An Interview with
'Guitarist of Ugly Kid Joe'
at O2 Academy 2, Sheffield on October 4th, 2016.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Klaus: Hi Glenn, I’m Klaus.
Glenn: Hi Klaus, it’s good to meet you. How’s the tour going so far Sir?
Klaus: Good. So far, so good. Personally though, the jetlag’s been killing me and I’m 48. Back when I was 20, it was no problem. It takes a few days but the cool thing is right now we’ve got tomorrow off. Hopefully, after tomorrow I’ll be back good, I hope! Other than the jetlag, the crowds have been great and the turn-outs been great, so we’re happy.
Glenn: Awesome. I know about the jetlag as I come back from L.A. as well or from Florida and it kills you.
Klaus: Yeah and it was six hours in layover on the way over. Standing around and not being able to sleep. I can’t sleep on planes but I’m not crying. I’m glad we’re here.
Glenn: How was your last UK tour? You were over here last year weren’t you?
Klaus: Yeah! Exactly a year ago we did just the UK. Okay, we did a couple in Germany and France but it was just acoustic stuff. Me, Whit, Lee Richards and Tim McMillan – we did a medley of some of our Ugly Kid Joe and Richards/Crane stuff. For the most part it was fun. It was great.
Glenn: Awesome! What’s it like to be back in Sheffield again?
Klaus: Great! We’ve been here I don’t know how many times but I do remember vividly back in ’93 being here with Def Leppard. That was really cool because it was their home town. It was Don Valley Stadium. It was fantastic. I’ll never forget that. The families came out. It was a big family. This is Def Leppard we are talking. A huge band so that was cool.
Glenn: It’s not there anymore. They knocked it down.
Klaus: Oh no! Sh*t!
Glenn: It’s all a big office complex now. I think the Rugby team has bought the rest of the land.
Klaus: Oh Man! That’s sad.
Glenn: Yeah! It’s sad because the Stones have got nowhere to play now.
Klaus: Right! (We laugh)
Glenn: How would you say you guys have changed since you first got together?
Klaus: As people, we’ve grown up and matured a little bit. Not a lot into that but we’ve grown up just like anybody and we’ve also got kids and wives and whatever. Other than that I think musically, you have a different outlook in your 40’s than you do in your 20’s. In other ways, we’ve changed a lot, but not that much but we’re the same in a lot of ways. I can’t really explain it. You know what I mean?
Klaus: One thing for sure is that we’re not as serious about music and trying to change the world with it but we like to have fun with our music and we do write and play for sure. We’re not trying to chase something and we never did. There were moments when the record company would say,”You need to do more of this", and we would say, “No we don’t!” and they just picked and chose. We’ve always pretty much done what we wanted. That hasn’t changed and nowadays there’s no-one to answer to but yourself. You put it on youtube or put it on Itunes. You don’t have to do something that the boss is saying. Other than that, (we haven’t changed) much. Apart from getting older.
Glenn: What do you think to the business now because it’s changed so much since you guys got together?
Klaus: Hey, you can say that again! (We laugh). Night and Day. Yeah! It is what it is. Me, myself, I haven’t bought a CD in maybe seven years. I never download full albums. I download one song at a time if I hear it on the radio. I’m guilty of that. It sucks in a way because you can’t really sell records and a lot of times it’s fun. When I was a kid it was fun buying a bands record. Sure, you hear a couple of songs on the radio and what-not but you hear those other eight songs and you end up liking two or three of them as your favourite songs. That was how it was back then. Now it’s all singles.
Glenn: You’ve actually signed to a label called Metalville.
Klaus: Yeah, it’s a German Label as well.
Glenn: Yeah! What made you sign to those guys?
Klaus: Holger (Koch) is the guy who runs it and we met him around 2012. He was always a fan and he followed us and said, “I want to get you distribution in Germany, make a proper record, do vinyl and do all that fun stuff’. He really went for it. It’s cool we have a cool vinyl now in Europe. That was because of the label.
Glenn: It’s really weird because I interviewed James Toseland on Friday night and he is on the same label as you guys.
Klaus: Well they do a lot of catalogue stuff. They don’t catalogue us but we are one of the only bands that are not just catalogued. He’s trying to branch out and get some new music from all the bands.
Glenn: What material from the heyday do you still really enjoy playing? Is it all of it?
Klaus: Of the old songs?
Klaus: Well our live set is probably 70% old stuff and we pick the songs we like playing live. That’s what it comes down to. We like the ones we play. They are very much the ones we like.
Glenn: Are you in touch still with some of the ex-members?
Klaus: Yeah! I saw Mark (Davis), our original drummer on 4th July. He’s great and we were hanging out. We are great friends still. Of course there’s Shannon (Larkin). We are all still in touch actually. Of course, Dave Fortman – we are still great friends. He still produces all the records and plays on them, so he is technically still in the band, although he’s not on tour with us. Shannon and Dave are actually still members in the big boat. They played on the last two records we made. They just can’t get away and tour with us for many reasons.
Glenn: Yeah I go to Cape Coral a lot and I know he lives in Cape Coral.
Klaus: Yeah! He’s still there.
Glenn: Cool. I have mates there that are friends with him. Here’s a quirky question for you. Are you still ‘America’s Least Wanted’?
Klaus: At that time, yes. Now I don’t think they care. They don’t give a sh*t. There’s plenty other bands they hate.
Glenn: Exactly! I just had to chuck that one in. So when you guys aren’t together as a band, what do you like to do outside of it all?
Klaus: Nothing to do with the band. Nothing to do with being on tour or anything. I live in a beach town so I like to go to the beach, try and take up surfing again and snowboarding. When we get into the winter we go up to Towle and snowboard. Whit and I actually both have places to stay up there. Not our own but through connections and family. It’s funny because we end up a mile form each other and we just go snowboarding in the winters. We try and get at least five or ten days in. That’s one of my favourite things to do in Winter. A bunch of other stuff and I like to go and see movies and blah, blah, blah… Read a book once a year. I love doing art and things like that.
Glenn: I was checking out the songs from your current album, ‘Uglier Than They Used To Be’ and I was really impressed with them. It seems like you’ve really come on with the style. It’s more together. I think back in the day it was more of a novelty at times but now the songs are really, really strong. The chorus’s, hooks and vocal are more together.
Klaus: It’s interesting because some of it is to do with the fact that we’re all experienced in terms of playing in other bands. The thing about that record is that everybody contributed. It was very much a group effort instead of two songwriters, there are five songwriters. It was, “Oh, I’ve got a riff’. It was very much like that. It was written in a lot of the same way as ‘Menace To Sobriety’ where everybody had an idea, a riff or a chorus, a line or whatever. We crammed all these ideas into a studio with us and in about three weeks of time, we started one by one going through the songs and making them become a song. We probably recorded 15 and ended up with 9.
Everybody wrote on their own and we got together and hashed out a few ideas. Whit and I had about four songs that we had together and two or three made it. Then Dave had a couple of songs he had written on his own and I had a couple of songs that I had written on my own. Everybody had a few ideas that were brought into the studio fresh, straight out the door and then it became a record.
Glenn: Do you put songs together acoustic or electric or is it varied?
Klaus: It varies. Dave does a lot on acoustic like ‘She’s Already Gone’ and ‘Hell Ain’t Hard To Find’. I’m sure he wrote them on acoustic. Myself – there’s not too many on this one. Most of it was done on electric guitar and playing.. it was like doing a garage band, getting a beat going and riffing away. Sometimes I have an amp in there, sometimes I don’t. Most of the songs were all written with electric. There’s no doubt about it that – both. When you have acoustics laying around it’s great.
You tend to be more riff orientated when you have the electric guitar and you tend to be more melodic and chord orientated with acoustic. That’s what I’ve noticed obviously. Sometimes it’s great to do a little bit of both. Then you come up with a good riff and pick up the acoustic and try and come up with more of a melodic part or chorus or bridge or something. I just thought of a great idea right now actually. Do all the heavy sh*t on the electric and put it aside, keep it in mind and try to come up with a… oh wait, this is a secret – this is a great new thing now! I have an idea! (We laugh)
Glenn: Phil Campbell played on three songs on the album…
Glenn: I know he did the tracks in South Wales in his Son’s Studio (Todd Campbell's Skwad HQ Studios) and e-mailed them through.
Glenn: Are there plans for Phil to come on stage on one of the dates and be a surprise act or anything like that?
Klaus: I would love that! It all depends if we cross paths or not. He’s been doing that since 2012. If he’s around or nearby or at the same show or in town he usually shows up and if he shows up he usually plays. We never plan it. We say, “Oh you’re gonna be there? Oh great!”
Glenn: So do you think there are possibilities of 'Ugly Kid Joe' and 'Phil Campbell And The B*st*rd Sons’ touring together or anything like that?
Klaus: Oh that would be great right?
Glenn: Yeah! Just a bit!
Klaus: I mean, we get along so good with him so I’m sure we could probably get along with his band. We’ve met some of them so who knows, you know?
Glenn: Yeah! Cool!
Klaus: I think they are on tour now right?
Glenn: Yeah I think they are.
Klaus: Yeah and I think we are just missing them by a day.
Glenn: Any favourite tour stories?
Klaus: For me, the greatest was when Eddie Van Halen… we pretty much had dressing rooms next to Van Halen for three weeks back in ’93. He was probably one of my biggest influences. It was not only an honour to meet the guy but then to play as his new opener for Van Halen. Then to have a situation where he literally would hang out in our dressing room warming up on his guitar, while he was hanging out talking to me was like ‘Wow!’. It became not even a thing of “Ooo, You’re my idol”, but more like, “Hey what’s up? How’s your day? How’s the crowd?” I was just watching the hands that taught me warm up right in front of me. I said, “Hey, can you play this for me?” and he’d say, “I’ll do it right now, Sure! Whatever!”. It was pretty cool. In terms of that of the ‘Wow!’ Those are those hands and now they are doing that in front of me! He’s being my friend and he’s talking to me. So that was pretty cool!
Glenn: Nice! What would you say you are most proud of over the years?
Klaus: That’s a good question! I’m proud of the fact that we kept it together and we all stayed friends. It wasn’t like this big ego thing where a lot of bands implode especially when success starts to wane. Instead of pointing fingers and what-not, we said, “Okay, that’s what’s happening, let’s just carry on." Then a couple of years later we broke up but it was an amicable break-up. It could have been a real slim moment there where everything could have fallen apart in a bad way but instead we disbanded in a good way. This left us the opportunity to re-band without even a hesitation. It was more, “Really, you want to do a show?", "Yeah okay, let’s call so-and-so – let’s get the band back together again!”. I don’t know if I am proud of that but I am most happy about the way things went down in that sense. Plus when you get older and you meet so many other people in bands, you hear about all the horror stories about how no-one likes each other anymore.
Glenn: Yeah and then it becomes all about the money.
Klaus: It’s not easy when they are on tour and they are at each other but that’s cool. Always in the end, it’s just music. You can be proud of success and also be proud of the fact that we wrote some songs that actually made it and we actually got to do our thing. The best thing is that you totally did it all yourselves.
Glenn: Yeah! Awesome! That’s a good answer. New album plans?
Klaus: Nothing coming out as now but there’s always ideas floating around.
That said, we draw the interview slot to a close and I tell Klaus to have a great gig!
Big thanks to Valeria of Duff Press, Tour Manager, Gav, the extremely helpful staff at them O2 Academy,Sheffield, my buddy Steve Froggatt and of course the man himself, Klaus Eichstadt for a fantastic chat!