Shout Out Loud Events are proud to announce The Thunder Down Under 2017 Australian Tour featuring former KISS guitarist and crowd favourite Bruce Kulick. Bruce will be performing with his local resident band Sisters Doll, powering out a full KISS set. Joining Bruce on this tour is going to be the USA super group Four By Fate that has Tod Howarth (ex Ace Frehley’s Comet, Cheap Trick), John Regan (ex-Ace Frehley’s Comet, Peter Frampton), Pat Gasperini (Pound, Flywheel) & Rob Affuso (Skid Row). Both acts will be available after all performances at their merchandise tables signing and taking photos with fans. After performing at the KISS KONVENTION at Wick Studios in Melbourne on 13th and 14th May, the tour starts in Canberra on the 16th May 2017 and will conclude in Perth on Monday 22nd May 2017.
What a month for Australian KISS fans!!! May is going to be amazing, and unforgettable! Bruce Kulick, has not performed in Australia with a band since he was on the KISS My Ass Down Under Tour in 1995, where KISS performed a number shows in front of the Hot in the Shade stage set after KISS Convention events; just after Gene Simmons bought the rights to both words being marketed together, as in “Kiss & Convention,” and prior to the release of the KISS MY ASS long form VHS video. Bruce was a part of KISS from 1984 to 1996 and the only reason he left was because of the reunion of the original KISS members. Bruce is a very classy and honourable individual who paid good service to the KISS brand and he won over KISS’ hard core following. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Bruce ahead of his Australian tour and Konvention weekend.
So what can KISS fans expect from your Australian shows in May?
“Well it’s a lot of rock and roll! I am very proud of the entire history of KISS and not just my role, and this is a celebration of the history. Most of the time, when I play KISS material live, I reference all of the albums, but ALIVE III did touch upon all of the eras, and so this is my blue print for the tour. I try to pick the right exciting KISS songs that make the live gig and ensure everyone has a good time. My fans there are very special and they have supported me so much and it is only a two year turn around since my last clinic tour so this is cool. There was a gap in my Grand Funk Railroad timetable to, so it worked out very well, it was meant to happen.”
How did the tour come about?
“It did start really with Shout Out Loud Events in Australia, wanting to do an Expo and it is good people we know, a great organisation. They wanted to do the two day Melbourne event and you know I thought am going to take a fourteen hour plane ride there and so I wanted to do some gigs. I put it to them and here we are. This time I am going to places in Australia that I have never played so I am super excited and can’t wait to get down there! ”
What sort of roles are you playing during the Konvention?
“My duties here, a part from being the former KISS guitarist, will be performing and doing two clinics. I will be looking at rare KISS tracks that people haven’t heard, they are tapes that were given to me to work on solos at home and with this I can describe these songs and people love this. In the evening I will be doing a set with SISTER Doll and I will be around to meet people and sign autographs.”
Thinking through your career with KISS, what are the two things that are most vivid in your memory?
“Now looking back I would have to admit that I had no idea how important my career with KISS was. You look at Crazy Nights, which will have a thirty-year anniversary this year. It is crazy to think thirty years on just how important this album is for a lot of people. In a lot of instances, I am the first guitarist that they saw with KISS, so it is pretty remarkable, and you know I always did the best I could, and I really loved performing with the band. It was incredible how people reacted to us. You know to be sharing this and talking about this with fans, it is fantastic, and our fans are now passed down through generations and some were even too young to have seen me in the band! Look I couldn’t possibly pinpoint two things, my whole career with KISS was amazing.”
Is there an album or song that you are particularly proud of?
“You know I mentioned ALIVE III, but this is because of its set list, but probably Revenge. I thought that album was really powerful but I am not talking down the other albums and I don’t want to diminish the moments on the other albums. But we worked so hard on this album and we pulled it off. I can still listen to it today and get excited about it.”
Thinking back to your departure from KISS and the KISS Reunion Tour in 1996, how did it feel watching the band after being in it for so long?
“That was really tough in some ways but certainly, I am not a stupid guy, I understood that this had to happen and was always going to at some point. The catalyst of the MTV Unplugged Show, brought this together at that time. You know a lot of promoters threw money at this project and KISS could either continue to earn four million dollars a year, or forty million, you don’t really need to think this through. So emotionally it was hard, but as a human being I understood and respected it. Paul and Gene even paid me for a whole year after this happened so I could get back on my feet. So no hard feelings, KISS looked after me, and they were very genuine about the situation and my future as well.”
Now I know your career didn’t start with KISS, far from it, and I have always wondered about Black Jack with Michael Bolton, I know that the band was only short lived, releasing two studio albums, but what can you tell us about this band?
“You know the band was really put together on the strength of Michael Bolton and his representatives. He was urged to put a band together and I met Michael through my brother. I was one of the people on the short list and we put a great band together and put an album out. The record company threw a lot of money around and there was a lot of pressure. Michael and I became close during this time and we wrote a lot together. By the second album it fell over as a band, as the record company chewed us up and made us redundant. We are still friends, Michael and I, we have fond memories and it was certainly a great time.”
Your touring and work with Grand Funk Railroad, I know is something that you are passionate about, as I have read you are a big fan, how did this gig come about for you?
“Actually I connected to Grand Funk through Michael Bolton. I backed him on a solo tour and we did a few dates with Bob Seger supporting and his drummer was Don Brewer from GFR. I met him and in the end, a woman that he wound up marrying, who was connected to Michael’s group, was the final link and it really came about from this. It was amazing, a short jam and then we were away, and working with Max Carl as a singer, wow! It has been an amazing seventeen years that I have been with the band now.”
Now to your solo career, what are the positives and negatives for you as a solo artist?
“It is a big burden as I am not a singer, I wish I had a voice like all of the other vocalists I have worked with but I don’t. BK3 was all about a labour of love as I worked with other singers. You know I feel happy and comfortable playing instruments and doing all of that but you know I struggle with the singing and always have. So this is where I find it stressful. You know I have a big surprise coming in this area actually, I am not going to tell you now, but it will be announced shortly.”
Do you have any final words for KISS fans ahead of your tour in May?
“Number one I look forward to seeing them again. I love Australia and the fans are so passionate and very very nice. I am going to a number of places that I have never played before and I am very excited about that. I would say please keep in touch on the web as I have my site and I am on Facebook. But I can’t wait, it is going to be an awesome Konvention and Tour.”
It was a real pleasure talking to one of the most accomplished and genuine guitarists in rock. Bruce has been the only guitarist to step into the KISS lead guitarist role, post Ace Frehley, that has been truly accepted by KISS fans and this is attributed to his skills, passion for KISS and his respect for KISS members past and present. These shows are going to be an amazing handful of gigs and I recommend any hard rock fan to check it out and the KISS Konvention is nothing that this country has ever experienced, it won’t disappoint.
Interview by Mark Snedden
The full Australian dates are as follows –
Saturday 13th May Kiss Konvention Wick Studios Melbourne
Sunday 14th May Kiss Konvention Wick Studios Melbourne
Tuesday 16th May the Basement Canberra
Wednesday 17th May The Bridge Hotel Sydney
Thursday 18th May (Venue now tbc) Newcastle
Friday 19th May Max Watts Brisbane
Saturday 20th May the Bridgeway Hotel Adelaide
Sunday 21st May Burlington Hotel Bunbury
Monday 22ND May The Rosemount Hotel Perth