The Ultimate Jam Night Interviews with Bruce Kulick of KISS and Grand Funk Railroad
Ultimate Jam Night 89 would be an absolutely epic event – featuring a KISS theme as well as the guest participation of former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick. The Whisky was packed to the rafters and beyond, as Kulick performed on 10 mighty KISS anthems from various albums from their illustrious career. The magic in the room was absolutely bewitching, especially when the massively talented Debby Holiday joined Kulick and the band onstage for an impassioned version of the KISS classic I Still Love You. Prior to the main event, we caught up with Bruce Kulick backstage at The Whisky discuss his tenure with KISS, his current participation with Grand Funk Railroad. the Michael Bolton connection, and a whole lot more! Read on…
How did you become involved with Ultimate Jam Night and how many times have you played?
When they were first over at Lucky Strike, actually. I’ve known Chuck Wright and Matt Starr for a lot of years. I think I was involved a couple of times where I was able to play some KISS stuff, then there was a few times where they were doing a Hendrix type thing, so I did that as well. But since they moved here, to The Whisky, I hadn’t been able to do it because of my schedule. Now that I’m home for the holidays, here I am.
What can we expect tonight?
It’s interesting, I wasn’t that instrumental in the set list because I have played all eras of KISS. But I definitely did want certain representations of just about all the years. It’s a varied set, it’s not a long one because it’s not only my show but I was willing to do a lot more songs than I usually do. Stuff like Reason to Live I haven’t played since KISS. I Still Love You, I don’t even remember if I had done that since – that was later, of course. I had a lot of homework.
When was the first time that you played The Whisky, what band was it?
To be honest, I was fortunate that I was in a lot of bands that didn’t do a hell of a lot of clubs. With Meatloaf we did clubs, but we didn’t do a club when we came out there. He was already famous. Then with KISS, we played The Troubadour once for a promotion. It was probably with the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp when they would use The Whisky for the last night, with special guests like – Robby Krieger from The Doors. I actually never had a proper gig at The Whisky.
You’re here tonight.
I’ve jammed many times here.
When you were in KISS, you also worked with Michael Bolton. What was that like working with someone so different than KISS?
You gotta remember Michael was a rock guy originally. A little bit more blues, he did a blues records but then he wanted to do more like Bad Company kind of hard rock, blues based stuff. Blackjack was a little bit of that. Then he kind of reinvented himself, he took a little break, he was writing songs – he did do some rock stuff. In 1983 he came out with Fools Game, and Everybody’s Crazy is another record that he did. Certainly Blackjack was a straight ahead rock band. It was later on when he realized, if I croon a little bit and I write songs more that’s a blue eyed soul kinda thing. He obviously had a real hit. He was a big star.
Let’s talk about some odf the KISS albums you did and what you think of them now in retrospect. Asylum.
That was my first official record with the band. I still love a few of the songs from that album from King of the Mountain, Tears are Falling. Good stuff on there.
First time we were really produced by a guy that was known. Ron Nevison. A lot of good stuff. My guitar was really up front on that. I had some good co-writes on it, I think it’s a really good record for the band. Huge in Europe too.
Hot in the Shade.
That was long, it had a lot of songs but it still had a lot of interesting stuff on it. I remember doing a little rewind for it a few years ago and realized it was better than I remember. It’s a good record, Hide Your Heart is on it.
I think a Michael Bolton song is on there too.
Forever was on there, yeah, which I was really happy about. My acoustic guitar solo for that.
Revenge was working with Bob Ezrin and that was a real treat. Bob is an incredible talent. He really knows how to produce a band and help create the best thing for a band. I had an amazing time working with him. That’s probably my favorite KISS album I was involved in. Even though there’s highlights on all of them, but I really love that one.
How did Union come about, what was it like working with John Corabi?
I wasn’t in KISS at the time because of the reunion and then John wasn’t in Motley Crue because they wanted to get Vince Neil back after John had 5 years with them. So, mutual business guy, this guy Larry Mazer who actually managed KISS for a while in the Hot in the Shade period and beyond a bit. He recommended John to me, we had a good chemistry together. We started writing and putting the band together. It was hard, we really started from the bottom. It wasn’t like the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl going from Nirvana to that. [laughs] I was very proud of the music we did, actually.
How close are you to doing another solo album? It’s been awhile…
Yeah, I know. I’m bad. It’s my fault. I have written things but I’m not super ready yet to know what I want to do. People have asked and I’m trying to think about it. Obviously the music business got so screwed up with the way the business is.
Grand Funk Railroad, you’ve been in that since 2000. What do you think has kept you in GFR for so long?
We all get along, first of all. This version of GF that’s out for the past 17 years now really gets along. Don Brewer and Mel Schacher – they were very smart with who they got as the singer. This singer Max Carl wasn’t a lead guitar player even though he can play a lot of instruments, so that’s how they had me involved. Then we have a killer keyboard player, Tim Cashion. So we’ve got a real powerful band. Not a KISS production, we don’t do that. It’s all about the music. We average about 40 gigs a year, I’ll fly around. We do fly dates. We have a little time off which is why I can do stuff like this.
Your brother Bob did an album with Chuck Wright (founder of Ultimate Jam Night) called Blackthorne – Afterlife. Since that’s been re-released recently, what do you think of that album?
That was cool. I remember my brother kicked around with a couple of kinda, hard rock metal type things. I was proud of him. It’s good that it came out again.
What’s up next for you?
There’s definitely a lot of different gigs with Grand Funk already on the schedule. I always try and fill it in and see what else I can do, so I’m expecting 2017′ will be a lot like 2016′. This past year I went to Brazil, I went to Sweden. I get around…
THIS JUST IN! Bruce Kulick returns to Ultimate Jam Night #96 for the Valentine’s Day Edition on February 14th! It’s at The Whisky and it’s free! And the first 1o0 women who show up at the door receive a free box of chocolate courtesy of GearSecure!
Thank you to Lisa Woodard and Ultimate Jam Night for setting up this interview. Be sure to check out Ultimate Jam Night, every Tuesday at the world famous Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip!
(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Roy A Braatz Jr )