The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Rock N Roll Rebels and The Sunset Strip - Interview
The Rockpit interviews
ROCK N' ROLL REBELS
AND THE SUNSET STRIP

with Eric Ganz (Charlotte) - Britt Pennella (Blackboard Jungle)
Jimmy Quill (Rattlesnake Shake) - Johnnyx (The Wild)
AND Ray Grden (Longgone)




Eonian Records hits the bullseye here uncovering the bands from the famed Sunset Strip Rock scene that we missed out on back in the day. It's a story of lost dreams and bad breaks that deserves to be told. Listening to 'Rock 'n' Roll Rebels & The Sunset Strip' you'll be amazed by the sheer quality of these unearthed tracks and the huge potential of the bands that could have ruled the airwaves. You'll be stunned and saddened in equal measure, but most of all you'll just want more...

(ADD INTRO FROM STEPHEN CRAIG OF EONIAN)


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Interested in an interview for your band? Want to suggest someone we should be talking to? E-mail digg[at]therockpit.net. The Rockpit prefers to interview live or via skype or phone but will consider e-mail interviews.


ERIC GANZ - CHARLOTTE

1. Fill us in one when you came into the LA scene and how it changed over the time you were there?

Eric: The band relocated from upstate New York in 1986, ultimately changed a couple members and then its name from White Hot to Charlotte. I would say the biggest change would be the steady diminishing of the Glam image and the advent of Grunge. Lyrics became more introspective and then evolved poetically and intellectually, opening the doors for bands like Tool, Faith No More etc. Hip Hop seemed to pick up the party scene where Glam left off.

2. What mattered most to you back in the day?

Eric: Ask any 20 year old today what matters most to them and it's probably the same basic answer.

3. What was the competition out there like? Friendly rivalry or daggers drawn?

Eric: Aaaaahh you probably had a little bit of both, depends on who ya hung with. Friendly competition is a good thing. We never really focused on any bad blood just makin' good music and having a good time. I'm sure there were those that didn't care for us or felt threatened but that was their problem not ours. We let the music do the talkin'.

4. How much of a fight was it out there to get label attention?

Eric: To be honest, getting the attention wasn't that hard if you had the goods to deliver. The interesting part comes once you get inside the offices and start negotiating. Many bands feel they don't want to sacrifice artist integrity and others are willing to bend a bit and entertain the suggestions a label might present. A label and a band seeing eye to eye at the onset of course is the ideal situation.

5. Which bigger name bands did you play with?

Eric: To name the ones I can remember- XYZ, Vixen, Warrant, EZO, Racer X, Hall and Oates. That's right, THE Hall and Oates-- "Woah Oh Here she comes, She's a MAAAAN Eater!

6. Which bands were you most and least surprised made it?

Eric: Most surprised, I don't know, everyone has his or her tastes. Least surprised, Guns N Roses. They came along at the perfect time, pissed off, Jacked up, and with that throwback 70s rock, like Aerosmith on steroids.

7. Who was the best live band on the scene?

Eric: Well, we always made sure we were part of that discussion I know that. We liked BB Chung King a lot. WWIII was another good live band, as was Byte the Bullet. Lot of talent there!

8. What was the best moment of the 80's/early 90's music scene for you?

Eric: When it got heavier and/or more progressive. Less fluff the better.

9. What do you think was your musical high point? Your biggest career high?

Eric: Early 90s when we were headlining the Whisky and the Roxy and knowing at that time that we had developed the sound we knew best represented what we were all about. Drawing from our 70s roots and adding different genres to our music, seeing bands like GNR and Faith No More succeed was very encouraging. Charlotte's career high? I guess when we were sharing the stages with acts that had been doing it for a while we knew we hit the major leagues. Also, Eonian Records putting our music out there for the world to hear can't be thankful enough for that.

10. Do you think that we will ever see a time like that for Rock music again?

Eric: Not sure. The excitement over that whole scene was pretty intense especially on the Strip where it was so centralized. Today there are so many genres getting simultaneous mass exposure, it can be polarizing no doubt.

11. What happened after the band split?

Eric: Some of us recorded more stuff, then reunited and did some shows including just a few years ago at Cat Club in L.A.

12. What are you doing these days musically?

Eric: Still playing. Composing for film and TV as well.




BRITT PENNELLA - BLACKBOARD JUNGLE

1. Fill us in one when you came into the LA scene and how it changed over the time you were there?

Britt: I came to LA with Jamie Scrap from N.J. in July of 1988. Obviously it has changed greatly as it probably had for people who grew up seeing The Doors at The Whisky. It actually freaks me out that there is a lot more time between 2015 and 1988 than there is between 1969 and 1988!!!!

2. What mattered most to you back in the day?

Britt: Getting a cd wrapped in plastic in Music Plus Record stores!!!

3. What was the competition out there like? Friendly rivalry or daggers drawn?

Britt: The competition between Rock City News and LA Rock Review was the fiercest rivalry of all and we were caught in its crosshairs!!

4. How much of a fight was it out there to get label attention?

Britt: Label guys would come down all the time but there were many channels to get the trigger pulled on signing a band.

5. Which bigger name bands did you play with?

Britt: We played with Hole (before they were big), Incubus (as the tide was changing) and most importantly we played many shows with Faster Pussycat on the Whipped tour.

6. Which bands were you most and least surprised made it?

Britt: That Razzle would turn into Lit and make it for sure. I think Lit are great by the way. It was just a surprise.

7. Who was the best live band on the scene?

Britt: Rattlesnake Shake, The Wild, Johnny Crash, Love/Hate, Salty Dog, Junkyard, all seemed a few notches above everyone else.

8. What was the best moment of the 80's/early 90's music scene for you?

Britt: Brent Muscat producing our album.

9. What do you think was your musical high point? Your biggest career high?

Britt: Going to Japan with BBJ!

10. Do you think that we will ever see a time like that for Rock music again?

Britt: I was talking to a friend of mine in a huge band and we were saying music could easily get technical again. More Joe Satriani less Black Keys. It always has to change.

11. What happened after the band split?

Britt: I moved to San Francisco.

12. What are you doing these days musically?

Britt: I am in a band called MK4. Here is a link to a video for a song we did called "Heavy Metal Thunder" about the Strip "back in the day" MK4 - HEAVY METAL THUNDER Also BBJ will be playing with The Wild, The Love Razors, and Brent Muscat's Las Vegas All Stars, Saturday June 6th 2015 at The Viper Room in LA.



JIMMY QUILL – RATTLESNAKE SHAKE

1. Fill us in one when you came into the LA scene and how it changed over the time you were there?

Jimmy: I was born into the strip from my older sister Katie Quill in 1980 That was the beginning of my journey on the Sunset Strip. It has changed like everything else has but you can still feel it every time you walk down the strip today. I always tell people even if I told you stories on the Strip back in the day you wouldn't believe me anyways But it happened yes it happened!

2. What mattered most to you back in the day?

Jimmy: Music.. it was the only thing that mattered back then. The rest just was pure fun. The 80's were so much fun!

3. What was the competition out there like? Friendly rivalry or daggers drawn?

Jimmy: We were all competitive. The better the song you wrote the more fans you had back then. Rattlesnake Shake Shootin' Daggers was written all about that.

4. How much of a fight was it out there to get label attention?

Jimmy: They came to us. Record companies and the A&R guys were everywhere back then. They sometimes were the only people in the room when you were playing.

5. Which bigger name bands did you play with? 6. Which bands were you most and least surprised made it?

Jimmy: We played with Guns & Roses, Faster Pussycat, LA Guns, Sea Hags. Janes Addiction Hangmen, Funhouse, Saigon Saloon, The Wild , The Zeros, Kills For Thrills, The Mimes, Electric Angels, Bang Tango, Hardly Dangerous the list goes on and on. LA Guns with Phil Lewis. I much preferred Paul Black the old singer. No comparison. Paul Black was the real deal.

7. Who was the best live band on the scene?

Jimmy: Guns and Roses by far and LA Guns with Paul Black on vocals for sure!

8. What was the best moment of the 80's for you?

Jimmy: Hanging with the members of Hanoi Rocks they were the ultimate band back then. It was the tragic accident with Razzle in 1985 in Malibu that screwed everything up for us and put a riff between Hanoi Rocks and Motley Crue. I was on Hanoi Rocks side all the way. That is why the Crue and Nikki Sixx stole my band name and made it into one of their songs on "Dr. Feelgood" in 1989 after they came out to see us and I told Nikki that our name Rattlesnake Shake was named after an old blues term for jacking off. Told him that Steven Tyler told me when he came out to see Rattlesnake Shake that it was all about self abuse and jerking away the blues. The Crue ripped us off... but God bless Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac he was the first one to write about it so it's all good now.

9. What do you think was your musical high point? Your biggest career high?

Jimmy: Signing with Bill Aucoin the manager of Kiss and signing with our entertainment attorney Abe Summer. We thought we had it made until everything got derailed by there own personal problems and we were too young to see how business was done back then. If we only knew the things we know now It would of been a hell of a lot different for Rattlesnake Shake. One thing is we were definitely loyal to the fault.

10. Do you think that we will ever see a time like that for Rock music again?

Jimmy: No but Rock and Roll will never die. Never!

11. What happened after the band split?

Jimmy: We are still together.. we will play tomorrow if the gig is right.

12. What are you doing these days musically?

Jimmy: I make records and I own a recording studio called Red Horse Ranch and Recording Studio in Austin Texas in honor of the great studios back in the day like Caribou Ranch in the Rocky Mountains and Long View Farms in Massachusetts. My recording studio link www.redhorseatx.com




JOHNNYX - THE WILD

1. Fill us in on when you came into the LA scene and how it changed over the time you were there?

JohnnyX. I moved to Hollywood circa 1985. It was much more of a Glam and Metal Scene at that point in time. The Troubadour was the mainstay Rock Club club till about then. The whole Sunset Strip scene blew up to extraordinary heights by 1987. Pretty insane actually. Fans and Bands were coming in droves to perform and check it all out. Music was alive. The change was by early 1990 The Sunset Strip and The Hollywood Underground clubs had begun to morph into a more inclusive style. Blues, funk, hard rock, metal and alternative bands were doing shows together. Cathouse, Scream bands were mixing w/ Whiskey a Go Go, Gazzarri's bands. That was a new thing.

2. What mattered most to you back in the day?

JohnnyX. Playing our music and art mattered the most. And having a hell of a good time. It was Rock n Roll on the Sunset Strip. There were so many people. 7 days a week. Looking back it was pretty insane. Sex, drugs, parties. It was hard to even walk that 3rd of a kilometer between the Rainbow and The Whiskey. It was that crowded. Crazy cool. That lifestyle brought new musical heights as songwriters and performers. It shows in the tunes that are on the box set.

3. What was the competition out there like? Friendly rivalry or daggers drawn?

JohnnyX. It was mainly very friendly. Many good friends. Most of us had recently played shows together or soon would be on the same stage on an upcoming bill. It didn't pay to be a jerk on the Sunset Strip. You never knew who would be coming up next and what players you might need to be replaced with someone from another band. Lotsa late night jams at after show/ parties too. That solidified players and friendships.

4. How much of a fight was it out there to get label attention?

JohnnyX. The record companies had scouts everywhere. Geffen Records was right across the street from The Roxy and Gazzarri's. Most labels had offices in Hollywood.

5. Which bigger name bands did you play with?

JohnnyX. My favorite was opening for the original line up of Warrant at The Troubadour. Circa 1986. Great Show.

6. What was the best moment of the 80's for you?

JohnnyX. I think it comes down to the best moment(s). Rock n Roll is Rock n Roll. This music genre was always meant to be performed at a live venue in front of a live audience. It's the feel of it all. It always came down to playing for those packed houses. Whether it was playing music for the Hollywood Underground clubs like English Acid, Red Light District or jammin' your tunes @ Gazzarri's and The Troubadour. All that counted was the audience and those tunes.

7. Do you think that we will ever see a time like that for Rock music again?

JohnnyX. No. Sadly I do not. West Hollywood has changed and the city will never allow that kind of musical mayhem ever again. The Sunset Strip is just a piece of great Rock n Roll history now.

8. What are you doingthese days musically?

JohnnyX. Now that Eonian's Rock n Roll Rebels Volume 1 is being released a few of us have started playing out again. Performing our music. My band "JohnnyX and The Wild" just did a sold out show w/ 2 other bands that are on the compilation cd. Paradise and Rough Justice. Great Show. The Wild has another show coming up w/ another band on the box set called Blackboard Jungle. It will be sold out. Many more bands and shows to come. Keep tuned.




RAY GRDEN - LONGGONE

1. Fill us in one when you came into the LA scene and how it changed over the time you were there?

Ray: I came into the scene in 87 or 88 from Columbus Ohio. There was such an influx of us long hairs from all over the Midwest that when arriving in LA I felt like i was home. Finally I was in the midst of sovereign souls equaling my passion for comradery and music. For myself and many others i have spoken to it was absolutely the most freeing and ecstatic experience that lasted through until the grunge scene broke the cycle.

2. What mattered most to you back in the day?

Ray: Friendship, music, philosophy, art and staying true to that inner calling.

3. What was the competition out there like? Friendly rivalry or daggers drawn?

Ray: In my experience there was such an environment of revelry and support that I didn't see much bitch slapping. Your own band was certainly your band of brothers but so many friends and friends of friends were in bands that were playing in the same circuit and were at the same after parties.

4. How much of a fight was it out there to get label attention?

Ray: If you were good there wasn't much effort in getting a label to show case for. The harder part was staying true to your musical vision while navigating through constructive criticism.

5. Which bigger name bands did you play with?

Ray: I know Alice in Chains opened for us at the Marquee in Orange County before they got big.

6. Which bands were you most and least surprised made it?

Ray: Personally I didn't see the hoopla about Poison back then although now I can see it. There were quite a few bands I thought exceptional that never made it past the strip and with the release of this compilation I guess I'm not the only one!

7. Who was the best live band on the scene?

Ray: There is not one that I can think of that stands out above the rest. There were so many good ones.

8. What was the best moment of the 80's/early 90's music scene for you?

Ray: There are so many that they all blend into an era for me. I can say that a personal stand out experience for me was when i was invited by a good friend to sit in on a session at Rumba studio when Axl (Rose, Guns N' Roses) was laying down the vocal track for "You're Crazy" . As it turns out I got the chance to play congo's in "One in a Million" and Axl added me in the credits. He even spelled my name right and it is an odd spelling!

9. What do you think was your musical high point? Your biggest career high?

Ray: I would have to say that recording our second demo in a small studio just outside of LA. Much of the musical composition was written there and we all collaborated. It was a forward move musically and to this day the songwriting is strong.

10. Do you think that we will ever see a time like that for Rock music again?

Ray: No. There were too many factors in play to set up the era as it so beautifully was.

11. What happened after the band split?

Ray: The bass player, Tom and I moved to Phoenix and got out of the music scene. I still speak to Tom a couple times a week. Ralph is now doing very well with fronting the band Steel Panther and Manny, the guitar player is now with Bonnie Raitt and was recently on David Letterman. I see Ralph occasionally and we talk a couple times a year and Manny less frequently but those guys will always hold a special place in my world and I will always look fondly of our time in the era together.

12. What are you doing these days musically?

Ray: Once the era was over I lost interest in music as a career. I realized it was the time and lifestyle I was after more than the music itself.

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Interview by Mark Rockpit on April 2015