Interview with Chris Holmes
(formerly of WASP, now of 'Where Angels Suffer' & 'Scum' with Phil Taylor, formerly of Motorhead)
on 6th April in Los Angeles by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: So how did you get to meet Phil (Taylor)?
Chris: Oh God! Huh - I can't remember. I think Lemmy needed some.. when he moved here he needed some furniture. He'd got a house and his place had nothing in it. I think he's been there a week or something. I go, "Who's furniture is this?" when I went over to his place. He says, "It's leased.". I go, "Man, you should just go buy stuff in a garage sale and when you get rid of the apartment, leave it there - just throw it outside out in the trash - why lease it man?". I think I went over to a club one night and Phil was there or it was some party afterwards. We've been friends since. He used to live by me from '91 to '95 - I used to go there all hammered drunk and give him crap all the time. He threw me out a few times - it like I never deserved it - hahaha.
His old lady said something to me rude and I was like F You and this and that. I remember oh, she said something, I said something back and it got worse amd I told her to F off and Phil like, he's on top of my back - he had me in a head-lock and I said, "I guess it's time for me to go huh?". I know better than anybody not to stick around when you're not wanted. Hahahaha. It could have been me saying something racial or something - I open my mouth and it gets me in trouble. Maybe we hadn't met by accident, you know?
Glenn: Yeah some brothers are meant to meet up and meant to play music together and get on as good mates outside music as well.
Chris: Yeah. We just started. He left a number at my rehearsal room one morning and it something about a car. I went by his place and I think he was getting something towed, I know a lot of people that live and I saw he had Pro-tools and I go 'Wow' because I knew he had some kind of recording before but this was the 1st time I knew he had a computer. So I went by his place and I said, "Are you recording?", and he played me some stuff he'd doen with Whitey or whatever and he said to come by and have a jam. So I came by and we worked up on a song and it turned out to what it is and we are doing it now. We've done it and kinda to work out how the computer to record it.It's kinda fun in every way - it's better than going out and getting in trouble.
Chris: Yeah. There's been a few times I'd learnt to play this one scale - a major scale - I'd never played one before. It's like The Allman Brothers or whatever - kinda styled like. W.A.S.P would play the 'Mississippi Queen' song (by Mountain) and I couldn't play the guitar part and I asked my friend who is a music theory freak, you know, "Hey why can't I do that?", he goes, "Because it's a major scale", and he showed me where it was so I tripped out and went, "Wow man that's cool so I wrote this one song - an idea in my head to play the scale I wanted to play because I couldn't do it in normal music and I went over and I thought it all out and kinda wrote it out on paper and did it to a click track.
I showed Phil the parts - "This is this part and that's what I'll play here", and a few days later he goes, "Have you got anything else, that thing sucked?". I go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah", so we messed around with something else. About maybe 3 months later I am working through our song titles and I looked at that one and thought, 'I wonder if that was the one I forgot about - I wonder what it sounds like', so I put it up and played drums to it. He didn't even say anything to me about it and he started recording it from there and it was that song, 'They All Lie And Cheat'. We have our differences on stuff.
Glenn: Well I was blown away because I am used to your heavier WASP sound and when I heard you play the country stuff, I'm like 'F*ck*n' '*ll'. You know someone can play all different styles but it's amazing when you hear that person like yourself play ijn a different style like that - if that makes any sense.
Chris: I never had a chance to play - I never had a chance to play that stuff. I've always been kept down in WASP.
Chris: Yeah when in the WASP situations everybody would go, "Wow man, you made it" or whatever but to me I never thought I ever did because I was always in that situation because I was always held down by mind-controol of other people. I remember during 'The Headless Children', Blackie would go.. he took me outside and said, "Chris we are gonna bring in another lead guitar player", man I jibed, I was bummed and said, "Man, I'm playing great", and he said, "You're playing the worst you've ever played". I looked at him and I thought about it and thought, 'I don't have to see his face, I don't have to record with him and go through this hell I am going through". My wife (Lita Ford) was on the road.
"So all I gotta do is show up for rehearsal?", that's easy I can do that! He said to go home and work on it - I had to write 10 solos for each song. I went home and split out on the road with my old lady. I came back, 2 weeks later, he goes, "You been working on 'em?", I go, "Yeah"."Let me hear the 1st thing you did" and I just played him something off the top of my head. He was like, "Oh man, you must have been working on them", you know mind control over people really screws them over. I don't know - it was a depressing part of my life.
Glenn: A lot of fans know about that side (the WASP side) but they are now getting to know this side - stuff you've got going with Phil, stuff you've got going with 'Where Angels Suffer' and...
Chris: Yeah this stuff with Phil cool - when we first started recording things it was instrumental and we kinda maybe started thinking, "Why don't we do a record?", and we've been working on it for a while - we're not gonna work on it like we gotta get it out by this time or whatever. But then I sing on that one song, 'They All Lie And Cheat' and I was thinking, 'If I had a solo album who would I have sing on this - this person, that, that, that?' I thought, No Man, even though how bad my voice is I should regardless if it sucks or not'. You know man, that's been one of the hardest parts for me because if you think your voice sucks you're gonna not wanna do it again. I go and sing by myself with nobody around and I have a song in my headphone and I try and sing it and it'd sound worse. Finally I'd figure out where the pitch was. To me it's not, well (it's) singing I guess.
Glenn: Well I guess it's because you've never had the chance to do it or have the confidence to do it.
Chris: That's why I was put down all the time by some people. But the thing is, it's hard for me to say the character. You know some people think characters - Gene Simmons, Blackie Lawless are characters but that's not a character to Chris Holmes - it's a person. It's not some character in my head dreamed up but when I'm playing in WASP, why should I sing when he's does the singing. He's the main man, the singer so why should I even try singing. It woudn't work in WASP anyway.
Glenn: Would you say it's because you sing thingsd yourself and work with Phil, would you say it's changed your own lyrical and writing style because you've got no boundaries now have you?
Chris: No. Well yeah, there's not too many boundaries. I've learnd like in for as it is now, like 6 songs that I actually sing and put 'em together. I've learned a few things from doing it - you've gotta do it from your heart unless you can make up or have some imaginary sh*t in your head. In everything that I did, I wrote about things that have happened to me like 'The Loser' or the song called 'The Mormon Moron' which is about being baptised into the Mormon religion.
There's the song 'Down In A Hole' like with the slide (guitar). I always wanted to try and do the slide - I like the sound of it - down in the Mississippi Blues Delta. I don't know anything about it - it either sounds good or it sounds bad. But a few songs we've done are like super hard rock or you know, heavy stuff that I love doing. I don't know why I slow better with the lighter side. I... sometimes I hear it - can I say I get ashamed of it because I like the heavy stuff? The energy but I like that stuff live. If it is all on 10 there is no black or white so dynamics... yeah dynamics.
Glenn: Yeah. Makes sense.
Chris: Haha Haha - dynamics. So the acoustic guitar ahh - it's good for some people - Jimmy Page or whatever or someone like that - it always has been. It's kinda fun playing. I hate to say that what I play, the way I've always played is not that music theory of like your D minor diminished by the 5th chord or whatever. I only hit 2 note chords - not three. I've never hit a three note chord - making that major minor chord - that's only 2 notes. So I it was weird and I guess that major thing I was trippin'. I don't know. I like doing this record - even if there was a singer they'd have to get money for employment and all that sh*t so it's far better if I did it. I got Phil to sing on.
Glenn: Yeah I know.
Chris: If you call that singing.
Glenn: We'll he's like yourself, he's never had the chance to do it so he's trying it out himself. Credit to you both for having a go and doing it.
Glenn: Otherwise you'll always say, "I'm not singing - I can't sing", and you'll never actually get to improve from that.
Chris: Oh yeah. I was talking with this girl and this girl I used to know lived with me, oh back in 95 and 6. I told her about how I was married and how that guy in WASP, the singer wouldn't let me go to the music awards with my wife and she goes, "That was jealousy Chris - that's one of the most evilest things in the world that people hold you down for - jealousy or whatever. I kinda never understood it because me being jealous towards anybody? I grew up kinda with Van Halen - I'm not jealous of the guy, I'm more... you knon when then they got a record deal and they took off with their 1st album, everybody in Pasadena hated 'em. Most musicians were jealous of them - hated 'em but I wasn't jealous.
Glenn: You shouldn't be jealous - you should work up to get to that level.
Chris: Well I was happy that somebody Iknew made it, you know?
Chris: I was like ,'killer man' but most of the like musicians were all jealous of them but I was like happy as hell. It's like 'Bitchin' - at least somebody bought that devils worth or whatever - you know, dig yourselves out of the sh*thole or whatever. Most of the people were jealous - there's a lot of them - I don't wanna say names, you know.. there still in the same f*ck*n' spot that they were back then. I'm like, 'Am I jealous of somebody?' - I don't look at it that way - your friends are your friends. I don't know if the stuff with Phil will get off the ground because I got the 'Where Angels Suffer' stuff too. Who knows?
Glenn: What are you looking forward to with 'Where Angels Suffer'?
Chris: Well since our member change with Randy as it was me and Randy in the 1st place. The new guy Ira (Black), he's younger and he writes some pretty good music. He hasn't been through what I have with touring and whatever like he wants to go out and play and stuff. I'm like man, you gotta smell the roses 1st. As with Randy not being there I don't know if it will go as far as it did before - who knows? It might, who knows - it depends on the songs. Who wrote 'Purgatory' - that's that record - we are supposed to be re-recording it.
I have song somg ideas - some of them would be great to play live with. In '95 I'd written some things for 'Kill F*ck Die' and they were outrageous - the hair stood on the back of my neck. Blackie comes out and listens to my ideas - they are almost written - the whole songs. He listened to one, he listened to the other and after the 4th one he went, 'Got Anything Else?', I went, "What else? What the f*ck you want man?" and he goes, "Basincally to get one song I have to write a hundred". So I just said, "You made me sit and do something becaise I was getting paid or whatever". That's why it sucked. 'Where Angels Suffer' have me their for the live situation - they wouldn't put up with me.
You know I'm kinda trouble - no I'm not trouble, I'm just a jokester. I like to walk around and go, "Hey that guy said you're a this and watch 'em fight (laughs)
Glenn: Like stirring the sh*t?
Chris: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Glenn: It's all fun at the end of the day. Stet knows you that well anyway so he's gonna sit and laugh.
Chris: Oh yeah. We've been on the road a long time.
Glenn: Can you ever see you and Phil (Taylor) going out on the road because that would be amazing?
Chris: Yes. Yeah when we get electric wheelchairs we'll be onstage with some genitol. (We laugh) Yeah we just gotta get Phil on his drums on the acoustic ones.
Phil: F*ck *ff!
Chris: We'll bring 'em here in this apartment.
Chris: About 4.30 here in the morning - hit it! You know? (I laugh). Oh yeah. But what you say Phil, we'll get Blackie to play bass and Lemmy to play guitar and I'll sing right?
Phil: And Blackie could join Headcat with Lemmy.
Chris: Yeah - the cat's head.
Chris: Yeah, the Head Cat. The head of WASP yeah. Oh yeah. Didn't Blackie have an album out called Babylon?
Chris: You know what that means, 'Babblin On'. Well when I was gone, they played LA and I went down and it was Halloween so I went there. Nobody knew it was me. I wouldn't want to be seen at a WASP show and I went and watched. They were playing with Darrell and I played with him in The Ball Stars - he's a pretty cool guy.
Glenn: Oh I've heard of Ball Stars. Gilby Clarke was in that band wasn't he.
Chris: There's been a lot of people in there.
Glenn: And Troy Farrell and...
Chris: Tons of people.
Chris: But I watched Darrel play with WASP - I mean he's a great player, I ain't knockin him at all but they had no energy at all. It was weird. The energy was just like... it blew my mind. I was like 'F*ck Man?' It's gotta wail - I used to like getting up there to wail. If it don't have energy it ain't worth f*ck*ng going to. It had no energy.
Glenn: Can you see 'Where Angels Suffer' doing some new material? Have you wrote some new songs for that band now?
Chris: I sent some stuff to the singer (Rich Lewis) but there wasn't any talk of us doing new songs yet. I've been trying. I don't know. It'll work out. I'll know more when we get down there and play. Without Randy it's gonna be hard.
Chris: I feel like it's gonna fall on my ass.
Glenn: Because you are that sound - that WASP sound. I guess it's weird because Ira has come from that Viscous Rumours, Lizzy Borden whatever and you're more an old guitar Metal guitarist and he's more like a shredder or something.
Chris: He makes me look older. Randy made me look younger. (We laugh).
Glenn: He's no spring chicken is he Randy?
Chris: F*ck No man - he'll be 52 in June. But I still look like a scumbag and I live in LA. I live in a cave.
Glenn: What do you like most about living in LA?
Chris: I'm a native - I've been here my whole life. All my friends are here. I just know where to go. I don't party down the South Central. There's good and bad places here. But I was born right here in Blondale. It's about f*ck*n' 10 miles from here you know, so...
Glenn: Home's home innit?
Glenn: So what song are you working on at the moment?
Chris: I don't know. Some idea I put down last night. It needs something at the beginning - I don't know what it is. There's so many sounds on the keyboards. When you're playing, you can put up it on the computer and there's so many thing a to choose from. Thousands I mean millions - it's unbelievable. I've goenthrough the horns. I haven't found one that'll work on it yet. Go in and listen to it.
Glenn: Well it did sound nic what you were doing and one of the songs - an instrumental, I thought, 'That could be a perfect 'Where Angels Suffer' song with some vocals over the top.
Chris: Well some of the WASP stuff came from me - most of it. It's just the way I always play. This thing's waling. I'm trying to do something like Joe Satriani - I know I'm not him - just flying.
Glenn: Who have you enjoyed working most with so far?
Chris: I haven't worked with that many people. Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) was really cool. Frankie Banali - he's a professional. Brian Tichey - you heard of him?
Chris: He's a drummer. He's in the Big Balls - he's a cool guy.
Glenn: Wasn't he playing with Ozzy for a while?
Chris: He's played with a lot of people. He play in Whitesnake now. I'm saying those guys hate me but I'ds always be the clean-up guy at the end. One night I was getting ready to play it was like 2a.m. - the shoe I had, the sole came off to here (shows me) - the rubber and I was trying to cut it off and I couldn't and I had to be on stage in less than a minute. And I go, "F*ck, what will I do, I'll trip over it - a shoe like that - f*ck". So I just took the show off and I just played barefoot.
Glenn: No splinters?
Chris: No. Everybody asked why was I playing barefoot. Oh I remember, I stepped in some beer and Robin McAuley was sainging and I went up behind him and I wiped my foot off on his pants (trousers).(We laugh). It was funny then after I had my change of clothes in the car and I have Levis on and stuff but I was just soaking wet and I was at The Roxy and I'd parked across the street in the top and this was about 3 and I'm still wet with sweat - real sweaty.
I walked across the street and went, "My clothes are there, I'll bring 'em over here". So I went upstairs and I had my door open and I go, "Oh f*ck, I'll change right now". So I was changing up there and all of a sudden the cops pull in. I go, "Man, this isn't what you guys think or looks like." I tried to tell them I'd just got done playing and I left my clothes in the car", and they're looking at me weird. They were like 'Yeah' (like they didn't believe him), "That's a good analogy of what you are doing. so what are you really doing?" Man, you know because they could see I was almost naked and in the parking lot - the lesson was funny.
Glenn: That's just bizarre, you were like...
Chris: I know. I'd think the same thing. I should have had 'em man (the clothes) and changed at The Roxy. Brent, he was the main guy. He used to hate my guts. Brent was the main guy. I'd come out and play and he couldn't hear his amp or whatever. That's how I got to meet Keri Kelli.
Glenn: Oh I know Keri, yeah. He's a cool guy. He's not with Alice Cooper anymore is her.
Glenn: I've known Keri since about 2000 and seen him with Pretty Boy Floyd, Love/Hate way before working with Alice Cooper - he's played with everyone hasn't he?
Chris: Yeah. There was one time when Guns N Roses played in Moscow - a big huge place - I've know this guy DJ that plays with him.
Chris: Yeah. I've known him a long time - before he was ever in 'Beatiful Creatures'. We used to go out to this one bar and he used to sit there with his jaw open because I was famous or whatever and I was telling him, I kept telling him, "Man, once you get to a certain height in the business - if you're from aroumd in California, you've gotta be a normal person - you like, you are the same sh*t". I hadn't seem him for years and he's playing and it's cool man, he must be onto something. I've seen him a few times after Beautiful Creatures were doing something. So we're upstairs in this one hospitality room - we had no way to get backstage right, after the show.
I go walking by and that guy is Bumblefoot - I'd never met him. He stops me - I was gonna go over and get a coke and he goes, "Man, where do I know you from? Where do I know you from?". I didn't say anything because I didn't want to say where I was from. I say nothing. I go by him and he kinda gets mad, I'm kinda cracking up and I'm getting a drink, I turn around and he goes, "Dude, you ain't going by me until you tell me where I know you from." I go, "Come on man, f*ck*ng hell, what do you mean d*ckhead?" and he goes "Well man, what are you doing here?".
I've never met the guy and he's f*ck*ng way cool as a person - great player but as a person, he's as funny as sh*t. A great, great guy. Axl's like surrounded himself with some really cool people - you know, in that band. They were good too. I couldn't say anything bad about them. But I was sitting there and Axl... I know one guy that works with him.. this guy James Dell - he worked with WASp and all of a sudden Axl comes... he's just getting in the show and he comes in, in his towel with no clothes on and he's coming towards all these people.. He runs up,,, he comes up to me and he's almost on his hands and knees , you know? Shaking my hand, "Oh dude, thanks for coming to the show". I was like..
Chris: Yeah weird. It was weird, you know, and I go, "Yeah man - he said a few things to me and he goes, "I appreciate you coming to the show bababa and then he splits, you know? Keri afterward goes, 'Man, that was radical!". I go, "What?", he goes, "He was almost worshipping the ground you are walking on!". I go, "Ker, you know, in the early 1982 or 83 when he was properly licking my sh*t when they were young guys and getting to LA, we were just destroying the clubs back then. We were f*ck*n;, happenin' killer.. they were in the audience all those guys. I know that because some people from WASP were coming up and I'm sure he came up to me because er... have you ever read Slash's book?
Glenn: I've got it. Yeah.
Chris: Well you know what he said about me in there? I'm sure you remember that I called somebody a n*gg*r. That's in his book - somebody wrote it. Well I never said, "N*gg*rs shouldn't play guitar" - Jimi Hendrix is my favourite player of all time - why would I even say that? What I did say, one of the roadies was with me told me when he showed me the piece in the book,"You didn't do that Chris, it was in the Rainbow Bar in '87 - you were sitting there and I was with you too. Slash came up and he said, "Dude, check this out - this tattoo I got" and I grabbed his arm and said, "I didn't know n*gg*rs get tattoos!" (We laugh) Something I'd say. So we're laughing.
Glenn: But you just meant it in fun - you didn't mean nothing by it.
Chris: It just came out my mouth. I was hammered. All drunk and stupid. (Anyway back to the project with Phi Taylor) Man we got over 23 songs.
Glenn: Well it's be nice if you can get something together as an album or something.
Chris: Well we are trying to put it together. If they could get it as a record get the idea of put together, then they could piggyback off WASP, say it's so and so from WASP then it'll probably sell ok in Europe. I'm not sure but I know when people listen to those songs on acoustic they go, "Wow!" I mean that song 'Down In The Hole' is kinda cool. It would be a bummer if people thought I was selling out.
Glenn: Well the Mormon song has gotta get released.
Chris: Yeah - unless you knew about the Mormon religion then you wouldn't know what its about. It was called 'Go fly a kike' with the line, 'I don't care what jew takes from me' - not you.It's good stuff and it's exactly how I feel. I wish I could scream on this thing - I tried screaming. It's hard to keep in tune where it goes (high).
Glenn: The more you sing, the more you'll be able to control and do that as well.
Chris: Yeah. I think it's a cool idea if I sang on the songs - they don't know what to expect - who knows what the people expect. The last thing they need to hear is someone like Blackie singing 'Ahh Ahh' on my solo album - F*ck that! The songs have acoustic on them. There are heavy parts in the songs (as well) - it's just dynamics. I've been trying to finished this other song but I can't because of the studio where my stuff is in Burbank.
A girls boyfriend has been there for 2 months and is there everyight and we were sitting there with a microphone and headphones on and he was singing something. I've been in isolation where if you wanna get a guys voice, it sounds really bad. I've been in there a few times and it's embarrasing so I'll get the part from here, put it on card and put it on my computer. I listened back see, to see if they are good or not and that's how I figured out the song.
I then thank Chris for the Interview and go and check out the latest song idea that Chris & Phil have been working on.
A big thankyou to Michael Grossi for the Live Pictures of Chris @ Corkys and to Phil Taylor for the opening piccy that he took of me and Chris and also for recording the Interview for me as well!