KISS was, is and will be part of the soundtrack of my life. Today we have the pleasure to interview Bruce Kulick, guitarist who has played with great music names, including KISS for 12 years. He was lead guitarist for KISS from September 1984 to August 1996. Kulick formed UNION with John Corabi and released 3 albums. Later released three solo albums and has also appeared on a lot of albums from others artists. Actually is the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad since 2001. Please welcome Bruce Kulick!
How did you get into the world of music? When did you start playing guitar? What was your first guitar? What bands and musicians influenced you in those years?
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan in Feb 1964 was the spark for me. I was 10 years old. I got a guitar from my brother, who was into playing before The Beatles. The entire British Invasion as it was called was VERY influential on me. Still is! So Led Zep, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream all shaped my world.
Before entering KISS, you play with some of the biggest names in the music industry (Meat Loaf, Blackjack, Billy Squier, Michael Bolton…). What can you tell us about those years? Was it difficult to break through?
I learned from each one. I was lucky to be in NYC, and to have my brother also introduce to me some. It started with Disco artists, and I got to tour. Meatloaf was my brother and I, you can hear us on the Bat Out Of Hell album with two live tracks, currently being sold. Blackjack was with Michael Bolton, and it was fun to be in my own band. Billy was very smart, and I did «Tale Of The Tape» with him. I did further work with Michael when he went solo. Then onto KISS!
KISS promised to fill in for 2-6 weeks. It became a 12 year job!
You joined KISS in September 1984. You were on tour with KISS in the «Animalize» era (1984-1985). Can you tell us how it was to be in KISS at this time? Did it change your life? Was it a challenge for you play with KISS on tour?
I was only promised to fill in for 2-6 weeks. It became a 12 year job! Of course it changed my life, and I was very nervous and excited about the challenge of being part of such a super group.
Later you recorded with KISS: «Asylum» (1985), «Crazy Nights» (1987), » Smashes, Thrases and Hits» (1988), «Hot ih the Shade» (1989), «Revenge» (1992), «Alive III» (1993), «Unplugged» (1996) and «Carnivals of souls» (1997). Which of all these albums and songs are your favorites? Why? Any anecdotes recording these albums? And on tour?
Asylum was recorded in NY at Jimi’s Electric Ladyland Studios! That was a thrill for me. There’s many highlights from all the albums, such as «Tears Are Falling» to «Crazy Nights» to «Forever» to «Unholy» and «Jungle». Each tour was different. Sadly none for COS.
Paul wanted me from the start to be competitive and not an Ace clone. Gene was always trying to make me in some ways play sloppier to be more edgy!
How was the relationship with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons? Did they let you be yourself playing guitar (with your own style)? And with Eric Carr and Eric Singer?
Paul wanted me from the start to be competitive and not an Ace clone. Gene was always trying to make me in some ways play sloppier to be more edgy! But through it all the desire they had, was not too big a challenge. I did it well. I loved both Eric’s and they do play different.
Did you officially leave Kiss in December 1996? Was it inevitable? What musical style would have taken KISS if there had not been the reunion of the original members in 1996?
My contract was terminated, as the reunion tour was in full swing with no end in sight. It was easier to say I left. Left what? A group that was in make-up with original members? Inevitable, well when you have that kind of success of course! I have no idea where the band would of headed without the throwback of the makeup.
UNION was a great experience. Starting from nothing with John Corabi. We have a good musical chemistry.
Can you tell us about your time with Union? And with ESP? John Corabi and Eric Singer are good friends of yours?
UNION was a great experience. Starting from nothing with John Corabi. We have a good musical chemistry. I am very proud of the debut, live and Blue Room albums from UNION. Playing in ESP is always fun, but hard to schedule. Eric and I are very close.
You have released 3 solo albums: «Audio Dog» (2001), «Transformer» (2003) and «BK3» (2010). Is there an evolution in your sound and playing style along these years? Is it reflected in your records? Will we have soon another Bruce Kulick album? With vocals from guest singers as well as yourself?
I think there is an evolution. But it is all me. So it’s up to the fans and listeners to decide. I am thinking about another solo disc in 2015.
What equipment do you use to record in the studio and to play live (guitars, amplifiers and guitar effects)?
In the studio it’s Marshall’s, ESP’s Gibson’s, Vox, vintage and new Fender amps, and various pedals. Live it’s Marshall 900 or 2000 series amps, and ESP, PRS, Gibson, Fender. If only one guitar is possible it’s an ESP.
You are the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad since 2001. How did you join the band? What future plans has Bruce Kulick?
Don Brewer and I met many years ago on tour. I was with Bolton, and he was with Bob Seger. He’s an amazing drummer. I was on the short list. It has been 14 years of gigs with them! Excellent group. I am fortunate to be their guitar player.
Bruce thanks for your time if you want to tell something to our readers…
I miss my fans in Spain, and I do hope to come again. Please keep in touch with my official Facebook page and Twitter links. You all rock. Visit kulick.net.
Bruce Kulick Guitar Solo – Live Budokan, Japan (1988)
Kiss – Unholy