Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis announced late last year that they had re-united and would be releasing a new L.A. Guns album. They played in Belfast earlier this year as part of a tour of the UK and Ireland (a gig I missed unfortunately as I was unwell at the time) and on 13th October released the album “The Missing Peace” through Frontiers Music. L.A Guns return to the UK as part of a European tour in November.
I arranged to speak to singer Phil Lewis by phone on 17th October just a few hours after the band returned from a successful trip to Japan. We spoke about the new album and more and you can hear what was said, along with four tracks from that album on the Friday NI Rocks Show from 20th Oct 2017. This is available from our MixCloud site - https://www.mixcloud.com/NIRocks/interview-with-phil-lewis-from-la-guns-on-the-friday-ni-rocks-show-20th-oct-2017/
The interview will be transcribed and posted below soon.
L.A. Guns are Philip Lewis on vocals, Tracii Guns and Michael Grant on guitars, Johnny Martin on bass and Shane Fitzgibbon on drums.
Check out the website for more info - https://www.lagunsmusic.com/
Playlist for The Show
TRUCKER DIABLO – Lets Just Ride
BIGFOOT – Karma
STONE SOUR – Rose Red Violent Blue
TYLER BRYANT & THE SHAKEDOWN – Aftershock
L.A. GUNS – Speed
Interview with Phil Lewis Part 1 (6 min)
L.A. GUNS – The Missing Peace
Interview with Phil Lewis Part 2 (5 min)
L.A. GUNS – The Flood’s The Fault of the Rain
Interview with Phil Lewis Part 3 (8 min)
L.A. GUNS – The Devil Made Me Do It
STONE TRIGGER – Edge of Insanity
TYKETTO – Wings (Live)
PINK CREAM 69 – Man of Sorrow
ROSCO’S RIOT – Sweet Midnight
KISS – I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Live)
ALICE COOPER – Love’s A Loaded Gun
RICKY WARWICK – When Patsy Cline Was Crazy and Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues
CINDERELLA – Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
NI ROCKS – Hi Phil, thanks for taking some time to talk to Rock Radio NI. The new L.A. Guns album “The Missing Peace” was released last Friday and we just played the track “Speed” which was the first single from the album I think. Tell us something about that track?
PHIL – That was the first single from the record and it was one of the first batch of songs that we wrote when we went into pre-production. That was one of the earliest songs and it was pretty obvious that it was going to be the first singles. It’s great, it does exactly what an L.A. Guns song is supposed to do. It comes right out from gate, at 100mph. It gives a little nod to my favourite band Deep Purple and it’s a lot of fun.
NI ROCKS – Where was the album recorded and who did you work with for production, mixing etc?
PHIL – This is a new kind of record – we did it the new way. The drums were recorded in a big warehouse as they are traditionally supposed to be. A lot of it was recorded in Tracii’s garage. Most of the guitars were recorded at his place. I did a couple of vocals over at his place – I did “Christine”, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and “...Knife to a Gunfight” the Michael Grant song at Tracii’s garage. It’s a nice garage. I did the rest of the vocals with Mitch Davis at Push Studios in New York City over the space of four days. Then we got all the files and mixed it all together and sent it off for mastering. It was very fragmented in the way it was recorded but it all came together nicely. Just as a point of reference – this album cost less to make than we had on our catering budget for “Hollywood Vampires” (1991). (Laughs)
NI ROCKS – How long did it take you then from start to finish?
PHIL – A couple of months. Most of the time was spent composing the songs and picking out which ones we were going to do. Once we’d picked the 10 to 12 songs that we were going to go with it went pretty quickly. Then we did that in about 8 weeks.
NI ROCKS – Were all the tracks written by you and Tracii in the period after you announced you were getting back together?
PHIL – No, all the tracks were not written by me and Tracii. It’s very much a band effort. The lyrics for “Christine”, Shane our drummer wrote. “Sticky Fingers” is a Johnny Martin composition and “..Knife To A Gunfight” and “The Devil Made Me Do It” are Michael Grant songs. So it was very much a group effort. We all collaborated and helped each other out. That makes so much a better album. They’re such good musicians and they’re all great songwriters in their own way. I think it was smart to get them involved in the composition and it’s more fun for them as well.
NI ROCKS – There are 12 tracks on the album – had you written more than that and have you continued to write new tracks?
PHIL – Oh yeah, there’s more than that. There are several more than that and good ones too. It was important for this album to be multifaceted and we didn’t want it to be samey. A couple of the songs we left off were great, but a little bit the same as something we already had on there. A lot of band like AC/DC or Motorhead like that one-dimensional sound and that’s what the fans like. We’re not like that; we’re more in the Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin vein of mixing it up - having a folk type song, going into a full-on Dio metal attack. It keeps it interesting for us and interesting for our fans.
NI ROCKS – The album title “The Missing Peace” comes from the song of the same name. We’ll play that track next. Can you tell us about that song and the relevance of the title?
PHIL – Well you’d have to explain to our listeners how “Peace” is spelt – P.E.A.C.E – that’s a double entendre. For me and Tracii, we hadn’t seen each other or played in over ten years. We were both doing alright; we were both playing and making records. But nobody I have ever worked with has the same chemistry or makes me work as hard as Tracii. If I was an amp, he’d push me to 11. I think that he feels the same way about me and it’s just great to bury the hatchet, to come back together, be mates again and to make such a refreshing, fun, power record.
NI ROCKS – Your last album with Tracii was “Waking The Dead” back in 2002. Do you think the new album reflects that album more closely that it does perhaps the “LA Guns” or “Cocked and Loaded” albums?
PHIL – I don’t know. I’m very proud of “Waking The Dead” and we do play a few songs from that live. It was unfortunate that the shit hit the fan when it did and we didn’t really get the chance to promote it, because it is a really, really good record. Me and Tracii took “The Missing Peace” and where “Waking The Dead” ended, we wanted to pick it up. But, we’re getting a lot of people saying that it’s like something that would have come out after “Cocked and Loaded”. So it has that as well. It’s a new modern record, but it has that vintage vibe without sounding nostalgic.
NI ROCKS – There have been a few LA Guns revivals over the years involving both you and Tracii. Does this one feel different and in what way?
PHIL – Yeah, this is different, because we’ve both been in the wilderness for a long time and we’ve both grown up a lot since we were together. We’re better people and better musicians. We’ve already started talking about the next record. I do see this as being a solid, long term project; unless of course the Red Hot Chilli Peppers call him up and ask him to join (laughs). No, it feels good.
NI ROCKS – You’re playing a few dates in England ahead of a European tour in November. How many tracks from the new album will be featured on that tour?
PHIL – That’s a good question. We usually play 2 or 3 songs from the new record and of course you’re always taking a chance when you play new stuff because you never know how it’s going to go down; but so far the ones that we have played live have gone down very well. “Speed” you only need to hear once! We wouldn’t go out and play “The Missing Peace” because it’s such an epic, almost classical composition. What we’re doing, because we’ve got two nights in London, we’re going to be playing 2 or 3 songs from the album each night, but different ones; so that we’ll be playing 6 new ones but over the space of a couple of nights.
NI ROCKS – We mentioned the upcoming European tour. What plans do L.A. Guns have beyond that?
PHIL – The album was supposed to come out in June, but we missed our deadline. We had a tour built around the supposed release, so we worked our asses off and toured, even though it didn’t come out. Then around September we came off the road for a bit. I just got back from Japan last night. We played an amazing show over in Tokyo – the biggest festival Loud Park. We had an amazing 25,000 rabid fans and loved every minute of it. Now that the album is released we’re trying to do as many shows as we can to promote it before the new year. We do our traditional new year show in The Whiskey on Sunset. Then we’ve got the Monsters of Rock Cruise and we’re going to be playing Australia and New Zealand. We’ve played Australia before, but we’re going over to New Zealand for the first time early next year. It’s getting back into a really serious touring regime. I’m looking forward to it!
NI ROCKS – We’ll play another track from the new album now. Perhaps you’d like to pick one and tell us something about it.
PHIL – We’ll pick “The Flood’s The Fault of the Rain”. It’s a different kind of song for L.A. Guns. You can clearly hear there’s an influence, an Eric Burdon and The Animals influence. It has a “House of the Rising Sun” vibe, but obviously it’s not. We gave the nod to Deep Purple on “Speed” so we’re leaving lots of hints on our influences on this record. Who doesn’t love “House of the Rising Sun”, so it’s our homage to The Animals.
NI ROCKS – Your first band was Girl in England back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The original albums still seem to be available from Amazon. They were originally released on Jet Records and are now available through Sanctuary Records I believe. There were another two live albums released a few years ago – were you involved in the release of those?
PHIL – No, not at all. I know nothing whatsoever about that. “Sheer Greed” (the first Girl album in 1980) I loved and which was great fun. There were different bands that came out at that time, like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, and you just knew they were going to be around forever; they were going to be epic. If they were literary, they’d be like a five set novel. Girl was a poem, a one page poem, and a cheeky, dirty one. It was never supposed to be long-term and “Sheer Greed” really, really captures it. Don Arden fucked us over so bad by the time of the second record (“Wasted Youth” 1982). We came out in that New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the label, especially Don, were so insistent that we become a heavy metal band. And we weren’t and it was fucking miserable. For me it sounds like a heroin, misery-fuelled record and I’m not terribly proud of it. But that first one is a gem. All the live stuff is probably ex-band members trying to make a few bucks.
NI ROCKS – I think there are four different live albums now in the last ten years or so.
PHIL – Yeah, nothing to do with me. Probably sound like rubbish too.
NI ROCKS – Sticking with those early days, what singers were influencing you back then and can you remember what the first gig that you went to was?
PHIL – My huge influences were Steve Marriott, who sang like Aretha Franklin, and my idol who ended up becoming my best mate Gary Holton from the Heavy Metal Kids. Gary was a really good singer, but a phenomenal front-man. I got my singing chops from listening to Steve Marriott singing “Black Coffee” (as Humble Pie front-man) and I got all my cheeky stage patois from Gary Holton.
NI ROCKS – And the first gig that you went to?
PHIL – Yeah, it was Black Sabbath with Uriah Heep opening for them at the Royal Albert Hall, in around 1972 I think. I lived over in Bayswater and I walked across Hyde Park to get to it, then ran across in the pitch black, and my ears were ringing all the way home. I got flipped in the eye by Ozzy’s fringe jacket and it was the greatest night of my life!
NI ROCKS – And what do you find yourself listening to now? Is it mainly older stuff or do you check-out some of the younger bands out there?
PHIL – I’ve gotten back into vinyl and I do a lot of record shopping. I listen to most things, but when I’m home mostly, 90% of the time it’s vinyl and I really love that ‘70’s stuff – The Doobie Brothers, Thin Lizzy, Yes, 10CC. I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few years restocking my selection. I’m up to about 1,000 now and I always say that’s it I’m done, and I never am. Every time I go out there’s something I find. When I’m on tour, then it’s a little different. Then I tend to listen to more modern stuff. It’s easy now to find new music. It was very hard before the internet. So a big difference between the styles and types of music I listen to when I’m at home and when I’m on the road; which is a significant amount of time.
NI ROCKS – Can you remember what the last gig was that you went to, obviously apart from one of your own?
PHIL – Billy Idol. I saw Billy play the residency in Las Vegas and it was absolutely amazing. He looked fantastic, he sounded great. Steve Stevens was incredible. He has a great band. It was a lot of fun. It was very much a Vegas ‘Greatest Hits’ Show, but I enjoyed it.
NI ROCKS – The new LA Guns album is released through Frontiers. That label has a reputation for bringing artists together to work on an album – Michael Sweet and George Lynch for example – the priority at the moment is obviously LA Guns, but would you be interested in doing something like that at some point, and is there anyone in particular you’d like to work with?
PHIL – Before we had the reunion, Tracii already had a deal for a solo record lined up with Frontiers which morphed into the reunion and “The Missing Peace”. They’re a good label and they’ve been very good to us. I get the feeling that we’re important and that they’ve really gone out of their way for us and this record; and that’s really nice. It’s maybe not the biggest label and it’s not going to sell as many copies as “Cocked and Loaded”, but it’s great to have a label that is enthusiastic and not controlling. Back in the old days with Polygram it was a nightmare – it was like ‘Spinal Tap’; there were managers, publicists and accountants, all pushing and pulling and trying to get a piece of the band. All that is behind us now and I’ll take this anyday.
NI ROCKS – If they asked you to do a collaboration with another artist would you think about it?
PHIL – I’d play with Bernie Tormé in a heartbeat. I’d love to do another record with him
NI ROCKS – Yeah, it’s quite a few years since those two albums were released (Tormé – “Back to Babylon” 1986 & “Die Pretty, Die Young” 1987)
PHIL – Yeah, I loved it though. It was a great time for me. It was like going to music university with Bernie. He’s such a clever guy. He’s so good in the studio and it was great writing with him. I’d make another record with him. He’s a great musician and he has some great stories too.
NI ROCKS – That’s all the questions that I have, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
PHIL – It’s my pleasure, thank you for your support. I don’t know if we have any Irish dates but we’ve got Stone Trigger with us. Do you know those boys?
NI ROCKS – Yes, they’re great guys. We’ll finish with another track from the new album and again I’ll let you pick one and tell us something about it.
PHIL – Let’s play “The Devil Made Me Do It”. It’s a great song and we’re adding it into the set and thinking of making it the opening song in the set. It’s one of those songs that just hits you right between the eyes. It’s so powerful that you don’t need to listen to it a bunch of times to get it, you get it straight away and it’s one of my favourite songs on the record.
You can find an interview with Tracii Guns from September 2015 on the Rock Radio NI website and on our MixCloud page –