Warrant Guitarist Billy Morris
What a perfect time to hit Billy up for a Rewind! Fresh off the Rock Fest tour and last weekend’s controversy!
We first did 20 Questions with Billy on May 22, 2001. This Rewind was done yesterday, September 18th, over the phone by his webmaster Chris Akin. We heard that Billy had a lot to get off his chest so we sent out the questions and here it is!
1. What are you currently up to?
What am I up to….well, coming home, the first thing that I wanna do is get my solo CD finished. I’ve got 10 songs done and 2 songs almost done and after that I’ll be giving it to my manager, not Obi Steinman. A guy that’s out of Pittsburgh, and he’s gonna shop that for me. Number 2 in line, I’m diving full force into the Revolution to get it back on it’s feet, since it always suffers a little bit when I take off. Also, you know, getting back to my motorcross career.
2. Enough chit chat. How do you feel about the allegations Artists Worldwide is making against Warrant?s manager Obi Steinman?
Well I don’t know exactly what’s going on. But, I would have to say that they’re probably both a little bit at fault and they’re both trying to throw a little bit of blame on each other. But that’s just par for the course. You get 5 rock bands on a major tour like that and somebody is going to get pissed off. That’s how I feel about it.
3. We understand that Jani isn’t working in the kitchen anymore? Why?
Ok. You know what, this should be question #1. I would like to use this case in point to make a statement on the whole kitchen fiasco at the Hi-Fi Club. Number 1, and in bold letters, JANI LANE NEVER WAS A COOK AT THE HI-FI. Uh, last year, when I got off the road with Poison, I took all the money that I made and me and my two partners bought this club in Lakewood called the Hi-Fi Club. It had a kitchen in it. And you know, whenever I’m hanging out at Jani’s house, or we go out, you know, we always talk food. We like to cook. He’s a great cook. And I asked Jani, I said, "you know, would you help me? Would you come down and get this kitchen up to code?" Because in his youth he’s worked in kitchens before. He’s like, "sure, I’ve got nothing to do and I like to cook." So he comes down, and me and him, mainly him, cleans the whole place up, helps me get a menu going. Taught me some of his own techniques on how to cook stuff. And then, you know, the grand opening and he happens to be there, he’s in the kitchen, and some FUCK….takes a….I saw the guy do it, takes a pocket camera and reaches over and snaps a picture of Jani cooking. You know, they announce that on MTV that he’s a chef in Cleveland. So he’s not and never was, and I repeat this, NEVER, NEVER, EVER, was employed as a cook at the Hi-Fi. He helped me out and it turned around and back fired because of all the flak he took for it. Which indirectly went to me and I feel really bad about it. Anybody who thinks Jani is a cook….is way wrong.
4. Would you agree that if Jani was more proud of working in the kitchen and embraced it, people wouldn’t goof on him and it would increase your business?
(sighs) Let me think about that. (laughs) I think it would increase business if Jani was a full fledged dedicated chef at the Hi-Fi. Yes! C’mon, he’s a good cook and he’s a celebrity. Why not? But he’s not a cook there so my business suffers!
5. Yes or no, has Billy Morris ever:
Spent the night in jail = (laughs) multiple.
Pawned one of your guitars = ummm….yes
Torched a fat one with Chip Z’Nuff = yes
Participated in a circle jerk = no (laughs)
Shared a hug with Erik Turner = yes
Thrown up on a golf course = no, but I turfed one with my dirt bike and that goes back to ‘if I ever spent a night in jail.’ That’s a story all to itself.
Grown a full beard = yes, in jail!
Worn a Ninja suit = no ninja suit, but have wrecked many a Ninjas on the street.
Had sexual thoughts about Bobbie Brown = uh….no, cause Jani’s my brother. I could never do that to any of my bros.
Had sexual thoughts about Bobby Blotzer = (laughs) uh…no comment.
6. Is Warrant ever going to put out another full studio CD or are they waiting for some huge record deal to come along?
Well, we do have like about 10 songs written and demo’d in my studio. And, uh, the first thing we wanted to do was…Jani wanted to record his solo record so that is done. And I think he’s gonna go try and tour with his solo record, after he takes a nice break from this tour we’ve been on. So I would have to say truthfully, my estimate is in the Spring time. So yes!
7. What’s the deal with Obi not giving you and Fasano even a quarter for each 8 x 10 sold? How do you feel about that?
Well..(sighs)…being out on the road for 3 months, you know, you have a lot of time to think about if you’re getting screwed, or are you getting screwed, or how you’re getting screwed, and at times I would be mad about having to sign those 8 x 10s, but I can only be mad at myself because Obi called me and offered me a deal this Summer to play guitar for Warrant and I accepted it. So if I was gonna be pissed off about anything, it would be me, but I would love to get, you know, 50 cents a signature. They probably sell thousands of those CDs over the course of a year. So, not happy about it, and I would probably like to talk to Obi about that in the future.
8. Tell us about Pittsburgh. Couldn’t somebody come up with something better than being stuck in traffic for 3 hours?
Well everybody said that, that there was no traffic but anybody in Pittsburgh knows, and I drove through, all the bridges were closed, a bunch of bridges were closed, we were rolling into town at rush hour and traffic was at a stand still. I was flipping out just to get there myself. But I left a lot of time for, you know, traffic jams and bridges being closed. I got there and….got ready, and was on the bus waiting for the go, and Jani didn’t make it. So, you know, that’s all I can really say about that. There was a lot of bad traffic and there were a lot of bridges closed and it was unfortunate that we missed that show because that was one of the better shows of the tour.
9. Living in the shadow of a legendary guitar virtuoso must be hard for you to handle. Have you ever met the great Joey Allen and if so, tell us about that meeting?
I did meet him! When Warrant was coming up in their hey day, right before Dirty, Rotten, Filthy, Stinking, Rich, they came to the Akron Agora. And my band was playing, Kidd Wicked, and Jani asked me, "Dude, can we come up and play?" And I said, "Yeah, I know who you guys are, sure." So they came up and played like 6 or 7 songs, they used our gear, he played my guitar, and the dude was really nice to me. And uh, haven’t seen him since he quit the band, but he was a really nice guy to me, and I probably would like to go back to my first 20 Questions where I kind of didn’t give him a high guitar rating, to back up and I regretted that. I like to rate him at least an 8 because he was a wailing guitar player. Every time that I saw him, which was at least 20 or 30 times over the 3 albums that he was on, he was very cool to me. Lets just say I wouldn’t….go up on stage with him and…like to trade a little licks here and there, heh, heh, heh.
Chris: So why did you slap him down on the 20 Questions?
(sighs) I don’t know. Trying to create a little controversy. Probably shouldn’t have done that. Probably should have been a little more cool. But just trying to create a little controversy. That was about it.
10. Give us your most recent touring memory from:
Pittsburgh = Not making it to the stage and going in the back lounge and hiding out from every person that wanted to ask us questions. You know, I got out of my stage clothes, turned a video game on, and I think me and Jerry Dixon played some video golf or video football just to…you know, we were bummed out. Tons of my friends drove in from Cleveland and I know a lot of people from Erie and Pittsburgh, and there were a lot of my friends there. So it was bummin both of us, it was bummed all of us out really, but me really because it was close to hometown for me. So just hidin’ out in the bus and trying to get out of Pittsburgh.
Chicago = Playin’ Elgin, Indiana, in a parking lot. Sweatin’ our asses off, hanging out with everybody. Not one of the better shows of the tour.
Detroit = Pine Knob! Rockin’ like Dokken.
Chris: Is that good or bad?
That’s good. That was a great show, you know. I don’t know, have you been to Pine Knob?
Chris: Yeah, I’ve been there.
Yeah, Pine Knob is like Blossom, so they promoted the show well and everybody had a good time. We always have a good time when we play Pine Knob. Third year in a row baby!
Omaha = Did we play Omaha? Uh…….thinkin’………Omaha…..
Chris: I think that’s good enough right there! (laughs)
Dallas = Dallas! Number 1, great show, Bronco Bowl. Rockin’, but 3 days off afterwards and the idiot travel agent who put us in the Holiday Inn in an industrial park with nothing to do but eat at Denny’s would be, you know, my highlight. 3 days off but nothing to do but eat at Denny’s.
Phoenix = Hanging out with uh…(laughs)…we had 3 days off before the Phoenix show, but I would have to say the highlight of that show…my memory is of thinking that Don Dokken was coming up to bro us and him being pissed off and being in shock over the whole fiasco that happened.
Seattle = Never played Seattle. Never even been to Seattle. Although I’ve played many a Nirvana songs in my Kurt Cobain tribute band.
Orlando = My most recent memory of Orlando? The last time we played there I think we played The Station with Ratt and Bar 7. And it was one of the hottest….and the people were right up in our faces, so it was like in your face, hot, Florida rock n roll.
Buffalo = I think we played there last year with….we played right outside of Buffalo with Poison last year. Just blue collar rock. Just like Cleveland.
New York = Where did we play in New York? Um, just being able to be on the Tour Bus radio program and being able to go on there with Ralph and interviewing Ronnie James Dio and Chris Jericho. That was the highlight for me.
Los Angeles = Not going there this time but the last time we played there was probably House Of Blues. In LA, people stand in front of the stage with their arms crossed saying, "impress me."
11. Name 3 things that could make Warrant a much better organization?
Better routing for our tours.
A new album, a new CD.
An uh……..just another, a good Summer tour to promote a brand new CD which will be rockin.
Chris: A new manager?
I didn’t say that. (laughs)
Chris: I’m asking.
I think Obi’s great. I think, you know, he kept this band playing and he kept this band booked and he’s handled a lot of problems for this band over the years, so if you’re asking me to give Obi the thumbs up or the thumbs down, I give him the thumbs up. Because this band has never missed a beat since he came aboard. He kept the band going, so I give Obi the thumbs up.
12. The Metal Sludge math question. Let’s say that Warrant play a show on Sunday in Illinois. The next show is on Thursday in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh to be exact. Rounding off numbers and just for fun let’s say it’s 700 miles to the next show. If you guys drive 70 mph how many hours will it take you to get to the next show & rock out?
A. That’s an easy answer, you take 700 miles divided by 70 mph = 10 hours.
B. It won’t take hours, it will take days because Jani wants to hit every Old Country Buffet we see.
C. It will take at least 3 days as most of Warrant are very fond of drinking and drinking and driving don’t mix well.
D. It will only take 10 hours, but we’ll miss the show after Jani locks himself in a motel room after a 4 day binge!
(laughs) It would take us, um, about 36 hours with Waffle House stops, trailer breakdowns, stopping in Cleveland to see our families, me and Jani, and uh….getting over all the road construction and weak ass bridges because Pittsburgh steel must suck cause of the Steelers there. So, a long ass time.
13. Out of all the "stars" you’ve met since playing with Warrant, who was surprisingly different and completely changed your opinion after meeting them?
(pause) Hmmm, (long pause) I guess I’d have to say nobody in particular but growing up as a rock fan and being able to join Warrant and meeting like the guys in L.A. Guns, total nice guys. The guys in Firehouse are nice guys. And all the guys like Warren DeMartini, (pictured with Billy on the right) who would be intimidating to me as a guitar player but after touring with him for a couple of years realizing that they’re all just normal bros to us. So I’d have to say….just all the rock guys I’ve met, I know this is a boring answer, but everybody I’ve met seemed pretty cool. Can’t think of anything right off the bat on the spot that somebody was being a dick or anything. Cause you know I would say it!
14. How do you feel about Don Dokken coming out during Warrant?s set in Phoenix?
Well, I don’t want to ruffle Don’s feathers but THAT was a mistake on his part and he should have approached us backstage. You know, approach Jani. I went up to Don afterwards and said, "I thought you were coming up on stage to be cool to us," and he ended up, you know, speaking his voice and taking Jani’s mic and throwing it up in the air. I actually caught it just before it hit the ground. You know, being the great football player that I am. But I think it was bad and from my point of view I think he should have handled that in the dressing room.
Chris: Lets say that it was your own solo project and that happened. What would you have done? If you were the Jani?
If I was the Jani? If I was running the whole thing, I probably wouldn’t have started late and it probably wouldn’t have happened. But if it did happen, I would probably not create a scene just the way Jani did and then go downstairs and probably have it out. And if it was my band and if I was in charge there would probably be some motherfuckers here and some motherfuckers there and probably people restraining both of us because I get pretty fired up. And if you ask anybody in Cleveland, somebody fired me up on stage once and I jumped off stage and beat his ass at the Akron Agora and I have that on videotape to prove it. So THAT’S what would happen.
15. The last of Billy Morris:
Last time you played in a cover band = I guess in Phoenix, no, in Tucson when I played with Warrant because I’m just covering their songs! (laughs)
Last rock star you shook hands with = I think right before I took off, who was it, John Corabi. I remember that.
Last time you shit yourself = On a long van trip on a tour, on a Warrant tour, I had to beg the driver to pull over. So about two years ago. I had to beg the driver to pull over at a truck stop while everybody was sleeping and kind of limp into the bathroom.
Last time you got a raise in Warrant = I got a raise at the beginning of this tour, as little as it may be.
Last meal Jani prepared for you = (laughs) I think he microwaved me something on our tour bus and made me eat it even though I wasn’t hungry.
Last time you were angry with Obi = um, (pause) probably definitely this Summer, just with not talking to him directly, but during this tour many times. Just laying alone in my bunk motherfucking him up and down because I was home sick.
Last CD you bought = Let me think…I know I bought a good CD lately….Butch Walker. The new Butch Walker.
Last band who offered you a gig = The last band that offered me a gig? I think….it would have to be Warrant. Nobody else wants me.
Last time you broke a guitar string live = (laughs) We played uh…Oklahoma next to a…in the back of a club on an outdoor stage I broke 3 strings in one night. I was biting my tongue because my guitar tech Mike Nancy is such a cool dude. It really wasn’t his fault, I was just like we’re rockin and maybe he didn’t switch the strings on that guitar that night, I broke 3 strings in one night. 3 separate strings.
Last time you saw Metal Shop = I saw Metal Shop last year at the Viper Room. But I got to see Ralph play in the Atomic Punks when my Nirvana band opened for them at the Starlight Amphitheater for Fakefest this year. We went on right before the Atomic Punks, my Nirvana band, which was the most violent show I’ve ever seen in my life. It was like a thousand kids that had just gone through AC/DC and Guns N Roses and like a Jimi Hendrix band or something and they were ready to rock. And they were waiting for Nirvana. We came out, fucking VIOLENCE! It was insane.
16. Is it true the Don Dokken asked you to replace Alex De Rosso in Dokken?
There was some grumblings when Alex’s visa was up in the air. And it wasn’t coming from Don, it was coming from OUR tour manager Caesar saying, "well you know these Dokken songs?" And I was like, "yeah, I probably covered 10 of ‘em. I could play the set." Before they straightened his visa up, I believe that our tour manager Caesar asked me and I said, "hell yeah I’ll play in Dokken. I’d love to." But it never came from Don and it never came from anybody in their camp. And if I would have, I would have rocked. Because, when I was younger, I wanted to be like George Lynch.
17. Is it weird touring with Ratt, Dokken & L.A. Guns, yet at least half or more of the bands lineup every night are guys from cover bands such as yourself?
Is it weird? No, cause I didn’t tour with those guys back in the day when they were all original members so these are the versions of Dokken and Ratt. I mean, this version of Ratt has been together since I’ve been in Warrant, so this is Ratt to me. I mean, to me, Ratt is Jizzy Pearl as the lead singer now. And Jizzy rocks. I love Jizzy.
18. Are you ever worried about Jani’s health? It’s no secret he’s not exactly looking that fit these days.
I don’t worry about his health, he’s fiery. He’s a tough guy and you know….he’s uh….sometimes he wakes up in the morning and doesn’t feel good and, and sometimes I do worry, like "wow, he’s got to sing tonight." And he comes out and fuckin’ rocks. So I never worry about him getting through a show.
19. Is a Billy Morris solo CD really necessary?
Yeah, because I have to make some money in my life! (laughs) I wanna make money. I think it’s a great CD, so damn right it’s necessary.
20. Are you worried about how Jani & Obi are going to react to your answers here?
Not at all. Not at all. I said how I felt and if they don’t like how I feel then……I guess that’s problems were going to have to iron out ourselves. But I wanted to do these questions and I answered them the way I felt.
21. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name, you give us your thoughts.
Butch Walker = Great songwriter, getting the short end of the stick.
Paul Stanley = Great showman
Wild Mick Brown = Great drummer, better video game player than me.
Donnie Vie = Incredible songwriter (pause)…and not taking the world by storm the way that he can.
Alice Cooper = Great showman, had a long career, and I got to open for him one time so I have to thank him for that.
Jizzy Pearl = Great friend, incredible singer. He is Ratt.
Kurt Cobain = Incredible songwriter. Really knew how to write a song, but a jackass for shooting himself, if he did.
Tracii Guns = Awesome guitar player, my bro and just a great rock musician.
Caesar The Tour Manager = (laughs) Uh….Caesar the tour manager….pisses me off but I know that he’s the right guy for the job.
Don Dokken = Umm, great singer, great career, lets see what happens.
22. Are you quitting Warrant?
Well, there you have it. A little insight to life in Warrant. By the way, this was the first phoner that Metal Sludge has ever done. Look for more to come.
Thanks to Chris for having these done so quickly and to Billy for being down!