Toney Richards of LA Rock Band, 'D-Zire'

Interviewed via e-mail by Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS (Feb-March '03)

Briefy, what's the history of the band?

We started in Dec. of '95 and played the Whiskey for our first show. We went through a line-up change in March of 98', when we replaced our original drummer with my long time friend Billy Miller. We have gone through many ups and downs but somehow, some way- we have managed to stay together and grow as a band.

We took a couple of years off - from 2000-2002, until we broke the ice last year with our CD Release Party in support of "The Awakening". We opened up for Rik Emmett of TRIUMPH..

What bands have influenced you most and how?

As far as what bands have influenced me the most, I would have to say Alice Cooper, Kiss, Van Halen, Rainbow, Vain, Y&T, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Skid Row & Guns 'n' Roses. I have been exposed to many different varieties of music but these are my choices as far as having a direct impact on my career. Maybe its because I have seen them all in concert at the peak of their careers and was amazed at how brilliant each one of these bands were in their prime.

I will say this though, it was Robert Plant and Paul Stanley that made me want to be a vocalist. They are both talented frontmen in their own right.

Who are your favourite vocalists and why?

My favorite vocalists are as follows: Ronnie James Dio, Joe Lynn Turner, Steve Perry, Dave Meneketti, Daivd Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, Robert Plant, Bruce Dickinson, Lou Gramm & Steven Tyler. I like Roth, Stanley & Tyler more for the high energy, in your face, over the top antics that they have mastered in their live performances. They are great entertainers. I feel that as a vocalist you must be a great singer and good entertainer as well, in order to be considered one of the best. That's what I am shooting for-to be the best that I can be! If I do that, I think that people will definitely remember who the hell Toney Richards is. The other guys on my list have incredible vocal range and passion in their delivery.

These are two key elements to be a great singer. These guys have it and I am working on it, as well as my versatility. People say that I'm good but I humble myself when I compare myself to this list of great Hard Rock & Metal Vocalists.

Who is the girl on the cover of the album?

The girl on the front cover of our CD is my friend Lisa Monet. Lisa is a make-up artist in Hollywood and has worked with many famous celebrities. Her current gig is being the make-up artist for Ben Stein. Ben has a game show called "Win Ben Stein's Money"..

Lisa is a very cool lady with a great heart. She also did additional back-up vocals on "Chance On Love" which sounded great!

How did you meet her?

I met Lisa through my manager Jan James from Red Squirrel Entertainment. Lisa sells Beauty Control Cosmetics for men and women on the side. Anyways, Jan told me that she had this cool powder that I could use for stage, to protect my skin from all the harsh lights. <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

I gave Lisa a call and she came over and showed me her line of products (which are very good by the way) and that's how we met.

I later mentioned to her that I needed a person who had classic features, to pose for my CD cover. She had mentioned to me in a previous conversation that she had modeled before, so I knew that she would not be camera shy. She agreed to it and I was one happy camper. The other gal I had in mind was cute too but Lisa just had more spunk and character than Victoria did. So that's how it all happened.

Where was the picture taken?

The picture was taken at the City Hall Courtyard in Old Town Pasadena, CA. My friend Mieke Krammer took the pic and Lisa created the magical pose that I was looking for, in front of the fountain. She was asked to be a witness for this middle-aged couple that was getting married that day in the courtyard. The bride said that Lisa looked like an Angel the way that she was dressed and she wanted her to be the maid of honor & best man rolled into one.

It was the most bizzare thing that I have ever had happen at a photo shoot. Lisa did look very beautiful that day but I was still amazed at what happened.

What's your part of California like and what's like to live there?

I live in Studio City, CA. which is right over the hill from Hollywood. We are in Los Angeles (Southern California) and let me tell you- it's a great place to live! You cannot beat the weather. It's gorgeous all year round, especially if you come from a cold climate place. It truly is paradise!! There is so much to do and see and the beaches and sunsets are something to marvel at...

People are rude sometimes and traffic sucks but you have to program your mind to not let stupid shit like that, affect you.

Easier said than done!! It can be done though.

Is there a good music scene?

The music scene was very lacking according to my tastes but lately, it has began to pick up a bit, with a lot of cool shows that have taken place recently.
The big name acts are leading the way with a few new original acts getting some exposure. The thing that sucks is that there are too many f*ck*n' tribute bands out there cause everyone wants to make a quick buck. Promoters, band members, club owner, etc. I don't blame them but tribute bands are not the way to go.

Its a sad state of affairs when you have to count on a tribute act to pack the house for you. Its killing the scene for all the new original acts out here. As far as getting a good show in L.A., you have to have a manager who works for a reputable management company.

What's like getting good gigs in California?

If your a local like myself, you can get your own gigs in some of the smaller clubs but when you start talking 1,000 to 5,000 seaters, you have to have management and you have to have a following or they will not even look at you. Unless you know somebody of course!!
When you do land a good paying gig in L.A., it's real fun to play but be sure you bring your own sound guy and crew if your opening up for a National Act. Can you say sabotage?? I guess it happens everywhere though!!

Why did you decide to call the band D-Zire?

The original drummer and me came up with the name "Dezire". My Bass player and Guitarist liked "Antioch". Anyways, we flipped a coin and we won the toss. So tha'ts how the name came to be.

When Stell was let go and we did the trademark search to see if we could keep the name legally, we found out that there was a band in Pennsylvania that had the rights to the name. That's when we decided to trip out the spelling and trademark it. So we did just that.

Now we own the rights to the name in the States. Its a perfect name because everyone secretly desires something, whether they want to admit it or not. D-ZIRE! It works for us.

Why did you call the album 'The Awakening'?

We called it "The Awakening" cause I believe that we are at a time, in the evolution of mankind- that we have finally realized what our spiritual potential is, on a conscious level. This generation will see many changes take place worldwide. Some for the better and some for the worse. You will see mankind helping each other out like they have never done before in human history, by putting aside all racist bullsh*t and false pride and egotistical nonsense for the betterment of mankind as a whole.

It will be the governments of the world, that will try to control and mislead like they never have before. The Winds Of Change are here! "The Awakening" is, going back to pagan traditions and tapping into our higher self, in order to be enlightened and aware of everything that will be taking place in front of us, on a super conscious level. This is the time.....!!

Best moments recording the album?

The best moments recording the album were when we brought in all the special guests to do back-up vocals, keyboards, spoken word and just hang out. Those moments were all light and humorous and lots of fun-- watching the creative process take shape, as well as brainstorm ideas with other good caliber musicians.

When Mike Wilde and Billy Foxx came in, the mood in the studio was great. I had a blast working with both of them. Other than that, it was very frustrating and time consuming and expensive to be in there all the time. I was not 100% happy with the finished product and I feel that it still could sound a lot better, if I remix a few tracks.
I most likely will with the next batch that we print up.

The ultimate feeling of happiness and accomplishment was to pick up those ten boxes and opening up the first one and pulling a CD out and saying 'F*ck Yea!! We did it!!' And we did it all by ourselves without having to borrow any dirty money or doing anything stupid for it.

It was all blood, sweat and tears from all of our hard work.

That felt good!!

How did 'Kik O Rama Records' come to be?

Kik O' Rama is our own label that we started. We took the Motley Crue approach that they did on their debut album "Too Fast For Love"... We were having a hard time with some of the Indie Labels that wanted us to change our style of music because it was too hard to market. We basically said F*ck-Off and said we are going to do it our way and we have!

We would like to get picked up by a major in Europe more so than the States because people in Europe really like our music a lot. We want to play for people that appreciate what we do. The U.S. market is saturated in bullsh*t right now and I really don't see a future for good Melodic Hard Rock or Metal anymore. This Nu-Metal is pure crap!!

Are there any other acts on the label?

I will be doing a Solo Project that will be on the Label as well. I just want to stay busy when D-ZIRE is not doing anything.

I am also going to release some rare stuff that I have done with other people including a song that I wrote for the Michael Wilton audition, where he is playing guitar. It will not be for sale though because of legalities. It will be a bootleg thing with very few copies printed. It will not have a UPC code either.

What have been the best things that have happened at gigs?

There are several but I will share one with you, that will always stick out in my mind. We played a gig at a place called Northern Lights in Lakewood, CA. opening up for L.A. Guns.

It was not the original line-up: Phil, Kelly and Mick were not in the band. They had this punker looking dude with a mohawk as the vocalist, so they were supporting whatever album that dude sang on. Anyways, the crowd was kind of hostile and it looked like the meth was definitely flowing well that night (judging by all the bug eyed heads in the audience). We hauled our own equipment cause one of our roadies got arrested a couple of nights before for a DUI. I had this old beat up Toyota truck that I hauled my bass players bass cab in. We ended up using my truck.

I smelled trouble with the cops as soon as we got there. They were parked outside in their cars, just waiting to bust someone and we had not even gone on yet. We figured that they would bail and go f*ck with some other people but we were dead wrong.
They stayed the whole f*ckin' night, parked in the same damn' place!! I knew from going to the Red Onion on KNAC night back in the 80's, that Lakewood Cops had a reputation for being major assholes!! They came out publicly and said that they had their own gang and dared anyone to mess with them. That's how above the law they thought they were. Me and Byron (my bass player) were so f*ckin' paranoid because we both had warrants at the time for stupid irresponsible shit like not paying a speeding ticket and not appearing in court, that we ended up staying inside until it was time for us to go on. Bad idea!!

We sat at the bar and we drank our asses off to calm our nerves. By the time we went up and played, we did not give a sh*t how rowdy the crowd was cause we were both liquored up good. We put on one of our best shows and fucked with the crowd and cops. I was talking so much sh*t about the cops that even the people in the crowd that were speeded out of their minds were tripping out!! The cops walked into the venue cause I guess they heard all the remarks that I was making about the local law enforcement. Byron was laughing his ass off and I believe even pointed at them during the show.

We were fearless and didn't care. We were challenging them to f*ck with us and for some weird reason, I thought we could win..

After the show, several people in the audience came up to us and gave us high fives, girls wanted to f*ck us but we went back to the bar and continued were we left off and checked out L.A. Guns for a couple of songs and were not overly impressed by the new line-up. Tracii was the only one that was keeping it together.

Meanwhile, we were drinking away like mad men and the cops were just watching us, waiting till we left the club and got in the car, so they could bust us for a DUI. When the equipment was loaded and we were ready to leave, Byron came up with a very clever plan. He told me to fake starting my car and act like there was something wrong with it. He would then call Triple-A and have us towed back to his place in Anaheim.

Well needless to say, it worked like a charm. The expression on those cops faces was one of utter hate and anger. You could feel the negativity as we walked by them. They wanted to nail us bad and now with the tow truck, they had no chance at all. To top it off, the guy towed us with me and Byron in the truck all f*cked up!!

We waved goodbye to the cops and off we went. While we were on the freeway, Byron needed to take a leak--so he whipped it out and pissed out the window. I'm sure the cars behind us got some golden showers. It was classic and a very memorable night!!! We fought the law and on this particular night, we won!!

D-ZIRE-1 Cops-0

What occurrences influenced the song 'Hollywood Attitude'? What bands influenced it?

This song was inspired by experiences that me and Byron had living in Hollywood. Being raised in L.A. for most of my life, I had seen how the music industry would use bands like a cheap whore and then spit them out when they were through with them.
If you were lucky enough to get a deal, you would be shelved by the second album owing tons of money and being in financial debt because of all the money that you got fronted from the label.

You were basically a tax write off or a guinea pig to make someone else rich by signing all of your publishing rights away to the label.

Many bands in the 80's got screwed like this and some of them were my friends. "Hollywood Attitude" is about having the mental toughness and I don't give a sh*t attitude about what the f*ck is going on around me. I am on a mission to get to my destination and nothing or no one is going to stop me. That's the true Hollywood Attitude that was inspired by bands like Motley Crue and Guns & Roses. This is what D-ZIRE believes in!!

What influenced 'Chance on Love' ?- it sounds kinda Steevi Jaimz

"Chance On Love" was influenced by relationships that went sour and ended in animosity towards each other for whatever reason. People that want a free ride or want someone else to take care of them, are a waste of time in my book.

To hell with all manipulators!! Life is too short to play games. Be real and stay positive and good things will happen.

Without Love, there really is nothing. Life would be so empty and meaningless-this is reality for a lot of people. No matter what's thrown my way, I will always stay positive. If you do, then you will be receptive towards the real love that might be right around the corner. Tha'ts what "Chance On Love" is about.

What problems did you have with ADAT machines and how did you sort them?

Its not that we had any problems with them, its just a matter of preference. I wanted to record on analog but because of budgeting issues, we went with the ADATS and then converted it to DAT before we mixed and mastered. I think that ADATS are great for like movie soundtracks and things of that nature but in my opinion, they suck for vocals and guitar. It does not have the warmth that I like. It sounded too processed. It could have been the engineer we used-who knows. There could be some factors that we overlooked but our experience with the ADATS was not a memorable one.

Thanks to Horacio Colmenares (guitarist for New Eden), we were able to salvage the project.We used old classic tube compressors after we converted it to a DAT file to get the warmth back. I would still like to go back and re-mix a few tracks. I'm still not satisfied with it. I will tell you this though, that our next album will be on analog.

Who's no Angel in 'She's No Angel'?

Angel is this yuppie slutty chick that me and Byron know. She would pretend to be this self-righteous chick by day and then turn into this lady of the night. Hey, we are not complaining!! You do what you have to do I guess!! We paid tribute to her with "She's No Angel".. Cheers!!

What's the influence behind 'Daydream'?

"Daydream" is about government mind control. Sort of like the movie The Matrix. Its about a person who is struggling through life trying to find answers to deep rooted questions about why life is the way it is, if we are such evolved beings.

Anyways, he realizes that he has been asleep for a very long time and has finally awakened from his hypnotic state of existence. The next step would be to break out of the facade we call reality, which isn't reality at all. Deep stuff!!

Who is 'Amanda Mae' and what's the story?

Amanda Mae is my 7 year old daughter, who I love and adore. She is an old soul who just never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes children are born with insight and deep-rooted wisdom, that it's cosmic in a way. You wonder where they got it from-??

Amanda has this gift of insight. She has an important role in this life that she will fulfil when the time comes. She is a beautiful little girl inside and out and I felt compelled to write this for her.

I wanted her to remember me forever with this song. I think I accomplished my goal!

What are your favourite songs on the album?

That's a tough question!! I really like all of them.....
If I were to pick my top three they would be: "Don't Waste My Time", "Do Or Die" and "Jaded Hearts"..

How long have the songs been around?

Some since '95 other since 98 and the last batch in 2000'....

Would you say that you like to balance the album out with a variety of topics - what's your faves to write about and why?

Yes, we definitely like to keep a good balance when it comes to song-writing, both with the lyrical content and musical side of it. The analogy that I can give you, would be- driving a sports car that has major tork under the hood. You have to go through each individual gear to get to that last one where everything peaks out. Once you reach that 6th gear, your hauling at a steady pace until you down shift.

We like to change gears!! Melodic tunes, power ballads, Ballads, aggressive tunes, experimental tunes, moody trip tunes, etc. etc. You get the idea now-dont you old chap?? As far as topics go, yes- balance is key!!! I love to write about touchy issues like The Occult, Religion and Politics. Especially politics!! I luv to p*ss people off and voice my political views, being the Libertarian that I am. Its important to bring certain things to light, since the censored and Corporately owned American Media tries to feed our minds with bull shit every f*ck*n' day. At least the BBC in England has Journalists with balls and integrity.

We unfortunately cannot say the same about Journalists in the States. NO! NO! NO!
Not with King George Bush II around. I guess a short-wave radio would be the way to go- to seek out the truth, in the land of Abraham Lincoln.

I guess I am a bit angry about everything that has transpired with the election of 2000', the 9-11 scam and now this War for Oil in the name of Terrorism.

I LOVE MY COUNTRY!! I am a true American melting pot!! I am what this country is all about.

The great experiment that worked-that's what the U.S. will always be to Europeans and the rest of the world. That's o.k.!! I know that we are at a turning point in American History, where we will lose our political influence over world events. But that is the fault of our leaders, not the hard working people of this country that keep this well- oiled machine rolling. We are falling into a Babylonian trap!

I am against this War, because it is not time to go to War yet. I agree that we will have to but we have to wait, watch and study the deceitful tactics of the Harlot first. We should be working on improving all of our high tech toys, in case this crazy magician named Sad-mad-man does have nukes. I am telling you man, this whole situation is going to get very ugly. I don't know when- but what I see, is this scary scenario: The Rasputians, 1 billion crazy Maos' and the Arabian Knights joining forces together to destroy King David, The Bald Eagle and the Union Jack. I just hope I don't live to see it!! So lets protest and stop this madness and save the world.

Peace! Make Luv not War.... Smoke weed and drink beer... I hate f*ck*n' politics! It's so f*ck*n' primitive and unga-bunga like!! Can we say Alternative Form of Energy??? I think that might work. Maybe David Icke is right about these Illuminati turds!! Maybe there are not human and their snake like reptiles, that need to change the Earth's atmosphere in order to survive.

So how do they do that?? Pollution of course and depletion of the ozone. Food for thought!!

I really f*ck*d up this question now-haven't I??

So you see, I guess my favourite topic to write about would be politics.... Oh Boy!!! I mean Oh George!!

How has the Glam scene changed over the last few years? Good or Bad - reasons either way?

I don't think that the Glam Scene will ever enjoy the success that it had back in the 80's.. At least not in the States just yet. I believe that my daughter's generation (she's almost 8), will make a big impact on changing the course of music back to the way that it used to be but in a more modern approach--whatever that might be. I guess we will find out. That will be a very good thing!!

The MTV Generation of kids that grew up on this confused 1993 and beyond crap, don't have a f*ck*n' clue what its like to be a real musician and write good catchy melodic songs. Its really sad!! What's worse is that the Big Labels are allowing this influx of B.S. to rule the airwaves. Its created this street thug I'm white but act black mentality. Its really funny! I guess its good for the law enforcement people cause those are the kids they target. I am concerned about getting young kids to listen to our music. They are the future and can be very influential as they get older. All the 30 and over crowd, gets the Glam Scene-so we don't have to worry about them. Its all about the young bucks!

D-ZIRE is doing their part to try to change things around. We shall see what happens!

The Peppermint Creeps and the Newlydeads and few other obscure bands that play the Pretty Ugly Club at the Dragonfly are remaining true blue to the Glam cause. You have to respect that!!

Other than that though, its a dying breed... I think that D-ZIRE is more of a Hard Rock Band but people like to label us Glam cause we wear a little make-up. I could never compare myself to Tracy Michaelz of the Peppermint Creeps. I look very tame standing next to him. Tracy and the Creeps are L.A. Glam at its Best. They Rock!! I just saw him at the Bang Tango/Stephen Pearcy Show at the Key Club.

He's a very cool dude and I wish him and his band the best!!

Best Clubs in LA and why?

As far as performing goes, the Roxy, The Key Club and the House of Blues. Good Sound Sytems, Great Service and good stiff drinks.

As far as hanging out goes, The Rainbow, Bar Sinister, Coconut Teaszer on Glitter Glam Nites, Boardners, the front bar at the Troubadour, Club Vodka and Gazzari's Night at the Key Club, Paladino's (depending on who's playing)..... Good looking women, Good Music, Good Drinks and a cozy dark ambience!!

Is the band full time or do you do other jobs as well - if so what?

Hopefully, the band will become full time very soon!! I do have a day gig cause I need to support my daughter. I work for L.A. County Department Of Public Social Services as an Approved Medi-Cal Eligibility Worker. I am doing my part to make the world a better place! Hey, I'm trying... T-Man works for an International Marketing Firm. Billy works for a sign company and Byron is going to school full time and majoring in Computer Engineering.

What are the bands next plans?

We are going to be playing the West Coast, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado & Utah. Hawaii, Florida, New Jersey and New York are tentative at this time. We are also writing new material for the next CD, as well as getting sponsorships.
It should be a fun summer!!

The Album is awesome - how many has it sold so far and whereabouts?

I am glad that you like it and thank you very much for your kind words!! I know that its sold in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada and South America. I do not know how many units. That is a question for our Management Team.

Are you searching for a distribution deal at all?

We have distribution with Perris Records and CD Baby at the moment but we are always looking for more. Especially in the European Market.

Europe has been very good and receptive to us. If we can get a good distribution deal in Europe, we would all be very happy. The Fans are so loyal and dedicated to all forms of HardRock, Metal and Glam that you can't help but want to bust your ass for them. I wish American Fans were like that!

Are you a Uni-Graduate etc and what made you decide to include the spoken word 'Timeless Wisdom'? How long did it take to write?

Yes, I am a University Grad and embarrassed to say that I have my Associate Of Arts Degree, which is nothing compared to my sister who has a P.H.D. in Clinical Psychology. I went to a Catholic School for 12 years before attending Military School for my Freshmen year of College or University (as you Europeans would say).

"Timeless Wisdom" did not take me long to write at all. It just came to me and I wrote it down. I think I made one small revision and that was it. It was kind of cosmic! The reason that I decided to put it on the CD was because I felt, that there are a lot of people that are misguided and mislead and have lost sight of who they are, for whatever reason. This is suppose to be a wake-up call for the lost sheep.

It kind of has a Matrix feel to it! Free your mind and evolve to a higher state of consciousness, where understanding and enlightenment will manifest into inspiring thoughts and actions. That will reveal the truth about all mankind and why we are here.

Real deep stuff!!!

Where do you like to write best and how? With band or on your own? Electric or Acoustic?

I usually like to write when I am alone. I'll get a vocal melody in my head and then I'll quickly write it down. It's always a mad scramble to find a pen and paper! Sometimes I hear the music and sometimes I don't. The beach is always a favourite place of mine to escape to and find inspiration. Santa Monica, The Palisades, Mailbu,Zuma. There is something about that stretch of highway on PCH,that just ignites this inspiring feeling in me. The sunsets are awesome and the negative ions are good for the soul!!

Other places that I like are Greystone in Beverly Hills and Creekside Park in Walnut. They have this real cool trail with a natural creek and lots of wild life. It's really cool!!! When I write by myself, it's usually a cosmic kind of thing.

It all just comes together perfectly. When I write with the band, its also fun but in a different way.

Either way works for me! I prefer using an acoustic guitar when I write than an electric. I use an electric guitar more for sound variation when I write. The whole creative process is tons of fun!!


What do you wanna leave as a memory of for fans to remember you by?

I want to be remembered as a great inspirational lyricist, vocalist, front-man and entertainer.

I want to be up there with Jagger & Keith, McCartney & Lennon but with a much better vocal ability than any of those lads had and more versatility and balance than they had.

I want the fans to realise that I busted my ass for them and that they were my motivation and inspiration to be the best that I could be.

Creating joy in peoples' lives when they listen to my music is also important to me.

To sum it all up- To Be Remembered As A Crazy Yank, Who Was One Of The Best Hard Rock Vocalists That Ever Lived, would satisfy my mind and soul....


What is the male/female ratio and average age of your fanbase?

I thought I knew this but it keeps changing.

As of late, there have been more younger people getting into our music. I think its great!

I know what the male to female ratio is: it's about 70% women to 30% guys...

As far as average age, I really could not tell you. All the 80's Rockers luv our stuff but the kids are starting to as well. I would say 23 and up with a lot of exceptions as of late!!!


What would you find on a D-Zire gig rider?

Bush, Osama, Saddam, Blair and all of the Illuminati f*cks sucking Satan's cock!!

Do you get the visual on that one??

The Gates Of Babylon will be opened as Mr. Ronnie James Dio would say.....

What was the question?? D-ZIRE Gig Rider?

A picture of the band, our logo, date, time, venue and address. Our website addy and hotline number as well as the number to the venue that we're playing.

Never Stop Rocking England!!

Its time to control the airwaves again in this "Brave New World"....