Steve Riley has been living, breathing, sleeping and swimming in rock and roll for as long as I can remember and since the mid 1970s by his own account. He first made an impression on me, like so many impressionable youths, during his time with shock rock envelope pushers W.A.S.P. and then managed to have lightning strike twice when he found major label and MTV success in L.A. Guns a little later in the 80s. He’s been a reliable fan favorite and all around approachable guy who’s smart enough to value and appreciate the rewards of he and his bandmates hard work over the years. After years of touring and numerous lineup changes, L.A. Guns has had a very nice 2012 touring and promoting their latest album, “Hollywood Forever” and we recently had a chance to briefly catch up with Steve on all things Guns and more. Read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: I know we don’t have a lot of time and we talked to Phil recently and Stacey before that but thanks for checkin in Steve. The new album was a long time coming but worth the wait and even better is the fact that it’s out on VINYL which is the only way I buy anything these days. Have you had the opportunity to drop the needle on it and enjoy all your hard work?
Steve Riley: Yes. It sounds great! I really miss vinyl. It’s cool that people can have that option with “Hollywood Forever”.
LRI: Phil was telling us he actually enjoys going out and doing your own touring over the support slots so many bands covet. At this point in your career and with a new album to promote do you tend to agree?
Steve: When we do our own shows it is always fun because we go on before a full house at the best time of the night. When you are on a major tour with 3 or 4 other nationals, you sometimes go on before the place is even half full at most and sometimes even less. It is great for a band to be on those bills because of the advertising and exposure but the show is shorter and sometimes empty or just filling up if you’re a support act.
LRI: Like most of the free world we were astonished when your former guitarist Tracii singled YOU out to attack on national TV and said he’d be willing to reunite with Phil as long as you were out of the picture. Was there any indication that there was this storm of anger and resentment building in him even going back to the days you joined the band?
Steve: When I first joined L.A. Guns out of W.A.S.P. I could feel that Phil, Mick and Kelly already had issues with Tracii. He has always had issues with all of the people he has played with. I am not the first one by any means. His attack on me proves he is someone who is desperate and knows he made a bad decision quitting the band.
LRI: Going back again to your early days in the band….you and Phil were already well known commodities from your previous bands. Did that give you any point of leverage or confidence in dealing with the day to day operations of the band becoming a successful MTV act?
Steve: We both knew that Phil coming from GIRL and me coming from W.A.S.P were only going to help the band. I think our track records and experience from years passed have helped us deal with things in this business and might be the reason we are the only two still standing.
LRI: You’ve seen many lineups of L.A. Guns. Is dealing with THIS band in THIS lineup one of the most copacetic or happy experiences in your decades long career?
Steve: Absolutely yes, this current lineup is so much fun to tour and record with because there are no headcases around. It has been alot of fun to work with these guys.
LRI: Scott Griffin (bass) and Stacey Blades (guitar) have been with the band for so long now that they have gained favor with many of us old school fans. Do you think they have added something different and unique to the vibe of L.A. Guns while still maintaining a lot of the same attitude you had back in 1987?
Steve: Definitely. The two of them are not only great musicians and great guys but they really understand who L.A. Guns are and they add so much to everything we do.
LRI: Phil’s lyrics have only seemed to improve over time. “Requiem” or “You Better Not Love Me” really seem to tap into the same mystical magic and west coast dreams the band has always dealt with. Does his creativity still manage to impress you?
Steve: I always thought that Phil was underrated as a singer, songwriter and lyricist. He has written all of the great hooks in our songs and he has his own vocal and onstage style that is very hard to duplicate.
LRI: The last time I hung out with you was at a cool little bar in Chicago that happened to be showing the PMRC hearings on TV. You regaled my friends and I with awesome old stories of W.A.S.P. and Blackie. Do you still look back fondly on those days and that era of the early strip ?
Steve: WASP was a great band those first four to five years!! I really wish that lineup got to do more together because we not only had the show but we also had great songs and killer players. Yes, it was a very cool time.
LRI: A lot of people are surprised to hear that a west coast icon such as yourself actually has roots on the east coast. Is it true that you used to play in a band that featured members of Angel (one of my all-time favorites)?
Steve: Yes although I did not actually play in Angel. I played with members of Angel before they were signed. Angel’s lead singer, Frank Dimino and I grew up together in Revere, Massachusetts.
LRI: Besides having to deal with attacks on your credibility and financial acumen from Tracii you really have managed to really carve out a life handling the ‘business’ end of the music business. Is it a lot more grunt work than the average fan realizes?
Steve: It is a lot of work. We manage ourselves and do everything from putting tours together to recording albums. It is not like the old days with the big machines around you and multiple people in multiple departments to handle everything for you. It is something you just have to do and make it work.
LRI: Thanks again Steve. Last question…..What do L.A. Guns have in store for the rest of 2012 and the new year in 2013? Will we finally see a new dvd home video package or other similar merchandise ????
Steve: We will be touring to support “Hollywood Forever” right through the end of the year and into 2013. There will be some international shows and lots of stateside shows. The band sounds and looks great and we hope you all come out to see us and also check out the new album. There will be a new dvd coming out this year with footage from live shows as well as in the studio stuff and things like that. Lots to look forward to, we’re going to be busy.
READ our interview with STACEY BLADES here: http://www.legendaryrockinterviews.com/2011/12/28/legendary-rock-interview-with-l-a-guns-guitarist-stacey-blades/
READ our interview with PHIL LEWIS here: http://www.legendaryrockinterviews.com/2012/06/07/legendary-rock-interview-with-phil-lewis-of-l-a-guns/
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