Home / Interviews / Interview with Bob Kulick

Interview with Bob Kulick

Bob Kulick : I’m doing okay. A lot going on but I’m excited about the record and all of the other things that seem to be synchronistically appearing at the same time like the KISS Kruise. My brother and I are going to be playing the KISS Kruise this year. and Brent Fitz and Todd Kerns Slash rhythm section, who are also on my record, are going to be accompanying us. That’s pretty exciting. With the release of my first record I’ve been getting a lot of attention and I’m really excited that people are liking what they’re hearing.

Anya : how was the recording process of this album different from your previous recordings?

Bob Kulick : This is different in many ways. It was different in that this was the first time I had ever worked with Bobby Ferrari and worked at this amazing studio, Vegas View Recording. A $900,000 SSL board, soundproof rooms. Like the old days when I would record back in the day with KISS and all of the bands that I worked with in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, we recorded on analog tape using gear like in this studio.

Now with this studio he’s got Pro Tools and all that stuff. We basically have the best of both worlds but because the other five songs, the retrospective songs, the back half of the record, India, Skeletons in the Closet, Can’t Stop the Rock, Guitar Commandos, and Eyes of a Stranger, those were all taken from my closet. The Skeletons in My Closet recordings that had not really been ever heard properly, never really had any attention whatsoever, and because they were really good songs I thought that they would flesh out the first five thereby making Skeletons in the Closet.

It’s been a very exciting period of time for me. Working at this studio has brought back the memory of what it was like to work in studios like Power Station and Record Plant, back in the day Electric Lady Studios, those studios, the studios very much like that. It was for somebody who started their career there to now go back to that for his first “solo” record with my 23 people band was kind of ironic in its own way.

Anya : Did you produce this record yourself?

Bob Kulick : Bobby Ferrari, the guy who owns the studio, the head engineer there, their studio manager, we co-produced the record together. Not unlike rather all of the other records where I co-produced with other people but without Bobby and his studio this never would have been possible.

Anya : You have a long and extensive career. You’ve worked with such legends like Meat Loaf, Lou Reed Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Diana Ross, to name a few. Out of all the musicians that you’ve worked with who stands out to you the most? What are some of your memorable moments ?

Bob Kulick : Well, there are lots of memorable moments. Working with Lemmy, winning a Grammy for producing Whiplash, the song Motörhead won for in 2004 was very exciting because I had thought that they might win. Having done previously with them the theme for Triple H, The Game, the song that was the theme song for the wrestler’s entrance theme, which was also very successful. Those were two things that were exceptional things that I did with Motörhead.

Dave Eisley, who is one of the singers on this record, he sang a couple of the songs, within that band with me Murderer’s Row, of which two of those songs are on this record. We composed, recorded, and produced the song Sweet Victory, which was used in the Spongebob episode Band Geeks, which was a big hit. That was another one of those. I didn’t know that was going to happen but all of a sudden people are like, “You’re the guy that did that Spongebob song?” “Yeah, well, me and Dave”. Just wow.

Those were two instances of something that popped up out of nowhere that led to memorable moments. Diana Ross, when I played with Diana Ross, the story was very simple. Gene Simmons from KISS, who I had been working with on and off in this period of time, was going out with Diana Ross. She was doing a record and she had these two songs that she needed guitar solos on. Gene recommended me and came to the sessions and helped babysit and had a great experience of hanging out with Diana Ross, Gene Simmons, and myself doing Why Do Fools Fall in Love and Mirror, Mirror. Then the next thing that happened with that is we wound up playing the Johnny Carson show so everybody could see me playing with Diana Ross, which was also a big thrill for my parents at the time and for all my friends to see me on national television with a big star.

I was very lucky getting to work with KISS and Meat loaf and all these people. I did Saturday Night Live with Meat loaf. That was very exciting. There have been some amazing moments. Going to Australia with Alice Cooper the first time he ever went playing Welcome to My Nightmare tours. Showing up at the airport and there’s a thousand kids waiting for Alice Cooper. I had never seen anything like that before. The record was number one there. Never toured there before. When I went with Meat loaf it was much the same circumstance. We went to Europe. The record was number one. People were at the airport to greet us.

I’ve had some great experiences with all of the different artists I’ve worked with. Obviously the KISS experience is ongoing and looking forward to playing the cruise in November with my brother. There have been some great moments. I’ve been very lucky.

Anya : After all these years you finally have your first solo album . Your own individual voice and identity, as opposed to just existing in the shadows of so many huge acts. Did you want to be the guy who was on the cover of magazines? Or did you want to be the person that’s behind the scenes writing music, performing, type of thing?

Bob Kulick : To be totally honest, either was acceptable. If I had gone on to be a really big producer doing really big bands that would have been fine. If I had, say, hypothetically joined Wasp and that had worked out that would have been fine. It just seemed like of all the things that I’ve done based upon where the music business is at today, based upon my career, having done a lot of albums, compilation records, the metal Christmas record, Dee Snyder’s Broadway record, a bunch of different things that required different musicians and different arrangements of songs, I just feel like any of these aspects of my career or of the music business that I’ve been able to be relatively successful in all worked for me. Obviously, sure, it’d be nice to look on the cover of Rolling Stone to see your picture, “Wow, I must be a big star now like Justin Bieber. I’m on the cover of Rolling Stone.” It’s not something that I think about or dwell on. I think that’s reserved for people in a certain circumstance. I would be happy to be the article in Guitar World magazine. All of what it is that I’m good at. An interview in Production Weekly. “Tell us how you produced that song” and all of that.

That’s really more me than trying to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Having said that, with this solo record I want to toss my hat in the ring and see what could happen.

Anya : Will you be singing on this record ?

Bob Kulick : No singing. Bob sings but not good enough to sing on a record. It’s all the A-team. Dee Snyder and Robin McAuley and Dave Eisley and Andrew Freeman and Todd Kerns and Vic Wright. That’s who’s on there. Real singers. Like I said, my 23 piece backup band. Stars like Frankie Banali and all my great friends who I’ve worked with before, who like the songs that I played them, who wanted the experience, and were able to come to the studio and experience the fun of being in a real studio like that, and the camaraderie of being involved on this. I’m very lucky and very pleased to have my all star band back me up.

 

Anya : About a year and a half ago, give or take, you mentioned that you were going to be writing, or you have written, 200 pages into your own autobiography. I think this was the conversation with Eddie Trunk. Where are you now with this autobiography?

Bob Kulick : I decided that after logging it all and getting it all pretty much in order, 250 pages that I have, I decided that I would want to include this year. The release of the record and the KISS Kruise and the release of those Motörhead songs I produced. The records are going to wind up encompassing up until the end of this year. Another 50, 75, 100 pages and I should be done. I just put it all on the back burner to include all of the recent stuff that hasn’t been included yet.

Anya : Will there be a chapter on your experience of working with Lemmy and your experience working on this record?

Bruce Kulick : Yes. All of it and the cruise and all of that stuff. I’m going to take it right up until the end of the year I believe and then finish that up and have that out next year hopefully.

Anya : The first album I heard was your work with Paul Stanley. The recording that you did in ’ 8. I got to see videos of you performing with him. That sort of gave me an idea of what KISS would have sounded. Also, another favorite of mine is the Killers compilation. At the time, . I didn’t really know much history about your work and also KISS and their solo albums. Was there a moment in that recording that was an educational experience for you, as much as it was for me?

Bruce Kulick : Yeah. At the time I was very, very, very friendly with the band. I’d hang out with Paul all the time. When we did his solo record it was just totally fun. That was something that was really special about it is that there was no pressure. It was just to have fun and make some great music.

The KISS Killers thing was a little less so because by then they were seriously considering changing guitar players. They were auditioning some people and looking at some circumstances. KISS Killers was recorded at the same time as Creatures of the Night. That was a little bit more difficult to do.

By that time, I think they were trying to upgrade the guitar vibe to include some of the Eddie Van Halen stuff, which had become popular at that point. Hence, when you listen to Partners In Crime and stuff like that I’m using a wang bar guitar to do some of that Eddie Van Halen stuff. The best experience was to have people that you respect, who were successful, who know what they’re doing, and have it be an ongoing circumstance as it has been, and here we are now where they’ve asked me and my brother to play the cruise.

Gene’s told me that he’s going to put some of the songs we wrote back in the day onto a box set of stuff he has of stuff that hasn’t been released that he’s done. It’s all come full circle. Started out auditioning for them, becoming their friend, playing on some stuff, writing some songs. Now here we are. I’m going to be on the cruise, another box set!

Anya : A lot is going on ! You must be so proud?

Bob Kulick : Yeah. I’m part of the KISS family and happily. It’s been a great experience. The true sign of greatness is longevity and they certainly prove that.

Anya : In New York City in the ’60s you got a chance to see Hendrix and James Taylor. Was there a moment after seeing those two artists that motivated you to march forward as a songwriter?

Bob Kulick : Well, these are two of the people that showed up when I was playing with my baby band at the Cafe Wha? Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, Jimi Hendrix, auditioned for the club the day I was there, got the gig, and we all got to know him a little bit. It was an amazing experience to be around somebody who was so amazingly talented and gifted that all of us together didn’t have the talent that he had.

Spending a little bit of time around somebody like that I remember him saying to me one time he was watching my band play. I leaned over. He was sitting in the front row. I just said, “It’s really uncomfortable having you sit here and watch us play.” After the show he said to me, “Bob, I learn something from every band that I see. Good, bad, or indifferent, but I learn something.”

What he told me was that in order to be what I am, to be what he is, you need to be a student of it. You need to really immerse yourself in it. That was a great lesson to have to be able to see that it is possible for somebody to show up and be nothing and be nobody and just have that raw talent.

Then the following year when he came back a whole bunch of us from Greenwich Village were invited up to his hotel room when he was Jimi Hendrix and he had just been fired from the Monkees tour. He was opening for the Monkees. We went up and hung out. I realized how lucky that I was to be able to know somebody who would be one of the most famous rock musicians that ever existed.

James Taylor, an amazing writer, played in that band The Flying Machine that I saw. Like all the other bands, inspired me to want to be as good as them. That’s what I got out of all that I saw when I was a kid. The desire to be that good. It wasn’t about fame. It was not about fame. I wasn’t trying to be the Beatles. It was trying to be that. It was trying to be like those guys and have real talent. The Beatles were beyond any concept of trying to be like. Not that Jimi Hendrix wasn’t. To be in their shadow, to stand there where they are, to be able to communicate with them was something very special.

 

Anya : What you just mentioned about Jimi Hendrix it speaks volumes. One never stops learning regardless of what they do, and being humble about it also.

Bob Kulick : Correct. A very humble guy. Exactly. That little quote Kanye West, “Well, obviously I’m a big star and famous and super talented and a genius” and Jimi Hendrix’s comment, “Frankly, flattery makes me uncomfortable.” You know what I’m saying? You don’t want to hear that. He was his own judge. He knew where he was at.

Anya : You mentioned that you’re doing the KISS Kruise, there’s a book in the works, you also mentioned a box set that was going to be released. Is there a tour in the works?

Bruce Kulick : We’re looking at some shows. I’m talking to some agents now and some of the players. We’ll see. It’s not impossible, especially since we’ll be starting off by doing a gig on the KISS Kruise. That will at least jumpstart my willing to get back in the plan but hopefully by then there will be a bunch of stuff booked.

Anya : I hope that will be sooner than later. And finally, what is your advice to up and coming musicians , as well as to your fans?

 

Bob Kulick : As far as musicians go I think there is three things that you really need. Commitment, you need the commitment to make it, or be great, or whatever it is that you’re committing yourself to. The flexibility, “Well, you know what? I auditioned for that band but I didn’t get that gig but I started my own band and that worked.” Being flexible and patience. “God, I’ve been trying for six months and I still can’t write that great song. Keep writing, keep going.”

Those are the three things that you really need. Commitment, the most important, patience to be able to get there. It’s hard enough without explaining to yourself that you’re in this for the long haul and that nobody makes it overnight. You have to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues. As far as my fans go, I would always say, “Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams and see if you can make them come true.”

Anya : Thank you so much for your time I wish you all the best for you and the record!

Bob Kulick : Thank you for your interest in the music. Thank you for a great interview. You asked some really good different questions.

Anya : Thank you, that’s very nice to hear. Hope you have a good day.

Bob : You’re very welcome. Same to you.