John Parks of Legendary Rock Interviews recently conducted an interview with bassist Jerry Dixon of California hard rockers WARRANT. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Legendary Rock Interviews: We knew you weren’t too happy with the way that the 2008 reunion went down, but it really went unreported just how much the band tried to avert disaster with Jani [Lane, vocals] during that time.
Jerry: Oh, absolutely, that’s just it, John. For a while there, it seemed like that’s all we were doing was trying to help Jani. It’s really weird the way people communicate nowadays on Facebook and stuff being all immediate, it still seemed like there was a lot of bad communication about that particular topic. For starters, there still seem to be a large segment of our own fans that weren’t aware of the fact that we really tried to do the reunion in ’07/’08. They would post things about how we didn’t try to get back with Jani after he left, and nothing was further from the truth. We really tried to make that reunion and we put Jani into rehab around that time and we visited him, we didn’t ignore him. We even went to the extent of removing all alcohol off the backstage rider and bringing one of Dr. Drew‘s counselors out on the road with us and we still only made it through eleven shows. We have historically played at least 40-60 shows a year other than that one year, so of course, it was a huge blow to us, but it wasn’t just business, I mean, we have hearts underneath our skin. It’s crazy that people think we didn’t do anything, but I guess we just didn’t feel the need to make a big public announcement about it at the time. I mean, myself personally, I just try to speak nothing but facts on topics like this, because it’s already hurt Jani‘s family and hurt us and as hard as it is, I try to keep my emotions out of it and stick to what happened. The facts are that the Lane era and the new era of WARRANT are two totally different eras and the Lane era was so long ago aside from the previously stated reunion attempt. I mean this as no disrespect, but it’s been a long time and it’s basically been as long that we’ve been without him as it was that we were with him. I guess what really upsets me about the people who make comments about us moving on is…. Where were all those people in 2008 when we tried the reunion and tried the rehab and he still was in the condition he was in at the Las Vegas show? I thought he was gonna die onstage at that show in Las Vegas. I mean, where were all these people who claim now to have been best friends with Jani then? It’s really hard and I struggle to understand where all these people who paint us as the “bad guys” were back then, because they clearly weren’t noticing how hard we all tried to help Jani and keep it together not only for the sake of our band but because, whether people believe it or not, we are human beings and we cared about our friend. If I could help a complete stranger struggling with those addictions, I would help them, because that’s just the human thing to do. When someone like Jani dies, it’s just a fact that people don’t know how to process it and immediately try to find someone to blame. The fact is, it’s just a fucking sad, sad tragedy and he had a bad, bad disease, which is what I call it, and he simply could not shake it. It’s really not something that had very much to do with WARRANT. And another thing people seem to forget is that it was always Jani who left WARRANT and not the other way around. He literally left the band all the time. He didn’t just bail on a tour or two or three. He left us hanging on a lot of things because he always envisioned himself as a solo artist. I mean, look at the cover of his solo album “Back Down To One”, there’s four dead body marks on the cover. Who do you think that is? Time and time again, he would have a change of heart and want to come back and we would let him, we were like, “Dude, you’re fucking Jani Lane. Yeah, of course we want you back.” When we did the “Born Again” album, it wasn’t by choice that we didn’t have Jani in the band, he left us, and I think people really forget about that. It always confused me that he would come and go like that because as a musician or artist you can’t always be stopping and starting like that with no consistency. It makes you not want to be in the band when it’s so inconsistent like that. Jani created this monster success as a member of WARRANT and then he hated it and shunned the whole thing. That’s the other thing, it seemed like the only thing he was comfortable being proud of was the songwriting because that’s all he ever talked about. It really was all he ever talked about and yes, he was a creative guy but he didn’t need to take it that far that he just took 100% credit for WARRANT‘s success while at the same time being totally ashamed of it. I mean, if you go to BMI.com and search the songwriting credits, you’ll see his name on a lot of them but you’ll also see the rest of our names on songs like “Cherry Pie” as well. Erik [Turner] and I have worked incredibly hard at this band over the years with and without Jani‘s involvement. There’s a lot more to this band than just one person and I wish sometimes Jani could have remembered that. It’s like a football team, you might have Tom Brady for a quarterback, but you need a kickass coach and a great group of guys around him and a stadium and cheerleaders and a front office in order to win. I mean, who do people think found Jani Lane? We found Jani up a fuckin’ tree and he and Steven [Sweet, drums] weren’t doing shit until we got together to get things done. I’m not just talking shit; that’s just me being honest. We formed a great team and one of the things he brought to the team was songwriting — he was really good at that, so why would we fuck with that? He would write a song like “Heaven”, and I would be like, “Oh my god, dude, that is beautiful!” I’m not gonna let my ego get in the way of someone bringing a good idea to the table. If something’s great, it’s great and we don’t care who gets credit for doing it; it’s all about the team.
Legendary Rock Interviews: To the day he died, he really didn’t accept or understand how appreciated he was or how great the music you made together was.
Jerry: Yeah, and that always blew my mind, but then I can’t imagine being Jani Lane or imagine what went through his mind or how uncomfortable he was in his own skin or to struggle with all these questions and doubts he had. I mean, the guy struggled with everyday things a person shouldn’t have to struggle with like flying or holidays or things you should just be at ease about and not be nervous about. I wanted to also make a mention to something that I think a lot about and I’m not even sure a lot of people realize. If you ever want to know what happened to Jani Lane, it’s all in the songs. What I mean by that is that it was just his nature to let you in a little bit with his lyrics and on “Ultraphobic” and especially “Belly To Belly”, you can really hear the story of things going south in his life. As sad as that is, it’s the truth. Everyone wants to know what happened to Lane, but it’s right there in those songs. One night I put on “Falling Down”, and I was like, “Fuck, there’s the story right there,” and I don’t know if anyone even noticed. He was telling the whole world how he was feeling and I didn’t realize it at the time and maybe a lot of other people didn’t either. But it’s there. Those are really dark records, we call them the black years, and the music wasn’t your typical “pop” WARRANT but I really think that both of them were really, really strong records that might have been overlooked. We were really bummed at the state of the industry back then and angry and maybe drinking and getting a little negative but it’s an important part of our history. “Dirty Rotten” and “Cherry Pie” are only a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of our overall output. If nothing else those albums from “Dog Eat Dog” to “Belly To Belly” really show you the road Jani was headed down. If anyone has any questions about Jani, just listen to his words, it’s one red flag after another on those albums to the point of where I’m hearing it now and looking back going, “Holy shit!” Really, all I can say about him I just that I know things affected him in a way he wasn’t comfortable with at all and now he’s in a better place.
Read the entire interview from Legendary Rock Interviews.