Actor – and Bronson Lookalike – Robert Kovacs talks about his new film “Death Kiss”

If you were walking down the street and passed by actor Robert Kovacs nobody would question if you did a double-take or two.  Ruggedly handsome, the Hungarian-born actor and stuntman bears more than a strong resemblance to one of the greatest icons of action cinema, Charles Bronson.

Capitalizing  on that resemblance, Mr. Kovacs is currently starring in the action-thriller DEATH KISS, currently available ON DEMAND from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Nicknamed “Bronzi” by his friends, Mr. Kovacs took time out from promoting his new film to chat with Media Mikes.

 

When did you come down with the acting bug, Robert?

I have always loved film. Since seeing the Westerns on the movie theatre screens as a boy. This caused me to work as a stunt man and live performer at Wild West shows all across Europe including Almeria, Spain where I was the Sheriff for many years.  Performing in front of tourists at the same locations the epic films of Sergio Leone were filmed.

Did you go to acting school?

Yes, I attended acting school at the Maria Mezey Theatre School in Budapest.

 What was your first project? 

Aside from Live Performances I have also been featured in commercial print ads for many European Brands and featured in a series of commercials for one of Europe’s largest  supermarket chains. They featured me as a Bronson-type character to promote sales in their Grilling Season promos. Much fun and very successful. But my first film was years ago, a Western called American Night.

 Who was the first person to tell you looked like Charles Bronson?

My good friend Peter. We were very young men and worked together in horse breeding. He would always say “ You look like him.” “ You look like Bronson. “ So he begins calling me Bronzi. It kind of stuck.

 And is this the first film where you’ve emulated him?

The first film where I portrayed a character similar to Bronson was From Hell To The Wild West also by Director Rene Perez. (NOTE:  Mr. Perez is also the director of Death Kiss).  The character was a stranger with no name hot on the trail of a serial killer. The stranger was a man of few words who let his pistols do the talking.

 Is there anything you had to do to ‘perfect’ your look for the film?

I grew my hair in a more familiar style and trimmed my mustache just right. Rene had many suggestions and I listened closely and followed them. Much of what you see is naturally how I move but he greatly showed me how he perceived the character.

How different is Death Kiss to Death Wish

I think they are very different films. Similar in tone with a tale of vengeance or retribution but a very different approach. The stranger is more mysterious in nature and less transparent. So his actions may be perceived as darker in intent. Also Death Kiss is a much smaller film so the emphasis on action and gun-play are more at the forefront.

Did you have to do any weapons training?

I train regularly with replica firearms. I do stunt work as well with most of it being firearms related stunts. I also perform often as a costumed reenactor of famous battles in Europe. This also requires the use of period replica powder firing rifles and cannons.

Do you do your own stunts?

I do. I work hard to keep my body in shape. I have been a stunt man in live shows. Everything from saloon brawls to falling off horses. Maybe even a building or two. I have trained as an acrobat and continue to lift weights daily as well as regular conditioning, Judo training and a few nights a week I do Thai Boxing.

How about a sequel?

If the fans would be so kind as wanting a sequel and Rene has something in mind I think the Stranger still has much work to do.

 

 

 

Kiss Announce First Dates For “End of the Road” Final Tour

Kiss Announce First Dates For “End of the Road” Final Tour

After an epic and storied 45-year career that launched an era of rock and roll legends, KISS announced that they will launch their final tour ever in 2019, appropriately named “End Of The Road”. The initial announcement was made a month ago on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”, which sent the Internet into overdrive with fans hoping their city would get one final KISS show. The band announced today the first set of dates and cities in North America, produced by Live Nation. International markets were also announced simultaneously today. Tour itinerary detailed below; KISS will be offering VIP experiences and special KISS Army fan presales.

KISS Meet & Greet Experiences will be available beginning Tuesday, October 30 at 10 a.m. local time through KissOnline.com. KISS Army fan club presales will begin Wednesday October 31 at 10 am local time also through KissOnline.com. Citi is the official presale credit card for the “End Of The Road” world tour. As such, Citi cardmembers will have access to purchase U.S. presale tickets beginning Wednesday, October 31 at 12:00 p.m. local time until Thursday, November 1 at 10:00 p.m. local time through Citi’s Private Pass program. Tickets to the general public will go on sale starting Friday, November 2 at 10 a.m. local time at LiveNation.com.

Known for their trademark larger-than-life blistering performances, KISS has proven for decades why it is hands down the most iconic live show in rock and roll. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers who have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide have said this tour is devoted to the millions of KISS Army fans.

Said KISS: “All that we have built and all that we have conquered over the past four decades could never have happened without the millions of people worldwide who’ve filled clubs, arenas and stadiums over those years. This will be the ultimate celebration for those who’ve seen us and a last chance for those who haven’t. KISS Army, we’re saying goodbye on our final tour with our biggest show yet and we’ll go out the same way we came in… Unapologetic and Unstoppable.”

“End Of The Road” tour dates:

North America
Jan. 31 – Vancouver, BC, Canada @ Rogers Arena
Feb. 01 – Portland, OR @ Rose Garden Moda Center
Feb. 02 – Tacoma, WA @Tacoma Dome
Feb. 04 – Spokane, WA @ Spokane Arena
Feb. 07 – San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena
Feb. 08 – Fresno, CA @ Save Mart Center
Feb. 09 – Sacramento, CA @ Golden 1 Center
Feb. 12 – Anaheim, CA @ Honda Center
Feb. 13 – Glendale, AZ @ Gila River Arena
Feb. 15 – Las Vegas, NV @ T-Mobile Arena
Feb. 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum
Feb. 19 – Corpus ChrisW, TX @ American Bank Center
Feb. 20 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
Feb. 22 – New Orleans, LA @ Smoothie King Center
Feb. 23 – Memphis, TN @ FedEx Forum
Feb. 26 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Chesapeake
Feb. 27 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
Mar. 01 – Milwaukee, WI @ Fiserv Forum
Mar. 02 – Chicago, IL @ United Center
Mar. 04 – Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
Mar. 06 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Denny Sanford Premier Center
Mar. 07 – Omaha, NE @ CenturyLink Center
Mar. 09 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena
Mar. 10 – Moline, IL @ Mark of the Quad CiWes
Mar. 12 – Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center
Mar. 13 – Detroit, MI @ Lible Caesars Arena
Mar. 16 – Columbus, OH @ Nationwide Arena
Mar. 17 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
Mar. 19 – Montreal, QC, @ Canada Bell Centre
Mar. 20 – Toronto, ON, @ Canada Air Canada Centre
Mar. 22 – Uniondale, NY @ Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Mar. 23 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena
Mar. 26 – Boston, MA TD @ Garden
Mar. 27 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
Mar. 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
Mar. 30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ PPG Paints Arena
Apr. 02 – Quebec City, QC @ Videotron Centre
Apr. 03 – Obawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre
Apr. 06 – Raleigh, NC @ PNC Arena
Apr. 07 – Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
Apr. 09 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
Apr. 11 – Tampa, FL@ Amalie Arena
Apr. 12 – Jacksonville, FL@ Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
Apr. 13 – Birmingham, AL @ BJCC

Europe
May 27 – Leipziger Messe – Leipzig, Germany
May 29 – Stadthalle – Vienna, Austria
May 31 – Konigsplatz – Munich, Germany
Jun. 02 – Georg Meiches Stadium – Essen, Germany
Jun. 04 – Waldbuhne – Berlin, Germany
Jun. 05 – Expo-Plaza – Hannover, Germany
Jun. 07 – Sweden Rock Festival – Sölvesborg, Sweden
Jun. 11 – Ice Arena – St. Petersburg, Russia
Jun. 13 – Dinamon Stadium – Moscow, Russia
Jun. 16 – Nsa Stadium – Kiev, Ukraine
Jun. 18 – Tauron Arena – Krakow, Poland
Jun. 25 – Ziggo Dome – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jun. 27 – Tons Of Rock – Oslo, Norway
Jun. 28 – Trondheim Rocks – Trondheim, Norway
Jul. 02 – Ippodromo Snai San Siro – Milan, Italy
Jul. 04 – Hallenstadion – Zurich, Switzerland
Jul. 06 – Rennbahn – Iffezheim, Germany
Jul. 09 – Birmingham Arena – Birmingham, England
Jul. 11 – O2 Arena – London, England
Jul. 12 – Manchester Arena – Manchester, England
Jul. 14 – Newcastle Arena – Newcastle, England
Jul. 16 – Sse Hydro – Glasgow, Scotland

As most fans remember, back in 2000 and 2001, KISS already performed a “Farewell Tour”. The trek, which was the last to feature both guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, played 142 shows over five legs, covering North America, Japan, and Australia.

“Let’s put it into perspective and try to at least get a sense of what’s different [this time around],” frontman Paul Stanley told Rolling Stone. “The farewell tour took place 19 years ago. The farewell tour was at the end of the time that we had brought back the two original members [guitarist Ace Frehley and Peter Criss] and it was such drudgery and so difficult and so unhappy that it just seemed, like, ‘Let’s put the horse down.’ And after the tour was over, it didn’t take me very long to realize I didn’t want to say goodbye to the band; I wanted to say goodbye to two members. So that was the differences. We’ve had 19 years of the band. The band has never been better, happier… But with all that in mind, it’s time to think about an end.”

Although Stanley didn’t rule out the possibility of guest appearances by former members, he didn’t promise anything either. “I really can’t say,” Stanley said. “This will be a celebration of KISS and not any individual lineup or any individual members. I wouldn’t rule anything out, but it’s not the crux of what we’re doing… and I’m not being coy either. I don’t want to mislead anybody, really that’s not something that’s been given a lot of thought at this point, the majority of our time has gone into what is the stage going to be, what is the show going to be, and we’re actually in the midst of toying with setlists now.”

Rumors of KISS’s final run of live shows gained strength several months ago following the news that the band was attempting to trademark the phrase “The End Of The Road.” An application from KISS was filed in February to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which means that the band could use it in connection with “live performances by a musical band.”

Bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons recently told Sweden’s Expressen newspaper that KISS’s next tour will last three years. Calling it the band’s “most spectacular tour ever,” the bassist/vocalist added that the trek will make stops on “all continents.”

KISS to Celebrate 40th Anniversary of Solo Releases with 4LP Vinyl Box Set

The Iconic Rock Band’s Four Same-Day-Released Solo Albums Come Together To Celebrate Their 40th Anniversary In
A Limited-Edition 4LP Vinyl Box Set Via Casablanca/UMe On October 19

Forty years ago today, each one the four founding members of KISS — Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss — released their respective solo albums all on the same day to much fanfare, chart success, and platinum sales. And now, four decades later, all four of these pioneering albums are celebrated in KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection, a limited-edition 180-gram 4LP box set by Casablanca/UMe that’s earmarked for release on October 19.

Preorders commence today, September 18, for the limited run of 2,500 vinyl box sets, available exclusively through KISS’s artist webstore (https://www.shopkissonline.com) and The Sound of Vinyl (https://SOV.lnk.to/KISSSoloAlbumsText). Each heavyweight 180-gram LP features a unique color to match its associated cover art; Gene Simmons appears in red vinyl, Paul Stanley sports purple vinyl, Ace Frehley contains blue vinyl, and Peter Criss is in green vinyl. All four albums are housed together in a deluxe black-matte slipcase that features glossy black images of the four artists’ faces surrounding a silver-foil print of the infamous KISS logo.

Also included in this set are four 12-by-12-inch posters of each album cover, plus an exclusive turntable slipmat that shows all four of artist Eraldo Carugati’s iconic, painted album-cover face images all connected together.

All four of these solo albums served to showcase the wide range of talents of each KISS bandmember.Gene Simmons, co-produced by Simmons and Sean Delaney, features the band’s bassist and co-lead vocalist switching over mainly to acoustic and electric guitar duties for songs that highlight his penchant for Beatlesque melodies, funk, and hard rock. Highlights include a remake of “See You In Your Dreams” (initially found on KISS’ 1976 benchmark album, Rock And Roll Over) and a cover of the 1940 Disney classic from Pinocchio, “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Guest musicians include Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Bob Seger, Cher, Donna Summer, and Katey Sagal.

Meanwhile, Paul Stanley was co-produced by Stanley and Jeff Glixman and it showcases all-original material and stellar work across the board from the KISS lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, in addition to lead and acoustic guitar work from longtime KISS axe associate Bob Kulick. The super-catchy track “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)” reached No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Ace Frehley, produced by Eddie Kramer and Frehley, finds the lead guitarist doing what he does best. Frehley’s foot-stomping cover of “New York Groove,” originally a 1975 hit by the British glam band Hello, peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Guest musicians include Anton Fig on drums (a sometimes KISS session musician who later became a member of Frehley’s Comet) and bassist Will Lee, both of whom went on to become core members of both of David Letterman’s late-night talk-show house bands led by keyboardist Paul Shaffer.

Finally, Peter Criss was produced by Vini Poncia, a onetime Ringo Starr co-writer who later produced a pair of key KISS albums, 1979’s Dynasty and 1980’s Unmasked. Most of the songs on Peter Criss had been written back in 1971 for the drummer/vocalist’s aptly named pre-KISS band, Lips. The album also boasts a rousing cover of Bobby Lewis’s No. 1 1961 hit single, “Tossin’ And Turnin’,” a song that KISS often wound up playing live during their 1979 Dynasty Tour.

Preorder KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection here: https://SOV.lnk.to/KISSSoloAlbumsText

KISS – KISS SOLO ALBUMS [4LP 180g vinyl]

GENE SIMMONS
SIDE A
1. Radioactive
2. Burning Up With Fever
3. See You Tonite
4. Tunnel Of Love
5. True Confessions
SIDE B
6. Living In Sin
7. Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide
8. Man Of 1,000 Faces
9. Mr. Make Believe
10. See You In Your Dreams
11. When You Wish Upon A Star

PAUL STANLEY
SIDE A
1. Tonight You Belong To Me
2. Move On
3. Ain’t Quite Right
4. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me
5. Take Me Away (Together As One)
SIDE B
6. It’s Alright
7. Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)
8. Love In Chains
9. Goodbye

ACE FREHLEY
SIDE A
1. Rip It Out
2. Speedin’ Back To My Baby
3. Snow Blind
4. Ozone
5. What’s On Your Mind?
SIDE B
6. New York Groove
7. I’m In Need Of Love
8. Wiped-Out
9. Fractured Mirror

PETER CRISS
SIDE A
1. I’m Gonna Love You
2. You Matter To Me
3. Tossin’ And Turnin’
4. Don’t You Let Me Down
5. That’s The Kind Of Sugar Papa Likes
SIDE B
6. Easy Thing
7. Rock Me, Baby
8. Kiss The Girl Goodbye
9. Hooked On Rock ’N’ Roll
10. I Can’t Stop The Rain

2016 New Jersey Kiss Expo Review

2016 New Jersey Kiss Expo
Sunday, October 9th 2016
Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel, Somerset, NY

Our score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of the longest running and largest Kiss fan expo’s returned this year to the Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel (formerly the Crowne Plaza) in Somerset, NJ. On Sunday October 9th the newly renovated hotel played host to throngs of Kiss fans anxious to meet various Kiss celebrities included former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and current drummer Eric Singer. Along with the numerous autograph and photo opportunities the event include several dealer rooms where fans could purchase everything from newly released Kiss items to some of the more rare and hard to find vintage pieces.

Having not attended a Kiss Expo in quite some time it was great to see that the NJ Kiss Expo was finally returning to the area. The event in years past was one of the largest Kiss themed Expos and always bolstered a top notch guest list making it a must go event for Kiss fans of all ages. This year was no exception as former Kiss and current Grand Funk guitarist Bruce Kulick and current Kiss drummer Eric Singer topped the list which also included artist Ken Kelly, Dennis Woloch and many others. Despite the event getting off to a bit of a late start once things got moving the atmosphere in the venue was upbeat and friendly making for a really enjoyable experience. Each celebrity guest was approachable and spent ample time with those looking for signatures and pictures. The vendor’s area of the event was split in to two different rooms which allowed for plenty of space to move around while looking at the various Kiss related items. There was even a space where kids could get their face painted like their favorite Kiss character.

Though there were several lulls in the day’s events due to scheduling and guests’ wanting to make sure every fan was able to get a signature or picture I think those who attended the event got what they had hoped for and, were more than happy to see the event return. With fewer and fewer Expo’s like this taking place taking place my only hope is that the NJ Expo is back for good and that it will continue to rebuild upon its solid foundation so that it can continue to be the go to expo for Kiss fans of all ages.

New Jersey Kiss Expo takes over Somerset, NY on Sunday, October 9th 2016

New Jersey Kiss Expo takes over Somerset, NY on Sunday, October 9th 2016
Tickets on sale now.

One of the longest running and largest Kiss fan expo’s in the world returns this year to the Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel (formerly the Crowne Plaza) in Somerset, NJ. On Sunday October 9th 2016 the rooms and halls of the hotel will be ALIVE with all things KISS! From endless tables of collectibles and rarities to a star studded list of celebrities including current Kiss drummer Eric Singer and former Kiss/current Grand Funk guitarist Bruce Kulick. There will plenty of other events also happing through out the day making this year’s expo the must see event for Kiss fans of all ages.

For tickets and complete event info visit: www.njkissexpo.com

Blu-ray Review “Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery”

Starring: Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey Griffin, Matthew Lillard, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley
Director: Tony Cervone
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Run Time: 78 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Scooby-Doo! And KISS: Rock and Roll Mystery” is one hell of an amazing mash up. It takes two of the greatest things I grew up with “Scooby Doo” and the music of Kiss and brings them together. I literally couldn’t be happier. It also features six classic KISS songs and most importantly an all new original song from the band just for this film. If you love “Scooby Doo!” and KISS, this is a match made in heaven! This is such a blast!

Official Premise: When a ghoul begins to terrorize an amusement park, the Mystery Inc. gang come head to head with the legendary rock group, KISS, who claim they’re also there to solve the mystery. Now the two groups must learn to work together as the clues lead them on a cosmic journey to another dimension.

The voice cast are impressive as well. We see Kiss on board featuring Demon (Gene Simmons), Starchild (Paul Stanley), Catman (Eric Singer), and Spaceman (Tommy Thayer). Guest voice performances include appearances from Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Darius Rucker, Garry Marshall, Penny Marshall, Jennifer Carpenter and Pauley Perrette.

Warner Bros delivers a comob pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is super impressive. The colors are outstanding. The star of the film is easily the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The KISS classic tracks, including “Shout It Out Loud,” “I Was Made For Loving You,” and “Detroit Rock City”, all sound AMAZING!

The special features though are a little lacking unfortunately. There are two classic 1978 episodes from the “Scooby-Doo” archives, “To Switch a Witch” and “The Diabolical Disc Demon”. “Are You a Scooby or a Shaggy?” is a super brief chat with voice cast including KISS, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, and Darius Rucker. Lastly there are some KISS bloopers in “KISS Cut-Ups”. I was really hoping for more features about the involvement of KISS and bringing these two classic pop culture icons together.

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Bob Kulick talks about working with Kiss and “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” album

Bob Kulick is a Grammy Award winning producer with credentials that read like a who’s who of music royalty. Bob is also the older brother of ex-KISS/ current Grand Funk Railroad guitarist Bruce Kulick, and has performed on stages around the world with groups such as Alice Cooper and Meatloaf. Bob’s newest production project “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” was recently released via Cleopatra Records and Media Mikes was fortunate enough to speak with Bob recently about the release and his longtime relationship with KISS.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what initially sparked your interest in music?
Bob Kulick: My cousin played guitar and during family functions she would often play her acoustic guitar. My sarcastic, Brooklyn mother would always say things like “why can’t you do something like that”. It was sort of a dare on her part. My cousin started showing me the basics and when The Beatles came out the seed was planted. I do recall that even before that when I was a child in school we went on a trip to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The orchestra there performed Ravel’s “Bolero”. I remember sitting there with my mouth hanging open and I just started to cry. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. The gift I was given was announced that day. That was the birth of my gift and I just couldn’t recognize it initially. That was something special. I went on to college and did all that stuff but I still wasn’t happy. My gift was music and that is what I wanted to do. I knew if I applied myself and gave it the one thousand percent that it needs I would get the result I wanted.

AL: Having worked with everyone from Meatloaf to Alice Cooper at what point did you start to notice your transition from a performer to a producer?
BK: Being a studio musician afforded me the look see at people who I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to work with otherwise. The stuff I did with Diana Ross was one of those instances. She was dating Gene Simmons from Kiss at the time and he called me from the studio one day to ask if I would come in and play a solo. I went in and ended up playing the solo on her number one hit single “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”. Hanging around with people like that and utilizing my brain really helped. I got to watch guys like Eddie Kramer and Tony Bongiovi work so I just watched everything. I never was really interested in engineering as I was more interested in song creation. When I met my mentor Dick Wagner who worked with guys like Lou Reed and Alice Cooper I really got a firsthand look at somebody who was an arranger and a writer. Dick was also the guy who hired me to fill in for Steve Hunter on the Australia/New Zealand leg of the Alice Cooper tour and to play on Mark Farner’s solo record. I learned all the little tricks from him. It also became apparent to me at this time that the business was changing, as was the music. After being out on the road with Meat Loaf, Paul Stanley and Diana Ross my desire to be out on the road constantly had also started to die down. I said to myself that I wanted to try producing so that’s what I did. I met my first partner Billy Sherwood who had a studio here in Los Angeles and when he got the gig in Yes he handed me the keys and I started getting hired to work on projects which included a series of tribute records I did which included a Metallica tribute album that ultimately won me a Grammy. As of late I have started performing more regularly. I have been doing charity gigs as well as some Kiss tribute band gigs. I was part of the pre-Kiss Kruise kick-off party this year in Miami. I also jammed recently with Dick Wagner and Mark Farner at another event. It’s been nice to rekindle that fire and show myself that I can still dish it out. I even still look the same, as I haven’t lost any hair. (Laughs) It was like getting back on a bike after not riding for a while. It’s a blessing to be able to do both and to see and talk to the fans. I am very lucky, blessed and grateful.

AL: You have been working with KISS on and off almost since the bands inception. What do you think has been the biggest contributing factor to that ongoing relationship?
BK: My visibility with the band has been several fold. I have participated not only as a player on records and as part of Paul’s 1989 solo tour but I also have worked with the band as a writer. Even now I still get up and jam with the guys at various Kiss type events. Because of my visibility with the band I have been dubbed the 5th member of KISS. (Laughs) I have played on a number of KISS tracks like “Nowhere to Run”, “Rockin’ in the USA”, “Partners in Crime” “All American Man” and “Larger than Life”. There is quite a wealth of work there. The band has thought of me enough over the years that they even interviewed me recently as part of a new KISS documentary. It’s great that Gene and Paul acknowledge the times we had together. During the time of Paul’s solo album he was by best friend. People always ask me about that experience and what it was like working on that album. It was great! I got to hang out with my best friend. There was no pressure and it was fun. That’s why it came out so good. Paul would show us the songs and we would play them a couple times until we thought we had it and that was it. It was very organic. Everyone was really professional.

AL: Can you tell us about your work on the recently released album “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson”?
BK: Michael Jackson even after his death is still one of the biggest stars in the world. The second album I did with Diana Ross he wrote the song “Muscles”. I was always fascinated with him and would often ask Diana what was up with him. (Laughs) After the work I did on Dee Snider’s Broadway album and the Frank Sinatra album we decided to take that same attitude and idea and apply it to this record. We weren’t re-writing or changing any of the songs, as we wanted to remain faithful to the originals while at the same time being different. We came up with a tunings that worked and got some guys that could really dish it out. We got some classic metal guys like Chuck Billy and Paul Di’Anno along with Lajon Witherspoon, Corey Glover and Angelo Moore from Fishbone who did an awesome job! We were very lucky to have such a great group of musicians/singers be a part of this record.

AL: Were you involved with the song selection at all?
BK: We worked in conjunction with the label on that but all of the arrangements are my partners and mine. No one came to us with arrangements ahead of time, as these types of albums don’t generally work that way. We usually will cut the song as a template and then send it out to someone to see if they would be interested in doing it or not. By doing that the artist gets to see maybe not the finished product but they have the framework of what it is.

AL: Having done a number of tribute albums what is it that interests you in these types of projects?
BK: Some projects are harder to do than others. So the idea of putting together a track say for instance the Chuck Berry song “Run Rudolph Run” which we did for the Metal Christmas CD and getting guys like Lemmy, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl as the band is just crazy. No one but me is doing things like that. I am the guy who comes up with these creations. A lot of times the creations are what make the people want to show up and be a part of these projects. That’s how Tim “Ripper” Owens got connected with Yngwie Malmsteen. I put them on a track together and Yngwie loved it! For me it’s all about making exciting concepts of these songs through the arrangements and through the combination of people who play and sing on them. The word tribute really is just a title. People have been covering songs for years and I am a guy who likes to stir the pot. It’s just music which is about the fun and I like to push the envelope.

AL: Can you tell us about any other projects you are currently working on?
BK: I worked on a song for Dee Snider and Giuliana Rancic from the E! Channel which available now on ITunes. We did a very unique arrangement of “Silent Night”. This is a really cool version of the song as you don’t know what you are getting until you start listening. I also have a few other projects in the works however I can’t announce any of those just yet. I also have been working with my brother Bruce on some songs that we hope to have out early next year. The idea with these songs is to keep things within the boundaries of our audience. We want to make songs that people who enjoy our work will like.

 

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Book Review “Kiss, Kiss Good Night” by Kenn Nesbitt

Author: Kenn Nesbitt
Illustrator: Rebecca Elliott
Board book: 12 pages
Publisher: Cartwheel Books
Release Date: August 27, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

A snuggle, a hug, a kiss, a nuzzle. What wonderful ways to show you love someone. “Kiss, Kiss Good Night,” is a warm, loving, cuddle-inducing book. The animals in this book are all going to bed and before they fall asleep, their mothers each give them a sweet sign of love. There is nothing better than a mother’s love, especially at night. Kenn Nesbitt captures just what it means to love and be loved.

Rebecca Elliott is an incredible illustrator. She beautifully portrays a mother’s love with her adorable animal pictures. In every furry detail, there is a bit of love. This is a wonderful bedtime book. I can’t wait to read this to my daughter every night!

Bruce Kulick talks about playing music with Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad

Bruce Kulick is probably best known for his work with the multi-platinum selling group Kiss during the bands non-makeup years. Kulick spent 12 years with the band prior to the group’s 96/97 reunion tour which featured all four original members clad in their signature makeup. Bruce went on to play in several other projects such as Audio Dog, BK3 and is currently the guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad. Media Mikes caught up with Bruce recently to discuss his career as well as his tour plans with both Grand Funk and former Motley Crue vocalist John Corabi.

Adam Lawton: You joined Kiss while they were still going through somewhat of a transitional period. What was it like for you stepping in to that situation?
Bruce Kulick: I was aware that the band sort of hit their peak in the late 70’s early 80’s. They were still doing good stuff but “Music From The Elder” was a weird time for them. I was always aware of the band as I lived in New York and my brother had done some work with them. After things didn’t work out with Vinnie Vincent I knew that they were looking for people. When I saw that they got Mark St. John it made sense as music was really changing at the time. Bands like Van Halen were very popular on the scene. I think it was important for them to find a guy who was a hot shot, gunslinger type player who could do all of the tricks as opposed to someone like Ace Frehley whose style is rooted in that of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. When it came time for the Animalize tour to start Mark was having some health issues and wasn’t going to be able to tour. My brother had recommended me to the guys as did Mitch Weissman who is a singer/songwriter. When I first started working with Paul and the rest of the band they asked me not to cut my hair and told me I would need a guitar with a Floyd Rose so I could do some of the tricks that were popular at the time. I went in and played a solo on one song and did some little fills at the end of a couple others. After that is when they asked me to fill in for Mark. I was thrilled that maybe it was just going to be for a few weeks but it turned in to 12 years. When it was all said and done that I was going to be the new guy I remember getting a pep talk from Paul where he told me that he wanted me to be very competitive with my playing and that I should be able to cover both the older material and the new stuff. I was very grateful for the opportunity.

AL: On your website you have done several Kiss album retrospectives that are very in-depth. What was it like looking back on your work for those albums?
BK: For me celebrating stuff like that has always made a lot of sense. I found that if I don’t do it now I’m not necessarily going to remember more if I was to wait longer. The whole thing came out of an offer that came through for me to visit Australia and do some shows. I have always been well received there and this was going to actually be my third time there. The promoter said we needed an angle and it happened to be the 20th anniversary of “Revenge” being released so they asked me if I could do some things from that album. It was like a giant light bulb went off in my head. I was given some DAT tapes of the sessions by Bob Ezrin and I realized that I had a treasure trove of material. Things just started coming back to me from those sessions. The clinics I did over there ended up becoming very long even though I didn’t play much but the fans were mesmerized. From there I decided I would have to write all this stuff down and find a good time to release it on my social media sites. After I did the first one I started realizing the anniversaries for these other albums and followed suit with what I had done with the “Revenge” piece. I had a really great time going through the stuff I collected over the years and thinking back about all those stories. We raided all of my closets and boxes of photos and such to find things related to the particular albums I was writing/speaking about. I am always being asked about doing a book and your basic book talks about this tour or that tour and what you thought about certain people. It’s not my style to throw anyone under the bus so I just didn’t want to do something like that. I would rather do something like what I am doing. I don’t have a title or anything yet but even after things are posted on line I end up finding more stuff that could be included in those stories. Each one of these look backs is sort of a chapter. It’s very exciting to be able to tell these stories from an era of the band that doesn’t get a lot of attention.

AL: Is there a specific piece from your work with Kiss that you are most proud of?
BK: There are highlights from all of it but I would have to say working on the “Revenge” album really said a lot. We spent a lot of time on that album and really paid attention to detail. I thought the “Unplugged” album was another really great piece. I never realized how tight we really were on that show. The band looked great and it was filmed really well. Even though un-beknownst to me that was the catalyst to end my career with the band it was still a great performance. I am very proud of my work on that.

AL: You are currently playing guitar with Grand Funk Railroad. Can you tell us how that opportunity came about?
BK: The industry is actually pretty small and you never know who you are going to meet. Years ago I played with Michael Bolton and we ended up opening for Bob Seger. Don Brewer was Bob’s original drummer and he is actually doing shows with Bob on his current tour. We met then and later on at another music event we met again so I was on the short list when Don and Mel Schacher were looking at putting together a new version of Grand Funk. Once they had a singer in place they reached out to me but I had to think about it for a little bit. They were looking for a guy who could forge his own sound while not hurting the stuff from the past. This was similar to what I did with Kiss. I ended up going to Michigan where Mel lives and we rehearsed in a show room at a nearby casino. Things were pretty easy right away and it’s amazing that here I am 13 years later gigging with Grand Funk.

AL: Did you have to spend a lot of time reworking your sound/tone when you first joined the band?
BK: Not at all. I really do what I do well. To be honest I get to play a solo in every song and I am not trying to imitate Mark Farner’s tone in any way. I have always had this talent for picking out signature riffs that people identify with and they want to hear those a certain way so I try to keep things as close as I can. You definitely have to make things your own so you don’t come off too stiff or clone like. I like to take my finesse and add it to the Grand Funk material. They are another one of those iconic bands.

AL: Can you tell us about some of your appearances/tour dates for the coming months?
BK: Grand Funk just keeps adding dates. The site was just revamped and it looks really great. Things are always being added to it so people should definitely check it out. I also have a string of acoustic dates with John Corabi. He and I have a certain chemistry that just works together. When I realized Grand Funk wasn’t going to be as busy this spring due to Don working with Bob Seger I got a little more aggressive with the people I know in Europe who book shows. We tried to work things out so that we could take the Eric Singer Project over but unfortunately Eric couldn’t commit due to various Kiss things that were in the works. The promoters still wanted us to come so John, I and Chuck Garric who plays bass in the Eric Singer Project and who also has his own group happened to have some shows that are double booked with us. During those shows the plan is to do the acoustic thing and also jam as an electric group. There aren’t that many gigs on this run as its set up to fit in between my Grand Funk gigs. I never seem to have the ability to say I am free for two months or something like that but that’s not a bad thing. I am glad the band keeps me busy.

AL: Have you thought about putting out a new album with any of your other projects?
BK: It’s been 3 years since my last solo album “BK3” has come out and it is time for me to get some new material out. I have been writing and compiling some things so I like to think that I can get something out this year. I have mostly been looking at doing some gigs with my brother when time permits. People seem quite excited about seeing a Kulick brother’s thing. We are also looking at a few songs to possibly record for an EP. I am always a phone call or an email away from working on another project. Every day is exciting.

AL: Are there any other things going on with you lately that you can tell us about?
BK: I just got back from Europe where I appeared at large event called “Movie Days”. That was a lot of fun. I get excited myself meeting people who are iconic. Especially sci-fi people as I am a big fan of that genre. I have done many Kiss conventions around the world that are specifically unique to Kiss but this was only my second time I think appearing at a more movie themed event. I like when fans are excited to meet me and I get it because I am a fan myself. Getting to meet people I idolize is really amazing. That’s something I love about the entertainment industry.

Book Review “A Kiss Like This”

Author/Illustrator: Mary Murphy
Reading level: Ages 2 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: December 11, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I find that as a father of a new born girl, 6 months now, I am guilty of smothering her with about 354 kisses per day since she was born.  I am very big fan of author/illustrator’s Mary Murphy’s “I Kissed the Baby!”.  This book is a great follow up to it and is equally as cute.  If it does nothing else it will make you give many kisses throughout to your child, which I think is worth the prize of the book alone.

Premise: A giraffe kiss is very tall — just turn the page and see! Elephant kisses are long, of course, while tiny mice and bubbly fish have kisses all their own. Using a clever split-page format that makes for charming surprises, author-illustrator Mary Murphy shares a series of animal kisses that are sure to have babies and toddlers gurgling, giggling, smiling, and leaning over for their kisses, too.

Mary Murphy delivers not only a wonderful book her but also beautifully illustrated.  It is simple yet enough to keep the attention.  Besides the “Kiss” books, she also has done other great kids books including “Utterly Lovely One”, “Panda Foo and the New Friend” and “How Kind!”.  I look forward to what she has has planned next.  Another gem from Candlewick, though being released in time for the Holidays. This book could be a nice Valentine’s Day give also!

Concert Review: Kiss, Motley Crue, The Treatment “The Tour”
 Darien Center, NY

“The Tour”
Kiss, Motley Crue, The Treatment
Date: Saturday, September 15th 2012
Venue: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Center, NY

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The 2012 Darien Lake concert series came to a thunderous close on Saturday, September 15th as “The Tour” featuring Kiss, Motley Crue and The Treatment performed to a near capacity crowd. As fans of all ages many adorned in Kiss makeup gradually filled the venue the UK hard rock band The Treatment took to the stage and performed songs of their debut release “This Might Hurt”. The band had a really great sound and was full of energy. It’s always great to see up and coming bands on these larger tours come out and really give it their all and The Treatment did just that.

The kings of the sunset strip, Motley Crue were up next and proceeded to make an entrance like no other. Clad in hooded robes, masks and with scantily clad girls on their shoulders members of the band made their way through the crowd before walking up onto the stage. This seemed to really catch the crowd off guard and helped set the stage for the bands performance. Each song in the set was accompanied by pyro, water cannons, arial performers and at one point Tommy Lees very own roller coaster. These things all sound great on paper but at times during the show there seemed to be just too much going on which I felt took something away from the music. Vince Neil’s limited movement due to an injury sustained a few nights before requiring him to wear a walking cast didn’t seem to hurt the bands performance but it surely wasn’t helping. At times the members seemed distant and uninterested in each other. At the start of “Home Sweet Home” several sour notes rang out over the crowd and though the band quickly recovered you could surely tell each member was on a different page.

Kiss closed out the night performing a 13 song greatest hits set dressed in their iconic make up and signature platform boots. Though the set list was made up mostly of classic Kiss gems the band did
perform one new song. “Hell or Hallelujah” the first song to be released off the upcoming album titled “Monster” gave a little bit of fresh air to a set list which has gone relatively unchanged since the 1996 Reunion tour. The band sounded great and despite my extreme dislike for current members wearing past members make up the band looked just as good. Even though I would liked to have seen some different songs make their way in to the set it’s still always good to hear the classics performed live and loud!

With “The Tour” wrapping up just a few remaining dates in September I will be very curious to see what each of the bands have in store for the coming months. It would be great to once again see what each of these bands can do on their own separate headlining tours.

Kiss Set List
1. Detroit Rock City
2. Shout it Out Loud
3. I Love it Loud
4. Firehouse
5. Hell or Hallelujah
6. War Machine
7. Shock Me
8. God of Thunder
9. Love Gun
10. Lick it Up
11. Black Diamond
12. Calling Dr. Love
13. Rock and Roll All Night

Motley Crue Set List:
1. Saints of Los Angeles
2. Wild Side
3. Shout at the Devil
4. Same Ol’ Situation
5. Sex
6. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7. Home Sweet Home
8. Live Wire
9. Primal Scream
10. Dr. Feelgood
11. Girls, Girls, Girls,
12. Kickstart My Heart

The Treatment Set List:
1. Drink, Fuck, Fight
2. World on Fire
3. Get the Party On
4. I Fear Nothing
5. The Doctor
6. Departed
7. Nothing to Lose But Our Minds
8.) Shake the Mountain

Concert Review: Kiss “The Lost Cities Tour 2011” Verona, NY

Kiss “The Lost Cities Tour 2011”
Date: Thursday, July 28th 2011
Venue: Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Kiss wrapped up their 18 date Lost Cities tour at The Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY on July 28th. A surprisingly smaller venue than what Kiss has been a custom to after 35 years in the music business however the intimate venue didn’t stop Kiss from unleashing their bombastic stage show on the near capacity crowd. Fans were treated to a somewhat scaled down version of the “Hottest Show on Earth” but none the less Kiss still delivered!

This was my 10th Kiss show and despite Paul’s almost verbatim chats with the crowd and Tommy Thayers cheap and almost sickening Ace Frehley imitation I was still entertained. Kiss proved that no matter how big or small a venue they can still entertain a crowd. Gone were Gene and Paul’s flying rigs and the massive back line of speakers however it was nice to see the band play without that stuff bringing back an almost eighties stripped down Kiss feel to the night. I would have liked to have heard a little more variation in the set list as I am sure most diehard Kiss fans like myself would agree however the night proved to be very enjoyable and showcased just why Kiss is the hottest band in the land!

Set List:
1.) Modern Day Delilah
2.) Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
3.) Firehouse
4.) Deuce
5.) Do You Love Me
6.) Calling Dr. Love
7.) Shock Me
8.) I Love It Loud
9.) Love Gun
10.) God of Thunder
11.) Black Diamond
12.) Detroit Rock City

Encore:
13.) Beth (Acoustic)
14.) Lick It Up
15.) Shout It Out Loud
16.) Rock and Roll All Nite