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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world Interview-Tracii-Guns-Sep-2011



By Helen Hosie
September 2011

L.A. GUNS, Tracii Guns - that’s who I am talking about. For many years there has been an on going debate about who is best - Tracii or Phil’s version of the band, but frankly none of that matters. It’s a long story on how I got to meet Tracii, and I am very glad I got the opportunity to sit down, kick back and have a long chat to one of the industries finest musicians. The setting was a popular Glasgow venue, and when I got there I was greeted warmly by the man himself. The vibe I got was that this guy still has such a strong passion for what he does.


So armed with our bottled water (so Rock ‘n’ Roll!) I started my interview - enjoy, I did…




H.H:- Hey welcome to Glasgow, how has the UK been treating you so far?


Tracii:- I come here for a reason, I love the UK it’s the one place I can go and have cool weather without being in fucking Seattle, (laughs). You go from city to city and the accents change and the food is different, the crowds are different. A great example is Bradford, it’s a very 80’s crowd, not 80’s as in spiky hair I mean 80’s as in stone washed jeans. (laughs) They’re a great crowd. The UK is a small place but from spot to spot it’s really different. There is a lot of green, I love green, I feel most healthy here when its kind of a mild weather and the fans seem to more excited here, when we play which is healthy too. This is the first time I have been to Glasgow, so having the experience of seeing the city centre last night, eating some good food, it was awesome.


H.H:- How have you managed the Scottish accent?


Tracii:- Yeah it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I really thought like I would be saying WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? But it hasn’t been terrible yet. The venue is nice which is always a bonus and the promoter is nice which is another bonus. So I hope we do well tonight, so that we can come back - that’s always the thing. We are doing Grimsby tomorrow, this is the second time we have played there we only played there last November and it was fucking awesome. So we are getting around the UK, when we were first coming to the UK on this tour we were only playing one show, I think we were just going to do Camden as we had a bunch of Southern Europe stuff. I think word just got out within days and more dates were added. I have to say the UK is still one of the most supportive countries for what I do.



H.H:- Who is the real Tracii Guns?


Tracii:- The real Tracii Guns, I dunno who the real Tracii Guns is. I am not very objective about it. I can’t define myself. I am really gonna be honest about it because I change my mind every fucking day, about what I like and what I don’t like artistically, which enables me to seek out and play different kinds of music. People hate that - they want their rock stars, that icon, that guy… and I fucking hate that. I will never commit to an image, or a sound. I won’t do it. I get so bored so quickly, so that’s who Tracii Guns is, Tracii Guns is a chameleon. I like to move around, I like to play all kinds of things, I am just getting into movie scoring now, real movies and that’s where I am probably gonna benefit more as an artist especially at my age. Basically I am going to be making a record for movies. Where I don’t have to write a consistent sound, for a whole hour and a half I can play jazz, or I can play punk or rock. So that is probably is the most definable thing about me. That I am just a music man.


H.H:- For many years there has been the on going battle of Phil or Tracii, who has the best L.A. Guns? (laughs) What is the story behind all the controversy with the split, etc?


Tracii:- To begin with it was NEVER Phil or I that owned the L.A. GUNS name and that is the biggest mis-conception. It’s Steven Reilly, (L.A. GUNS drummer, still playing with Phil Lewis’s L.A. Guns). Phil and I are like Cain and Abel. We are brothers we have been through a lot together, we wrote great music together. People that identify the songs that we wrote as true L.A. Guns, they define L.A. Guns by the songs that Phil and I wrote together, and I really respect that, I think it is a fucking great thing. Phil is a lovely person. The real problem lies when I went off to do Brides Of Destruction – some shit happened, and I will not air dirty laundry in public but for those concerned, they know. The reality is we [Riley & Tracii] trademarked the name L.A. Guns together in 1994 when we were the only two guys sticking it out. He has the right to use the name, with Phil [if that’s] where he is, that is the only thing that is important to me. If that’s how he wants to do L.A. Guns, he has every right to do it as Steve owns half the name with me right now presently. By all means you can run me down to the press, you can say whatever if you think it’s going to make you look better, or to make you comfortable. I am fine with that. The one thing I am about myself, I am very confident that I am a very giving person and a very understanding person. The only time I will really lash out at anyone is if it has really gone out of order, but most of the time I can let it roll off my back and I can laugh at it. It’s just, you have to get along with people in life, the way I do in the music business is unorthodox as in I don’t care about the business when I do L.A. Guns, it’s to have a good time, it’s to get away from home and play these tunes I did over 20 years ago. Not ten
years ago - over 20 years ago. It’s only important to 200 people in every city and myself, so it’s a great release. There is draw and tension with the Tracii/Phil split which clearly doesn’t exist. So if Phil has to read an interview that I had done, I would always tell him that I love him. I would love for him to have happiness in his life, that’s the bottom line.




H.H:- There has always been a lot of bitching and moaning about you, from other bands or people you have worked with. Why do you think they do this, and does it annoy you that there are two L.A. Guns on the go?


Tracii:- I’m a blues man, so for me to have the opportunity to play between 75 and 150 bars a year and to do whatever I want musically that’s a wonderful position to be in. I started L.A. Guns in high school, I get my best friends to go out on tours with me and I get my best friends to make records and recordings with me - that’s how it started and that’s how I will maintain it, and that’s how I am happiest musically . As long as I have a consistent L.A. Guns band that sounds fantastic - and this band sounds absolutely fantastic . This is the one constant creation that I own and if ten other people want to put a band together and call themselves L.A. Guns, I am fine with that, if it’s keeping the name alive then fucking more power to you. It’s not as if we are competing for 50,000 seats, we are not competing for anything. That’s what nobody realises - there is just no competition!


H.H:- You’re just doing it for the love of the music!


Tracii:- Yeah you know what I mean


H.H:- What friendships or relationships have you kept with past members?


Tracii:- Mick Cripps is still my best friend, I never talk to Kelly but we email now and again. I talk to Nicky all the time, that’s the guys that played on the first record. The original guys are actually the guys that I started the band with, that are my closest friend still. There are a couple of guys that thank God I am NOT friends with (both laugh) like… I’m not gonna do that and name names, I just don’t wanna know people like that. So yeah, I am friends with the main core that created L.A. Guns, to make it what people consider to be the classic L.A. Guns. Believe it or not Phil and I still do have, occasionally, very nice conversations, so that would completely remove what people would think.




H.H:- People and bands know what they are getting when they sign up to tour with you, why when something goes wrong do they point the finger at you - or do they have valid reasons?


Tracii:- I don’t fuck up pre-arranged things, I am a very follow-through guy. I don’t remember ever cancelling a show. I am sure I must have for some reason or another, but I have never cancelled a tour. It might be perceptions from some people. I am a scary guy to be in a band with, let’s be honest - if I don’t like ya then its over! I’m not being a dick, it’s my life and it’s your life and we are doing it together! I don’t believe I have ever let anybody down. I have always followed through with any of my commitments and the way I respond to people’s stupidity might not be favourable to many people. Again - I am me.


H.H:- We are very alike…


Tracii:- Yeah [both laugh, thinking how we crossed paths]


H.H:- What is with all the bitching from other bands and their perception of you?


Tracii:- It’s my life, no-one is gonna tell Little Richard what do, no one is going to tell Jimi Hendrix what to do. People might not respect me as much as those musicians, but I am still a musician, and I am still a human being and I will only do it my way. I’m sorry that’s just it.


H.H:- I personally don’t think that is egotistical – it’s your life, and I agree if you don’t wanna do something don’t do it. I roll the same way.


Tracii:- Why would I fucking conform for a second to anybody or anything? Sid Vicious didn’t give a fuck, Barry White didn’t give a fuck, Elton John certainly doesn’t give a fuck. All I wish is that I could sing, that’s the confusion - if I was the singer no-one would say shit. But because I am the guitar player [everyone thinks] “What a dick!!!!” [sarcasticaly] [both laugh] If I was the singer there would be no issues.


H.H:- What’s next for Tracii Guns and L.A. Guns?


Tracii :- We actually have a new record coming out in September. It’s an acoustic live record that we recorded at a place called “Hotel Café” a lot of live acoustic records have been recorded there. So we did it a few months ago. There are eight members of L.A. Guns on that record which is really cool and it sounds good. We will only do acoustic shows if people like the record. There is a lot of touring coming up so a lot of playing - not a lot in The States really, we kinda do overseas stuff more now. For a studio record I’m not sure - there is two things I am doing… I have another band which is like a funk soul band, it’s hard to describe and that led me into the scoring thing. So I have got two movies I have got to do between now and probably March, and I have a tour in the same amount of time. So between the other band, the movies and L.A. Guns, for the next seven or eight months I am going to be pretty tied up.


H.H:- This [UK] tour has been plagued with controversy. Before we part ways do you wish to make a statement or comment on the recent events concerning Lee Pistolero of The Gypsy Pistoleros? [The Gypsy Pistoleros were the support band for the UK tour but only appeared on the first date]


Tracii:- I love Iggie Pistolero. I actually love Lee Pistolero too and I am just going to leave it at that. The water has been tainted a bit so we are just going to go about our way and leave it alone.


H.H:- Thanks for taking time out to chat Tracii, it’s been a pleasure


Tracii:- Great and Thank You!