20 QUESTIONS WITH…
Ex-Warrant Drummer Steven Sweet
We’ve wanted to do 20 Questions with Steven Sweet, otherwise known as Steven Chamberlin, for quite a while now. Then on August 5th, this email appeared in our inbox: … Let’s have some fun shall we.
Signed, The not "bald and bloated" former, former, former, former, former drummer of, well… you know (Warrant). ….it hurts my fingers just typing that.
I look forward to shooting the proverbial shit.
And with that, we sent off 20 Questions. And just like Joey Allen before him, we’re giving Steven a Super Balls Award because we feel his answers deserve it!
The Super Balls Award
Here’s our 5th Anniversary 20 Questions with Steven Sweet! Enjoy!
1. What are you currently up to?
I am presently working on my thesis; it’s entitled "So you want to be a Rock Star?" by Steven Chamberlin. Actually, I continue to write and record my own music, a tasty blend of R&B, Rock, Pop-Soul, a slow evolution of musical self-discovery. I’ve always been a singer and over the last ten years my voice has become my primary instrument, although I do an occasional session behind the drums. My brother Dave, who is singularly the most talented, multi-instrumental musician/producer-engineer I know, owns and operates an incredible digital studio www.dbwproductions.com where I’ve had the great pleasure of working on a vast array of projects, from Jazz, Reggae, Country, Native American/New Age, and some heavier stuff as well. In addition to music I am soliciting commissioned work as a Pet portrait artist? I’m not even going to attempt to explain, see for yourselves you won’t be disappointed @ www.fuzzychildren.com. These aren’t computer-generated images of bars of soap; they’re hand painted, 100% original, works of art. My crowning achievement is being an awesome dad to my even more awesome daughter of almost six years. She is awe inspiring in her spirit and blossoming individuality. And lastly but probably most importantly, I am getting married in November to the most Incredibly talented, beautiful, funny and gracious woman I’ve ever met. Life is good!
2. Joey Allen once said on our page to Warrant fans, "If you knew the real reason behind Steven’s departure you wouldn’t feel so great about the band you continue to support." Once and for all, why did you leave Warrant and what was Joey talking about?
Well, as it happened? I was sitting at home a few days after a particularly bad Warrant club gig, (bad in the sense that Jani was a bit tipsy: see- ‘Shit-faced drunk’ / hacking his way through a verbally abusive set while I tried to hold it together) and the phone rings. Obi Steinman, who was at that time road manager/manager of the band, called to say that it was "unclear whether the band would continue to remain as it is or if Jani was going to do a solo thing, but if Warrant did remain Warrant, they wanted to work with a different drummer". Now of course, this was road manager Obi Steinman calling me after how many years with these guys who I thought were my friends? Jani at whose wedding I was asked to be best man ("the BETTER man" – quote: Steve Bescemi, "The Wedding Singer") wouldn’t even return my calls to explain things in greater detail after my un-ceremonious acquittal by the road manager. I think that after the fact the general reasoning was that I was not one of the "Boys" (Definition: Pre-adult male), boozin’, sleazin’, and? golfin’ which is so imperative to lasting relationships and making good music. And so, as my friend Mike Fasano would surely agree, it was truly a gift only to be bestowed upon the most worthy. And THAT my friends is what Joey was talking about?. So Warrant fans ask yourselves, what character traits do you admire in the bands you support??
3. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
I was going to answer this with a sort of philosophical "No one should if they truly love what they do", but Fuck it? Warrant, or any other band who has replaced any member more than, oh say? once. It’s like peeling an onion; as you remove each layer, or player in the band, little by little you are left with less of what you began with and gradually as you continue the smell becomes unbearable to such a degree that tears begin streaming down your face. Aw shit, there I went and philosophized anyway.
4. When somebody leaves a band, they usually end up in some other band, but you’ve managed to stay out of the public eye and you didn’t run off to join L.A. Guns, Vince Neil, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, or something like that. Why?
I don’t ever want to be in a situation again where someone else is the master of my destiny. I do involve myself with people who appreciate my talents on a mutual level and for that I am paid. It takes away the guess-work. If a person wants to act like an ass in my presence it will not be at my expense. Also, I’ve grown and matured as most people do, I am so much more now than I was when I was involved with Warrant. I have realized potentials for things I had no idea I could achieve when I was one-dimensionally labeled as Steven Sweet, drummer of Warrant.
5. Rate the following drummers on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being somebody who couldn’t keep time with a watch and 10 being a drumming juggernaut.
I was never very good at textbook mathematics so here goes.
Rikki Rockett = I know he’s an avid vintage drum collector, artistic, clothing designer, and a decent showman = 5
Fred Coury = His hair had a bit more curl to it than mine did, let me sit in behind his kit in Dallas? = 7
Tommy Lee = He’s a master seaman (can you call it that even when you’re boating on a lake?), it was a good time touring with Motley way back when, my mom got to see him moon the crowd from side stage "sorry mom". = 7
Mike Fasano = This is in no way a pity score since I have never heard Mike’s work, but come on, he survived Warrant! = 10+
Vikki Foxx = She scares me, I think natural is in these days? = 5
James Kottak = Great drummer, good guy, would share the Whiskey out of the trunk of his car with you = 10+
Bobby Borg = Jeez man, it’s like a list of War(rant) vets; Another great drummer, a great big hairy prince of a man, good times in Florida = 10+
Bobby Blotzer = We have the same plumber, Ratt summer of 1990 fun to watch, Late night drinking and gambling in some shopping-mall? strange combination = 8
Lars Ulrich = Did you know he’s Danish? Metallica Rulz, Enter Sandman, I think they’re becoming more Secular with St. Anger?..whaaaat? = 7
Jani Lane = Oh, puhleeeeeze?hic-up, burp, Ribbitt! (Like I said I’m not too good with math, but I think my calculations are right on here.)
6. When you see photos of Warrant today, with Jani Looking all bloated and last year having a Mohawk, what goes through your mind?
I remember a filmstrip we viewed back in elementary school called "Hemo the Magnificent". It explained in simple terms the effects of various elements upon the human bloodstream. Oh, yeah and I also go? Damn, I look good!! Side note: Since this is 20 questions and we are presently only up to number 6, I thought it best to over-simplify.
7. Your brother Dave runs a studio and you’re the in-house drummer. What bands have your done drum tracks for? Anybody we would know?
No bands actually, mostly independently financed Singer/Songwriters or demo projects for songwriters. I urge everyone to fully explore my brother’s studio site for a better idea. You can check out samples of music, read bios etc., book a session or order a fully produced/mastered CD of your song by mail.
8. What would it take for Steven Sweet to get behind the drum kit for Warrant again?
There would first have to be the invention of actual time travel where in which the subject is thrust backwards without retaining knowledge of the time transpired between the past and the future, the future being the actual present. That and a whole lot of tranquilizers to subdue me while they attempted to shackle my flailing wrists into this sacrilegious device. That’s the fictional version of what recently took place, which was: Just prior to Warrant’s signing onto the Whitesnake tour, I received several anxious phone calls from Obi, Erik and Jerry, to which I reluctantly responded. I was lovingly courted and then enticed over the phone to discuss the possibility of re-joining the group (yes, I know it sounds straight out of Spinal Tap, just less intelligently scripted). Of course I said, not without proper agreements being legally drawn up and not without a big fat paycheck (they did promise me something big and fat but there were no decimal points involved). I was told that Jerry and Erik had often wanted to get me back in the band but that it was just never the right time. I was also told they did not have anything lined up as far as a touring schedule, they just wanted to know how I felt (after 10 years, now they wanna know). At the end of my conversation with the ever charming Erik Turner, I said just put me on your list of drummers you are considering and I hung up the phone with the same glowing feeling as I get when Sprint phones asking me to switch my calling plan. That was that, never heard another word, except that Mike Fasano had been "dismissed" with the same tact as I had encountered so many years ago, and that Warrant would be touring with Whitesnake. I suppose the "Senior Members" of Warrant (you may refer to them as "Toadies" if you like) couldn’t get membership approval from the Frog King. One must adhere to Class rule and Hierarchy in Warrant Land. ?..I’m sorry, what was the question?
9. It’s been reported that you actually have a better voice than Jani, which is why Warrant doesn’t play the songs from the first two CD’s that require high register notes. How much singing did you do on the first two CDs?
If there were harmonies to be sung I was there, that was my thing. I cut my teeth playing clubs all through High School with my brother Dave who I shared lead vocals with, he would sing the Tenor stuff and I would sing the high Tenor stuff, Journey, Rush, Judas Priest. Back then I was more like Peter Brady until my voice settled. Now at almost 38 my voice is stronger than ever.
10. Last of Steven Sweet:
Last time you got a Warrant royalty check = A few weeks back I received a teeny, tiny scrap of paper from BMI with a few digits on it. Woo-hoo, Sushi!!
Last time you talked to Jerry or Erik = ? I’m sorry, I’m having dinner, besides MCI suites me fine.
Last CD you purchased = Def Leppard "Pyromania", for my Fianc? who is the classic retro-rock queen.
Last song you played on = "Untitled" – Cathedral and Rum, a project lead by Chris Hartford, mood rock lyricist/poet.
Last book you read = Proofreading 20 questions with Steven Sweet…. Damn this thing is long! …. and "Lasher" – Anne Rice, part of the "Mayfair Witches" series, almost as long.
Last time somebody asked you for an autograph = I rarely do autographs anymore, it’s sort of a personal choice really. That and my adoring public seem to be becoming more selective.
Last movie you saw = In the theater: "28 Days", which in my opinion would have only been better had it been done on film. At home: "Best in show" always a laugh out loud favorite…"Pay no attention to the fat assed losers and freaks, you look at ME!"
Last time you looked through a Metal Edge = A couple of months ago I came across an old issue and my daughter (5.5 years old) saw a picture of me and said… "What the… are you like famous or something?" I just told her I used to be, kind of.
Last concert you saw = Nina Simone at the Wiltern Theatre, 7th row… she was truly incredible, greatly missed.
Last time you saw Warrant in concert = Roxy Theater, about 3 or 4 years ago. I went with Joey Allen and C.C. Deville. About halfway through the set during some incoherent, rambling Jani monologue that probably used to be "Heaven", Joey and I went upstairs/backstage for a beer and to say hello to the "Senior Partners". Jerry Dixon, who I hadn’t seen in many years, actually tried to shake my hand while his other steadied his urine flow. Always congenial, not very hygienic, I’m sure he meant well.
Last time you fucked your drum kit on stage = Oh to be young, virile and un-inhibited (never did like drum solos).
11. There were rumors a few years back that you worked for UPS. Where did that come from?
You are referring to the "Universal Panty Service" – supplying clean undies to the homeless since 1994? I’ve had a few survival jobs where, if you wish to be technical, UPS worked for me.
12. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
I agree, this one does bear repeating – I was going to answer this with a sort of philosophical "No one should if they truly love what they do", but Fuck it? Warrant – or any other band who has replaced any member more than, oh say? once. It’s like peeling an onion; as you remove each layer, or player in the band, little by little you are left with less of what you began with and gradually as you continue the smell becomes unbearable to the point of tears. They’re less potent if you stick them in the freezer first,… Onions not band members.
(NOTE: We meant to ask "What Rock Star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?" but asked the "call it a day" question again. Hey, at least Steven rolled with it and our fuckups can be funny like that.)
13. If Gene Simmons offered you the chance to play for Kiss but you had to dress up like Peter Criss every night, would you do it?
I would, but under one condition… To breath some new life into this tired old premise, I would first create a prosthetic face mask of Eric Carr dressing as Eric Singer who then had his face surgically altered to resemble Peter Criss, but not Peter Criss as he appears today, oh no! I would actually look more like Peter Criscola who first began playing with make-up at the ripe age of 14 in his mothers boudoir after school in the couple of waning daylight hours (that’s when the light is best for such things) just before his father would come home from work and raise holy hell, beating him with the family cat while screaming "You’ll never amount to anything ‘catboy’, with your rock-n-roll, and your cream beige #5!" But I guess when you get down to it, why bother, there are still some things more important than money, like dignity and self-respect.
14. It seems most past and present members of Warrant dislike Bret Michaels and Poison. What are your thoughts on them and the tour you guys did with them?
I don’t know, I guess I’ve been away from it for too long to really have a focused opinion on such childish disputes, but I’ll give it a try. I D O N ‘ T C A R E, but I’ll give it a try. I guess I’ve been away from it for too long to really have a focused opinion on such childish disputes, but I’ll give it a try. I guess I’ve been away from it for too long to really have a focused opinion on such…….. Shampoo is better. No, Conditioner is better!?
15. Yes or no, has Steven Sweet ever:
Thought about putting a band together with Adam Shore and Joey Allen = Where have you been, haven’t you heard? We have! and it is called "Allen, Shore and Sweet" or if you prefer "ASS", right now we’re really big in the Pacific Rim.
Laughed at a Starbucks employee = Never again, that stuff is really hot, and too expensive to waste.
Cheated on a girlfriend = Never again, that stuff is really hot, and too expensive to waste. (ya see what I did there was avoid the whole question by repeating the answer to the previous question… or DID I?) No, wait a minute… Actually I am offended you should ask such a potentially damaging, deeply personal question! That is between me and my mistress!!! (and my girlfriend and my Fianc? and her… Pug, don’t ask)
Sold a Warrant CD to a used CD store = No but I’ve bought a few. Clay pigeons can get to be really expensive.
Had to sell soap online = I admit, I have sold my own soap, and I’m not proud to say but anyone interested can bid on my signature pieces of Lever 2000 on ebay. Each nature formed "chard" comes with a certificate of authenticity and if you’re lucky, a piece of DNA or two.
Wanted to open a juice bar = I mean honestly, where do you guys get this stuff….that’s sooo un-Rock-N-Roll… heh, heh, heh, oh, you’re serious?
Been a chef = No but I am thinking about opening a club and running the kitchen, but on second thought that may be a bad idea. You see, I like to eat and thank God I’ve been blessed with good metabolism, but you put a person who likes to eat (or frequently gets the munchies) in a kitchen with all that food just lying around and stuff is bound to get out of control.
Had somebody play your drum parts on a Warrant CD = I didn’t but Jani did…. Let me just say to any up and coming drummers for Warrant, (seems to be an ever increasing demographic) do not, I repeat, DO NOT EVER take a vacation, especially on such a non-familial occasion as Thanksgiving. Because before ya know it, there’s a session booked to do a couple of songs on a soundtrack for a movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and James Marshal called "Gladiator" and people forget all respect for their so called friends and fellow band mates not to mention the mere meaning of the words, Band and Friend. They also forget how to use a phone, and when they remember, they then command someone else to do the actual speaking into the phone for them.
Met Obi Steinman = Back in the day, we were friends. I hear he’s quite the shrewd businessman these days. I do know that he enjoys "Dancing with the Devil" as he so eloquently put the Warrant dynamic into words recently.
Seen Bobbie Brown’s tits = No more than anyone else…. wait a minute let me rephrase that. Actually, never.
16. Jani recently claimed that he was doing OC (Orange County) punk rock with your old band Plain Jane, way before Blink 182, Lit, and the others. How were the old school days of playing in a punk rock band with Jani Lane?!
Oh my, yes, I had quite forgotten those old glory days of slumming it with the "Pistols" and spitting each others urine out upon the tattooed sea of slam dancers. Wow maybe he’s talkin’ about a different band with a different drummer, it would be easy to be confused. I think amidst the constant desire to make one seem interesting to others, and the self-professing of superiority, the line between fiction and a VH1 documentary can become rather blurry.
17. Give us a touring memory about the following cities:
Tampa = The taping of our first live home video
Atlanta = I was given the most incredible gift by a fan, I believe it was a pan of Brownies and two intricate needlepoint pillows with my name on one and a quote from "Heaven" on the other.
Detroit = My favorite leather jacket of the day was stolen off the back of my chair in a club. If you’re out there Mr. or Mrs. Thief-person, I’ll trade you some chards of soap for my jacket.
Philadelphia = The Spectrum, loudest arena ever. I’m not really talking about the crowd, I mean the place itself is loud as hell.
Chicago = Going on the Oprah Winfrey show and talking about my chef duties at the Juice bar I recently opened, oh, and shamelessly plugging my new line of "fruity soaps", they’re kinda ‘neat’, each bar has a drumstick in the center…. I call it soap on a stick. Oprah loves soap! We also talked about her OC (outer Chicago) punk rock days too.
Dallas = Playing a show at Dallas Alley shortly after the debut of the first Warrant video. From a crowd control standpoint, the turnout was overwhelming, so much that it made front-page news the next day.
Salt Lake City = I had the best Cesar Salad prepared tableside. When I think Salt Lake City, I think raw eggs, Anchovy paste and Osmonds.
Los Angeles = Jani fucking up in the middle of a song on stage at the "Coach house" and him turning around "on mike" and saying… "Gee Steven, have another beer!" I was the sober one, nice guy! Rock-N-Roll lesson #27: "It’s always the drummer’s fault when the frontman fucks up, period".
Phoenix = "The Mason Jar"… it was hot and sweaty, smelled of beer, Anthony Esposito from "Lynch Mob" told me he was dating a high school classmate of mine, Melissa McKnight who has since married Matt LeBlanc of "Friends"….. (name dropper) I was not invited to the wedding.
Cleveland = Definitely, most definitely playing at "Blossom Music Center" where I went to many a concert when I was a kid.
18. Do you sleep well at night knowing that after you left Warrant, the band never had any success again?
Now you can’t say they haven’t had ANY success…. they do fetch a pretty penny from selling headshots don’t they? (5 ? 3 = ?) I mean come on, that’s what the music business is all about… screw those lofty idealists who say it should be about the insatiable need to create, the need to be an artist no matter who approves, the need to make MUSIC that moves you. Why does it always have to be about success??? I sleep like a baby! (minus all the peeing in the diaper, and 2 o’clock feedings)
19. There have been several versions of what happened when Warrant toured with David Lee Roth in Europe. The press and label claimed Jani fell and broke his ribs on a stage ramp, yet others made light of the fact Jani bailed on the tour to go home and make sure Bobbi wasn’t fucking half of the Rainbow. What truly took place and how much cash was lost as a result of it?
He fell down and went boom; it was the cracked rib that echoed across Europe. It certainly didn’t bode well for the rest of us who agreed to buy on to a very important tour for the band. It was our first time actually playing in markets that had never heard or seen us before. And what do ya know, the day after the slip by Jani he was on a plane back home, unbeknownst to the rest of us who were planning on bettering our careers. Who really knows, I do know one thing, it would have taken more than one Psychologist, Therapist, Marital criminologist (is there such a thing?) and possibly a straight jacket to prevent things from happening the way they did. Oh and the cash lost, let’s just say it was a considerable sum and only the beginning of betrayals or bridges burned in the name of Warrant, at the hands of one musical mastermind (insert evil, maniacal laughter here) an idiot savant really, only without the savant part.
20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Danny Shuss = My drum tech and confidant. Loved that guy, he was my savior. I feel badly that we’ve lost touch.
Josh Lewis = Great guy, and apparently a talented photographer as well. Good goin’ Josh!
E.G. Daily = A sweetheart, talented singer/songwriter who also aided me when I was curious about voiceover. (I was the voice of a Robot for an IKEA spot, thanks E.G.)
Bobbie Brown = How about that "Blind Date"! Whew, holy dates from Hell. A little more surgery, a few more domestic disturbance calls and she could still be the next Pamela Lee.
Obi Steinman = Loyal to the Dark Side.
Tom Hulett = He had some great stories, also loyal to the Dark Side.
Michael Wagener = Man, he is truly a gentle-genius, I would love to work with him again, a genuine music lover with a huge heart.
Beau Hill = I couldn’t have asked for a better first big production experience. I would also love to work with him again.
John Mezacappa = Funny guy, I had known him from the days of "Plain Jane" where he essentially became our Stage manager. Later on he decided he would expand his title to include embezzler. It’s really kind of sad.
Vinnie Taurone = Vinnie was a good friend, Warrant Security with personality. I do remember playing in San Juan, Puerto Rico when he was hit by a bottle full of sand…. Dropped him where he stood. I think it was some sort of blood feud between the Puerto Ricans and the Italians, they loved Warrant though! Viva Warrento.
Joey Allen = Joey and I have stayed true to the spirit of band camaraderie. We have both chosen different paths since our time in Warrant, which I lovingly refer to as my College years or "Band", and have come away with mostly fond memories, and a lasting friendship. He possesses a trait that is rarely displayed in the music world, he speaks his mind, and he speaks the truth without the fattening sugar coating.
Jerry Dixon = Bass player for Warrant, at least until Jani has Obi tell him he’s been replaced.
Erik Turner = Guitar player for Warrant, also until, well I guess you get the picture by now…. Come on guys, this word association stuff is too hard!
Jani Lane = Coward, disgruntled human. Reigning Frog King
Bonus question #21: "Why didn’t the Punk-Rocker cross the road?"
Answer: "Because he was safety pinned to the frog, who sadly got run over by the Karma Bus."
Oh, we’re out of questions? Okay, I’ve got to stop now….. but man this Warrant stuff makes for some great material!
Thanks; it was nice chatting it up with the infamous Slingers of Sludge. I hope that most of this was as pee your pants funny reading as I found it to be in writing. Most of it was from the heart, and the rest of it was just the stone-cold truth.
Former Drummers of Warrant Unite!
Now that’s how you do it! Some honesty, humor, shit talking, and being able to hang! It’s not that hard, is it? Thanks to Steven for having the Super Balls to do it, unlike some of the original members of Warrant (yes, that’s you Erik Turner). Turner is the only one left we haven’t gotten to yet, but he’s too much of a puss to do it, so that sucks for him.