An Interview with

'Rich Lewis'

(Photo by John Harrell)

Lead Vocalist of 'Where Angels Suffer' (the U.S. Rock/Metal Band that features ex-members of WASP, Metal Church & Randy Piper's Animal)

that took place at Fort Myers Beach, Fl. USA, 16th November, 2010 by Glenn Milligan

Glenn: How did you become interested in becoming a singer in the 1st place?

Rich: I grew up around my mom and my real dad - both were singers. Mum was a gospel singer and she used to walk around the house singing all the time. So I just thought everybody could. So I was just always singing along with stuff. One of my buddies had a band together later on and we're riding around drinking beers and singing along with the songs and I notice he keeps turning the volume down - he was listening to me and I didn't know what he was doing and he was like... All of a sudden he turns it off and he goes 'You're singing for the band dude!". I'm like, "What, why don't you just do it?", He goes, "No you don't understand - you're singing for the band." So I said, "What the hell, I'll give it a try". Never looked back.

Glenn: Yeah.

Rich: It's what I've been doing ever since.

Glenn: Got ya. How did you manage to meet up with Randy (Piper)?

Rich: Oh that was a funny story. I went to LA with a band - me and Jeff Young from Megadeth. We got out there and things weren't working for us so I'm thinking, 'What am I gonna do? I gotta get another band together' and I'm reading in 'The Music Connection' where Randy Piper's just left W.A.S.P. I thought, 'I need to get a hold of that guy, I think we'd work good together'. So I hunted for him for two weeks and I read that he was with Alice Cooper and I'm like, 'Damn'.

So I get an offer from Paul Di'anos old band. I guess Paul left the band or was having problems or something. They decided to stay together as a band if they could find the right singer. Well they're based out of New York and I'm still in LA and they asked me and got a demo from me and asked me to join them. They said, "We got a publishing deal - it'll be a couple of months before we can actually get started but, you know, we'll go from there". So I'm like, "Cool, I'll go back to Cincinatti and hang out with my family and friends for a little bit and we'll do that". Well the guy calls me after I'm there for a month and says, "I blew the publishing deal - the thing's off". Great, now I'm stuck here in Ohio again.

So my old bass player is back in LA, Randy is out of Alice Cooper - that didn't work out for some reason and he puts out an ad for band members. So my bass player goes over to audition for the bass player job and plays him the demo. Randy goes, "Who's that singer?". He's like, "Well that's the guy who was in the band with me back in Ohio", and he goes, "Get a hold of him, I want that guy as a singer for me". So I go back to LA again and we've been on and off in bands together ever since.

Glenn: What songs are you most proud of that you have written or co-written while you've been in Randy Piper's 'Animal' and why?

Rich: Oh that's a tough one because there's different ones that I like for different reasons. I don't know if I could put a label on just one. It'd probably be something of '900LB Steam' really just because they were all just written during hard times, you know what I mean, and stuff comes from your heart. It'd have to be one off of '900 LB Steam' probably.

Glenn: How was it being on 'Perris Records'? Was that like a distribution deal?

Rich: Just like most of those other small labels - they screw you out of everything. They get it all and you get nothing. (Laughs).

Glenn: Yeah, nothing changes.

Rich: Right. Always the same.

Glenn: Tell us about some of the gigs you've played in 'Randy Piper's 'Animal'.

Rich: Let me see. Probably when there was me, Piper and (Chris) Holmes all in Animal and we went to Chicago to play and we go in this place and it's kind of a small place - the bar's right in the middle - I mean I can literally step off the stage and onto the bar. We're all p*ss*d and bummed out and like, "I can't believe they booked us in this hole but now we're here and we gotta play it". So we get our sh*t in there, set up, soundcheck, we come back later to play and the place is slammed-packed full. Everybody in there dug it, you know, they were so close to the stage they were like bumping into me and sh*t but everybody love it and it ended up being the best gig of the whole tour. It turned out to be a blast.

Glenn: Cool. So you've had 3 albums with 'Animal'?

Rich: Yeah.

Glenn: What's your favourite? Would you say the 1st one really when you first got it together?

Rich: Well it just had closer ties as far as altogether I would probably say that 'Virus' was the best one. As a whole total package - the production, the writing, I think the whole thing was probably the best.

Glenn: I'll agree with you as that is one hell of a sounding album.

Rich: Yeah.

Glenn: Everything flows especially the heart attack song (Cardiac Arrest) and the song about putting the money down and that.

Rich: Yeah.

Glenn: Just incredible songs.

Rich: Yeah it's great stuff I love it.

Glenn: Did all the songs naturally happen because they don't sound pushed at all? Are there any songs that really stood out and are they any that took longer than others?

Rich: We actually... I mean we recorded the thing pretty fast. Like you said, it did come pretty easy. A lot of it we wrote right there on the spot, you know what I mean?

Glenn: Yeah.

Rich: But it was just... to get in the right mood, you know, everything's going good, you get into it better and it was almost like performing live. I did all those tracks in two real short days.

Glenn: Wow!

Rich: I think about 4 or 5 hours a day - 2 days and it was recorded. (Laughs)

Glenn: Which songs from that album give you the most grief or were they easy for you to do as they were written for your range?

Rich: That's all pretty much right in my, you know, I'm not really limited range-wise. I can sing pretty much anywhere on the skin you know so it all comes pretty easy most of the time. The only time it's hard is like if we take too much time off and I'm not using my voice and it takes me a couple of weeks of working at it to get it back. Other than that it's uaually pretty easy.

Glenn: Are there certain songs that you like singing more than others on stage that fans have shouted for?

Rich: 'Lust' - a lot of people seem to like that one. 'Don't Wanna Die' - people have never heard it before and by the second chorus they are singing alot with it. (Laughs)

Glenn: And that's a hit in itself.

Rich: Yeah. Definately - that's probably the one.

Glenn: I guess it was like natural progression for 'Animal' to finish and for 'Where Angels Suffer' to start up. How do you feel now you've been singing for 'Animal' and how long did it take you to get that band together with the guys who make up 'Where Angels Suffer'?

Rich: Actually (it was) a guy name Scott Gaines who was a friend of Piper's and Steve Unger's. Piper calls me one day and goes, "Hey Dude - Scott Gaines thinks we should put this back together. He's got a bass player - a guy from Metal Church (Steve Unger) but he said dude, "We need you to sing, are you interested?". I said, "Let me talk to Scott". So Scott calls me and I said, "Look dude, if it's gonna be done professionally - done right then I'll do it - otherwise I don't wanna be involved again, you know it's too much work and if it's not handled professionally...". He said, "Dude, that's the plan, we're gonna do this right". He goes, "Steve Unger just made a suggestion we use Stet Howland on drums and get Chris Homes involved again". And I go, "Sounds great to me", you know then it was basically we all talked on the phone back and forth for a couple of months, came to Florida - Stet's place and that's how it all got started.

Glenn: When you've got 3 great bands like W.A.S.P., Randy Piper's Animal and Metal Church involved it's a no-brainer - it's gonna work.

Rich: Oh yeah, I mean the guys are all great. It's probably the most fun band I've ever played in. You know everybody's gonna do their job, everybody's a pro, I mean Stet's a blast to watch play drums, Chris is a nut on stage - Steve's real good, Randy's always had real good presense and it's a blast to play with 'em. You look around and you can't help but laugh. It's like, 'This is awesome'.

Glenn: It's a laugh a second.

Rich: Yeah. We have a blast on stage.

Glenn: Yeah cool. Which gigs stand out so far because I know you've just done over a week long tour of North America?

Rich: Well just about all of those were fun. We did one out in the middle of a cotton field. I don't know what we were doing (laughs). A little town that might have 500 people in the whole town and it's like 'Why are we playing here?' You know the other ones were all great. Pittsburg - I've never been to Pittsburg and the people there were awesome - treated us real well. I mean, probably the one in West Virginia, it was like 'Jaxx' - yeah - that one was a lot of fun. Yeah I guess those 2 would be the 2 favourites.

Glenn: Yeah.

Rich: I played my home town - that was great too just because I knew damn near everybody there.

Glenn: Was it a big guest list or was it more of 'No you've gotta pay to come in'?

Rich: Well I got quite a few people in but you have to draw the line or it's like 'Hey Rich!' and I'm I'm going, "Dude, I have to let everybody in for free if I do" and I...

Glenn: You can't do it can you?

Rich: I can get family in and a couple of real close friends and that's... you gotta draw the line.

Glenn: I know you are going to be recording with 'Where Angels Suffer' - what songs gonna be recording with 'Where Angels Suffer'?

Rich: Yeah. We're gonna re-record some of the 'Virus' stuff just because we want people to hear it - what it sounds like with this band because we are kinda giving it some flavour. They were great songs that never really got released over here andwe think people should hear 'em.

Glenn: It's weird because I got the promo for 'Virus' straight away it's probably one of the best albums that I actually got sent that year. It's not very often I play albums that we get sent 2 or 3 times in a row just because of pure enjoyment - it doesn't happen very often. But 'Virus' is one of those albums.

Rich: Right.

Glenn: So what are you looking forward to outside the band - anything else you enjoy doing as well?

Rich: Actually when I go home I've got a cover band I can play out with. I love doing it and you make a little money on the side. Keep my chops up, you know?

Glenn: Yeah.

Rich: That way if we take six weeks off before we tour again, my voice is still in shape. I don't have to start all over again.

Glenn: That's the key - to just keep going for it.

Rich: Oh yeah.

Glenn: Do you find that there are certain techniques that get you vibed up before you go on stage or while you are on stage to keep you going? Do you have to keep drinking regular? How's that go?

Rich: Actually I'll have a few beers beforehand but then onstage it's mostly water. I gotta keep the pipes wet. So I usually have a couple of things of water. Warm water preferably - cold water doesn't work too well.

Glenn: Apart from playing in North America, I know you've personally played all over the place with 'Animal' but where would you like to play, say in the UK and Europe if you got the chance and why?

Rich: Actually, I was thinking I'd like to go to Australia.

Glenn: Just fly out man.

Rich: Yeah - just go and ride some kangaroos or something. It looks like a lot of fun over there. I have always been interested in the place. Maybe I'll join the Aboriginess and stay there a while. (Laughs)

Glenn: If you ever had a chance to support any bands in 'Where Angels Suffer' if you weren't headlining or having a band support you who would you want them to be and why?

Rich: Mmmmm.

Glenn: Maybe Blackie's band?

Rich: Yeah, we'll open for W.A.S.P. (We both laugh) For some reason I don't think this will ever happen. I don't know, there's a lot of different ones I'd like to work with. I always dug Aerosmith, maybe UDO I always like UDO. he was my favourite. A little short guy up there and he just screams and yells. I got to meet him when we did the Sweden Rockfest (as Randy Piper's Animal). It was crazy too because Piper and I were running down to get something to eat, have a beer and he happens to open the door in his hallway and he just about knocks me down. He grabs me, puts his arm around and goes, "Oh sorry, where you going?", and I'm like, "I going down to get a beer UDO", "Come on, me too", so we hung out and that was real cool.

Glenn: Are there any guys that you've met, that you've liked as artists and when you've met them it's like 'Ugh!'?

Rich: Yeah.

Glenn: And it's a big disappointment. Are you allowed to talk about it?

Rich: Well most people I've met have been real cool but...

Glenn: We best not go there.

Rich: Yeah, I don't really wanna dog anybody but there's a couple of people who were *ssh*l*s but they gotta live with themselves so if they wanna be *ssh*l*s, then go right ahead. It's not my problem.

Glenn: Overall so far, what would you say you are most proud of as a person, as an entertainer?

Rich: My Son. He's a... you know, he's got his crazy *ss dad that he's been raised by and he turning out to be just a great kid. He's awesome. Proud of him.

Glenn: Sounds good.

Rich: He's graduating next year and the kid doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke. He won't even hang around people that do that kinda stuff. He's just.. he's very smart and wants to go to college and do something with himself.

Glenn: So he's like your legacy that he'll carry on.

Rich: Definately. Yeah.

Glenn: That's good.

Rich: Yeah.

Glenn: If you were ever to write an autobiography what would you call it, what would you have on the cover and why?

Rich: Wow! That's a tough one. I don't know, I've never really talked about it. "How To Live A Life Of Hell And Come Out Of It Alright'. You know my dad was murdered when I was real young, my mom married this other guy who was a jerk and beat the hell out of us, made us all mean, you know what I mean and I figured out later on like, you know, in my late 20's that carrying that anger around was only hurting me. It didn't hurt anybody else, so I finally figured out one day that it's like, 'I gotta let this stuff go and go on and be myself' and I've had a good time ever since.

Glenn: And what more could you want?

Rich: Yeah. I do what I love to do. Get paid for it.

Glenn: How many people can say that?

Rich: Not many.

Glenn: Not many.

Rich: How many people get to travel all over the world and have fun doing what they do.

Glenn: And have a great time as well.

Rich: Exactly - it's awesome.

Glenn: Rich it's been a pleasure.

Rich: Thank you Man.

Special Thanks to AC Ice Rockstar PR, Stet Howland Michael Wright