Joe Daly of The Nervous Breakdown recently conducted an interview with L.A. GUNS guitarist Tracii Guns. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Nervous Breakdown: Let’s talk about the new [L.A. GUNS] album. This is your first acoustic album in 29 years, so why now?
Tracii Guns: Well, I’d never really thought about it before. I’ve had a lot of suggestions brought to me through the years, like instrumental records and solo records, but never really an acoustic project. With L.A. GUNS, we just didn’t have enough material to make a brand new, original record and our managers at the time — Jason Kramer and Jason Rothberg — said, “Hey, you know we’ve got a good connection over at the Hotel Cafe. What do you think about doing an acoustic album?” At first we weren’t sure. Nobody in the band played acoustically, other than myself, and I don’t play that much acoustic guitar. So I thought about it and I figured that if I could put a big band together with a lot of guys playing different instruments and stuff like that that it would be not just a re-recording of the songs, but it would be something creative and something that could give old songs a different angle. I thought that if we could pull it off, it could be a great idea. It was about five months between the initial contact and the two gigs when we were going to record it live and it was kind of a nerve-wracking four months for me before I hired the guys and everybody decided what instrument they were going to play. Then we did a little over a solid week of long rehearsals. There are a lot of chord inversions and things so it doesn’t just sound like a campfire thing, and when we got it together and it happened, it turned out to be really good. I’m actually pretty happy with it.
The Nervous Breakdown: Loads of people are now looking back and saying that grunge killed hair metal. Is that a fair statement?
Tracii Guns: No, it’s not a fair statement and it’s very telling of the macho attitude of the rock bands from the ’80s who put the blame on anybody but themselves. Most of my peers want to be right as opposed to being smart, so there’s the great hair metal bands of the ’80s all pointing fingers. It’s the only genre where the camaraderie among bands is zero. (laughs) It’s really weird. I think that good music is good music, period. One of the things with hip hop and RB is that these cats get popular because they tell stories. Real stories that people can relate to. A good love song never gets old because people fall in and out of love every day. The thing with grunge, and I really don’t know exactly what that is, but when I think of grunge I think of ALICE IN CHAINS. These are songs that had a little bit more insight than getting in the back of a car and banging a chick, you know? I think there’s a huge audience that didn’t like what all the ’80s bands were doing, and then these (grunge) bands came out, and they were a bit more realistic and a little bit more heartfelt. They were a lot less macho and I think that they related to people on a one-on-one basis. It wasn’t about the pyrotechnics and things like that. People are always waiting for something new. I mean, ZEPPELIN, and THE BEATLES, and Hendrix, and the STONES, and PINK FLOYD and Janis — they already got it right and everything after was just a spin on that stuff.
The Nervous Breakdown: So you’re getting ready to head out on tour with L.A. GUNS. Where are you going and what kind of venues are you hitting?
Tracii Guns: This brings up one thing we haven’t touched on yet- we have a new singer now. Jizzy [Pearl] left the band about three days before the album came out. He was tired of the grind; we’re like a little army unit the way we work hard, and he put in his two years. There’s no hard feelings over it, and we announced yesterday that Dilana [Robichaux], from the “Rock Star: Supernova” [CBS reality] show is our new singer. So that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ll start our tour on October 21 in San Antonio, and we’ll go through Texas and then on a diagonal line straight up to the Northeast, and we’re gonna be in that area for about three weeks, then we’re going to hit the southeast, and then the south from the end of November, through December. So that’s what’s next.
The Nervous Breakdown: With the new singer, are there going to be any stylistic changes from what people are used to on the albums? Did you have to change anything you did with Jizzy to fit the new vocals?
Tracii Guns: Dilana really has her own style. She’s very bluesy, upper mid-register, and when she hits those high notes, it sounds clear as a bell. Women just have a different set of vocal cords. A lot of L.A. GUNS stuff is sung in that register, anyway. You hear guys singing in L.A. GUNS and it sounds like they’re straining, and the really cool thing with Dilana is that those higher registers are really clean. But the thing is that we’re doing a rock set — we’re not doing an acoustic set, and there was no intention to do an acoustic set unless for some strange reason the record went through the roof. But we’re on the verge of some really great things, so for us to do an acoustic thing live… maybe down the road, it’s not out of the question, but for now, we’re sticking to the rock set and we’re probably going to be adding some songs that we haven’t played live in years, because she can sing some of these songs that other people couldn’t. We just got started. We had our audition process yesterday and she got the gig, so we’ve got a solid three weeks of banging our heads together to get the set together. It’s pretty exciting having a chick in L.A. GUNS. I can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces with a girl singing “Sex Action”. (laughs)
Read the entire interview from The Nervous Breakdown.