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Confidentially Speaking with BRUCE KULICK
by Jesse Capps
It's great to catch up with you, Bruce. I'm really glad to see the Union DVD is out, man. Tell me a little about that.
The past month and a half has been really exciting. A DVD from the band I had with Corabi from 2001 was finally finished up and we got the rights to put it out. The reaction's been great. I'm selling it myself on my website, just like I did for my solo records. We only got to do a couple of club tours throughout the states. We did a little better when we went international. We couldn't get everywhere. It wasn't like a KISS tour where we got to travel everywhere. There were a lot of people that hadn't seen the band. They liked what they heard with the two discs we put out and they'll get to see us now. It's going really well and it's something I'm very pleased about.
Fans have been asking about that forever. It was also great to see KISS My Ass and Konfidential/Xtreme Close-Up out on DVD. That era of KISS is actually my favorite. My first concert was KISS on the Hot In The Shade tour.
Unfortunately sometimes that lineup is ignored. I know the fans that saw the band really respect what we were trying to do.
You always hear guitarists say how ACE FREHLEY influenced them but I think a lot has to be said for what you did with them.
Cool. I've heard that before and it's very flattering, especially with the makeup era being the icon of KISS. I've heard your sentiment many times.
You've got some tour dates coming up with the ERIC SINGER Project (ESP).
ESP, which is what we really call it anyway, came out of...it's interesting how these different journeys keep affecting each other. Knowing that the Union DVD would be ready in early 2005 and that there was a Japanese promoter who had asked me to go gig there, I committed to playing some dates in Tokyo. I didn't want to do it as BRUCE KULICK solo. I wanted to draw some attention to the Union DVD and have everybody available to play. Unfortunately, the drummer Brent, who was with Vince Neil is now with a new band called Theory Of A Deadman. He couldn't come to Japan. I was stuck. We already had a plane ticket for him. I ended up asking Eric what he was doing and he didn't have anything going on. I got him to commit to come to Japan. The event was very successful. It was Union with ERIC SINGER on drums. We had a great time. The reaction was terrific. The club nights were fun and full. We thought maybe we could do some more. I go to Europe at least once a year as either a guest at a metal-fest type of thing or I'll go as BRUCE KULICK with a band that I'll pick up over there. I'm always trying to evolve it. I had plans of trying to take Corabi out. People were asking to see Union. It's sometimes hard to round the whole band up because we're not really active. I approached Eric and said we could do this. It isn't really Union if he's playing. He helped us out in Japan but he didn't join Union. He's still in KISS no matter how active KISS is. Me, John and Eric actually had a band called ESP which was really put together specifically not to confuse my fans into thinking I had another band. I was just a part of the ERIC SINGER Project. It can have different people in it but the strength of the band would be people like me and John. It's me, John Corabi, Eric, and I asked Eric who he'd like to play bass. He mentioned someone he'd worked with from Alice Cooper, this guy named Chuck Garric. The guy's terrific. He's another LA guy like us. We went ahead and booked these gigs. I know we were offered more than a weeks worth. Because of my Grank Funk schedule I can't block off weeks and weeks at a time because it affects everybody. Grand Funk can get a gig anytime, any week of the year. We usually only work about 50 shows a year. ESP has six gigs together at the end of April. Maybe we'll do some more things in the future, too. The set-list will definitely be some cool KISS stuff. We're going to do some Union material. We'll do a half-dozen Union songs, a Motley Crue song or two. We'll probably do an Alice Cooper song just for the fun of it. We're going to do "American Band" from Grand Funk and some cool covers. We could be the legitimate ultimate cover band. The fans will have a good time with it.
Each member of the band actually has ties to the songs you're playing, so that's pretty unique.
Exactly. That's what I mean. That's the key to doing the stuff. The set-list could be huge but we picked 20 songs to work on. We're excited about it. We've already been getting together and put together a cool 8x10. People always love when I work with Eric. They see it as a kind of Revenge, Alive III lineup in front of them. That's cool.
I heard the set will include some KISS songs that haven't been played before. Which songs are you planning on including?
A lot of people haven't seen...if you've seen Union or me solo you've seen "Jungle" or "I Walk Alone" and stuff from Carnival of Souls. Eric likes to sing "Black Diamond". I think we're talking about doing "Watchin' You" which is cool. I'm not sure what other surprises we may add in there.
Does KISS put any limitations on how you can promote the shows and what kind of merch you can sell?
No, the only issue that KISS always has...everyone knows that I'm 'formerly of KISS', ya know? That's not a problem. It's just...they don't want to see us do a KISS show, an entire set of KISS songs. That's ridiculous, ya know? I have no interest in that anyway. My fan-base is well aware that as much as I gave to the band in my 12 years that after it was done I didn't sit around and wallow in my tears. I moved on and started a band with Corabi. That's constantly been evolving. There's no issues from KISS. They've never said, "Come open for KISS, Bruce!" They've been very supportive. Gene's come to a few shows here in LA when I've performed with Union. They've always been very cool about it.
Since the Union DVD is out and there is renewed fan interest do you think you'll be working with Corabi again?
Well, the whole band might do something again, too. Obviously that was the goal for Japan. We've already been asked to do some stuff in Japan for later in the year. We've already been talking to some people about going to Australia and Europe as Union. I get a lot of emails from people that miss the band and wanna know when we're going to put out a new record. I don't know if they realize how difficult that is. I'm just really fortunate that I stayed on top of the DVD. We filmed it over a couple of shows in LA before we went to Argentina. There are two full concerts included. One is a straight-ahead Musician's Institute thing that they filmed and they allowed us to include it. That's the bonus concert. Then there's a much more detailed and edited concert from two shows that's put together very MTV-style. We didn't do any overdubs. I mixed it at my brother's studio and it sounds terrific. It's not 5.1, but it still sounds great. I took a lot of attention to as much bonus stuff as I could find. There's a photo gallery, 15 minutes of great behind-the-scenes footage of us traveling all over the world. There's a bonus track that we never released from the writing sessions for the first album. There's a promo video from Spitfire. I tried to make it as interesting as we could. This band could have had gold records. Unfortunately, music was changing a lot when we came out. I still stand by the music that we did and this DVD shows what we're capable of.
That being said, do you think that Mayhem and Spitfire did as much as they could to promote the band?
Well, Mayhem went out of business. I don't think Spitfire is interested in breaking bands. Yeah, they had Alice Cooper and Zakk Wylde, but I think Zakk's on another label already. But, as far as your question goes, no! The way I'm selling Union is the way to do it, OK? I care and I'm getting it straight to the people. Other people are interested in pushing buttons and bean counting. I picked up a Rolling Stone and went straight to the news and there's an article on three big rock stations that are no more. They're changing over to urban/hip-hop or whatever is profitable for them. The future is satellite radio and the internet. You know that if you're into rock 'n roll. I don't need an official label to make myself successful with product. I know there is a fan-base there and if you treat them with respect and give them quality product and make sure they get what they order then they're happy. If I hadn't done my solo records I wouldn't have tried to sell the Union DVD this way. With the success of selling two solo records I've talked to people at labels. I've told them the numbers I've done and they can't believe I've done that myself. It makes more sense and I can control what I want. Labels don't get it and rock 'n roll is not profitable for them unless you're Eric Clapton.
You had a chance to participate in Rock 'N Roll Fantasy Camp this year. I read your detailed report on Kulick.net but I'd like to know you're favorite highlight from it all.
It's funny because I had some friends over last night and we went to dinner. My friend Chad is a big music fan. I was sent a couple of weeks ago a rough un-edited DVD which was just a copy of this guy's videotape from the balcony at the House Of Blues of the show that the counselors did. First we did some cover songs. Then it was time to bring out Roger Daltrey from the Who for a small Who set. That was THE highlight for me, OK?! I couldn't believe it. The DVD brought back memories. I was sweating watching it. It was one of the most exciting things that I've ever done. The Who is one of those bands that I grew up learning so much from. To have a chance to perform with Daltrey was amazing. The set-list was great. It was only four songs but it was unbelievable. "Won't Get Fooled Again" is just one of those songs like "Rock 'n Roll All Nite." It's one of those rock song icons.
And the scream in that song is the best part...
Yeah! That's the same thing my friend wanted to see. The audio wasn't great on the DVD but you can hear him scream. We never got a chance to rehearse. It was really rough. You could see in the video how we were laughing. I really had to lead the tune. I spent an hour the night before - after a 14 hour day at the camp - trying to pick up on Townshend's essence of the original. I've listened to many live versions and he plays them a little different all the time. I was so thrilled and at the end Roger could tell I really got off on that. Roger's not really a leader and that's not to take anything away from him. He's one of the premiere rock singers of all time. Kinda like how Robert Plant had to follow Jimmy Page's lead, too. Daltrey really relied on Townshend and I realize that now after working with him. Townshend's always kinda leading the band. I had to jump up and lead that song even with a huge band. I did well, I think. That night there was a big party for the campers afterwards and I was on cloud nine. It was a natural high. I also got to jam with Dickey Betts. There's another guy. We played like a Grammy band with him. He enjoyed it. He could tell he had a really good band. He'd point for me to riff and I rose to the occasion. That only makes whoever is the center of attention shine even more. I've never been so exhausted. The hours were unbelievable. For weeks afterwards I was dreaming things about the Fantasy Camp! VH1 Classic was there. They were filming it for the Learning Channel for a 2-hour feature that will air in October. It was almost like being on a reality show. It was like being in front of a camera almost 24/7. It was a horrible, rainy week in LA but everybody knew it was a really great event. Some people may think of the Simpon's episode where they were out in the woods, but it is a 14 hour day. Sometimes it was like being trapped in a Guitar Center for 10 hours. I had a very interesting bunch of characters in my band. I'm proud of how it all went.
You've been staying busy and I know you're working with PAUL STANLEY on his solo album. How is that coming along?
I played bass on four tunes so far. He's asked me to play some guitar stuff. I'm just waiting on a phone call from him. The stuff is terrific. It's definitely what Paul really gets off on. The other half of the record I haven't heard yet, but it's very melodic. I'm happy that he's following his vision. He's not trying to write a KISS record, although every KISS fan is going to love it.
Do the songs you've worked on compare to any previous KISS style?
Some of there are closer to cool things like "Every Time I Look At You" from Revenge. He's got some more up-tempo kinda things that I haven't heard. He's working with people like Desmond Child. I'm looking forward to doing some more work with him.
Is he recovering well from his surgery?
He did the hip thing twice! How many hips do you have? You've gotta get it right. Last time I talked to him he said he was feeling really good.
Just because I've got you here I wanna put you on the spot a little. What did you think about Gene's solo album?
I like it and I think it's all over the map. There's so many styles on there and some I couldn't even imagine him wanting to record. He had an interesting take on them all. The whole concept of calling a record Asshole...the way he comes off as a pimp, I just don't get it. Gene wants to be outrageous and present himself in a certain way. "Asshole" is a song he got from a band in Norway and I understand him being attracted to the song. It's a very catchy tune. I wouldn't want to call an album that or make it the featured first single. The "Firestarter" thing - I don't get what Prodigy has to do with KISS but if that turns on Gene, ya know? In some ways I think he had some strong moments and the rest of the time I just didn't get it. That's what solo records are about, though. I'm more scared about his box set! What is he talking about? That sounds scary to me!
100 songs! I'm sure he has stuff you probably played on, right?
Sure, he could. I don't know. I haven't heard from him. Go ahead! I'd love to hear 'em get out there. Gene is a piece of work. He's very driven. It's kinda like Donald Trump was a rock star. It's a scary thought, but that's GENE SIMMONS. I know Paul is looking forward to getting his solo album out and proving that he's the musical driving force of KISS. They both contribute in very big ways but I think Paul's will be more defined and more in the area of KISS.
What's your opinion of KISS? Not your opinion of the members individually, but the idea of the band continuing in makeup without Peter and Ace.
KISS is bigger than whatever is happening at any particular moment. It doesn't matter if they're going on their fourth Farewell tour. KISS has made it's mark and the KISS name represents a lot of very important things in rock 'n roll. Right now it seems they're in this period of 'What's next'? Paul's solo record is coming up but other than that I don't know. I don't know if they are that ambitious to say 'Let's do a record like Revenge' with TOMMY THAYER and Eric. They certainly could. I don't know why they don't have the drive to do things like that. Let's just get Paul's solo record out and then maybe they'll decide to define KISS for 2006.
Thanks for taking the time for this, Bruce. What would you like to say to your fans?
I really want to thank everybody for supporting my career post-KISS. I used to think, 'What would happen to me if I wasn't in KISS?' I've worked really hard providing the two solo records and the Union product and the opportunity to come see Grand Funk. It's a great band. It always means a lot to me to see all the fans. I was very fortunate through all those years in KISS to have a connection to the fans that didn't grow out of their rock 'n roll. It's still very important to them. It's been a real blessing for me so I really appreciate that. There's more music to come. I've got more projects on the horizon. I'm excited to do this tour with Eric and some more things with Union. I'll be working on another solo record as well. It's all been an interesting career and I'm very fortunate to keep evolving.
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