Ask prolific guitar player Bruce Kulick why being a judge for the School of Rock¬†"Battle of the Bands" June 29 and 30 at Summerfest is important to him and the¬†former member of KISS says that "seeing them be creative or just cover a classic rock¬†tune is truly a joy to me."
It‚Äôs that love of music that has fueled a career that has continued to climb since¬†1975. Kulick debuted as a touring member of Meat Loaf‚Äôs band playing dual¬†guitars with his brother Bob. From there, Kulick rocked in Blackjack with Michael¬†Bolton, opened for Ozzy Osborne with the band The Good Rats, played on Billy¬†Squier‚Äôs "Tale of the Tape" and perhaps most famously, held down lead guitar¬†for 12 years for the "hottest band in the world," KISS.
Kulick is kind, warm and well spoken. A workaholic and animal lover, Kulick¬†is refreshingly down to earth, but still possesses little eccentricities that¬†communicate he is a highly creative individual. Dressed sharply in designer¬†denim, a tailored jacket, fabulous shoes and tasteful "rocker" jewelry, he exudes¬†a confidence and mastery for his craft that only comes with the experience he¬†has garnered working with some of the music business‚Äô biggest and "baddest."
Could there be anyone left for Kulick to shred for? He says, "I always wanted to¬†jam with Paul McCartney! I love that he still rocks and he is in his 70s. A real¬†inspiration for all."
With a resume that reads like a who‚Äôs who of rock n‚Äô roll, Kulick offers some¬†great advice for the up-and-coming artists he will be judging this weekend on¬†the Summerfest stages:
"Be patient, and follow your instincts. Being a clone of¬†another band is never a great idea. Be influenced by the bands that you love, but¬†don't copy them exactly. Put yourself into your own idea of what a band or artist¬†should be."
School of Rock is a national, franchised music education program that utilizes¬†the expertise of stars like Kulick for mentorship and instruction. The Summerfest¬†"Battle of the Bands" will showcase over 200 students in 30 bands on several¬†stages over the two-day contest where Kulick will be joined by fellow celebrity¬†judges Slim Jim Phantom (The Stray Cats), Earl Slick (David Bowie), Jim¬†Peterik (Survivor, Ides of March), Metal Mike (Rob Halford), Eric Bloom (Blue¬†Oyster Cult), Nathan Willett and Matt Maust (Cold War Kids).
The battle‚Äôs finale¬†will be staged at the BMO Harris Pavilion on Sunday, June 30. For detailed show¬†times and stages click here.
This will be Kulick‚Äôs first Summerfest outing and he is thrilled that it will give¬†the School of Rock hopefuls the chance to "get to feel like a pro." Part of¬†that experience is the fans. The School of Rockers will be joined by over 300¬†supporters and will be garnering new cronies with every note they play.
KISS¬†fans are known in the music world as some of the most dedicated devotees.¬†Kulick makes several appearances at KISS Expos around the world and¬†describes KISS fans as "amazing, loyal, and opinionated."
He is moved by how his part in rock history continues to inspire. "I am blessed¬†with my 12 years playing guitar for (KISS), as I was able to get a body of work¬†that won't be forgotten. What's amazing me lately is meeting young fans of mine¬†that are crying and shaking saying 'hello' to me. Guess what? I have been out of¬†the band longer than their age! So, I am quite moved by that."
Kulick currently plays lead guitar and tours with Grand Funk Railroad. He also¬†keeps busy with his two side projects, Union (with John Corabi) and ESP (the¬†Eric Singer Project.) He is involved with session work, producing new artists,¬†instructional DVDs, music compositions and Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp.
Kulick has also released three solo albums, most recently BK3 (available on¬†iTunes and from Kulick.net) that includes the vocal debut of Nick Simmons, son¬†of KISS bassist Gene Simmons on the song, "Hand of the King."
Was working with Nick anything like being in a band with his notorious father,¬†"The Demon?"
"Anytime I worked with Gene it was 'Gene Simmons¬†of KISS!' You know, he (Gene) has lots of experience. Nick is fearless, but he¬†didn't have that experience yet," said Kulick. "My producer and I watched him grow in his¬†confidence and ability and his performance was 'stella.'"
Perhaps the most exciting impending development for Kulick will be more¬†personal than professional. He is engaged to be married in early 2014. The¬†challenges and triumphs of relationships for road-traveling musicians have been¬†documented sonically since needle scratched vinyl, so will tying the knot affect¬†Kulick‚Äôs career or perhaps inspire his own ode to love on the road?
"Marriage will give me an even firmer foundation than what I already have. Lisa,¬†my fiance√©, obviously has been a huge part of my life and having her become Mrs.¬†Kulick, will be a strong statement of what she means to me. If it helps a song,¬†great, but honestly sometimes it's heartache and trouble that inspires musicians.¬†But, I am not opposed to a love song here and there, so who knows!"
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