Kerrang! Issue 284 April 1990
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.”