Thursday, March 28, 2013

TALKIN' TRASH WITH...Stacey Blades (ex-LA Guns, ex-Roxx Gang)

Finally...another guitar player!  Yeah, those lead singers always want all the press, but the guitar players have plenty to say as well...and none say it better than Stacey Blades who just recently stepped away from his gig as the lead guitar player for LA Guns.  So what does this cool Canadian have to say about that situation, about Roxx Gang, about Tracii Guns...and about Canadian politics?  Quite a lot, actually, so grab a seat and read along as Stacey talks some trash....



G2G:  Stacey, thanks for giving us a call.  I have to say, you are the most prompt interview I have done so far!  You NAILED it on the time that we had set up.  Is that promptness a Stacey Blades signature?

Stacey: (Laughing)  Yeah, well, I guess I'm one of the last of the Mohicans....

G2G:  Stacey, so many people are, of course, already saying "what's up?  Why is Stacey Blades no longer in LA Guns?"  I'm assuming there's a story to tell there....

Stacey:  Um...you know what, I mean, that's the million dollar, Barbara Walters question, isn't it?

G2G:  Absolutely!

Stacey:  You know, a lot kind of happened last year.  I just kind of started burning out and I just...I felt like I was on a kind of a treadmill so to speak and we were touring several days a week, and I suffer from what is called sciatica, which is nerve damage in the legs and the lower back, as well.  So, we were out touring, leaving like every Wednesday, and we would drive and then play and then get back in the van and then drive these long distances and it was just wreaking havoc on my leg.  And with all of that I just wasn't happy any longer, I was just not enjoying myself any longer, and so out of respect for the band and for myself, I just said, look, I'm not enjoying this any more, it's not fair to you, it's not fair to me, and certainly I'm not going to continue if I'm miserable.  So...those were some of the key factors, and my guitar playing was going in a kind of different direction and the band was moving in more of a 70's type of direction with a lot of their new material, while I was getting a bit more progressive with my playing, and it wasn't really mixing well.  So that was a factor, too.  But, it was an amicable split, I wish the guys well, and vice versa.  Sometimes you have to look at music as a life journey and there are so many other paths to discover and things to do.  It wasn't an easy decision, I mean I spent a decade in the band and I'm very grateful that I was given that opportunity to replace Tracii and I had some great times, and we made some great records, and it was just an amazing experience.  But, I'm really excited about the future and where I'm going now.  There's a lot of great stuff happening right now.

G2G:  Since you already touched on the difference in direction with the band, I'll jump into a different question I already had.  Now, obviously, I've never worked with the guy, and in fact I've only met Phil (Lewis) once, but I have heard he's such a perfectionist that he's very hard to work with.  Was there any animosity there that led to your leaving the band?

Stacey:  Well, it's like any other band.  You're around each other all the time and you do get on each other's nerves and there are fights and there are creative clashes.  Certain disagreements that come up, especially in the recording process, where one guy will go, "oh! You should try it this way," or other people will go, "No, no, no, that doesn't work!" or, "I'm not doing that," and stuff like that, but that's not just Phil by any means.  That is  with any band.  Being in a band is the most dysfunctional job in the world (laughing).

G2G:  Many have said that!

Stacey: (Laughs) And, you know, its true!  But, for the most part, for the ten years I was in the band, we got along.  Sure, we had our moments, but everybody does.  But to be fair, there were a lot of times where I was the one who pushed the envelope, too.  I was always trying to get the guys to try different things and play different songs and stuff like that, and I was always trying to mix things up...and sometimes that works in a situation and sometimes it doesn't.  But, no, those guys were all fairly easy to work with, again, we did have our moments, but more or less what led to me leaving was, like I said, I was just really burned out.  I'm a guy that, if I'm in a situation where I'm not happy something...the bottom line is you gotta have fun doing what you do and you have to love it, and I just wasn't there any longer.  And when you're there it just becomes a job and you start resenting other people and...I just didn't want it to go down that dark path with the guys, and it was starting to do that, so I wanted to get out before it ended up where everybody was killing each other.

G2G:  Speaking of bad situations, was there ever a time when you ran into Tracii and things got ugly or anything?

Stacey:  No, man.  I only met him once, and it was pretty much right after I joined the band and he was off doing Brides Of Destruction with Nikki Sixx. Adam Hamilton, who was our bass player at the time, and I went and hung out with them at their rehearsal studio.  So, yeah, we hung out with Nikki and Tracii, and Tracii was really, really nice to me.  So, I mean, yeah, there's been stuff said in the media and whatever, and he's taken a few shots at me, but I don't hold anything against him or anything...

G2G:  That's actually pretty cool to hear, man.  You know you were talking before about having some creative issues within the band, and I was going to say that in a lot of ways, the last two LA Guns records were probable their most progressive records, especially as far as a lot of the guitar work goes, while still maintaining that sleazy edge LA Guns has always been known for.  Was that intentional on your part?

Stacey:  Yeah, I really wanted to take it even farther than we got to go, though.  There was a bit of clashing with that, and on this last record, Hollywood Forever, it was really the first time I kind of noticed that we weren't maybe all on the same page all the time.  You have to have an open mind when you're recording, because there are four or five other guys, and a producer, that you're going to be dealing with, and you can't go in with the mindset of "that's it!  This is how I'm doing things!"  And there are some guys out there who will do that, and just slam their fist down and demand things be done their way.  I tried to bring in a more progressive style, like you mentioned, and I think it's really obvious when you hear the title track, "Hollywood Forever", which I think is very...I wanted it to be almost like a Deep Purple, like a Ritchie Blackmore kinda thing, and I was really going for that.  I spent weeks and weeks refining a lot of the solos which I then ended up having to change because as a guitar player you want to throw in everything but the kitchen sink, and on this last record, I really wanted to make my statement, you know.  Sometimes, it's like, well, it works in some songs but in others it doesn't, so you have to look at yourself as an artist rather than being completely selfish and saying, "well, I already did that on my solo instrumental album" while at the same time wanting to be heard, if that makes any sense (laughs).  It can't all be one person's ideas when you are in a band situation is what I'm trying to say.

G2G:  I always like to ask this question to see what the response is, because it seems like all of the artists I talk to refer to their songs as "their children" or "their babies".  So, is there a particular "child" you are more fond of than the rest?

Stacey:  Umm...well, there is always a team effort in the way we approached most things with LA Guns, you know.  We branched out a little different on this new record, as opposed to Tales From The Strip, where we would all kind of get together every week and work on songs together.  We spent like eight weeks working on riffs and stuff like that for that record, and Adam (the producer) would then kind of mold them all together.  On Hollywood Forever, everybody came in with mostly finished songs, so it was quite a bit different.  So, when you get to that type of writing, people get very protective of...I guess you could call them children, absolutely...and you get to where it's like, "you're not messing with my child!" (laughter) I think I brought in about four or five songs, and I think I had three that made the album and then a fourth one that made the Japanese version as a bonus track that was called "Rattlesnake"...

G2G:  Oh, that was yours?

Stacey:  Yeah, that was a song...that was one of the last songs that was brought in and I was kinda hoping it would make the record, but it didn't turn out as good as I thought it could have been.  We didn't spend a lot of time on that song, but I think when I look back at that and songs that I brought in, I'm really proud of "Hollywood Forever".  I think its just such an epic song, and what's cool about these songs on this last record is I wrote lyrics for the first time, which I had never done before.  So I wrote the lyrics for that song and "Vine Street Shimmy" and "Rattlesnake" and...what was the other one...oh, "Venus Bomb", another song I'm really proud of.  It's got that kind of old school, rockabilly vibe done Guns style.

G2G:  Absolutely...  So is it a different writing approach for you when you get to do the lyrics and put the whole song together?

Stacey:  The material was so strong that the lyrics kind of wrote themselves, and once I started getting on kind of a roll I started to look at the songs and go, "man, these are really kind of good".  So I took them to Phil and he really liked them, but I gave them to him to kind of mold because he's the guy that has to sing them,  What you hear in your head when you are writing isn't always what the singer is able to do.  So, from a singer's point of view it might be like, "well, you have too many words in this", or "that doesn't really rhyme", or whatever, so that person kind of takes over a bit, which he honestly has to, I think.  But, so no, my approach doesn't really change, I guess...the songs just kind of wrote themselves, you know what I mean...

G2G:  Going back a bit, you were in the latter stages of Roxx Gang correct?

Stacey:  Yep, uh huh.  I joined that band in 1992 and I was actually in that band for eight years, if you can believe that (laughter).

G2G:  What really happened to that situation there, because Roxx Gang was, to me at least, a band that looked like it was ready to explode after that debut album, and then they fell apart and then became the Mojo Gurus for a little while...

Stacey:  Yeah, man...I look back on that time and, to be honest, it's eight years I'd rather forget about (laughter).

G2G:  Not a good time, huh?
Stacey in Roxx Gang

Stacey:  Noooo...(laughter)...not a good time at all.  I mean, the first few years were kinda cool, and I was glad to have the opportunity to play in that band, I got to see some cool stuff, and I thought they were a great band.  I was a fan of that first album also, and I thought it was a great opportunity, so...  You nailed it, though, that band should have been a lot bigger than they were, that first album was very strong, but of course by the time the second album came out, alternative music was very much at it's height in '94 and '95, and there were just a lot of issues there.  The lead singer, Kevin Steele, was just a total control freak, very self-centered, egotistical, and to make matters worse, his brother managed the band.

G2G:  So nepotism reared it's ugly head, I take it...'

Stacey:  Totally, yeah.  (laughs)  They never wanted to tour, and then they turned this thing into this weird...I don't even know how to describe the crap that they turned it into with this Mojo Gurus crap.  And as bad as it was, it was stuff he continued doing towards 2000 or so, and it was just silly and I was like, "man, I gotta get outta this thing".  And Florida wasn't all that great for me, either, and coming out to L.A. was definitely a smart move for me.  But I look back at it and I can say I played in two of my favorite late-80's hard rock bands with Roxx Gang and LA Guns, because I was a fan of both bands before I was actually in them, so that's pretty cool.

G2G:  Well, I can describe Mojo Gurus for you...garbage!  Horrible!

Stacey: (laughter)

G2G:  I bought that album when it came out thinking, hey, you know Roxx Gang with a different name, and a lot of bands will do that if they have a different line-up or something...

Stacey:  Right...absolutely...

G2G:  ...but this wasn't just a line-up change, this wasn't even the same sound any longer.

Stacey:  No, you're right, it was a joke.  It was like, "what are you guys thinking?"  And I was trying to be objective, but it was like, "you know, this sounds like shit".  Too many drugs, man, I don't know...he lost his mind, I guess.  I....I cringe when I think back to making that record, I don't ever listen to that album, it's...like you said, it's just horrible.  Kevin lost all cred and all respect when he released that...what little he had left...and that was it, it was over at that point.

G2G:  Yeah, not a good experiment and yet, to me, the sad thing is that Mojo was where Steele seemed to want to go.  It wasn't like he was chasing trends...

Stacey:  No, you're right.  Exactly.  And that's fine, I've got no problem with that as far as being creative or whatever, but it's kind of a drastic change, and of course I didn't expect the guy to wind up in a vinyl jumpsuit and a cowboy hat for years and years...(laughing)  I mean...how does he go from that, that almost, you know, glam kind of look to growing a full beard and playing this weird kind of bluegrass, hillbilly kinda thing.  Wow.  But, anyway...

G2G:  When you were out touring with LA Guns, were you starting to see a phenomenon that a lot of people I have talked to have mentioned, that being multi-generational families showing up at your shows?

Stacey:  Yeah, absolutely, especially, oh, I'd say 2008, 2009, 2010...those tours.  There was a large increase in the younger kids showing up to our shows, especially at the big outdoor shows.  And, that was really refreshing to see, and I think all these kids were getting into and discovering these older bands through their parents or older brothers.  And, too, I think a lot of parents were encouraging their kids saying, "you should go check them out" and the kid shows up and hears this huge sound of these types of bands and all the cool songs and imagery, and it's all new to them because they weren't alive when that stuff was originally going on.

G2G:  Now, Stacey, when I was doing some research before this interview I discovered that you are also an author, correct?

Stacey:  (laughs)  Well, yeah...a lot of people come up to me that know and say, "oh, you're an author!"  (laughs)  I guess you could say that because yes, my autobiography was published, but I certainly don't consider myself an author...

G2G:  How do you find your book?  I've looked all over the place and can't find it, but I wanna read it!

Stacey: (laughs)  Well, that's because they sold out!  No...its sold exclusively on Amazon.  Just go into books and type in my name and it should show up.  (G2G note:  the book DOES show up on www.amazon.com if you are smart enough to type it in correctly).  The book is called Snake Eyes: Confessions of a Replacement Rockstar.

G2G:  So how did that process come about?  Did you just feel like you had some tales to tell, or was this part of the progression away from LA Guns...

Stacey:  No, not at all.  It was actually written a couple of years ago.  Around that time I had read quite a few rock autobiographies and I started to think, "I've got an interesting story to tell," and I just started writing on the computer and a year-and-a-half later it was like, boom, I had a book.  So, I had it published and it was like, holy crap I actually did this.  To me, it's funny, because I wrote that book around three years ago, so the story ends but there has been so much that has happened in the last couple of years that I'd really like to have the book re-published.  I've actually written six additional chapters and have gone back and re-edited the whole thing.  So, I kind of look at that original version as a kind of collector's edition or something and I'm actually hoping to get it republished by a bigger publisher sometime this year.

G2G:  So we need to be on the lookout for that...

Stacey:  Yeah, it's an interesting process and I kind of enjoyed it.  You really open yourself up, you know, and your whole life, and it's kind of cool but at the same time it's a weird thing and you have to be careful what you say about some people and you have to know that you are gonna piss some people off, but that's just kind of the nature of writing about your life and yourself and you have to know it's going to happen.

G2G:  Was there a point where you said, "You know, I'd love to tell this truth but it's just not worth the bridge I'd have to burn"?

Stacey:  (laughing) Of course! It's like, well, if you word things carefully enough you can get around some things, and if you don't embellish...  But I never really had to embellish anything, and all of the stories in my book are true.  I've had this roller coaster ride of a life, and so much of what all of these rock stars have written about going through, I've gone through also, but from kind of a different place, you know.  So it's kind of a story of inspiration where a lot of people would have probably handed in the towel and just said, "I'm done", but where I kept plugging away and plugging away and not giving up, so it's kind of a story of inspiration but mixed in with all your sex, drugs, and rock n roll! (laughs)  There's stalkers and car crashes and suicides and all that kind of stuff...it's a good read! (laughs)

G2G:  So when did you first pick up a guitar and say Stacey Blades is going to be a rock star?

Stacey:  Well, I come from a long line of piano players in my family and I started on piano when I was nine, actually.  My mom played, my great-uncle was just incredible, he was like Liberace, I swear, with the rings and the fancy suits and such.  And then my sister spent eight years in conservatory so, I tried taking lessons from nine to eleven, but then one Christmas I got this cheap acoustic guitar and I just remember picking that thing up and it just became a part of me.  I didn't know any chords or anything, so I was just banging away on the thing, but it just spoke to me more than any piano or piano lesson that I had ever taken.  It changed me, and once I was like 13 or 14, I was just like, "this is it!", and after all those years spent in front of the mirror with that guitar I had decided this is what I'm doing.

G2G:  So do you remember your first real band?

Stacey:  Yes.  The first real band I was in they kicked me out of because I wanted to rock! (laughs)

G2G:  A rebel was born!

Stacey: (Laughing) Exactly!  I think my first actual gig was in the summertime at this political rally, and we played things like Bryan Adams and ZZ Top, and...god, like Huey Lewis... (laughter)  It was really poppy stuff, but I was like "c'mon, guys, let's rock!  Let's play some Ramones and some Motley and Aerosmith..." but they were like, "no, we wanna keep playing Top 40, and you're too 'rocker'", so they kicked me out of that band.  Then, I started a band after that with a bunch of really great, young, very talented guys, and that band was together for about a year and a half, and I consider that to be my first band.  That band was called Blind Desire, and we had like six or seven really good originals and we would mix things up with stuff by Ratt and Aerosmith, you know, some Cheap Trick and Motley and all that stuff, and we started playing the club circuit.  And, I was in about three or four bands that worked the Toronto circuit in the late 80's, but it was frustrating because even if you made it in Canada, remember we were in Toronto at the time which had a great scene, by the way, but there was only so far you could go with that, even if you got a major record deal.  You just didn't get that push in the States, and I always said that if I was gonna have a music career it was going to have to be in the U.S., so as bad as the Roxx Gang thing was, I really feel I was fortunate to have that chance to establish myself in the U.S., so I'm grateful for that.

G2G:  Now, since you are a Canadian, I'm going to ask you a question that probably nobody has ever asked you before in a rock interview.

Stacey: (laughs) Okay, ready....

G2G:  Should Quebec secede?

Stacey: (Laughing)  F**k 'em!  (Laughing)  I think that's pretty much everybody's opinion, you know.   They've been trying to do that for f**cking years.  It's funny because everybody in all the other provinces just hate the French!  (laughs)  They're always trying to be the Separatist Party, and say f**k everybody else, but what they don't realize is how much it will f**k themselves
Some geography help for non-Canadians!
and the rest of the country as far as trade and everything goes, and stuff like that.  But they've been trying to do that for years...I mean YEARS...and I remember a couple of years back they had some rally in Montreal and some guy blasted into this thing with a gun and killed a couple of people!  So, it's like, is this a sign?  Ah...(laughs)...don't get me started on the French!

G2G:  (Laughing)  Sorry, Stacey...my first college degree was actually in history and political science, so...

Stacey:  Is it really?

G2G:  Yeah...

Stacey:  That's cool...

G2G:  So, I'll steer us back to the rock n roll a bit and leave the French alone for a minute.

Stacey:  F**k 'em!

G2G:  (laughing)  So what is Stacey Blades going to do now?  I read something about television and movie scoring or something like that?

Stacey:  Well, I have a couple of pretty cool things going on now, actually.  I'm working with a company called Soundtrack Loops, and that is a company that you can check out on-line at www.soundtrackloops.com .  Basically they provide all kinds of music for different things, such as mixes, for television and film, sampling, software packages that you can install and stuff like that.  My neighbor actually hooked me up with one of his buddies, Jason Donnely, and we started talking and he was telling me about what he did...  That whole world was kind of...I was aware of it, but I didn't know much about it, like it was kind of a mystery.  So, he's like, "we should record your guitars and then I can sell them and do all this stuff," and I was like, "man, that sounds kind of interesting".  So, we actually tracked like 22 pieces, like little two minute pieces, and what we did was we used all different styles, so one day we'd do Eddie Van Halen-type stuff, like "Hot For Teacher" kinda stuff, and then another day we did Stevie Ray Vaughn type stuff, or Eric Johnson, or Ritchie Blackmore, all these different cool styles.  So, it was really very exciting for me to compile all these different pieces and to try to play like such and such a style or guitar player.  So, those go on the market in the next couple of weeks and I'm really, really psyched about that, and it's been a really fun experience and we're going to do more stuff like that.  I'm also working for a company called Six String, which is a new app for iTunes and iPad and all that stuff.  It's like an interactive thing where you can interact with all different kinds of guitar players and you can upload soundbytes or images, share gig information, gear information, stuff like that, so that's cool.  And, I'm still playing, too.  I'm working with the Hard Rock All-Stars with Juan Crocier from Ratt and Jamie St. James and Pete Holmes from Black N Blue.

G2G:  That sounds cool...

Stacey:  Yeah, I actually ran into Juan at the NAMM Convention and we started talking and he ended up calling me up and he's like, "I got this thing and I think you'd be perfect for it", and we actually had our first rehearsal a couple of weeks ago.  It was fun.  It was cool playing all that old Ratt stuff and Black N Blue stuff, and we're going to start doing some shows coming up in a few weeks or so...  Nothing full time, or anything, because Juan's back in Ratt and they're recording a new album, and Jamie and Pete have Black N Blue, and other things, and I have other things, too, so we'll see how it works and what kind of schedule we can put together and we plan to start gigging maybe once or twice a month.  I also just finished up recording some new stuff with Andy Johns, which was cool getting to work with Andy again, and I worked with this great singer from New Orleans named Paul Christiano, who sounds like Scott Weiland and David Lee Roth kinda rolled into one (laughs).

G2G: Now there's a combination!

Stacey:  (laughing)  Dude, this guy is an AMAZING singer and I really expect big things are going to happen with this guy.  We've been writing some pretty amazing stuff together and I'm really excited to work with him.  He's a really good writer and we're going to do a few more songs and, well, he's got a pretty big entertainment lawyer behind him, so we're gonna shop that and see what comes out.  It may end up developing into a new band-type of situation, so...  Yeah, I've been really busy over the last few months.  I kind of look at myself as a free agent, if you will...

G2G:  A "Gun" for hire...

Stacey:  (laughing) Yes...no pun intended...(laughing)....

G2G:  No pun intended at all...  Speaking of the "gun", whenever we get the chance to talk to a guitar player, people always want to know about the rig that you use.

Stacey:  Oh, sure, sure.  Well, I use a couple of different rigs.  I mean, um, over the last six years while I was in LA Guns, all we did was fly, so when we played, except locally, we always used rental gear.  However, my main rig was a Marshall JCM-900 and I'd run one head head through two 412 cabinets and my pedal board is nothing too outrageous, just all the major necessities.  I run a Boss Super Chorus with digital delay, a Maxim overdrive and a Boss Chromatic tuner and a Cry-Baby Wah.  So, you know...just the meat and potatoes. (Actually, I DON'T know...I know NOTHING about guitars or rigs...just FYI....)  But my other gear, which I've had for years since I was endorsed by Crate Amplifiers, which isn't even a company anymore, I have a mountain of stuff from them.  It's really too bad they went under because they were really coming out with some cool stuff.  I've gotten a couple of really nice Blue Voodoo 120 two-heads from them, and they were really coming out with some amazing Solid State stuff with digital app effects built into them, and I don't really know what happened.  St. Louis Music was a pretty big corporation, but I guess one the economy took a crap I think a lot of the companies really kind of fell by the wayside or are just barely, barely holding on.  Even the guitar companies felt that recession big time....

G2G:  Well people need to eat before they play...

Stacey:  (laughs) Well, yeah, if their priorities aren't in order.  But, no, unfortunately that is a reality.

G2G:  So how do people stay in contact with you and keep up with Stacey Blades' world?

Stacey:  Lots of avenues there.  I've got my Facebook page, I've got a Stacey Blades Music Page on Facebook, and I've got www.StaceyBlades.com .  And, of course, all three of those pages are linked on my website.  People can also follow me on Twitter, which is Stacey_Blades , so I'm pretty active with all that stuff.  Being on my own now, so to speak, you have to constantly network and let people know what you're doing.

G2G:  The whole music industry has changed so much and social networking has almost become a must now...

Stacey:  It really has.  It's funny now that you mention that because when we were recording a couple weeks ago with Andy Johns this guy came into the studio and was like, "did you know that YouTube is now acknowledged by Billboard?"  And we were all like, "what?  Seriously?"  But if you think about it, YouTube is like the new MTV, except you get to choose what you watch, you know.  You don't see music videos or many live performances on regular television now, not on MTV or even VH1, so it's actually such a media outlet for artists and musicians now, I mean, just think where we'd be without YouTube.  So, actuall Billboard is acknowledging that and your view count is used for charting purposes.  It's crazy but really, it's kinda cool.  I consider it a plus.  The record industry is a little...I mean, it's kind of making a comeback and I've noticed that vinyl is slowly coming back which is really exciting, I think...but as far as getting a record deal and stuff like that now, it's not as easy as it was several years ago, and it's still tough to move units and stuff like that with all the digital downloads and things like that.  Really, touring is where it's at and that's how you move records which is something I always enjoy when I am able to do it.

G2G:  Do you like the festival scene that seems to be the big trend right now?

Stacey:  Yeah,  the problem with that is that once you find one of these festivals that does well year after year after year, it's like how many times can you keep seeing the same bands.  And there's only so many bands that you can recycle through and recycle through and recycle through.  But those festivals have a life of their own, and some of them do really well by bringing in newer acts or more obscure acts or whatever, because once you get into a festival for the fifth, sixth year in a row, if you don't change up, it's like how many of these same 80's metal bands can you still put on.  But some do a really good job of getting reunion acts or, like I said, more obscure acts, and some are a lot of fun.  But for me, on the band side, those are always fun and I always enjoyed playing them and getting to see a lot of friens in other bands.  They're like big parties...

G2G:  We're putting a festival together this fall...

Stacey:  Really?  I didn't know that...congratulations...

G2G:  Yeah, thanks.  And Phil Lewis is actually doing an acoustic show one of the nights...

Stacey:  That's cool, that should be fun.  It's funny you say that, because now that you say acoustic I remember that I forgot to mention that I've been doing some acoustic shows with Robert Mason from Warrant. Mason/Blades is actually what it's called...(laughing)

G2G:  Deep and original...

Stacey:  (laughing)  I know, right?  But back to what you were saying, what I always enjoy about the festivals is the catching up with everybody in the other bands, so it's like a big camping trip or boy's weekend for the rocker crowd.  Eddie Trunk shows up at a lot of those festivals, and we're good friends, so that's fun.  So...yeah, they're great and I always enjoyed playing those.  Good luck with yours...

G2G:  Well, Stacey, thanks so much for the time...I've eaten up more than I planned to, but once we got onto Canadian politics...

Stacey:  (laughs)  Right...damn French!

G2G:  Exactly!  You know, I took two years of French in high school and remember maybe two dozen words, so I'd better stay out of Canada...or at least Quebec...for my own safety...

Stacey:  It's funny, back in public school, you didn't have to take French in high school (in Canada).  So once I finished what we call public school, which was grade 8, and then went on to high school, we didn't have to take French any longer, so I was like, "well, I ain't taking any damn French! I don't need to speak French!"  And I remember going to Montreal, oh, back in '89.  And I was staying in this hotel downtown and...I mean EVERYTHING is in French!  You go into Burger King and even the menu is in French!  And you ask somebody for something and they are like (in his snottiest French accent), "Bah, I no speak Engl-aysh"...just rude, rude people.  And it was kinda like that over in France, too.  But...anyways...(laughing)  We'll be on the phone for the next hour if we get into that!  F**k the French!  (laughing)

G2G:  (laughing)  Well, again Stacey, thanks so much.  I hope to track down your book (which I did) and look forward to the re-writing of it, and maybe we'll chat down the road again.

Stacey:  Definitely, definitely.  Appreciate it, Arttie.




So there you have it folks...more reasons to hate Canada...straight from a former Canadian!  (At least I think he's a former Canadian...or at least a Canadian American now).  Thanks to Stacey for dishing a little dirt and having some fun with us here on Glitter2Gutter!

Back To Talkin' Trash....
Home

Thursday, March 14, 2013

HARLOT "Room With A View"

(c) 1989 Olafssongs
  1. Now I See
  2. So Much For Happy Endings
  3. Out All Night
  4. Spirits
  5. Invisible Ones
  6. Metropolis Children
  7. Dancing On Dynamite
  8. Bring Home Your Love
  9. Kecia
Alex Savage--Vocals
Mike Koch--Guitars, Backing Vocals
Bo Baerentsen--Bass, Backing Vocals
Peter Warming--Drums, Backing Vocals
Bo Brinck--Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Additional Musicians:
Steve Cherry--Backing Vocals

Here is one of those long lost albums that you read about occasionally, but rarely run across.  It's not that Harlot was a big name or that you've heard this album and just don't realize it, as much as it is that this was a pretty solid album with a nice, melodic hard rock sound that would possibly have scored a couple of big radio hits had it been released in America by an American band.  However, since these boys hailed from Denmark and since they had NOTHING in the way of label backing, this disc goes relatively unnoticed by people who aren't sure what they are looking at.  Trust me when I say that if you can find this one somewhere, you should grab it if the price is decent (anything under $20 is pretty good). 

Comparable to such bands as Da Vinci, Treat, Bad Habit, or so many other very good-to-great Scandinavian melodic hard rockers, Room With A View is a solid listen from beginning to end, with only a couple of minor glitches in the songwriting.  For the most part, the album sticks to uptempo rockers underscored with keyboards that don't overpower the songs but enhance them, instead. There are a couple of exceptions, such as "So Much For Happy Endings", when the keyboards are just too out front for my tastes, but that is mostly a problem on the intro and the rest of the song is generally a good one.  (I believe this was also a single off this album in Europe...) There are actually some very strong guitars on this track, so I'm not sure why the band felt the need to incorporate so many keys.

As you would expect, there are a few slower moments as well, but surprisingly, these songs are not the strongest as one might suspect they would be with an AOR act such as Harlot. "Metropolis Children", which isn't really a ballad but is definitely lower-mid-tempo, really does nothing for me at all, although the chorus is a bit catchy.  "Spirits" isn't a horrible song, but it is pretty long (nearly 5:30) and really seems to drag and lacks any true hook.  "Bring Home Your Love" is easily the best of the slow numbers here and I suspect it was featured at more than one high school dance in Denmark as it has prom power ballad written all over it.  Reminds me of something Bad English would have done, as a means of comparison, and I'm guessing radio would have really feasted on this track if it had been on this side of the pond and on a big label.

When the band sticks to what it does best, such as on the rocking "Dancing On Dynamite" or "Invisible Ones", they are a very solid band, even if they do rely too much on keys at times.  Again, this is an album that I think people who identify themselves as fans of the AOR or melodic rock genres are going to really like, if not love.  If you are looking for more of a "hair metal" sound, you might find the album a bit weak overall, and if you are strictly in it for the sleaze, you should just go ahead and pass on Harlot, as they are not your thing at all.

As it is, I call it like I see it overall, and I try to not get caught up in the genre/label thing...

Rating:  Rock this at a good 6.5, with just a couple of tracks...and a few too many keyboards...keeping this from being a crank-worthy disc.

Back To Reviews Index


Sunday, March 10, 2013

WILD ROSE "Dangerous"

(c) 2013 AOR Heaven

  1. Alone
  2. Hold On
  3. Can't Stop Loving You
  4. If You Still Love Me
  5. Dream On
  6. Awake
  7. Tonight
  8. I Won't Forget You
  9. Is This Love
  10. Not A Day Goes By
David Saylor--Vocals
Andy Rock--Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Phil Gun--Bass 
Dirty Harris--Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Tiny Karpo--Guitars, Backing Vocals
Junior Domanos--Drums

Holy retro, Batman!  When I put Dangerous, the new release from Greece's Wild Rose, in my CD player, I had to look around to make sure everyone wasn't suddenly wearing stone-washed jeans, denim jackets, spandex, and massively teased hair!  Seriously, a lot of bands go a long way toward capturing the sound and spirit of the 80's hard rock scene, but Wild Rose takes things to an entirely different level.  Were it not for the amazingly crystal clear production on this record, it would be basically impossible to tell much of Wild Rose's music apart from the keyboard-laden AOR material of the 80's such as Giuffria, Giant, Nelson, Heart, or even an act like a John Parr, a Richard Marx, or a solo Lou Gramm, at times.    

This album was my first introduction to the band, so I had no issues with the shake-up of the band's foundation prior to the release of this disc.  From what I have gathered upon seeking out the band's previous efforts, we have a new lead singer and lead guitar player on this album, but I have no idea as to why the original members were replaced.  That being said, I have to state that I prefer Saylor's vocals to those of his predecessor, and there is no major change in the approach of the guitars on this album, so people who were fans of Wild Rose before are likely to find themselves fawning all over this album as well.

There are just so many 80's moments on this album, it's hard to explain it.  Heck, even the majority of the song titles were used on some pretty big hits from the 80's and early 90's!  Musically, "I Can't Stop Loving You" (not the Van Halen track) is about as pure a piece of 80's AOR worship as you can find anywhere.  The same can be said of the somewhat harder rocking "Is This Love" (not the Whitesnake song), and "Alone" (not the Heart song).  As I mentioned above, Richard Marx comes to mind when I hear a song like the ballad "Awake", and Lou Gramm's solo work can be referenced in "Not A Day Goes By".  "I Won't Forget You" (not the Poison song) is another above average mid-tempo rocker that reminds me musically of what Nelson was doing in the heyday of their career, although there are instances of excessive keyboard use in this track that almost ruin it for me.

In fact, if I had a complaint it would be the keyboard.  There are simply too many keyboards on some of these songs.  Heck, they have TWO keyboard players!  As I have stated before, I am not opposed to keyboards as a supplemental instrument as long as they are powerful and fill in the gaps between the guitars, giving the music that big, full sound.  For the most part, that is how the keys are used here.  But at times, such as on "Hold On", the keys are those tinkly, jingly sounds that really damaged a lot of the songs on Shy's Excess All Areas album, for example.  They are just too...prissy, too..I don't know...lacking in power.  As such, I don't really understand their inclusion.  To be fair, I didn't understand their inclusion in the 80's, either, as they tend to take some very good, sometimes even great songs, and make them very hard for me to enjoy.  

Musically, it is impossible to deny the talent of this band.  They are impressive.  Lyrically, they are a bit simplistic, but not cliche like so many foreign rockers tend to be, and I think that has to do with the fact that English is Saylor's native language.  As such, there is also not that annoying accent problem that a lot of foreign singers have.  However, while musically very skillful, it is almost too clean, to pristine, to be rock and roll in spots.  As such, some of the songs come across like those on the last Journey album: musically perfect but not overly memorable or original.

If pure AOR is your passion, and hook-filled, keyboard-heavy melodic rock is what you are looking for, Wild Rose is definitely going to be a pleasure for you to listen to.  If you need more grit and more drive, you are still most likely going to find some things to like about this album, but you may find yourself asking where the teeth of the songs are.  For me, I am somewhere in the middle, as I can appreciate really good AOR, which Wild Rose performs, although, as I stated, a few of these songs just get too "pretty" for me, and I wonder how many of these songs I will be able to instantly recognize in the next several weeks, months, or years.

Rating:  A tough ranking for me.  Musically, there is no doubt these guys are in the stratosphere as far as skill goes, so a 9 isn't out of the question.  On the other hand, a couple of tunes REALLY turn me off, and one or two don't move me in any direction at all.  So, as a final rating, I'd have to say this album still manages to land in the crankable category, but just barely, with a 7 rating.  Some people will rate this MUCH higher, no doubt, and I couldn't argue their point.

Monday, March 4, 2013

TIGERTAILZ "Young And Crazy"

(c) 1987 Music For Nations

  1. Star Attraction
  2. Hollywood Killer
  3. Ballerina
  4. Livin' Without You
  5. Shameless
  6. City Kidz
  7. Shoot To Kill
  8. Turn Me On
  9. She'z Too Hot
  10. Young And Crazy
  11. Fall In Love Again
Steevi Jaimz--Vocals
Jay Pepper--Guitars
Pepsi Tate--Bass, Keyboards
Ace Finchum--Drums

Released more than 25 years ago, Young And Crazy by Tigertailz remains one of the underappreciated albums of the 80's hair metal scene.  Released on two ridiculously small labels (Music For Nations internationally and Combat Records in the U.S.) by a band that seemed to be CONSTANTLY fighting and changing its line-up, it is really little wonder that fewer people have had the chance to wrap their ears around this band that looked like Poison but rocked more like early Ratt or the other more "metallic" hair bands of the time.

One of the first things that usually hits people with Tigertailz, or more specifically with Young And Crazy, is the surprisingly low register that Jaimz sings with.  Sure, he looks like a chick on the album cover, but Jaimz actually has a rich, lower register tenor that really gives TT's music a different feel than so much of the glam that was really starting to spread throughout the Hollywood rock scene.  Another thing of note is the previously mentioned metallic tone that Pepper tended to incorporate in the music, keeping the poppy feel of the music but giving a lot of this album's material a grittier edge than their visual image would lead most people to expect.  This is not to say TT should be confused with 80's-era Metallica or Megadeth by any stretch, but they are also not purely a Aquanetted pop band, either.  Sadly, one of the other things most people notice about this album fairly quickly is the relatively poor production quality, giving the release a slightly muddy sound, which is a huge shame.  (The 2008 re-release on Krescendo Records doesn't address this issue to any appreciable level, by the way...).  

Every time I pop this disc in, I am always struck by the quality of the songwriting present here.  Solid guitar work, both in the rhythm and lead departments, a tight (if somewhat buried) bass line, and quality, if not flashy, drum work, really stand out on this album nearly as much as Steevie's vocals do.  So often bands from the Sunset Strip (and soundalike) scene would feature a great singer...OR a killer guitarist...or a flashy drummer...but rarely did a band have all the parts at the same time.  And, if they DID manage to have two or more of these parts, the songs were quite often lacking.  Not an issue for this album.  How the huge ballad "Fall In Love Again" isn't featured on every Monster Ballads, or similar, compilation is a mystery to me.  

I also wonder how that huge track was left as the last track on this entire album!  But I digress...

Whether the listener is after top notch metallic rockers such as the title track, "Star Attraction", "Hollywood Killer", "Livin' Without You" or "City Kidz", or something a bit more along the pop lines such as "Shameless" or "She'z Too Hot", this album, and this line-up in particular, had all bases covered.  Later versions of this band would slip far more into the glammy territory covered by Poison, Warrant, and their pals, but for this one, brief moment, Tigertailz really DID have the scene by the...ahem...tail, if only they had been on a label big enough to allow them to capitalize on it.  Sadly, Jaimz would be gone within a couple of years of this album's release, and there would eventually be two versions of the band touring (sound familiar, Great White, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, Queensrhcyh, etc.?), with Tate's version of the band eventually taking Jaimz's version to court and wrestling the name away.  As such, Young And Crazy is the only album this version of the band would ever release.

As far as the liner notes, etc., the original version of the album DID feature full lyrics, credits, etc....BUT YOU CAN'T READ THEM!  It looks like the record label got the bright idea to just shrink the lyrics sheet and liner notes from the vinyl album without bothering to include a magnifying glass or microscope with every CD so that people could see them!  Seriously, the packaging is a mess on the original; I have not had a chance to get my hands on the liner notes of Krescendo Records' re-issue to see if this was cleaned up in any way.

If you can find an original copy, snag it, as a lot of collectors consider the M.f.t.N. or Combat Records versions to be extremely collectible, whether on vinyl or CD (not so much on cassette).  These can be pretty pricey, however, with used copies regularly selling for $25 or more.  If you can find a cheaper re-issue, or if you have no problems with digital downloads, I'd tell you to get this record at once, as it is an absolute gem that more people should give themselves the chance to hear.

Rating:  Definitely a crankable release!  Crank this to 8!

THE BLACK BULLETS "Black Bullets EP"

(c) 2012 Too Loaded Records

  1. Shoot Em Down
  2. Black Bullets
  3. All Or Nothing
  4. Too Loaded For Love
  5. Teaching Yourself To Live
Rob Castle--Vocals, Guitars
Stevie Pearle--Guitars, Vocals
Carl Donoghue--Drums, Vocals
Jim Bones--Bass, Vocals

Perhaps not surprisingly, given their country of origin, The Black Bullets take a heaping dose of British punk, mix it in with a bit of sleaze, and stir in liberally such influences as Motorhead, AC/DC, and even Thin Lizzy, to create a form of punk-n-roll that people are either going to love or hate, with a slight bit of wiggle room in between (which is where I fall, but more on that in a bit).

In their bio, The Black Bullets are said to "live, eat, throw up, sleep, breathe, and drink rock n roll", and I have little doubt about that.  These four Brits play down and dirty, fast and furious, punked-up rock at such a  break-neck pace that some may find it difficult to keep up!  Castle's vocals have a definite punk approach to them, being more spit out than sung, and four of the five songs here are short bursts of angst (all under 2:40 in every case except for "All Or Nothing") that I am sure have the crowds at their shows slamming into one another in a furious fit.  The guitar tones used here are largely straight out of the 70's metal scene, especially on tracks like the self-titled "Black Bullets" and the Scott-era AC/DC inspired "Too Loaded For Love", while "All Or Nothing" uses a bit more 80's style and tone than the rest.  I highly doubt that Donoghue's drum kit survives a live show intact, as he sounds like he is beating the crap outta each tom and snare with every shot, and Bones is a solid bass thumper, but he also brings out one of the weakest points of this effort: the production.

Bones' bass is all but lost in the mix on three of the five tracks here, which is a shame, as that bottom end is what several of these songs are really missing.  I'm sure this is a relatively low-budget release, judging not only from the production, but also the packaging.  There are no lyrics, no thank yous, no credits, and purely black and white photography, all included in...you guessed it...my dreaded enemy, the DIGIPACK!!!     

Musically, the band has pretty much one speed: warp speed.  They toy around with a bit of a tempo change on "All Or Nothing", but once they hit the chorus on that track, it's balls-out, full speed blasting once again.  This leads the songs to run into each other a bit, and with an album this short, it's over before I've really had a chance to define where things begin and where they end.  Also, I'm not sure if it is intentional or due to a lack of budget for retakes, but Castle's voice breaks pretty harshly in a couple of spots, which while adding to the punk quality of the effort, also detracts from the overall sonic quality, at least for me.  I will be the first to admit I have never been a big punk fan, but I think with just a bit more restraint, Castle would get more of a Lemmy-styled metal sound than the end result here.

All in all, a fine debut effort that will possibly lead to even greater things in the future.  I would be curious to catch a live performance by this band sometime, as I have read that Thin Lizzy and Motorhead covers are worked into the set, and I can imagine that both are done at a break-neck speed, making me wonder if the band could play more than a 60 minute set without including 20 songs and then running out of material!    

Rating:  Rock this debut EP at 6, with the main issues being the production, the shortness of the album, and the lack of any real tempo changes, for the most part.  The talent is there, the execution, particularly in the production aspect, just needs to catch up a bit.

SUICIDE BOMBERS "Criminal Record"


(c) 2012 Suicide Records

  1. The Trailer: History Is About To Begin
  2. Let's Rock N Roll
  3. Easy Access
  4. Napalm Heart
  5. This Time Tomorrow
  6. Smoke & Mirrors
  7. High On Explosives
  8. Electric Fire
  9. Bombers En Vogue
  10. Teenage Breakdown
  11. Cindy
  12. Princess Socialite
  13. Riot
  14. Outro: ...Over & Motherf**king Out
Chris Damien Doll--Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Lazy Leather--Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
James Nero--Bass, Backing Vocals
T-Bone--Drums

There's something to be said about a band that has fun and doesn't take themselves too seriously.  There is also something to be said about a band that perhaps takes themselves TOO seriously.  At times, it is a bit difficult to determine which camp Norway's Suicide Bombers fall into on their independently released Criminal Record album.  How serious can you, or should you, take a band who refers to themselves as The Sleaze Fuhrer", "The Sex-Gunslinger", "The Bitch Commander", and "The Outlaw Groover"?  In fact, even after repeated listens, I am still not 100% certain if this is a serious project...such as a Zodiac Mindwarp...or something of a joke...along the lines of a less vulgar Steel Panther...but I can say with absolute certainty that there is a good degree of talent to be found in this band and on this record.

Things start off with the album's "trailer", complete with band member introductions, which should make it abundantly clear as to my confusion about whether or not this album is completely on the up-and-up.  However, once the music starts with a pummeling drumroll the band comes out swinging full-force with the ripping sleaze-fest, "Let's Rock N Roll".  "Easy Access" continues in the same manner with another full-steam-ahead, sleaze-drenched romp, giving Leather a chance to really flash his guitar prowess.  In fact, if it is this style of music you are after, Suicide Bombers pack plenty of hook-laden, riff-packed sleaze onto this album, with "High On Explosives" being the best, and others such as "Electric Fire", "Bombers En Vogue", and "Riot" all falling in line not too far behind.  And, while not as high-octane as the other mentioned, "Princess Socialite" is definitely one of the sleaziest tracks here and definitely worth checking out.

The album only slows down on one of the actual songs here (ignoring the intro and outro), and that would be on "Smoke And Mirrors", but even this is not what I would call a ballad...more of a brief breather would be more like it.  "Teenage Breakdown" has a bit more of a classic rock feel to it, and "Napalm Heart" is more straight ahead hard rock, less sleaze, than the rest of this disc, but all three are solid, if unspectacular additions to the album.      

There are a couple of weak spots for me.  "Cindy" is pretty bland overall, and doesn't add anything to the album.  "This Time Tomorrow" also misses the mark here, but I can't really tell you what it is I don't like about it; something just doesn't "feel" right about it.  Maybe it's the song's location between "Napalm Heart" and "Smoke And Mirrors" that makes it seem out of place.  Not sure, and it's not a horrible song, just not a high point, either.  And, as I have said with many other albums, while cute a time or two, intros and outros, no matter how entertaining or well thought out, get old and become an annoyance with repeated listens.  The first and last tracks here are no exception.

There is a good deal of talent to be found here, with Lazy Leather's guitar work being of top-notch quality pretty much throughout the disc.  Chris Damien Doll's songwriting is also of a pretty high caliber, and his vocals, while eerily familiar at times, are distinct enough to keep him from sounding like an 80's sleaze clone. The rhythm section is smooth and tight, perhaps even a bit TOO tight for those who like their sleaze to be a bit sloppy and loose, but they certainly don't detract from the structure of the songs.

I was surprised at the quality of the production, as so many indie projects seem to leave something as important as production on the "things to do" list.  Suicide Bombers were smart to put some extra effort into this department as it helps the majority of these songs to rip and claw their way to life, especially in the guitar tones and the separation of the instruments.  Sure, it's sleaze, so there is a certain level of sludginess to the sound, but you can tell it is an intentional feel and not the side-effect of sloppy work at the control board.  The packaging is also top notch, with full band pictures, brief movie-style bios (what would you expect?), and lyrics, which I always rate highly, especially when checking into new bands.

I love it when a new band surprises me, and Suicide Bombers did just that, for a number of reasons.  Definitely worth checking out, especially if you find a way to snag it without having to pay big import prices to get it.

Rating:  Crankable, to be sure!  Crank this to 7.5 and decide for yourself how seriously you should take Suicide Bombers!

Back To Reviews Index