Overall, our writing has
developed as we keep trying to push the envelope of our abilities.
Bobby still practices drums intensely. So, one has to keep up
or shut up!
For all the advances in modern technology, our songwriting approach
is very old school. We set up in our rehearsal room and jam.
We record everything, every riff or cool idea, on a Sony handheld
cassette recorder. All of our CDs to date are the fruit of this
very basic process. It’s high tech in the sense that I
will take all the riff ideas from the cassette and make a CD
of them so we can all hear the best pieces. Then we take those
and put them together into songs and do more cassette demos
and then move on to the studio.
On a funny side note - Randy was worried because they don’t
make the Sony cassette recorders any more. What if it breaks?
So he went on eBay and bought as many of them as he could find!
did you first get into the music business? And who was/is/are
the biggest influences on your playing style?
Ha, well, I got into the music business
the day I played the Rolling Prairie, Indiana street fair in
1981. It’s been a long road since! I
eventually moved to New York City in 1985 when my band was “discovered”
by Tony Bongiovi at Power Station studios in New York. I literally
lived in an apartment on top of the studio for 4 years. So,
I guess that was my REAL start in the business. I would say
the biggest influences on my style are Angus Young, Jimmy Page
and Ace Frehley.
Lizards have toured recently with UFO, Nazareth, etc., played
Sweden Rock Festival, and worked with lots of well respected
names in the music business - tell us some memorable moments
from the road - any Spinal Tap
stories? What's the most rock 'n' roll moment you've had so
Easily, the most rock'n'roll moment was jamming with
Robert Plant in his hometown of Stourbridge, England. Definitely
something to write home about!
I have also had the privilege of working with Carmine Appice,
Tim Bogert and others. I have learned a lot about where all
this great music has come from. And directly from the people
who were there when it started! I used to rush the stage when
the lights went out to get a front of stage view of UFO. So,
to get to tour with them is really cool stuff.
The most Spinal Tap moment was when I got stuck in the throat
of the giant lizard head that we all climb out of to start the
show. My guitar became lodged in one of the beast’s eye
sockets. Oh, back to reality…. The real Spinal Tap moments
will be revealed in my memoirs. I mean, it’s all a little
Spinal Tap, isn’t it? That’s why we love the movie!
have been the highlight(s) and low point(s) of your career to
Highs - Jamming with Ace Frehley at the Power Station.
Lunch with Brian Johnson (AC/DC) and his wife last summer. Jamming
with Robert Plant. My first European tour with the Lizards.
Being approached by Victoria’s Secret models after a showcase
for Atlantic Records in 1989. Meeting with Paul Stanley after
he expressed interest in producing my band in 1988. Landing
my first song in a major motion picture, Ron Howard’s
“Gung Ho”, in 1986. Receiving my first Gold Record
for writing, of all things, a rap song that appeared on a “Fat
Boys” record. Touring with UFO. And I hope more to follow!
Low - Losing a recording contract
with Atlantic Records in 1990.
important do you feel the internet is for promoting music? And
what are your thoughts on the current state of the music business?
And on the 'downloading' issue?
The internet is how we all explore, isn’t it?
It’s a gateway to discovering music you had no way of
accessing just a few years ago. It’s somewhat of an equalizing
force. An unknown band can have the same opportunities as a
big artist. At least the same basic stuff - professional website,
music downloads, video, press. It is very important, in my opinion.
The current music business is in a huge state of flux. The paradigms
are changing. The old rules don’t apply. Even the geniuses
at the major labels can’t figure it out. The market will
dictate how this plays out. At least until someone finds a way
to dominate in the new landscape. It’s a lot like a class
rebellion. The common folk are going up against the governing
class and demanding change! As more bands and musicians get
wise to the business and promotion methods available to the
average Joe, we could see the fall of the Big Label Dynasty.
As soon as one great band has a hit with an independent offering
on the internet I think we will see more change. Why would someone
sign a deal that gives them 12% and puts them in debt for hundreds
of thousands of dollars to a label when they can keep 80% or
whatever? It should be the other way around - talent 85% label
Someone will figure out a way to do it. Then.... lookout!
7. Who are your
own musical heroes, and why? And which have been the best bands
you have seen play live, and why? Apart from the Lizards (of
course!) which up'n'coming bands do you feel have got what it
takes to be The Next
When I heard KISS Alive! I was hooked. It was such
a great package! The smoke, the costumes, the music. If you’ve
never been to a KISS concert you should go. Paul Stanley is
the ultimate front man. He puts out 100% at every show. I saw
them last year at Jones Beach where it was a half filled crowd.
It was still a larger-than-life performance. No cynicism, no
half-assed sulking. Just great spirit and drive. That’s
what makes a great show even if the musicians are not virtuosos.
I mean, you might laugh when Paul Stanley shakes his ass like
a go-go dancer but you gotta love the energy!
I saw AC/DC at Madison Square
Garden in the 90’s and that was spectacular. The best
sounding concert I’ve been to. They are tight! Angus is
another one of those all-in performers.
The Who at Madison Square Garden
a few years back. Townsend - awesome! Again, just amazing spirit.
If you ever question why some of these guys are as big as they
are, go see them live. They have an electricity that the average
star-wanna-be does not possess.
I don’t know who the next
big thing will be but System of a Down rocked my world when
I saw them on Saturday Night Live and heard their latest CD.
The song BYOB made my jaw drop.
8. What would you
like to achieve by the end of 2006?
After I have brokered world peace, I would like to
float on a bamboo raft near a beach in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
Before that I would like to see the new Lizards CD skyrocket
to success and to produce as much fabulous music as possible!
9. What do you like doing in your spare time outside
I like technology, photography, reading. I live in
New York so there is a lot to take advantage of culturally.
Art galleries, museums, great dining of all varieties. I enjoy
going to the gym for a good workout. Keep the old bones in working
give us a message for your fans
Thanks for all your support! Without
you we are just a bunch of guys jamming in a basement.
Many thanks to Jason Ritchie
© 10th May 2006