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Phil Lewis LA Guns; “I love AC/DC, but they are too one-dimensional.”

Phil Lewis LA Guns; "I love AC/DC, but they are too one-dimensional."


One of the various line ups over the years.

Adam Hamitlon (far left) has retired to produce, Stacey Blades, Phil & Steve.

This recent post features some recent comments from Phil Lewis of LA Guns about Tracii Guns, past, present, Ac/Dc and even Rose Tattoo. Find it

by Arthur Karras

Let’s clear this up right from the start shall we. There are presently two versions of LA Guns in existence. One is the version touring Australia right now – fronted by the very friendly, enthusiastic and softly spoken, Phil Lewis. It also contains Stacey Blades on guitar, Scott Griffin on bass and Steve Riley on drums. The other version is fronted by guitarist and the man who put the ‘guns’ in Guns’n’Roses; Tracii Guns. That version of LA Guns, features Jeremy Guns, Chad Stewart and vocalist Paul Black. It’s complex, highly emotional, and best left to Phil Lewis to explain the mess, while I sit back and take it all in.

“We were recording about five years ago. We’d been in the studio with legendary producer Andy Johns, who has done Zeppelin, The Who and the Stones. Andy made us sound really great and we put down a great record together called Waking the Dead and we felt we had turned the corner and we weren’t just a band who was going to be playing just old hits from our glory days. During the photo shoot for the album, our so-called founding member (Tracii Guns), announces he was quitting the band because he was going to do a side project called Brides of Destruction with Nikki Sixx.

“So we were like, ‘dude, that’s fantastic you and Nikki working together, we’re really happy and proud of that, but you don’t have to leave LA Guns, because sure as hell, Nikki isn’t leaving Motley Crue.’ There was no convincing the guy, he would not stay in the band. We had a 60 date Alice Cooper tour all set to go and we lost it. We lost our record deal because Tracii walked away. To be honest, we scrambled, we struggled, we tried a bunch of different line-ups, we even had Chris Holmes (WASP) in the band for five minutes.

“Eventually we found the right line-up and we kept it together and went into the studio and we made a record even better than Waking the Dead. We went in and recorded Tales from the Strip with Andy Thomas and the band sounded great.

“When Brides of Destruction tanked after the second record, Tracii was knocking on our door, calling us, saying he wants back in, and at this point we were like ‘bollocks, we’ve moved on, we got a new line-up, a new record and proved we can do it without you, so bugger off,’ and he says ‘in that case, I’m going to put my own LA Guns together,’ and that’s pretty much what he did.

It’s quite simple, there are two LA Guns, there’s one good one and one crap one and that’s about all I’ll say. I do know that within the next few weeks the situation will be resolved and that crap version is going away.”

It’s a pity that it’s got to this ludicrous situation as LA Guns are historically a very significant band. They were aptly named and the metal scene in Los Angeles in the early ’80s was the place to be. While Phil and Tracii had a vision of being a hard rocking heavy metal band, like so many glam bands, one ballad changed their lives in an instant when they least expected it.

“The band kind of hit a brick wall. When we first came out we wanted to be a Face Down (very fast and heavy track from the Vicious Circle album), kind of band and our first album was like that, fast, raw and heavy. Then on the second album we wrote The Ballad of Jayne and we went, ‘uh oh, we’ve created a monster, what are we going to do?’, because it was unlike anything we’d ever written before. It wasn’t going to make the album because we thought it wouldn’t fit in, but mercifully it did make it and it changed everything. I like to think of us as being a band more like Cheap Trick than AC/DC, we mix it up. Don’t get me wrong, I love AC/DC, but they are too one-dimensional. When we started we were too, but we changed it and we started adding other songs such as Ballad of Jayne, eventually onto I Found You and we are pretty good at ballads.”

LA Guns were one of the big drawcards in an era that spawned a lot of pretentious imitators. Early songs such as Never Enough, Rip & Tear, One More Reason, Sex Action, Crystal Eyes and The Ballad of Jayne made them, along with Motley Crue, leaders of the Los Angeles scene. It all kind of turned ugly though as the wave of grunge washed away the tired glam scene. “We had the whole world looking at us. We had a scene that was just incredible, it was one big hedonistic party and I think to a certain extent, there was a huge backlash against that when the whole Nirvana grunge thing came. They were sick of us pretty boys having too much fun.”

Despite all the turmoil of the past, Phil Lewis is very upbeat and is very enthusiastic about heading to Australia for the first time. The band is still very together and very relevant to so many people over the world. Over the years LA Guns have recorded Marseilles by our very own The Angels, and Rock N Roll Outlaw by Rose Tattoo. Phil Lewis is an unabashed fan of Aussie music and cannot wait to check out some more sounds when he is here. “I grew up in London loving The Angels and Rose Tattoo and any other Australian bands including AC/DC. There’s so many, I love it all. Today I even like Jet and Wolfmother. I’m not sucking up, I’m so excited about coming out to Australia it’s like my second LA, I was so into that sound. It’s going to be four shows in five days, all we going to see is hotels, lobby’s, sound checks and airports and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to buy a stuffed koala at the airport, but I’m so looking forward to heading down there. A friend has told me he will be bringing some members of Rose Tattoo to one of the shows to watch us, and that makes me so proud, I love those guys.”

Speacial thanks to www.beat.com.au

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