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


THE ROCKPIT INTERVIEW - LEE J PISTOLERO

Posted October 13, 2009

 

Lee J Pistolero, lead singer of “The world’s greatest flamenco sleaze rock band” The Gypsy Pistoleros, took time out in the leadup to the upcoming release of their new album Welcome To The Hotel De La Muerte to talk about the band, family life, Rocklahoma and their new album.

 

 


 

The Rockpit - G’day Lee

 

Thanks very much for your time and thankyou for being one of the very first Rockpit interviewees!

 

Lee Pistolero - Hi Shaney rockero!! How ya doin bro?

 

Lee & Iggie Pistolero having an intellectual discussion with Shane from The Rockpit, July 2009

 

Great thanks mon ami. I believe the Gypsy Pistoleros have just signed a US release deal for your new album “Welcome to the Hotel De La Muerte” – Congratulations!! What can you tell us about that?

 

We are thrilled to have signed with Chavis Records for the U.S/Canada & Asia. They are re-mixing & remastering (Anthony Focx –Buckcherry, Aerosmith, Metallica-Guitar hero) our whole back catalogue for Worldwide release, hopefully end of this year or more likely next Feb. That will tie in with an extensive U.S Tour!! This is a ROCKPIT exclusive bro, GYPSY PISTOLEROS & THE LAST VEGAS (Co headline) with special guests CRANK COUNTY DAREDEVILS.

 

What a great line-up – three great bands! We’ll be encouraging everyone to check the tour out. The new songs we’ve heard sound fantastic – the production is leaps and bounds ahead of your debut Wild, Beautiful, Damned. What was it like working with “eccentric legend” Joe Gibb?

 

Stressing, like some high maintenance old hooker. He works you, Bob Rock is mild in comparison! [laughs]

 

Are you guys all work in the studio, or does an atmosphere of chaos and fun help your creative process?

 

All work, we haven’t got the money to waste time. It was about 2 days per track including mixing, etc. I do aid my singing with red wine though! We recorded at a remote farmhouse (Mighty Atom Studios) in Llanboidy, in the middle of nowhere in Wales. No distractions at all, the nearest civilization is 30 mins drive away.

 

Iggie’s guitar sound on the new songs especially sounds like a huge improvement – is that down to Joe, or has he tinkered with his rig?

 

I think he had only consumed beer, rather than his normal 2 bottles of vodka during his takes hahaha! No, Iggz is a great guitarist, he took his own rig this time which helped. He is actually realising how good a guitarist he is now, he always felt in the shadow of his brother Mike Smith (he's a guitar teacher, who twice turned down playing with Robert Plant). Now his brother comes to watch Iggz!


Lee lying down on the job, Rocklahoma 2009

 

The Pistoleros seem to have a special relationship with The States. Certainly at Rocklahoma you have been welcomed with open arms all three years. Do you engender the same sort of reaction back home in England?

 

Slight backlash, some people over here even think that we’re a Texas band?!?! We love the U.S & the reaction to us over there has been amazing, so that is where our main audience are. Especially with the Chavis Records deal signed. We just seemed to click with the audiences & grew up alongside Rocklahoma!

 

Lee giving it all he's got at Rocklahoma 2009

 

And you mentioned to me a little while ago that The Pistoleros have already signed on for Rocklahoma 2010 – headlining one of the side stages this time round. As a veteran of both main stage and side stage shows at ROK, what’s the biggest difference?

 

Mainstage is massive & bloody hot!! 110 degrees last year, as you know, amigo! Rock n Roll fukk ups are vampiro in essence. The late shows on the sidestages have more of a vibe than early slots on the mainstage!!! We play better when there is a big crowd in your face!

 

How solid is the band line-up nowadays, with Denny & Jet on drums n’ bass respectively? We notice you’ve had a couple of drummers and bassists through the band over the past few years…

 

It is & will always be me & Iggz, but Denny & Jet are fitting in great

 

Good to hear, we had aa good laugh with Denny & Jet.

 

How far back do you and Iggie go? You seem almost inseperable!

 

Despite going to all the same Rock clubs, playing the same circuit , we only met 3 years ago (We would have been dead, if we had met during our crazed years!). He is like a brother, it just happened & we clicked!!!

 

I must admit my knowledge of Spanish stops around about “Uno cerveca, por favoure”, but I can still sing along to the Pistoleros ‘Spanglish’ lyrics quite easily. Do you keep this in mind consciously when writing lyrics, or do you write what you feel and rely on the song and the melody to make it receptive to the English speaking listener?

 

I write in Spanglish, with a weird Spanish gitano slang. It works with the crossover style we have, English rocks & the Spanish rumbas??? So it is a natural hybrid

 

The Pistoleros are oft touted as “The greatest renegade gypsy flamenco sleaze glam rock band ever” (and other variations on that theme). Where do you and Iggie get your musical inspirations from?

 

Iggz is all about the Crue & Rock, he has tons of vinyl, knows all the bands, etc and was playing in the FM Revolver-signed band Bitches Brue. I was into punk – Stiff Little Fingers are my favourite band ever. I started off singing with Regular Wretches supporting The Lurkers, GBH and U.K. Subs, then began Cry Of The Innocent and supported the likes of The Alarm, U2, Big Country. Eventually supported Lords of the New Church and Kill City Dragons whilst singing for White Trash U.K – London’s L.A. Guns (but way more fucked up!!). I like venom & an edge!

 

I was always in great groups, hermano, but I was always a liability. I once told [a certain record company boss] to “go fuck himself” to his face, when he offered us a £15,000 album & 3 singles deal!! He was a nasty twat though, in my defence your honour! That was the same deal The Cult took!! OOOPPPSSS!! Fukkin’ drink – it’s the Devils curse to be sure!!!

 

I hear ya, mate! And I saw Stiff Little Fingers myself at the Marquee I think it was back in 92 and have been a fan ever since.

 

The Rolling Stones have long bemoaned ever being labelled “The greatest rock n roll band ever” – do you find “The greatest flamenco sleaze rock band ever” to be a burden or a bonus?

 

Easy - we invented the genre! [Laughs a lot!] Funny though, when I was a kid I was always told that you wanted to be original and different as a band. Yet we found it fuckin hard, all these people were like, “Yeah, its great but we cant categorise you?” “Fuckin good!!”! We said!! It’s like a strange train wreck involving Hanoi Rocks & the Gypsy Kings

 

When we met at Rocklahoma all four of you were out there in the audience, and it was more than just “working the crowd” all day every day – you were part OF the crowd! Do you ever get sick of the constant requests for photos, or is it a part of the job you enjoy?

 

I remember the hours, days & years of shit jobs, [being on the] dole, etc so for anyone to want any of our time is special & an honour. It has never been a chore, we enjoy it and have a great time with the real people. There is enough time for [hanging out backstage], group to group, “my dicks smaller than yours” bollocks!!

 

How would you describe the feeling of being the only “new” band to feature on the main stage at Rocklahoma 09, amongst all the 80’s bands?

 

[We were] the only band not to have sold 100,000 ‘s of albums! It’s slightly humbling & it makes you want it even more. Great though that we have been deigned decent enough to perform live with some legendary bands. We ain’t done shit yet though, we’re at the start!

 

 

What is it about the Rocklahoma festival that makes it so different from other gigs?

 

The fact it is a Rock n Roll Holiday Camp in the middle of nowhere helps, where people go to have a great time, rock the fuck out & party like the 80’s never went away. Plus the newer blood are breathing fresh life into the 80’s glam Rock n’ Roll genre whilst mixing with people that lived it! A Rock n’ Roll Heaven on earth!!!

 

Rocklahoma 2009 main stage openers day three

 

I believe in the US your Rocklahoma main stage set will be released as a bonus DVD with the new CD?

 

Nah, the sound on the recording was naff bro, but we are filming the Dudley JB’s show on the U.K Tour next week.

Iggie Pistolero taking the music to the crowd at Rocklahoma 2009

 

How do you see the state of sleaze & hard rock globally in 2009?

 

Circles within circles. I think that real dirty rock n’ roll is healthier than it has been for many years. The Swedish explosion & the young bands all over playing the glam, sleaze style is cool. Hard Rock is a bit too Nickelback for me at the moment. I was a punk & always will be, bro. I like balls to the wall and an edge to music. Nice boys don’t play Rock n’ Roll, bro!! As some prophet once said!

 

You’ve toured and played with some great bands in recent years – Adlers Appetite, Dogs D’amour, LA Guns, Jizzy Pearl, Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, Enuff Z’Nuff, Bai Bang, Dirty Penny, and many more – are bands of this style of music having a hard time in the current musical climate, or does all the new technology like FaceSpace and Titter and ProTools make it easier/cheaper to record, distribute and stay in touch with your fanbase?

 

It's all a bit weird at present - Myspace, etc has diluted the middle ground. The Record labels are scared shitless. The plus side is that you can keep [in touch] directly with the people that really matter through Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. What is frightening is the level at which these major Companies work. WET-Bethesda , owned by Zenimax Media Inc are sponsoring our U.K Tour & the next U.S. one (fingers crossed). Due to the success of the soundtrack, which has four of our songs on it, WET the video game PS3/Xbox360 is a smash hit!!! The artwork, backdrop, posters ,etc are fuckin breathtaking & they get things done yesterday!! It makes you realise what small Indie labels are up against. In a head to head release battle, you are fucked. But they love us, so come on ya Big Boy Bastards!! Pimp & Whore us!!! [laughs hysterically!]

 

What’s your favourite episode of tour debauchery?

 

Euro Tour 2008 with L.A Guns. What goes on, on the road, etc!!! A high point was me trying to sell Jeremy Gunns to a Hamburg brothel though!!!! Pissing up the Berlin wall, coming round on a Central road reservation in Budapest. Etc, etc, etc… Its fun being a Rock n Roll cliché, bro!

 

Any wonderfully stupid Spinal Tap moments you care to share?

 

This is the Pistoleros hermano, its all Spinal Tap.

 

Lee onstage with Joe Leste & Bang Tango, Rocklahoma 2009

 

I believe you have 3 kids at home – is it hard being in a tattooed debauched sleaze rock band on tour and away from the f*cking loved ones so much of the time?

 

Miss ‘em when I’m away, but when we’re at home too long I think they want me away!!

 

How do you balance being a mad drunken rock star with being a responsible father?

 

Sell em! [more hysterical laughter]

 

Separate lives in many respects. You have to separate the madness or it doesn’t make sense, well that’s how I do it. Two different people!


You have twin girls aged around 8, I believe – I know when my daughter was born all my friends thought it great karma that I had a girl on my hands. Does this mean you’ve been extra bad in the past?

 

Divine retribution!! Can you imagine their boyfriends coming to the door & they’re square dudes?? That’s gonna be fun. No, I don’t even wanna think about it bro! Divine fuckin’ retribution

 

Listening to Wild, Beautiful, Damned again reminded me of Rocklahoma and how much FUN you guys seem to be having on record, on stage and off – is being a ‘rockstar’ really all it’s cracked up to be?

 

It’s living a dream! And yes. It is all that & more, anyone that tells you its hard work and sacrifice, etc, etc is talking bollocks!! Working 9-5 or more or manual graft is WORK!! We are some of the luckiest fuckers around!

 

You once said that you wanted Wild, Beautiful, Damned to be “the Latin equivalent of Appetite For Destruction”. How big can a band without major label backing get nowadays?

 

Ask me that once the Chavis release comes out & what difference WET 2 & the proposed film make.

 

Whatever happened to plans to release a Spaghetti Incident style covers album? I figure if anyone can pull off the Macarena then it’d be The Pistoleros!

 

It will happen at some point bro! There will be some real daft fuckers on it too! I shall record ‘Stand and Deliver’!!!

 

I read somewhere that some ex-members of the band had refused to record that one [a cover of Adam & The Ants’ Stand & Deliver] – so it will finally be happening now?

 

I have begun foot stamping already bro, also [Blondie’s] Hanging on the Telephone! And if the rest of the Pistoleros wont do it I’m gonna get Tracci Guns & his gang to record it with me & put it out as the REAL REAL L.A Guns!

 

With such a strong latin vibe running through your music, I’m surprised you haven’t toured south of Texas as yet – bands like Los Lobos, Tito & Tarantula and the Gypsy Kings do pretty well down there, as do hard rock bands, so a hybrid like The Pistoleros might just make a big splash!

 

We may also get shot in Mexico, knowing us! No, there are plans to tour the South, Mexico also and Argentina next year!

 

You mentioned the new Playstation 3 & XBox 360 game 'WET', released in September featuring 3 tracks from the Pistoleros. Congratulations on that – have you had any feedback from that in the lead-up to the release?

 

The 3 songs on You Tube under WET soundtrack have had over 35,000 hits in less than two weeks! I hope the fuckers buy the new stuff!! Plus the Bethesda backing, plus [they’re going to do] a sequel! So who knows how far we can ride this bronco. Plus I fell in love with Rubi!

 

 

Haha - yeah she is pretty hot for a computer animated chick! I believe you’re all set for the new album release – when will the video be out?

 

Maybe early December.

 

The new album artwork is magnificent - you must be very proud of that. How did you get Jo Burgeon on board to do that?

 

Jo has been with us from the start. She’s working for Metallica & Led Zepellin as well now. She understands exactly what we’re after, we believe in sticking with people who are friends



What’s the next step on the Pistoleros plan for conquering the world?

 

U.S. Album release & invasion, as I said we are setting up the Gypsy Pistoleros & The Last Vegas plus special guests Crank County Daredevils extensive U.S. Tour for next year. It’s gonna be great!!! The U.S is gonna be a major target for us next year

 

Thank you so much for your time Lee – I know you’re flat out at the moment with tour and CD release plans, videos and what not, so it’s greatly appreciated.

 

For you hermano, it is a pleasure.

 

We’re really looking forward to hearing the new album in its entirety, and you can bet we will be putting a review of it up as soon as we get our hands on it.

 

As soon as I have a copy it’s on its way bro!

 

Where can our readers go to buy themselves a copy, or for some Gypsy Pistolero merchandise or information?

 

www.badreputation.fr for Europe & www.chavisrecords.net for everything!!!

www.myspace.com/gypsypistoleros is run by us, so you can get to us directly & we will reply!!!

 

Finally, hombre, is there anything else you’d like to tell Australia & the world?

 

Thanks for ROSE TATTOO!!! We would so love to tour Oz, you’re all as fucked up as us. And if everyone is like you bro then it would be a joy!!!

 

The Tatts - the first band I ever saw - I knew you had good taste Lee! Thanks again mate

 

 

See you soon hermano, love ya (in a manly /brotherly way) & keep in touch!

 

By the way Rockpit, well… FUCKIN’ Rocks!!!


You heard it straight from the man himself!!

 

Interview and Rocklahoma photos by Shane Rockpit (except as otherwise noted)

Posted 16 October 2009