KILLER DOGS

KERRANG! ISSUE 284, APRIL 1990

KILLER DOGS – Hippodrome, London

BEING ONE of the, how shall I put it. ‘less glamorous’ bands around – two of them are overweight and two have the stage presence of a couple of lengths of four-by-two planking — the Killer Dogs are obviously going to have to rely on something else in order to create an interest. Songs, perhaps. Or maybe even a touch of outstanding musicianship with which to draw your ear’s attention.

They certainly didn’t hit the mark with their songs, the quality of which varied from average to very average. Not a memorable chorus in sight, not an ounce of originality in evidence. A case of fragmented ‘rock by numbers’ if there ever was one. They didn’t stun with musicianship either, although apart from the plodding, remarkably uninventive sameness of the drumming, there was at least a feeling that the others were trying – for what that’s worth.

But there have been good bands -really good bands – who didn’t have a single song above what you would call shit, and who couldn’t play to save their lives. It’s amazing what you can get away with if you’ve got the charisma and sufficient self-belief – or bare-faced cheek – to carry it off.

Unfortunately, this latter opinion isn’t open to the Killer Dogs either. With no energy, no drive and a transparent lack of commitment, ‘going through the motions’ would be an accurate description of the forcefulness of this particular performance – and it showed.
Music played badly but with feel and sincerity will always get my vote over cold musical genius. The Killer Dogs fell into neither category.

If evidence is needed to back-up what will doubtless be seen by some (and certainly by the band) as harsh, the wasteland of disinterest that was the immediate front-of-stage area says far more – and with more weight – about the Killer Dogs’ performance than any words that I would care to write.

PAUL HENDERSON

SLAMMER

KERRANG! ISSUE 284 APRIL 1990

SLAMMER – Boston Arms, Tuffnell Park

THERE IS nothing intrinsically ‘wrong’ with Slammer. Dull, fabricated and desperate, maybe, but Thrash’s biggest losers do not really deserve the derision that has been heaped upon the young Bradford quintet in recent months.

And Slammer’s only crime thus far? Probably just failing to fulfil hysterical expectations. In case you blinked Slammer signed the golden deal and released an average album as their major label debut that showed promise if not originality.

In a word Slammer are f**ked!

Tonight – just hours after the promoters went bankrupt – the public are being fleeced for an outrageous £6 to witness the Slammer laxative. Flushed through the system and back into the toilet within six months.

Unbelievably the boys seem surprised and narked that their supposed loyal fan-base stayed home in their millions. But the Boston Arms is cold and cavernous. Slammer, meanwhile, are just back-pedalling through crap.

Slammer’s real problem is that they don’t really want to be a Thrash band at all. A cynicism and arrogance permeate the one-dimensional riff theatre of Hellbound and Razors Edge’, justified with big buck backing but now merely stubborn.

Slammer work to formulas and smack of impersonation as a result of that. Paul Tunnicliffe battles bravely to save face. Someone even optimistically stage-dives into open space.

Ultimately, however, and just as the record sales proved, Slammer offer nothing new to an overcrowded market. They close with ‘Tenement Zone’ and encore (!) with ‘Born For War’ before packing it all away into shiny flight cases that only serve to reinforce the charade that Slammer have become.

Slammer’s deal marked the end of UK Thrash. Tonight was proof.

CHRIS WATTS

SHARK ISLAND

KERRANG! ISSUE 284 APRIL 1990

LA GUNS, SHARK ISLAND – Sneakers, San Antonio

SHARK ISLAND kicked LA Guns’ butt tonight, only the audience didn’t know it. Sounds silly? Well, I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of being in a concert crowd that would cheer for anything as long as it was played by ‘their band’ – and while LA Guns put on a show that got better and better, the excitement generated was due almost entirely to the energy of their fans.

Shark Island’s set was packed with original songs and cool moves; strutters like ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Get Some Strange’ were fuelled by tall Chris Heilmann’s pumping bass – when this giant tells you to cheer, you cheer! – and Richard Black’s raspy vocals.

All the songs were expertly played and delivered, though the band could still do to get up a few notches on the energy meter. “Here’s a song we wrote by Fleetwood Mac,” they announced before a ballsy rendition of ‘The Chain’, and the classic tune roused Shark Island’s occasionally passive audience rather well. Radio favourite ‘Paris Calling’ set the rowdies waving their beer bottles, and finale ‘Shake For Me’ closed the show on an acceptable wave of howls and handclaps. Less than they deserved, but about what they expected.

The temperature in the nightclub got at least ten degrees hotter during intermission, all due to body heat. And when the lights went out and the first notes of ‘Slap In The Face’, cracked them across the ears, they went into a ; foaming, indiscriminate fist-waving frenzy. The force of the crowd response behind me ruffled my hair; in front were a few rows of scenes from the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and then the strangely sedate realm of the stage. Not just sedate in comparison, you understand, as (or much of the show LA Guns did not deliver ‘exciting baIls-to-the-wall rock’ as promised by their PR company.

When songs as potentially gut-shattering as ‘Rip And Tear’ and ‘Sex Action’ fail to deliver, you have to wonder why. It’s not the quality of the musicianship, it’s the attitude that has to exist before the songs are written, before the band jump onstage. LA Guns just aren’t hungry enough often enough.

But once in a while flint strikes stone at just the right angle and you get a haunting performance of ‘Malaria’ or a soulful ‘The Ballad Of Jane’. And then someone with heart – Tracii Guns – finally lets it out and delivers a blues solo that’s sensuous, passionate and just plain good. I didn’t know the dude had so much blood in him.

This was the turning point of the show; sad that it arrived so late, Three songs delivered full throttle, then off into the wings.

The crowd, which hadn’t backed down once, promptly began to chant, scream and stomp its feet. You’ve got to give LA Guns credit for managing to pull in fans like these, but sometimes you have to wonder why such adoration exists. The hard edged ‘One More Reason’, with its release of all the band’s unspent energy, gives me a hint though.
Good for LA Guns if these fans stick around, Good for us if the band gives them a reason to.

MARIBETH BRUNO

LA GUNS

KERRANG! ISSUE 284 APRIL 1990

LA GUNS, SHARK ISLAND – Sneakers, San Antonio

LAGUNS_284

SHARK ISLAND kicked LA Guns’ butt tonight, only the audience didn’t know it. Sounds silly? Well, I’m sure you’ve all had the experience of being in a concert crowd that would cheer for anything as long as it was played by ‘their band’ – and while LA Guns put on a show that got better and better, the excitement generated was due almost entirely to the energy of their fans.

Shark Island’s set was packed with original songs and cool moves; strutters like ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Get Some Strange’ were fuelled by tall Chris Heilmann’s pumping bass – when this giant tells you to cheer, you cheer! – and Richard Black’s raspy vocals.

All the songs were expertly played and delivered, though the band could still do to get up a few notches on the energy meter. “Here’s a song we wrote by Fleetwood Mac,” they announced before a ballsy rendition of ‘The Chain’, and the classic tune roused Shark Island’s occasionally passive audience rather well. Radio favourite ‘Paris Calling’ set the rowdies waving their beer bottles, and finale ‘Shake For Me’ closed the show on an acceptable wave of howls and handclaps. Less than they deserved, but about what they expected.

The temperature in the nightclub got at least ten degrees hotter during intermission, all due to body heat. And when the lights went out and the first notes of ‘Slap In The Face’, cracked them across the ears, they went into a ; foaming, indiscriminate fist-waving frenzy. The force of the crowd response behind me ruffled my hair; in front were a few rows of scenes from the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and then the strangely sedate realm of the stage. Not just sedate in comparison, you understand, as (or much of the show LA Guns did not deliver ‘exciting baIls-to-the-wall rock’ as promised by their PR company.

When songs as potentially gut-shattering as ‘Rip And Tear’ and ‘Sex Action’ fail to deliver, you have to wonder why. It’s not the quality of the musicianship, it’s the attitude that has to exist before the songs are written, before the band jump onstage. LA Guns just aren’t hungry enough often enough.

But once in a while flint strikes stone at just the right angle and you get a haunting performance of ‘Malaria’ or a soulful ‘The Ballad Of Jane’. And then someone with heart – Tracii Guns – finally lets it out and delivers a blues solo that’s sensuous, passionate and just plain good. I didn’t know the dude had so much blood in him.

This was the turning point of the show; sad that it arrived so late, Three songs delivered full throttle, then off into the wings.

The crowd, which hadn’t backed down once, promptly began to chant, scream and stomp its feet. You’ve got to give LA Guns credit for managing to pull in fans like these, but sometimes you have to wonder why such adoration exists. The hard edged ‘One More Reason’, with its release of all the band’s unspent energy, gives me a hint though.
Good for LA Guns if these fans stick around, Good for us if the band gives them a reason to.

MARIBETH BRUNO

AMERICAN MAN

KERRANG! ISSUE 284 APRIL 1990

The Whisky, Hollywood, CA

AMERICAN MAN is former Black ‘N Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer’s new outfit, and after tonight’s viewing I have nothing but high hopes for them.

All things that B’N’B lacked or suffered from are nowhere to been seen or heard, and with a bit more seasoning I predict that this outfit will not only cop a deal rather quickly, but make quite a bit of noise once they do grab that elusive piece of paper.

‘Power Generation’ served as a strong introduction to the four-piece, with a crunching riff that offset a strong, melodic chorus. Brian Jennings handled the lead break, proving early on that Thayer is willing to share the stage and attention.

The chording to ‘Bad Blood’ kicked in immediately after and it proved to be an early set highlight and allowed bassist/vocalist Todd Jensen to shine vocally.

Make no mistake about it – Jensen has it! Besides doing a fine job of both singing and plunking the four strings, Jensen served as the outfit’s visual focal point. Between a frantic and enthusiastic stage presence that had him visiting every square centimetre of the boards and his powerful, yet smooth vocals, Jensen proved to be quite a frontman – especially for one that had double duty!

Drummer Kevin Muriel pounded for all he was worth, giving ‘Break Down The Walls’, ‘American Man’ and ‘The Unforgiven’ the kind of kick and crunch that few drummers I’ve seen recently are delivering, while ‘Ballad Of The Bullet’ was the solitary slow track of tonight’s show.

‘Knocking At Your Door’ and the epic ‘Red Asphalt’ got an airing tonight as well, and it I had to offer a comparison soundwise to anybody, I’d mention Skid Row, Kiss, B’N’B of course, and maybe even a bit of Aerosmith and Bad Company. It’s a classy rock sound that’s long on substance and style.

A cover of Rock Candy’ was well done, and the obligatory B’N’B number in the form of ‘Chain Around Heaven’ was a fine finisher that hit with considerably more power and punch than the original version ever did.

Thayer looked and sounded good, Jennings proved to be a strong supporting guitarist, and as for Muriel and Jensen. they’re gonna be stars!

American Man are fresh and exciting in a way that doesn’t reek of the current Hollywood scene; they’ve got the tunes, they’ve got the look, but they don’t have the tattoos or drug habits that some seem to think are obligatory for an LA rock band!

Good show – now just watch ‘em go!

BRIAN BRANDES BRINKERHOFF

WARRIOR SOUL

KERRANG ISSUE 284 APRIL 1990
WARRIOR_SOUL_284

Within seconds of meeting him, PHIL WILDING was convinced that KORY CLARKE, singer and lyricist with New York-based ‘New Age Metal’ quartet WARRIOR SOUL, is an angry young man. Very angry indeed. Former drummers, drug runners, AIDS, lazy people accusations that he is a pseudo-intellectual: all these things make him even an I.

But does this make him a New Age hero? Or just…Joan Baez with a Marshall Stack?

WARRIOR SOUL’S Kory Clarke is unforgiving and unrepentant. He’s hostile to corporations, religion, fools, the non-thinking.

Though when recently departed drummer Paul Ferguson’s name comes up, it’s simply a case of refusal to forgive.

“He thinks his cock is made from solid platinum,” he says. “He’s a dick and he walked out on three contracts.”

Very unforgiving.

His replacement. Mark Evans (ex-AC/DC), sits to my left, guitarist John Ricco and bassist Pete McClanahan face me. Kory’s somewhere way off to my right, slumped dejectedly into his seat.

He laughs infrequently, demands occasionally and takes charge of practically every question constantly. We’re at the New York edge of New Jersey in some cavernous rehearsal rooms. The cumbersome fan heater above our heads is barely sufficient to combat the cold Spring evening that’s falling outside. I’ve just remarked on the comments made by the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, with regard to Heavy Metal. Warrior Soul are, in essence anyhow, a Heavy Metal band with a lyrical perspective all their own. But, your city’s Cardinal? Pete shakes his can of Bud at me.

“Jesus, man. That should be some indication of that guy’s intelligence…”

He draws a breath and Kory, the eloquent master of hate, though his words are tempered with a genuine degree of care and concern, moves quickly in.

“He just wants to stir some shit up because he’s not getting any attention. He’s hated, coalitions of people who are trying to get more money for AIDS research really hate him. He’s got tons of bad press for it. His publicist probably told him to go for the common denominator. I think he’s just using it as a propaganda tool.

“He claims to have done these exorcisms on kids, trying to save them from rock ‘n’ roll, it’s unbelievable. He claims that his head honcho has a direct line to God, is actually God’s spokesperson on earth. That’s who he reports to, how can you take this seriously?

“The Catholic religion’s always been a corporation. They’re screaming that we’re trying to take over people’s brains. Take a look in the mirror, pal. If anyone takes O’Connor seriously…” He runs out of words, exasperated.

“I mean, f**king hell, man! The whole thing is scary. If you want religion, go some place low-key, not some palace, not vaudeville, that’s the Catholic Church.”

The words ricochet, thudding awkwardly off the partially draped walls. Kory, his torso and face almost completely shrouded by his massive rug of hair, tightens his lips.

I think to tell him he could encounter a lot of trouble talking like that, but he already knows. Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach has already threatened to punch out Clarke for remarks made about him in interview.

“He’s threatened that he’s going to clock me when he sees me. Oh, I’m scared.”

WHILE THE album, ‘Last Decade, Dead Century’, an evocative tumble of the very Metal and the very perverse, looks set to make this band either international superstars, overlooked, or labelled as pretentious pseudo. He snorts contemptuously. All these words, surely it’s nothing more than shallow, convoluted nonsense? Is it what the kids want, Kory?

“Well, look,” he begins with only half a smile. “I don’t care what the kids want. We’re not writing for the one audience at all. If we did what, quote, unquote… the kids want, then we would sound like Warrant or something like that. ft’s an assumption, do the kids want rock bitches? Guys with hairstyles?

“I think they should take mc as the genuine article. I am. I just choose to sing about this stuff— drugs, homelessness, love, corruption, politics, hope, religion — because it’s what interests me. I get tired of hearing the same old thing all the time.

“You got to sing about something that actually has some context to it. Like poor people being ignored, rock ‘n’ roll people being shoved into corners… ft’s more of a challenge to make that sound cool in rock. You’ve got to deliver it in a cool way to make people dig it.

“I’m not changing anything, I’m just describing situations and offering different perspectives, telling people about things.”

So, ‘I’m in touch with my feelings’ (‘Trippin’ On Ecstasy’) is a simple description of drug experimentations?

“Yeah!”

Don’t you think, or worry that you could encourage drug abuse? And, of course, leave you open to more criticism.

“But, it also says, ‘My mind’s a wreck/I’m losing weight… ‘you know?” he insists.

“That’s how it is on that shit, that song’s a description of what it’s like to trip out. In all my experiences in tripping on that shit… it totally describes exactly what it’s like. And the music dictated what the words were going to be, that was all I could sing when I heard that rift That’s what it was like for me; it sounded like going out on a bad Ecstasy trip. It’s just one of the songs on this record where I’m more introverted.

“As for the critics, they can all go to hell because I know why I wrote it. If they try to crush me, I’ll try to crush them. I’ll be out in front of 10,000 people a night, I can tell those people to do shit too.

“Will they listen? That depends, if people try to crush me out, then I’ll start playing political ball with them too. I’ll work on their votes.”

HIS SLENDER frame is focused with taut hate. I glance briefly around me to see the rest of the band as entranced by this diatribe as myself. When Kory Clarke talks, people listen. And when it conies to Warrior Soul, their direction, their motives, their singular attitude and angst, he can talk.

“I can find issues to talk about besides guys and girls and break-ups. I can go for quite a while without doing that,” he smiles briefly, “though, it’s not that I can’t. On the record, ‘Lullaby’ is introverted and it’s about my wife.

“We’re not afraid to do songs like that, and we could do more of these types of songs. But does it always have to be limited to one sort of issue, or type of context in music? Does it always have to be girls, cars, ‘I’m superbad!’, you know?

“I almost feel that I’m being accused of being a bleeding heart, but I’m not. Listen to the record, it’s more anthemic, it sounds more like Joan Baez-gets-a Marshall-stack! It’s an intelligent approach as opposed to a simply physical approach.”

You think a Metallica crowd could go for that?

“I think you could put the Warrior Soul record in a collection that had the Metallica record. I’m sure to some people that Metallica are almost commercial now compared to, say, Demon’s Death Mask” he laughs.

“The sound on our record is based on grooves, so I’m sure some of those kids won’t dig an entire album. Though they might dig something like ‘Downtown’, or ‘Charlie’s Out Of Prison’.

“I think we’re going to reach a lot of people who’ll enjoy it, just judging by the reaction we’ve been getting.”’

SOMETHING OCCURS to him suddenly…

“Remember Post-punk?”

Yes.

“I think we’re Post-Metal, I think we’re kind of a New Age something. There’s a new psychedelic – not the retro kind – but a new kind of music. It’s got different values, it’s black and white psychedelia, shapes and hints of grey, shadows…”

Now you really do sound like a pseudo-intellectual.

“A pseudo-intellectual?” He pushes forward almost out of his seat.

“People are going to think that? Then they’re assholes, I’m not, I’m f**king not. I’m just me. I try to explain myself and if people don’t like it then that’s too bad. I’ll go into a word battle with anyone, I can defend myself and this band, because there’s no bullshit involved.

“I am not going to answer questions like, ‘Yeah, dude, it’s kind of like Sabbath, but different.’ I’m just not going to be that way. I know people are going to try to make light of what I’m doing, but the truth is going to prevail.”

You think things are going to get better and, consequently, there’ll be a place for you?

“Yeah, I think things are going to change for the better. You can’t say that the Totalitarian system going down is a bad thing. A lot of this stuff was written before that happened, but because it deals more with social issues in the United States it doesn’t make the record any less valid.

“People are going to listen to the music and make images in their mind, images that they can’t fit into their lives. I want it to reach out, I think the vocal wrings out a little bit of hope, kind of reaching out, trying to gather us together.”

LIKE THE ‘new generation’ you speak of in ‘I See The Ruins’? In what way are we a New Age?

“We’re a new generation of attitude, we’re the AIDS generation,” Pete intercuts momentarily.

“It’s a generation where you turn on the TV and you see oil spills on the Hudson, this world is f***ing up and people are so lazy, man! They live on tabloids and TV crap. Warrior Soul isn’t about being lazy, it’s about thinking -and to some people that’s a lot of work.”

Kory stalks back into the conversation. A low, far-off hum that builds to thunder.

“We need somebody to get out there and say that we want to start and move somewhere. I’m just part of the new thinking, and if anyone wants to do that with me…

“We’re just trying to shove it in the face of everybody. When your trash leaves your house it goes to someplace and then they throw it in the ocean…”

He paraphrases his own lyrics. ‘You live For nothing… People eat it up, and I can’t handle it…’”

So is ‘We Cry Out’ for our generation too?

Kory: “It’s an anthem for people who live in the rock sub-culture, you know? We don’t want to f***king hurt anybody, and everybody is on our ass. We just want to listen and have fun, and it’s a cry against that. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, these kids are having fun, they’re talking about sex’…”

HIS MOCKERY is savage. The night before in the Alcatraz bar on the Lower East Side we’d spoken of the characters he employs in the telling of his lyrics. He was once a performance artist.

How much character acting is involved in the aforementioned ‘Charlie’s Out Of Prison’? If that’s for real it sounds as though he’s going to kill you. Your genuine employer from your drug-running days in Detroit?

“That’s real, totally real. It was the only way I could get out of Detroit with my band. Charlie’s really crazy and really violent. We had an agreement, but he’s totally crazy.

“He’s still out in Detroit, he called me about a year ago and sounded cool, but if he guy start getting mixed up with the wrong kind of chemicals is his body then he’ll probably need added security when play Detroit.

“He knows I’m in New York, I told him I’d give him five grand if I ever made enough money. He said that’d be cool. I think he’s a lot better now, I hope so.”

There are more stories in this dark heart. As Pete relates one of his, you begin realise where the black energy of this music comes from.

“I used to run with a petty f**ked-up bunch myself. One of the guys is dead trough drugs and the mob, the other guys are in Prison. But they found this one guy, well, actually, all they found of him was a piece of his chest, and they identified him because he had a tattoo on his chest, that was all they found of him. They cut him up and threw him all over the State.”

There’s little regret in his voice, just acceptance. So, I go to wrap it up with ‘In Conclusion’, just as the album does. Is that track simply that?

Kory nods: “It’s a teacher to someone younger, and it also takes a look at the feeling of the whole record. It finalises it in a very artistic and cool way.”

He’s positioned himself so that he’s almost over the top of the tape machine. He has no qualms about expression or false modesty.

“It’s the perfect ending song, it encompasses the whole thing perfectly”

‘Last Decade, Dead Century’ is the future now, here’s to the New Age…

LYNCH MOB

Kerrang! Issue 284 April 1990

LYNCHMOB_284

Just when you thought it was safe to prowl the aisles of your local record shop…an ex-member of Dokken goes and releases an album! But don’t panic, cos it’s guitarist GEORGE LYNCH with his new band, the ‘real different and very, very cool’ LYNCH MOB. ELIANNE HALBERSBERG hammers on and bends his G-string…

ALL THINGS considered, George Lynch is a happy man, but this is not to imply that he has had a smooth ride of late. He remains tangled up in legal matters over his former affiliation (Dokken), one that ironically enough found him up for a collective Grammy nomination, despite the band having called it quits long before. So, today, George Lynch is out to rebuild his career, but starting over is never easy.

Thus he has assembled Lynch Mob, whose debut album is due for a May release. On vocals is Oni Logan, bass man is former Beggars And Thieves and French Lick member Anthony Esposito, while drum duties are the responsibility of his old Dokken colleague, Mick Brown.

“I don’t consider it my project, even though that’s what the name implies,” the guitarist begins. “it is a band in every sense of the word. The name picked us more than anything else because people were throwing it at me.

“It took me two-and-a-half months to find a singer, three months to find a bass player. I went through 200 videos and tapes, flying guys in and our. There was a lot of criteria to meet.

“When Dokken broke up and we finally acknowledged that it was really over, it took a while to sink in. You fail and you fail your audience as well, because they invest time and belief and then feel used, especially when you break up for petty reasons. Anyway, to avoid at all costs the situation repeating itself, I spent a long time looking for the right people to guarantee built-in longevity.

DOKKEN BROKE up at the end of 1988 and I started writing on my own and looking for people,” continues George. “The stuff I was writing at first sounded very neo-Dokken, but when I found the band members I trashed it and began creating something new.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m hyping it, but it feels so right and unrestrained. In Dokken, I questioned my own motives – ‘Is this what it all adds up to?’. I get off listening to this music, and if something genuinely strikes a chord within us, it should have the same effect on people who listened in the past.”

The obvious question when hearing Lynch speak of questioning his own motives is, if he was so damned miserable, why didn’t he just walk out of the situation?

“I wasn’t miserable. I always had hope that we could resolve our problems -and things did get better. I don’t like giving up, I like to make things work. I wish I could have stepped out after accomplishing what we set out to do, but six years, six albums, building up ourselves, the fans, right at the point of headlining, which we owed ourselves.., to disband was unfair.

“Mick and I stayed together and assumed Jeff (Pilson, Dokken bassist) would play with us, although he went on to do his own thing and that’s fine. We began looking for the ultimate singer and we found Oni, who was with Ferrari. Once I heard his tape I put all the others in a box in my closet! He was careful and methodical about how he approached us and I felt once he was in he would stay. It took some coaxing. I WANTED to have an image, something Dokken never had,” continues George. “It’s hard to describe, but when we talked with Oni and Anthony, we had common interests and visions. I wanted people with high standards who wouldn’t accept anything less from themselves and would therefore push the rest of the band to keep up to par. I wanted ideals, not just hotshot technicians. ft had to gel and be magic.”

The group enlisted Max Norman and Neil Kernon to produce what is now known as ‘Wicked Sensation’.

Lynch laughs, “We had a lot of phoney titles like ‘No Noose Is Good Noose’ and ‘Hanging Out With The Lynch Mob’. ‘Wicked Sensation’ is the title cut, and we were going to cover ‘Higher Ground’ two weeks before the Chilli Peppers came out with it! A lot of the stuff is like heavy psychedelia. It’s real different, but very, very cool. We stretched out a lot and it’s nastier, but not a Metal record. It’s more gut-level with wicked grooves and more interesting changes.”

Over the course of the Dokken years, Lynch’s technique and signature sound turned him into a guitar hero, to the point where he is now listed as an influence by new bands, or set up as a comparison model in record company press kits.

“I don’t like that,” he states. “I get off on the underdog thing of having to prove myself and it takes the incentive away to hear that stuff, so I play it down. I want to continue to grow and not repeat myself, so that people have a reason to listen. I want to improve not just technically but in different directions, not adopt a style and stay with it for 20 years.

“With this band, I feel liberated in a lot of ways – for instance, doing an acoustic blues song. Before, it was too restrictive; we would do a Dokken album, every song had to count, we wanted to sell a million – there was no room to stretch. A lot of this material is such a departure that it’s refreshing. We had a lot of it in us and didn’t know how to get it out because of the way the band was set up.”

QUERIED AS to what makes him a good guitarist, Lynch fires back, “Who said I was a good guitarist?!”

All right, then – competent.

“I don’t know,” he replies. “First of all you have to put your craft first, which means practising and pushing yourself every day, or else you won’t gain anything. You’ve got to break down the walls and it’s painful. A lot of players get in ruts and it can be permanent if you don’t push. There is a lot of attitude involved and being a pure technician isn’t enough.
“For myself, keeping healthy helps too. A few drinks every now and then isn’t bad compared to the alternatives! That’s my vice, once in a while, but no heroin or cocaine! I cut back on partying because at one point in my life I realised it was detrimental and hurt my playing. It’s also just as bad to be a clinician, to sit and study, study, study and work, work, work because then there is no personality or style in your playing. Back off and let it come through.”

Lynch isn’t the only one who has come to grips with his priorities. To hear him tell it, Brown has also straightened up his act, an accomplishment that, based on reputation, probably has to be seen to be believed.

“Mick has come on light years in playing,” notes Lynch. “To begin with, we recorded some material, 12 songs in a warehouse, and he has just blossomed as a player. Mick hasn’t played like this since we were in the Boyz some 12 or 13 years ago, so he’s all fired up.

“Oni is a great drummer too and I think that also kicks Mick’s butt, knowing that Oni can show him a few things if he wants to! I think he’s more restrained because he feels more responsible for the outcome. He’s in a position of responsibility. We’ve played together for so long and we have more experience than Oni and Anthony, so we’ve got to lead the way and rely on us.”

ASKED HOW his own playing has changed over the years, Lynch remarks,

“Somebody once described it as ‘A flock of wild geese on acid’! Someone else said, ‘Diarrhoea leads – very sporadic and unscheduled’!

“I’m really trying. I’m taking classical lessons and I’m still a dummy when it comes to technique. I play what feels right, though I’ve learned in time to phrase fluidly and fluently. I have learned that the guitar is a way of communication. Before, what I heard in my head I could not get out through my fingers, so I am becoming more accomplished and coming closer to my ideals.”