I've always been a sucker for the down trodden. There's the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is always an inability to tell the truth. You can fill in the blanks here, but you can't stop the passion. Fortunately for us, we now have a new passionate union from some very talented well-seasoned musicians.
Q&A with Bruce Kulick and John Corabi, December 1997
Sheila Rene': Hang on I'm having problems with my damn computer today. It keeps on dialing into the Internet without a prompt. My fax keeps trying to send a fax I don't have up after I disabled it. Was that you who called earlier?
John Corabi: Yes, it was. I got the fax sound.
SR: Thanks for calling back. I love this Internet thing.
JC: It's cool, huh?
SR: I talked to Bruce earlier. I find it hard to believe you guys were able to keep this band a secret.
JC: We told a few people. We were just wanting to keep it low-key. We concentrated on writing the tunes.
SR: I interviewed you back in the Scream days. So, I've been a vocal fan of yours. I thought Scream would be a big band.
JC: We did as well. We were probably the first real band other than Queen on Hollywood Records. Even if you look at the Queen thing the label kinda backed into the soundtrack from "Wayne's World." The record company employees were green and people were steppin' on everyone's toes. It was a weird situation. I can honestly say that more people come up to talk with me about Scream than Motley Crue.
SR: That was another year wait for you....backing out of Scream to join Motley Crue.
JC: That was almost two years. Someone asked me how long I was in Motley Crue and I told them I had been in the band five years. At that moment it struck me as well. I was in Motley Crue for five years. Where does the time go?
SR: What is the best trait of your new partner, Bruce Kulick?
JC: He's an amazing guitarist. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people. Even a few weeks ago we played for our managers and friends at a rehearsal. I have actually retained the same manager from Scream until today. Everyone called me the next day saying they were truly amazed at his guitar playing. It's weird, no disrespect to KISS or anything, but he was always in the confines of what KISS could do or would do. It's amazing to jam with him because he just knows so much.
SR: You are going to play guitar as well. How do you feel about that?
JC: Yeah, I'm excited about that.
SR: Two back-up vocalists.
JC: It's going to be so cool because we'll both be playing guitar plus everyone in the band can sing really well.
SR: Didn't Nikki Sixx actually introduced you to Bruce, correct?
JC: What happened was that Sixx did an interview with Spin Magazine and they asked him who he was listening to lately. He mentioned the Scream album. I had one manager who had already called to thank Nikki and suggest that we get together and write some tunes. I got back from the tour and I called Nikki's manager about three days after they fired Vince or he quit.
SR: I don't think we'll ever know what really happened.
JC: (laughing) Just like no one will ever know if I quit Scream or I was let go.
SR: It's fun to talk about, but it really doesn't matter.
JC: You're right. Anyway, Nikki got on the phone and we talked. At that point he asked me to come down and jam with them. The rest, they say, is history.
SR: History is repeating itself today. I think a lot of people miss those '80s bands like Dokken, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Night Ranger and Slaughter, there are more.
JC: My manager also handles Ratt. They're back. I saw them in Las Vegas and they're doing an amazing business with their live show.
SR: We've forgotten how much we liked that straight-ahead, sex in the back seat rock and roll. I just saw Bruce Dickinson. Man, I want to tell you he can still really belt 'em out. I cried it was so beautiful.
JC: During the final days of litigation with Scream I went down and auditioned for Motley on a Monday. They called me back on Tuesday and they hired me that night. I started writing with the guys the next day. There was a lot of legal stuff and none of it had to do with the Scream. It was the head of the label, Peter Paterno, who saw an opportunity to make back some money he had shelled out on the band. He negotiated for nine months and Motley's management and Elektra's lawyers. We're already rehearsing the record at this time.
SR: You're still close to those Scream guys.
JC: Absolutely. At the time, for the Scream there was nothing to fight over. It's like anything else. If you have a husband and a wife and the relationship isn't working, most times if they're broke, it'll be a real easy cut and dried situation. Had the Scream had a lot of money or success, it would have been very different. At the time, the Scream guys pushed me to join Motley. They were really good friends and understood my situation. I have a son who's a diabetic and it was a perfect opportunity for me to travel, write and at the same time be able to take care of my family.
SR: On a day to day basis, was it fun being around those wild and crazy Motley Crue guys?
JC: Yes and no. Coming from where I was there were a lot of things I didn't quite grasp and I probably never will. They are amazing people and if you're in their circle, they will treat you extremely well. If you're out, you're really out. There were certain things I didn't understand and there are the egos. At times, it was hard for me to swallow because I didn't necessarily agree with some of the things the band did. I just realized they had more experience than I had at the time. Who am I?
SR: John, you are a guy have a wonderful voice that we're going to look forward to hearing more of with this new album.
JC: (laughing) I'll go and I don't take lessons. Before I started on the Scream and Crue records I popped into a vocal coach and get some new warm up things. Every coach wants you to warm up and warm down. Periodically, if I feel like I'm having a little trouble I'll go in for a couple of lessons. Sometimes I think I think about my voice too much. Early on I didn't think one second about it, I just did it. It's a fine line of over using and not using it enough. The voice is a muscle, you work out with weights and if you stop, it's all for nothing. If you ever stop, you have to start over at square one.
SR: Are you and Bruce having some fun hanging out and writing together?
JC: Absolutely. It's not that we come up with the same ideas, but we have a tendency to follow the same path but from different angles. We are able to stimulate each other with our playing. He's a precise guitar player. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to be a little looser. He tells me that I'm a percussive player and we work well together. We share a lot of the same influences.
SR: Name a few for me.
JC: We're both huge Beatle fans, old Cream and Humble Pie. I'm getting so excited to have everyone hear this new CD.
SR: Now that the word is out, we'll all get excited with you. I bet the Internet will be humming. Are you on-line yet?
JC: It's going to be cool. Not actually. I had one for a while but my plan is to get up on line with my own set up. I was living with this girl for a while and we had an unfortunate split and she kept it. Just like I said earlier, splits are not always easy. I just told her to 'keep it all, but I'm outta here.'
SR: You're well into pre-production on this album. When may we expect it? Is anyone helping with the producing?
JC: We expect to finish in November. It should be well mixed, produced, mastered and delivered. Bruce and I have so much experience between us. We've both been around and worked with a lot of great producers. We just figured we should take a shot at it ourselves. We brought in Curt Cuomo who co-wrote material with Bruce, Paul and Gene on the "Carnival Of Souls" album. He also worked on a couple of Eddie Money records. He's a great songwriter and producer. Bruce and I would write a song and get it to where we both thought it was cool. Then Curt would make suggestions. We demo'ed everything at Curt's studio. We'd sit around together listening and make changes if needed. We took our time.
SR: Good thinking.
JC: It's something you learn along the way. Producers get so much money for what they do. We've worked with the Bob Ezrin, Bob Rock, Eddie Kramer and many others on the list of producers.
SR: I'm thrilled about the project (Since the interview I've been able to listen to the CD many times). You'll be doing a premiere with the Internet's #1 station, HardRadio, and kick it off to all the rockin' fans.
SR: Thanks for your time. I'll keep in touch.
JC: I'm looking forward to getting out on the road. Thanks for your help.
SR: Thanks for your time. I'll keep in touch.
Same day with Bruce Kulick
Sheila Rene': Congratulations. How are you?
Bruce Kulick: It's okay if John and I switch times isn't it?
SR: Absolutely. No problem. I'm ready. You guys take the prize for keeping secrets. It's hard to keep anything secret in Los Angeles.
BK: Where are you?
SR: I'm in Austin but not for long. From what I understand Nikki Sixx introduced you and John. Did you hit it off right away with John?
BK: This is true. It was interesting for me to watch the whole little odessy with John joining Motley. One day Nikki called me saying 'we fired Vince.' I was really shocked. None of us knew they were having problems. Within a couple of months we heard that they liked John. I can't say I was John's friend, but since I was Nikki's friend I'd stop by and see John there. I always felt I knew him better than I did. I didn't get close to him until our little destiny trip started about a year ago.
SR: We don't have a name for this band yet.
BK: I'll explain the name problem. I'm sure you realize what it's like to pick the name. So many have been taken and to be honest there is a name we love, but I don't want to talk about it until it's cleared all hurdles. We're still doing the search. I never had to deal with this before, being in a band called KISS one of the more memorable handles. I never understood the radio stations saying that they were KISS-FM and they got away with it.
SR: You are still such a youngster. I would think you'd be walking on air now that you have your own project.
BK: I'm still younger at heart. This is a dream come true although so was joining KISS. How can you not suddenly walk into a situation where you're in limousines and traveling the world with one of the most famous bands ever in the history of rock and roll.
SR: Those KISS guys take chances in this business, they know how to have fun and aren't afraid to work hard. They're crazy guys.
BK: I learned a lot from being in KISS. Obviously, the fans were so special with that group. The truth always was, as much as I made my mark as a guitar player with them, there was always this giant history with the make-up thing. It was something only those four guys made magic with and it had nothing to do with the music. It transcended that. The super-hero vibe they created. Of course, when I was in the band we were mere mortals. I still think we kicked ass but the point being, there was always a shadow there.
SR: You did kick ass, but the fans stopped coming.
BK: Yes, definitely. We wound up with the die-hards. It wasn't like your typical band who'd love to be able to have consistent gold albums and to be able to tour. I was in KISS 12 years. How many bands even last 12 years or five years?
SR: I bet it was the fastest 12 years of your life?
BK: Yeah, it did go by quickly. There were milestones that I'm really proud of but I tell you that this shadow followed me around. I can spread my wings now. Also, I very, very excited that the record that was never going to come out, "Carnival Of Soul" is now a reality. The song "The Jungle" that I co-wrote on is doing very well at rock radio. It's a real thrill. Imagine if this is really the greatest KISS record and I'm not in the band anymore. It's interesting I have to admit.
SR: What was the biggest perk for you in KISS?
BK: Well, obviously you're dropping a name that everyone knows. Even if they got confused or weren't into the band. I don't think I ever met anyone who didn't know the name KISS. That's pretty awesome on its own but it opened doors which created a first class kind of environment. I always realized that it wouldn't necessarily be forever, I just knew I'd make the most of it while I was there. I tell you, even if you're in first-class, you're not too happy. I never complained. I felt like the kid who found the candy jar.
SR: You have played with some of my favorite people in the whole world like Billy Squire, early Michael Bolton when he was a rocker and Meatloaf.
BK: There you go. You got my bio down pat.
SR: Actually, I don't have your bio but I have your website and pulled up these tidbits I had forgotten. You're a real player.
BK: Playing in a band with Michael was a good experience.
SR: When I heard that you were going to be on a paid vacation I said all right Bruce.
BK: That was a kind way of saying let's see what's going to happen. And, certainly it was better for KISS to have all their eggs in one basket. Just like on "Unplugged" for MTV and then again, when the ticket sales took off like they did. They'd rather be in make-up than not. It was time for me to move on.
SR: Talk to me about your bassist and drummer in the band. . .Jamie Hunting and Brent Fitz?
BK: We're really fortunate to have them with us. Brent became involved first. He was someone I had met through a singer I was doing some gigs with at the time who played around in Canada. Fitz is Canadian and he's one of those guys who is very talented and plays lots of different instruments. He can sing too. Your odds are that you go to America you end up in L.A. or New York. Jamie was born in Los Angeles and he's played in quite a few bands; however, they never really broke. Except for the work he did with David Lee Roth. I was invited to a record company party at this huge disco that featured many kinds of music. I went with Brent and we were still looking for a bassist. There he was playing at this party. Brent and I both agreed that he would fit in and I set about getting his phone number.
SR: What kind of writing conditions have you and John put yourselves into?
BK: We worked in my house where I had enough gear to get the tunes down. To me, if a song doesn't work on a couple of guitars, I don't care how many bells and whistles you add most times it doesn't work. We both had our favorite riffs in our closets. I had some things I didn't know what to do with. We worked really well in the songwriting process. It was easy this time because it can be a very, very painful process. I have to admit that Gene and Paul worked very hard at it. Paul is very picky and Gene had a go for anything attitude. A little too wild for me sometimes. There was something that John and I had. Sometimes with him I couldn't read his face, but I know if he doesn't like something we do he'll let me know. We're able to develop from each other's ideas. We do have a secret weapon. This friend of ours who was involved in the "Carnival Of Soul" record in Cuomo. He co-wrote on all the songs that Paul and I worked on. He was the guy I knew I wanted to continue to work with on this new project.
SR: Your going into Rhumbo in L.A.
BK: It's a great studio and has a lot of history. It's very rock and roll. Guns 'N Roses do all their records there.
SR: As we speak, you have seven songs written.
BK: We did the best demos we could possibly do. We did about ten songs. Actually, what this record is going to be, and a lot of bands do it but they don't talk about it. I don't mind is that we actually transferred off the important stuff and then we'd re-do the drums really big and put Jamie on the bass. I only mentioned a couple of song titles in the press release because we weren't really sure what would happen. We wrote another batch of songs that we rehearsed. From these sessions we'll make our final choices. Who knows where every thing will end up. We salvaged the song that actually got us the record deal.
SR: I heard you had quite a few labels courting you.
BK: Mayhem was the first label that "got it." They understood what we wanted to accomplish.
SR: I love working with this label. They have salvaged some of my all-time favorite bands for their label.
BK: The fans will be happy that we didn't go with one of those major labels.
SR: Yeah, put you in a closet and shut the door. I love working with Paula because she really likes music.
BK: I just met her over the last two weeks. I can put her with a voice now.
SR: How long has your ESP model guitar been out?
BK: It has been out for a while. It really came out in June of '97 and debuted at a NAM show in January of '96. That was the prototype. All ESP's are made in Japan or at least the high line models and certainly the Signature models. My first one was actually built in one of their places in L.A. I wanted to meet with the guy so we could collaborate on the finer points. I enjoyed the hands-on with this guitar. I'm very particular with my guitars and I have a knowledge of collecting and playing them. Every custom order takes six months to a year and mine took even longer. I'm real proud of it and I finally got my second prototype a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited to actually have a guitar with my signature on the head. I sign them all.
SR: I think it's great that you're going to sign each one.
BK: It's convenient in the sense that I remember when Paul was doing something they'd send the back plates to him while he was on tour. Having ESP here in L.A. I just pop in and I sign a dozen at a time.
SR: I had no idea that a person could get custom-made strings. Is that new?
BK: You really did study my website. For me on certain guitars I got really particular about. I had a certain feel for the guitar, especially the ones that have the Floyd Rose, which is a thing that Eddie Van Halen made very famous. Some of my big fans ask me for my old strings. (Laughing). I give them a custom package and it feels right to me.
SR: Do you have an idea which song will be a hit on this album?
BK: There is one song that everyone responds to and we're not sure of the name. It's so hard to talk about the music since you haven't heard anything yet. Who knows at this point what we'll release first.
SR: Are you looking forward to your Internet talk session?
BK: I bought a computer last December and I can't tell you how exciting it was. I don't even jump into a big pool because I'm not that great a swimmer. This felt like jumping into the ocean. The whole world of computers was just like jumping into the ocean. I'm not frightened of buttons and things because I'm good at that. The whole computer thing where there are so many options it's mindboggling.
SR: It's addictive.
BK: Yes, it is. I think it's all very positive. The KISS Army is very big on the Internet. Gene once said that the fans were a little warped. In one way I understand what he's saying. They'll argue about the smallest, silliest things and then again, what a great way to share information, experiences and passions of what they really believe in and love. I don't like the rumor machine which is usually not correct like there would be a "Carnival of Souls" tour. Everyone knows by now they'll get the straight stuff from me. I get behind sometimes with my answering everyone because of my busy, hectic schedule. I really make a point to answer everything I get. If you looked into my website I don't even have the press release up yet.
SR: I can't wait to hear the music. Thanks, buddy.
BK: We all sing, write and play. It was very exciting to work in my own studio. Paul, the Mayhem guy made a trip out to see us work. We were on phase one and there we were after two weeks of rehearsal, feeling as if we could go play and conquer Madison Square Garden. I was callin' us the evil Led Zeppelin (laughing) if there could be such a thing. Four guys doing a lot of riff music.
SR: Thanks, Bruce. It's been fun chatting with you.
BK: You bet. Thanks for your interest.