20 QUESTIONS WITH…
Ex-Warrant Drummer Bobby Borg
In our quest to do 20 Questions with every Warrant drummer, this week we’re hitting up Bobby Borg! Bobby recorded two albums and played on several tours as the drummer with Warrant between 1994 and 1997. He can be heard on the albums "Belly to Belly" and "Warrant Live." Borg gets down to the facts?not the fiction?so pull up your chairs and enjoy!
1. What are you currently up to? This is your only chance to promote your shit!
I wrote a book called, ?The Musician?s Handbook: A Practical Guide To The Music Business? recently published by Billboard Books. It can be found in every major bookstore in the world and online at, and www.amazon.com and www.bobbyborg.com.
I?m kicking off my promotional book tour in California in a few days, I?m regularly a guest speaker at Music Business conventions all over the country, and I write for a number of print magazines and online resources.
I?m a consultant to the music business working with artists, independent labels, and currently, the Independent A&R company TAXI.
And I?m teaching music business classes at UCLA, as well as at The Musician?s Institute in Hollywood. I continue to teach drums as well.
2. So, like, why did you leave Warrant?
From a personal, career, and business perspective, I simply felt that I had accomplished all that I was going to accomplish by playing with Warrant. Between 1994 and ?97, I extensively toured the United States (including Honolulu), performed in Japan and Mexico, helped co-write and record two albums, and helped work on Jani Lane?s solo material. I?m proud of the contribution I was able to make as a professional musician and writer, I value the positive experience gained, and I still laugh about the shit loads of fun I had.
However, in order to ensure that my career continued to move in a positive, uplifting and fun direction, there came a time when it made the best sense to move on and pursue newer and brighter ventures.
3. Have you been in any other bands since you left Warrant and if not, why?
The answer is, no. My focus has been on the business aspects of music for right now?but I may be open to the right situation one day. I?m still teaching music and presenting clinics and therefore my chops are exactly where they should be if the perfect opportunity presented itself.
4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
Call it a day? Wow! Are you referring to those rock/heavy metal bands that had ?their day? in the lime light over two decades ago, but are now much older, still wearing pink spandex, using hair spray, and professing in interviews that; ?The Gods of Rock and Roll are gonna? come back and save the world?? [Laughing.]
Look, let?s face it?there are a number of rock/metal bands who have shown very little development over the years and are still living in the past?it?s basically Spinal Tap revisited. But, really?who am I to tell anyone what they should do with their lives and careers?
In fact, from a purely business perspective, these bands have actually done something incredibly right. Whether they knew it at the time or not, these bands built a ?brand? name in their day that was so powerful they are able to continue their careers today far beyond current trends and the support of their record labels.
Bottom line: everyone has the right to make a living. As long as these rock/heavy metal bands are still making money and their fans are still paying to see them?and, of course?AS LONG AS NONE OF US HAVE TO LOOK AT THEIR BALLS BULGING OUT OF TIGHT PAIR OF PINK SPANDEX [Laughing], then more power to them all.
5. Rate the following drummers on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being somebody who totally blows and 10 being a drum virtuoso.
Okay, but if you don?t mind, It?s only fair to rate them under three separate categories rather than together. They are all different:
Hard Rock Drummer:
Tommy Lee = Rock drummer: 9.5
James Kottak = Rock drummer: 8.5
Bobby Blotzer = Rock drummer: 8.5
Mike Fasano = Rock drummer: 8
Glam Rock Drummer:
Vikki Foxx = Glam Rock drummer: 9
Blas Elias = Glam Rock drummer: 8.5
Rikki Rockett = Rock/Glam drummer: 8
Steven Sweet = Glam Rock drummer: 8
Danny Wagner = Part-time drummer: 8.5
Jani Lane = Part-time drummer: 7
6. How did you get the Warrant gig?
I got to know Warrant because they asked my band Left For Dead to open up for them on a few US tours. Left For Dead was a very heavy/alternative rock band in the style of Alice in Chains meets Rage Against The Machine. Since Warrant needed to ?re-brand? themselves with a more modern sound and image, and because Left For Dead needed the exposure in front of Warrant?s 500-plus crowds?the package deal was beneficial to all parties involved.
A few years later, when James Kottak unexpectedly left Warrant in the middle of one of its tour, Jani and the guys needed someone who could fill-in on short notice. I got the call, and two days later I was playing Warrant?s songs for the first time in front of a packed house in Rhode Island.
After the tour, Jani asked me to continue working with the band on its new recording and subsequent tours. My group Left For Dead had just disbanded so the offer seemed extremely attractive.
The number one objective of a professional musician is to keep working and paying the bills.
I knew that Warrant was looking for ?new blood? to help re-brand them and experiment in new and fresher directions.
The guys in Warrant seemed really cool early-on and I knew the experience would likely be fun.
And let?s be real, I was a single guy at the time who was perfectly fine with sewing my oates?and sewing them with as many candidates as I could find. I believe on our first tour I was like 32 for 30 or something. [Laughing.]
7. Can you name all the drummers in Warrant and give us your thoughts on each individual?s musicianship?
Sure. I believe there?s been a total of seven drummers so far including me (I was number three). Here?s the list with a brief commentary of each player. I?ll mention their strongest attributes:
?Steven Sweet had a simple straight-forward style befitting for Warrant. He also had the talent for singing backups in high register.
?James Kottack had a natural style and behind-the-beat feel.
?Danny Wagner had developed the talent for being a multi-instrumentalist; including the drums, bass and keys?and singing vocals.
?Vicki Foxx had the rock-and-roll showman thing down.
?Mike Fasano had the ability to blend in well with the band.
?Robert (the new guy) I cannot comment on; I?ve never heard him play.
8. When you joined Warrant, were you even a fan of the band?
I had thought that the song Uncle Tom?s Cabin was pretty cool in their day, that Jani Lane possessed qualities of a great songwriter, and that the band?s live show was very interactive with their fans.
However, I clearly remember watching MTV several years prior and all that occupied the network was Warrant?s Cherry Pie video. Personally, I thought it was too ?bubble-gum? rock for what I was into musically. Yeah?and the whole dressing up as fireman thing was a pretty over-the-top?even for the 80s rock movement. Thank God model Bobbie Brown was in the video, or I?m not sure that I (or most guys, for that matter) would have even been able to get through more than few seconds of the clip [Laughing.]
In all fairness, though, one must have total respect for any band that is able to succeed in the very difficult business that is the music industry. As estimated by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A), the average number of records sold by a new band signed to a major label (as of the year 2001) is about 12,000 copies. That?s not even close to what the record companies need to begin turning a profit. These bands are usually dropped from their record contracts and are never heard from again.
So, no matter how you slice it (pardon the pun)?Warrant managed to beat the odds and score a multi-platinum selling record. I know the band has become Metal Sludge?s number one band to hate. However, one must give them kudos for what they accomplished.
9. How was it playing in Warrant compared to some of the other bands you were in?
Warrant became interested in my playing based on my work with Left For Dead, so I basically kept on doing the same thing with them that I had been doing for years before. My live playing was aggressive, dynamic, and powerful?though, in retrospect, perhaps even a bit too intense for Warrant at times. My studio playing was subtler, textural, and dynamic?I used in a lot of African percussion, conga, timbales, etc.
In Beggars & Thieves I played with more of an in-the-pocket classic rock feel; similar to Humble Pie, Bad Company, and Zeppelin.
In Joe Cook?s band my playing was a more simplistic, dynamic, and R&B feel. Cook?s band featured musicians from BB king, James Brown, and Lionel Hampton; all older players of Afro American descent who were raised on a completely different school of groove. It was a great experience playing with these guys, and I learned a lot.
10. Yes or no, has Bobby Borg ever:
Met Steven Sweet = Yes
Done blow with Jani Lane = No
Missed bus call = Yes
Had a threesome in the back lounge of the bus = Yeah? Once. But then I got a steady girlfriend and turned whipped. [Laughing.]
Laughed at Blando for joining Slaughter = No
Seen a member of Warrant fall off stage = No
Been drunk at Disney World = No
Thrown up in a bar = No
Dressed up as Peter Criss = No
Paid for sex = When the salad bar was all you can eat? [Laughing.] Of course not!
11. Who was the coolest member of Warrant to hang out with and who was the biggest dick?
It was cool hanging with every member of Warrant in the beginning. However, just by viewing the Metal Sludge website, it?s no secret to anyone that alcohol is heavily consumed on Warrant?s tour busses and that partying goes far beyond just having fun?specifically with one or two founding members. This can make for some pretty demanding situations on the road to say the least. [Laughing.]
12. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?
[Laughing.] Well, I wouldn?t go as far as giving them a smack in the mouth, but a good reality-check may be helpful for a few artists and bands. I?m specifically talking about those artists and bands who seem to take their success in the business completely for granted.
The truth is that no one in this industry owes you anything at all. If you piss off a promoter by hitting the stage late because you didn?t have your ?pop-top cans of tuna? back stage?you may never be asked to play his venues again. If you piss off a jock at a radio station because you were drunk and missed your 7:00 AM phoner?you may never get your records played on that station again. If you?re rude to someone at your record company because you thought she was the receptionist and therefore perfectly okay to snub?she may divert her time and energy to someone who is more politically aware. I?m not making things up here?these are all real stories that exist on the music business. Pretty scary, isn?t it?
Sure, you can get away with murder when you?re hot and viewed as a commodity or top-priority, but as the old adage goes: The people you see on the way up are the same people you see on the way down. Most artists don?t stay on top for very long?and with every passing tour and diminishing opportunity?you come closer to the day when your career comes to a complete STOP! And when it does, and when you realize that you don?t know how to do anything else for a living, you may find yourself faced with a very difficult decision as to what to do next with your life.
Simply put?success is not single-handed. Bands must be fully aware and appreciative of everyone who surrounds their careers.
13. When you see photos of Jani Lane now with a Mohawk and hearing stories about him throwing up in bars and canceling tours, what are your thoughts?
First, for the Pink Mohawk, Lane is a master at knowing how to push people?s buttons; so just by virtue he?s getting the press and attention, I wouldn?t be surprised if he feels he?s getting one-up on everyone.
Second, I?m not too sure I believe the story about him throwing up in the bar. You see, Lane was a guy who was known to able to drink everyone and anyone under the table?AND THEN SOME?and I never saw the guy drop one single chunk. [Laughing.]
Third, as for the canceling of live performances, well?at some point every musician should realize that touring is not just about partying, fun, or an excuse to live your life on the edge. Touring is a very serious and expensive business where so many people are relying on each other for their livelihood and the well-being of their families. Canceling a tour means lost profits for all.
Bill Wyman, reflecting on the music biz and his early and more insane years with The Rolling Stones, sums things up best:
?IT?S ONLY ROCK ?N? ROLL?????????
BUT IS IT REALLY??
14. When you were in Warrant, did anybody ever stand up to Jani and put their foot down when he would get out of line or would everybody just kiss his ass?
Well, as they say, it?s always best to rise above a situation and ignore the madness. However, toward the end, when plotting Lane?s murder became serious consideration by all, I knew that it was time to check out. [Laughing.]
15. The last of Bobby Borg:
Last show you did with Warrant = November, 26th 1997, Hawaii
Last CD you purchased = Can?t remember. But if what you?re getting out is WHAT I?m listening to these days, it?s everything. I listen to about 100 CDs per week helping place music in film and television, record labels, publishers, and producers.
Last time you signed an autograph = Tonight?September 16th, 2003. I signed a copy of The Musician?s Handbook at a music biz seminar where I was a guest speaker
Last movie you saw = I?m viewing a Block Buster movie right now called The Kid Stays In The Picture; a film about famed Hollywood director Robert Evan (who produced the God Father).
Last ?hair band? you saw in concert = Oh god, I think it may have been around Halloween last year, my friend was promoting a club on the Strip and LA Guns were playing. Are they a hair band? No? Okay, then I think it may have been Slaughter three years ago when I went to say hi to my old friend Blando.
Last book you read = I?m currently reading The Craft and Business of Songwriting by John Braheny. He?s speaking at my UCLA class and I?d like to be up to speed. BTW, great book!
Last ?rock star? you discussed the music business with = Rob Nicholson (former bass player for White Zombie, Prong), and John Levin (guitarist for Dokken and entertainment attorney), spoke on my music business panel for Los Angeles Music Productions in Sherman Oaks, CA?9/16/03.
Last time you saw an alligator = July 4, 1997, South Carolina (or, was it North Carolina?) Warrant played a concert at the House of Blues. There?s a huge alligator farm next door. Lane and I visited the park and took the tour. No, I wasn?t thinking about pushing him in. Perhaps the next time, though [Laughing.]
Last lie you told = Saying I wasn?t thinking about pushing Lane in. [Laughing]Last music convention you spoke at = As of this writing, September 16th, 2003. However, by the time this interview posts, I?ll have lectured at UCLA and several other major institutions in Southern California.
16. Do you still talk to anybody in Warrant and with whom?
No, I do not talk with anyone in Warrant. I haven?t seen any of the guys around town?but if I did, it would?of course?be totally professional.
17. How did Warrant get along with the other bands on the tour?
It?s not that Warrant didn?t get along with the other bands? it?s just that Warrant didn?t seem to make much effort to get along. The band didn?t socialize much with other groups unless it was solely on Warrant?s terms. Various musicians would ride the bus for a night to see if the war stories of excess drinking and fist-fights were actually true. Most outsiders were blown-away with what they experienced?and as tours progressed onward?it seemed to only get worse and worse. In fact, one of our drivers was looking for a black flag with a skull and cross bones to fly on the bus. Come to think of it, that would have been quite befitting. [Laughing.]
18. When you joined Warrant, what?s the one thing that opened your eyes the most about the music business?
That open legs and open containers ain?t all this Biz is about [Laughing.] Okay. Okay. Sorry. That was lame. I?ll get serious now.
Actually, my eyes were always wide open to the music business. I was taking copyright classes at Berklee and tearing apart my Atlantic record?s contracts almost ten tears prior to joining Warrant.
However, I think that joining the band made me more interested in pursuing the business aspects of the music industry than I had ever been before. It wasn?t the actual act of joining the band, but rather a cumulative effect of having spent so many years on the front lines and watching so many talented artists and friends make one career mistake after the other. Almost ever musician, band, or solo artist you read about has their own story at one point in their career. I began to seriously wonder why and how this was happening. That’s when I started writing my book.
19. If somebody came to you and said, ?Hey, I?m joining Warrant next week. What do I need to know?? What would you tell them?
Whether it be joining Warrant or any other band, I advise all musicians on a number of important business and personal issues:
First, Always get the terms and conditions of all business agreements in writing and keep a signed and dated copy of them in your files. If an employer responds unfavorably to your requests?or they present you with an unreasonable agreement and are then unwilling to negotiate the terms?their behavior will offer insight into what you can ultimately expect from the relationship. In these predicaments, it?s especially important that you have a clear understanding of your objectives and goals, and what you will and will not give up.
Second, remember that you never get what you deserve, but rather what you negotiate. Be clear as to what you are legally entitled. Contact the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) or the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) and use its regulations of fair treatment as your guideline. Understand per-diems and buy-outs; whether or not transportation costs (parking, gas, mileage) are reimbursable, whether rehearsals should paid, and what happens if a live performance is either audio or video taped.
Third, understand other important business matters such as what United States Copyright law says (that is, if you are going to participate in the songwriting process), what merchandising means and a legality called ?The Right of Publicity,? and understand issues regarding record royalties, the minimum scale recording wage, and something called a Special Payment Fund (that is, if you are going to be recording an album with the band.) And don?t forget about tax issues and worker?s compensation insurance. All-important stuff!
Finally, and on a more personal note, always keep family and business as separate as you possibly can. Never let wives, fianc?es, or girlfriends get too close to the band, the band?s female partners, or to your work in general. Trust me on this one?please!
Bottom line; get educated about the business?music is an art, but succeeding in it is a very serious business. Read books like The Musician?s Handbook and others like it; attend seminars, and Always Seek The Advice Of An Entertainment Attorney Before You Sign Anything!
20. Time for Metal Sludge?s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Oh God, but if I tick anyone off?? just remember?that this is only TEXT, SLUDGE, and ROCK AND ROLL [Laughing.]Obi Steinman = I remember Obi as being a really nice guy and I would actually go as far as calling him a good friend, but in situations related to business?perhaps it could be said that he didn?t nurture what Stephen Covey (author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People) calls, a Win / Win relationship?but rather a Win / I Could Care Less about You relationship. [Laughing]. Hey, it?s all good?and it was such a long time ago. Obi was always very hard worker, a go-getter and perfect for Jani and Warrant. He is more than a gentleman when I see him around town today.
Jerry Dixon = A really great guy?that is?when he was sober! [Laughing.] Besides that, Jerry was renamed ?Mr. Bill??short for belligerent. I think Rick Steier (former Warrant guitarist) gave him the nickname. And from what I?m told, the name has stuck.
Erik Turner = A nice, pleasant?and usually objective and reasonable guy in matters concerning Warrant. Though, shortly after Danny Wagner (key boards) and I came into the group, Eric quit touring with Warrant and opened a coffee shop. Therefore, I don?t really remember much more about Eric other than that.
Dana Strum = A guy who ran a tight ship on the road?but perhaps a bit too ?tight? at times (Slaughter?s sound checks were often more like a military boot camp exercise.) [Laughing.] Though, it really does take a lot to run a band successfully on the road and I respect Dana for his overall motives and professionalism. Bottom line?the band sounded great every night, they hit the stage on time, and they never cancelled a single show. Now that?s exactly how things should be run on tour.
Gene Simmons = Entrepreneur. Friend of a friend. [That?s all!]Alice Cooper = You mean Santa Cooper? [Laughing]. You see, Alice never spoke with any of the other bands on tour. However, mid way through the 1997 US tour, Alice?s tour manager asked all of the other bands to come to Alice?s dressing room for some kind of meet and greet. The bands were all lined up and asked to wait in turn one-by-one to meet Alice who was sitting in this big chair in the front of the room. Someone commented that it felt as though we were all waiting in line to see Santa Clause or rather Santa Cooper. [Laughing.] Hey, It was a total honor and a pleasure?but also kind of a trip.
Jeff Blando = Former guitar player in Left For Dead, friend.
Marilyn Manson = Visionary and marketing genius. In the early ?90s, in a S. Florida club, I saw a young unknown artist gaze out into the audience and say, ?One day I?m going to be a pop star who shocks the world.? He believed it! Over ten years later, with one successful album after the other, Marilyn Manson was right.
Vince Neil = Legendary singer. Very cool guy. However, after downing a few pitchers of kamikazes; you never knew just what to expect. [Laughing.] We would actually bet on how long he would last on stage before he jumped in the audience and kicked someone?s ass. At one show in Canada, he didn?t make it past the first song?s intro. Seriously! Motley?s Crue?s book The Dirt chronicles similar stories told directly by the band themselves. It?s a pretty entertaining read. Check it out if you haven?t already.
Jani Lane = Ummm?I see you saved the best for last [Grin]. Okay, Jani was a talented songwriter, intelligent guy, and pretty cool person early on. However, would it be of any surprise to you if someone confessed that Lane was a complete instigator on the road?stirring things up on the bus nightly with everyone and anyone?leaving havoc in his path? [Laughing]. To be more clear and succinct?the band re-named the guy SATAN! [Laughing.] But hey, in all fairness?would he really be the first of Satan?s disciples the music business has seen? It?s really par for course.
21. Do you have anything else you want to add?
Be clear about your career motivations and goals. Are you pursuing a career to party? To be rich? To be famous? To make a valid contribution to the world of music?
Your answers to these questions are ultimately going to affect the career decisions you make, so be totally honest about your goals. That said, you must also interpret the goals of the people with whom you may become professionally involved. What motivates them? Do you really want to do business with these people? Do you truly respect and like them, and do they in return truly respect and like you? THIS IS IMPORTANT!
If haven?t already given these issues some serious consideration, now may be a really good time to start!
So far we’ve had intelligent and entertaining 20 Questions with 3 Warrant drummers! Steven Sweet, Mike Fasano and now Bobby Borg! We never get tired of hearing Warrant tour stories. Always a good time!