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Interview – Point Blank: Tracii Guns Opens Up

07 Jul

LA Guns
LA Guns (L-R): Tracii Guns, Paul Black, Jeremy Guns and Chad Stewart.

By Brian M. Howle

The mean streets of Los Angeles have been the birthplace of quite a few bands over the years, but none have enjoyed the rock life more than LA Guns. Born in the ‘80s when metal met theatrical and Glam Rock was born, appropriately, in the warm dreams of West Coast life and LA nights. They ruled those nights with wild abandon, and some tasty riffs thrown in for good measure.

You may have thought your chance to ever experience LA Guns was long gone, but guess again! Because, dear hearts, I am happy to inform you that Retro Active presents LA Guns, featuring founding members Tracii Guns & Paul Black, with supporting/opening acts: 80 Proof & Shark Legs, at The Sound Garden (formerly Tim Clark’s Rock n’ Roadhouse), located at 2701 S. King’s Highway in Myrtle Beach, SC, on December 1, 2007.

Tickets are available at Retro Active or online at shopretroactive.com; in-store cash price is $10.00 each. Charges have a $2.00 service charge per ticket; online $12.00 each plus shipping (includes the service fee).

With a signature sound that is always high velocity and wide open, LA Guns (Tracii Guns-Guitar; Jeremy Guns-Bass; Paul Black-Vocals; and Chad Stewart-Drums) have cultivated a loyal and devoted following of metal maniacs who have a little something extra when it comes to recognizing what rock is supposed to sound like, whatever the genre might be.

Oh, and by the way – for the purist of fans out there, take note: LA Guns will be in Retro Active (same day, Dec 1) from 4:30-6:00pm signing autographs, taking pictures & hanging out. WAVE 104.1 will be broadcasting live from the store 4-6pm with the incomparable Scott Mann hosting the remote.

Retro Active is located in Broadway at the Beach, off of 29th Aveune North in Myrtle Beach. For more informatio, call 843-916-1218 or 843-902-2877.

I had a chance to speak with LA Guns guitarist Tracii Guns last week via telephone, and we covered a wide range of topics in preparation for their upcoming performance at The Sound Garden in Myrtle Beach on December 1. Here’s what the very outgoing and gregarious guitarist had to say:

Alternatives: So, my friend, what have you and the boys been up to recently?
Guns: Oh, man, we’ve been all over the place, literally. We’ve been touring for quite a while now … we just did a wicked summer tour that included Rocklahoma, which was very cool. We’ve just been really busy, and having a great time.

Alternatives: Well, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying it. So let’s go back a little bit and cover some early ground. How long did you play under the name “Faster Pussycat” before changing the name to LA Guns?
Guns: Well, Mick Cripps asked Paul to play in Faster Pussycat. LA Guns was formed after they met me in 1987.

Alternatives: And what’s it like, playing with Paul Black again?
Guns: (Laughs) Man, that’s like a double-edged sword, you know? I mean, he’s the greatest frontman, no bones about it. He really connects with the crowd, regardless of where we are – it’s just amazing to witness. Me? Man, I struggle with stuff like that, you know? I just want to play guitar! That works well for me, and for him, and for all of us.

Alternatives: Hey, that makes sense to me. Now, we’re fairly certain you guys will be doing material from “LA Guns” debut album and the follow-up, “Cocked & Loaded”. But will we hear songs from “Vicious Circle” and “Man in the Moon”?
Guns: Oh, yes, absolutely. We play about an hour and a half, so we tend to do at least one from each album. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.
Alternatives: Is there any chance of a Brides of Destruction reformation (Traci’s collaboration with Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx), or has that project been put to rest?
Guns: Man, B.O.D. is something that is really dear to my heart. We started that whole thing out as a “let’s do this thing our way” deal, you know .. and then, well, labels got invovled with their usual crap and it just pulled us all apart. I would love to work with Nikki again, though.

Alternatives: Alright – well, what’s your relationship with other former Guns members? Would Phil Lewis (original lead singer) be in a new lineup, or is that completely out of the question now?
Guns: I’m sure glad you asked about that. (Laughs) You know, stories come from musicians themselves. And with Phil … I really like him; he’s The voice of LA Guns, I think we all recognize that – and I’d like to see him back with us. But he’s just insecure, you know, and he gets on the Internet and he just spews stuff. I’ve asked him to do it already, but I think he thinks I would just treat him like a hired gun. But I know the public would just love it if we could work something out.

You know, I’ve always said I wanted to be big, to really make it, at least once. After that, music is mood-altering. I love all music … I change and evolve. Not all do.

Alternatives: Wisely said. So, what are the biggest changes that have occurred during your life, with music? And any advice for the young musican out there just starting out?
Guns: Man, the music climate changes so much, it’s just dizzying. During the fourth LA Guns tour, in 1994 I think, we were playing theatres and small clubs that seated 1500, 2000 people. Man, we had just finished tours playing arenas for 70,000 … 70,000 sold-out seats! And we were asking ourselves, “Now what?” I mean, it was just something that really brought our morale down. But it gave us opportunities to explore metal and hard rock modes, and to continue to grow as musicians.

So to the young ones, I say: Experiences tell the tale. You will be forever learning. If you love what you’re doing, do it! There were so many bands who were just clones (of Metallica, Nirvana, etc.), and that just sucked. Be orginal. All of us in the original LA Guns, man, we were all over the place, musically. But that’s what molded our sound and gave us our sound. Be original!

Alternatives: Are there any major differences in your audiences, from West Coast to East Coast?
Guns: (Laughs) Yeah, well, the West Coast crowd exudes a party atmosphere, very laid-back. The East Coast tends to be a bit more cynical and inquisitive, but that’s upper East Coast. The further south you go, the heavier it gets; the timbre does. We recently played International Texas A&M, all college kids. We opened for Flock of Seagulls, and those kids knew all the lyrics and songs. We have a really strong Latino fan base that’s been there from the original LA Guns days, too. But the wildest was when we played this summer in Korea, for our biggest crowd of the year – 40,000 screaming Korean fans who loved us. (Laughs) Go figure, man!

Alternatives: Hey, do you remember the very first time you were ever in a recording studio, and how cool that first time was?
Guns: Oh man, my first recording was when I was 17. I had this Marshall amp, and through the headphones it sounded like frying bacon, you know? (Both laugh) Anyway, the guy who was producing it reached over and flipped on a noise gate, which I had never seen or heard before, and it was like a miracle! Silence – until you strum a chord or pick that lead. Cool! My first thought was, (Both of us say this at the same time) “Man, where can I get one of those things? I’ve got to have one of those!

Alternatives: Needless to say, I know exactly what you mean, Tracii! Anyway, what’s in your future, and is there anything you still want to do?
Guns: Man, I just want to keep learning and growing, both as a person and a musician, you know? I want to work with the next Lennon & McCartney. There are a lot of great high school kids out there who are really players, and I want to see that great mix of the old with the new.

Alternatives: And with that, we’ll end this aimless ramble between musicians (Both laugh). I really appreciate your time and gracious sharing, Tracii. We look forward to meeting you guys at Retro Active, and seeing you at the show at the Sound Garden on December 1 in Myrtle Beach.
Guns: And Brian, I thank you – I really enjoyed this interview. And we’ll be ready to rock when we get there, so come on down and say hello to us during the day, and then come out and join the fun at the show. We’ll see you then!

Folks, I’ve been fortunate enough to interview many, many musicians over the years, and it’s always a treat. But this guy is the real deal – he’s down-to-earth and unpretentious, and truly appreciates his fans and friends. So, come on out December 1 and meet LA Guns at Retro Active, and catch the show at The Sound Garden later that night!
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The article originally appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine November 22, 2007.

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