Formed in 1969, Grand Funk Railroad was born out of the ashes of “Terry Knight & The Pack” & still includes original founding members Don Brewer (vocals/drums) & Mel Schacher (bassist). Now joining Don & Mel are true “ALL-STARS”…Max Carl (.38 Special, Jack Mack & the Heart Attack), Bruce Kulick (twelve years with KISS & credits with Michael Bolton, Meatloaf, & Billy Squier), plus keyboardist Tim Cashion (Bob Seger, Robert Palmer).
Together, Brewer & Schacher have created a dynamic, multi-talented five-piece band that will not only carry on the tradition of “Grand Funk” hits…but also has the potential to create a NEW CHAPTER in the legacy of Grand Funk Railroad. With reformation in 2000, the band’s diverse biography is being re-written daily. Both seasoned “GF” lovers, & contemporary rock fans, are discovering the group (some for the first time) on CDs & VH-1…& are able to see & hear, firsthand, that Grand Funk Railroad’s train is back on track!
Check out this interview with current lead guitarist, BRUCE KULICK – where he discusses touring with Grand Funk Railroad, his time with Kiss, & some of his solo projects.
DM: You have been in Grand Funk Railroad just as long as you were in Kiss, right?
Bruce Kulick: Yeah, this is the twelfth year. Every time you get involved with a new opportunity, you have to be honest with yourself…you never know how long any situation will last. Because there are so many things that could happen, just like Kiss, I never expected twelve years. Grand Funk is going strong. It’s a unique bunch of guys, based around the two original guys – Don Brewer & Mel Schacher. We all get along, we play well together, & we respect one another. Our primary goal is to do a kickass show & have people go home knowing they seen an amazing show…& I think we accomplish that.
DM: What made you decide to join Grand Funk?
Bruce Kulick: To be honest, after Kiss, I had my own band along with John Corabi…we were called “Union”. I still work with John. Grand Funk does not take up my entire year. It’s about one hundred to one hundred & fifty days of travel, so I still have time for other things. But when the gig opportunity came up, I didn’t have to think about it too long. I was influenced by these guys when I was younger…between Mel’s bass playing & Don’s drums, which sounded SO BIG, & of course Mark Farner did a great job on vocals. So, I met Don & kept in contact through the years. When Don & Mel decided they wanted to continue Grand Funk Railroad, they had a short list of guitarists…& I was on it. We talked about it, & I realized that it was a good opportunity because it was a “steady gig” with a great bunch of guys…that are not only talented in their own right, but a band that is important in the history of rock‘n’roll. I like to consider myself a versatile guitarist, but I love the classic style. I think, I definitely fit what they needed.
DM: You once said you were not a fan of “Ace” because you are a fan of what “Ace” is not a fan of.
Bruce Kulick: Yes, that really is true…& that’s no disrespect to Ace at all. But he was influenced by Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, & Jimi Hendrix. They are all the same for me, but the next generation is going to listen to bands from the 70’s & be influenced by them. I have to admit that a lot of Kiss fans may not be that familiar with “Grand Funk” – until I tell them a few titles & they remember or say, “Yeah, I know that song.” There is a lot of respect for the band in the industry. Yeah, it’s different than Kiss…but I like to consider it all rock‘n’roll. It all started with The Beatles, with the British Invasion, & (I think) “Grand Funk” was the American answer to some of the stuff that started to come out of England…like Cream & The Who. It’s no accident they sold out Shea Stadium. Playing with these guys is great. There is a solo in every song, & playing with a rhythm section like this is amazing! Don is such a pocket-drummer, & Mel has had an influence on me too. I play bass, as well…I play bass on my solo records.
DM: Considering you followed behind some great players…how do you approach playing someone else’s material?
Bruce Kulick: I think I have the right approach, when it comes to playing someone else’s song. I try not to lose the essence of what made that song (or that solo) great, but at the same time…I try to put my own emotion into it. That’s always a challenge. The Grand Funk song that always hit me the most, when I was younger, was “Inside Looking Out”. It’s a very heavy blues-driven song, with a lot of attitude, & that’s a “BIG” centerpiece of our show. I really enjoy it. I get to step up & do a lot of guitar playing.
DM: As a Kiss fan, & considering this is the 20th anniversary of (arguably) one of THE BEST albums Kiss ever released, “Revenge”…I have to ask you…if it were approached, would you do a “Revenge” reunion tour?
Bruce Kulick: If they ever wanted to do something like that, I would certainly consider it…but, to be honest, I don’t see any motivation for them to “take off the makeup”. I’m on great terms with all the guys. I was at Paul’s 60th birthday party, back in January. I was at Gene’s wedding last October, & he also sang on my last solo record. His son Nick has also worked with me…he has a song on my solo record. I have a really good relationship with them. Me not being in the band has nothing to do with a falling out. It was just natural for Tommy to come in & take Ace’s spot…& he does a great job at it! My time in Kiss is special to me…& to the fans.
DM: How about a new solo record?
Bruce Kulick: It’s been over two years, since I put out “BK3”. I will put out another one…I just need to buckle down & get it done.
DM: You also put out a limited-edition run of your first solo CD, “Audio Dog”.
Bruce Kulick: Everyone, that is familiar with me, knows Joe was my kid. Even though he was an 8lb dog…he was my kid. He had the greatest personality, & everyone that met him loved him. I just ran out of stock on the last printing of the CD, but I had a lot of left-over booklets, & it makes no sense not to do a limited run on the CD. I don’t want to release “Audio Dog” forever, with a song on there that I am singing for Joe. But, I thought it would nice to do a limited run with the disc…saying “Limited Edition”. Those are the original eleven songs, but I added a bonus from the EP called “495”. It’s just a three-way jam instrumental, as well as a recording I did for Joe. It comes with pictures, & there is something written in there explaining how I put it all together, & a part of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to the “Pet Adoption Fund” – the place I adopted Joe from, in California.
DM: It has been a long time since Grand Funk put out a studio album. Is there anything in the works? And, if not, what has kept the band going?
Bruce Kulick: We have no new product out, but we do a few new songs during our live show. The goal of being on stage, & performing wherever we go, is just to communicate through the music & just have an amazing time. That is what it always comes down to. The same goes for Kiss…makeup or not, the goal is to make everybody FEEL GOOD. Just rock‘n’roll…& to let everybody become “ONE” at the concert, & to be moved by it in some way. Forget your troubles, forget whatever is going on in your daily life, & just…escape. Live music is a blessing for some people, especially if it’s good music. That’s what everyone is going to hear, when they come to a Grand Funk Railroad gig…a bunch of guys who are extremely thrilled to be on stage, like playing great music, & making sure everyone is having a great time!
DM: Is there anything you want to say to your fans, before we call it day?
Bruce Kulick: I think, my biggest frustration is…my fans are really missing out on the fact that Grand Funk Railroad is a great band!!! If you do not know much about Grand Funk, it’s not too hard to check us out. I think they would be really impressed, not only with the music, but with the fact that we really enjoy doing what we do. It’s not a Kiss show…it’s not supposed to be a Kiss show…but it’s great rock‘n’roll. I think you will really enjoy us…come check it out.