Article Search...
  • Posted February, 2010

    Photo by Neil Zlowzower

    I’m not a musician.  However, if I were to ever find that proverbial genie in the bottle, one of the wishes that would be elbowing its way into the “final three” would likely be to become a proficient guitarist of all genres. 

    Well, since the only bottles I’ve come across lately have been of the two liter soft drink kind whenever I order out for pizza, I haven’t been granted my three wishes.  In fact, the sound from opening said two liters pretty much describes my guitar abilities:  Pfffttt!!!

    However, I DO play vicariously (read that as “via air guitar”) through the hands of many an outstanding virtuoso.  One of those axe handlers would be the incredible guitarist, Bruce Kulick.

    As the last of the Baby Boomers were half way through college, Kulick blasted to the forefront of the music scene when he was brought on to be Paul Stanley’s six-string sidekick in the super group, KISS.  Bruce enjoyed an incredible, legacy building twelve years with the band, scorching the band’s Asylum, Crazy Nights, Hot in the Shade, Revenge, Alive III, KISS Unplugged and Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions albums. 

    What a lot of fans don’t realize, however, is that Kulick first engraved his riffs into the minds of Meatloaf fans while supporting the “Bat Out of Hell” tour with his licks.  He currently is Grand Funk Railroad’s guitarist, having owned that role for the past nine years.  When he’s not tearing up the GFR stage, he’s supporting his impressive roster of fellow musician friends.

    Oh, and he works on his own projects, too.  His first solo album, Audio Dog, came out in 2001 with Transformer following in 2003.  On February 2nd will bring his latest project, BK3, to a store or website near you.  I almost literally wearing out the advance copy of the disc, it’s that good.  I must say right here that BK3 promises to be THE CD that fans and guitar aficionados point to as being on their short list of must-own discs.

    I had the privilege of chatting on the phone with Bruce Kulick in early December about BK3.  He had just returned from a short trip to Europe and was leaving for Australia two days after our interview.

    One of the things that struck me about BK3 is that, in addition to the phenomenal musicianship and production quality, there was a consistent, positive message.  I interpreted the lyrics as containing words of personal strength, resolve and encouragement.  I asked Kulick if I had heard the messages correctly.

    “Yeah, pretty much.  I mean, I don’t like to whine and complain about things.  I try to be a little more like the Beatles were - reflective about life but you’re not complaining about “woe is me” kind of thing.  It’s always a challenge in writing lyrics but I think that I was able to accomplish what I really wanted to on this record.  The ones, obviously, that guest people came in on; they wrote things that were appropriate for them as well.  It’s just an interesting way to work but I think it worked out in the end really well.

    Because of the incredible guest list that pitched in on his project, I jokingly asked Bruce if he had some explosive pictures on them.

    “Funny for you to put it that way.  I mean, actually, I have good relationships with all of them.  If I didn’t know them to well – like, say, Tobias (Sammet, from the German metal band, Edguy) he worked with Eric (Singer) and was a big KISS fan and he was aware of me.  So he was all excited to, in some way, to be involved with my record.  Of course, I’m going to return the favor and be involved with his next project.”

    When I commented that it was quite a testament to how they respected him by participating in BK3, he humbly replied, “It’s great for all of them to say yes.  Of course, the one that I was most nervous about was Gene (Simmons) but he really surprised me with a quick and firm “yes” and even offered up his son.  So how COULD I complain?”

    Well, who’s who in the zoo on this disc?

     “Well, obviously, it’s mostly my guitar work except for the (Toto guitarist, Steve) Lukather thing.  I even let Jeremy (Rubolino, musical prodigy and producer phenom), my producer, play the acoustic on the beginning of No Friend of Mine.  But, in general, the guitar work is mine, of course.  Jeremy and I shared the bass work except for (Yellow Jacket bass player) Jimmy Haslip that played on the instrumental with Lukather.  Obviously, the other guitar playing on that song being Lukather, of course, which was amazing getting him involved.

    “Now, when it came to the other featured guests, for example, Gene (Simmons), Jeremy and I wrote the lyrics.  We worked on the song together and tightened it up.  He (Gene) sang it all and finished the lyrics and the vocals in the same day in the studios, which a lot fun to do.  We were at a really great studio, too, that day.  We booked Henson (on North La Brea in L.A.).  Some of that’s on film on the Family Jewels program (the Memphis Blues episode) when they had a couple of minutes of that session in that thing when they were setting up something about Nicholas going to Memphis with the family.

    “Nick’s song was great.  He wrote the lyrics and they come from a very sci-fi imagery, Lord of the Rings kind of thing.  That’s what Nick is in to.  He did a terrific job with that song and we did it in a real big studio which is fun for Nick.  I think that it was his first time.”

    Continuing with his incredible “who’s who” list of musicians on the album, he names:

    “Doug Fieger (front man for The Knack).  He’s a real gentleman.  I already kinda had the lyrics (to Dirty Girl) and everything.  We asked him if he wanted to be involved (in writing the song) and he said, “No, just finish the song and I’ll sing it.”  He did a great job with that. In noting The Knack’s signature song, My Sharona, he states with a laugh, “I’m hoping they’ll be known for one other song – it’ll be Dirty Girl.  That’ll be fun.”

    Continuing to describe the All-Star roster, he comments on Tobias Sammet’s contribution to the song, I’m The Animal.

     “Tobias, he started working on lyrics when I sent him the track.  He had some idea about it being a dog almost, with a girl that had crossed him.  I switched him in the direction of, ‘Let’s say you’re an animal – I’m the animal.’”

    “So, that’s how that came about.  He was on tour with his band, Edguy, in L.A.  Next thing I know, I grabbed him while he had two days after the tour was done before going home to Frankfurt, where he lives in Germany. So, we finished the lyrics and we sang it the following day, which was great!  As you can tell, everybody like – this is over the course of a couple of years with the featured guests – they came, did their job and I was grateful to have them on my record.”

    Listening to the album, one can easily detect the incredible chemistry between the various musicians.  I asked if working with them was as easy and natural as it seems.

    “Yeah, you know, you’re not clear if they’re getting what you want. 

    “Look, Gene is very prolific and a he’s a great song writer and I was a little concerned about what direction he would want to go with the lyrics.  He was singing something about Ain’t Gonna Die but I think he had a concept that it might be something a little more deeper, reflective kind of thing.  I immediately connected when I heard him sing that line.  I thought, ‘Well, what won’t die?’  His legend will never die; his legacy of being that iconic character on stage and his personality and everything. 

    “So, once I sold him on this is where I want to go, he got it.  But, believe me, I was nervous about it because if he wanted it to be something different, it might’ve been a little stressful for me.  But in general, everybody was easy to work with.  I shouldn’t forget collaborating with John (Corabi, guitarist for Motley Crue and Ratt) - him being the easiest because I have all of that history with him with the band ‘Union’.

    “I wanted the best of John.  I wanted it to be like Union.  Blue Room, the second Union album , is very strong and focused and I wanted to even blow away anything on that record.  I really felt that we accomplished something good and he dug into his angsty vibe.  I think he did a terrific job with that song. 

    “But there wasn’t a lot of stress.  During the Lukather session, we just kind of let him jam and then Jeremy and I made it work within the song.  We didn’t really know – like, we didn’t go in with any total structure for him.  We let him play and, man, he can play, as you know!  He’s a monster on the guitar.”

    Hoping to flush out whether or not the public would get a chance to see them perform together, I said, “It would be a special treat to watch you guys jam together on stage. Is that going to happen?

    “I don’t know.  That would be interesting.  I have been doing the song with the clinics with him.  I hear him and then I answer him the way I do on the track.  Who knows?  I have jammed with him since then at the Fantasy Camp back in the spring time.  That was a lot of fun.  We were doing Push and cover songs.”

    Not wanting to focus too much on the Simmons family, I was definitely interested in hearing what Bruce had to say about working with Gene’s son, Nick.  The Family Jewels co-star was born during Kulick’s KISS years.  I asked Bruce what was going through his mind working with his former boss’s son.  Bruce was enthusiastic with his response.

    “Yeah!  When we reconnected about this song, I dug through some of my photos that I have and, sure enough, there’s this really funny one of him in a baby carriage on the patio of the guest house.  I sent it off to him and (laughing) he was freaking out over that.

    “I’m so proud of him.  I think he’s really hilarious on The Family Jewels show. Once I got to find out what he’s about, and get into like, ‘What are you into musically?’, he played me some of the things that he liked.  And Jeremy and I are like, “Okay, these are a couple of the songs that are up for grabs and we would like for you to decide which one”, and his choice was pretty cool. 

    “The song that he chose I didn’t know he would choose.  He really owned it once he jumped in with it.  He was a bit green in the studio because he doesn’t have a lot of experience like that.  I think that’s part of why his dad said, “Sure, you should record with Nick.  Let Nick do something.”  I think he knew the experience he would get from the knowledge that Jeremy and I have in the studio would be presented to him.

    Bruce shares an insightful, humorous story about what it was like breaking Nick in to the nuances of working with real pros in the studio.

    “We have a funny thing about the word ‘comp’.  You know, you always put together solos or vocals, generally, and they call that ‘comping’ in the studios.  So we said, ‘We’ll do it one more time and then we’ll comp it.’  And he just goes, ‘Comp?  What’s comp?’

    Continuing on about Nick, he adds, “So, the kid’s very bright.  He’s very aware of his dad’s fame.  I think they have a great relationship.  It was a pleasure to get to work with him and get to know him because he’s really, really a wonderful young man now.  I’ll bet he can do whatever he wants.”

    Commenting about Gene and his lovely lady’s child rearing skills, he states, “Yeah, yeah, they did a good job.  I met Sophie (Nick’s younger sister) backstage at the KISS show a couple of weeks back.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile and I got to see her.  I’ve got some photos up on my website.”

    Bringing the conversation back around to BK3, I asked Bruce if he has previewed any of the cuts from the album during his performances and what the response has been. 

    “Not everybody has heard everything from the album.  I did put out an EP because I went back to Australia back in the spring time and I wanted to finally sell something from my records. So I gave them the Corabi tune (Ain’t No Friend of Mine) and one that I sing, And I Knowand then the instrumental with Lukather knowing that I had to hold back on Gene’s track and a few other things. 

    “So, the only thing that I’ve performed so far is I jam along with the instrumental, of course, because I like to do instrumentals at the clinics.  But I have been playing in the background samples of the record and everybody’s really digging it.  But someone like yourself who gets the advance copies for press reasons really have more knowledge than the average fan. 

    “There are a couple of other snippets out on the web purposely, like the Gene song and the reaction’s been terrific so I’m actually really excited.  I think that all the energy and hard work that was put into this record the fans will notice and respond to.”

    I mused that something like, I’m The Animal would have everybody up on their chairs.

    “Some people mention that as their favorite song – some of those who have been able to hear the whole thing.  Tobias is an amazing singer.  He’s not well known in America. Edguy has toured and done a little bit but he’s much bigger in Germany and parts of South America. 

    “He has this side project called Avantasia which Eric Singer (drummer for KISS and Alice Cooper.  He also contributed to BK3) played on which I’ll be doing some guitar work for him right before Christmas, actually.  But Tobias is just really, really well respected.  It’s a pleasure to introduce him to some of the KISS crowd that probably wasn’t really aware of him and I have Eric to thank for that. 

    “Eric reminded me that Tobias contacted me YEARS ago about doing something with them but I was too busy at the time.  I didn’t know him personally but it’s a lot easier when someone you’re really close to like my relationship with Eric they’ll say, ‘You really got to check this guy out.  You’ve got to hook up with him!’  It made it more of a priority.  But I knew that he would be a really good singer to have on my record.  Jeremy, the producer, was like, ‘Who the Hell is he?’  I said, ‘I really think that he’s going to do a great job.’ Any doubts he had, as soon as Tobias opened his mouth, he had no more.  It was a really fun session with him.”

    Moving through the list of songs on the album, I asked him about Life

    “On the song, Life, it seems to be very positive and encouraging song to close the disc out.  What inspired you to write that particular song?”

    “When I first started to write that song, I only had the words, ‘Life is a crazy game sometimes you win or lose’ and then after that was a real struggle.  But I did want it to be, in a general sense, kind of like the Beatles and Harrison had written things – more of like All You Need Is Love, and I realized the phrasing of how I was hearing the vocals for the lyrics had to be short phrases. 

    “So, say a word like ‘Faith’.  Well, then, what about “faith”?  Say a word like ‘dreams’. Well, what about dreams?  Fear.’  ‘Love.’  Those are really big words.

    “I actually used a religious book that is quite popular called, A Purpose Driven Life. I don’t remember if it was Oprah who pushed the book but I realized that I was getting stuck. I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to express all of these big issues in a positive way or a reflective way.  And then, as soon as I found that book – I remember that I was travelling with the Grand Funk show and I was in one of those little book stores that they have behind the gates. 

    As soon as I bought it, it really opened up the key to me.  I mean, I liked what the book said anyway – the message of the book - but I will admit that I was using it to find those key words that would inspire me to write this song with a bit of a message.  And then the ending, being all kind of like a carnival of sounds and playing, was just trying to end it on a positive note to celebrate life.

    “It was an interesting song.  I had to struggle with it a bit but it was a lot of fun.  The violin player at the end, jamming along with me, was all very interesting elements.

    In October, 2003, after catching a Vince Neil show where his good friend and band mate from his former band, Union, was playing drums, Kulick experienced a life changing event.  While walking down the Sunset Boulevard, just in front of the Key Club, with some friends, gun fire erupted from the gun of a man who had been in an argument with some people not tied to Bruce.  Kulick was hit in the right leg and his left temple was grazed. 

    When listening to the cut, I’ll Survive, it is obvious that the song is about the shooting in both a defiant and reflective way.  I asked Bruce how the event affected his view of life and how he lives it.

    “Well, short term I realized how fortunate I was that I could be that close to dying.  When I first started to write the song the only words I really had in the beginning were ‘I will survive’.  I had the chorus and some of the chord stuff and even the breakdown riff thing.  I knew that when I started to dig in to the lyrics that I had to be kind of poetic in telling my story which was, basically, how blessed I was that day. 

    “And then, you don’t want to say, ‘that mean, bad drunk shooter’ so, suddenly he becomes the warm, smoking gun.  He’s the beast and man.  Obviously, I know that it was just the alcohol and whatever torment was going on in his mind that could have made him drunk enough to make him go back to his friends car to go get a gun and shoot it wildly on Sunset Blvd.  That’s not an everyday occurrence.  Of course, in this day and age, hearing of some massive insane shooting thing is not that unusual. 

    “I was really lucky, of course.  It was a challenge to write it but I was just trying to show that you never know what’s going to happen in life.  I tried to be poetic in the way that I presented it.”

    Segueing from the subject of the challenges presented by the nearly fatal event, I wondered if Bruce experienced any unusual challenges in creating the disc itself compared to all of the other session work and studio work that he’d done.

    “Well, you know, I always strive to be as good as I can.  So everything is a challenge to a certain degree.  And some things will come easy and some won’t.  It’s really amazing – the process.  I remember that Fate was the last song and I had some ideas of what I wanted to sing about though I didn’t have that title, Fate, yet. 

    “Jeremy was very clear that it should something saying like, ‘Here I am.  Be positive and in your face’, that kind of posture and it was kind of hard to find the words to that.  We started to hash it out and I realized that it would be fun to have some word play stuff.  He kind of suggested that if we doubled up the rhythm in the verses then it would become REALLY a lot of fun. 

    “That’s when if you look at those words really carefully, they all relate to some element of my time with KISS and growing with KISS.  But the truth is that I was trying to say that no matter what has happened in my life, I’m not in anyone’s shadow.  I’m not in the shadow of KISS.  I’m not in the shadow of Ace.  I’m not in anyone’s shadow.  I am who I am.  And I’m going to play the hand of fate – really meaning, ‘You know you don’t really know what life will bring but I’m prepared.  Bring it on.  I’m here.’ 

    “So, they’re pretty empowering words and it was fun to do it.  And I love the tongue in cheek stuff:  ‘Plug me in, turn it up!’ stuff like that.  That’s the kind of crazy stuff that we say when we’re in the studio:  ‘Alright!  Plug it in already!  Turn me up!’  I have with all of that. 

    And then there was a little bit of word play with certain KISS song titles, actually.  They weren’t done to just borrow KISS titles, they made sense.  ‘Laser beams, war machines’ - you know, lines.  I can see myself on the stage with (KISS tour) Hot in the Shadewith laser beams.  And War Machine is a song that I do with Eric Singer when we do the ESP projects.  It was fun, I have to admit.  It was a last minute song but it set the posture for the record.  We had to have a ‘take no prisoners” opener’.”

    And what an opener it is!  

    As our conversation was winding up, I wanted to know if there was anything especially mind-blowing or rewarding putting BK3 together as compared to past projects.

    ”Well, definitely, that whole collaboration with Gene and, then, the fact that Jeremy and I could work with someone like Nick.  So you’re taking a young talent – of course, Papa Gene is going to be keeping his eye on everything - and coming out with those results – that was so rewarding. 

    “The fact that I would check my ego at the door and say, ‘Okay, I’ll let Steve Lukather play on my song” even though he’s so intimidating to me, was an experience.  He’s a very humble, wonderful guy, by the way.  He IS a monster on the guitar, though!  I like that I was capable of not letting my ego get involved. 

    “I mean the whole journey, especially with Jeremy and I having that relentless pursuit of making a great record, there were times that we were ready to kill each other.  It was very stressful at times because time is money in the studio.  We always use quality studios and engineers.  There were times that we had to redo things just to get it right. 

    “You know, in the end, I saw this as a real testament of what my goals were.  I wanted my Revenge album.  I feel that I accomplished it.  It was really hard at times.  It really was.  But most things you’re really proud of don’t come that easy.  They don’t just land in your lap.  They take a lot of hard work. 

    I commented that I thought that this album was kind of like Audio Dogs and Revenge mixed together and then jacked up on steroids and that he had taken some of his best and built on it in an incredible way.

    “Thanks!  And that was the goal with Jeremy.  I mean, he knew what I did with the other records and what I was capable of and he liked a lot of the stuff there.  He felt like we could bring it up a notch.  That was our goal and that’s what we accomplished.”

    My final question to Bruce regarded any tour plans he might have to promote BK3 – especially if there were going to be any stops in the Dallas area.

    “I’ll more likely be there for sure with Grand Funk next year (2010).  They always book us in Ft. Worth or in Dallas.  But I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.  I have to be careful with my schedule because I love playing with those guys (GFR).  But I’ll be sure to look at all options that come up.  The important thing is that the record is a testament of time and I’ve never been in a situation like KISS:  ‘We’re putting out an album and we’re going on tour!’ You know? The traditional way.  But I’m going to try to be as visible as I can.  “

    Bruce Kulick’s BK3 hits stores and websites on February 2nd.  You’ll want to purchase or download your copy right away.  You can also keep up with Bruce at www.kulick.net as well as learn what his Grand Funk Railroad tour schedule by regularly checking Pollstar.com.

  • Posted July, 2010

    Bruce, Mr. & Mrs. Kulick, and Bob Kulick

    Photo Courtesy of Bruce Kulick

    Parents.  When you think about it, we all have them.  Some of us are parents.  It is, without a doubt, the most challenging but potentially rewarding job on earth.  As a parent of a beautiful daughter who will soon turn 26, I can shout a loud “amen” to those observations  . . . and wouldn’t trade them (the challenges or the rewards) for all the money in the world.

    What about OUR parents?  Many of us who make up the Baby Boomer Generation have lost or are beginning to face the eventual loss of our parents. We are now realizing that our parents, nor we, are immortal and it’s very sobering to come to that realization.

    I have talked to many people who have faced or are about to face the loss of a parent.  Their perspectives are wide ranging.  After a lot of observation, one thing that I’ve come to realize is that many of those people like to talk about their parents and want others to know about their mom and/or dad.

    With that as a backdrop, I recently read where rock guitarist, Bruce Kulick, lost his father, Harry, after 91 great years of life.  One morning, while preparing for my day, a thought came to me out of the blue: Maybe Bruce would want to tell the world about his dad?  I wondered what kind of person Mr. Kulick was.  What kind of work did he do?  How did Bruce view his dad, both when he (Bruce) was a kid and in the last years of Mr. Kulick’s life?

    The thought wouldn’t go away and, ultimately, a second Boomerocity interview with Bruce was the result. During that phone conversation, I asked Bruce if he would prefer to tell his father’s story and I transcribe (the safest route) or did he want me to ask him questions (potentially risky).  I was surprised that he preferred that I ask him questions. 

    As an interviewer, I prefer to make the process a positive one for those interviewed as well as a positive “read” for you, the reader.  I don’t like to open old wounds or prolong one’s grief.  Prior to my call with Bruce, I carefully considered and prepared the type of questions I would ask in the event he preferred to go that route.  I’m glad I was prepared.

    I asked Bruce what first comes to mind when he thinks of his dad.

    “You know, it’s interesting, there was something that came up at the service where the Rabbi that was there asked my Mom, ‘Why did you fall in love with Harry?’ and her reaction was, ‘He was kind.’ I used to see my parents interact in the typical Seinfeld/Jewish kind of way, with them always fighting and arguing over stupid stuff, just like a sitcom, but they loved each other.  They were there for each other.  Sixty-two years married!

    “But he was a kind man that, when I took him to a doctor’s office or when we had an errand like that for something he needed as towards the end of his life as doctor and health trips were important, he was SO sweet to everyone he met.  At home, he was happy in the house watching TV and going to his three meals. That’s what happens when you’re in an assisted living place.  Thank God, he was mostly independent – like 85% independent – he needed very little help, which is really a miracle for how old he was and the fact that he was born with some disabilities. His left hand didn’t work right and he walked kind of funny, too.  That all happened from birth.

    “So, the fact that he could live that many years, bring up two healthy sons, work for many, many years for the government – for 35 years – all of that was a testament of his hard work ethic.

    “So, I think of that, but I also think of his ‘kind’ thing.  He was always sweet to the office lady. Yeah, he had a temper and I knew about that, too, when he was cranky and someone didn’t do something the way he wanted them to do it. But, in general, he was very jovial and almost flirtatious with the nurses and to the doctors in a very funny way.  He would brag about his sons and what he did for the government – you know - the work stuff.  I found all of that quite charming. 

    “As much as I didn’t think he had a lot on his plate, I guess he did in his own mind.  He had lots to talk about.”

    When I asked Bruce what kind of government work Mr. Kulick did, his obvious pride for his dad really showed.

    “It was interesting because he would tell people – he broke it down to the simplest thing: ‘I worked for NASA.’  Okay, he did in a way. But, what he did was he was a Quality Control Engineer.  The government hires a research and development firm to make something for either an aircraft carrier system or for something needed for NASA’s Apollo 8 spacecraft. The contracts were huge even back in those days. They could be a millions of dollars to  create something that belongs on the aircraft carrier or for NASA.  So basically, the company wouldn’t get paid unless they did the right thing.  My father was there to supervise it and sign off on it, so his office would be at one of these places that they really had to kiss his ass, shall we say.”

    Continuing his memories of his father’s work, Kulick shared a story about going to his Dad’s workplace. “It was really wonderful: this one time I got to see my dad at work and I got to see the respect that he got from the people there because it was always a little bit of a mystery what he did. I knew he did something at a plant but, again, when it was hinging upon his signature whether or not they get paid, obviously, the government trusted my Dad to do the right thing and make sure the item worked the way it was supposed to. I’m sure the place was nervous because they were going to want the money.  It meant the world to me to finally see him in his work element. As opposed to the home “man of the house” which in many Jewish homes is just kind of funny fighting with the wife!

    “And, because of that – I put it into the memorial picture when I did the poster board with my girlfriend – they gave him a piece of metal from the moon when the Apollo 8 went there.

    “It’s funny, in his little bag of stuff that he had when he would talk about what he did, he actually had one of the items from one of the – I believe that place had to make a urine bag for the space suits – he actually had a sample of one, which I thought was pretty funny. But, when you think about it, something as simple as that really has to be pretty complex, in a way, or, at least, extremely expensive.”

    The loss of a loved one often shades how we think of them.  I asked Bruce if this memory of his dad was different from the one he had before his father passed away.

    “In some ways.  We have a small family. My uncle Sy came out from New York.  There were times when things came up – just talking to the Rabbi a little bit about my Dad, I would say, ‘I didn’t know that!’, you know what I mean?

    “So, a couple of pieces of the puzzle of my dad’s life had come together a little bit; more information about my grandparents. I guess, in some ways, I feel much more complete and, to be honest, I didn’t need to make any peace with my Dad right before he died. I was very close to him the last ten years they’ve been living out here in LA, and each year was like a blessing with him.  I was just always shocked that he kept hanging in there.  He had some difficult health issues and he was able to beat it.  It was always amazing.

    Kulick continues, “I just guess that I have a little more complete picture.  And, doing that very large presentation with close to fifty items on

    Mr. & Mrs. Kulick in 1982 - Photo Courtesy of Bruce Kulick

    there, of his life – photos and things – it was really nice to see that.  Obviously, it told a story from when he was a little child to grown up and even into his senior years. It was a great idea. My girlfriend did it when her father passed away about ten years ago and she suggested it. I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’ I already had a lot of vintage pictures on my computer already but now it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s scan some more and let’s go find some more at my mom’s.

    “It was a nice a mission and I really appreciate my girlfriend doing it with me. That kind of really told his story and I was very glad to share it with my friends and, actually, the world by putting it up on the internet. My Dad wasn’t a public person like his son.  People didn’t really know much about him.”

    Bruce shared what it was like growing up as a kid with Harry Kulick as his Dad.

    “He worked a lot, but I bonded with him a little more than my brother did.  My brother was into sports and because my Dad had that handicap with his hand and all, he wasn’t going to be athletic. So, my Uncle did some of those kinds of things with my brother. I didn’t care for sports that much. Personally, playing it (sports) I was like, ‘I’m going to get hurt!’ you know, and I want my fingers safe!

    “I used to be much more into the electronics stuff which has helped me with the guitars and amps and pedals and that kind of thing. It’s not that I build things. Back then I was more fascinated with electronics and part of my Dad’s job was a basic understanding of radio electronics and things like that. I remember that we made walkie talkies together. I still have them.  They look, actually, really pristine. It’s crazy. 

    “Then, I remember a school project for the science fair. I had to come up with a binary computer. I remember at first that it didn’t work and I was really upset. I was probably ten or eleven. I was crying and upset. He had someone at the plant that he went to show him what might have gone wrong. The next thing you know, it worked! Dad was certainly a hero to me right then, which is really nice because it’s certainly not something my mother could help with. She was your typical housewife and cook and her part time job was bookkeeping that she did very well at but she wasn’t going to fix an electronic something that you had to solder and put resistors and light bulbs in. That was kind of fun growing up with him with that; my road race set – I really loved that.

    “And, again, Bob (Bruce’s brother who is a Grammy Award winning producer and guitarist) was really more into other kinds of stuff so I was always able to bond with him (Bruce’s father). We were lucky enough to have one of those Lionel train sets and my Dad was into setting that up and we used to play with that.  So, as much as he couldn’t play ball with me, I didn’t care about that.  I really loved all of the other stuff that he was able to do with me.

    I asked Bruce if there was anything about his father’s childhood and upbringing that affected how he raised Bruce and his brother.

    “I guess. I mean, I bet my Grandma really babied him because of the fact that he had an affliction. I mean, again, I think that he did the best that he could.  We grew up in New York City so we weren’t out in a country setting or anything like that. And, one thing that I think is part of our family is just that working hard ethic and he certainly got that from my grandparents, too. My grandfather always owned his own business – a dry cleaning business that was very successful. Later on he used to do the Yankee’s uniforms in the Bronx.” 

    All Dad’s give their kids lots of advice.  I asked Bruce what was the best advice that Mr. Kulick gave him.

    “Well, I know that he was a perfectionist and, when you think about it, if he’s being paid by the government, you don’t sign off of something unless it’s right.  I always kind of had that over my shoulder.  Sometimes, that’s a little tough because sometimes things aren’t good enough, you know what I mean? But I certainly strive for – if I put my name on something - I really strive for it to be something that I’m proud of. Excellence.  I prefer that to being lazy about it.  I guess that he might have instilled that.

    “I really do appreciate the fact that he worked so hard all those years. He’d leave early in the morning, go to work and provide for his family. That might sound like a common or very easy thing to do but you know how many really bad parents there are out there who totally don’t take care of their children and don’t look out for them? So, I’m happy that he was a good Dad.”

    When I asked Bruce how his Dad influenced his career, his reply comes back around to the inherent kindness of his Mr. Kulick’s nature.

    “I think that I take after him in some ways. I’m kind to people, in general.  I mean, I have my cranky moments, too. But, I prefer – I think honey works better than spice and I think that’s something my Dad always kind of felt. So, I don’t know if it’s something he taught me or if it’s something that just came natural to me. I will say that I was always happy to see him be jovial in the offices, even as old as he was. He’d come to a doctor’s office and he was so funny and sweet. 

    “Everybody would always say, ‘Your father is SO sweet!’ You know, that kind of thing.  Even the nurses – unless he was obviously in pain, then he would sometimes get a little cranky – they, in general, thought he was a really sweet man.”

    Bruce’s style of music isn’t exactly in the vein of Sinatra or Welk so I asked Bruce what did his Dad comment most on about his son’s work?

    “Well, it was interesting. With my last record, BK3, when my parents listened to it, it was my father who said, ‘That’s Bruce singing!’ You know, I was really impressed that he knew. My mother wasn’t sure and she had to check the credits.  She told me that, actually.

    “We didn’t really talk about the record.  It was pretty common for Bob and I to go, ‘Here’s the last CD. I hope you like it’ kind of thing. Because I know they know how to work their CD player but we didn’t know how much time they really would dig into a rock record. They would probably rather listen to Sinatra or something.

    “Most of the time they watched TV even though music was a big part of their lives, they weren’t the type to put on a favorite record or something like that. They had certain artists that they were fans of.  But, I found that (his Dad recognizing Bruce’s voice on BK3) really, really interesting and I was really glad that he was able to tell my mom, ‘That’s Bruce singing!’ That was pretty remarkable for me to hear.

    Building up to his answer to my question, Kulick continues, “I don’t want to make it sound – even though he had some musical ability and he played trumpet when he was younger – I have the trumpet here in my home – and not that I even really had the chance to hear him play more than a couple of notes years ago, because it wasn’t his career, he didn’t keep it up. But, he never was ‘instructional’ about any of my music.  He knew that I had all of the really good help that I could – at my disposal to do.  There were plenty of opportunities, between school and the lessons I took, that I was learning all the right stuff. Plus, I had a good instinct for it anyway.”

    With Harry Kulick’s career in a specialized and “brainy” area, I was pretty sure that he didn’t encourage Bruce to a career in rock and roll.  Maybe Bruce could become a doctor or something.

    “From what I understood from my uncle, originally, they weren’t keen that my brother had started playing guitar. But, I guess, by the time Bob started doing it and the world didn’t end, by the time I wanted to pick up the guitar, I didn’t hear any aggravation at all.  Now, I didn’t know that. I always thought they were kind of cool about it but they WERE concerned with Bob.  You’ve got to remember that he was the oldest son so, of course, he’s going to have some of the brunt of the harder stuff. It always happens that way.”

    For a man who was 91 years young, I was very curious what Harry Kulick’s view of the world was in the months leading up to his passing. Before I could even finish my question, Bruce started laughing.

    “Oh, I’ve got a perfect quote for you.  He used to tell my girlfriend before we’d take off – he knew that we didn’t really live that far – I live very close to them – he would go, ‘Watch out for those crazies!’  I think he knew that it could be a dangerous world and that things are kind of crazy out there and that you’ve got to watch yourself.”

    I asked Bruce what his Dad’s reaction was to all the changes in the world, especially in the areas of technology. 

    “You know, I would show him my iTouch and things like that. Although we didn’t get into a whole lot of what things are about, he got the idea of the cell phone and I remember I was in the car with him and, at first, he probably didn’t know what I was doing talking to myself when you have the Bluetooth on. It certainly wasn’t a hard thing for him (to understand).

    “In some ways, in his later years, if his fingers worked better, I could have probably showed him some things on the computer and things like that. But it was a struggle just for him to turn on the machine for his breathing treatment. That’s what happens when you get older. Just turning a light thing on – a lamp – can be hard for older people – arthritis and things like that. That’s what I’m saying: for the past two or the past five years, I’d be in wonderment as to how he gets around and to be able to do everything. It was a real testament to his real strength to wanting to live. Because, we wouldn’t think people can deal with all of those adversities in life, between using the oxygen and getting up from your chair. Fortunately, his brain didn’t go wacko.”

    I delicately asked Bruce if his dad was fully, completely and mentally “there” right up until the end.

     “Yes. I mean, there were times in the hospital with the medication where they would give him some morphine and some pain things where he would talk some wild stuff. He was in a dream state then. I was able to always have a fairly, reasonably cognizant conversation with him for which I was really glad.  I mean, there was a little bit of senior dementia. I don’t want to make you think that, at 91, he was always perfectly ‘there’. But, for the most part, he understood everything.  Sometimes, even with a hearing aid, he couldn’t understand. But he could once I was clearer with him and broke it down to something really basic.

    “Even my Mom is really ‘with it’. She’ll forget that she might have told me something already, when she tells me later. But, for 86, she’s not doing badly, either.”

    I had to ask Bruce the obvious question: What did his Dad think when he went to work for KISS?

    “You know, he knew about them because my brother worked with them years ago. He knew that they were businessmen and smart Jewish guys. He’d come see me and would be beaming from ear-to-ear. He was just thrilled.”

    With our time close to running out, I asked Kulick what attributes of his dad’s did he hope to have “when you grow up”? Bruce’s answer is introspective and full of careful thought that had already taken place before our call.

    “I think he’s already instilled in me the work ethic and the kindness and making people comfortable and making them laugh and doing the best at your job and taking things to the highest level of excellence.  I have to say he has totally instilled all of those good character traits in me. And I will continue doing them in his honor and out of respect to how he worked with me and showed me through his life.”

    With Harry Kulick’s passing still fresh in his family’s hearts, I had to ask how Mrs. Kulick was doing under the circumstances.

    “You know, she was so incredibly blessed to have him for so many years. To be honest, I think that the last couple of years were difficult because of him. He certainly had more health problems and all. But she’s okay.  She has a void in the house. She doesn’t have to worry about what’s going to happen with my dad, that kind of thing. So, she’s been really strong about it.

    I wrapped up our call by asking Bruce what do he wanted the world to know about Mr. Kulick.

    “Well, you know, it was a lesson that the Rabbi took from that discussion with my mom.  This particular Rabbi – we had two of them at the service because even the one from the first place that they moved to in California came for the service which was really sweet and he spoke about my Dad at the burial site – he made a point about that kindness.

     

    Photo Courtesy of Bruce Kulick

    “You know, some people think that, if you’re kind to other people, it’s a sign of weakness. But, it’s not. The Rabbi was making a point that kindness is really a wonderful gift that they can give to each other. When I posted that on my Facebook page, somebody wrote, ‘Kindness is not weakness. Remember that.’ People were thinking powerful things.

    “And, then, the people who you know are ‘not on the right page’, they’re either drinking or doing bad behavior, they’re problem is that they’re not kind to themselves, first. Because loving yourself gives you a tremendous capacity to love others and extend yourself. Some people, I think, because they realize that “I’m not good to myself but if I focus on helping an animal, my pet, my neighbor, my friends’ maybe it takes them away from their own pain. I think that you can be kind, with all good intentions, and there’s no ulterior motive except that you know it’s something that really helps the world.”

    I was struck by those final comments.  When it’s all said and done, “kindness” is the legacy.  Mr. Kulick’s kindness to his co-workers, his business associates, doctors, nurses and guests is certainly a great legacy.  However, in the privacy of one’s home, when the family saw each other for what they really are, to be able to STILL say that Harry Kulick embodies “kindness”? What better legacy can a man leave his family but to inspire the same kind of love and kindness?

    From where I sit, Harry Kulick sounds like he was the consummate rock star of dad’s.  I’m certain that his wife and sons think of him that way.

    Shalom, Mr. Kulick.

     

  • Grand Funk Railroad In Concert
    Show Date: August 20, 2010
    Venue: Choctaw Casino
    Durant, Oklahoma

    The bedroom I had as a teenager growing up in the Phoenix area was the perfect stage for my many air guitar performances. In one corner of my room was a frameless mirror that measured about three foot wide and four foot tall. At one point or another, it was strategically hanging above my stereo.

    Within that mirror were some of the most magical and legendary venues an artist could play: Madison Square Garden. L.A. Forum. Woodstock. You name ‘em and I played ‘em.

    One of my performances for the history books was jamming to Grand Funk Railroad tunes. I was rockin’ out to We’re An American Band, Shinin’ On and Rock and Roll Soul, leaving the adoring masses screaming for more.

    Well, I left the grueling trials and tribulations of that touring life well over thirty years ago, having hung up my vast air guitar collection in order to pursue careers and married life. However, the music lived, and lives, on in me.

    Still finding myself still living in the real world, I was thrilled to recently be given tickets to see the legendary Grand Funk Railroad by their guitarist (and Boomerocity friend), Bruce Kulick (see our interviews with Bruce here and here). I was in for a real treat.

    The band opened with Bottle Rocket. Though original vocalist, Mark Farner, no longer fronts the band, former .38 Special vocalist, Max Carl, was phenomenal in delivering the GFR standards to the capacity crowd. His voice strong and his presence commanding, Carl pleased the crowd one hundred percent.

    Original band members, Don Brewer, on drums and the uber-cool, Mel Schacher on bass, gave the sense of steady familiarity to the band’s legendary song catalog that was performed for the Durant crowd. Brewer still pounds the skins like he did – scratch that – better than he did when he was in his twenties. If you don’t believe me, catch a GFR show and tell me that you don’t think so after his drum solo. Schacher complimented Brewer’s rhythm with his rock solid bass work. His lead-like style of playing bass is his signature and was shown at its best during the entire show.

    The band opened with Bottle Rock and segued right into Rock & Roll Soul. The band brought the crowd immediately to their feet and kept them there with all of the bands great hits like Footstompin’ Music, Shinin’ On, Some Kind of Wonderful, and, of course, We’re An American Band. The crowd joined the band by singing along with I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home.

    Max Carl wowed the crowd by singing one of the hits that he penned, sang and recorded for .38 Special, Second Chance. Judging by the ovation the capacity crowd gave at the end of the song, they were clearly pleased with that addition to the set list.

    Two additional standing “O’s” was given to Bruce Kulick. The first being for his rendition of Star Spangled Banner. While the tune always gets a crowd on its feet anywhere in the heartland regardless who performs it, Bruce had the crowd eating of incredibly talented hands. The second ovation was during Kulick’s awesome solo during Inside Looking Out. He performed his solo while mingling with the crowds to their utter delight.

    This was the first show that I’ve caught at any of the show venues at the Choctaw Casino in Durant. The Center Stage room, where GFR performed, was intimate but handled the band, the crowd and the sound to perfection. The Casino security and other staff were friendly and courteous while professionally carrying out their duties. I will definitely catch future shows there as it’s definitely worth the one hour drive from my home.

    Grand Funk Railroad tours year round. You can see if they’re coming to a town near you by visiting their website, www.grandfunkrailroad.com. Trust me: Their show is well worth the price of admission so, bring a friend!

  • Hippiefest 2011
    August 18, 2011
    DTE Energy Music Theater
    Clarkston, MI

    On a warm Thursday evening, I travelled an hour up I-75 to attend Hippiefest 2011 at the old Pine Knob, corporately renamed years ago as the DTE Energy Music Theater. Hippiefest has been going on for a few years, the idea being to group four or five performers from the ‘60’s or ‘70’s together and have them perform concise sets, thereby eliminating the filler tunes that often bog down longer concerts of more seasoned acts. At tonight’s show, each act did about half an hour.

    At the start of the show, while there were a decent amount of people on the grass (I mean the lawn seating), those in the pavilion were few and far between. By the end of the night, most of the seats were filled. It was a mixed crowd of middle-aged, suburban types, younger kids who were either with their folks or on a ‘60’s lark, and a few old counter-culture holdouts that were still letting their freak flags fly. There was plenty of tie-dye and everyone seemed up for it.

    The night kicked off with Felix Cavaliere former lead singer of The (Young) Rascals. He accompanied himself on his well-known Hammond B3 backed by a band that played for most of the evenings’ performers. Felix was in fine voice as he won over the slowly entering audience. He opened with (I’ve Been) Lonely Too Long, segueing into In The Midnight Hour with a few riffs of Sly and the Family Stone and Michael Jackson tossed in. In fact, his style is to start with a verse or two and a chorus of a Rascals’ song followed by a line or two of tribute to other musicians.

    I don’t know if he specifically catered to the Detroit crowd, but there were a lot of Motown lines added. Groovin’ was augmented by a Temptations medley while my Rascals’ favorite, People Got to be Free, morphed into Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ No Where to Run. The people seemed to respond to Mr. Cavaliere’s appreciation of Detroit’s legacy, and by the time he finished his set with Good Lovin’, he met with warm applause and cheers.

    Rick Derringer was up next, opening with Still Alive and Well. The crowd liked the music, but a few appeared confused hearing Jesus mentioned in the lyrics. A tribute, of sorts, to “the troops” began with a distortion-laden version of Star-Spangled Banner, followed by Real American, which some of you might recall as Hulk Hogan’s WWF theme song. After being treated to Hang On Sloopy (which Rick recorded with The McCoys at age 17), he ended his set with his biggest hit, Rock and Roll, Hootchie-Coo, joined by Gary Wright on keyboards. The audience responded well to Mr. Derringer’s guitar pyrotechnics and gave him a good send off.

    The aforementioned Gary Wright began with a couple tunes from his days with the band, Spooky Tooth, the best of which was Better By You, Better Than Me. His songs were longer than the other artists of the evening with plenty of instrumental solos, although there seemed to be issues with his electronic keyboards throughout. The crowd favorites were Dream Weaver and his final song, Love Is Alive. He was joined on Alive by Rick Derringer, who saved his best guitar solo of the night for this song.

    After a short break, the night was wrenched into high gear by a Michigan native, the fabulous Mark Farner. He began on keyboards with Footstompin’ Music, being joined by the crowd on the “woo-ooo-oos,” before cranking up his guitar for The Loco-Motion. Mark’s performance was filled with energy, as he danced about the stage like a madman. His vocal ability hasn’t faded in the slightest; he’s still one of the greatest natural rock vocalists – ever! He was especially able to showcase his singing on Bad Time (To Be in Love), the only tune of the night that wasn’t “full steam ahead.” Several other Grand Funk Railroad songs were included, and when he finished with his set with I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home, the crowd burst into rousing applause and a standing ovation.

    Well done, Mr. Farner.

    The night’s last performer was Dave Mason. Let me retract that. I should say musician, instead of performer. His over 50 years in the business really showed: Dave’s set was the most musical of the evening. He brought out his own people to back him and it made a difference.

    He began with a few songs he recorded with Traffic, which he co-founded at age 18. Let It Go, Let It Flow and Dear Mr. Fantasy were both rich, melodic tunes with fine harmonies by the band. When he hit the 12-string chords for We Just Disagree, the people cheered and sang the entire song with him. After a fine Only You Know and I Know, I moved up into the crowd on the lawn to join the swaying, dancing masses experiencing a truly great version of All Along the Watchtower (Mr. Mason played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix recording).

    For the final song of the night, Dave was joined on stage by most of the other acts for his classic, Feelin’ Alright, which has been covered by many including Grand Funk and Joe Cocker. It was an appropriate rap-up tune since it appeared to convey the sentiments of both artists and audience: a good time was had by all . . .

  • Posted July, 2011

    Photo Courtesy of MarkFarner.com

    As I’ve written several times before in other interviews and pieces, when I was a teenager, I played a mean air guitar while accompanied by some of the best rock and roll to come across my stereo.  One of my favorite tunes to play some of my best air guitar to was Grand Funk Railroad’s, We’re An American Band.

    My sweet rock star, guitar god poses and moves were often best struck to that tune as a teen.  For those of you who are wondering, I refuse to answer if those same poses and moves are still being struck at my tender age of 50 – something. A guy’s gotta maintain a certain level of dignity.

    When the opportunity presented itself to interview the driving force behind those aforementioned moves, Mark Farner, I gently laid down my air guitar and replied with a resounding yes.

    Farner called me from his home in Michigan where he and his wife share the responsibility of caring for their son, Jesse, who was severely injured in an accidental fall.  Despite the very serious circumstances of his son’s condition, Mark’s chooses to maintain a positive, sunny disposition.  This is evident in his response to my typical phone greeting of, “How are you doing?”

    He has me laughing with his reply, “I’m doin’ but I’m not mildewin’!”

    Mark then slightly cracks open the door into the Farner household by sharing, “I’m so busy here at home. I’m ‘handicapping’ the house for my son. I didn’t know if you knew what happened to our youngest boy.  He broke his neck last July and he’s quadriplegic. So, we’ve had to revamp our home. We had to take all the carpet out because he’s a vent patient, too. Not only is he quadriplegic, it takes electricity to keep this boy alive.  But we’re praying for a miracle.  The doctors say he’s stuck where he’s at and to not expect any better but we do.

    “We feed him fresh juice and my wife is into all the alternative medicines. He’s only on a blood thinner.  He’s doing a whole lot better because he’s got a girlfriend in his life now. Yeah, man! It’s like a miracle there!  That’s an answer to prayer.

    “Anyway, I’m used up. When I’m home, you can’t imagine how busy I am.”

    I complimented him as to his selflessness in attending to the needs of his son in a day when we read about parents accused of abandoning or, worse, killing their own children.  Farner responds with continued positive perspective that is founded on a faith that might blow some peoples minds.

    “It’s spiritual growth and whatever it takes, that’s really to our benefit to allow it to be and to accept it. That’s where I think that I’m at with it. I have seen other things – other than what people normally see.  I’ve seen – in the supernatural  realm – I know of this realm – I haven’t seen the angels that stand on either side of me but people in three different states at three different times, of course, have seen them and identified them to-the-t!”

    Farner then quotes what the people in the three different states have told him.

    “‘Ten feet tall.  One has his hand on your left shoulder, the other one has his hand on your right shoulder and they’re just lookin’ out!  They’ve just got you.  They’ve got you!’  So, I’m thinkin’ that’s where I’m feeling that. Something besides what I feel when I looked up into the heavens.  Now I look into Heaven because that’s where Heaven is.  The kingdom is within. That’s what it says in Luke. That’s where love is. That’s who I really am. The original blueprint is down there. It has been obstructed by a few events.  I go back and recoil, and retreat and go back. But I’m coming back out because that’s what love does – coming out. I’m going in and it’s coming out!”

    We began chatting about more carnal things such as Farner’s participation in this summer’s Hippiefest tour along with rock legends, Dave Mason, the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere, Gary Wright and Rick Derringer.  I asked Mark if this the first time he has been involved with the show.

    “I worked with Hippiefest for a few dates – oh, man! – when they first got started a few years ago. But I haven’t been back out because I’ve been doing other things, of course.  This year, it happened to line up with the time they wanted me for. I hadn’t been booked yet. We worked it out and I’m glad to be on there with them.”

    With a stellar roster like Derringer, Wright, Cavaliere and Mason, I asked if he had ever worked with any of these giants before.

    “I worked with all those guys before. Gary – I didn’t work with him. When he jammed – he came out to one of the rehearsals when we were in Vancouver rehearsing with Ringo’s band.”

    Farner then goes on to share what fans can expect to hear from him at the Hippiefest shows.

    “It’s gonna rock, I know that!  They’re gonna hear the hits (from his Grand Funk Railroad days). That’s what the people want to hear – mainly the hits but there might be a couple of three piece numbers thrown in there because people want to hear that, too.”

    While the subject of GFR came up, I went ahead and asked Mark the obvious question that I know he’s been asked at least ten thousand times: Are there any plans at all for any kind of temporary reunion between him and his former GFR band mates for a few shows?

    “Randy, I’ll tell ya, I’ve been tryin’ to do that very thing for a number of years but they’re just – it’s like putting a man and wife back together that got a divorce. You know, try that once and see how far you get with that!  That’s kinda like what it is.  That’s really how it is putting a band back together.

    “But, I am willing and I have made it known to those guys.  In fact, even though I’m not an officer in the corporation because they threw me out in ’98, I still sit in on a phone call of the corporate board meeting. Every once in a while I’ll say something. Like, last time I said, ‘While we’re all three still sucking air, why don’t we give the fans what neither one of us can do separately – give them Grand Funk Railroad.’

    “Brewer said, ‘Put something together and bring it back to us after we get done touring in the fall.’”  Farner laughs and then adds – with just a little bit of sarcasm, “So, I’m going to do that. I’m going to run right out and do that since I have all this time on my hands.  But that’s where it is.  I’m willing but only for the sake of the fans, brother. I’m telling you, Randy, I am a fan – I wanted to see the Beatles get back together while they were all still on the earth at the same time.  What a magnificent thing that would have been and I missed it!  I thought that’s how bad I wanted it.

    “From the fans viewpoint, there are some fanatics who want to see Grand Funk. They don’t care about the internal bickering or anything, they just want to see the band.  For that purpose – for the fan – for the sake of that loyal fan – I would go out there and not pay any attention to the other stuff that’s going on and just rock the crap out of it.”

    Acknowledging the financial rewards of such a reunion, Farner adds, “Wouldn’t they be doing the corporation a better service by making as much money as they could?  I’m just a minority shareholder over here.”  He concludes with a laugh.

    So, until the fan-demanded GFR reunion takes place, I wondered if Mark has any other collaboration or solo projects in the works in the mean time.

    “Yes, a matter of fact, Ronnie Montrose, Eric St. Holmes, Pat Travers and myself just did a gig in St. Louis as The Guitar Godz of the Seventies. That’s ‘g-o-d-z’ of the seventies – and it came off.  People showed up and we rocked them.  Prior to that show, I had been with Pat Travers down in Tallahassee shooting a 3D video – the first 3D rock video ever shot – Panasonic actually sponsored it and supplied all the gear. It’s awesome!

    “There’s only a few cable satellite channels that carries 3D content but they are looking for content because 3D – by next Christmas – everybody will have a 3D iPhone.  3D is coming on!  You’ll have a screen that’s 3D without glasses. You hold it right there in  your hand and see 3D! I’ve got one already on a camera and it works great – it actually does it!  When they come out with a TV that will do that, then they’ve got something.  Right now, you’ve got to have the glasses but, even with the glasses, it’s awesome, man!  To be in a rock concert?  You standing right with these guys!”

    Bringing it back to the “Guitar Godz” concept, Mark adds, “We’re definitely going to bring that show to more locations. And, as far as working with Pat . . . he came up with me and did Closer To Home  and a few of my songs at a concert in Tallahassee at a club down there where we taped the whole thing in 3D with the audience.

    “That (Guitar Godz) is a strong possibility because Pat’s coming up to my place to write.  He know that I can’t get out from here because I’m strapped but I can take a few hours here and there and he can be there and we’ll write.  We’ve already got a spark and ‘iron sharpens iron’.  That’s one of our songs already and that’s going to rock.  And that boy is playing some slide! Woo, man!”

    Of all the questions and interest in you/your work, what would be the one thing that you feel has been least covered and understood about you, your work and your legacy?

    “I believe it’s the sincerity to which I am committed. It’s been the same the whole time but it’s been obscured in the early years by different things, events, consequences, recoveries, collisions – life goes on.  But, what’s driving me is love. I gave myself to love. Every day that I stay in the bones, love becomes more a part of me. It becomes bigger because it’s erasing that hurt and the things that shove me back into the hole that I was buried in. But that is emerging, coming out of me and emerging into who I am. I believe, because I gave myself to love, love has given itself to me and that I might just flip out of these bones without even knowin’ it - that’s how good it is . . .” and, with another chuckle, he reiterates, “. . . without even knowin’ it! Just to the next stage. Not bad!” Mark then cackles out loud at the thought of the beauty of that realization.

    As I have with many other icons, I asked Mark what negative changes, culturally and within the music business, he sees between now and the sixties and seventies.

    “Generally speaking, it’s the shock value that one has to go for or, like when Kiss came out and dressed up and became bigger than life – dimensional.  They added more to it.  It was a theatrical performance with fireworks and everything. Now, to see what live shows are about, to see the culture of music reflects a ‘debt consciousness’.  We’re in debt to something. The whole move is based upon ‘debt’.

    “What influenced back in the day, making music, was I had a DJ in my local town who went to California. He was in L.A. for a week and he came back. He said, ‘This is what I heard. Listen to this!’ and he spun Deep Purple’s Hush and Flint, Michigan, fell in love with Deep Purple and Hush, dude! That’s how music got around. That is no longer possible since 1995 because the FCC had the 7/7/7 rule which limited you to the ownership of 7 AM, 7 FM and 7 television stations.

    “Until 1995, the culture – what we saw – was pretty much based on fact and actual news reporting and people who weren’t paid off to say certain things and to make things appear as though they were but they’re really not. That’s what’s going on now. You used to have a moral conscience that governed our cultural and now what governs our culture is the influence of distinct, utter – you talk about the devil, this is evil. This is evil.  There’s no devil because, in my opinion, when Christ came out of the earth with the keys to the kingdom of Hell and of death, that just showed – not only the resurrection, the power of the resurrection – it showed unconditional love because He redeemed his brother, Lucifer’s, soul and now holds the keys that Lucifer once held. We’re ‘in’ because of that.

    “That’s the Jesus I know and these people that used to have a moral conscience to govern that and to instill morality in our children have lost the grip to all the fantasies – the computer generated bull*** they see on the television. It’s not good. It’s in the hands of sick men who have never had to earn anything. They don’t have a sense of value. It’s skewed and they’re hell-bent on taking over the world – this one world order, new world order, Global baloney B.S. and, really, nobody is stopping them.

    “Music had a chance before they had a grip on us. Now, it’s a stranglehold.  Clear Channel owns everything and Live Nation went in and bought up all these promoters, all their contracts with all the amphitheaters in all the major cities.  You can’t go in and play a market unless you play at Live Nation and if Live Nation ain’t playin’ you, you’re not going to play that city and that is B.S.!”

    It’s at this juncture of his comments that Farner injects his political and economic views that aren’t always popular with folks but he puts them out there anyway.

    “It’s in the hands of Mr. Money and Mr. Money happens to be the European families who own the Federal Reserve and have no patriotic interest in the United States of America. Their interest is in destroying the potential for freedom because we were getting strong with our factories. We were getting debt free. We were getting towards that when they pulled the rug out from beneath us. We were getting to be a strong nation but they control us by the issuance of our currency. The fact that they are all Jewish families is not coincidental and the fact that we are kicking the crap out of Palestinians in Afghanistan and in Iraq and they’re rattling the saber to go into Iran.  It’s them in control by virtue of television to confuse people and put us in a state of disinformation and we base our opinions on B.S.  Well, what does that say about our opinions?

    “Man is such an egomaniac anyway, we believe what we believe is true. We’ve been lied to so much, we believe it’s true. Really, the acting out before us shows selfishness. As long as this evil rules – and that’s what it’s going to do to every country that it issues currency to – that country will become ruined.

    “It’s just like following Rome. You’re going to follow that?  You’re going to follow Rome. You’re going to follow that you’re going to follow the false god because those guys are the ‘Wizards of Oz’. They’ve got the big levers. They’ve got the buttons and the whistles in their hands but they’re hiding behind a very expensive curtain.

    “The internet has helped expose who these rats are.  They’re just insane with the lust for power. It’s not about money. If you own the machine that prints money – just by virtue of the scenery on a hundred dollar bill and what I have to do to earn it and what it’s face value is and what it costs them to print it – are you kidding me? How are you ever going to overcome that debt and they charge you interest to borrow some of it! Unbelievable!”

    One may not agree with Mark Farner’s view of all things political and economic but one thing is for certain: You’ll know exactly where he stands when you discuss them with him.

    And what Farner view as being the biggest positive changes in the music industry since the 60’s/70’s?

    “The positive is there are a lot of people coming to things like that Guitar Godz show – the first 20 rows were all young people – to the shows where I’m playing music – I don’t know if it’s because of Guitar Hero or what but there’s a lot of kids coming. They want to shake your hand. They want an autograph. That’s great. I love that because they’re gettin’ a grip on it. They’re fed up with this other stuff. They don’t want to hear the negative point of view. They want to hear the hope. I’ve always stayed with the lighter side but I’ve always been political, if I felt it, in my writing and I’ve been spiritual at times. I stay true to my heart and that’s what the young people want – somebody that is staying true to their heart and is saying what they have instinctive for. That you can’t deny.

    “We are people. We’re men. We have needs. The women have needs.  We need balance. The problem is balance. It’s a man’s world and how does feminine energy – how do we let it in?  How do we let it balance us?  If we don’t, these men are going to get us all killed!” Farner concludes, laughing.

    “My Cherokee blood is to esteem my woman to be equal with myself. How could you love somebody with all your heart unless you did?”

    One thing that is apparent in the music world is that what we all refer to as “classic rock” is still incredibly popular as evidenced in its inclusion in movies, commercials and video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  Also, acts like McCartney, the Stones and Springsteen are still clocking in record revenues and attendance records. I asked Farner why he thought it was that classic rock still has the “legs” that it does.

    “The groove.  I mean, you can flash your guitar and rip the neck off of it and it’s fine. But there is a groove and rock and roll has a groove to dance to. It has a groove to set your soul to – if the words are right – and take you in that direction. You have a natural inclination to follow the groove because the groove is made out of love. This other stuff that masquerades as rock and roll, they’ve missed the whole groove. It’s got all the flash and the audience has bought the marketing scheme or scam, whatever. It doesn’t fulfill them. They’ve got to have the groove and, my friend, we gotta to have the groove. That’s what sets our certain music apart – it’s got a groove to it. I fit right in there.”

    To that point, I asked Mark if he felt if any of the new music had a message that compelled people to action like it did in the sixties and seventies.

    “I don’t listen to the radio enough to give you an answer. I really don’t listen to the radio at all. I only hear what my son, Jesse, is playing.  It’s in the house because he’s in the house and I can’t deny him his music because it overshadows the sounds of that vent. It’s a noisy S.O.B., it really is. But that’s what I hear. I don’t know the group names. I’m not in an out of that room enough to stay on a song to say, ‘Oh, who’s that?’  I’m trying to keep my mind clear too, Randy, so that I can stay open to ‘incoming’.

    What is coming to your town is this former member the American Band, Grand Funk Railroad, to help you “party it down” during the Hippefest Tour next month and concluding in early September.  You can find out when and where it stops near you by clicking here.  You can keep up with Mark Farner and how things are progressing for his son, Jesse, by visiting www.markfarner.com and signing up for Mark’s free newsletter.