You're on the Rush tribute album.
I got a copy of it last night.
What was the first Rush album you ever owned?
The first Rush album that I ever owned. See, that's a very loaded question. That's a very loaded question because the first one that I ever had, I stole from my guitarist. That was 2112 but the first one that I ever went out and bought, I have to guess whether that was Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves. Because I always borrowed them and taped them. If those were the first two that I actually went out and I was old enough to have my own money to buy. I remember buying Moving Pictures and I remember just being amazed.
What is your all time favorite Rush album?
That would have to be Moving Pictures.
Why is that one your favorite?
Just because of "Limelight" probably. That song just moved me.
What kind of a musical influence did Rush have on you?
Huge. Huge. Nothing to do with Warrant. I have to be honest when I say this. Me doing this tribute has nothing to do with Warrant whatsoever. It may have something to do with my writing style in little bits and pieces here and there but melody wise, in some of the higher range vocal stuff. Rush has nothing to do with Warrant to be honest. It comes back to when I played in a cover band in Ohio, in Cleveland which is where I'm from, I've been a drummer my whole life. I still am. I've played on some Warrant stuff. I've played drums during my whole career. I was in a band called Dorian Grey in Cleveland that was a very popular cover band. I know that sounds cocky. It was a cover band. We were only as popular as the cover songs we played.
And the audience attendance you had I'm sure.
Yeah, as a matter of fact I just played drums on a project right now I'm producing. I played my whole life and my love for Rush stems from at a very early age just being amazed by Neal Peart and his playing. Some people call it busy and some people call it over the top but to me it was amazing. His time signatures and his fills. Every drummer worth his salt who's into metal went through a Neal Peart or is going through a Neal Peart phase. There was a time where we all had that gigantic kit with the double bass and the octobans and three floor toms and 8,000 cymbals and wind chimes. He actually used it and that was just amazing. That and the fact that I consider myself a relatively well-read person so I'm kind of a literature freak. His lyrics were always amazing to me because they weren't like "I love you baby". Alex Lifeson with his guitar playing, he never played the typical Chuck Berry lick. It was always something a little different so I don't know. I guess that's where my love for Rush came from. It was a very big part of my development as a musician although where I wound up, I guess making my name, had very little to do with Rush. Rush has a lot to do with my insides as a musician.
Yeah, I mean as a personal musical influence.
Yeah, obviously I've done a couple of interviews already about doing this record and people are like "why is a guy from Warrant doing Rush?" It seems so weird. What's a hair band guy doing Rush?
That's a silly assed question. Warrant was a cool thing that you did and it was a fun band and all that. On the flip side you have your personal likes and dislikes.
Yeah, absolutely. Warrant was a very fun thing and Warrant was a very in the moment girl, party, fun, hair, and some kitchy songs for everyone to listen to and enjoy. That's great but that's not the beginning and the end all of where someone is at. I spent many, many years playing a lot of different kinds of music getting there. I play a lot of different stuff now that I'm doing other things too. I'm really a punker at heart. Orange County punk. That's different. We like to think of it as a little quicker and a little happier kind of punk but still.
How did you get picked for the tribute album?
I don't know. I have to say that had something to do with Mike Varney I would guess. I'm not sure. All I know is I was offered to sing and I've done a lot of tributes. Especially when I lived in L.A., you can spit in any direction and hit 100 studios. There's a ton of them out there and I got offered a lot of opportunities to sing. Somebody would say they were doing a tribute for this band and I would say yeah I love that band and I love that song. Sure, I'll come down and I'll sing on it. I got this offer and it was like wow, Rush. That's kind of wild. First of all, it's very unique vocals. Very high vocals. Just real progressive rock. Just a direction that I wouldn't have expected to be asked to do. The first thing I wanted to do was hear the tracks and when I heard the tracks, they were amazing. I just got the CD last night. I was doing a 12 hour session producing this band called Eleven After and I came home and it was on my counter. I opened it up and listened to it. It's amazing. It's really good. It's probably I would say if not the best, one of the two best tribute records I've ever been a part of in my life.
What was the other one?
The other one was probably the Aerosmith tribute that I did which was done really good and done really true to form. A lot of times these tribute records are done just for money or expedient's sake for the label to get something out. A lot of times they actually break the music down to get it done quick or whatever. The playing is not as good as the original playing. It's just like okay, let's get somebody in to sing it and let's get somebody in to play it. If you can play it, that's fine. If you don't want to learn the part properly, that's okay. As long as it sounds close the fans will like it. This is not done like that at all. It's really, really quality. The musicians are amazing on this record.
You're telling me. Stu Hamm and Vinnie Moore and you.
Really, really good musicians. Robert Berry.
Did you get to pick the song you did?
I was given a choice to do one of two and I wound up doing both. We closed the record with the "2112 Overture/Temples Of Syrinx" and I just did a weird thing on that with a friend of mine, Dave Brooks, because "2112" is just a strange song. There really isn't a whole lot of lyrics in that so we came up with a wild kind of carnival thing and they used that to close the record. The song that I was really excited about doing that I got to do is "Bastille Day".
Why do you think Rush is still influential today?
I can answer that. That's easy. Without Rush there wouldn't be progressive metal. That's all there is to it. I don't care who is out there that plays hard rock or metal. At some point Rush influenced them whether they took the progressive route or not. Somewhere along the line, somebody listened to Rush because they're a player's band. Nobody looked at that band because here's three Adonis' up on stage or they have a great stage show and wow, look at the way they dress. These are guys who literally, you got blisters playing their stuff and you scratched your head and said how in the world did they do that. There was never a lot of hype surrounding their record releases or anything but you always knew when it was coming out and you were excited. I think they were groundbreaking. I bet if you asked anybody from I would guess the heaviest bands to even the guys in Metallica probably listened to Rush.
A lot of drummers talk about how Neal Peart influenced them.
He was so influential but Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson too. The bass player I used to play with, his bass had to be like Geddy's. He wanted to sing like Geddy. He wanted to get the Taurus pedals and play them with his feet like Geddy. Just a very influential band.
You've got your solo album out called Back Down To One. How long has that been out and how is it doing so far?
That's been out a while in Europe and Japan. The Pacific Rim. It's not really out in the States. It never really got released. It wasn't intended to be released in the States but of course with the Internet anything is going to get out. I guess it's been out for a while but I haven't really per se done a solo record for the States yet but I will eventually. I have a lot of stuff written. Mostly I'm producing and writing with other people. I still do shows.
Yeah, you were down here in Dallas not too long ago with some other folks.
Yeah, I do shows this month and like I said, I'm in the middle of producing a band right now. I'll do a few more this summer. I have a couple of other interesting things in the works and who knows. If things can be worked out with the Warrant boys, we'll see what happens down the road with them.
Do you feel a lot better being out on your own or do you miss Warrant?
To be honest, I never intentually wanted to be out on my own. Unfortunately it was kind of a business thing that went awry and hopefully down the road it will be corrected, but I like Jamie St. James a lot. Heís a wonderful guy. I have no ill will towards those guys at all. Like I say, when the right time comes, if things can be worked out, I think that would be fantastic.
You have shows coming up. Anywhere in particular?
Iím doing New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and I think up towards Boston here at the end of the month with my friend Alex Grassi. Weíll be rocking those shows end of the month and then I disappear for a little bit to finish this record. Then weíll see what the summer brings. Iím not sure how many shows Iím going to do because I have another thing in the works. Iím keeping as busy as possible. This thing, I was shocked that it came across the desk towards me and just very flattered that I was asked to be a part of it. After hearing it last night, with the way these things are set up, Iím sure all the musicians did it in a central location but some of the singers get satellited out to and you only get to basically sing your track and it gets sent back. You never really get to hear the final product until itís all put together. Youíre not really sure what youíre a part of until you hear it and last night to be honest, was the first time I heard the finished product. Iím extremely happy.
Someone wanted to know if you still feel that marijuana should be legalized.
Oh why not?
That was one of my favorite parts of your shows. How youíd go on about how marijuana should be legalized.
If Xanax is legal then marijuana should be legal.
Absolutely. Any other thoughts or comments?