L.A. Guns Headlines Septemberfest
By Shout Omaha Staff
There is a whole legion of fans that love ‘80s hair metal and other hard rock from that era. They come out in droves any time White Snake, Def Leppard or, in this case, L.A. Guns is on a bill. This year’s Septemberfest will be undoubtedly no different. Ladies are getting out their Aqua Net as the fellas are squeezing into their leather pants to catch Phil Lewis and the rest of L.A. Guns live.
L.A. Guns was formed by guitarist Tracii Guns in 1983 and was briefly fronted by Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses. The original line up included bassist Ole Beich and drummer Rob Gardner, but after several line up changes, Rose, bassist Duff McKagen, Slash, and Steven Adler convened to form the now classic lineup of Guns N’ Roses, which left LA Guns to fend for themselves. It seems to be a recurring theme in the group. Most recently, in December 2012, guitarist Stacey Blades left the group somewhat unexpectedly. According to new singer Phil Lewis, he’d had enough.
“He wasn’t let go or fired or anything,” Lewis said. “He was in the band for almost ten years, and sometimes being on the road, you can have good days and bad days, and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. He was getting burned out by it. He wanted to do something that didn’t involve all of the travel. You could just see it. When someone is unhappy on the road, it’s impossible to hide that. But, he graciously agreed to finish the shows that we had booked until the end of last year. And we knew that the first thing that we had to do this year was to get someone to replace him, which we did. It was amazingly lucky; we got Michael Grant from Endeverafter. He sounds great and looks great. He has a great sense of humor and you need that on the road.”
Before Grant joined the band, L.A. Guns had another guitarist, Frankie Wilsey from the Seahags and The Stephen Pearcy band. He only lasted a few days and many fans were left scratching their heads.
“I think he didn’t realize how much work was going to be involved,” Lewis explained. “But, I don’t know, it was just one of those things. ou can rehearse hundreds of times, and it doesn’t show, but then you do a live performance and it makes sense. During rehearsals he was great, but during the shows, he seemed a bit distracted. It wasn’t the same Frankie that we were rehearsing with. But, it’s no big deal, no hard feelings. He’s still a friend and is a great player. It just didn’t work out.”
Through all of this, getting Tracii Guns has remained out of the question. He’s treated L.A. Guns like a revolving door since its inception, which is surprising considering he founded the group. Since their 1985 debut, L.A. Guns, he’s been in and out depending on what mood he’s in.
“Tracii has said some very terrible things, and he has done some really terrible things to the name of L.A. Guns,” Lewis confirmed. “He put his own version of L.A. Guns together, after the Brides of Destruction failed, because there was nothing else for him to do. And nobody wanted to play with him. o we had two bands with the name L.A. Guns out there. In the few years he had the other band, he had four different singers, and one was a chick. How can you have a chick sing “I Wanna be You Man?” It was just really insulting to the band and most importantly to the fans of the band. It would be very hypocritical for us to bring him back. Things ended pretty badly with us and Tracii. He left us high and dry when he left the band. He told us he was leaving the band right before Waking the Dead came out. He told us during a photo shoot for the record that he was leaving the band. He doesn’t really have a good reputation in the business either. I don’t want all that baggage that he has accumulated over the years to be brought onto this band now anyways.”
Despite the drama surrounding Guns and their seemingly constant lineup changes, L.A. Guns is as bold as ever. From material off 2012’s Hollywood Forever to its more classic albums such as 1991’s Hollywood Vampires, a live L.A. Guns show covers all the bases.
“We can’t do too much from Hollywood Forever because we have some many of our popular songs that we have to play,” Lewis said. “We would love to play 5 or 6 songs from the album, and believe me, we can do them live, that’s not the problem. But when most people go out to see us, they want to hear the hits. I love the new record, and you love it, and a lot of our fans do, but not all of them know of it. But, we will try to play at least a couple of them in each set and maybe switch them up every show.”
It’s refreshing they mix it up. A plethora of bands from the ‘80s get criticized for playing the same old stale set list year after year, especially Poison.
“That tells me they don’t have a lot of confidence in their other material,” he said. “I feel that we are a different band from a lot of those bands. We came out at the same time, but we are nothing like them. We are not a hair band, we are not. That was never us. We were leather jackets and greasy hair, not bright colored spandex and poofy hair.
“Writing music is a very important aspect of what we do,” he added. “It’s like how can you be a painter, and not paint for 10-15 and still call yourself a painter? That’s the way that I fell about it.”