive III and KISS Unplugged. The song "I Walk Alone" from Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions is the only KISS track to feature Kulick as lead vocalist. To date, Kulick is featured on more than (20) KISS releases.
The ‘Farewell Tour’ featured original KISS members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Frehley left the group after the tour but Kulick was not asked to return as their lead guitarist; instead Tommy Thayer became the new spaceman for KISS. Kulick did however continue to work with the band by contributing on several albums.
In 1997, Kulick formed ‘Union’ with lead vocalist/guitarist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Ratt), drummer Brent Fitz (Slash, Vince Neil), and bassist James Hunting (David Lee Roth, Eddie Money). ‘Union’ released (2) studio albums, two singles: "Old Man Wise" and "October Morning Wind," and a live album.
Since 2001, Bruce Kulick has been the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad. The original band was a power trio that featured current band members Don Brewer and Mel Schacher.
Grand Funk Railroad Tour Dates …
07/25/15 - Seneca Allegany Events Center, Salamanca, New York
08/01/15 - Delaware State Fair, Harrington, Delaware
08/07/15 - Paramount Hudson Valley, Peekskill, New York
08/08/15 - Wolf Den/Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Connecticut
08/15/15 - Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, Maumee, Ohio
08/22/15 - Martin County Fair, Fairmont, Minnesota
08/29/15 - Husets Speedway, Brandon, South Dakota
09/04/15 - Golden Nugget Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
09/06/15 - Southern 500 Nascar, Darlington, South Carolina
09/19/15 - Cactus Pete's Resort, Jackpot, Nevada
NEW! 09/26/15 - Sam Houston Race Park, Houston, Texas
NEW! 10/10/15 - Florida State H.O.G. Rally, Fort Myers, Florida
10/21/15 - Fourth Street Live! Louisville, Kentucky
NEW! 12/12/15 - Hollywood Casino Event Center, Charles Town, WV
Bruce Kulick Albums and Videos:
With/ KKB- 1974 (1974)
With/Rosetta- 20th Century Records (1976)
With/Billy Squier- The Tale of the Tape (1980)
With/Blackjack- Blackjack (1979), Worlds Apart (1980)
With/The Good Rats- Great American Music (1981)
With/ Michael Bolton-Michael Bolton (1983), Everybody's Crazy (1985), The Hunger (1987)
With/Union -Union (1998), Live in the Galaxy (1999), The Blue Room (2000)
With/ Daniel McCartney- Unbreakle (2000)
With/ESP- Lost & Spaced (1998), ESP (1999), Live in Japan (2006),
Live at the Marquee DVD (2006)
Solo albums -Audio Dog (2001), Transformer (2003), BK3 (2010)
I had the great please of chatting with Bruce Kulick recently about his latest release Got to Get Back with his first band KKB … Becoming a longtime guitarist with KISS … Playing with Grand Funk Railroad … Touring … Tommy Thayer … A new solo album? … The shock of being shot …My infamous ‘Field of Dreams’ question … and much-much more!
Here’s my interview with the monstrous guitar player for KKB, Meatloaf, Blackjack w/Michael Bolton, KISS, Union, and Grand Funk Railroad … BRUCE KULICK.
Ray Shasho: Bruce thank you for being on the call today … I’d like to first chat about the new release “Got to Get Back” which was recorded by your first band KKB featuring the power trio of Bruce Kulick, Mike Katz and Guy Bois. It’s a great album with a fascinating story behind it.
Bruce Kulick: “Except for the first track everything came from our very ambitious efforts back in 1974. Mike found these tapes; he was the principal songwriter, singer and bassist. I did a limited edition of a tape that I found of what we did back then in 2008 and sold that on my website … it was called ‘KKB 1974,’ but I couldn’t remix any of it. Then around a year and a half ago, Mike finally found the original tapes and now we had the four tracks that we could properly mix, master, and re-master. We added a string quartet to one of the songs; I realized that since I did a limited edition of it in 2008, I thought the way we could celebrate it the best after 40 years was actually to record a new song with the same guys, and that’s what the title track … “Got to Get Back” is, I gave Mike a riff that I thought was similar to the kind of progressive /metal trio style we did back in 1974 and he ran with it and turned into a terrific song.”
“We never physically got together because it was too expensive … with Guy (drummer) living in Paris, Mike (bassist) in New York and I live in LA. Nowadays with Pro Tools you can easily share the files. It was all mixed by Brian Virtue a very talented guy here in LA and he sort of became the fourth member of the band. We didn’t want to overdo anything since we found the original tapes and could transfer that properly digitally. I could have done a lot of things … double guitars, replace parts … but I didn’t want to do that, I really wanted it to be as pure as it could be, and it’s funny how the new song fits in with the others after a 40 year gap … its crazy!”
Ray Shasho: I was blown away how well the new track fit right-in after 40 years.
Bruce Kulick: “Mike has a very strong point of view as a musician and hasn’t changed in the 40 years; he’s always been crazy for Jack Bruce and Cream and that’s why we actually dedicated this CD to Jack Bruce.
I had the pleasure of actually meeting him a few times and even jamming with him at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, which was one of my dreams come true … actually playing Cream songs with Jack.
But Mike was so into that whole sound of Jack Bruce and that style and I think Mike also has a terrific rock voice. But the way he constructs a song and puts it together … he’s very complete about it; you could hear all the harmonies for the vocals, we didn’t do a lot of that on the original KKB but “Got to Get Back” has a couple of different backgrounds which sound really good and it’s all Mike.”
Ray Shasho: A lot of the tracks on the new album have that progressive rock feel to it …
Bruce Kulick: “Back in the 70’s it was King Crimson, YES of course, although they used more keyboards and intricate vocals, but those bands I know we did like, especially YES. Guy and I were in a cover band together playing all the rock songs that we liked. YES and ELP were really important to us. I’m sure Mike was aware of those bands too. The two bands I would think of while KKB was rehearsing … I would imagine YES and more really Cream, but the music is more progressive than Cream. I think Mike was fascinated with fooling around with some of the time signatures. . KKB would explore a 7/8 or 5/4 time … you don’t really notice it that much because it just feels right, but you know King Crimson and YES did it a lot.”
“When KISS wanted to do Carnival of Souls, they wanted to be a darker, heavier, meaner … Revenge (1992). In the early 90’s, I started to fool around with detuning and writing riffs that may have different time signatures. So there are quite a lot of songs on Carnival of Souls that I contributed to. But to put it in the context of three guys, no overdub, and no punching in, I’m constantly blown away how tight we were and how good we were. Brian explained to me after he got to live with the transferred tape, there’s a lot of bleed in each track, and that just proves it’s all live. It’s a great time capsule of my early playing, but not only that; to think we did all that work and recorded these song that are still enjoyable and we never did anything …why didn’t we seek a record label or try to network with someone? Thinking about it now I would answer that with … it wasn’t about ambition it was all about making music. All of a sudden, Mike was travelling and doing gigs for the USO and I’m off touring for six months with another band backing disco artists because that’s where the money was back then. But we never got the chance to do a gig or audition for a label, so who knows what could have happened.”
Ray Shasho: On “Trying to Find A Way” I noticed that you incorporated some Hendrix riffs on that track …
Bruce Kulick: “That was one of the only overdubs of the whole record, the first song of course we did in a modern way and shared the files. But that was the one track that was able to be put on the vocal track; we only had 4 tracks when we recorded back then. The songs we recorded in the studio back in 1974 were all live and then Mike went in and did the vocals. We used all the dynamics of a trio without any fancy studio tricks.”
Ray Shasho: Grand Funk Railroad begins touring in July and will make a stop on October 10th at the 2015 Florida State H.O.G. Rallies ‘Roar to the Shore’ in Fort Myers, Florida … www.flstatehogrally.com
Bruce Kulick: “Come on out and see the show! Every gig is a challenge because we play a lot of different types of venues … casinos, classic rock festivals, city festivals, barbeque fests and whatever it is, but it’s interesting most of those crowds seem to vary in ages and fortunately we seem to get the job done and everyone goes home really happy.”
Ray Shasho: “I’ve always been a huge Mark Farner supporter; we did a few interviews together and chatted with him several times after his gigs in Clearwater …
Bruce Kulick: “I’ve done work with Mark at Fantasy Camp. At first he was a little put off to me and understandably, I had nothing to do with the relationship of the original three guys. But I reached out to him because I am a big fan of his and we had a couple of things in common where my Brother Bob, who is actually a fine guitarist, played on his first solo record and Dick Wagner produced it, and I remember the gift that he gave Bob, a sort of vintage pistol. But I remember we had this vintage gun in the house which was his gift to Bob, and as soon as I told him all of that he really warmed up. I reminded him at the camp, since I know the material, and if you perform it, I’d be happy to be your second guitarist and it would be an honor for me. He appreciated that and I wasn’t expecting him to play KISS songs, (All laughing) so we got along. When he did the Howard Stern Show he actually asked me to come and play the acoustic so he could play guitar or when we performed “Closer to Home.”
But ultimately I have a lot of respect for him and whatever goes on between him and the other members of the group is not my situation because I’m a fan too.”
Ray Shasho: “Let’s talk KISS … were you upset or a little annoyed when Gene and Paul decided to bring in Tommy Thayer and not bring you back as their guitarist?
Bruce Kulick: “It’s a great question you’re asking … quite honestly there was times when I was aware that Ace was becoming a wild card and being very difficult. It wasn’t by design that Tommy was kind of the bands tour manager/assistant guy and he’d been involved for quite a few years even when I was in the band … putting together the Kisstory book and being involved in documenting a lot of things with Gene and Paul behind the scenes, even though Tommy was always a talented guitar player from Black ‘n Blue and had gold and platinum records on Geffen etc. etc. Tommy was also in a KISS tribute band at one time so he certainly knew what it was to be dressed up like the spaceman. So when it came down to it there were a couple events where Ace was a total no-show. They weren’t high profiled things but were still enough where they had to say … “Hey Tommy get the outfit on!” So it became pretty natural for them to go to Tommy. It would have been awkward for me although I really do miss being in KISS. But I couldn’t say 100% that I would never do that. Offer me a contract … what’s the deal?”
“Knowing that they really wanted someone to be as much the spaceman as Ace was on the reunion tour …that would have been a little left to center for my 12 years, because I really wasn’t given that kind of direction. Tommy is doing the kind of job that Gene and Paul want in the current KISS. I don’t mind the fact that it keeps my era a little bit more unique and sacred in a sense and I’m there to waive the flag for it.”
Ray Shasho: Bruce, you definitely have an impressive rock resume … how many musicians can say that they’ve played as a full-time member in bands of the caliber of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad?
Bruce Kulick: “I’m proud of my resume. To be honest, I think Eric Singer has a longer list than me. I’m proud of the things that I’ve done … there was the Bat Out of Hell/Meatloaf tour which was exciting and the Billy Squire record, and my relationship with Michael Bolton, and we still keep in touch. It’s been so many years but everything comes full circle.”
Ray Shasho: So overall your KISS relationship remains steady.
Bruce Kulick: “Oh yea, I stay in touch … Gene, Paul and Eric was at my wedding, and they know I’m very supportive. It’s all good and the more they continue on … they’re creating new fans all the time. I see on Facebook and Twitter how many people they turn-on to the KISS world and who want to know more about KISS and the next thing you know they’re following me.”
Ray Shasho: One of my favorite You Tube videos is your guitar solo during “Cold Gin” in 1988 at Budokan Hall in Japan.
Bruce Kulick: “I’d been in the band for about eight years and we were in fine form. I thought all the tours went very well and there were certain albums I preferred to others, but I have a lot to be proud of.”
Ray Shasho: I heard you were a big sci-fi fan?
Bruce Kulick: “I love Star Wars, Star Trek … I like some horror but I prefer the sci-fi stuff. It will be exciting to see the movie later this year. The great thing about Star Wars, Star Trek and all the versions from The Next Generation into Deep Space Nine … I found the stories to be quite compelling, telling about something we all go through in our lives into a futuristic landscape, and they are always very enjoyable, I know my dad always loved those too.”
Ray Shasho: Bruce, what happened the day you got shot?
Bruce Kulick “It was over ten years ago and a weird random thing. I was leaving a club and there was a guy that was very drunk and who was very angry at a security guard at the Rainbow which was a block up from the club I was leaving … I went to see a buddy of mine who was playing with Vince Neil. The next thing I know, I hear these ricochet shots that sounded like a backfire of a car. Something went through my leg and the other bullet kind of grazed my head and whistled by my ear. Of course I went to the hospital and they were all waiting for me looking pretty serious because they heard … head wound and leg wound. The head wound was superficial thank God because the bullet could have gone into my head. The other bullet could have crippled me, but it was the perfect kind of way to get shot according to the paramedic and a cop. They said you want it to go through the muscle, that’s the way to get hit. And then they sent me home. I was home by six in the morning … and then I see scrolling on CNN … former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick shot. Of course I called my parents and said don’t worry I’m home already. It was pretty surreal. You’ve got to check out “I’ll Survive,” the fifth track on my solo album ‘BK3’ … I kind of poetically tell the story of that event.”
“This year I released ‘BK3’ on vinyl and it’s available on my website. Vinyl is very hot right now!”
Ray Shasho: Bruce, here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to perform or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Bruce Kulick: “I’ve always been obsessed with The Beatles… I know you said I can go back in the past but I’d be happy just sitting- in with Paul and Ringo right now. I have so much respect for them … I did get a chance to briefly meet Ringo which was a real thrill, and considering they came from the biggest rock band in history. I have a lot of respect for how much good music they put out and how entertaining they’ve been. So that would be my ‘Field of Dreams’ to play with The Beatles but would be very happy with just Paul and Ringo.”
Ray Shasho: Bruce, thank you so much for being on the call today and for all the incredible music you’ve given us with KISS, and all the great music you continue to bring!
Bruce Kulick: “Thanks Ray!”
Purchase Got to Get Back by KKB the lat release from Bruce Kulick … Bruce is proud to offer a special KKB GOT TO GET BACK CD Package for fans and collectors. The package includes: Limited edition, numbered copy of the GOT TO GET BACK CD, Two-sided photo card with the story/history of KKB, KKB GOT TO GET BACK guitar pick, Download card with redemption code for downloading the digital version of GOT TO GET BACK -The KKB GOT TO GET BACK CD Package is offered both unsigned ($20.00) and autographed by Bruce ($30.00). Order now at http://kulick.net/merchandise.shtml
*You can also order the Got to Get Back CD by KKB at amazon.com … (5) Stars!
GOT TO GET BACK
Very special thanks to Anne Leighton Media * Music Services * Motivation
Thanks to all photographers involved for the re-issue of their beautiful pictures and thank to Bruce Kulick for the pictures from his personal site © (Keys and Chords)
Contact music journalist/author Ray Shasho at email@example.com
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