He c0-founded Guns N Roses, enjoyed commercial success with LA Guns and now he’s battling to retain his identity in the face of another band with the same name – he’s Tracii Guns and he’s still firing on all cylinders!
In the latest rushonrock exclusive interview we talk simmering rivalries, blasts from the past and the reissue of a defining album. And don’t forget – you can catch LA Guns at Hard Rock Hell 2010.
rushonrock: There are still two versions of LA Guns out there – it’s confusing for fans and it must annoy you?
Tracii Guns: I think it does get confusing but I suppose it’s been going on for a while now – since 2006 I think. I still get huge amounts of mail from fans so I know it pisses them off. They say ‘I went to see this band called LA Guns but you weren’t there’. It’s frustrating for them but it’s not even frustrating for me. I’ve got past that. I just don’t understand it. But the other LA Guns have my blessing and they can do what they want as long as they feel comfortable about what they’re doing. But the day that it interferes with what I do I’ll go in there with a machete and cut their heads off! It is weird though – they have a guy in their band called Stacey Blades and a lot of people do think he’s me. He just says thank-you when people say they like my work and he signs autographs in my name – it’s strange but I have to take it as a compliment.
rushonrock: What’s the story behind the original Shrinking Violet record, reissued earlier this year?
TG: When Jizzy joined the band and we did the first tour with Gilby Clarke supporting we spent a lot of time writing new music and talking about doing a record. Halfway through that tour we got offered the chance to open up for Poison on a big comeback tour. That’s when Gilby offered to get involved. He said he was a record producer now and he had his own studio with all the latest kit. We decided to give it a go and it worked out really well. Gilby had a studio that was half in his house and half in his garage and the first day we got together the work was of a very high quality. We spent about a month making the record and we finished up just in time to have it available for the Poison tour. But it was never properly distributed in the US or anywhere else for that matter. We played a few of the songs from Shrinking Violet on that tour and it’s a very satisfying record from a musician’s point of view. It’s great to be able to give it a second chance.
rushonrock: Was Jizzy always the man for the job when it came to finding a singer?
TG: before he joined the band first time around I’d known him for a long time. I’d always liked him and the rest of the Love/Hate guys and we’d hung out a few times. They were always the nicest people towards me. But when Jizzy was looking to join LA Guns there was this guy called Joe Leste from bang Tango who we were looking at. But Jizzy was adamant he was going to get the gig and it was his sheer determination which got him the job.
rushonrock: It must have had something to do with his talent too?
TG: Oh yeah. We played a couple of Led Zeppelin tracks with him. I really wanted to get a singer who could play that Robert Plant style and he really nailed it. I knew that we’d see eye to eye and it’s really nice to have him back in the band. I don’t think you realise what you’ve got until it’s gone and now he’s back the plan is to keep him this time. I’m not going to be talked into getting involved in inferior projects again just for the sake of it.
rushonrock: So has the Shrining Violet record been reissued now to remind fans of what he brings to the table?
TG: In a way. When we signed to Favored Nations the debate was whether we should do something from scratch or show people where this band started from. It made more sense to release the first thing that we recorded together – especially as it’s never been available to the majority of our fans. If Jizzy is going to hang around for some time then it will be good for people to rediscover his work with LA Guns. And it gives us time to write a good record without rushing things. Plus we want to tour – especially in the UK where Jizzy has his biggest following – and we couldn’t do that if we were holed up in a studio. The reissue has all of the songs we wrote together 11 years ago plus a selection of LA Guns classics with Jizzy on vocals. You can hear the difference in Jizzy too – he’s really developed into a top class singer and has so much more control over his vocals. He doesn’t squeal and squeak as much!
rushonrock: So can we expect a new Jizzy-fronted LA Guns record in the New Year?
TG: I try not o make plans because plans always seem to end up going in a different direction! But we’re going to continue writing all through the summer and into the New Year. If we don’t get back to South America in February then it would be nice to think about pre-production then. We’d be looking at wrapping things up in March with a summer 2011 release. That would be perfect but nothing’s perfect, right? I’m sure Favored Nations would like us to stick to that schedule too but who knows? It’s the goal that we’re shooting for but it depends how lazy or otherwise we are on tour. We’ve already started putting a few things together and most of the Shrinking Violet record was written on the road so we know what we’re doing.
rushonrock: You mentioned South America – why is it such a favourite continent of yours to tour?
TG: It’s somewhere we managed to get to as LA guns in our prime, during the Cocked & Loaded era. We hit Argentina and Chile and because we did go down there all of those years ago it’s somewhere I’ve been able to go back to again and again. I think Jizzy is the fifth singer I’ve taken down there and this year was his first time touring that part of the world. But when people in Latin America get into their music they really get into it and they don’t forget the bands they love. They have incredible passion.