An Interview with
'Tracii Guns, Michael Grant & Shane Fitzgibbon'
of Legendary Hollywood Rockers
that took place on their Tour Bus
outside O2 Academy, Sheffield on Wednesday, March 22nd 2017.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: How’s the tour going so far over in the UK?
Tracii: Better than we thought it would. Everything’s been better than we thought it would. We’re very gracious.
Michael:. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s also been trying. Really, really cold. When you come from 80 degree weather and you put us in this…
Tracii: It’s great jacket weather though. We’ve got matching jackets.
Michael: We tried to do a whole Beatles…
Tracii: We love H&M and the fact that they sponsor us… we love that!
Glenn: I’m the same, I look outside before I come out the house and think ‘What jacket shall I put on? Is it still raining?’
Michael: As far as the crowds, the crowds have been really receptive. We played one of the most fun shows the other night to nobody but it was really, really fun.
Tracii: Yeah Aberdeen was a bit off so we had a party instead.
Michael: It was so fun.
Tracii: It was really fun. It was far. Aberdeen’s far man!
Michael: There’s a little magic that can happen when no-one gives a f*ck! (We laugh)
Glenn: It was like a paid rehearsal where you can do what you want basically?
Michael: Exactly. More the reason so why not?
Tracii: I actually look at that as the first time I ever wore sunglasses on stage in my life. I looked out for a minute and actually people showed up.
Michael: Yeah! At the end it was like more than half full.
Tracii: It was weird. I think the promoter forgot out our show until the day before when he’d booked it a couple of months ago.
Michael: We went on the website and there was nothing. There was not a poster anywhere in town. There was nothing. Radio DJ’s were coming up to me and saying, “Hey, we didn’t hear about this until a friend of mine messaged me an hour or two ago.” It sucks to come from halfway around the world to a promoter who doesn’t do his job!”
Tracii: Or who forgets!
Michael: Or who forgets! Well it’s the equivalent to not doing his job!
Tracii: Michael is one of the sharpest people I know.
Michael: If you went to your boss and said, “Oh I didn’t do that, I forgot”, he’d say, “Oh you’re not doing your job then? Your fired bro!”
Tracii: Is that how you broke it down?
Michael: I see it as little steps.
Glenn: Yeah I saw it on the internet last night and I thought, ‘Holy sh*t! That’s a bit of the drive from Aberdeen coming all the way to Sheffield!’
Tracii: We went up there from…
Michael: Chester. That was crazy!
Tracii: 12 hours.
Shane: That was a great show!
Tracii: It’s almost like a normal drive in the States. It was far!
Glenn: At least you are not in a little tranny van or something.
Tracii: No, no! I love trannies but not vans (jokes) I mean tranny vans!
Michael: I think a lot people have been excited to see Tracii and Phil together rockin’. The response has been awesome. Tracii’s a pretty good guitarist so… I like that guy. He’s a pentatonic scale… a pentagramic scale! No gramics in me bro!
Tracii: A Mixelodean Salad, Locrean Stew..
Michael: Locrean Stew
Tracii: Pentagram tonic – that’s my favourite.
Glenn: (To Tracii) How was it for you guys when you first got together when you did the Canyon Club? Did it take a bit to gel or was it always there?
Tracii: The Canyon Club was that acoustic thing?
Tracii: It was just me, Shane and Phil. Phil had come over to the house for a couple of days before that. When you’re really tight with somebody and some years go by and you’re still tight with them after the time, you know what I mean?
Michael: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tracii: It’s one of those things.
Michael: Especially when the drama subsides or any kinds of bitter feelings and bickering feelings.
Tracii: Yeah him and Kayla came up, they just made camp in the house and it was normal. Ever since then it was, ‘Alright, this is normal, let’s just be normal’ and if you continue being normal then everything will be alright. That’s basically the seed of it. The normality and that sense of being at home and comfort and making buckets of cash makes everything…
Tracii: Better. You know what I mean? It’s important because Johnny, Michael and Shane, they should be the beneficiaries because they’ve been just the most beautiful people in mine and Phil’s life.
Michael: Hell Yeah!
Tracii: If we can all find some security and that sense of home together while travelling around the world and making music, we’re lucky. Phil and I feel really fortunate to have the guys that are in the band right now with us. For sure!
Michael: The chemistry in this band is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous! It’s effortless and it’s ridiculous. At that time in the Canyon Club in my camp it was f*ck*n’ mayhem!
Tracii: Yeah! (They laugh)
Michael: It was not all cupcakes and milkshakes for us. For me…
Tracii: It’s always cupcakes and milkshakes for you! (laughs)
Michael: I know! At that time bro, I was asking Phil, I said, “Yo man, be straight up with me. Don’t bullsh*t like you bullsh*t everybody else.” I said, “Tell me the truth dude, do I need to be looking for a job because I’ll find another gig but just be honest with me?! He said, “You know what mate, whatever I do, I’m gonna be taking you with me”. I said, “Are you bullsh*tt*ng me right now?” (We laugh)
Tracii: Well you’re a hot check mate, you ain’t waiting around!
Michael: Exactly! I said, “I’ll find something else”. He said, “No, no, Tracii loves you!”. I said, “Really? Right On!” Our first gig together was Irvine for the Cathouse. We had one or two rehearsals – maybe three hours worth of rehearsals. Up to two hours of f*ck*ng around and just having fun. It was perfect. It was effortless. I mean, I walked into another job that I had already been doing for four years!
Michael: So it was the perfect gig to walk into. I said, “Oh we’re playing all the same songs plus three – let’s do this!”
Tracii: Yeah! Yeah!
Michael: So it was a great thing to walk into.
Tracii: I think that out of that whole little period of time is what set it in cement because we went into a rehearsal situation and instantly that chemistry as friends. The best bands are the ones that always started out in high school or stuff like that as friends. We instantly had that type of camaraderie. At our first gig, we played the side stage. We had the side stage which is just like a big field. I knew this was going to happen. We took the whole crowd from the pavilion. I knew we would and we absolutely killed it and that was it.
Michael: It was electric!
Tracii: That was the cement. I knew we had to do that for us all to get excited at a big event and to let everybody know it made sense. Then our agent lost his sh*t! He said, “Hey man, this isn’t a hobby you guys. Now listen! This isn’t just one-off sh*t”. It was easy. Frontiers came right away. We didn’t even try and get a deal. Instantly it was….
Michael: I remember we had a few offers.
Tracii: We didn’t even write one song or anything. They said, “We need this record! We need this record!” So we were able to do that with Frontiers. The album’s done and it’s being mixed right now. We missed our deadline and it’s for June release!
Michael: You can’t rush perfection bro! (We laugh)
Glenn: It’s when it happens. You find you get instantaneous ideas when you’re elsewhere! You’re out those confines. You are out your box. It’s weird that. It’s so weird. What can you tell me about the new album? Is it totally under wraps or are there certain songs you can talk about right now?
Tracii: It’s not under wraps at all because everybody’s going to hear it eventually. It’s like any L.A. Guns record. The first record is always the most focussed on. It sets the tone. But that was also 30 years ago. We’ve heard some music since then. (We all laugh) But it’s right along the lines of ‘Cocked & Loaded’ all the way through. There’s a big variety of Rock music. There’s some smokin’ metal, classical sh*t, some bluesy sh*t, some swampy sh*t. I think the most identifiable L.A. Guns sounding songs are actually the two songs that Michael brought in that really have that more youthful, early LA Guns energy. That’s ‘Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gunfight’ and ‘The Devil Made Med Do It’. Those are really early smokers that sound like they were kind of…
Michael: That’s exactly what I had in mind when I wrote those. I thought, ‘Ahh ‘No Mercy’ man!’
Tracii: Yeah! You’re right there. They’re right there! Then you have some more developed stuff along the lines of ‘Waking The Dead’. Of course you have the epic sh*t like ‘Over The Edge’.
Michael: That’s the Macedonian Orchestra on it.
Tracii: Yeah, right! We have 30 piece strings on some stuff. It’s a really ‘full of music’ album. Something we can all be proud of. Who knows? I can’t predict anything but it doesn’t see that people seem to give a f*ck about albums these days but I think people are really going to give a f*ck about ours.
Tracii: It’s a serious record. It’s a good one.
Glenn: Yeah. You did the ‘Devil City Angels’ album – that’s such a good album.
Tracii: And it’s one of those albums I get royalties from. I thought, ‘I got a royalty cheque from Devil City Angels – did it sell somewhere? Yep’. (I laugh) But yeah, I think people are paying attention quietly somewhere secretly in the corner. It’s that obvious from our first 20 or 30 shows that we’ve done just now – they’ve been f*ck*n’ packed.
Michael: We’ve been full of energy that even I was lacking in the previous line-up. It’s been a whole different light bulb of excitement from these fans.
Glenn: Because this guy’s back? (I say pointing at Tracii)
Michael: Because this guy’s back! And Phil’s back.
Tracii: I think a delivery of the music too. People have expectations. They come and they fill a room and they bring their energy already. Then we deliver beyond their expectations. That’s the thing, That really has a lot to do with Johnny and Shane because they are a youthful powerhouse.
Michael: They’re monsters!
Michael: Funny as f*ck too! (I laugh) I have endless wit and humour with these guys.
Tracii: That’s what a lot of people don’t understand. The engine of L.A. Guns has always got to be a youthful thing for live! You can’t be playing ‘One More Reason’… dom dom da da, dom dom da da (in slow tempo). It’s got to be wahhh!!! That’s L.A. Guns. Phil and I and a bunch of guys our age behind us, that ain’t gonna happen! There’s a little foresight – a little design to it.
Glenn: One thing I’ve noticed through the years, these last 2 or 3 decades – you and Phil have just not aged a bit.
Tracii: Yeah! F*ck that aging process.
Michael: I hope I look half as good as these m*th*rf*ck*rs when I’m that age. Hollywood Vampires! I guess that makes sense!
Tracii: Thank you for the compliment and we’ll take it because we don’t feel as young as we look half the time – trust me! We pace it out. We do three shows in a row and take a day off. We don’t do anything over three in a row to protect Phil because Phil is the best he’s ever sounded. We take care of his voice. He’s the single most important element of this band.
Michael: Absolutely. He sounds f*ck*n’ killer too.
Glenn: (to Shane) How are you finding it all and enjoying it all?
Shane: I love it. Everybody is so cool. At first I was like, Okay, I’m trying to do my job. I want to stick out and do the music right for the fans that come and want to hear the boom boom bah! (does a drum roll sound), everything correctly. But then I feel everything’s getting into a groove, getting a little bit looser. I can have my own voice a little bit playing. But everything is high energy. You get drenched in sweat every night. We’re shooting sweat off on stage on each other.
Michael: The guy sings like a f*ck*n’ angel too. He’s on the back-up vocals and drums, killing the higher harmonies. It’s pretty impressive to watch.
Tracii: Shane is the secret weapon.
Michael: He’s also…
Michael: Good at singing, engineering parts of the album which I didn’t even know he could do.
Glenn: So he goes to the other side in the studio as well.
Michael: Yeah! The guy’s a monster.
Glenn: Excellent. Dare I ask, how does he compare to the other guy who was on drums before?
Tracii: Let me answer the question… one guy practices playing the drums and the other one doesn’t, one evolves constantly everyday musically, one cares about the persona he has in front of an audience with these songs that he didn’t even write, the other one just plays other people’s songs as like ‘this is my gig’. You know what I mean? One is on the take, one’s part of the team, one is mysterious and nobody knows where he lives, another one will drive you to his house and let you sleep there. There’s a big difference in those two drummers. Shane turns us on to modern drum techniques and styles within the rock real. We learn from one of those two guys. Okay?
Tracii: I really learned from one of them. You know what I’m saying?
Tracii: The truth is the truth.
Glenn: Oh completely. The last time I spoke to you, you had just arrived in Las Vegas and you were going to do ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’. How was that for you?
Tracii: It was definitely one of the roads or the trail or the path. I thought, ‘This is so different.’ I am a mover. I like to get in a vehicle and go and play my guitar. In that instance, you don’t get in the vehicle – you’re there. It completely changed my life for a year and a half. It completely changed my life to the point where if I hadn’t have been fired I might not look as young as I do now.
The first 200 times that I played ‘Stairway To Heaven’ were like the coolest sh*t in the World. Then it got to where I was thinking, ‘I don’t like ‘Stairway To Heaven’ anymore. These are good songs. It was a trip but at the same time I really learned a lot about myself being away from my kid. Being in a hotel room for almost a year and a half. I was bored out of my mind, it broke my family apart for a minute.
But everything… it was part of my journey anyway to do that and to do it that way. It was an easy thing to do. Somehow I got a lot of recognition from that show. All of a sudden I started getting a hundred facebook likes from senior citizens for a year. I thought, ‘Damn man, this is crazy’. I think I started Rock Vault and literally it was like 15,000 facebook likes. Within a year it was 125,000 and they were all senior citizens. I thought, ‘F*ck yeah, they like their Classic Rock – these 65 and ups!’. Everything about it was a benefit.
Glenn: How did you become a part of the Ronnie Montrose Remembered Night at The Yost Theatre? I was in the Gods in the VIP bar upstairs. I thought, ‘This is great – you and Brad Gillis’.
Tracii: Mad Gillis – he’s my partner in that show. But Keith, our singer – he was the singer in Gunzo. He put that shoe together. It was funny because Keith went through a rough patch. He was in Gunzo with Rudy, Shane and I. We parted on good terms. He’s this free-spirited, positive guy. He still reaches out to me constantly. He said, “Hey, do you want to do this?”. I knew how hardcore Shane, I, Rudy and Keith had thrown down on ‘Rock Candy’. I said, “Well yeah – we can do ‘Rock Candy’ which we already know’. We would do Ronnie Montrose proud to do it like that, so we did. I did it again and Brad was out again this year. I only see Gillis around NAMM time. We hit it off so good. We are like children when we are together. It’s a double-cool thing for me.
Glenn: NAMM is such a good thing every year. How do you enjoy NAMM? What’s your thoughts?
Tracii: I can’t.. I only go to play…
Michael: NAMM is a f*ck*ng zoo bro! I’m always really quick to get the f*ck outta there to be honest with you.
Shane: A couple of hours, three hours, four hours.. say my hi’s.
Michael: I visit my endorsers and sponsors. I look at some new gear but even in the midst of looking at new gear I just want f*ck*ng kill everybody and rip everyone’s face off because you are stepping all over people. There’s like a thousand billion people playing a thousand different songs at the same time. It’s like being at Guitar Centre and having a bunch of 13 years inside the place playing different songs at 10! You are just like urr!! There’s a theramin, there’s a guitar, there’s a bass, there’s fuckin’ keyboards – Arghhh!!!
Tracii: Who’s playing that God damn Harmonium?
Michael: I mean honestly, besides the gigs that we play there, I try not to be in NAMM because it drives me nuts. It drives me f*ck*n’ nuts. It’s like buzzing bees.
Glenn: Yeah. I agree.
Tracii: The one thing that kept me trying to go and I failed half the time was Elliot, the owner of Dean Guitars. He was such a good person and took such good care of you at the guitar shop. We tried to make it there. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That place really freaks me out. But Elliot was a force in Metal. I’d just like to mention his name. He passed away. I loved him dearly.
Glenn: Yeah! Nice Guy. I met him with Claudio Pesavento at the Canyon Club, November 2012. He was a nice guy.
Tracii: That’s a nice place.
Glenn: It is yeah.
Tracii: I think we’re going to be playing there guys, the Canyon Club.
Glenn: Agoura Hills!
Shane: That’s awesome!
Glenn: Chuck Berry just died. We all grew up on him. He was a legend. Do you have any cool stories regarding Chuck?
Tracii: Well the closest I ever got to Chuck Berry was Rudy Sarzo played with him at Irvine Meadows. At some point in history he showed me and Shane this video. Chuck like all, he’s a complete character – doing his thing. For me, I understand who Chuck Berry is.. being the lineage of Rock ‘N’ Roll and guitar playing. My Mom.. at a really young… I was really young when I was playing guitar.. she always said, “If you’re gonna be real, you’ve got to play like Chuck Berry. You got to start there. You can’t just be Eddie Van Halen, you’ve got to be Chuck Berry first. You got to know”.
My Mom is a musician. Through the years, Chuck Berry I hear when I got into Hendrix, I got into Eddie Van Halen – I hear Chuck Berry… Jimmy Page… you know, Cliff Gallop.. all the.. people consider the beginning of Rock ‘N’ Roll Guitar – you’ll all hear Chuck Berry – that’s the common guitarist in everybody’s influence. Brian Setzer – everybody!
The thing that makes him different than let’s say Lemmy is that Lemmy died too young. At 70, people might say that’s old but had he retired at 70 and died – it’s too young. The thing that makes it unsad about Chuck Berry is that he lived a full life and he ran the gammet. He appealed to white people, black people – he appealed to everybody. He brought people together. He made millions of amazing guitar plays. The power of Chuck Berry…
Michael: He broke a lot of barriers!
Tracii: Yeah and it extends. I mean who was the most influential guitar play? Jimi Hendrix? Eddie Van Halen? No – Chuck Berry because every one of us.., Brian May… everybody man…
Glenn: He wrote the book basically!
Tracii: He wrote the book. And he did. He also created a common language for guitar player. I mean, you can go into any jam session and play blues… and blues is really rock ‘n’ roll when you’re in a jam situation and everybody’s playing Chuck Berry licks! Everybody! He created our language. Nobody really has to do a tribute show to him because every night in every club, his gig is playing tribute to Chuck Berry. It’s as simple as that.
Glenn: Nice honest answer!
Tracii: Yeah I love Chuck Berry of course. He sung about his ding a ling and sh*t! (We laugh) Loved that m*th*rf*ck*r!
Glenn: On Phil’s facebook as a tribute to him, Phil shared this letter to Chuck Berry regarding ‘Johnny B. Goode’ being in played space from NASA. Now if you can have an L.A. Guns song played all that way up in space, which song would you want it to be and why that song?
Tracii: A slap in the face man!
Michael: It’s ‘Over The Edge’ for me maybe, always ‘Over The Edge’.
Tracii: Yeah that’s an epic but I think that we’re not worthy of that. Maybe for people that were in their mid-teens when ‘(The Ballad Of) Jayne’ came out or something that identifies a certain time that represents a genre. You see, that’s the thing about ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is that it represents the movement more than the song itself.
If we were going to represent change, I guess Motley Crue or W.A.S.P., L.A. Guns, Guns ‘N’ Roses, I think the song that really identifies us the most is ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Rip And Tear’. I feel like those are the two, kind of in the genre outside the genre to be immediately identifiable thing that people will latch onto and say, “Wow man, what’s all this? What was that?” I don’t know – that’s a toughy!
Michael: I can imagine entering space and ‘Over The Edge’ is playing!
Tracii: Yeah! Right?
Michael: And you are like, “Sh*t, we truly are over the edge – we’re almost to the m*th*rf*ck*n’ moon”. This song is epical. It’s my favourite so that’s what I would play if we were!
Tracii: And you could actually be a little subjective about it. It makes sense!
Glenn: That’s killer! When you first came in the band, what songs were you most looking forward to play?
Michael: Well it’s a little tricky for me because contrary to popular belief, I didn’t grow up with L.A. Guns. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t know much about them at all. I’m really objective and neutral with everything. For me, when I got the set list of what we were going to play it was like I was discovering those songs for the first time. I was really excited about ‘Don’t Look At Me That Way’ & ‘Bitch’.
Even when I was playing guitar for the previous line-up of L.A. Guns, I’d never heard those songs in my life. They gave me three hours to learn all of them. (We laugh) No bullsh*t! Three hours to learn 16 songs and hit the road, then do ‘em for.. you know? Any time we would learn sh*t on the road and they’d want to do a new song, they would say, “Can you do this song?”, and I would just learn it right there on the spot. Now I’m just excited to play all of ‘em because the vibe in this line-up is just right.. you know what I mean?
Michael: I’m learning sh*t from Tracii playing-wise, dynamic-wise, business-wise and stuff like that. It’s really cool.
Tracii: Don’t look for me for business man! (Jokes)
Michael: You learn what not to do! (We all laugh)
Tracii: Give it all away!
Michael: He’s a wealth of knowledge no matter what he says.
Glenn: What he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing basically!
Tracii: The price of my education is good in all ways and I’m happy to do it.
Michael: When you think about the wealth of knowledge someone like Tracii must have doing what I’ve been doing three times as long and with much success in varied amounts of different line-ups. I mean the guy is a monster. I’m learning from them all. It’s really cool.
Tracii: I think we all are. We’re learning all the time.
Michael: We’re a good band though.
Glenn: What about you Shane?
Shane: I speak softly and carry a big stick. I just want to do my thing and hopefully make these guys shine and if I can shine a little bit at the back, a couple fills. I’m observant. It’s cool. I’ve only been at it for a little while. I’ve been playing with Tracii two years almost…
Tracii: Longer than two years.
Shane: Yeah something like that. But it’s crazy. This guy just picked me up and said, “Hey, do you want to be in a band with Rudy Sarzo?”, I said, “What? Err Yeah! I think I do. I think I would like that.” It’s been crazy. I just want to play. I love to play. I even love to push gear. I’ll roll gear out of a trailer and set stuff up. I like the whole production. Making the album with Tracii was awesome. He’s riffing at home. I have a little studio set up at my house. He’s got his studio at his house. He’s got all these songs and he sends it over to me. Then I’m putting drums on over at my house and sending it back to him. He’d say, “Oh no – let’s do this!”, and he’d send them back to me and chop it up. You know, fly stuff around. It’s really cool.
Tracii: Shane and I met in the studio environment. That’s where our meeting place took. Half the fun at least for the pleasure of playing together is this constant exchange of knowledge and questioning and learning and trying to max out our studio knowledge. We can get a handle on things as good as possible everyday kind of like stepping up, stepping up, stepping up in-house because we love that. We love being able to have control over the sound of what we are doing. He and I we have a really close relationship - musically, technically and a wealth of humour.
I think for him being in L.A. Guns… Shane is definitely a Rock drummer – a powerful monster. His influenced has stretched so far beyond what L.A. Guns is that I think that Shane is still wide-eyed! He is still like, ‘Damn – this sh*t’s happening’. I remember when we played this show at M15 which is just a nightclub in L.A. – it’s kind of a theatre nightclub – it’s big. We had a curtain.. at Irvine we could see all the people. It was kick ass, but when that curtain opened before we went into ‘Over The Edge’ that night, he just looked at me like ‘Look at that!’ (We laugh)
Shane: Oh man! Dude it’s like…
Tracii: ..it’s all the way back! So when that happens, that opens my eyes and I can feel his excitement. We give it back! We’re a new band bro! What a great catalogue and a new record coming out. That’s what’s carrying the excitement for everybody – for the audience, for us, for the naysayers. Everybody’s talking because it’s a new thing with an old name and it’s real. It’s not a joke.
It’s like, would I wage this child – well I just made $800. That’s what it’s about – the shows. I think the greatest comment we get from social media is ‘You guys look so happy!’ When an audience senses that… there’s two things that are contagious – happiness and hate. We’re definitely putting out the happiness vibe.
Shane: Last night for example, there’s a little room to move around in that crowd. This guy had his hair done up like something beautiful. We were having so much fun on stage that everybody else out that were like, ‘Hmm, I’ve got my arms crossed, I don’t know about this show, there’s a lot of people here right now.’ They were screaming their heads off.
Tracii: There was only a hundred people there and they are like, “Yeah Man!”
Shane: The dude in the audience that couldn’t sing (They laugh)
Tracii: Yeah when ‘Jayne’ came on, basically he would let a new member of the audience sing the chorus. So once the chorus comes, the first guy comes in and he hasa damn good voice. Like, Damn Bro – Karaoke King’ The second guy didn’t know the lyrics. He went “Rar ra ra Jayne” (We laugh) A really good looking Scottish ginger guy. He had the red beret, the whole thing man. (Gives an unintelligible drunk impression - We laugh)
Michael: He had shades on!
Tracii: I had shades on. This guy… (laughs) wait a minute – get the mic. back! It was great though. It was fun. We’re having a lot of fun. I hope the fun continues because that’s where it’s at. You can read all the interviews from me and I’m going back 25 years, I always say, as long as it’s fun, I’ll be there, when it’s not fun, I’m gonna find some sh*t and have some fun. As simple as that.
Glenn: It looked like fun from where I was looking when you had Spike from Quireboys up on stage with you! How did that happen? That was great!
Tracii: It’s our history. That is the band that we actually spent the most time on the road with during that ‘Hollywood Vampires’ time. We’re really close to them. Phil’s known Spike for ages.
Michael: Spike calls Phil ‘Dad’. “It’s me dad!” (We laugh)
Tracii: It’s nice to be able to be friends with people you’ve toured with in the past. Spike just happens to be one that’s really close to home for us. In true Spike fashion he didn’t want to get off stage.
Michael: He was p*ss*d! He was drunk as f*ck dude! He got on stage. I was pointing at my mic. saying, “Here is the mic.” He comes up, he comes halfway, then he goes back down and grabs his beer, drinks… Then his wife said, “What the f*ck are you doing? Get the f*ck up there!”. He’s looking around like ‘What?’
Tracii: ‘Where Am I?’
Michael: Then Phil was off stage, goes up to his wife and says, “Get that f*ck*ng c*** up here! Find Spike!”. I guess Spike went off for a cig. He comes back up and says, “Oh you want me up there”. It was fun. It was classic Spike!
Tracii: I’m really good friends with Griff too. I’ve always been really good friends with all of them. Griff is very sensible. He portrays this uber Eric Clapton’esque kind of Cream vibe and class and taste! I love Griff! Maybe he will pop up (in London), I don’t know.
Michael: Spike’s got that ‘I need a lozenge’ voice!
Glenn: In all the times I have seen him, I have never seen him do a bad show. He can get so inebriated but he’s perfect.
Michael: That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll. Some people – that’s fuel. It’s like Popeye with the spinach.
Tracii: Like Ginger. He goes through his bouts. He had the stomach flu a few months ago and he was on tour with one of his bands. He did as long as he could and he started to beat up. But those guys hit! Particularly Ginger, particularly Spike. Those guys are going to give you 100%. They’re built that way.
Michael: That’s actually cool about this line-up is that no-one gets f*ck*d up. No-one feels they need to get f*ck*d up to rock. We wake up and we think, ‘Alright, let’s f*ck*n’ rock this baby!’. It’s not like, “Hey, let’s get f*ck*d up dude! A bunch of coke, drink a bunch of beers and we can just level out to be able to play”. It’s not like that. A lot of previous bands I was in…
Tracii: One shot of whisky.. it just means that we’re all nervous before we go on and that’s what lights it up! A little bit of butterflies all the time.
Glenn: I think a lot of young bands think they’ve to do this and they’ve got to do that. It’s obvious they don’t need to do it but they think they’ve got to learn and do the same thing as their mentors.
Michael: These are the people that douse themselves in Motley Crue’s ‘The Dirt’ and feel that that’s the bible for live performance of being in a band. They think, “Oh we’ve got to be just like that, we’ve got to get f*ck*d up, we’ve got to mainline and lose all our veins, we’ve got to this much coke.. heroin, burritos, we’ve got to get a bunch of bullet belts…” It’s not about that. That’s what I love about this line-up. Everybody is sharp at what they do – Shane, Johnny, Tracii, Phil – everyone is on top of their sh*t! Very professional.
Tracii: One thing I didn’t mention is that the perfect triangle of Michael, Shane and Johnny is that they don’t really need Phil and I to be an amazing band. It’s just makes Phil’s and my life so much easier. We just get to go out there and do our thing together and not have to worry about what’s going on behind us. Eveything! Shit goes around in amends. If there’s one weak that’s like odd on stage, it’s like the whole difference in the energy and the way you connect with an audience.
But knowing that we have this powerhouse… right there, Phil and I, we can actually bring it down a notch and really project with some tunes that we’ve written. I don’t have to push harder trying to pull a band with me which is generally the case and it’s been like that for years. We don’t even have to pull it. It’s there, it’s powerful and it’s very powerful. We’re ending up in a spot that I never thought we’d end up in and it just seems to be beginning to get a little bit of momentum every day.
Glenn: That’s awesome! Yeah! Will there be anymore Devil City Angels or Gunzo in the future?
Tracii: Those things happened out of necessity. You want to do projects. You want to do fresh things. If home isn’t working, leave home. If we do anything outside of L.A. Guns it will probably be together. You know what I mean?
Tracii: Bits of the band doing stuff and LA Guns. Michael has the Assassins.
Michael: I have the Assassins, Shane’s got a band too.
Shane: Yeah, we’ve got a band. A couple of old room mates of mine have got a heavy blues trio. We throw it out though – it’s a side. “Oh yeah, we’ve got to do this other thing first, then we are gonna book a bunch of shows”. God it’s the same. First we’ve got to pay up to pay the rent, we’re gonna book a bunch of shows, we’re gonna kill man, we’re gonna get a supporting act, we’re gonna..
Michael: It’s the legend of the rent.
Glenn: Yeah the rent there is ridiculous isn’t it?
Tracci: Yeah that’s the tough thing. That’s why L.A. Gun… we’re fortunate. That’s all. We’ve got more forks in it that we can have a band that does everything that you would dream and hope that some day you could be in a band that provides that for you.
Glenn: A lot of them have got day jobs haven’t they?
Tracii: Oh now yeah. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do ‘The Legend Of The Rent’. A lot of bands from any time there’s only one guy left and he’s generally taking all the money and the other guys get scraps. I could never do it in my whole life – I couldn’t. The whole point of being in a band is to be a band. To me, I’ve never been in a solo band. It’s never been my solo band – it’s a band. You don’t get a Ferrari because of the engine. You get a Ferarri because of the wheels, the paint and the exhaust – everything. That’s how a band is. It’s like a bunch of cool sh*t together and it makes one thing awesome dude!
Glenn: Yeah! Totally agree. So what's your personal thoughts about musicians?
Tracii: Musicians are moth*rf*ck*rs most of the time. They’re not very comfortable with themselves somehow in some aspect, hence the drugs. But it shouldn’t be about that anyway, it should be about the music. If that music inspires you, you should buy it and you should support it so you can get more of it and come down and earn it – that’s the bottom line.
Michael: You should be good to your fans so they don’t end up as bitter as f*ck when they meet you. You don’t know what that guy is going to do later on. They are the same people on the way up that you see on the way down.
Tracii: Be aware of liars, That’s the best advice in this business. It’s hard to identify. Be aware of liars. That’s the one thing. That’s the scary. That’s the dark in the music industry – the liars!
Shane: You meet a lot of ‘em.
Tracii: There’s a lot of ‘em.
Glenn: A lot of crooks.
Tracii: Same thing. You lie so you can steal. You don’t steal so you can lie. It somehow legitimises stealing but the music business, musicians are traditionally the last to make money, last to get accolades to their efforts. All those things
Glenn: Like you guys?
Tracii: Yeah. I learned how to say no though. It took a long time but I know. That’s the benefit of the education.
Glenn: We’ve gone so deep into stuff. We’ve been talking about a lot of different things.
Tracii: Well we don’t give interviews. I knew it was you so it’s like ‘Yeah!’
Tracii: You can do that one!
Glenn: We had such a great chat last time when you were in Las Vegas!
Tracii: Yeah! I remembered.
Glenn: So I was looking forward to it. Then to have you two guys as well (Shane and Michael)
Tracii: (To Shane) We were playing together when I first met Glenn.
Shane: You were in Vegas?
Glenn: I know this is a cheesy question but what are you most looking forward to about playing Sheffield?
Tracii: I wanted to make sure that it has those buildings with a different colour and the balconies. For some reason, that’s what I always remember about Sheffield. The first two Def Leppard albums have a huge impact on my guitar playing. I identify Sheffield with Def Leppard and that apartment building.
Glenn: I have to say I come from Def Leppard country to some people in the USA so they can identify with know with Sheffield. I have to say Def Leppard and Joe Cocker so they know where I am talking about.
Tracii: It’s a great thing that they didn’t come from Birmingham or Liverpool. They’re a Sheffield band. It’s an interesting thing because I like the songs. England is England. To have bands to identify with cities here. That’s a big thing.
Michael: That’s f*ck*ng cool.
Tracii: I had to put the name of my city in my band so people knew. (We laugh) LA Guns? Where you from? (We laugh)
Michael: Queens Shot Mafia – where do you think I’m from? (We laugh)
Tracii: Sheffield will always be Def Leppard country to Rock Guys.
Glenn: How was Aberdeen, the place itself to you?
Michael: Aberdeen was brilliant They have all the Braveheart stuff all around – William De Robert, Robert De Bruce.
Glenn: Just that the show was a bit quiet? But it became okay after a while?
Tracii: Yeah. All day we had the impression that it was going to be a sh*t show and it just wasn’t.
Shane: The small amount of people that knew about it did a great job. Spreading the word.
Tracii: They did a great job.
Michael: They had no help.
Glenn: Anyway, what are you looking forward to about the London show as well?
Tracii: I’ve never played the O2 there. I’ve played everywhere else but not the O2.
Glenn: What do you think to the Sheffield venue here so far?
Tracii; It’s good. Solid.
Michael: Good sound.
Glenn: I like your dressing room (referring to the tour bus we are sat on)
Tracii: Dressing Room?
Michael: This is our house bro!
Tracii: No place like home man!
Michael: We’ve got twelve room mates, over amidst. We’ve got the Stone Trigger guys –they’ve been really good on this tour. Really stand-up cats – great guys.
Tracii: Yeah, they’re good guys! We did it with Gunzo. We toured with them. They take care of business…
Michael: Hard working. They rock the crowd every f*ck*n’ night and everybody’s loving them. We want to bring them to the ‘States so then people can see our little lovecomers.
Tracii: We’re already talking about coming back to Europe in October with Stone Trigger.
Glenn: Is it festival stuff?
Tracii: No I don’t think it’s during festival time. It’s October. There might be one or two.
Tracii: We’re going a lot to Eastern Europe and then Germany, Italy and Spain. They want to do it and we have experience touring with them.
Glenn: When you said ‘Sh*t Show’ earlier and that made me think ‘Sh*t Sandwich’ which made me think Spinal Tap which made me think about your video earlier when you were looking for the dressing room upstairs with TM, Scotty Ludwick.
Michael: Life on the road is always like Spinal Tap.
Tracii: It’s 100% Spinal Tap all the time.
Michael: It’s amazing how much as the years go by you identify with that movie more and more and more as silly as f*ck that it is. You are thinking ‘This is my Spinal Tap moment!’
Glenn: So what has been your best Spinal Tap moment?
Michael: I don’t know. Really big meat and really tiny bread. “I keep folding and folding and folding. But I’m a professional. I rise above it”.
Glenn: You are keeping them in lockdown, the stories? (I laugh)
Michael: Yeah. Some of those stories you can’t release because some might get offended.
Tracii: I think the Spinal Tap Phenomenon is based on reality. To pin down a moment, a singular moment – it’s almost every moment. It’s hard to because they don’t really deal with groupies. I mean, there’s the odd wife that takes over but we’ve always managed to keep that part in check. That’s the only thing missing – the wife with the clipboard!
Glenn: We’ve covered so much crazy shit and interesting stuff. It’s been literally coffee table talk over a coffee table which is much, much later.
Michael: ‘Later With Jools Holland’ It’s very comfortable.
Tracii: We have the luxury of doing research on rock bands our whole life. Every night on tour and watch another band. Rock bands take themselves very seriously.
Michael: It’s true. Calm yourself down! Relax!
Tracii: I understand. You’re taught that the more effort you put into something, the more you’ll appreciate the outcome. Word hard… Rock ‘N’ Roll is not like that. Rock ‘N’ Roll is work your f*ck*n’ ass off for nothing or just do your best, have a good time doing it and if you’re lucky enough, the more appreciated then. It’s not like starting over in a business. You work and you’re going to do it, break down barriers and blah, blah blah because you can’t lie to yourself and think you’re that great! You can’t because it’s a flavour. Music’s a flavour. If you have a different flavour that people like then you’ve got ‘em.
It doesn’t matter how skilled you are in an instrument or as an artist – be a different flavour. I’m old enough now to have seen the various genres of Rock music where there’s one great one, there’s 20 that make records that are just like the one great one that can ultimately ruin the great one. Again, when it comes to music, smell your flavours, smell your sh*t, taste it. Be sure that something smells. There’s no jump. I’m a Jimmy Page wanna-be. The same with Michael – we are Page guys but at the same time, we both realise that you can’t be Jimmy Page. You know what I mean?
Michael: But you can tap into the essence.
Tracii: Yeah – tap into the essence. I feel like a lot of guys. Brian Setzer in many respects is a really good example of taking on somebody else’s persona and being successful with it but I can’t think of anybody else. That’s it. No-one is going to do James Hetfield better than James Hetfield.
Michael: Yeearr! (Impersonates James Hetfield) I’m sorry!
Glenn: You become a tribute don’t you?
Tracii: Yeah! Most bands do and are a tribute to something else. This is a fact! It’s important to have diversity in your band meaning each member brings in their own taste or own flavour of things so it’s not so focussed on one thing or you miss the boat comepletely. Let me see, we’ve got the German, we’ve got the Irishman, we’ve got the Jew, we’ve got the Brit and the Filipino guy. You know what I mean? That’s well rounded man!
Glenn: Yeah! A lot of influence isn’t it?
Tracii: Oh yeah, a worldly band.
Michael: ‘The United Nations Of Rock’ right there (laughs) The united colours of metal!
Tracii: The key is the British singer though. You get the great rock band and they’ve all got British singers.
Michael: Spinal Tap proved that!
Tracii: Lick Me Lovepump!
Michael: Lick My Lovepump!
Glenn: It’s great that! We’re fans, no matter what level we’re at, we’re all fans of the same sh*t!
Michael: You’re right!
Glenn: The same level! The same level!
Tracii: Yeah Man!
Glenn: No bullsh*t!
Tracii: it’s not about being more important. It’s just about being snotty and telling people you’re more important. (We laugh) That’s because that’s the only way you move up the ladder, “I’m more important than you!” Ask me why? Okay! Go ahead! (I laugh)
Glenn: It’s ridiculous! Delusion!
Tracii: Definite delusion! It is!
Shane: It’s ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll!
Tracii: All Rock ‘N’ Roll is, is stories. The music’s killer but they are the ones that are famous – the stories. The Great Balls Of Fire story! I mean, f*ck! What’s up with that story??!?
Glenn: Jerry Lee Lewis!
Tracii: Alan Freed. He’s as famous as any of those guys.
Glenn: Yeah! I knew his nephew who was also called Alan Freed.
Glenn: He lived in Fort Myers, Florida! Yeah!
Tracii: He’s the guy where we got the phrase ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’! He’s just as famous as any of the players because he coined the phrase. That’s where it’s at! There are illusions. That’s the thing about Las Vegas… “What you guys doing?” “I ain’t telling you!” (We laugh)
Glenn: Yeah, Keith (St. John) was telling me that your own there and you get so many seconds and a few minutes of this song, the you zip off into something else and it’s crazy!
Tracii: It’s a lot of work. A hell of a lot of work.
Glenn: I can imagine.
Tracii: Yeah it sure was. Hotel California Solo man! “You mean I’ve got to play this right?” You’ve got Howard Leese saying, “Come on, come here man. You’ve got to get this great”, “Alright man!”. I’ve got to go to Roberto’s and get some burritos. (We laugh). “No – come here man!” He got me through. We had a serious six weeks of rehearsal.
Michael: That is some serious rehearsal.
Tracci: It is serious rehearsal. We got it right. We did. What a trip man! What a f*ck*n’ trip. They are good guys. Robin McAuley – he’s the guy who brought me in – Robin! They needed somebody that they’d know but they didn’t know who to get. I knew Howard’s wife when we were in our twenties. She always called me Toco. That was my nickname. Howard called me and said, “Hey Toco”, I said, “Did Robin call you?” he said, “Yeah, we were thinking of who to get and Robin said ‘Toco’. I said, “Who’s Toco?” ‘Tracii”, “Oh we’ve got to get Toco”. That’s how it went down. That was pretty much the conversation! Toco!
Glenn: We’ve covered so much! IS there anything that you’d like to mention that we’ve not covered?
Tracii: Consistency! That’s it. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes.
Michael: I’m excited to see how people receive this album. I’m excited to play the new songs live. I’m excited for the crowds to catch onto the new vibe because it is an new vibe – we are not rehashing. We didn’t re-write ‘Cocked & Loaded’. We wrote a brand new f*ck*n; amazing album. That’s what I’m excited about and I want everyone to check it out. View it, come to the shows and sing the songs we wrote back to us and f*ck*ng go crazy! That’s what I’m excited about.
Tracii: I’d like it to be Christmas everyday!
Tracii: We like Ramans noodles!
Michael: Please sponsor us!
Glenn: What do you miss when you aren’t in LA?
Michael: I miss my girlfriend all the time. I miss good food. I miss good weather. I miss my family. It’s nice to have but you make your own little family on the road and you just kind of roll with that. The missing is the hardest part of it. You’re miles away from everything that you love. That’s the biggest thing. I know Tracii misses Jagger, his girl, Shane – his girl and Johnny misses his girl.
Tracii: We’re all a bunch of girl missing m*th*rf*ck*rs!
Michael: And your own space obviously. But the bunk…
Tracii: That’s good!
Michael: Your bunk is like a little coffin and it’s all you need really. It’s got a curtain. Lights out! No ones gonna pop their head in an go ‘What’s up dude?” When you’re at home you miss your daily rituals. I miss my daily rituals. Hanging with my girl!
Glenn: What are your last words going to be for the interview?
Tracii: Rock ‘N’ Roll!
Shane: Rock ‘N’ Roll! Girls! Drums! Drugs!
Michael: Check out L.A. Guns! Check out ‘Michael Grant & The Assassins’ please!
Glenn: Awesome! This has been great.
Special thanks to Scotty Ludwick, Faye Blaylock &
Lisa Morton Woodard for the organising of the interview ; Maria Glover for the Sheffield In Concert Photos; Ron Lyon for the shots in California; Stone Trigger's Frontman, Tommy Rockitt for the photos on the Tour Bus and of course Tracii Guns, Shane Fitzgibbon & Michael Grant for a deep, down 'n' honest long chat!