Sunday, December 31, 2006

Vince Neil solo interview from 2003/2004

Here’s an interview with Motley Crue’s Vince Neil. This interview occurred right as the rumours of a Motley Crue reunion started to leak out. This was from around 2003/2004. It’s short, sweet, and kind of funny to look back and see all the things that happened or didn’t happen. I cut out all the dated material and just threw together a few of the more interesting parts.

CM – What’s going on with Nikki Sixx and the current status of Motley Crue?
VN – Basically, there is no more Motley Crue. Nikki seems to think there is. He is doing some stuff with Motley Crue without telling anybody. They are withholding a lot of money. It’s time to get lawyers involved and it’s pretty sad. If they weren’t so greedy, there could me another Motley Crue. But, there won’t be.

CM – Does that have anything to do with the recent re-release of Motley’s entire catalog?
VN – Yeah. That’s part of it.

CM – Anything to do with a Motley Crue reunion? I’ve heard rumours that the Crue is getting back together.
VN – That could be part of it. But, like I said – it’s time to get lawyers involved and it’s sad. Right now a Motley Crue reunion is only a rumour. I haven’t even really spoke with any of the other guys in a long time. So, how can there be a Crue?

CM – Alright then, let’s talk about your last solo release LIVE AT THE WHISKEY. I have to ask why did you release this? There is really nothing on there to separate it from the live Motley Crue release. Why did you only put one solo song on there? I thought if you put at least a few solo songs on there, it would help to make it different.
VN – I really didn’t set out to make a record. This was just me running tape at a concert. A lot of the songs got lost. There was going to be other songs on the record but these were the only songs we could find.

CM – How do you lose your songs?
VN – Well, we were just running tape. No plans to ever release it. So, you tend to not really keep track of where everything ends up. I was approached to release a live cd and said “Why not?”. We started looking around to see what I had laying around and this was all I could find. I swear I would have put some of my solo songs on there, but I really couldn’t find the rest of the songs.

CM – Are you working on any new material then?
VN – I got 8 new songs written right now. At the end of this stretch of shows, I’m going to go into the studio, tweak out those songs, and write a few more. I’ll have a new studio record out by early next year. Then I’ll go out next summer and tour it.

CM – Recently, you’ve caught some heat for putting on some poor performances…accusations of being drunk, cutting your set list short, etc. Any thoughts on that?
VN – You’re talking about one incident where those people completely lied about what was going on. They said I was drunk. They said I was playing my solo songs and people weren’t singing in the crowd, and so I left the stage. That was complete bullshit. They were just covering their butts because they didn’t have any security on stage. There was a bunch of drunken idiots in the crowd. You always get some idiots that want to throw shit on stage. I warned them and said to them “One more thing comes on stage and we’re out of here.” One more thing came on stage and I left. So, to cover their butts, they made up that whole thing. The funny thing is that I didn’t even have any of my solo songs on the setlist. You can’t believe everything you read.

CM – What’s this story I read about you opening up a bakery in Las Vegas?
VN – (laughing) See. That’s another thing that’s not true. This is funny. I made a birthday cake for my fiancée. I happened to be having dinner with Robin Leach and some other people. We were all sitting around drinking. We were in the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas. All I said was that I should open up like a porno cake place and he wrote about it. It was just drunk talk. I read about it in the Vegas newspaper and I was like “What the fuck is this?” That’s absolutely not a true story.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Donnie Van Zant Interview June 2005

One of my favorite interviews from the last couple of years was with Donnie Van Zant of .38 Special and the Van Zant band. This was a really loose interview and was done on the release day for the Van Zant’s GET RIGHT WITH THE MAN debut country release. I cut a lot out of the interview because it is now dated. However, there’s still some interesting things in the interview. I also wanted everyone to check out Donnie’s sense of humor towards the end – you get a real good sense of Donnie’s character in this interview.

RAG – We all know you from your work in your respective bands. How did the opportunity come about to do a country record and why did you decide to go with the “country” label?
DVZ – It’s been a dream come true to get to do this together. We’ve been talking about doing a country album together for at least 10 to 12 years. It sort of fell into our laps – when we were trying to get it, we couldn’t get it. John Grady (president of Sony Nashville) and Mark Wright called up our management company and asked them if they could set up a meeting with us in Nashville to talk about the Van Zant brothers doing a country record. We thought it was a joke at first. We said “Yeah. We’ll meet with them in Nashville.” After meeting with those 2 guys for about 5 minutes, we said “We want to do it. We’ll find the time to do it.” Both of those guys are not just great people, they are both music lovers and we picked up on that immediately. Someone asked us “Why are you doing this?” It’s the love of music that drives us. I’m not trying to say I’m conceded or whatever. It’s not like we had to do this. I’ve been with .38 Special for 30 years now and we’ve done pretty good. We’re doing this because we’re real country lovers. Obviously, you want it to do good and sell a lot of records – you would be foolish to not want that. But, we really did it for the love of the music. I’m a real country lover. People get in my car and most of the time the radio is going to be on a country station. It’s exciting for us. Johnny and myself were driving in the car when we first heard us on the radio. We were like kids in a candy store. We almost wrecked the car trying to turn it up. It reminded me of how it felt when I first heard “Rockin’ into the Night” on the radio and how excited I was back then. It’s a great feeling to still feel that and to still have the love or spirit to keep doing it. It’s kind of like we’re rookies with attitudes! (Laughing)

RAG – GET RIGHT WITH THE MAN really nails down that real life, every day approach to things. I take it you didn’t have to change your writing style much at all for this project?
DVZ – All of these songs you hear on here are life experiences – either we lived ourselves or we watched someone go through. That’s what we’re all about. I think that’s something our brother Ronnie taught us many, many years ago – when you write songs, you write songs not with your head, but with your heart. If you do that, you’re going to be ok. If you’re going to be a songwriter, you mind as well just write about something you’ve lived through or someone else has went through. If you don’t do that, you’re wasting your time. This make believe song writing just doesn’t work. I think people can see through that. You’ve really got to write from that heart and soul.

RAG – You were doing some heavy publicity this morning – clear your head for me and throw out the “promotion” mode mentality and tell me what’s going through your head now that you have a country album out?
DVZ – Our dad was a truck driver for 35 or 40 years and our mother was a manager at Dunkin Doughnuts. As kids, we grew up on country music. We listened to Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Hank Williams, Faron Young, etc. – all of those kind of guys. So, we have that in our blood. Our brother Ronnie, before he was killed in 1977, actually wanted to make a country record and he was actually heading that way. The really cool thing about this project is that not only are we living out our dream – we’re sort of living out his dream too. It’s been a really cool experience to get to do this together with Johnny. With Johnny and myself, we just have a great time together and that’s what’s really cool about being able to do the project with him - to get to hang with him. We get to catch up on a lot of family issues and world issues. I think we have a lot of the world issues worked out now, so the president needs to call us up! (laughing)

RAG – I think that’s interesting that you decided to put “Sweet Mama” on the release.
DVZ – You know what? A weird thing happened there with that song. I actually wrote that song for .38 Special with Tom Hambridge and writer here from Nashville, who is a really good friend of mine, named Robert White Johnson. A lot of people ask me “You’ve just started coming to Nashville?” No. We’ve been coming to Nashville about 15 years writing with friends of ours. That song there showed up on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s VICIOUS CYCLE release. They were looking for a real up-tempo song and I think I had shown it to Johnny. .38 Special passed on it because, at that particular time, we were making the DRIVETRAIN cd and it just didn’t fit in with what we were trying to do. I think it was a little too country really. But, Lynyrd Skynyrd listened to it and loved it. So, they put it on VICIOUS CYCLE. They were going to release it as a single, but then they also went “You know what? It is a little too country.” So, Johnny and myself got together and said “You know what? We’re going to take it and put it on our cd and make it just a little bit different. What we did was just slowed it down a bit and country-fied it. It was pretty natural and easy to do. It’s a song about where we’re from. We were born and raised on the West side of Jacksonville, FL. To be truthful with you, most of our friends that we grew up with are either in prison or dead now. Music was really a great avenue for us because it kept us out of trouble to begin with. Plus, the song has lyrics in there about our mother, who was a great judge of character – she could look you in the eye and tell you whether you were lying or not. She also loved to gamble – racetracks, etc. and the song touches on all those things.

RAG – Why did you choose to bring in some co-writers and not just write all the songs yourself?
DVZ – I think we wrote something like 7 or 8 songs on there with other people. We really like writing our own music to begin with. But, as Johnny says “We were born at night, but not last night. We know when a good song comes in.” Sony actually brought in “Help Somebody” to us. We listened to it and after 2 listens, we really knew we wanted to do it. Those lyrics – “Hell yeah, I’m American” – it’s got classic lines in there – “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” I thought those lyrics were pretty cool. We were sold on it.

RAG – GET RIGHT WITH THE MAN is not that far of a stretch from your respective bands. Was it tough to decide which songs to pick and which songs that you might have wanted to save for .38 Special or Lynyrd Skynyrd?
DVZ – Someone asked me the other day about doing a country music project. I said “You know what? What I’m doing here with the country cd is not that much different song wise than what I would bring to the table for .38 Special. I can really picture .38 Special still doing “Sweet Mama”. It’s just a boogie progression type of song. Put some steel guitars and a fiddle on it and it’s country! Same thing goes for Johnny and Lynyrd Skynyrd. We wrote a song together for Lynyrd Skynyrd called “Red, White, and Blue”. That was one of the biggest songs that Skynyrd has had since they got back together. In fact, it is the biggest song. I think that song might have been the start of people becoming interested in us doing a country music project together. That song actually got played on some country radio stations. It’s actually easy for the songs to go either way – country or Southern rock. We’ve just been some blessed guys.

RAG – It sounds like you’re really happy and confident with the songs. Myself, I think you’re going to take a lot of the country artists by surprise and come out of nowhere. I think you have a hit on your hands.
DVZ – That’s our goal! (laughing) Seriously, hopefully people are going to dig it. We put our heart and soul into it. Our name Van Zant is stamped on the front cover of it and we’re really proud of our name. Once they stamp our name on there, it has to be good or we wouldn’t put our name on there. We’re going to give the fans their money’s worth.

RAG – Anyone who has seen .38 Special knows that you can work a stage with the best of them out there. You may not be the prettiest, but you sure are a ball of energy up onstage – always leaving the fans entertained and with a smile on their face. Do you attribute that to being so grounded with reality and being in tune with what the fans want?
DVZ – (Laughing) You’re killing me. Prettiest. Good one. When .38 Special first got started, we went out on the road with ZZ Top a lot. We learned a lot from groups. We were young. We kept our eyes open and our mouths closed – just watching what was going on around us. Just watching those 3 guys in ZZ Top work the stage, we learned a lot from them on how to treat an audience. Even Kiss – that was the weirdest combination I think we toured with. But, I think that was the wildest show we ever did. The first 50 rows were kids with Kiss makeup on and here I am out there with a cowboy hat on trying to relate to that. It wasn’t working too well! (Laughing) But, I watched them. You pick up little things from all these different groups over the years. .38 Special has always been about being a live band. We try to get out into the crowd and make them a part of the show. If we can do that, it’s going to be a fun night. Even with that ugly guy running around the stage! (Laughing)

RAG – Any closing thoughts?
DVZ – I just want to clarify something, because we’ve had people coming up to us saying “Donnie Van Zant – formerly of .38 Special and Johnny Van Zant – formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd.” Formerly? No! I’m still with .38 Special and Johnny is still with Lynyrd Skynyrd. I just want everyone to know that I’m still very dedicated to .38 Special and always will be. That’s my bread and butter. I’ve been able to do a lot for my family and I’m still very dedicated to the rock and roll. I started that band with Don Barnes, when we were just teenagers and I plan on being there until the last chorus of “Rockin’ into the Night” is sung. We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary this year in .38 Special, which is really cool for me. I’m hoping the guys get together and get me and Don a gold watch or something! After 30 years of this rock and roll zoo, we deserve something! (Laughing) I really want people to go check out the new Van Zant cd GET RIGHT WITH THE MAN. If you don’t like it, we have a return policy – and that return policy is that Johnny will buy it back from you! (Laughing) Please put I’m JUST KIDDING in the interview! I’ve been telling people that and Johnny has been going “Donnie – You can’t be saying things like that man”. He gets all irritated. Make sure you put that in there though – I’ll get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rich Robinson Oct 2004 Interview

It’s always a letdown when a band with good music, splinters and falls apart. Such is the case with the Black Crowes. After releasing their under appreciated LIONS release in 200 they did a tour with Oasis dubbed the “Brotherly Love Tour”, which would prove to be the the final tour as a band for the Black Crowes.

The Black Crowes were founded and led by the Robinson brothers – Rich on guitar and Chris on vocals. The two were labeled dysfunctional, as they could never see eye to eye with each other. However, it seemed the music was the glue that kept them together. They reintroduced that blues based rock n roll/jam band swagger to a mainstream audience with their 1990 debut SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER. They were one of the few bands that fell into that category that would maintain a high profile in the 90’s. They toured relentlessly and managed to release 6 studio releases over the 11 years they were together. After the band went their separate ways, both brothers started working on other projects. Chris was the first to release an album as a solo artist titled NEW EARTH MUD and Rich formed another band – Hookah Brown. Hookah Brown didn’t work out for Rich and, after being in a band environment for so many years, Rich thought it would be best to try things as a solo artist. Which brings us to today. Rich hunkered down in his home studio and started working on his current debut solo release PAPER. PAPER is musically diverse – songs that range from rocking out to mellow and everything that falls in between appears on the release. He really left no stone unturned. What really stands out though is that Rich really captured a groovy, kind of psychedelic sound on PAPER.

“If you listen to the last Black Crowes record LIONS, you can really hear that the Crowes were really into a context of writing songs that worked well with Chris’ voice – more of a classic rock type sound. I kind of wanted to convert away from that shound with doing my own thing. I was getting way into the first Pink Floyd record, the Beach Boys – stuff like that. I was able to bring that music into the context of the music I was writing for myself on PAPER. I still have my guitar sound that I’ve had for years. But, now I’m able to do those kind of songs that work well for me and my voice.” Rich states.

For the first time in his career, Rich also handles the vocal duties on PAPER. Rich made the transition from playing and writing music to also singing music rather easily. “A lot of the songs I put together were for the Hookah Brown project. The singer in that band pretty much had a voice that was just like my brothers voice – more of a classic rock voice. I had to re-adapt those Hookah Brown songs and rearrange them to the melodies of my voice. It wasn’t that far of a stretch since I wrote the songs and lyrics from Hookah Brown anyways. The first songs I started writing for my voice on PAPER were “Leave it Alone” and “Forgiven Song”. Those two songs I really used as a stepping stone to get to the rest of the songs.” Says Rich.

In today’s music world, digital technology plays a major role in music and the advent of Protools has dramatically changed the way music is recorded. Rich decided to do things the old fashioned way and record PAPER in analog. Which is a time consuming way to record, but the final product comes out with a sound that is far superior to digital recording. I asked Rich why he chose this method of recording and he replied “It just sounds so much better and there’s something distracting about having a computer screen in front of your face in the studio. Everyone’s so consumed with looking at sound wav’s, rather than listening to those same sound wav’s. I understand the practical purpose of Protools. But you lose a lot I think when you choose to record digitally. Analog is basically a performance rather than a cut and past project like Protools. You actually have to play the song and know it inside and out to put it down on tape. I’ve heard some recordings that just sound so ridiculous because everything is so perfect in the song. With analog, you may hear those little flaws and it makes it so unique. For example, when you listen to old Led Zeppelin songs and you hear that squeaky kick drum – you know that is John Bohham playing. I wanted to capture that type of sound on PAPER.”

PAPER consists of 14 songs. The first two songs “Yesterday I Saw You” and “Enemy” are mid tempo songs with some grooving riffs that grab your attention and really set the tone for the record. Stylistic changes come and go throughout. Acoustic based songs like “When you Will” and “Falling Away” will put you in a relaxed state of mind. There’s even a few piano based songs like “Baby” and “Oh No” that make for a good listen, with “Oh No” being a really catchy song with it’s vocal and musical hooks. “Leave it Alone” and “Forgiven Song” really have that 60’s sounding vibe to them. PAPER is a great release that blends all kinds of different song tempos and arrangements. It’s mixed well and the flow makes it a record that is enjoyable from beginning to end. Rich recorded the majority of the record all by himself. I asked Rich what that was like. He replied “It was pretty easy. On two of the Black Crowes records, Steve Gorman and myself cut all of the tracks ourselves. So, I was sort of used to it. I played everything other than drums on PAPER. I can play the drums in the demo stage, but not in the final track stage. So, I had a guy named Joe Magistro play drums for me. I was hoping he could make the tour, but he won’t be able to be with us because he got signed to a major records deal. I’m happy for him for that. He’s really talented. It was a cool process and we ended up with 22 songs. I would like to re-issue PAPER as a double vinyl release and add the songs that didn’t make it onto the cd release. There were some great songs that couldn’t make it on due to space reasons. A few other players that contributed were a guy named Eddie Hawrsch (he played some keyboards) and my son, Taylor. He contributed some percussion. Other than that though I did the guitar, bass, and also some keyboards and percussion as well.”

Since I had Rich on the phone I figured I would ask him the status of the Black Crowes. I’ve heard they are broken up and I’ve also heard that they are on hiatus. Rich responded “Well, I think broken up came from Chris’ mouth. Hiatus also came from Chris’ mouth. When we split, he sort of started talking about it and would say hiatus. Then he started saying broken up and that he had previously said hiatus because that was a nice way of saying broken up because family was involved, etc. Lately, he’s been saying hiatus again. I don’t know – maybe he’s trying to send me some sort of message.” I was a little surprised that these two brothers really don’t get along – even though they no longer are playing together. I asked Rich what the problem is and Rich said “I don’t know anything about the status of the Crowes. I’m putting out PAPER on my own Keyhole Records and I’m just going to see what happens with it. I talk to Chris every once in awhile and it usually revolves around a special occasion – like to call and wish him a happy birthday for example. But to put it simple, it’s just a very weird situation between us.”

The rest of the interview was just a plug for Rich’s upcoming show at the Agora in Cleveland, Ohio
For more information on Rich Robinson and PAPER log onto You can also pick up the live cd – LIVE AT THE KNITTING FACTORY at his website. The KNITTING FACTORY cd contains both released and unreleased songs from PAPER. Follow the link provided to purchase this cd.
For Black Crowes information log onto

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nikki Sixx Interview Jan. 2006

Nikki Sixx Interview Jan. 2006

RAG – Were you surprised at how well the tour has been received and by the number of tickets you’ve sold?
Nikki Sixx – Yeah. I am. But, I really had no expectations. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was trying to not really have any expectations. Everybody would have liked to have seen things go good. Personally, I thought I would go out and play – just see what happens. It surprised me and I think it surprised everybody – both band and fans.

RAG – When it was announced that Motley was getting back together, you seemed to be the only one who was 100 percent committed to it. The rest of the band seemed like they needed some prodding to commit. I would say that everyone in the band appears to be happy now. Do you think that the warm welcome back has recharged the other guys? I mean they appear to be having fun…
NS – I think everybody was just concerned that they were coming back into the old ways of how the band operated before. The rest of the guys came in and realized how easy and fun it can be. We’ve all really grown up and changed for the better since we were last together.

RAG – Motley Crue seems like they are always in the public eye – even when the band was down. Now the spotlight is even brighter and even with Motley’s success, why do you think there are critics out there who still feel like they have to seek out the negative issues of the band and not bring out the positives?
NS – Our whole career has been crazy and it is what it is. We sort of ride the chaos and I’ve kind of learned to not pay attention to what’s going on around us. Everyone’s kind of googling at the band – like hoping for a car crash. Which I think is exciting! When you go to a car race, you want to see a car crash. It’s not very fun though if you’re the driver of the car! I prefer not to crash for awhile, enjoy the race, and not worry about who is saying what about the band.

RAG – Well, this next question…you know I have to ask. Originally, Motley was just going to do the tour and that would be it. I assume the good reception changed your attitude because plans are in the works for a new studio release. Any insight into the new release?
NS – After this tour, we’re going to go into the studio and we’re going to start writing songs. We’ve been doing some stuff on the road – but we’ll see if we have some strong material and if we don’t have enough good material, we’ll start from scratch.

RAG – So the new songs will be new? No old material that was left lying around?
NS – Yes. All new material. Nothing old will be used. It would sound dated anyhow if we used any old material that was laying around.

RAG – Is there a working title? Release date? Any clues you could give me as far as how the new material you’ve been writing on the road sounds?
NS – Well, I think we’re going to shoot for a mid to late 2007 release. If not then, definitely in 2008 and we’ll follow up the next cd with another big tour. As far as new material or working title goes, I don’t know! That would ruin the surprise for both us and you. We just want to keep writing, run with it and see what happens. I really don’t know how the material will sound so I can’t really share any “inside info” (laughing)

RAG – Out of that group of bands that Motley Crue came out with in the early to mid-80’s Motley is the only band that can still play big arenas and still have a big draw. Regular radio dropped a lot of those 80’s bands when the next hot style of music came around. It seemed like those other bands had a chip on their shoulder and refused to play for smaller crowds and less pay – especially at the height of the grunge movement. I think that by those bands doing nothing really hurt their cause because their fans simply lost interest. Motley however, lost Vince and Tommy for one cd respectively, toured smaller venues, tried different sounds – always moving forward and never looking back during the 90’s. I think that helped by never giving in. It seemed like you were always one step ahead of the industry to stay “in the game” so to speak. Granted, you weren’t enjoying huge success during those lean years, but you did enough to keep the band alive and retain your core fans until it was Motley’s time again to shine in 2005. The structure of the music industry as a whole seems to really be falling apart now – labels continue to slim down and the smaller venues are drying up. You’ve already survived one lean decade, have you thought about the state of the music business and how it will effect Motley Crue (or any other bands for that matter) in the future?
NS – Wow. You said a mouthful. (laughing) Well, it’s a changing time for radio. We have satellite radio now and I know that’s intimidating for regular radio. But if you look to the past, it’s kind of like everything that happened decades ago is happening again. It’s the same way now as when there was only one band on regular radio. It has to change and it has to evolve. Artists and record labels have to evolve. We have to keep doing it because people love music. Music will never die. I think it’s just a matter of how you get the music to the people. I think that will be the key – that’s what it is. As musicians, we need to ask ourselves a lot of questions. What technology do we use to get our songs out there? Do we use I-Tunes for marketing? Satellite radio for stuff that’s a little bit out there and you can say things that you can’t say on regular radio? At the same time though, you still have to be on regular radio. With that being said, you understand what the elements are and you understand how to work within them to take your music to as many people as possible. That’s how it is now and that’s the way it is going to be. It’s not like “Oh my God, it just sucks now.” It’s different. The music industry and people were very different in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Each decade presented new situations. It’s always going to change. Ten years from now the template that we all know as the music industry won’t be the same as it is now. It’s the people and bands who can roll with the changes, who will still be around. I don’t think we will ever see live shows presented on such a large scale as they were in the 70’s and 80’s. I don’t think those days will come back and I’m not so sure it’s even about the money. It’s costing us a fortune right now to stay out on the road and we’re getting some good crowds in return. How do I put it? We’re just one band though. It seemed everyone I knew back then went to shows. It was almost a culture within itself to attend every show you could get to back when I was growing up – almost like a badge of honor to say you got to see this band and that band, etc. Now there are so many other things to do in todays world that I don’t think that culture I grew up with exists today. I’m not sure how I can explain it. Hopefully, everyone gets my point.

Gregg Allman Interview

A man who seems like he never takes a break from touring is Gregg Allman, whether he is out with the Allman Brothers or his solo band - the man just never stops. He's been a concrete pillar of the Southern Rock jam band scene for a solid 4 decades. Gregg is currently out with his solo band "Gregg Allman and Friends" and he is hitting the East Coast and Midwest on this leg of the tour. For more news and tour dates check out Gregg checked in for a quick interview to preview the shows.

RAG - When performing live, do you find it a challenge to please fans who want to hear both your solo material and the Allman Brothers material?
GA - We get alot of people who come to the shows for the Allman Brothers stuff. A lot of the people come with the attitude of "Let's see what you got by yourself little brother". (laughing) I've got 5 solo records out in my career. We play songs off of that. Alot of the songs people have never heard before. Whatever Allman Brothers songs we do, they're songs that I've written. We also re-arrange the Allman Brothers songs totally. Like when we play "Statesboro Blues". It comes out funky! We have a big 10 piece horn band and it sounds really good.

RAG - Do some of the songs ever become "old and tired" to play live after so many years of playing them?
GA - You got to pretty much like a song to do it every night. Like with the Allman Brothers, we play every song different every night. At least we try to. There's a lot of jamming going on. It's kind of different when you have a big band like my solo band. It's still jamming, but it's more like jamming on solos and stuff.

RAG - I wanted to ask you about your acting. You did such a great job in Rush years ago. It makes me wonder why haven't you pursued more acting gigs?
GA - Well, my first love is music. I do get a lot of scripts. They keep sending me different ones. I get a lot where they send me some crap like "Harley Davidson Hotel". If I got a really good part, I wouldn't turn it down. Acting is quite time consuming and I would hate to make my living that way. I always did want to try it though. That's why I took on the Rush movie. That was my first shot at it and the reason why I did it in the first place was just to experience what it was like.

RAG - If your brother Duane had never passed away (Duane died tragically in a traffic accident in 1971), what effect would that have had on the Allman Brothers band? Is it possible that the band would have ceased to exist if he had lived? I know that sounds horrible, but I read so many things that were going on back then. It makes me wonder if his passing may have been a "shining light", if you will, for the Allman Brothers to carry on.
GA - I don't know man. My brother might have gone his seperate way. But, I don't think so. It would probably depend on the band as a whole. We were all getting into some real rough, terrible shit at about the time he passed away. If the chemical dependancy hadn't gone haywire, I think we would have probably stayed together. If we didn't straighten up as a band, then it would be highly possible I wouldn't be talking to you today. I was the last one to straighten up. It's been about 7 or 8 years now since I've been clean.

RAG - Who are some of the bands out there today that you like who are carrying on that Southern rock tradition?
GA - The Drive By Truckers are pretty good. I also like Robert Randolph. There are alot of new ones out that I like. But, there are also alot of new ones out that I don't like too. I don't like rap music. It's just too racial for me.

RAG - ...and what does the Allman Brothers mushroom logo represent?
GA - That's just our logo. That's all. No hidden meaning at all. (laughing) The Stones have the lips. The Dead have the skull. We just have a mushroom!

RAG - Any message you want to pass along?
GA - Yeah, I do. I love my fans to death and they are the reason that I keep doing this. They're the main reason and my love for music is the other one. I love to play for people who enjoy it. As long as people do that, what else can you do but keep on playing? It's like something that you never get enough of and it's not an ego thing either for me. It's a really graceful thing and I thank each and every fan from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cd reviews for the holiday season

Since the holidays are upon us and many of us will be getting some gift cards, etc. to spend on ourselves, here are a few cds worth checking out....

A new band that I just caught on to this year is Valient Thorr. If you know someone who's into something along the lines of Punk meets Motorhead done up Redneck style, then I highly suggest you pick up one or both of their cds. TOTAL UNIVERSE MAN was released in 2005 and their new release is LEGEND OF THE WORLD. I would start with their first one if you had to make a choice.

The ever youthful looking Joan Jett's new cd SINNER is definately worth checking out. The first 7 songs on the release are keepers and for the first time in her career, Joan has tackled the theme of politics on a couple of songs. Joan's one of the original snotty punk rockers out there and the Godmother of punk pulls no punches on SINNER. Joan can still deliver the goods after 4 decades of rocking out. Snag this cd and crank it!

Gov't Mule's new cd HIGH AND MIGHTY makes for a perfect gift to yourself as well. The first song on the cd "High and Mighty" might very well be the best blues based rock song of the year that has more balls than a field full of bulls!'s that big of a song!

For the 70's glam fans, you can't go wrong with Crash Kelly's ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN. The cd is a good listen from beginning to end and it was written and sonically recorded as a tribute to the original shock rocker - Alice Cooper.

Rob Zombie's EDUCATED HORSES is another stomping riff monster of a release. The first song (after the intro) "American Witch" makes this one a keeper with it's slam in the face rhythm that will keep you hitting the repeat button. The release does lose a little steam the further you get into it, but still doesn't take anything away from it being a cd worthy of being in your collection.

Out now on DRT Entertainment is Lynam's SLAVE TO THE MACHINE. If you're into a punk attitude that gives a nod to the hard rock sound of the late 80's, then SLAVE TO THE MACHINE is for you.

One cd that I was curious about was the New Cars IT'S ALIVE release. Ric Ocasek would be such a hard vocalist to replace and I thought that the integrity of the band might suffer with only 2 original members left. New frontman Todd Rundgren pulled off a respectable performance in this live cd where the band runs through the hits. There are 3 new studio recordings at the end of the cd, but unfortunately the new songs can't live up to the hits the Cars cranked out before they pulled over for an almost 20 year break. The new Cars are back and well oiled to keep their past alive and IT'S ALIVE is proof that they can pull it off with a new singer behind the steering wheel.

On the country side of things, Confederate Railroad's Cody McCarver has ventured out on his own and in 2006 released his PEACE, LOVE, & COONDAWGS release on Aspirion Records. The cd has a strong Southern Rock flavor to it and if you checked out the Van Zant cd from last year, then you won't be disappointed in PEACE, LOVE, & COONDAWGS - it is right up there with the Van Zant cd.

Warrant has become BORN AGAIN with their cd that bears that title. Gone is Jani Lane and in stepping up to the plate to fill his shoes is Jaime St. James of Black N Blue fame. This cd surprised me. Wasn't expecting much out of it - maybe a few songs here and there would be good. Wow. I was wrong. BORN AGAIN rocks out hard. Jaime St. James and the return of guitarist Joey Allen and drummer Steven Sweet lit a fire under the ass of Warrant. The cd is far and away their best cd of their career.

I really love the mixed sound of female vocals over some progressive metal and no other band mixes melody with the heavy material better than Lacuna Coil. Throw in the male vocals and their new cd KARMACODE swaggers in and out of different musical structures that really keeps you captivated by the music. If you haven't checked out Lacuna Coil yet, what are you waiting for? Check out KARMACODE and then dig into their back catalog! You won't be diappointed.

More to come.....

Thursday, December 21, 2006

LA Guns - Mentor, OH show review

L.A. Guns @ the Funky Frog in Mentor, OH show review

The Hollywood vampires otherwise known as L.A. Guns rocked the Funky Frog Concert Club in Mentor, OH on Friday Nov. 10 to a packed house of hungry music fans. L.A. Guns are currently out on the road supporting their last 2 releases (one studio and one live) - TALES FROM THE STRIP and LOUD AND DANGEROUS - LIVE FROM HOLLYWOOD. The current lineup of the band consists of Phil Lewis on vocals, Steve Riley on Drums, Adam Hamilton on bass, and Stacey Blades on guitar - all four road tested veterans of the music business. Phil previously sang with the bands Girl (which also included guitarist Phil Collen before he joined Def Lepperd) and Torme. Steve Riley also cut his teeth in music with a number of higher profile bands before he enlisted in L.A. Guns. Bands such as the B'zz, Steppenwolf, Keel, and WASP appear on his resume. Steve manned the drumkit for WASP at the peak of their career and appeared on the WASP releases THE LAST COMMAND, INSIDE THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS, and LIVE IN THE RAW. Bassist Adam Hamilton first came up with a band called Joey C. Jones and the Glory Hounds, who released one cd, and he's been laying down the rhythm in L.A. Guns for the last 6 years. He also has a side project called Needle Park and if you can track down the self titled release from this project, it's well worth it. The disc was released in 2002 and spent alot of time in my radio for a number of months after getting it and it is still a cd I go back to time and time again. Rounding out the lineup on guitar is Stacey Blades. His previous credits include a great band that went by the name of Roxx Gang. I also highly recommend tracking down Roxx Gang's cds to check out. Stacey's loose/sleazy style of playing is top notch and has been a good addition to the lineup. Now that you know who's who in the band...on to the review of the show....

The lights went down and the sound of sirens depicting a night on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA came across the speakers as fog slowly engulfed the stage. As the fog lifted, L.A. Guns hit the stage running like they were shot out of a pistol and tore into their first song "No Mercy". They kept the momentum going with the tongue-in-cheek rocker "Sex Action" - both songs off of their self titled debut release. After the first two songs, Phil Lewis had a spinal tap moment when he jokingly told the crowd "Hello Cleveland!" Phil went on to say how much he always loves saying that phrase and that he wanted to act like it was a Saturday night in Hollywood - even though it was a Friday night in Ohio. The setlists was a good mix of old and new songs. The band performed like a well oiled machine on their setlist standards "Never Enough", "One More Reason", "Electric Gypsy", "Ballad of Jayne", "Wheels of Fire" and "Rip and Tear" - all songs from their first 2 releases. Phil Lewis always throws in a touch of humor in his song intros and his intro for "One More Reason" was no exception when he asked and told the crowd "Anyone out there remember cassettes? Side A? Side B? This is a song from our first cassette..." At the peak of their career, L.A. Guns shared the stage opening up on back to back world tours for AC/DC. Their second tour with AC/DC was for the HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES release and the band showcased "Over the Edge" and "Some Lie for Love" off that release for the Funky Frog crowd. Stacey Blades attacked the guitar with a "take no prisoners" approach throughout the evening and he took over vocal duties on "Nothing Better to Do", which was previously sung by bassist Kelly Nichols on 1994's VICIOUS CIRCLE release. Adam Hamilton and Steve Riley provided a tight and heavy rhythm section - both giving 100 percent. Adam constantly bobbed his head to the rhythm all night and Steve Riley was soaked to the bone in sweat come the end of the show. Songs from their WAKING THE DEAD release included "Hellraisers Ball" and the show closer "Don't Look at Me That Way". "Gypsy" and "It Don't Mean Nothing" were played from their current TALES FROM THE STRIP release. These songs from WTD and TFTS seemed like they were well received by the crowd and it's alway good to see crowds soak up new songs just as well as the hits.

There were alot of fists in the air and the crowd was going wild throughout the night - a great atmosphere for a show. Alot of people in the crowd were also sporting L.A. Guns t-shirts and singing the songs word for word. The only thing I have to ask is - where have you people been the past 15 years? The band has never stopped touring and releasing albums and I've never witnessed a packed crowd like that when L.A. Guns has been a headlining act in North East Ohio. I would have to go back to 1991 when L.A. Guns drew a crowd in North East Ohio larger than the one that attended the Funky Frog show. I have a theory as to why alot of people showed up and I think part of it has to do with not having to drive into Cleveland for a show. It's a blessing to have a great club like the Funky Frog right in your back yard. Keep coming out and supporting L.A. Guns and the Funky Frog. I'm sure the Frog would have them back as well as bringing in more national acts on a frequent basis. The fantastic stage lighting was the perfect backdrop for L.A. Guns and the Frog has (in my opinion) the best stage in North East Ohio. There was a downside to the evening - technical glitches cast a spell over the entire show as the sound frequently kept dropping out. The sound would drop out for a few seconds time and time again throughout the evening and it was kind of irritating but it didn't spoil the show. The positives far outweighed that one negative.

After the show L.A. Guns hung around and signed autographs and took pictures for those who wanted them. I would say about 250 people were in line for that and L.A. Guns took care of everyone in line. It's nice to see that there are bands out there who don't just jump on the bus and head off for the next town. L.A. Guns is one of those bands that appreciates their fans and stayed a little over an hour signing things.

As for the good crowd, keep coming out people and like I said earlier, you will get more national acts. To other venues - let this be a lesson that you have to ADVERTISE outside of metro areas. Most of the music fans who support bands like LA Guns don't live in downtown metro areas so it's a waste to advertise your shows in publications that heavily distribute in areas that don't support rock music. ...that's another column for another day. The music business is ugly when it comes to promoting, but it is good to see that there is a shining light in North East Ohio called the Funky Frog that knows what they're doing and the proof is in the good crowd attendance.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Black Diamonds cd review

The Black Diamonds self titled release is a giant slab of churning guitar chords that chug along like a freight train melting the tracks in its path. Think Black Sabbath meets Led Zeppelin by way of the White Stripes and the end result is a 70’s blues based rock and roll sound. Fuzzy guitar riffs and vocal hooks spread like a virus throughout the whole CD. It only takes one listen to catch this disease that calls itself the Black Diamonds. One quick look at the liner notes reveals that “This album was recorded to 8 track reel to reel using all analog equipment. No computers were used in the making, recording, mixing, or mastering of the album”. Immediately, I was wearing a grin from ear to ear because I love the dirty, natural sound that tape produces. I was a little surprised to see a younger band embrace this old standard of recording music and I couldn’t wait to hear how the Black Diamonds did indeed sound. When the opening chords rang out from the first song “Let it Go”, any questions I had about their “throwback” sound were quickly dismissed. The Black Diamonds flat out rocked!The cd contains 11 songs and every song is strong. Every song has it’s own distinct identity and no two songs sound alike. Whether it be the Sabbath like riffing on “Let It Go” courtesy of guitarist Dylan Francis or the vocal hooks of singer Chad Van Gils on “Amvox”, the interesting differences from song to song make the cd a really good listen from beginning to end with no dead space in between. The rhythm section consisting of Bassist Kevin Naughton and Drummer John Swatowski provide a sold backbone of swaggering rhythms and loose grooves throughout the disc. Some other highlights on the disc include the Led Zeppelin flavored “Sugar Show” where the band just unleashes one big blues based jam where the tempo rises and falls throughout the different peaks and valleys contained in the song. The guitar and vocals are in attack mode on the song “Trigger” – the guitar wails and vocals are sung with a killer instinct. “In the Summer” is a well-written piece of music. The first few verses are almost Allman Brother-ish in delivery with a slow rolling tempo sound that’s like a slow moving stream. The song gives way to a pure guitar driven jamming paradise. “I Got a Feeling” jumps along in the way of the quick delivery sound of the White Stripes. There’s a little flavor in all the songs that should leave every listener satisfied. I could on breaking down each song, but I think you get the picture of what’s contained on the disc.Far and away, this is the best cd to come out of North East Ohio in a long, long time. I think the potential is there for the Black Diamonds to break out on a national level. Artistically speaking, this cd will never grow old. However, on a commercial level, the music business is ugly with the ever-changing tastes in musical styles. Right now the time is right for the Black Diamonds to take it to the top. Bands like the Sword and Wolfmother are capitalizing on the 70’s blues based riffing sound right now. The sound of those two bands can fall into that category of how the Black Diamonds sound. For the last couple of years we have been force fed the cookie cutter sounds of pro-tools technology and now a lot of bands are starting to go back to the analog sounds of tape. Hopefully, the Black Diamonds can rise to the top before the fad passes and they can enjoy some success on a large scale. Whether you’re an older or younger fan of good, dirty sounding blues based rock and roll – you will love this release. The Black Diamonds are one of the few bands that can reach out to different ages and leave everyone satisfied in the end. If you’re a big fan of the music I described, definitely pick this one up before you buy any other release. You owe it to yourself and you’re going to love it. I know I love this band!For more information and to purchase the cd log onto

Friday, December 15, 2006

Michael Schenker flashback Interview

Guitar legend Michael Schenker needs no introduction. Known by legions of fans in the rock world, his playing with the Scorpions and UFO was at the forefront of the wave of British heavy metal in the 70’s. Now in his fourth decade of creating music, Michael has just released a new solo acoustic album, simply titled Thank You 4 that continues the progression of the previous three acoustic Thank You releases. In 2003 he also has released ARACHNOPHOBIAC with the Michael Schenker Group. Earlier this year, Michael created some news when he decided to leave UFO and give up his rights to the band name. To say the least, the past year has been a very busy and hectic year for Michael. Now getting ready to go out on a short tour to support both releases, Michael was up to the task to do an interview to promote the tour, talk about exactly what did happen that led to him leaving UFO, and a number of other things to wet the fans appetite.

RAG – I’m going to start off with throwing out some of your past projects and you hit me back with some quick memories of that project.
Michael Schenker – Sounds good!

RAG – The Scorpions…
MS – I was only 15 years old on the first Scorpions album. It was unbelievable and exciting because I never had made a record before. I basically wrote most of the songs, but we decided to call them all a teamwork kind of thing. It was definitely an exciting part of my life.

RAG – UFO…..
MS – UFO was the next exciting step. I was 17 years old and leaving Germany. I was going to a place where I really didn’t speak the language and making a record with an English band. English bands were the bands everyone was listening to in those days.

RAG – How did you end up joining UFO?
MS – We (The Scorpions and UFO) did a concert together and UFO came without a guitarist. The Scorpions were supporting UFO. UFO could only do the show if I played with the Scorpions and then do the next set with them. I went with Pete Way and we rehearsed the set. I played 45 minutes with the Scorpions and then played for an hour with UFO. That was what got me in the band.

RAG – The Michael Schenker Group….
MS – MSG was basically the beginning of my own chapter of experimenting, just being myself doing what I love to do. Obviously, it was a chapter of many changes. It was basically really being able to experience what I needed to experience. That was the most thing for me. It was more important than being famous, being rich, or anything. Just to be totally free and uninhibited to express what I felt like I needed to express, regardless of if it was going to be a commercial success or not.

RAG – McAuley/Schenker….
MS – That was, for me, an important move. I felt like that I needed a partner to share responsibilities with. I was looking for a singer who would be like a partner. It wasn’t what I thought it could be. So after three albums, I decided to finish that idea and open my own company – Michael Schenker Records.

RAG – Contraband….
MS – That was something that was supposed to fill the gap between the second and third McAuley/Schenker albums. I was approached by the management to do this and I said “Yes” and it was pretty good.

RAG – The Plot….
MS – That was absolutely fun. Pete Way came over and he was in a bad place because of his wife passing away and so on. He introduced his songs to me. It didn’t take long when I felt that I liked what he had. So we decided to do this thing together and it worked out really good. Unfortunately, somebody decided to secretly release the Plot record. After Pete has sold his car and everything he had, in order to make this record, some jerk decides to do this kind of a thing. That wasn’t very good. It could have been somebody right next to us. It has to be somebody who was involved because no one else had anything. You never know with all of this stuff. Somebody who had the courage to do this could be somebody maybe closer than we think.

RAG – The current Amy Schugar/Schenker project….
MS – That’s absolutely fun. I met Amy at a concert. I saw her hanging next to the stage with a guitar and she was singing. She had this really interesting voice. We started hanging out together. I started writing a song for her. She did something to it and it was really good. I wrote some more and I realized we had a really good chemistry. It developed and then we came to the point of going into the studio and putting it together. At that point, we kind of looked at each other like “What now?” We basically decided to offer to record companies. In the meantime, we thought it would be a good idea to release it the way it is. Everybody on my brother’s side (Michael’s brother plays guitar for the Scorpions) loved it. Everybody he played it to/for was absolutely amazed by it. They said “What do you mean this is a demo? It sounds so good.” The way it is it is really a record. But, it can be taken to another level. It’s kind of an in between thing right now. We decided to release it anyway. We’re kind of approaching it in two different situations. One is that a record company may get interested in it and want to take it to the next level. Or two, it is just what it is and it stays there.

RAG – Amy will be going out on the current tour with you?
MS – Yes. I’m going to put her in the middle somewhere and have her come out and jam with MSG. She plays really good guitar. She’s an excellent singer. She’s an absolutely incredible songwriter. I really love the way she writes the melodies. I’m happy to give her a good push.

RAG – You have a massive catalog of songs. Does it come easier to you to write songs now after all of these years?
MS – You know what? In the last few years I’ve had a really good time writing. I’ve never enjoyed writing as much as I do now. It’s actually become my most favorite thing to do. To watch the birth of a song develop is amazing. What I don’t like so much is to repeat it or recapture it. For example, when I’ve already written something I don’t like to go into the same studio and recapture it with the same enthusiasm, etc. What usually happens is that I introduce the songs to the band and the producer. In the case of the new record ARACHNOPHOBIAC, I introduced it to the producer Mike Varney. Who I’ve been working with for the last few years. He always turns everything around and it becomes something new. It’s still exciting. I still put a lot of energy and understanding into the twist. It’s always really enjoyable to watch the process up to the point of a project being done. Then usually I go on to the next project. I think I have found a very conscious connection to a spring of infinite creation.

RAG – The Thank You releases are really a testament to your playing and writing abilities.
MS – Those releases are very naked and raw. Especially with the acoustic guitar. It’s the other side of me. It’s the romantic or the spiritual side. To be able to play music hard or soft and everything in between is the whole spectrum of music. I want to be able to express the whole spectrum of music. Because, if you get locked in with one band that plays a particular style, especially if they become famous, they can’t do anything other than what people expect them to do. It can get very boring that way.

RAG – Why did Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) have to finish up the ARACHNOPHOBIAC album?
MS – We did the whole session in three steps. It was done first in the San Francisco area, then in Las Vegas, then back to San Francisco. I did basically all my parts. After the vocals were done, it came down to meeting for the mix and overdubs. I had some problems of my own going on. It was due to the unresolved issues I was going through with my wife. I really wasn’t doing too well at the time. I decided that it would be better to do it with someone else if they (the band and the producer) wanted to get it finished. Mike Varney found Jeff. I didn’t know it was going to be Jeff. Mike knows so many musicians. Mike asked him and completed it. That’s basically what happened. When Mike Varney starts making a record, usually his budget and schedule is so perfectly worked out that if you put a hole in it or try to delay things it really screws him up. That played heavy into the mix of things.

RAG – Why did you sell your trademark flying V guitar?
MS – I actually sold three of my guitars. Basically, because of the separation of my wife and everything totally collapsed on me. I built a studio and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Everything just went poof! And that was it. Now I’m back to square one. But you know? Life is not so much what you have, but how you deal with life and what you learn from all of these fallings. I think that’s much more important because there are lessons in those situations which I am more interested in. It’s kind of like practicing a detachment. Detachment is important in life because when we get too attached that’s when suffering comes in.

RAG – Why did you decide to give up the UFO band name?
MS – Phil Mogg approached me and said, “Please give us back the name. We need to earn money.” I don’t know what that meant. We’ve had so many disasters in the last few years. Pete was getting totally out of control onstage. He doesn’t listen. He’s a sweet guy but he gets so obnoxious. He stands in my way and trips on my feet. He’s just messing around too much. Somebody has to take it a little bit serious in order to keep the whole thing together. Can you imagine if everybody would mess around like Pete does? There wouldn’t be any music. Especially, when I tried to introduce Pete and the Plot to the MSG fans. Pete was so bad it was very embarrassing for me. It kind of really totally distracted me from my band. It was becoming chaotic. So when Phil approached me, I went “What the heck. I think it’s time for me to get away from this” I feel a little bit like a snake when the old skin comes off. Kind of like a reborn type of a situation. I’m starting from scratch with my fan club, having no other people involved anymore, getting rid of all the sharks, and all the stuff that’s trying to sabotage my life.

RAG – With your connection to Germany and Europe, how would you compare the music scene there to here in America?
MS – Germany and Europe is a little bit more stable than here (America). They don’t change styles too fast. Rock music, hard rock, heavy rock, metal, anything on that level is still going pretty strong over there. America gets influenced differently because there’s a different trend out here. You have all the rap and all of that here. That’s really not present over in Germany and Europe. I’m only assuming this stuff though. Rap is much bigger here than in Europe. You cannot not notice it though. Once something becomes big in America it usually travels around the world. But, I think Germany and Europe has pretty much stayed in tune with the rock scene.

RAG – What lies ahead for you?
MS – I still feel very young. Towards music nothing has really changed. I’m basically who I’ve always been all these years. I’m just having fun doing what I’m doing. Period. Now with Amy in there, I feel excited for her. She is basically a new artist. She’s really good. I really enjoy helping her out and getting her out there. I also have a new web page that I want everyone to check out. I really didn’t put much thought into it. It’s not really a web page to show off or anything like that right now. I needed one to promote my new record. Amy has put much more thought into her website (tour dates for the current MSG tour can be found there and the Schenker/Schugar demo project can be ordered there as well). I’m going to take it in steps though and add more things to my site to make it much better. After the current tour, I’ll definitely start updating the site.

Paul Stanley LIVES TO WIN interview

You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world....I don't think that introduction needs to be finished without knowing what band made that quote the calling card of their career. Having sold millions of albums and touring the world relentlessly for the majority of the past four decades, while fronting the legendary band KISS, Paul Stanley could easily relax, retire, and enjoy the success he has achieved during his career. What more success could he achieve and how would that success be defined? If you're Paul Stanley, success is what makes you happy. Success is LIVE TO WIN - Paul Stanley's first solo release away from KISS in 28 years and it is the end result of his burning desire to create new music that has his personal philosophy stamped all over it. LIVE TO WIN grabs you by the ears and smacks a smile on your face. If you're a fan of KISS, you won't be disappointed. LIVE TO WIN picks up where the KISS hits left off. Having just welcomed a new addition to the Stanley family (Paul and his wife recently celebrated the arrival of their first son) and getting ready to hit the road in support of his new solo release, Paul checked in with the RAG to give a little insight into his philosophy of LIVE TO WIN.

RAG - Why did you decide to release a solo release at this point in your career? Some people may argue the point of why not just release a KISS release...
Paul Stanley - I've already done KISS. I'm sure people are aware of that. The truth is that for a long time, while everybody else was running off doing other projects outside of KISS, I've always felt kind of like the keeper of the flame in KISS. I didn't feel the band might not be impacted tremendously by me also going off and doing things. I just kind of figured that when the time is right I'll do it. For the time being, I let everybody else run off and do everything else they feel like doing. At this point, it really felt like KISS is as solid as ever. I felt that it was time for me to do an album of my own and it's an oppurtunity to really do something to please myself.

RAG - LIVE TO WIN is comprised of a great mix of heavy rocking songs and a couple of slow tunes in there. I think people will be surprised at how much LIVE TO WIN rocks. Going into writing mode for the release did you entertain the thought of steering your writing towards the heavier songs? Did you feel that you had to come up with songs that at least matched or surpassed songs that you have been well known for?
PS - I didn't aim for anything. I was aware that if I did an album that sounded like my first solo album someone would say that it sounds too much like my first album or he hasn't grown at all. Then I was also aware that if I did an album that didn't sound like my first album, someone would say it doesn't sound like the first album and he's trying to do something new. You're damned if you and damned if you don't. None of that stuff is of any interest to me. It's all part of LIVE TO WIN. I don't listen to what other people have to say. I set my goals for myself and that is all that matters. People who say I shouldn't, couldn't, that it's impossible, or if it's the right or wrong direction, etc. - none of that matters to me. It's only about me pleasing myself.

RAG - Was it easier writing songs then without having any restrictions of meeting a certain criteria of say writing songs for KISS? Was there more freedom to expose yourself in the songs a little more?
PS - I would like to think that anything I write has some of me in it. You have to put some of yourself into it. There's alot of songs on this album that are very much about me. I'm either singing about my philosophy of life and philosophy that's gotten me to where I am. ...or I'm singing about relationships with women. (laughing) Two big parts of my life!

RAG - Are you itching to get back out playing live on the road and back into the clubs doing your own thing? (The last time Paul toured as a solo act was back in 1989)
PS - Totally. I'm so excited about getting out there. There's something about playing live. There's something about being free to play whatever I feel like playing. As much as I love the KISS situation, being in a band means compromising and sometimes I think it also means diluting. So the focus of my upcoming tour is purely me and what I want to do. It doesn't have the down points of being in a band.

RAG - What was your decision in choosing to have the ROCKSTAR house band serve as your backing band for your upcoming tour?
PS - We had watched that show last year and quite honestly the thing that blew me away on that show was the band. I would watch it and anybody I know had nothing but good things to say about the band. I always thought from the first time I saw that band that that was the band I would want to work with.

RAG - Will the live setlist be heavy on your solo material?
PS - I'm going to play songs from both solo albums. Additionally, I'm going to play songs from KISS because those are also my songs. Those songs are part of what got me to where I am. They are the foundation of everything else I have done. It's funny - when someone says "Will you play KISS songs?", I have to remind them that they are KISS songs in the sense that KISS played them but they are songs that I wrote. I would be doing myself and everyone else an injustice to not play "Love Gun" or "Detroit Rock City" and to not play some KISS songs that have been overlooked that I enjoy and maybe have never been played live.

RAG - What is your opinion on LIVE TO WIN? Are you happy with the songs you came up with?
PS - What I tried to do was make sure that everything on the album is songs that I wanted to hear. I didn't put anything on the album that I wasn't really 100 percent sold on. When doing a solo album, you really get to cater to your desire or your own taste. I just figured that if I made the album I wanted to hear - other people would like it. Whether it sells 5 copies, 5000 copies, 50 thousand copies, or 5 million copies, it really doesn't matter. It won't change my life actually. It's something I wanted to do and again it's part of living to win and the fact of making the album I wanted to make. So, I'm happy.

RAG - Is LIVE TO WIN a stepping stone to more solo releases in the future? PS - For sure. I promise you I'm not going to try to do one solo album every 28 years. P - Alot of people look at KISS as a touring act, and not an act that is still producing albums. LIVE TO WIN gives those people something viable to grasp on to...
PS - I hope so. I feel great about it and it's a really good reflection of what I'm doing. You can't please everybody and I don't intend to. I don't try to.

RAG - On a side note, you received some positive critical reviews of your performance in Phantom of the Opera. Any chance of revisiting that role or taking on any other roles?
PS - Of course. It's always a matter of time and whether that time is available. You have to have a show that would like you to come into it and you also have to have the desire to do it. I've turned down shows because to do it right is alot of effort and if I don't believe in something, I don't believe in doing it. I'm a big believer in anything that I do I will win at and I want to do it to the best of my abilities. I would love to do more and I intend on doing more. It's just a matter of finding the time and finding the right project.

Paul Stanley's new release LIVE TO WIN is out now on New Door Records/Universal Music Enterprises. For more information log onto