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20 Questions with Vain singer Davy Vain

20 Questions with Vain Singer Davy Vain


Davy Vain in Tokyo? Nope!

Outside Tokyo Delves on Lankershim in NoHo.

This has been a requested interview by the Sludgeaholics for years and it’s finally here. Davy Vain called the Sludge offices and had plenty to say, he talks about the new Vain release "On the Line" and also talks about Steven Adler, Metaliica, not wanting to fuck Prince, meeting Robert Plant and touring with Skid Row in Europe.

Vain play the "Whisky-A-Go-Go" Friday 12-16-2005 go check it out if you’re in the area. Read on and enjoy…

1. Here you go, this is your only chance to plug your website, tours, projects and what’s going on? 

Well, um, the band VAIN is what’s going on. My band and we got a brand new album out called “On the Line.” You can get it at Tower Records anywhere, and a lot of different stores, Tower is the best place to get it. We’re doing a show at the Whisky-A-Go-Go on Friday December 16th 2005 in Hollywood. Then we’re just going to lay low for the Holidays and head over to Europe again in the spring.  

2.  Recently VAIN did a short tour in  Europe in support of the new release. How did the tour go, what were the crowds like and did anyone get food poisoning? 

Somebody got dick poisoning, but we cured it with a remedy I learned in the lower avenues of Hollywood. But besides that everything went really smoothly as far as any poisonings went. (laughing a bit) It was great. The crowds were fantastic; there just was a lot of love, and a lot of energy. You know, because we hadn’t been there for so long. And we probably played there less than a lot of other bands from the era, just because we went right before the bottom of the whole thing kind of dropped out (referring to the fall of the 80s). It was cool because a lot of people were there that had seen us the first time we went there with Skid Row in 1989/90. And then there were a lot of new kids, that were really young and were just so into it. And it really reminded me of the scene that we all experienced back in the late 80s and early 90s.

3.  VAIN was the support act for some Skid Row shows in Europe back in the day. What do you remember about playing those shows with one of the hottest bands in the metal world at that time?

Yeah, the thing that I thought was so cool, was we had played a lot of clubs and theatres and all of a sudden we’re playing these big places where we walk on stage and we have Vince Neil’s monitor system, and it was so big, and you could hear yourself so clearly, and you could perform so much better. The very first initial response was so, so, huge…after the first song we played there the crowd went completely crazy. The difference between hearing a packed theater or a night club going “yeah” and the difference between arena crowds going (cupping hands and making the roar of 10,000 people) it was like somebody injecting the most toxic speed right into your heart.  All you wanted to do was hurry up and finish another song to get that (feeling) one more time. To experience that was great. The memories are great. Skid Row was very cool to us, you know we had a good time, and Sebastian was such a character back then. I remember the very first time I met him. He came backstage, and goes; “hey do you like Motley Crue?” And I go: “yeah they’re cool!” and he goes; “Cause I’m a fucking Crue-ton man. We’re going to have to take some mushrooms and crank the Crue after some shows.” And I go; “alright cool.” So I figured this is going to be different. The highlight of course was playing the Hammersmith Odeon. And this is probably one of my best ever memories ever from being on the road. I’m kind of sick that gig, and it was a really big stage, and I was thinking it would suck to be sick and then suck in London. So everybody is just kind of leaving me alone so I don’t talk too much and I’m drinking my tea. Then my tour manager comes and says someone wants to say hi and wish you good luck at the show. I figured it was some English kid, and all of a sudden Robert Plant walks in the dressing room. And it really tripped me out. Not only because Robert is such an icon of rock, but I’m in this room all alone with him and he’s saying: “good luck with the show” and then he says: “I notice all of you American singers like to scream really high and say the word fuck quite frequently.” It was so surrealistic. Then at the end of the night, all the members of Skid Row and Vain jumped up and did “Train Kept a Rollin” with Lemmy (Kilmeister) on bass. It was really over the top, me and Sebastian were trading off vocals, really fun.


Baz sporting a Motley Crue shirt and Davy get their drink on in Europe!


4. For years you have been involved in studio and recording sessions as far back as your

Producer credit on the Death Angel debut (1987). Now you have credits with Christina Aguilera
and Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes). What did you do for these sessions & how did they come about? 

How that came about was, Linda and me have always been pretty good friends, because we had the same management. Katrina Sidorfsk was VAIN’s manager and when she first started working with 4 Non Blondes’ Linda’s first band, we were the big (local) rock stars and Linda use to come to our shows. So when I put my studio together she was kind of getting into gear, and sort of becoming the vintage gear junkie too. So, she did some sessions at my studio and originally recorded the song “Beautiful” with me up at my studio. She actually did “Get the Party started” with all her own (Linda’s) vocals too. And when PINK heard that song, she goes; “I want to do that song;” and Linda’s goes;  “hey go for it.” So, when she started working with Christina on "Beautiful" she called me up and asked if I wanted to work on it. She also asked me to bring some of my vintage gear and the first night we just sat around and bullshitted drinking wine. It was a real cool and comfortable hang since we all knew each other.


Davy looks fairly stoked to be hanging with Mr. Plant!

5. You also found yourself working with Don Was. Who was the band, and do you have a good story?

That was actually a band called The View from San Francisco, and they were a great band. They actually just disbanded and are all going in different directions. They were a really young band that I started working with, and I got them a deal on Sub Pop, and they did a couple records on that. They were a newer generation band kind of like The Strokes, but they had more of a vibe that our era could relate too. More rock star, star power. So, they ended up getting a deal on RCA and they (the label) wanted them to work with a big producer, but the band wanted to work with me. So, the label said maybe we could have me (Davy) team up with a bigger name and find a cool energy. They ended up meeting with Don Was (Rolling Stones) who they (the band) thought was really cool. Don had the idea to do an E.P. and he’d let me produce 2 tracks, and then he’d produce 2 tracks that I would engineer on. So he ended up coming up to my studio, a real cool guy, completely old school rock and he was up for anything. He was so over the top, to the extreme. If he wanted to work, he’d work for 20 hours straight. He would go with whatever the band flow is. One day I walked in as he was all ready to record, the band was there, and we decided to play a trick on him. So we walk in and go; “hey Don we are going to get a bunch of drugs and hookers today instead of record. We just want to do drugs and have sex, go to sleep and start fresh tomorrow.” And he goes: “okay, do you guys need any money or anything?” And we all laughed. It was funny because the label was looking at him as being the one to oversee and control all of us from being this over the top and wild, street type of band. In reality Don was more corrupt than us, which was great so after time goes by, the budget is done and we still need to finish the record. Don had to be in LA to work on Hootie and the Blowfish, so he says: “hey our sessions are usually done around 1:am, so why don’t you guys show up around 12:30 and we’ll make it like we’re going to dinner, and when they leave we’ll just go in and use the studio all night.” It was funny because every night we’d be hanging out in the lobby and they (Hootie & Blowfish) would be looking at us like; “what the hell are these guys doing here every night?”  Don was a super cool guy who has done all this stuff and had no attitude. That’s the thing about the music business; these new bands, young kids, there are some people who have to learn. They haven’t done shit, and they have so much attitude. They think that rock is just about being an asshole, but being an asshole makes you something you’re not. Most of the people who you meet who have done the most are usually the coolest people. And that makes me happy, because these are the people who have respect for people on every level.

6.  Rate these vocalists 1-10. A 1 being a sloppy mess, and a 10 being a vocal God.

I don’t know, I don’t like to put people down.

Axl Rose = probably like a 9, no 8 ½

David Lee Roth = um, I guess ahh, 9

Sweetheart = um, I guess ahh, 6

Stephen Tyler = ahh, 10

Michael Monroe = umm, 8

Mickey Finn = umm, 6

Vince Neil = umm, 7

Mike Patton = ummm, 7

Bret Michaels = ummm, 6

Sebastian Bach = ummm, 7


Davy Vain with an old friend of ours Gerri Miller


7.  What rock star deserves a big smack in the mouth and why? 

Umm. (long pause) Smack in the mouth huh? I guess I really don’t want to say it like a smack in the mouth, but I guess ahh, Axl Rose for just wasting so much opportunity. Yeah, and I don’t really mean it like, I don’t want to smack him in the mouth, but maybe more like shaking him. I’d love to be his manager okay, just so I could say you know people want to see you. You know it’s a wasted opportunity that only comes along 1 in a billion people. You know me as a singer, or somebody who’s always out there trying, just loving to be a full time musician and that being the dream. And he reached the dream, and for some reason, he’s someone not able to keep his focus to make that happen.

8.  Let’s go back a ways. When VAIN started playing the San Francisco scene who were the cool bands you hung with, who came up from Hollywood and do you have any good Poison or Guns N’ Roses stories of their gigs up in the Bay Area? 

Well Guns N’ Roses probably because they had the most hype. That was probably our first big local show in San Francisco when we got the spot with them. The promoter thought we were kind of cool and we were sort of different. I remember when we played with them Steven (Adler) and Duff checked out our whole show from the side of the stage. And then afterwards Steven said he loved our band so much. We had no idea that they were going to explode to level that they did, and at the time they were a lot more glam, more make-up more over the top, which was kind of the street thing and at the time that was that look. I just kept in contact with them, gave them VAIN swag, tapes, and hung out at a few rehearsals with them. Little did I know that I was going to end up in a band with Steven.


Steven Adler & Davy Vain!

9.  Speaking of GnR. Steven Adler was ousted from Guns and then put together ROAD CREW with members of VAIN. Tell us about that project. How did it get started, why did it end, and is Adler a handful like everyone claims? 

Well, you know I was at one of the very last practices that they did, and they were working on some of the stuff for Use Your Illusion. I always thought, one thing that was kind of cool about a Gn’R practice was that their roadies had cocktails mixed on their amps waiting for them before they even walked in (Laughing). Adler did seem like he was a little bit of mess at the end you know, and the playing was pretty shaky. And Axl usually didn’t show up at the rehearsals is what I heard from him (Steven). And so, that was kind of near the end, and I knew that it was getting pretty serious. So, a month later, when Island Records got sold, it fucked up our deal and everything, he (Steven) heard about it, so he tracked my number down somewhere and said he wanted to start his own band and really wanted me to come sing for him. And he really sounded together on the phone. So then his manager (Princes’ manager Joe Ruffalo) called me and said he heard the VAIN stuff. And at this time I hadn’t even considered it, but I was flattered, because even his name alone at the time was so huge. He was a huge star, and a lot of people don’t know how gigantic Guns n’ Roses was, unless you were there. So, I told the guys in my band and my manager, and she said you seriously got to check this thing out or you might regret it. So, I said, hey I just can’t leave the band, and at the time the band (VAIN) was in real dire straits, and the rehearsals were a downer. We had already been working on a 3rd record, and the 2nd record hadn’t even come out yet. So we had this big meeting with the band, our lawyer and our manager, everyone talked about it. And everyone said to me, you got to check this out. So it wasn’t like I just split. VAIN was/is a very tight knit group of people. We all grew up in the same town
Santa Rosa about 60 miles north of San Francisco, even our roadies were buddies we knew our whole life. It was a hard thing for me to do, because VAIN is like my baby. But then I had all these people saying you got to try this. And my lawyer said, “Take as many of the guys with you as you can. And if it doesn’t work out then ban it. That’s how the music business works. You can’t pass up this opportunity.”

So he jammed with us, and he sounded really good but not great, and I just figured he was a little of practice. So I figured I would do this. And we talked to him, and he had the name and I had all these songs. I originally came down with Jamie (Vain guitar player) and the 23 of us would jam. And we stayed with Adler at his pad, and you know I really grew to love Steven as a person, he’s a great guy, and I got really close to him. We were jamming and had to get a bass player so I called Ash (Vain bass player) everyday and begged him to come down. And Ash kept saying; “I can’t do it, because this is the one of the reasons Vain is not together.” So I said: “Okay Ash, if you don’t come up and play with us just one day, then you’re not my best friend. Just fly out for one day, and then if you want to walk out, I’ll never bother you again.” So I totally quilted him into doing it (laughing). So when Ash finally came down he said: “man this does sound great.” So we were jamming and we had a pretty smoking band, and then Adler ran into a few speed bumps, and had a few relapses. But living in Los Angeles at that time was like living a video everyday, the Rainbow, chicks at the house non-stop, dropping some off, and picking up new ones. We actually had the lighting in Adler’s house to mimic the lighting of the Rainbow. So just incase someone came by they would not be disappointed. So, that was a lot of fun. But we worked pretty hard, and almost killed Steven a couple of times. When he had run into a speed bump and been a bad boy, I was like: “you’re going to fucking rehearsal right now man!” And I’d drag him down and we’d just work on songs and I’d be yelling: “Double time, now keep it up Steven!” I’m surprised we didn’t kill him you know (laughing). So, we got him in pretty good shape. We did a lot of show cases for labels, and usually no one says much at these as everyone sits there all quiet except for the lawyers, and Steven’s yelling out: “so man, what do you think, this band fucking rocks. I don’t know what your fucking problem is, but you need to sign us right now!” (Davy is now laughing hysterically).  And they (the labels) would just look at him like; this guy is out of his fucking mind! (more laughter). I was definitely getting pretty chaotic, and it was a crazy year, of crazy shit, non-stop. Every day was a new thing, and you just had to laugh. Because Steven was such a good guy, funny guy with a good heart, and even when he totally fucked shit up it was sort of comical. We tried everything you know. We’d see some shady car pulling up with a drug dealer in it, so we’d have one of our roadies run out there with a camera to start taking pictures of him and his car. We figured he’d run away, but instead he gets out and starts posing for photos giving the metal horns and asking: “is this gonna be in a Metal Mag –right on!” So that didn’t really work either. (more laughter)  



Steven Adler, Davy Vain & Road Crew.

10.  Is Beat the Bullet about jacking off, running from gangs trying to kill you or does it have some other meaning?

It does have another meaning. I don’t know if I should give it away. Beat the Bullet, at the time I wrote it, if you really listen to it, it’s more about the temptation of sex luring you into dangerous situations every time and praying that you’re going to beat the bullet. To get through it one more time.

11.  Memory Lane with Davy Vain.

1974 = Bicycle

1978 = Aerosmith

1982 = Holland (Davy live in Holland)

1986 = Vains first show

1989 = Getting signed to major record label

1991 = Flipping thru the stations watching Seattle bands and being bummed

1994 = Wondering what I was going to do with my life, and deciding to stick with

rock n’ roll because it’s all I know

1997 = Same as 1994, but a little more worried

2000 = A fresh new start, to give one last thrust for a new Century

2004 = Umm…Danny West returning to Vain!

12.  Of all the bands you shared a stage with who was the coolest to you and who

were the biggest
dicks to deal with? 

Biggest dicks to deal with ever…ummm… Gorky Park. Mostly because of their crew, who we got in a fight with on stage and it made Mtv news. Their road manager pulled the plug as we went into Beat the Bullet. Ash took his bass off and threw into their drum set (laughing) and Ash punched everyone that got near him. Then the Texas cops came onto our tour bus and some big pot bellied cop says: “where is this Vain guy at?”  and I’m like: “ah yeah.” And he goes: “ we got a fucking riot on our hands here, what the fuck is going on kids?” and I go: “well officer blah, blah.” And he goes: “well I did talk to the promoter and he said you guys are alright and they never had any problems with you. Now we got these Russian guys here and we got a God damn problem and it’s all making sense to me now. They’re not from this country now are they son?” And I go: “No they’re not sir.”  And he goes: “well all I got to say is you boys better get some haircuts, now I’m gonna go deal with these mother fuckers alright?”  And I go wow, this IS America, because you can look like complete degenerate fag but a communist – No way. (laughing)

And the coolest ever…ummm…everybody was pretty cool. Most bands that are good bands are usually pretty damn cool.


Davy Vain shared the stage with Baz, Skid Row and Lemmy

Kilmeister at the Hammersmith Odeon!

13.  What rock band should call it a day and pack it up for good? 

Umm. Man. The Beach Boys!  


14.  Name the 3 high points, and the 3 low points of your career as the front man for VAIN? 

High Points: Seeing the video on Mtv for the first time, playing Hammersmith Odeon, and being on the cover of Kerrang magazine ( England).

Low Points: Getting that call that the label sold (losing the deal), probably not seeing your record in the stores anymore, I guess there is only 2.

15.  Kill, fuck, merry!  (Shakira, Prince, Cher)

Well I don’t want to fuck or merry prince, right? So, I guess I’ll be forced to kill him, cause I’m not gay, and I’m not ready for that yet. But umm..and I guess I’d rather fuck Shakira, but I think I wanna merry Shakira cause she goes barefoot on stage like me. We might be kind of a jungle match! Cher I’d have to listen to disco, besides Gene Simmons has fucked Cher you know, and there is some mileage on the odometer there. (laughing)

(Editors note: Davy Vain has always performed bare foot on stage)  


16. Metallica is a Bay Area band. Did you go to any of the earliest of shows, and if so,

what were
they like? Did you hang with them? And could you ever have imagined that they’d become the biggest Metal band on the planet?

Yeah, I’ve met them and I know them and I did go to some of the early shows. I thought it was intense and high energy but I didn’t think it would be as big as it was.

I’d bump into Lars at the BAMMIES (Bay Area Music Awards) and he would always be way cool. He didn’t care what anyone else thought and this was when the thrash bands would not usually be associated with the glam era bands. When they were doing the Black album in Los Angeles VAIN was mixing in another room and I ran into the guys. Kirk Hammet actually produced my first ever VAIN demo back in 1985, before I had any of the other guys in the band. I had just started, and a friend of mine knew Kirk who had this studio out in the middle of nowhere. I also ran into Jason (Newsted) about a year and half ago, he was hanging out with Flotsam & Jetsom up here. Someone mentioned I was Davy from VAIN and he said he saw us play with his old friends from TUFF back in the 80s.

(Editors Note: Jason Newsted played in a band called Metal Beast with Jorge DeSaint in the early 80s in Phoenix Arizona.)  



Jamie Scott & Davy Vain live.

17.  What was your biggest musical related payday for and what did you buy with it? 

One time I did get a check straight to me for $ 70,000.00. I was living in San Francisco, and I had no job, no driver’s license, no car nothing at all. And I just said okay I’m going to go buy a Corvette right now. And I go with my girlfriend to buy it and they told me I couldn’t drive the car cause I didn’t have my license. But they said they could take me for a ride in it, which kind of sucked. And I said : “hey I’m going to buy this car.” And they go: “it doesn’t matter, you can’t drive it.” And I said: “well she has a license, can she drive it?” and they go: “okay.” So she takes off and when she comes back I go: “what do you think baby?” and she goes: “it’s fucking fast!” Then I turned to the salesman and I go: “cool, I’ll take it!” (laughing) So the salesman says to me: “If you buy it, you can drive it all you want, because we’re not responsible anymore. We don’t give a shit.” So I thought that was pretty cool that I had no license and no car, and went straight to the Corvette!

18. You’re faced with a hard decision here. You will lose 100% of your ability to sing and perform unless you join N’ELSON for their next recording and tour. You will also have to bleach your hair blonde and play their long lost triplet brother DAVY NELSON. This will only last for 3 years and then you can go back to being DAVY VAIN! What do you do, lose the voice or join NELSON?

Oh man! (laughing) What I would try to do, cause I wouldn’t want to lose my voice. It would be pretty torturous cause I’m not a fan, not to put them down or anything, and I’m sure a lot of people like them, and I’m sure I dated some girls that think they’re great (laughing). But what I would do is I would secretly corrupt them. By the end of the tour Nelson would be the dirtiest, filthiest rock band. I would make them die their hair black, One of the brothers would be in rehab, the other a sex addict,  I would somehow have them spend the Nelson family fortune on giant extravagant parties, the biggest tour buses, a Nelson jet, I’d talk them into me having all my buddies on tour and make the best of it.


Davy Vain in Nelson? We say not a chance in hell!


19.  Word Association:

Paul Northfield = Amazing

Linda Perry = Genius

Jamie Scott = Astounding

Christina Aguilera = The Voice

1989 Earthquake = Shaky

Tom Mathers = Great guy.

Danny West = Dirty. (laughing) Dirty in a good way!

Don Was = Jack in the Box coffee

Billy Rowe = Take your shoes off. (laughing)

Nikki Sixx = Icon for the masses!


Original Vain Line-up left to right is Danny/Guitar, Tommy/Drums,

Davy Vain front and center, Ash/Bass, & Jamie/Guitar.

20. The Last of Davy Vain.  

Last time you played The Stone = 1993 I think?

Last fast food you ate = Wendy’s

Last time you signed an autograph = 1 month ago

Last time you cried = last night, but in pleasure.

Last rock star you shook hands with = Lars Ulrich

Last time you talked to Steven Adler = 9 months ago, and he always says the same

thing, “Dude, we got to get those songs out, they’re beautiful!”

Last 80s CD you listened to = Aerosmith “Night in the ruts”

Last concert you watched from the crowd = Rolling Stones

Last time you heard Beat the Bullet on the radio = 8 months ago, on the Bone yard XM

Last time you visited Metal Sludge = 2 nights ago!

And this is the edited version of the interview. The full length is over 60 minutes long and contained some cool "off the record" stories that unfortunately can’t be told. Thanks to Davy and the band.

Make sure to check VAIN out live and visit them at www.davyvain.com and go buy the new release at www.towerrecords.com as well.

Metal Sludge

Sludge the Bullet



Vain looking ready to beat the bullet.



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