Behind the Scenes with Bruce Wojick

The road to music superstardom is littered with the dreams of talented musicians. There are some that teetered on the brink only to have their career derailed by circumstance or conflicting personalities. Some even give up on music altogether and joined the traditional workforce, later selling all their musical wares online or hocking them at a pawn shop. And then there is Bruce Wojick.

For three decades Bruce has produced an incredible body of work, as a solo artist and in bands such as God’s Children, Klear and with his band The Struggle. As if that weren't enough, he is a Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame inductee, and a member of the quintessential Tragically Hip tribute act, the Strictly Hip.

Bruce will be performing a special show at The Tralf on Wednesday. It’s billed as a Live Box Set and will cover all of his phases. “I wanted to do a show before the summer season and Jeremy (Hoyle) came up with this idea called Live Box Set. He said it would be a cool angle, and probably a lot of fun,” Wojick noted during a recent phone interview.

Chronologically speaking, it all started with God’s Children. "From 1989-1999 the band’s only mission was to play our own stuff and get a record deal. A lot of bands were playing covers, but we stuck to our guns. We went into places that booked cover bands and if you liked us you liked us, if you didn’t you didn’t. That is the way it was done.”

The band was the first out of Western New York to headline at the famed New York City club CBGBs and performed many showcase gigs for record execs. Ten years in, the group fizzled out and went their separate ways.

“We wanted to land a deal on a major label, we came close but after 10 years and it didn’t happen, we called it quits because we didn’t achieve that goal.”

God’s Children still performs the occasional one-off show, and Bruce said that as soon as they get together the music comes back to them. For the Live Box Set show, God’s Children’s vocalist Peter Vogt.

Not long after God’s Children went their separate ways, Klear burst on the scene. Bruce is quick to note that Klear was “closer” to achieving national success than any project he was a part of, and while he is quick to say he “hasn’t lost any sleep” over the way things turned out, it’s a subject that still evokes raw emotion from Wojick.

“I’ve never talked about it publicly. It still haunts me … it haunts me because we didn’t finish the game. It’s one thing to not win, but to not finish … it haunts me.”

Klear’s tale often sounds like fodder for a classic episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.” It involved Goo Goo Dolls bassist/vocalist Robby Takac, a revolving door of lead singers, and a band that never lived up to its potential.

If you have ever seen the original lineup with Fred Shafer, you get it. They had it all, strong material, solid players and powerful stage presence. At the height of their popularity Shafer left, and even though there were two other lead singers but by their third they had split with Takac, who produced them and signed the band to his record label. In the end, bad timing simply got the best of the band.

In 2008 Shafer and Klear reunited, and in 2015 they even put out a new album, “Eyes Wide Open.” “The reception was not what we had hoped," Wojick said. “We were hoping to recapture what we had, it’s very hard to put it all behind you — Fred leaving when he did and all.”

Inasmuch as the topic of former Klear lead singers stirs up the usually cool Wojick, he sounds downright depressed every time he brings up Robby Takac. “I haven’t seen him in a while, but when I do, the only thing I can think about is how I, not the band, let him down. I was supposed to keep things together. It’s not everyday a person in a multi-platinum rock band believes in a band and invests his time, energy and money in a band.”

Tucked away in that box set of Bruce’s songs is the experiences that have made him a popular, and some would say beloved Western New York musician. Just as the line in the Keith Richards song that gave his latest band their name, sometimes “it’s a struggle baby.”

And while Bruce will be the first one to tell you he appreciates his fans, his family and his friends, he still has never really talked with Robby Takac about how things went down and resolved his guilt. Maybe this article will find its way to him, and that can happen.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the Bruce Wojick Live Box Set even more now that you know a little more about the stories behind the band’s that made them. Tickets are $10 in advance and available on Ticketmaster. Day of show (if available) are $15.

Thom Jennings-Niagara Gazette Music Writer