I'm originally from a band called Black 'N Blue who were on Geffen Records in the 80's and we did four records on Geffen. Did okay. Did some pretty big tours back then with KISS and Aerosmith and different bands. Basically that's where I come from and been doing other odd projects. Some odd projects through the 90's and one of them being a band I had just called simply St. James. Played here and there. Basically that's where I come from until I got the phone call to come and audition for the Warrant gig.
What all did you do aside from St. James?
I had a band before that called Freight Train Jane and that had a Japanese release. The St. James thing was basically a solo kind of a deal where I just wrote everything and got a lot out of my system. Then recently I semi-reformed Black 'N Blue to do a record for Europe and that's what I was doing right now while these guys called me. In between there was some downtime where I opened up my own dog boarding kennel which is kind of an oddity. I did and it was fun. That lasted for about four years. It was fun but it was just something to do different. I took some time off of music for a while and didn't play which was kind of a strange thing for me because it was just not me. I was kind of depressed and not feeling like myself because it took me actually about four years to figure out I was supposed to be playing music. I was depressed and I didn't know why. I finally figured let's pull that guitar out of the closet that's been in there for so long. It's still strung up but it's warped.
You were just kenneling dogs and not doing any music on the side?
While doing the kenneling, I discovered I needed to play again so that's when I got back into action and formed the St. James band. It all happened at the same time. There was a time there when I wasn't really doing much of anything.
I saw Black 'N Blue in Dallas recently when you guys played with L.A. Guns.
All the guys in Black 'N Blue can't play live right now so it was me with some other guys. I had booked the tour and I had to finish it because some guys had pulled out on me at the last minute. I was like wait a minute guys, the advertising is out. The shows are booked. That was actually fun. It was a good band. It was all Black 'N Blue material so that was great. It was fun for me to play a Black 'N Blue set.
Especially for folks who missed out on you guys the first time around.
I can't tell you how many times people said they'd been waiting for years to see Black 'N Blue live and never did. It was really fun to do that.
How did you get recruited for Warrant?
I think it was basically Jerry and Eric must have talked about it because they called me up and said they're looking for a singer and I was first on the list. Jerry and Eric had called me and said that they wanted me to come audition so I said all right, I'll learn five or six songs and come down and do it. That was basically it. One audition it was pretty much we all said this works.
I bet you can't wait to get out on the road.
We played one show already in Daytona for Bike Week and it was awesome. It was a nice big outdoor show. We played with Night Ranger. It went over like gangbusters. It was great. It was a lot of fun for the crowd and us. As a band we sounded great and we felt great.
For quite some time now, Warrant has been promising the fans a new album. Are we going to see one?
Yes, you are. We're actually working on new material right now. When we're not rehearsing, we're basically writing and recording. We're really going at it. There's a lot of enthusiasm right now and a lot of excitement with everybody. With having Joey and Steven back in the band, for Eric and Jerry that's a really, really great thing for them. I'm very enthusiastic because I'm really excited to be involved with this band so there's a lot of energy going on and we're putting it to use. When we're not touring or rehearsing, we're writing and recording.
Those four guys are basically the original guys.
Yeah, they're the original guys from the heyday. There were some guys in the band even before Jani was in the band but this is the original lineup that everybody would be familiar with.
That's pretty wild.
It's cool as hell. I got to tell you, it's a big kick in the ass and we're having a good time. That's part of what makes it so great is that we're making great music. We're playing the old music true to form. We're writing new tunes. We're just having a great time doing it. Everybody gets along great. We're having a great time with it.
You did an album with Black 'N Blue called Nasty, Nasty. There was a song on it called "Best In The West" where Peter Criss from KISS did some of the vocals on it. How did you hook up with him?
Basically I saw Peter Criss at The Rainbow I think it was here in L.A. and Gene Simmons was producing our record. He produced Nasty, Nasty so I told Peter he should come and sing on a tune or something. He was a little nervous because he hadn't seen Gene in I don't know how many years. He'd been out of KISS for a long time at that point. Basically he was all kinds of scared. He didn't want to face Gene I think at the time but I got his number and actually Peter's wife at the time kept calling me and saying talk him into it. He needs to do this. I brought him down there to the studio and needless to say we didn't even sing probably for about four or five hours because him and Gene just had to talk. They had to reminisce and say hello. It was a cool thing because I kind of helped bring Gene and Peter back together in a way. It was a lot of fun. He was a little nervous but he came in and did it. He did a great job. He just went out and winged it. We didn't write anything for him. We just said go out and scat. Do your thing. He ended up kicking ass so it was great.
I think that guy has the most amazing voice.
He does have a great voice. I always liked his voice on the early KISS records when he sang stuff. I always thought he had a really, really cool raspiness to his voice that I always liked.
My favorite early KISS songs aside from "God Of Thunder" have always been the ones he sang on.
I like the stuff he did. For a little while I was in a KISS tribute band called Cold Gin and I played the part of Peter Criss so I got to sing his stuff. It was a short lived thing. It was actually just for a goof but it ended up people liked it so much that we just continued to do it. This was back in the 90's. This is before everybody and his brother was in a tribute band. This was before all that kind of started going. We were just doing it for fun and Gene and Paul used to come out and watch us. They loved it.
Back in the day you had Tommy Thayer in the band. What do you think of him as Ace Frehley in KISS?
I think it's really cool because one of Tommy's influences when we were kids and I've known Tommy since we were 17 years old, one of his influences was Ace. A big influence for him. When I saw him on stage with KISS doing that, I thought that was pretty amazing really. It's like my brother on stage doing the KISS thing. It's pretty cool. Tommy is a great guitarist and a great guy and one of my best friends. I'm nothing but happy for him. When I was trying to put Black 'N Blue back together, I obviously couldn't get him to do it. He wasn't able to with his KISS commitment but it's okay now because now I'm in Warrant. I got plenty to do.
A lot of 80's style music is resurfacing. Do you think people are tiring of gloom and doom and are looking for something more light-hearted?
I don't know, maybe so. I know this much. All styles of music seem to come back around if you give it enough time. There's a cycle that happens and the 80's style rock is just starting to come back around here. As well it should. It's good music. Probably guys that were influenced by that stuff in the 80's are now starting to come of age to make bands of their own. That might be part of the reason. I don't know. This kind of music will always be around. It just comes and goes. I think you're right. Maybe a little change is due.
What kind of touring commitments does Warrant have?
I think right now we're still working on the summer. What's going to happen with the band and those guys know more than I do. We've got dates coming in right now which is basically doing our own shows. We're still checking into the possibility of a package type situation with several bands, us being one of them, going out to tour continuously. It doesn't matter whether that show happens or not, we're still going to go out and do our own gigs if that's the case.
What does Warrant's future look like?
I think it looks really great. We're just getting started here as a unit and for those guys, as a unit again. I think there are endless possibilities. We all believe the same thing. You don't go into it saying maybe you can do this. No, no. We're going to do this. We're going to do whatever we want and that's the attitude we have. I think that anything can happen. I believe that we will have a new release out hopefully by the end of this year. Who knows? There's no time limit on that one. When we get the tunes there, they'll be there. I think that as I see things going, we really have a lot of great material coming in already. We're working together on this stuff so I see endless possibilities with that and of course touring. This band always has toured and probably always will. We'll be out playing everywhere we can.
Is Black 'N Blue still an ongoing thing?
Black 'N Blue, I have to finish the CD for Europe which is close to being done. About 60 or 70 percent done I guess. If there's some downtime with Warrant I may have to go to Europe and play a couple of gigs to support that record. Basically my commitment is with Warrant. I've talked to those guys and let them know that I may have to do a couple of Black 'N Blue things here and there. Black 'N Blue is really on the backburner at this point. Not just due to me. It's due to everybody. With Tommy being gone in KISS, the drummer is playing with Michael Schenker, I'm in Warrant, and the other two guys are real busy and have a lot of things going on with kids and things. The timing is right for me anyway. Black 'N Blue isn't dead but it's basically on the backburner is the way I'd put it.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I can't wait to get out there. The one thing I can say is nobody really knows what this band sounds like right now with me singing and with the guys back but I can tell you this much, it sounds amazing. It's a fucking great band. Everybody's going to find out when we get out there.