Bruce Kulick Announces His Departure From Grand Funk Railroad
The former Kiss guitarist turned 70 that same month, and as he tells UCR during an exclusive interview, the milestone made him consider his future. “I really wanted to look at what I wanted to do personally and creatively,” he says. “I’ve always loved playing with Grand Funk for all of those years, but all of that travel for most weekends of every month, all year, the time involved became more and more difficult.”
As Kulick shared during a wide-ranging conversation, he’ll turn the focus back to his own legacy here in 2024. He’s looking forward to having the chance to work on a variety of potential projects -- including new solo music and a potential memoir.
There's Some Good News for Kiss Fans
While he was careful to stress that nothing is set in stone yet, Kulick is excited about many possibilities -- including the potential opportunity to spend more time celebrating “his era” of Kiss. He has seen first-hand how new generations have continued to discover his past work with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legends. “It’s just remarkable that I was involved with a band with that kind of fame and that kind of influence on the youth,” he marvels. “Every generation going from there, that they haven’t forgotten me at all is wonderful.”
In the first part of the interview below, Kulick offers additional insights regarding his departure from Grand Funk and tells UCR why you won't be reading his version of "The Dirt" if he does put out a book.
Bruce, I imagine that a lot went into making the decision to step away from Grand Funk after such an incredible run.
I think many of my fans were aware that for the last 23 years, if they really studied my career, I’ve been performing with Grand Funk Railroad. Every year was solid with dates. It could happen in any month. It wasn’t like, “Okay, we’re doing three months and then you’re off for the rest of the year,” however a lot of other bands [might do it]. As a band that can do the fly dates, as it’s called, every month, basically, there were dates. During the second half of the year, especially in the fall, when I started to think about 2024, I really wanted to look at what I wanted to do personally and creatively.
With the travel, It really made my days at home become more like, “Well, what can I accomplish that I love to do [with] my career, before I’ve got to go travel again?” That would be very hard. You can do some things on the road. You fly and you see a guy with a laptop and he’s doing all of his business there. But I don’t fly that well so I’m [not] suddenly going to be Mr. Creativity on the long flights. In addition, I should mention that the band, 80% of the time, was performing on the East Coast or in the Midwest, which meant I had the longest trips of all of the guys in the band. Whenever they came out to Vegas to perform, they were aware of the trip, from the East Coast, where most of the other guys live -- and then going back -- how it just kicks your ass.
The pandemic really gave me an opportunity to sit back and do nothing or jump into a million things. I think everybody out there knows that I jumped into a million things, with my wife and without. But we were a team in many things. Because even if it was just about me, Lisa was probably filming me or making sure everything was right, if it wasn’t the songs that we did together or the cooking websites that we created content for, it was me working on music and entertaining the fans. Whatever you could do then, I was very proactive and I loved it. By the time I was ready to go back to travel, I was in shock, to be honest. But I was aware that that was the majority of my life and it got very familiar pretty quickly. Performing live on stage with those guys, they’re a terrific band, you know, that was the part I liked. That was the only part I liked! The 80-minute show is the only part that I really enjoyed. The rest was so hard for me, time-wise.
Watch Grand Funk Railroad Perform ' I'm Your Captain (Closer to Home)'
I get that. It felt like a good time to make a change.
I don’t want a crazy pace, but I’m not retiring. I just want it only to be about my legacy, my career and everything that means something to me. I mean, my Kiss fans have been amazing. They love my era. Because certainly, Kiss wasn’t [promoting] the non-makeup years. Yeah, maybe on an anniversary, a product came out on occasion, but it’s always been about them in makeup and the vintage years and then the new band really representing those great songs. So in time, you know during the pandemic, how much I was waving the flag of my era. I’ll continue to do that, but there’s so much more that I can do. I had all of these songs that I started to demo.
August was a little crazy, but I got really motivated to record a few things on my Garageband. I had worked with Todd Kerns a bit on a few songs that I had in the past. Then, he got busy and with my constant [schedule], every weekend, being gone, I can’t say that I was able to make the progress that I know I can do without that kind of travel schedule. So there’s been original music that I want to continue to be able to put out another solo record. I certainly could be working on a book finally, which I have great stories for. There’s so many other creative things that I want to [pursue]. I love doing the videos that I’ve been doing, celebrating anniversaries and things of my Kiss career. I’d like to be more creative with that. I want to do more things with my wife. I want to keep the opportunities completely open to [be] performing music that I think people know me for.
READ MORE: Bruce Kulick Plays His Last Kiss Show
As far as writing a book, I know that it’s something you’ve looked at in the past. How far did you get into doing one previously?
It’s got to be about 20 years ago, I’d have to check the dates. There was somebody in the industry that I was working with, Ken Gullic, who actually was very influential in Kissology coming out and things like that, because he worked for [the label] Universal. He was involved with my BK3 album as well. We had the idea of doing a book together and he was able to go get interviews with people [like] my parents and Bob Ezrin. There are chapters that exist that I never took any further.
What’s ironic was that at the time, yeah, that was almost enough to ask people, if you were looking for a book deal, "What do you think [as far as a book telling] the story about Bruce Kulick?" Timing-wise, it actually wasn’t great. It was too close [to Kiss] with their [ongoing] fame, the reunion and [return to] makeup. But all the [publishers] wanted was the dirt -- like Motley Crue. I won’t do a book like that. I don’t like ripping people apart. I’ve heard plenty of the books from people I’ve worked with and I’ve read things. And I’m kind of like, “They didn’t have to say it that way.” But I get that they wanted to say that they didn’t get along with this person or that person. I’m not looking at a book like that. Which meant I wasn’t going to get a book deal back then. [Laughs]
You know, for me, I want to celebrate my years, but tell the backstory. I’d like to get into the things that only if you were there you could describe. For example, what it was like to be at a video shoot for 12 hours with Eric Carr doing “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II.” I don’t have to say anything negative about anybody. Obviously, there are some stories I think are great to clear up for people, because they were aware there was tension here or there. You know, what was it like working in the band? But I really want to just tell my story in the sense of celebrating the music and how it was done -- almost like some of my blogs that I used to have on my old website. I still think it would be very compelling for people.
I do know some people have written books and the more outrageous they want to be, the better, is the way they looked at it. I think unfortunately, some of the publishers prefer when you’re saying outlandish [things] with heavy accusations. I’ll be honest, I thought both Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley] were very strange with each other. I didn’t read all of it, but some things that I’ve heard, I was like “Ooh, I wonder how that felt for the other person to read that or hear it on the audiobook?” I think I have a great story to tell. There’s certain things about even how my career started and how I got to that point to being in Kiss -- and some other things that I’ve been really quiet about, because I want to save it for the book.
With Grand Funk, what has your involvement been helping them make the transition to a new guitar player?
There’s some really great recordings of us. The new guy, who they don’t want me to talk about currently, is someone I know well. He was able to come to a few shows to have eyes on everything. There are only a couple of things that he had questions about, which I was more than happy to assist with. I was shocked at how many people were contacting me and asking about [my departure]. Look, for that band to have the same consistent guys for 23 years, that’s pretty remarkable. But part of that was also everybody really understanding what their role was and what the job entailed.
Don [Brewer] is a very smart and ambitious leader in the sense of keeping everybody in their lane to know what to do and what they should do and what they need to do. Even though sometimes things weren’t always handled in my vision, they were handled to protect how he views Grand Funk’s survival. He’s done an admirable job with that. I actually thanked him as I was having the conversation about my retirement.
Playing to Don’s drumming for all of those years was a real joy. Eric Singer loves him -- he came to see us a few times. You know, a band is only good as their drummer, that’s one of the things that musicians sometimes say. When you’ve got a drummer that’s in the pocket and solid -- and he still sings great. Eric was all over me, “He still sings the same as 1970! That’s unbelievable! He’s amazing!” I’ve got to give it to Don that he’s 75 and he’s still singing and playing great drums and leading this version of Grand Funk Railroad. It’s incredible.
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff