St. Louis KISS Expo | Bruce Kulick

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What I learned from Gene and Paul was that they experienced all of the ups and downs in the business so they knew how to protect the band and move forward and survive in a difficult industry. They were able to deal with the record company and people who did the tours in a very tough way, because they rightfully felt that no one knew their vision like they did.

 

1-8 p.m. (12 p.m. for VIP holders)
Holiday Inn Southwest and Viking Conference Center, 10709 Watson Rd.
Tix $20 adv/$25 door; VIP tix $25 adv/$30 door

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There are two kinds of people who know about the existence of the hottest band in the world. There are the action-figure collecting, cranking to eleven, card-carrying Kissologists who love KISS to the point of obsession, and there are those who simply have never understood what all the fuss was about. Both factions will find common ground on June 24, with the very first KISS Expo to be held in St. Louis at the Holiday Inn Southwest and Viking Center. Not only will members of the KISS Army be on hand to proudly display the team colors of black and chrome, the expo is sure to draw the curious and puzzled to try and get an education on the pop culture impact of the face-painted rockers' timeless music and genius merchandising. Fans and collectors will be able to shop for popular and hard-to-find memorabilia, join in a tribute to the late KISS guitarist Mark St. John, and hang out with none other than ex-KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick and the founder of the KISS Army, Bill Starkey.

Recently, I was able to grill Kulick from his home in Los Angeles about his history with the band and what fans can expect at the St. Louis KISS Expo.

 

From your perspective, what has been the most interesting thing about these KISS conventions?

I guess one of the things that fascinates me is how the KISS fans are passing this along to the rest of their families. So obviously, the KISS fan that saw the original band, or 12 years into it when I was in my non-makeup version of the band, they're in their 30s, and have a wife and children. Now the kids are five to ten years old and, through their parents, they're fascinated by KISS. They're the next generation. The look in their eyes when they actually see one of the KISS members, and they'll know me from the album covers or the Unplugged show that we did; it just really freaks me out. It becomes a family thing, which I really think is one of the amazing things about KISS.

The band really has achieved this instantly recognizable iconic status, almost on the level of Disney or Coca-Cola.

Right, and when it even moves into my history of the band which has no makeup, you know then I'm really flattered, of course. At that time, we were more of a typical rock band, although there was never anything typical about working with Gene and Paul; we were kind of a step different and above a lot of the hair bands of that era. So it's always great that fans are so excited to meet me.

What I always thought was terrific about your tenure of the band was that you guys proved there was a life to the band without the makeup.

Sure, we always tried to put on a big show. If it wasn't lasers it would be incredible pyrotechnics, or we would come down from a lighting truss in the ceiling. Every night was like riding on a Disneyland ride.

You were a successful musician before you joined KISS. What was it about KISS that taught you something about the music business you may not have known previously?

I had some experience before walking into the band, so that really helped me out quite a bit with the very intense nature of suddenly joining a band like KISS that had just released a platinum record. But the way Gene and Paul worked was really interesting. Once you have that success they already experienced, they're pretty much able to call the shots. I saw that perspective for the first time. When I worked with Meat Loaf, obviously I was just a backup guitarist, and I kind of watched him not call any shots, and just kind of go crazy from the fame. What I learned from Gene and Paul was that they experienced all of the ups and downs in the business so they knew how to protect the band and move forward and survive in a difficult industry. They were able to deal with the record company and people who did the tours in a very tough way, because they rightfully felt that no one knew their vision like they did.

I know you recently played on Paul Stanley's latest solo album, but is there anything KISS-related coming up that you can talk about?

I do have some news on the upcoming KISSology 2 DVD; it;s really going to be incredible. I recently got a sneak preview of some of it. A couple of the guys from MTV came over and I recorded a commentary track for a couple of the concerts that I appeared on. The first KISSology went from 1974 to 1977. KISSology 2 picks up in 1978 and goes to 1995 for the reunion. So basically it starts on the solo records, and goes into the Vinnie Vincent era, taking off the makeup, then on to the time I joined the band. Some of the concerts featured are from the Creatures of the Night tour and the Hot in the Shade tour, and they're really well shot. So much better than the bootlegs out there.

Do you have any fond memories of visiting St. Louis on past tours?

Back in the day when I played with Meat Loaf, I met a young man who was really into guitars, and had a very small store at the time that would sell guitars to musicians that were touring. We developed a long relationship, and the store is called Silver Strings. We became such good friends, actually, that when I got married in '89, he was at my wedding. So once every year or so, I get to see him every time I'm in St. Louis. I really like the town and find the people to be really cool. It's become such a melting pot; also, it's like a little New York with all of the different people that come there. I think this is the first KISS Expo that St. Louis has had, so I'm looking forward to it, and I think we'll have a great time. | Jim Ousley

More info: http://www.getalifeinc.com

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