I don't know. That's a good question. If I figure it out, you'll be the first to know. Honestly, if someone asked me how I got where I am now from where I was then, I really couldn't tell you. At no time in my whole career did I ever have a period of time where I wasn't doing the hustle. Doing the rock thing and try to make something happen and believing in it. It's just been a very strange trip that I've been on and just ironically everybody along the way, a lot of people that jumped onboard with projects I was doing, a lot of people called it that they rubbed the magic Buddha or something. Apparently my influence on them had a lot more positive results than theirs on me.
Maybe you should embark on a career in forming rock stars and get rich off of that.
It's a thought and again, it's not to take away anything from any of the people I've worked with. Because again, it would be easy enough to make comments like that but it's not to take away the success and talent of those people I did work with and went on to have things work out. All I can say is maybe somebody would say that everything happens for a reason and although those people were good at writing and performing material aimed at whatever it is that was their mode of success, apparently my success was supposed to be based on what it's like when someone gets kicked backwards through their whole life trying to get started. I don't know. Maybe that's my job. To provide inspiration to people when they need it. I couldn't really give you an answer as to why things go the way they did. It would be easy enough to say that I've just been a screw up and missed opportunities. I can honestly say that's not how it went. In the big picture of things, it's been strange to have people come throughout my time of doing my music, to have these people that I have worked with that went on to platinum success and to have them when they refer to me, it's always in a very positive way. Honestly, they really can't figure out why I haven't broken something yet but again, I think everybody's time, it's just a thing with if it's right it's meant to be. I keep a very positive attitude because I just do the music. I reached the point where I just absolutely do the music that is what I want to do. Whether or not that's going to turn into a platinum record or not isn't really the motivation as much as just really doing my music which is really a good point to be in at this point in my career anyway.
You don't seem to be doing too bad. You're on album number seven.
Yeah, I believe this is number seven. Since I hooked up with Timmy, and again he joined Ultrapop. With the last London band in around 1986 or 1987 when we were in that Penelope Spheeris' movie The Metal Years, even though the band had a couple of records that did pretty well, Non Stop Rock was one of the titles and the other one was Don't Cry Wolf. Non Stop Rock was on Mike Varney's Shrapnel label and then Don't Cry Wolf was on an independent called Metalhead. Both those records sold really well. The band toured those records and did very well but I can honestly say that particular London project in '86 or '87 was pretty much a deviation from what I consider where my heart and soul is in music which is in '70s glitter rock. Bands like Slade, Sweet, Mott The Hoople, early Bowie. All that kind of stuff. New York Dolls and Alice Cooper. Especially Alice Cooper of that era really talked to me and my music. That London project was a one dimensional heavy metal that was popular at the time but it still wasn't really where my music was coming from. Even though a lot of people say "wow, why did you leave London right after that movie came out?" That was the time when it should have happened. I really didn't like where the band was going musically and so that's when I decided that I wanted to sing my own material instead of having a lead vocalist. I started Ultrapop in '88 and recorded that album by myself. That was where Spiders And Snakes came out of because with Ultrapop I released two albums on a label called Ultimate Records which is an independent. One of the first records got a great review in Kerrang! magazine. It was a very pop album but it got a 5K review right next to the Iron Maiden release of that year by Malcolm Dome who was the interviewer. He loved it. He goes "this is great. The traditional glitter pop rock." He just loved it so that was an inspiration for that band and we sold a lot of records based on that Kerrang! thing and in America too. We toured that band for about two or three months all back and forth across the United States. When you tour too much, you tend to lose band members so we got back to L.A. and we did a drummer change and that's when Timmy Jay came into Ultrapop. Ironically he had joined London right when I had quit London to start Ultrapop and then shortly thereafter he left London because of a difference with those people and then he said he wanted to join Ultrapop. So he came into my project and when he did, he brought back a little bit more of a hard rock sensibility that Ultrapop was lacking so I said a name change was in order because we thought Ultrapop was kind of a foofy name. It was confusing because people would say "well, what are you guys? Are you R&B?" It was really an odd kind of a thing when we toured. Nobody really knew what to make of a band called Ultrapop. I thought it fit the mold of the music but again I'm so locked in the '70s. I can't really relate to what's happening at the particular trendy moment in music so I thought it made a lot of sense. We decided to change the name and we came up with Spiders And Snakes which I thought was really a fun name. It's kind of rock but it's not really serious.
For some reason that reminds me of Alice Cooper and I don't know why.
If it does, Alice Cooper was definitely my seminal core influence as a kid. When I was a miserable teenager, those early albums like Love It To Death and Killer and School's Out, those records just really, really talked to me. So Alice Cooper has always been back there in my influences and it's been a split there because I'm also very into the real good strong British pop melodies. If you really listen to older Alice Cooper stuff, even though it comes off as very heavy and very dirge like, there's a lot of pop music sensibility in it. Ironically I think Spiders And Snakes, that name really probably did have a lot of Alice Cooper influence and not to mention the song that was called "Spiders And Snakes" which was a big hit for Jim Stafford back in the late '60s I guess. I had heard the song as a little kid and we loved that song. The whole idea of that song when we were kids and we heard "Spiders And Snakes", we just thought that was just the coolest thing. This thing about this guy and he's got this frog and he's with this girl out by the pond. It's real corny and clichť but it was fun. I guess what we're trying to do most of all now with Spiders And Snakes and in doing that song, I think what is really missing in rock and roll that was present in the '70s was what they used to call novelty songs. It wasn't all about trying to prove how badass or angry or mad or evil or hateful or whatever you are, it was more about hey, here's a fun song. This song is really fun and it'll be fun to listen to. That's where we threw a couple of novelty tracks onto this new album, Hollywood Ghosts. To me, the record has everything that's been the whole history of Spiders And Snakes. Probably of Lizzie Grey for that matter. It's us proving yeah, we can rock along with the nu-metal. We can do nu-metal. I think that song "American Baby" proves we're not slouches on that but we're not one dimensional or locked into that particular genre of music. Then we shift gears and do that song "Angeline" which to me is like a glitter pop Bowie period glitter rock type pop tune. Then "Spiders And Snakes" is country. A little tongue in cheek. A little novelty going on. That's the whole thing behind the Jim Stafford tune. It's a fun novelty song. I think the record really has it all as far as anybody that's ever liked the Spiders And Snakes records we've put out in the past. I think this is the most diverse and the most complete album we've ever done.
I think what's really missing from the rock scene today is basically fun. Some folks will review a CD and say "oh, these songs are about sex and rock and roll and partying." Yeah, good shit.
That's the thing. That's where I'm from. For me, when I got into rock and roll it was an escape from teenage doldrums. The whole corporate social reality has always been there. This thing telling you how you have to be and trying to suppress fun and wildness. Again, by fun and wild I don't mean hurting other people or blowing things up or anything like that. It's more like a counter culture reality. Is it really that counter? You watch a bunch of people watching the Super Bowl. That's an accepted American norm. But rock and roll is the same thing. You'll sit there and watch the total straight conservative mentality at a NASCAR event or watching football pounding beer and raising hell. That's what kids and everybody used to do about rock and roll. It's missing. The fun end of rock and roll. Hey, I have nothing against NASCAR. It's a lot of fun watching cars revving it up and going real fast.
It's even more fun being there at the race just having that shit going past you.
Absolutely. I think that's what rock and roll used to be. It used to be a powerful force that was part of that whole mentality. I don't see why rock and roll needs to clash with any of these other things that people do that are a lot of fun but it just seems that it's degenerated into a counter culture that's negative. It's not really about having fun. It's almost whiny. I hate this and I hate that and my life sucks. Everybody sat in a room as a teenager and said man, life sucks. It's nice to have music that talks to you and gets you out of that but it doesn't have to patronize you. I see a lot of the new music, the dirge sounding atonal hookless melodyless pounding rhythms. The rhythms are fine but a lot of it doesn't really say hey, let's have some fun. Maybe it shows that into some teens' eyes, they say yeah, music that says let's party and let's rock is so dated. If partying and rocking is dated than I'm happy to be that way.
Me too. I graduated from high school in 1985 so I was a child of the '70s and '80s. I thought that was a really exciting time to be alive.
It was. It's funny. We did an interview the other day. We just played a show at Club Vodka down on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood and it's a really fun club. It's a really great time down there and we had done an interview after we played with a porn star named Jasmine St. Clair and it was a lot of fun. She's a funny lady. Anyway, she was interviewing us and we were talking about this whole thing about what did it used to be like. Now she's only about 21 years old so she's going "so tell me." At least she told us she was 21. She's going "I don't know what it was really like. I was around in that scene but it was almost all over. Most of the kids don't know what you're talking about partying and rock and roll. They really don't know what that is." I said that's too bad because it was fun. It was a really good time. It was a wild time and at least every Friday and Saturday night, there was a party going on. When people partied, they had fun and they hooked up. Yeah sure, there was a lot of decadence going on but it wasn't like people sitting in a corner pounding crystal meth and losing it. Just sitting in a corner hiding. Even the drugs were about having fun. Again, I'm not condoning cocaine or any kind of drug use but I have to be honest. Sure there were people abusing drugs but also there were people that were just using them recreationally that had it under control that were having fun. As for myself, I've always just been a drinker anyway.
Yeah, me too. I think marijuana stinks like hell and if something stinks to me, I sure as hell can't smoke it.
The whole thing is, whatever people do that makes them happy. If that works for them, great. For me, I can tell you a dozen stories as far as the marijuana thing. As far when people are smoking it, when you'd be out partying and drinking and then at the end of the night someone would go "hey, you want to puff on this?" You're drunk and it's the end of the night. You're probably going to do just about anything. I guarantee that's a formula for throwing up. I can't even count how many times I'd just be totally drunk and happy and then I'd take a puff off a joint and go "ohh, man I don't feel so good." Again, there's always been a lot of drugs around rock and roll but again, for some reason it's never become a major center focal point in my existence in rock and roll. I've always been about playing music, having fun, getting drunk, partying, and raising hell.
Especially raising hell. That's the best part.
It is. It's fun. It's honest when they say that God looks out for idiots and children. I think I was a little bit of both for most of my life. It's true. The things that happened. The stories I tell in bars. Again, a lot of them revolving around famous rock stars that were people that I think of in way different ways than the people who perceive them as super stars. The stories I can tell are just about some really funny stuff. It all happened in that late '70s throughout the '80s period of time in music. A really funny story was one night Nikki Sixx and I were in Hollywood and we were at the Rainbow.
When I went to L.A. for my birthday a few years back, I ate at the Rainbow Club and saw all sorts of people and it fucking rocked.
Yeah, it's fun. It used to be. We used to call it the meat market. It was insane. It's tamed down a lot from what it used to be but anyway to get to the point of this funny story, Nikki and I were at the Rainbow and we meet these two girls and I think they had a Ferrari they were driving or something and at the time I had this big muscle car. A '68 Olds Cutlass. A big giant bomb with a gigantic engine in it though. These girls ask us if we want to come party with them and just follow them. They were kind of playing with us so we get in the Oldsmobile and we're both pretty buzzed. I won't say we were hammered drunk but I'm sure we were over the now .08 limit. I can't say for sure. This is what happened. This is a true story. We're rocketing down La Hacienda and these girls are on it. They're running red lights. They're totally running red lights and we're staying on them. We're staying with them and Nikki is going "dude, these chicks are crazy." I'm telling him we can catch them. We're chasing them down La Cienega Boulevard and then suddenly they turned on Santa Monica Boulevard. It's late. It's probably about 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning and these sheriffs all of a sudden, I'm not even paying attention in my rearview because I'm so busy trying to keep up with this Ferrari, suddenly I'm lit up. I got red lights going on and I go "oh man." We get pulled over right in front of the Troubadour. Meanwhile, the girls just bail. They just rocket out of there and the cops don't even go after them. They got me. They pull me over and I'm going "we're done man." He goes "oh shit, oh man." The cop comes to the car and he leans his elbows on the door. He leans and he goes "you know what, I can forgive a lot of things like the five red lights you ran and doing 95 miles an hour down La Cienega but you let the chicks get away." That's when I said this is weird. I looked over at Nikki and I just looked at the guy and said yeah, we kind of did. He said "you guys want to get out of the car?" He gets us out of the car. We're both wearing stiletto heels. We've got makeup on for days. Nikki's hair looks like a pineapple. It's tamed down a bit. In London, it was even wilder than it is now in what he's doing now in the Crue. We're fully glittered out. We get out of the car and the cops tell us to sit down on the sidewalk. Now there's three sheriffs' cars and we're just sitting there and now again, this is probably 1979. It's a different era because nowadays I would have been hooked up and sent away. This is '79 and West Hollywood is just a really unusual city with a different mindset. These cops have us sitting there and he tells us to take our shoes off. They were looking for drugs. We take off our boots and I'm wearing American flag socks. Red and white stripes with star blue bands and stars. The cops just start laughing and go "what the hell are these guys?" There's about six sheriffs and they're all sitting there and this is the gospel truth. The cop is saying this right in front of me. "You should have seen these idiots. They ran about four lights coming down La Cienega. They're doing about 85 chasing these girls in a Ferrari." The other cops ask what happened to the Ferrari and he said he let them go. Then, this is the gospel truth, the sheriff pulls a joint out of his frigging top shirt pocket and lights it up. He's sitting there puffing on a joint talking to his friends. His buddies are all just laughing. They're looking at my socks and looking at Nikki's hair and they ask what he's going to do with these guys. I'm just sitting there going "oh man, oh man. Please just let us go." He said "they're too stupid to take to jail. I don't want them in our jail. Let's just throw them out of here." This is a true story and he gives us back our stiletto heels and he goes "you guys get out of here. Next time you're chasing girls why don't you just look in the rearview mirror once in a while."
You lucky bastard.
You have to understand. Back in '79, all the cops really wanted was coke. If you had coke, you're going to jail. Again, I'm not condoning the madness. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and all that. It's really pulled the plug on the wild stuff. I can honestly say I never was to the point that I would consider myself dangerous but I'm not even going to go there. It's a real slippery slope to talk about partying and raising hell. You can have a designated driver drive 100 miles an hour down a street chasing girls for all that goes.
People are so anal these days. It's not even funny.
Unfortunately, if you really look at the big picture of it all, it's easy to say it's about the terrorism thing but music has been collapsing in on itself way before 9/11 happened. The whole rock scene, people just got like it's not fun anymore. I think a lot of it really had to do with no alcohol and no drugs and no partying and no this and no that. I don't know. Like I said, I don't have a problem with the designated driver thing but if you have a designated driver that means you get to be the designated drunk. You can be responsible and you can still raise hell. I think you just have to work at it a little harder.
I can be a very responsible drunk. That's no problem.
There you go. People probably will read this and say oh my God, this guy is clueless. He belongs in a cell. It's really not about that. I'm not telling everybody to get hammered and go driving the car down the street. I'm only saying that rock and roll can be part of a fun mentality and the idea of block parties or just house parties and all that. Rock and roll house parties are gone. The rappers are having the time of their lives but it seems that a lot of the kids or people that are into a different kind of music have no outlets left.
I guess it has a lot to do with the environment too. Back in the '70s and '80s it was fun to be alive. People weren't so totally serious. Now you have jobs going down the tubes and you've got a guy in the White House starting wars everywhere and I guess the music has followed that direction.
Yeah, in a way it's true. It's a very angry music. The music that's really happening now is all about anger and frustration. You have a whole generation of kids that grew up and all they know is computer games of shoot this and kill that. I'm not saying we should take it away from them. I'm just saying that was fun but there's also life out there. There's stuff you can do. Rock and roll is about fun and good times. You can have fun with that and instead of succumbing to this nihilistic end of the world mentality of who we kill and who we hate, all this fear and paranoia. Whatever the politicians in control of the government are doing to try to put themselves ahead and stay in control, when you get that much repression coming out of a government, rock and roll is the normal reaction. I think what's really happening is there probably will be a renaissance of rock and roll because it's what Americans do.
I think people are getting tired of the repression anyway. Even when that fear and paranoia thing was at its height and all this hatred of Middle Eastern people, I can't buy into that. That is not me. I'm not a hateful, fearful person.
Right, that's the whole thing. When you start getting paranoid and you start thinking everything and everybody is against you, the end result is you're going to do things that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Again, it's not my place to tell the government how to run their hustle. At the same time, I just think there's a lot of really for all the supposed fundamentalist Christian values that this government is talking about, all I see is a whole lot of hate.
I don't even buy into the Christianity thing. I'm a Choctaw so I come from a different view point.
I'm kind of a Druid myself. My whole outlook is put me on my Harley out in the middle of the desert. When the sun starts hitting you, you drink a beer or two and you start seeing a little bit of heat waves coming off the desert and you just go this is it. This is so cool. I totally relate to that. I agree with you. What I'm saying about Christianity and religion and politics, don't ruin your career. Don't talk about those when you're doing a music interview. I'm not knocking it but what people say is Christianity, it's supposed to be about being cool to one another. It's developed into let's go drop bombs on people.
The way people always describe Jesus, that man must have been the ultimate hippie.
That's how I see it too. The guy was totally like hey, love each other. Peace. If you're hungry, just share with one another. It's like oh, he's a Commie too. What can you say? We're in a really weird place. I have faith that music will do a turn and give people what's missing and when the government can't capitalize on that sensibility, they move on. Politicians are smart. The only way they can get elected is if the whole country agrees with their ideology. As a musician, my main thing is to do music that's from my heart. That's where I want to be and if that turns people on and makes them feel good or makes them happy, then that's just a perk for me. That makes me feel better about what I'm doing. Here's a real tricky thing that I don't really get. When I think about the whole mentality about bands like Black Sabbath, remember that song "War Pigs"? That song and that kind of music is still as popular as ever with the kids. The whole mentality of that was anti-war. The whole thing about Ozzy was smoking joints, being mellow, and suddenly it seems like all that message just dissipated. The kids still like the music that was Black Sabbath but the message is not there. There is no message. Maybe there will be a recurrence of kids just saying this isn't right. It's one thing for the country to protect itself but it's another thing if we just go around blowing off paranoia by attacking nation after nation.
What that does is kill and harm a lot of people and those who survive it will be very angry and full of hate for the rest of their lives.
It's true. I think we're just in a really odd place right now and it's just ironic. Whenever you get a militaristic mentality going for whatever reason, the people are ripe for it. It blossoms. It sounds stupid. Can rock and roll save the world? It couldn't hurt.
It's definitely a good avenue to go down and try.
It's funny. Aerosmith I think it was back in '99 where they had that song about "there's something wrong with the world today. I don't know what it is." That was right at the beginning of when something bad was getting ready to happen. You could just tell. It's almost like rock became so commercialized and so formulized.
It became so corporate.
Yeah, exactly. Corporatized and so finally kids went "I'm not into this. This is stuff my parents like and they're hustling me and trying to get me to buy stuff. I'm not into it." They turned away from it and now it's really funny. They've turned away from the music because it was corporatized but if I've ever seen a generation that was corporatized, it's the generation now. Everything has got to have a name. Reebok, Nike. It's all about products and corporate names. If you listen to that first song, "American Baby", I think it's a little pressure valve on what's going on.
That's one of my major complaints about NASCAR. I love NASCAR but once upon a time it was about bootleggers running from the law and then it turned into cars and speed. Now, every time Jeff Gordon wins a race he has to stand there and thank every corporate sponsor he has before he can celebrate his win. When he won the Daytona 500 it tickled me when he said he was stoked. I was like yeah, that's what it's all about!
There you go. Exactly. It's not a hustle. Hey the guy likes to race cars. Everything has become so corporatized. Everybody says you can't attack corporations just for being in business. I think that what's really missing is the sensibility that people are doing something honestly and maybe they're not going to be millionaires at it.
You can't knock them for being in business but they've gotten to the point where they want to control everything and everyone. When you try to control me, that's when I knock you.
Sure. That's how it goes. That first tune on the record, "American Baby", that's what it says. It says "I'm the world's corporate superman, I'll give you everything you need, just put all your faith in me, I'll suck you 'til you bleed." It's a little harsh but I've got my Alice Cooper moments too where my sarcasm turns into rage. It always has a pop edge to it. That's just my nature. I picked up on that from Alice Cooper. Like his song, "Elected". You have to remember he came in of the '70s. He's attacking the Nixon Republicans and now you're talking about the Bush Republicans. It seems ironic that whenever that mentality gets in control in the White House, a cool, rebellious rock comes out of it and it's a knee jerk reaction to this over the top control thing. There's this repression thing that happens and then there's a reaction on the other end. Again, I'm not really trying to start a movement or anything. Spiders And Snakes isn't trying to start any movements but if we end up giving people a sensibility of a down to earth mentality about having fun, maybe that helps get us through that period. This kind of repressed period in history. If anyone knows what it's like to just do music because it's what they like and not because they think they're going to have some corporate reward, it's Lizzie Grey. I've been doing this for 25 years now and pretty much enjoy getting positive feedback from the fans a million times more than how many records did we sell and can I buy this now. That really scares me. Shows like Entertainment Tonight and Insider, it's like everybody is flaunting how much money they have. It's a crazy mentality. Even when people go out to parties, instead of getting drunk in the parking lot for five dollars instead it's who can spend $100 at some cool club. I'm not knocking the clubs but the whole mentality is who can spend the most money. It's nuts. I don't get it. These poor kids, I pity them because they get credit cards and they're 22 years old and they're declaring bankruptcy. The corporate mentality is just sucking that dry and if you talk about that whole '70s mentality, it was drinking a six pack in the parking lot. It was a cool way to hang out. As a rock and roller touring the United States, I can't even count how many times girls bought drinks for us not because we're gigolos. Well, I guess we are but it was fun. It was all about having a good time. It wasnít about who could spend the most money is what Iím getting at. It was about having a good time. Just partying and having fun. Weíre going to keep doing what we do and if that helps anybody feel better, I donít know.
Folks can be depressed and unhappy but Iíve been a wild child all my life and that wonít change anytime soon.
This is my favorite. The makeover. Letís make someone over. I look at them in the beginning and go XXX and then I see them when theyíre done and I still go XXX. Whenever itís a guy with long hair, they have to chop that off. Get that hair off. Cut that hair. Thatís why I wrote that lyric in ďAmerican BabyĒ. It says ďAmerican baby why did you cut off all your hair, youíve got nothing left to shave, now youíre giving your life away.Ē Thatís what I see. Everybody is after the hair. Weíre never going to cut our hair. Itís just not going to happen in this lifetime.
Iím glad Iím not in my late teens or 20ís because I just canít handle this ex-con look and ďI just dumped a load in my pantsĒ fashions. I came from an era where guys actually gave a shit about how they looked and they had hair and their pants fit.
Absolutely, I couldnít agree more. Iím not going to knock something if somebody else digs it. Thatís the trend. Itís like ďthatís just the way people are.Ē It doesnít have to be that way. Iím not at war with people that do that. I donít want them to be at war with me. By the same token, if you want to wear droopy pants and shave your head, then more power to you. Iím going to do what I do. I like having long hair. I like pants that fit tight. Thatís like Spinal Tap. We like showing off armadillos in our trousers. Itís fun and itís what we do and weíre not going to stop doing it because itís obvious that weíre lifers. Weíre not going to stop doing this. Thatís really the essence. A lot of the interviews that Iíve done for the band lately, itís like ďwow, you really hung in there. Wow.Ē Thereís nothing else that interests me. Thereís nothing else I really want to do. Iím not interested in a lot of the stuff that is the current popular culture. I donít want to sound like an old, angry, reactionary going ďeverything that changes is bad.Ē Itís more like a lot of the changes that have happened arenít really working for me so Iím not going with it. You come up with something thatís really good like come up with beer that wonít give you a hangover. That Iím listening to because thatís an improvement. I can wake up without a hangover. Thatís a great idea. These makeovers. I feel sorry for these poor women. You can only look one way. You have to weigh 80 pounds and have exactly the same haircut and the same this and same that. The guys all have to have droopy pants and shaved heads. What is that? What that looks like to me is neo-concentration camp. I donít know what thatís about. These black rings around the eyes. I call them nihilists because the whole idea is that the music is saying itís all so bad and Iím mad. My parents let me down. If things piss you off then tell them about it. Thatís what we did with that song. I keep focusing on that one tune because the rest of the stuff on the record is a lot less politically or anger motivated. We start the album out just blowing off some steam and then we get down to playing some fun music.
I got a charge out of ďBillís CigarĒ.
Absolutely. That whole song is so tongue in cheek. Itís about Clinton and Monica. What a hysterical thing. The whole country was on the edge of its seats. They were going to impeach a man for having an affair.
For fucking some chick. I can handle a guy fucking a chick. People donít die over shit like that.
Timmy and I always say on stage ďcan you believe that in 1999 the most important thing that was on Americaís mind was what Bill Clinton had done with Monica and with that cigar?Ē We got real focused on the cigar. That was really fun. This cigar. Letís talk about Billís cigar. Itís such a fun thing to think about and it just provides hours and hours of fun comedy when weíre on stage and we do ďBillís CigarĒ. Thereís a million jokes you can say about it and itís great. What kind of cigar was it? She couldnít get lung cancer that way could she?
Was it a Cuban cigar?
Exactly. Whenever we do that song live, I do all these really fun common Miranda type jokes. Itís fun and we have a lot of fun with it. Itís not an attack on Clinton or a support of Clinton. Itís just a funny story. That bit about the cigar. The truth of the matter is, I think the whole country could have gone forever without really knowing about the cigar. When that became the focal point, we thought somebody should write a song about that so Tim did. Tim wrote this song and when he first brought it in, I thought it was just hysterical. It made me think of The Kinks. I always loved the way Ray Davies can be really satirical and write fun songs. What happened to that? Fun music thatís got satire and some thought behind it. Itís not a crime to be intelligent and write songs that are satirical that make you crack a little smile and make you think a little bit in a whimsical way. Thatís every bit as valid as making people curse and scream in rage or say they want to die. Itís every bit as valid and a lot more fun.
Your new CD also has a bonus DVD with it. I thought that was really cool.
That is some serious underground stuff. Basically, Timmy just has archives and itís great. Iím really proud of him for all the stuff he archived. Itís a time capsule of not only the history of Spiders And Snakes but of the Hollywood rock scene during that period of time. During the whole Spiders and Snakes period which ran all of the way from 1990 to today. We just pulled out everything we had and we had challenged MTV to put one of those videos on. We keep getting a lot of fan requests about that song ďSnakes In LoveĒ. We did that at a cable access studio down in Culver City. A good friend of ours named Jeff Lang produced that but itís really fun. Iíve seen old T. Rex videos that were shot like that and itís really bizarre and fun to look at. Thatís the whole of the DVD. Hereís another of what this band is all about. We can write pages and pages of words or we can give you this video and I think the video really says its all. I still have to say that my favorite is the interview with Wally George. Wally in the Ď80s was the first Jerry Springer so we got him to do this video for this song called ďElvisí TVĒ. ďElvisís TVĒ was a song on our last album London Days and ďElvisí TVĒ is about all the insanity thatís going on the TV and itís all negative. I got the idea for the song because Elvis used to shoot his television sets. That was back in the Ď60s and what I always wondered was what could have possibly been going on in the early Ď60s to make Elvis so pissed off to shoot his TV.
Probably all those racial riots.
Absolutely. I thought what if he was watching TV now? That video will make you laugh your ass off because itís really funny. Itís a total spoof. Itís a comedy. Wally is obviously the heart to heart conservative Republican and we invade his show. We come in wearing our silver space suits and weíre totally disrupting the whole thing and meanwhile thereís a theme within a theme. While weíre doing this on Wallyís show, Elvis is watching this happen on his television set so in the end, needless to say, Elvis shoots his TV. Not before we end up tearing up Wallyís studio and then he chases us out of his studio with an American flag on a big pole and he pokes me in the ass with it. Itís a fun video. Before we shot that video, we did an interview with Wally at his house and he just says some stuff that will just make you so pissed off that you will want to kill every conservative. Heís going ďwhat are these lyrics?Ē Honestly itís an act. Everything is hyperbole. He just takes it to the limit to see if he can be the most disgusting conservative possible. He sits there and goes ďwhat are these lyrics? Whatís this band Spiders And Snakes? ĎRainforest disappears and fills our TV hearts with fear.í Rainforests? I donít give a damn about the rainforests. We should tear the whole thing down and build homes for people.Ē Heís just awful and he knows heís being awful and he does it to be fun. He takes it to the limit. You really get to see the big picture of it. Weíre all just people and weíre all having fun with this whole theatrical approach to these political issues. Itís good for a laugh.
I went to L.A. for my birthday in August 2001 and it was so fun. We went to The Rainbow and the Cat Club. My favorite place was the Hustler store. That place rocks.
Back when I was doing the London band back in í86, we were really good friends with Althea who was Larryís wife throughout the í80s. They made that movie where Courtney Love plays Althea in that movie America Vs. Larry Flint. That character that Courtney Love plays is Althea and Althea was a really fun wonderful lady. She just loves to party. She just was really a lot of fun. What happened was, we were good friends with her and we used to come over to the Flint mansion all the time. Larry is just a really funny guy. Heís a really nice man too. We were really working our tails off trying to get something happening with the music and his greatest words of advice to me were ďLizzie, let me tell you something. Struggling to have success is a really good thing but when youíre down too long, that will break you.Ē I guess I must be made out of something pretty tough because Iím still not broken. That was a really nice piece of advice he gave me. It didnít help much. I still spent the next 10 years hustling my tail off and getting little to no return on it.
You guys have put out seven records and Iím sure you have a pretty good audience.
We do. Itís a very positive thing. Iím not knocking it. Iím just saying that meanwhile a lot of other bands got their big corporate record deals and their big corporate platinum records. No, we didnít attain that status but itís nice when youíre sitting at The Rainbow and C.C. DeVille comes in drunk off his butt and he always comes up to Lizzie Grey and says ďwow, youíre Lizzie Grey. Youíre a legend.Ē Iím a legend and heís a rock star. He has the money while I have the legend. You canít buy a lot with that legend business. I canít knock it. If somebody said would I trade it all if I had my chance, would I go back and be in Motley Crue if I could, Iíd say no. First of all, it wouldnít be Motley Crue. It would be a different band. If you change the formula of anything itís all different. Iím very happy with who I am and where Iím going musically. I honestly feel like Spiders And Snakes is just now being recognized and I think itís cool. Weíre this great undiscovered thing that was hiding underneath rock and roll. Someone finally dusted it off and went ďhey, whatís this?Ē Itís me, itís me, itís Lizzie Grey!Ē It was funny when we did that 20 questions for Metal Sludge. Some of the pictures that they dug up were from the late Ď70s with the original London with Nikki Sixx and myself and Nigel Benjamin from Mott. Some of those pictures, we were just totally outrageous and having a lot of fun. I hope itís inspirational if nothing else because itís not about one guy became a rock star and one guy didnít. Itís more about weíre all rock stars. One of my other favorite influences besides Alice Cooper is Mott The Hoople. To me Ian Hunter is just such an amazing rock star. Thereís something about the kind of rock star that he is. I think one of my favorite lines is from ďThe Ballad Of MottĒ. He says ďI changed my name in search of fame to find the Midas touch, but I wished I never wanted then what I want now twice as much.Ē I thought that was a really awesome thing about being a rock star. The line they say for actors and actresses is ďyouíre only as good as your last movie.Ē Itís the same thing with rock and roll. You put out a hit record and then you donít. Motley Crue is out there doing their new tour. Theyíve got all the original guys back together and more power to them. I think itís great but it must be a really strange feeling to know that youíre at the very, very, very top of your game. Rock and roll stardom is like this mountain and to know that youíre on the other side of that mountain. For 25 years Iíve been climbing up the front end of that thing and I still canít see the top. People ask me what keeps me going and itís that line I just mentioned from that Mott The Hoople tune. Thatís me. I just wish I didnít want then what I want now twice as much. Itís just amazing. That guy Ian Hunter just blows me away. Heís so awesome. At 65 heís still touring and I saw him at Atomic Records down in Hollywood. He was doing an acoustic thing and he sang. I was one of the main people raising their hands because it was one of those really neat record store type concert things. Ian Hunter is a legend. Just to be around him and Iím raising my hand asking him to play songs. Iím picking all my old favorite Mott tunes and just to hear him doing them, it was really amazing because I was 10 years old the first time I saw Mott The Hoople. They had a profound effect and influence on me. I saw them at the Santa Monica Civic with Aerosmith opening for Mott The Hoople. We were all asking who Aerosmith was and my friend said they were that band who has that song ďDream OnĒ. I was like yeah, theyíre okay. They were this band from Boston. They were this newbie band from Boston and weíre all waiting for Mott going ďMott, Mott, bring on Mott.Ē Waiting for Aerosmith to get done. That particular concert, Steven Tyler was brilliant and not to take anything away from him, when Ian Hunter took that stage his magnetism was just amazing to us. Me and my friends were all Mott fans so we were all kids that got to go to this concert. I think the two biggest influences in my life as a musician was seeing Mott The Hoople and then seeing the Alice Cooper Billion Dollar Babies tour in 1976 or 1977 I think. That was awesome. Iím still trying to get over it. It doesnít go away.
I hope Motley Crue goes out on top of their game and they donít do the stupid shit that KISS has done. Iíve been a KISS fan all my life and theyíre just driving it into the ground.
Itís tough. I can honestly say I canít imagine how devastating of a feeling it must be to be at the top of the mountain and then know youíre on that other side.
As long as you slide down that other side gracefully. Thatís what matters. Itís when you skid down it and start tumbling head over heels.
Thatís tough. I donít really know. People ask me why I havenít given it up. I havenít seen the top of the mountain yet. Iím still waiting.
If youíre an adventurous person, why give that up?
Absolutely, thatís the thing. Itís tough for anybody to give it up but I guess in a way what happens is you start focusing strictly on how many records you can sell. My idea when you say record industry is that itís an oxymoron because making music shouldnít have anything to do with making money really. If it happens to be there thatís great. If you reach a point where everything you do is thought through and contrived as to how many people will like it, to me thatís bullshit.
When people start concentrating on that bottom line.
Yeah, and when they do it starts reflecting in their music. We got a really great interview on Hollywood Ghosts and somebody said bands like Spiders And Snakes have freedom to give you music thatís not contrived. Thatís not thought through. This is real music. I get a compliment saying donít ever become that platinum act because then youíre at the top of that mountain and we know youíre going to slide down and then weíre going to have to listen to all these bad records.
Another cool band out there is Starwood.
Yeah, thatís my old buddy Lizzy. Lizzy is great because all through the Ď80s we always ran into one another. I was doing the London metal thing and he was doing his Lizzy Borden thing. Heís a really great guy and a really nice guy. Weíve always gotten along great. I think the truth of it is that both of us are big Alice Cooper fans and that we both ended up with this name Lizzie. I think I had mine first not to start a tiff but I think I was Lizzie first. I picked the name out of the whole idea of Lizzy Borden with the axe and all that and I was a big Alice Cooper fan. When I found out there was a band called Lizzy Borden I thought that was cool because we need as many Lizzys as possible. Letís have a couple dozen. Itís all good.
Youíve been interviewed by VH1 and Metal Sludge. You were even mentioned in Motley Crueís The Dirt book. That was a really cool book. I read that when I was in L.A.
Yeah, that was very fun and Nikki gave me some really fun compliments. Some of them are a little off the wall. Like I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. I was like yeah, okay. Where he got that from I think is that one of the first things London did when we first started playing at the Starwood back in Ď78, we had first gotten picked up by the owners of the Starwood, they were managing London and when we first went there we didnít do a show. We did a coming out party at the Starwood and we all were in drag. Iíve got a hysterical picture of myself, Nikki, and the drummer Dane. I believe John the keyboard player is also in it. Nigel wasnít in the band yet or if he was he wasnít in the photo. Weíre all in dresses and we just look great. The funny thing about talking about glam and glitter, when I think of glitter rock which I know most go glam or glitter, whatís the difference? When I think of glitter rock, I think about the Ď70s. I think of Bowie and I think of the New York Dolls and T. Rex. Bands with lots of makeup and big heels and outrageous costume clothing. Itís almost like these people, even though theyíre dressed up in a very feminine way, are men. When I think of glam which was going on towards the end of the Ď80s, what I think was the difference between the Ď70s and the Ď80s is that in the Ď80s it was more like young high school looking kids throwing on makeup and saying ďlook, weíre glam.Ē Itís not really having the depth of music or the depth of existence to really back it up. If youíre going to be a transvestite, you really need to have some serious mental psychological stuff going on there. If you look at the New York Dolls, thatís a perfect example. Arthur Kane was a good friend of ours and we were so bummed when he passed away. The bassist from the Dolls. You look at that band and theyíre scary looking. Theyíre in drag and theyíre scary looking and thatís the fun thing. To me glitter is more scary. Even Bowie, Iím sure the coverall phrase from the angry macho guys is ďfagĒ but to me itís nothing like that. Itís more like bizarre. Nigel used to call it fancy dress. When you see somebody like that, especially like Bowie who was just so bizarre, and you would see that on a stage and the theater of it was very mesmerizing. I think thatís really something to me that still influences the desire to have a very showy stage presence and thatís when I get a little bit bummed about the ďno imageĒ image. Ironically I think it happened when rock faded in Ď89 or Ď90 and when Nirvana came out, it was like no image. I called it the ďno imageĒ image. It really is an image. You had to have one of those Pendleton shirts on and the baggy pants and the unwashed hair. That no image is an image but itís just not fun. What Iím really glad about with Motley Crue is when I see pictures of what theyíre doing with their new tour, Nikki is wearing the stripes again. Theyíre throwing on all of the old glam kind of stuff and itís great. Why shouldnít they do that?
I thought it was cool when KISS put the makeup back on and got the original guys back in Ď96. It was my first time going to a show of theirs.
You have to remember that KISS came out of the early Ď70s. They were bucking the whole glitter thing which I think is an interesting historical point. The Ď70s glitter rock only lasted about three or four years because it got eclipsed by the whole disco thing and disco became such a huge thing towards the end of the Ď70s that that whole rock thing went on the back burner. Itís always been underground. When people tell me my whole career has been spent in the underground, I feel like Iím true to my art because the music that I loved that really influenced me were not the records everybody was grabbing up. They were the new Dolls album, new Roxy Music album, new Sweet album. While all your friends were buying their Zeppelin or Deep Purple and nothing against those bands but for me the glitter music was always underground. If I remain underground then itís probably because Iím being true to my influences.
The underground is a cool place to be.
It definitely is. When youíre touring and you go out on the road and youíre not playing the arena, itís not really that different. People ask what itís like when Iím in a city and Iím playing a club and Nikki Sixx is over at the arena. Itís not that different and for me Iím just happy to be doing shows and having people show up with my CD and wanting autographs but itís more about being able to perform your music. It really doesnít matter if youíre playing a packed club or youíre playing a packed arena. Itís really not that different.
I enjoy club shows more because itís a more intimate atmosphere and thereís more interaction between the band and the audience.
Absolutely, itís true. When youíre playing a big concert and Iíve played a few, we opened for WASP in the mid Ď90s and we did a couple of other pretty big shows. Maybe 5,000 or 10,000 seat theaters. Itís true, when youíre playing a show that big there is no genuine interaction. You canít really fail. When thereís that many people there, itís like your gestures have to be slower and bigger. Itís not intimate. Youíre dealing with a mass as opposed to individual people. Itís fun to play the big shows but I donít mind playing the clubs at all. I love it. I love it when I see a couple of fans dressed up and youíre interacting with them on a very intimate level. I have no problem with the club thing.
Why did you name the CD Hollywood Ghosts?
I consider that we haunt Hollywood. Weíre not going to go away and weíre there and weíre going to keep doing what we do. There is a long, long past connected to what we do and so I see that we are like ghosts and weíre haunting rock and roll. I think a lot of people have really picked up on it. A lot of the stars and a lot of the people that Iíve known throughout the years are dead and itís really bizarre to me when I realize that. Talking about Arthur Kane, I was doing an interview just the other day on KNAC talking to Craig Williams there and I started talking about Arthur and I said heís so great and Timmy said Arthurís dead and I said yeah, thatís right. Itís really weird when you start thinking about all these people that have had such a profound influence on you and a lot of them are gone. I donít know. For some reason I really thought because weíve been so true to the glitter thing and it is so far in the past, I thought Hollywood Ghosts was just a really, really fitting title for a strong Spiders And Snakes release. We put a lot into this one. This record took about two years to record because it actually has two different producers which I think helped the record have a strong diversity. Iím really proud of it. I think itís probably the best thing that Spiders And Snakes has ever done and we were really fortunate to run into the producer Gavin Ross who produced the second half of this album. I really think he knows what weíre doing. He got it. I think thatís what itís really about. Itís just hard to find people that can really understand what the í70s thing was all about. You can talk about it forever until you just listen to the Sweetís ďDesolation BoulevardĒ or Mott The Hoopleís ďThe HoopleĒ or Roxy Music. Some of these í70s bands. Weíre not cloning them at all. If anything, Iíve gone miles beyond that. Still, that influence is definitely alive and well in what we do and believe me, those people are all ghosts.
That guy from The Clash died recently.
Yeah and all the Ramones are gone. Thereís one left. I think of The Ramones as these kids. Punks. Theyíre gone. I think it matters. I think in a way maybe itís good for people to be haunted by Spiders And Snakes. The first part of this interview, when we started talking we got so severely pulled into politics. Maybe what the world needs, at least the rock and roll world, is to be haunted by some ghosts from the past. Wake up. Hollywood Ghosts is our version of the Scrooge thing. Weíre Jacob Marley waking the kids up. Youíre going to be visited by 12 songs.
I never really was interested in politics until Dubya got into office and heís so weird. It got my attention.
I donít think anything can happen unless people are going to let it happen. If itís happening, itís because thereís something going on with the way people are thinking and maybe itís good for them to look and see that there are other ways of looking at things. Hopefully that will make something positive come out of it. All I know is that as stoic as Dubya might be in his position, Iím equally as stoic in my position as a rocker. That conservative mentality is not going to shove me off the planet.
That conservative attitude makes me more rebellious.
Thatís all good as long as you can view it that way and realize itís all a big comedy anyway. When you look at the absurdity of reality itself, when you take it to that level and then you put all the pieces back together, you pretty much at least for me keep landing right back in the middle of rock and roll. Thatís where Iím at. Iím not going anywhere. Iíve got my buddies Alice Cooper and Ian Hunter who are now pushing their 60s who are still rocking like they were 30. If there is a fountain of youth out there, itís rock and roll.
That shit keeps you young forever.
As long as you have a song in your heart and an idea and a concept and a dream, itís all there. Whatís more American than that?
Are you guys doing a lot of touring?
Right now weíve got a lot of interest stirring up in Japan and in Europe for this record.
Those people are really fun loving people.
Oh yeah. Let me tell you. Weíre getting a lot of positive feedback on this new album and the thing is, weíre in a dilemma. Maybe if the fans would be able to give us some feedback on our website at www.spidersandsnakes.com, what weíd like to know is if you saw Spiders And Snakes after hearing the album, right now weíre a duo. Weíve been doing acoustic shows as just basically myself and Tim doing percussion. Me playing acoustic guitar and both of us singing as a kind of acoustic thing. Itís a lot more energetic than a lot of times youíve seen acoustic but it is acoustic. The record we just made, I played all the instruments except drums and keyboards which Tim did. The thing is, we have band members who want to tour that arenít really members of the band. Theyíre just friends. If youíve been in Hollywood as long as weíve been, youíve got hundreds of musician friends. Our biggest question is, as far as touring, Tim and I really want to do the intimate duo. I guess what our question is, is how the fans would react to that.
What I think would be cool is something that I saw with Citizen Cope. He did one tour that was acoustic. Heís a very mesmerizing performer. Then he turned around and did a full band tour after that.
That sounds like a great idea. In other words, do both. When I donít have my Les Paul strapped around my neck and Iím not cranking through a Marshall, I feel like Iím undressed but at the same time I love playing acoustic stuff. When weíve been doing acoustic, weíve been doing the Cat Club and Universal Bar And Grill. Weíve been doing the acoustic thing and people keep saying we remind them of a modern day version of The Smothers Brothers. I take that as a compliment because Iím so turned on to that novelty thing. We do have a lot of fun when we do it. Tim and I crack up. We make jokes. We have fun. It is a comedic thing. We donít look like the Smothers Brothers. We look more like Gene and Paul from KISS. Itís weird because we always make comparisons when weíre on stage. Hi weíre the Olsen Twins. We have a ball with it, we really do. Itís an honest comedy. Comedy is something that doesnít come naturally I think to most rockers but weíve been doing this for so long, I think weíve become natural comedians. Itís fun but then I really do miss the electric full blown rock show so I think Iím definitely going to take in consideration what youíre talking about. Why not do both. Right now Japan, a lot of these shows, it just makes more sense if Tim and I can just bolt out there and do the acoustic thing without having to worry about cartage and front lines and amp lines and all that. Yet when the right tour is there, weíve got former band members. Of course we lost our bass player Leigh. He passed away in 2000 and that was a really tough break for us because we had just released London Days and we had just finished recording ďElvisí TVĒ and we had a whole tour lined up. It really devastated us. To tell you the truth, thatís a lot of why there was a five year gap between London Days and Hollywood Ghosts. Maybe the ghosts part is a little bit of a tipping of the hat to Leigh there too.
Itís rough to lose someone youíve been close to.
Yeah, he was with us since Ď93. It was a real shock to lose him and he was a really wonderful guy. His claim to fame was when we were doing the silver space suits era of Spiders And Snakes, he had this gigantic metal tube with an air pump in it that we called the glitter gun. Weíd fill it up with glitter and confetti and shoot it at the crowds when we played shows. It was really fun. We really tried to inject fun. All through the Ď90s, we were going headfirst against the whole grunge movement that said they hate guys with long hair having fun on stage. We were doing it anyway. We got a great review from a guy from Flipside magazine which is a hardcore punk and punks always seemed to like Spiders And Snakes so I think thereís a lot of hope there. I think we have a lot of affinity and affiliation with the punk movement because weíre like punks too.
What kind of stuff do you guys have lined up tour wise?
Right now, we're in holding pattern waiting exactly to see what's going on but it looks like possibly the first thing that's going to be happening is Japan around early spring. Probably around late April I would say. We're going to try to get out there and do a couple or three weeks touring doing definitely the acoustic thing. We've also got another group of people out in Europe that are trying to get us to come out to the U.K. I would say that this spring and summer Spiders And Snakes will be the world tour hustle which we've toured the U.S. dozens and dozens of times doing the club circuit. Halls and clubs. It's about time for us to get to Europe so I think this is going to be it. This is going to be the time that we're going to really break through a bit more. Get some real visibility. So people can stop saying why is Lizzie Grey invisible? I'm not man, I'm a ghost. Ghosts are supposed to be invisible. That's what's in the works right now. Also, a re-release of the Ultrapop. Spiders And Snakes grew out of the Ultrapop band. Those two records, we just worked out a deal with a company called Fast Lane Records out of the Midwest, and Fast Lane is going to re-release the Ultrapop albums. That'll be fun too. A lot of stuff is happening. A lot of very positive energy seems to be coming at the band. I think it's probably that there's been something missing and everybody is really looking for that something that's missing. Maybe Spiders And Snakes has a piece of that something and it seems to be the case. I've been doing this a long time and I don't think I've felt this much energy coming at the band. The feedback coming back at us with a release since I was doing the London thing back in the late '70s. It's all good and we're having a ball with it. We want to keep it coming.
You're also part of the Hollywood Rocks audio companion that goes with the book.
Right, right. That's really a cool thing. There seems to be a lot of a revitalized interest in the whole '80s. What was that? Did that really happen? Hollywood Rocks is great and we're just really thankful for Brian at Cleopatra for making us a part of that. He's been awesome. We met Brian back in '98 or '99. We were playing a show with Bret Michaels at The Roxy and we opened the show for him. Brian Pararo was there and he just loved us. He's the one with Cleo. They released London Days on Cleo and Cleo's half working as well with Sance Records on Hollywood Ghosts distributed partially through Cleo. It's all coming together in a pretty positive way with Brian. We've got the Ultrapop release coming. It's on the heels of the Hollywood Ghosts thing. We'll see what happens. Maybe we'll make some noise out there and we certainly don't want Lizzie Grey to become a dated old rock star and sell platinum albums in this point of his career.
No way. I think with all the doom and gloom that's going on, I think people are ready to have some fun.
We're ready to have fun with them. I love touring. When I'm touring, it's five or seven days a week. What's really cool about being acoustic, when we're out on the road I'll play a coffee house just to be able to get out and play music. That's just what I do.
You'll play in someone's backyard.
Got to play the kegger. I'm good with all that. To me there's no stature issues at all. Let's play and let's have fun. That's what it's all about. That whole rock star mentality, that's great. A rock star has really nothing to do with where you do or don't play.
It took you a couple of years to record the album. Did you just want to take your time with it?
It was the opposite in a way. When we first started recording the album, we thought we had a direction that we were really going to go with. If you listen to the record, some of the songs have a very definite kind of a country boogie feel. Not necessarily boogie. That's kind of an odd word but kind of a country production going on. We thought we were going to go that direction with the whole album and we got into a disagreement or a tiff as it were with the producer that we were making that record with. Right in the middle of it we pulled up tent stakes and moved out. We were going to record the entire album and we pulled the plug on that. This wasn't really where we wanted to go with this. For some reason during that period of time there was a general lull where we just let everything sit and then one day I get a call from Tim and we started messing with the acoustic idea. Rather than playing show after show in Hollywood and San Francisco and the whole Pacific area, instead of doing another four piece electric show, we started playing around with this acoustic thing. When that started coming together then ironically that's when also Tim ran into Gavin, this guy that ended up doing the second half of the album. It was a natural progression. It was the most natural we've ever really done an album. In the past it was always a pressurized limited budget. Let's do this thing and get this done and gosh, we're going over budget. What are we going to do? This time when we met Gavin Ross, he said to come in and just relax. Let's have some fun and make some great music. It was the most positive recording experience I've ever had. The music just flowed. It just flowed out of us. Nothing against the previous producer, because it's not like one is better than the other, but I honestly think that we actually do better when we've got both producers. Two different angles of what is Spiders And Snakes music. It wasn't intentional. It wasn't like we were kicking back and taking our time making a record. It's just the way it happened.
Boogie isn't such an odd concept because I did a lengthy interview with a guy named Joey Welz who was in Bill Haley's Comets band at the end of the 60's. We were talking about how rockabilly and boogie woogie really started the whole rock thing anyway. I don't think the boogie thing is that bizarre. It definitely has its place.
Ironically everybody thought it was out of character for Spiders And Snakes but on the Hollywood Ghosts record, we did a redo of the Little Richard tune, "Girl Can't Help It". That was all about that. When we first started to record the tune, we thought let's do a hard rock version of this Little Richard boogie tune and instead when we started playing it, I have a Gretsch guitar and I decided to make this sound authentic. To keep the guitars really clean and have fun with it and let Timmy's vocals be really intense and I'll play a really bizarre Les Paul electrified solo on it. If you listen to "Girl Can't Help It", it's pretty bizarre. You get this really clean '60s or late '50s guitar tone going on in the verses and the choruses and then the solo comes in and there's this Mott The Hoople raging solo happening and I think it's really fun. The two styles seem to really fit so I see what you're saying. That '50s and '60s influence is just never going away. When you try to separate rock and roll from that basic one three five boogie woogie chord progression, something disappears. I think one band that's always been cool about keeping that there is Aerosmith. They never turned their backs on their roots which is boogie woogie rock and roll. If you don't have that in your music then you're missing something. Almost every tune that Mott The Hoople has is a one three five but it's all about the diversity you can create within the rock and roll genre. When you lose the whole genre it's almost like the train going off the tracks.
You guys did a song that was a tribute to Angeline.
I wrote that song about Angeline. For anybody who isn't aware, Angeline is this blonde poster girl. She has been on billboards in Hollywood for the last 20 or 25 years. The thing is that nobody knows who she is. It's like who's Angeline? I think she appeared in a movie or two but she's just a poster girl. She's this poster girl in Hollywood. Not to take anything away from her at all, it was the opposite. I thought it was so cool. Here's this person. She's kind of like Spiders And Snakes. She's this underground hero of Hollywood. Nobody really knows what she does. Who's Angeline? I wanted to write a song for her and I wanted to make it a song that has the kind of deep almost majestic moving guitar solo. I really wanted the song to have a little bit of an Electric Light Orchestra feel. Not the same kind of rhythmic thing but the kind of vocal feel that is really majestic and I think we captured that. We gave Angeline her song. I think it's really cool. The lyrics are just basically "Angeline, are you a movie star? Is there a place in your heart for a new leading man?" The musings that a guy would have driving down the boulevard and seeing her billboard. Ironically, we got a phone call from her manager last week letting us know that Angeline loves her new song. So we're real happy about that. I figure if Spiders And Snakes gains some high visibility with this album Hollywood Ghosts, it just seems very, very fitting that Angeline should be on it. It just really is a part of that thing.
Did you ask him what she does?
No, she still hasn't told us but I guarantee that if we ever get a chance of doing a mutual interview with her, that we'll get her to actually come out and say exactly what she does. I've read her website and she says that what she does is she does Angeline.
That's fair enough I guess.
She goes "I'm just me." I think that's great. I thought that was so cool. She's got her icon is that she drives a pink Corvette. In the song it's a little bit of a Kinks influence there. It's not really satirical. It's got this thing about "Angeline lost in your pink Corvette and revving your engine so hot, will you just look my way." It's the way that people fall in love with movie stars. It's the whole idea that gosh, I'm in love with this celebrity. In the end I say "Angeline, maybe it's better this way. Forever a mystery, you're untouched by time. Angeline, here's all I've got left to say. Please just remember to smile on Hollywood Boulevard when I whisper your name, Angeline." It's real Hollywood. It's like a Hollywood movie. I'm really influenced by that kind of stuff. It's got to be in black and white. If that song had a visual picture it would definitely be in black and white.
The best horror movies ever were those black and white Dracula movies with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Absolutely. If there's something more disturbing and surreal. It's much more surreal. At the same time, in being that way it seems to get more to the core of affecting you. I really think that black and white is an amazing thing. I'm a big fan of old Hollywood. I think that when people see Hollywood now, it's the same thing. They see the big Kodak Theater where they do the academy awards. To me you just drive a couple of blocks away and there's part of Hollywood where you can still feel old Hollywood. When the '30s and the '40s thing was going on. That's a part of Hollywood Ghosts too. There's definitely a tipping of the hat to the history of Hollywood being that in the '80s it was a rock mecca and in the '30s and '40s it was a film mecca. The truth is, they don't make movies in Hollywood anymore. They haven't done it in years. It's either in Culver City or Burbank so it's funny how Hollywood still maintains that thing. It's still there. You can tell. All those ghosts are still floating around in Hollywood, believe me.
One of the coolest places a friend of mine took me to when I was in L.A. was to a theater where Marilyn Monroe used to be at.
There's a picture of the Pantagas on the back of the album.
That's one lady who's always been a big mystery. Even her murder is a mystery. She definitely didn't commit suicide.
We didn't go for the clichť on the record cover of putting all the stars. I really wanted to show Hollywood. The buildings.
I love the coloration of the CD cover. It's not really black and white but it's not really color either.
It's a strange kind of sepia tone. It's kind of spooky. When I first saw the artwork when it came together, when we first started dealing with the artist that did the photograph and the artwork on it, when he got the title he said it was a brilliant title and that he didn't want to make it too campy or too corny. He wanted to really capture what it's like driving the streets of Hollywood and it's true. Everybody has this thing about Hollywood. That's it either really trashy or else that it's this memory of what used to be. I think we hit the thing right in the middle of giving this spooky depth to the buildings and stuff there in Hollywood. I'm proud of that cover. I think it's got that thing that we were just talking about. When you see something that has that surreal look going on and I think that we captured that with the album artwork.
I think you did. That is cool.
I'm pretty sure that the album is haunted. I'm pretty sure.
It's haunted by musicians gone by.
I really do. I really think it's haunted. I think there's something going on in that record and it's very real. Everybody that's reviewed it says the same thing. There's something about this record that just does something. I'd like to take credit as a performer and an artist but sometimes maybe you get a little help from those ghosts. Who knows? I think there's something going on there and I'm really proud of it. I think it's definitely a benchmark for Spiders And Snakes.
When I interview some of these current metal bands and I ask about their influences, they are influenced by Metallica and AC/DC and Aerosmith. These kids do appreciate the rock and roll of the past.
I don't think there's this disdain for it. If anything, I think that disdain for it has only been perpetuated by the record labels that are trying to make sure they can sell this new product. It seems like they're trying to make a split exist that isn't really there.
A lot of young vocalists cite Frank Sinatra as one of their influences because he was a such a show man so the past does come back to haunt you. Any other thoughts or comments?
I really appreciate this and we'll meet in person when we're out on the road. If you're just now discovering Spiders And Snakes, you picked a good time because I think we've really got a record here that's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be the kind of record that people want to play at parties and definitely the DVD will be absolutely entertaining to the most skeptical rock and rollers.
You did the video ďLost For WordsĒ in Spanish.
Yeah, we did that. That was from one of our Ď90s tour release 2000 Retro. The song ďLost For WordsĒ. We were getting so much attention as far as airplay on the song that we decided that when we did the video, weíd go ahead and do a Spanish version. Itís funny because Iíve gotten two kinds of feedback. One side of it is that my Spanish is really hysterical. That Iím singing Spanish the way a person who speaks English would. Then other people say itís great. It was just a fun experiment we did and itís just another facet of the long, long history this band has had of doing just about everything. There could be a tour of Mexico and South America coming up. Weíre open minded to anything. I love to perform so as far as where we perform, the more weíre on the road the happier I am. Weíre a touring band.
Spiders And Snakes