An Interview with
Guitarist of Gunzo & Devil City Angels
and formerly of LA Guns & The League of Gentlemen
that took place on Sunday 4th October, 2015.
Interviewed By Glenn Milligan.
Tracii: Hi I moved to Vegas last night.
Glenn: You had a busy night last night?
Tracii: Yeah, I used to do this thing here called ‘Raiding The Rock Vault’ and I’m starting again this week so I came over a few days early to get used to it. I watched the show last night and was up until four in the morning. I had some whiskies – it was a good night.
Glenn: No hangover then?
Tracii: No, no – I’m good (We laugh)
Glenn: I can’t sup that sh*t. (I laugh). You’ve not long since been around to our neck of the woods haven’t you - over in the UK?
Tracii: Yeah I was just there two week ago. I’ve got a funny story.
Glenn: Go on.
Tracii: Everybody on the tour got sick. Everybody got a pretty bad cold. Mine’s still lingering. It’s just taking forever to go away. I know this woman over there called Kate Wilson and I said, “Man, I got this flu or something start”, and she said, “Yeah, you know, it goes around out here, the British Man Flu”. I said, “Oh, the British Man Flu”, and I’m thinking it’s like the bird flu or something like that. I went and looked up what the British Man Flue was and it’s just a winy bitch male. (We laugh) I wrote back, “That’s exactly what I have”.
Glenn: It’s so true. That’s what they call it here. I come over America twice a year and friends always say I bring the germs across. They all blame me that they’re all sick.
Tracii: Oh yeah, yeah – you bring it. It’s funny though. I’ve been over a million times. I love the cold weather – it’s my thing. I hate the heat and I don’t ever get sick but everybody on that tour got sick like the same day. It was the craziest thing because there’s three bands on the tour. I remember we were in Scotland in Edinburgh and we were all sharing a flat above the venue. I just remember after the show, everybody was jamming and playing music and then all of a sudden everyone just started coughing. It was just unbelievable as though we’d all got the plague or something. It was incredible.
Glenn: You can’t make it up!
Tracii: So I’m still dealing with it.
Glenn: We get it regular here. The weather here changes that much here. There’s a buddy of mine who says you can get all four seasons in the same day – it’s nuts!
Tracii: Oh yeah! It’s true. It was a little bit hot here and there when we were there but generally though it was just that perfect almost cold & almost raining. For some reason my body chemistry wants that. I could live there – no problem.
Glenn: You’re used to it!
Tracii: I am way more productive. When it gets to 80 degrees when the sun’s out, I hide. I just don’t like it. I’ve been like that all my life. Even when I was a little kid – a happy little kid, I just didn’t like hot weather. I grew up in California and it’s 90 degrees out and I’m like, ‘Jeez’. I became a surfer so I could go in the cold water. I’m a winy bitch. I always have been. I can’t help it. (We laugh)
Glenn: So which gigs stood out on that tour for you with Gunzo?
Tracii: Belfast did because it was the first time I had ever played there. It was how I pictured it. The metal fans there are just intense. They love it and Gunzo’s really the type of band where we really do the DIO or the LA Guns – we hit hard. Our singer, this guy that we just actually hired before that tour, he is called Michael O’Mara. The first singer I’ve ever been in a band with that’s not a poser. I don’t mean that in a bad way to any of the other guys.
He’s real – just a man. A man that sings f*ck*ng great and there’s no shtick. He’s real honest and he’s funny. He can really relate to a male audience where I think that’s where a lot of stuff from my era gets lost in translation later. When you turn 35 do you want to worship a guy wearing make-up anymore? (laughs). It’s true. Belfast really stands out although London was a great gig. It always is but tour was pretty good. I love Scotland too. The whole Led Zeppelin weather and luck. I thought it was great.
Glenn: I understand it was a rather colourful interesting night in Sheffield? That Michael had to stop the gig because there was someone fighting.
Tracii: What happened was, first of all, it was a last minute gig. It was one of these things. It was a Saturday night and we didn’t have a show booked. We took the gig and we showed up there. The people that were running the place were really nice. During the day everything was fine. Number 1, we couldn’t find a hotel because there was a football game the next day and everything was booked. So that’s how the day started. We were like, “Oh sh*t” and they said, “Well you could stay here at the club”. We said, “No – we’re not staying at the club.” We decided to move onto Manchester and the one band, Stone Trigger, their crew guy drove us to Manchester and went back.
When they got back it was like a changing of the guard. The regular management got their asses kicked by new management. There were drugs involved and stealing equipment, PA got thrashed and the soundman ended up under the PA. Of course, we hear about all this the next morning. “Like, what the f*ck happened?” I actually wished that we would have stayed there just to see the excitement but I guess it was really bad. It was funny because when we played it was just like a regular gig. It was strange. The tour was strange. I’ve never done ten shows in the UK as well in one thing. It was a lot of hard work
Glenn: I can imagine.
Tracii: Yeah and they were all in a row too.
Glenn: How did you discover Michael O’Mara?
Tracii: It’s interesting. This guy, Andrew Freeman, who is in the show I do in Vegas and also the singer for ‘Last In Line’, I wanted him to come over with Gunzo. I said, “Hey, why don’t you come over to England with us and then when I get back we’ll do the Vegas thing together?” He said, “That’d be great” but he couldn’t get out of his commitment here in Vegas so he recommended Michael to me. He said, “I know this guy called Michael O’Mara and he sings in a lot of tribute bands”. I was thinking, ‘Well that’s a great idea because we play all this different stuff’. I met him and he came to rehearsal. He was a little rough but we said, “Okay”. I did a lot of trying to audition people and when we got into rehearsal a week later he really knew the material. It was like ‘Wow!’. We went and did it and the reviews that came back… you know, he really did a great job.
Tracii: It’s great when you take a chance on somebody and it really pays off because it usually doesn’t. It really doesn’t.
Glenn: It’s a scary moment isn’t it for you?
Tracii: Oh yeah.
Glenn: I mean the band has never been to the UK before and over here they will either love you or hate you. If they don’t like you they’ll let you know.
Tracii: Oh yeah.
Glenn: You know it yourself.
Tracii: Oh I know. I mean, I’ve had gigs in the UK that have just been a mess. I remember I came over… I did a second record record with the ‘Brides Of Destruction’ without Nikki (Sixx) and the bass player Scott Sorry – a really cool guy – he just didn’t show up to the airport. We were on our way to Europe. We were doing a whole European Tour. He just didn’t show up!
Tracii: My tech, Jeremy said, “Don’t worry about it man, I learn the stuff as soon as we get in and then we’ll do it”. But it took a while. We did three or four shows where it was just a mess and boy, people let you know. They said, “Hey man, you should have cancelled the first week”. Sh*t, you live and learn.
Glenn: You can’t win because if you cancel they’ll start moaning and then you do gigs that aren’t up to standard and they’ll start moaning so it’s a lose-lose situation isn’t it?
Tracii: It is and the way that I have musical spirit, I’m always ready to go. I know that what I am going to be doing is going to be scratch and I can’t guarantee that the people around me are going to do it. (Laughs). I mean, I’ve got Rudy Sarzo these days so I think I’ve got it covered.
Glenn: So where did the idea come from to put Gunzo together?
Tracii: Rudy and I had done a benfit concert together for a friend of ours, Stuart Smith (from Heaven & Earth) who had a daughter who needed surgery – a cool guy. We did this together but we actually did two sets of music. It was really good. This was about five or six years ago. After that it was with the drummer, Brian Tichy who’s been with Ozzy etc. We got together for a minute and said, “Hey, we should really do something” because we played really heavy together and for one reason or another we all had other commitments so we didn’t follow it through. Then I played with Rudy at the Randy Rhoads Remembrance Tribute Shows and after the last one in January of this year I called him to do one show with me. I said, “Hey Rudy, can you play bass for one gig?”. He said, “Hey man, why don’t we just play shows all the time?”. I said, “Okay”.
So it was very unexpected and I didn’t know that he wanted to do something like that and I wasn’t really planning on really putting a new band together at the time because I had the Devil City Angels record coming out and I do a lot of stuff at home too. I do some soundtrack stuff. But I could tell that he really wanted to do it and my idea was, “Well you know, at first, let’s not try to force new music down peoples throats but we’ve got this great catalog of stuff between us.” So when we go out there and play all these hit songs and see if people like it. He said, “Yeah, yeah – that’s a great idea”. He’s such a great guy and every minute I play with him is a highlight of my life. It’s incredible to play with a guy like that.
Glenn: Great. That’s awesome. What have you been doing with regard to soundtrack work?
Tracii: I did a movie called ‘High On The Hog’ – that was the first movie I did in 2012. it still hasn’t been released. It’s great. It’s got Sid Hague who is very old school. He was in black exploitation films – a really cool guy. I did the whole movie and from that movie used as a demo I’ve been able to work with other people behind the scenes on smaller things. I got hired and I actually have a job with Universal in France to do their rock music library stuff for films & TV commercials. It works different to other stuff I’ve done. They actually hire me to do an album of music at a time. There’s no vocal, no lyrics, no nothing like that – it’s just straight out rock. Then I work with a guy named Nicholas who put us all together – a German guy - he’s composer.
Then Shane from Gunzo, he’s the drummer in the whole thing so it’s really three guys. I come up with really outrageous guitar riffs. Not shredding but more like big Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix influenced stuff. Then Nicholas, he puts crazy orchestra stuff over it and it gets sent off. It’s time consuming but it’s a good gig. It’s a cool thing to do and I just get better and better in the studio. That’s where it’s kind of been where I love living in the studio. Throwing microphones in front of me and he’s going, “Wow – that’s neat!” I’ve got a 6 ½ year old son so I am always going, always doing something.
Glenn: So the ‘Devil City Angels’ album, it’s been out to weeks but how did the band ‘Devil City Angels’ come to be originally?
Tracii: Well again, Brian Tichy the drummer guy, he puts these tribute things together and hires all these guys. Rikki Rockett and I… this was John Enwistle/Keith Moon Tribute show at the House Of Blues in LA. Rikki and I got put together in the same little group to do ‘Squeezebox’ and ‘The Kids Are Alright’. After we did the songs, Sean McNabb who was the bass player said, “You guys should start a band” and we did. We said, “Okay” and we started the band. The idea was that we would write original music that was in that poppier ‘Who’ vein like the two songs that we played. That was the very initial idea. Then when we got Brandon the singer involved… Rikki Rockett had known Brandon for some reason since he was a kid. When we got him involved, he brought Eric Brittingham along with him.
When we started writing it expanding a little bit more but the idea was always to do something that fit in our teenage record collection – Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Queen – all those kind of influences. It was a really fun record to make and to write and it went really quickly. It was a really easy thing to do and as time goes forward… in fact, I was telling my son last night. “I’ll make a record or I’ll do a recording and I don’t really absorb it because I’m onto recording something and writing something right away and finish something. The record came out and I started reading reviews and doing a lot of interviews and people love the god-damn record. I’m just like “What?” So I hadn’t listened to it since it had been mixed.
Last week before I came here, I had a string of interviews and just figured, that maybe I should listen to the record so that I can really be honest about it and it’s a f*ck*ng great record. I was like, “Wow – we did something really good”. Now that all the guys are excited and want to tour with us. There’s more stuff to do next year.
Glenn: The name itself, ‘Devil City Angels’ – does that originate from the fact that Los Angeles is known as the City Of Angels and you are like Devils in the City Of Angels? Is it a spoof kind of name?
Tracci: Yeah. It’s like a tongue-in-cheek stab at ourselves. First it was the Angel City Devils. That’s how we started and then Rikki said, “There’s a cover band in L.A. called ‘Angel City Devils, now they are gonna sue us”, I said, “They’re not going to sue us”. He said, “Let’s be safe”, so I said, “Let’s call ourselves Devil City Angels”, and he said, “I like that better”. That was that. How do bands come up with names? (We laugh)
Glenn: Well the first time I thought I had got the name right, I got this other band. ‘Is it Charm City Devils? – No!’. Then I got it ‘Devil City Angels’ (I laugh).
Tracii: People call it a billion different things. It’s the one with the star and the chick in the middle.
Glenn: Yeah that’s the album cover isn’t it?
Tracii: Yeah. I remember the fist time. A guy in Florida put the logo together for us – a couple of different logos. Right at the beginning he said, “Iwant to be involved in your band and do some. Right away seeing it in the cool lettering I said, “Hey, that looks great – that will definitely work.” This way, things are just so over the top and it seems like no-one’s ever paying attention to anything but apparently people do. (We laugh). Look, I’m still learning how to play the guitar (he jokes).
Glenn: (I laugh) That’s funny sh*t. Did it take long to record the album?
Tracii: Well we did it in two phases. The first four songs happened before we did a little tour. We recorded four songs a couple of years ago and got them up on the internet right away because we knew we were going to go play. We did the first one in one day and Eric and Brandon flew home. They came back two weeks later and we did the next three songs in three days – that was the first round. Then we came back from the tour and we literally wrote and recorded the last six songs in the band in under two weeks – 7 or 8 days! We were being managed by Larry Major at the time.
He just sad, “Man, you guys are like one song after another – these are great”. I said, “Larry, you’re nuts, we’ve just thrown these together!”. He said, “No – they’re great” and I said, “Okay, I guess we’re done! Okay here you go! In the end it was great as for the songs and it should – they’re f*ck*ng good. But you never know, when you’re in it either you feel it or you don’t. At the time, I felt it but it wasn’t the normal feeling I get when I write something that’s outrageously groovy. It seemed real feel-good – Summertime. But looking back, it does have a lot of depth. The drums sound f*ck*ng great. It’s got to be the best thing Rikki’s ever done.
Glenn: Yeah – the album stuff sounds sh*t hot! I was checking it out. It sounds so good. It’s really exciting stuff. It’s got the groove. It’s got the energy. Everything’s there on it.
Tracii: Yeah. I don’t know how we did it! (laughs). I mean, literally it was between two homemade studios. There was no calling up the studio and booking time or anything like that. It was my studio and Ricki’s studio. The first four songs are done at my studio and the last six are done at his studio and they all fit together. We must have the same set of ears. I mean, a lot of credit has to go to Anthony Focx – the guy that mixed it. He is a genius mixer. I drive a 1971 Valkswagen van and I’ve got a really good stereo in there. I was in the van just 5 days ago – I was going to dinner with a promoter from South America.
On the way there, that’s the first time I listened to the CD. I thought, ‘Damn’ and turned it up really loud and thought to myself, ‘Rikki Rockett – Jesus Christ! Awesome!’ And Eric, I mean he is an amazing bass player. He had great ideas when we wrote and we had an amazing time doing it. It was just one after another, as soon as one song was done we just got straight onto the next. It all went down so quick in that short timeframe!
Glenn: You didn’t have time to think about it. You just got on with it and got the job done. You can relax a bit later and think ‘Yeah’. It makes some sense.
Tracii: Yeah. That’s a really good way to look at it. Like I was saying, I have my son and he’s always my first concern. A lot of times when I’m working, my heart and soul’s into it but I’m thinking the whole time, ‘Okay, 2:30, I gotta go because I’ve gotta get my kid from school’. But that’s happens when you have a young one, you are thinking about him and not what would Jimmy Page do all of the time.
Glenn: Which have been your favourite songs on the album so far that you’ve picked up on when you’ve played them live?
Tracii: I like the heavy stuff like the opening track ‘I’m Living’ because it’s so groovy and thick. I love the recording. The other one I really like is ‘Boneyard’ it sounds like Cheap Trick and The Beatles.
Glenn: The one with the video.
Tracii: 'Boneyard’s cool and there’s ‘All My People’ and ‘All I need’. I don’t know. I like ‘em all.. It’s a f*ck*ng good record!
Glenn: It seems to be yeah. I can’t wait to put it on myself as I haven’t got it yet.
Tracii: I’ve got to order the vinyl from Century Media. They didn’t send them to us. I’ve just started collecting records like everybody else does these days. I figured I’d get one of my own records. (Laughs)
Glenn: That’s bizarre isn’t it? (I laugh)
Tracii: Hey times have changed Glenn! (Laughs)
Glenn: I know. It’s good that you can actually still get CD’s and you can now get records again. I don’t know about you but I can’t stand this download of MP3’s. The way I look at it, if you go to a gig or a signing – you can’t sign an MP3 player can you? It’s ridiculous.
Tracii: Right. No. But it’s kind of representative of everything that is going on. There is that but in the end, if something’s easy to get, it’s easy to forget.
Glenn: Yeah true.
Tracii: The ritual of going and having someone prepare your meal or waiting in line to get something you’re excited about – those days are gone. I think that’s why the festival atmosphere is so massive. Whether it’s electronic dance music, a Metal Festival or Country Festivals. It’s like the only thing left where people can stand in line and get excited about. It’s a tangible thing. But everything else is really just becoming waved in the air.
Glenn: Yeah. It used to be the fact that that whole was spent getting that album you wanted. You’d have to go into town and buy it, then come all the way back and look at it before you had chance to put it on your stereo. Now it’s just click a button on Amazon and you’ve got it.
Tracii: yeah it’s weird and I remember back in the 70’s getting Van Halen 1 and putting it on. It was a rainy day, my dad took me to the store… you know what I mean, I remember all that stuff. I remember I was 12 years old and I had a girlfriend named Debbie. She bought me ‘Physical Graffiti’ by Led Zeppelin for my birthday. I just remember sitting in front of the stereo for like a week!
Tracii: Looking at all the art. It was a great experience. But those are just memories. We are lucky to have those kind of memories there whereas people now like teenagers for example, they have their own memories. But you know what I’m saying. It just shifts.
Glenn: It’s weird.
Tracii: Yeah. It is. I try to point out to people too that there’s really in reality only been seven generations of pop music. You’ve only been able to buy music in a mass way for 70 years. It’s not like an ancient art form. Obviously music goes back forever but the way that you consume music in the scope of history it’s in its infant still. So who knows? Who really knows what’s going to happen? And I’ve got to tell you, in pop music with vocals and lyrics, people are f*ck*ng running out of ideas. I listen to the radio back and forth to Vegas and I try to listen to what is going on. It’s f*ck*ng terrible! There’s nothing left! There’s just nothing left. The stuff that we tend to like is very reminiscent of something older. You know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah totally.
Tracii: Nothing – so who knows? When it comes back and when you look at chart and dance music and hip-hop, it’s really down to that beat and that groove that we’re so attracted to. That’s a very primitive thing. So I don’t know, a hundred years from now people may not even be listening to what we would consider music at all. It’s awful but there you go.
Glenn: It’s a funny concept. So how have the gigs been so far for Devil City Angels? Have you managed to do any shows while Rudy’s been in the band so far or are you still waiting to do that?
Tracii: Yeah we are still waiting to do that. Rudy really has this thing where he will join a band after its all done, get on the album cover. He told me. He literally has a World Record for being on the most album covers that he didn’t play on. But at the same time he’s like a good luck charm. Somehow his energy that he brings in with him with people, those things become very popular. Already Devil City Angels without doing one gig or anything since the record’s come out, I’ve gotten more positive reaction from this record than I think anything I’ve ever done.
Glenn: It’s incredible.
Tracii: It’s weird. I blame that on Rudy because Rudy’s involved. When Rudy’s involved in something everybody automatically loves it. That’s just the way it goes.
Glenn: Yeah it’s funny because you have all that history with the classic LA Guns albums you know?
Tracii: Yeah. Well the live idea which is the way in which you said. We’d go out there and we were playing Cinderella, we were playing Poison, we were playing LA Guns and then we had some new music that sort of fits in there when we play it live because the band has a certain chemistry and sounds all a certain way. Now I can’t wait to do it with Rudy because now Devil City Angels kind of becomes Gunzo.
Glenn: I know, I was just thinking that.
Tracii: Yeah it’s very bizarre and very unplanned and unexpected that we really are in some realistic conversations with an agent about doing some really cool stuff next year with Devil City Angels. I’m looking forward to it. It’s not like I wasn’t looking forward to it, I just didn’t expect it.
Glenn: What happened to Eric Brittingham? Why did he leave?
Tracii: Well that’s the sh*tty thing about being an adult. You’re an adult, you have kids, you have responsibilities and you live in a different location in Eric’s case. Ricki and I have certain luxuries being in L.A. and we’re kind of a little bit looser. But Eric's got to work, he’s got to kick ass and he can’t be wasting time flying back and forth to L.A. to do stuff. He said, “Hey guys, I’ve got to get to my family and I’ve got to take my life seriously”. It’s not like we don’t but he’s in a different position for himself. Ultimately he said, “I can’t do it.” We said, “Hey man, we love you”, and he’s such an amazing guy and player. Rudy and I had just started Gunzo. I said, “Hey Rudy, do you want to do this too” and he said, “Yeah” and it was as simple as that.
Glenn: It’s perfect really how it’s worked like that. So how did you discover Brandon?
TraciI; Well Ricki somehow met Brandon seven or eight years ago. He was in a band with his brother called ‘The Gibbs Brothers’ and they did some shows with Poison and Cinderella. Ricki said, “I know this singer. He’s from Iowa – he’s this amazing singer”. I watched some videos of him and I thought to myself, ‘Man, this guy’s really good’. The thing that really sold me on it is that I got on the phone with him and he’s like a very realistic, down-to-earth guy. I think he’d just turned 30. I always liked the idea that if you are going to do something with old guys, you’ve got to have a new guy or just not (at all). There’s got to be some kind of balancer. When he came out, we recorded ‘All My People’. That was the first thing we ever recorded. He just has a really great way about him. People love him, he just makes friends – he’s one of those people. Puts himself in front of a crowd and never gonna know who he is and he makes friends with the whole crowd. He’s one of those guys.
Tracii: Fortunate to have a guy like that in the band.
Glenn: Yeah. It’s the best thing you could have done. It’s not like getting someone that everyone knows because that main frontman from another band makes you guys a backing band for that guys new band and it totally takes the concept away.
Tracii: Yeah I completely agree. That was a thing. It depends if you love the singer or not is going to depend on how it goes. I always thought that Audioslave are really cool because I really like Rage and I like Soundgarden and that makes sense. Somehow the Rage guys didn’t become the back-up band for the guy. But the weird one was Velvet Revolver. I love the music, I love the concept and I thought everything was great but then Weiland became such a thing . Then the destiny of the band was now controlled by the frontman. You don’t ever want to be in a position like that where all of a sudden you become secondary because you do have a famous singer and depending on his mood that day dictates what the other four or five members are going to do. That’s really not cool.
We said if we have a young guy and an unknown guy, you can push that guy around. It’s like saying, “Hey look you’re great but you’re a wild card here and you can’t just be a winy bitch”. We’ve got to do this sh*t and do our homework and we’ve got to be serious enough to do this. So it is an odd situation and I’ve had to deal with it a few times. The first kind of supergroup – I hate that f*ck*ng term but it’s true, I did Contraband with Richard Black. He’s the singer and he’s in front of me and (Michael) Schenker, (Bobby) Blotzer and it’s like, “Hey Man, we’re believing in you and we know you’ve been around a while but nobody really knows who you are yet. The first f*ck*ng show we ever did was down in Florida, we were all on tour together and he walks off-stage because he couldn’t hear himself. He just walked off stage and that was the last gig he’s ever done. The last public thing he’s ever done.
Tracii: Yeah. We just said, “F*ck that guy!” and that is that. You just can’t do it.
Glenn: When you had your own LA Guns, I was talking to Scott Foster-Harris and he was saying there ws going to be a band called ‘The League Of Gentlemen’. What happened with all that because it all went quiet.
Tracii: Well that’s like my vanity thing. It’s kind of like where this other stuff leads to like ‘Devil City Angels’. The League Of Gentlemen’ is like another concept thing. I want to make my on records that I can listen to that have that pre-1973 kind of vibe like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and all that sh*t that everybody else loves. But I love it too and they don’t make anymore. So I wanted to have a project where I can make those records, I can record those records with those techniques and something that I can feel really proud of and put on anytime and know that I’ve satisfied a certain element of my musicality. When I found Scott, the singer, another young guy, he just walked in the room. I was playing with somebody else and he walked in to audition for someone. I said, “Man, 1969 just walked in”. We just became really good friends. He was in a band called ‘Zen Rising’ at the time. They were a f*ck*ng cool band.
We started writing and we took a long time – two years to record and finish our very first record and then we toured. We did a lot of stuff together. Then the first time I came to Vegas was 2013, I was there for a year. That’s when I decided, “Hey guys, we ought to do another record” and Scott had moved to Austria. When I got done here in Vegas, I built another studio here in L.A. and oddly enough, the bass player, Craig McCloskey, he’s my tech here at Vegas. We were able to come up with an idea. “Hey look, we can’t get in the same room and write music so this is going to be really sh*tty so let’s do a cover record with the same concept – everything pre-1973”. In the end it was an open-ended project. It’s just, “When can we do more records”. They are easy to do. It’s very natural stuff and everybody is like a super hippy guy and that stuffs really fun. That kind of record is great.
Glenn: I love all that stuff as well.
Tracii: Yeah it’s great.
Glenn: The first thing I thought when I first met Scott Foster-Harris when I was with Megan Potts at The Rainbow Bar & Grill was ‘Who’s this dude? It’s like the last forty years had disappeared’. He’s there and you’r back to ’69 again. I thought, ‘This guy’s pretty cool!’
Tracii: I think that some people though, they would put out a record like that and go, “God this is dated, I’m not into it”. But for someone that gravitates towards it and is open-minded and wants to hear it, you shift through that first record and it’s really a thing because we’ve got the ‘Badfinger’ stuff and the Nilsson stuff mixed in with the original stuff. It fuses together in a way that if it was 1970 let’s say, that record would have come out.
It would be an important record, It would be like, ‘Wow’ – the way that the layers are created and it’s weird because I’m getting older and one of the things that I am aware of as I get older is the creation of a recording and why do all those records from 1963 to 1978, why do they sound so big and why are they so timeless? Well there’s a reason and I’m more interested in that reason these days more than anything else and knowing how to create something that when people, if they like it, it’s going to stick with them forever and it’s not doing what everybody else is doing right now. That’s exactly what the secret is.
Glenn: I totally agree with you. There’s not many albums these days where you can keep going back to and say, “That’s as good as The Rolling Stones ‘Exile On Main Street, that’s as good as The Beatles ‘Abbey Road’ – they just don’t exist anymore.
Tracii: Right. There was a hint though like Amy Winehouse. She was really, really on something. Granted it was not a heavier blues-based rock but it really fit in with that Diana Ross & The Supremes. It had that retro thing where I think that had she stuck around and was able to creat more music as time went on as she got older we would have really have been shocked and surprised by what would have come out of her. Her Producer and who she was working with, they really had it down because if you listen to her earlier music it was just dance music. Her voice was always great but it was pretty much crap. All of a sudden they stumbled on something that really made a mark and onto a broader thing.
I think it’s like Bruno Mars. He has to be that popular because he’s the only one that’s leaning back on the James Brown, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones and putting it altogether with Michael Jackson and other stuff. I don’t really listen to his music but I completely get it. I’m like, ‘Yeah!’. Of course, this guy has be be huge. He’s got the right ego. He’s insane. So if you look back, that’s the ingredients that all these guys have for example Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, well actually, more Pete Townshend – these guys had vision. They had a vision that they latched onto and it took some experimenting and particularly The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. It’s like ‘Yeah’. This natural ability to not think about the world around you, lock yourself in a place and then provide that and if you’re any good people are going to like it. Now it’s like designing a cheeseburger.
Glenn: Yep. I saw someone called Alicia Dixon on TV the other night and thought, all these people, they have these f*ck*ng dance records and they all sound the same and they all look the same. It’s just like all you want to do is say, “Can I have some fries as well?” You know what I mean? It’s just ridiculous.
Tracii: Yeah. You’re right. You are absolutely right. I was listening to Rock Radio yesterday. I am not sure what kind of music they were playing. It was all kind of newer metal although it could have been from the 90’s. It was obviously they were different bands but from the sound of the songs it was like they were playing the same album for two hours. It wasn’t but it sounded like it. It was like ‘man’! The guitar sound, the drum sound, the vocal style – it was all roar, roar, roar. To me it didn’t sound very heavy but I knew that they were trying to be heavy. It was a more commercial radio station so I know that what it is I was listening to that came out, people love that sh*t. But I did notice what you were talking about.
Even the Metal thing is like ‘F*ck, no wonder it’s not popular around here, they kind of ran out of steam’. The stuff that seems to do well always is the stuff that is more underground – even in the metal world. When there are zero rules and people take things to extremes – Pantera is a great example of that. Taking it to extremes and then you don’t really need to have a commercial success in order to sell tickets and get in front of a big crowd and really change things. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that in rock.
Glenn: Yeah. You are dead right. Hopefully you guys can bring that back. There’s been a few good bands of recent but we want it hit on the breakthrough and take it to that level that all the other commercial people are on without the bands that are good now turning into some commercial tripe.
Tracii: It happens.
Glenn: Yeah the suits take over and f*ck it up.
Tracii: What I really liked and it’s been a while were ‘AFI’ – I really liked that band. Then they got a major record deal, brought out a record and it was okay but it wasn’t what I liked. Before they got that and they were just being honest and being themselves, they were one of my favourite bands. Then they put out a commercial record. I thought, “Yeah, they’re smart, they did it for them”. But as a music fan, they lost me there. They really lost me. Of course, there’s Turbonegro - they’re never going to have commercial success over here but they are so great at what they do.
For all these people that take their chances to be themselves and to push through their own ideas that I think last and Turbonegro certainly have done that. Especially in their homeland. In Asia, they’re huge. They’re great, funny, smart and ridiculous but it’s them. There’s no other Turbonegro. That’s the point when you are creating a band because teenagers still have dreams of being rock stars – they really do. If they can do something that’s great and reminiscent to original, they may have a chance. People don’t give you the time of day now. You’ve got to get it right in 30 seconds…
Glenn: Or you are kicked off the label. Talking of records, you are on a company called ‘Maniac Records’. Who are they?
Tracii: That’s a post I made. That’s an Argentine record store. They posted the record.
Glenn: So it exists bit it doesn’t if you know what I mean?
Tracci: Yeah. I haven’t been there literally. I took a picture and it’s on instagram and I’m trying to promote my record. I have to be careful what I post. People always think that it’s something else. It’s a social media thing and who has time to do that all day. So right now I’m in Vegas for six weeks and also (in between) I am going to Mexico in two weeks because we’ve got three shows with Gunzo with Quiet Riot and Stephen Pearcy.
Glenn: That’s cool.
Tracii: But for the bulk, I am going to be here in Vegas playing ‘Stairway To Heaven’ every night man! It doesn’t get much better than that.
Glenn: Yeah. That’s ‘Rock Vault’ isn’t it?
Tracii: Yeah it’s great. It’s a thing man. I don’t know how it’s lasted but its great. People come and I was there last night to watch the show and people just love it. That’s the thing. That’s the proof that Classic Rock – that was it – that’s the time!
Glenn: It’s true. It’s great people appreciate it. They are going to appreciate it because it’s classic. I bet you’ve been asked this a million times in the last few weeks but here goes: How was it doing some shows with Phil Lewis? How did that come to be?
Tracii: Well the reason I don’t do LA Guns anyway has nothing to do with Phil. I think we had to get past this point of our relationship. 10 years ago it just became ridiculous. We were just going at each other and we both realised that at some point that we were going after each other for another reason and we didn’t think that when we weren’t playing together. So fast forward to these days. We both realised that we created something at a time that was important to people. Not to everybody but to a certain amount of people.
We just decided that when opportunities come we can do stuff together in a meaningful way. Not just throwing sh*t together but in a meaningful way. We would take opportunities and see what there is to do. I mean, we get on great. The next step is obviously and he is kinda bugging me a little bit saying, “Hey, send me some music”, but then again, I’ve got to be careful because if I do something with Phil it has got to be great. It always has to be great. That’s always my first thought with anything. It has to be great. So we play live right now. We are going to do a rock thing on the 10th of this month. Basically, it’s just great to get together with him and play the old songs in front of people and they don’t expect it. It’s a good thing.
Glenn: It’s pretty ironic because there’s just been that thing that Axl and Slash are now friends and are going to be playing together and now there’s you and Phil. It’s like you can’t make it up can you?
Tracii: No you can’t play on that shit. It’s funny because all the new age kids are saying, “Oh yeah, it’s the Universe Man!, It’s the Universe!”. You know, in a way, they’re right, you can’t play on this sh*t – it happens and there you go. You can’t deny when something’s fun and when something is going to maker sense you just do it you know?
Glenn: Yeah. That’s killer. So the next six weeks you are fully booked up.
Glenn: Yeah. Vegas.
Tracii: Yeah but I get to sleep in a bit more because I don’t have to take my kid to school being here. (We laugh)
Glenn: Well it’s good you’re enjoying it so much as well.
Tracii: Oh yeah.
Glenn: How would you say personally is L.A. different to Vegas or Vegas different to L.A. should I say?
Tracii: Well they are extremely different. The thing that they have in common is that they’re both a façade. Glitz and glammer and all that stuff. The difference is, is that in L.A. – if you are motivated enough, you can have success in the entertainment business because you have a lot of people there who have stars in their eyes and think things are going to happen automatically which is never the case. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it. Vegas is kind of the retirement Hollywood. Like, ‘Okay I have had some success and now I’m not really needed in Hollywood’.
If you are not a current force, you can come here. As a tourist it’s like the retirement celebrity tourist trap. In Hollywood – you want to live in Hollywood. It’s nice – there’s hills and trees. There’s people and things to do and it’s a big melting pot. Vegas is a little town in the middle of a desert. That’s really what it is. I mean, there’s casinos and all that stuff but outside of that it is a little tiny town in the middle of a desert. That’s really where it ends. There’s unemployment here just like everywhere else.
Glenn: God it’s everywhere in this world over isn’t it? It’s nuts.
Tracii: Oh it’s tough man. It’s brutal.
Glenn: Yeah. What would you say you are most proud of over the years?
Tracii: The thing is, is like everything is in the past. So I’m proud that I’m still here. I think that’s the best way to look at everything. Being proud of still being able to affect people in a positive way through creating something musically and being able to look back and say, “All these trials and tribulations are all just ridiculous’ because at the time everything seemed so important. But now, those times are gone and they don’t mean sh*t. The proud moment is waking up and saying, “Hey man, I’m to play guitar today and I’m going to do something meaningful with it”. When you are getting there, that’s it. If that’s your chosen path and you’re able to do it, then you should be proud of that. I think that I have come to that conclusion that if the phone still rings and people still want me to do stuff in the form of guitar, I’m a lucky a**h*le!
Glenn: Yeah. You’ve done so much, you’ve played on so many tours in so many venues and everything else, I could ask what’s your favourite gigs etc but where do you want to start and where do you want to finish so to speak? You could go on forever.
Tracii: I do know my favourite gig and my favourite gig is when I played with ‘The Brides Of Destruction’ at Donington. That was the most high energy thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Not to take away from any of the original music I’ve done but we played ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Shout At The Devil’ at Donington, I’ve never felt energy come out from an audience like that. It was insane! The volume level just went nuclear and the videos are on youtube.
It’s like any time I’m feeling depressed all I’ve got to do is go and watch it and I go, “God damn - look at that!”. It was so hot that day. I remember that Slayer went on right before us for some reason and I remember watching Kerry King – it was so hot! He was just ploughing through and he gave me all this motivation. ‘Like okay it’s 110 degrees in this tent and we gotta go follow Slayer – How do you do that?’ But we did it. Now that has to be the greatest for a Heavy Metal Guitar Player – that was a good one.
Glenn: A friend of mine (Leighton Stead) asked me to ask you, When are you going to get the original LA Guns back together?
Tracii: Arghhh!! Well people want that or I think people think they want that like that fact that people want the Guns ‘N’ Roses reunion thing. I honesty think that with Guns ‘N’ Roses there’s a certain curiosity factor that will blow it through the ceiling. I mean, they’d make billions of dollars. It makes so much sense to do it. But LA Guns, we weren’t a commercial success like that. At this point it would be like a cult following.
Then to get Kelly and Mick doing it and having it make financial sense ad bringing it to the fanbase that exists – it’s just not very realistic. However, there are really good possibilities for Phil and I to do these kind of things and that’s what we’re hinting around at. It’s getting together and playing in front of people and the more of that the better obviously. So one day at a time.
Glenn: The good thing about it is that you’ve got all these routes you can work on. You’ve got the thing with Phil, you’ve got the possibilities of more from The League Of Gentleman, you’ve got Gunzo, you’ve got Devil City Angels, you’ve got soundtracks – you’ve got every part covered haven’t you?
Tracii: Yeah. I’m trying to be the only guy in music (We laugh).
Glenn: Where the phone still keeps ringing! That’s great.
Tracii: Yeah I’ve got to make enough stuff that when I die my kid doesn’t have to work. With all that money streaming in for him, then I did my job on earth right.
Tracii: It’s all about the kid man and always will be.
Glenn: So how are you going on the financial thing with that? What a thing to ask? Work in progress?
Tracii: Yeah. Everything’s good. But it’s never enough.
Glenn: That’s it. ‘Never Enough’ (I sing the song title) – What a line to finish on!
Tracii: Yeah. Everything is as they say in my neighbourhood, ‘All is Blano’.
Glenn: Yeah cool. I’m gonna wrap it up any minute but is there anything you’d like to mention that we’ve not discussed?
Tracii: Yeah. How do you get rid of a cold that’s been around me since being in Britian?
Glenn: You don’t tour Britain. (I joke) But I can’t say that because we want you back across here.
Tracii: Yeah. I want my lungs back today. I say as I reach for a packet of cigarettes! Actually, I’m feeling it in my lungs and my nose. It’s so dry in Vegas, you can automatically get dry throat because of the dryness here.
Glenn: Well the good thing about it, you don’t have to stick yourself behind a microphone as much. You can just play the guitar. You are safe to do backing vocals if you feel like it now and again.
Tracii: Well yeah that’s always been what I’ve wanted to do. Hey, I don’t know how many times you’ve watched ‘The Song Remains The Same’ but Jimmy Page sings once and he kinda walks up to the mic. to sing the chorus in ‘Whole Lotta Love’ but I don’t think he actually gets close enough to the mic. where you can hear him. It’s almost like he goes to Robert Plant , “Hey man, how can I fake my way through this?”
Glenn: It’s a bit like when you had John Deacon in Queen. Nobody had a clue what John Deacon sounded like?
Tracii: Yeah, yeah and people can’t leave that guy alone. He’s like, “F*ck off, I’m trying to enjoy my 70 billion dollars”. God bless him.
Glenn: Awesome. Right Sir, I’m going to let you get off but it’s been an absolute pleasure having a good chat with you.
Tracii: Thanks Glenn. I had a good time and I hope to see you soon.
Glenn: Oh you will do. You take care Brother.
Tracii: Okay bye.
Glenn: See you later man. Bye.
A bit thank you to Valerie Ince for placing me in touch with Tracii Guns, Leighton Stead for the question and of course Tracii Guns for the up-front straight to the point words and amazing laughs during the Interview.