Love/Hate was always one of those bands that burned so bright you knew there would be an inevitable crash and burn. From the moment “Blackout In The Red Room” hit MTV, any stoner/metal kid worth his salt was well aware of the group and well on their way to blasting their album and songs like “Rock Queen” and “Hell, Ca.” louder than God. The guys had a nice run of worldwide touring during their run on Columbia Records and kept on producing albums on an indie level but members began coming and going. Vocalist Jizzy Pearl began a series of stints as L.A.’s most called upon replacement vocalist for acts like RATT and L.A. Guns as well as authoring some real good books and rants on Metal Sludge. As we all know, anything worth a shit comes back around and so it is with Love/Hate. I was recently able to talk to guitarist Jon Love about the band’s illustrious past and their upcoming tourdates ( including both local dates with Jon and a run of European dates which will include ace replacement players Robbie Crane , Keri Kelli and Matt Starr) . Read on….
Legendary Rock Interviews: Love/Hate had its roots in the band Dataclan which was very different and electronica influenced. How different was that music from what was going on in the L.A. scene at that point and was it difficult operating that far out of the traditional strip metal scene goin on then?
Jon E. Love: At the time of Dataclan we were using early gear in the pioneer age of midi. We had one of the first Linn drums and one of the first midi capable OB-8′s and Dx7′s and were running them with an old Atari Commodore. Pretty archaic compared to the technology today. When we upgraded to the Linn 9000 we lost the Atari and ran the 9000 as the host sequencer. Joey even had a kit of Simmons synth drums and would play along with the programmed beats. We were influenced by a lot of the early 80′s British bands at the time, like Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Depeche Mode, music that was danceable and image conscious. We were trying to get chicks to like us because our mantra was “If we can get girls to our shows than the guys will follow.” I listened to some old Dataclan recordings the other day and just laughed. We were pretty sappy and in my eyes inferior to the bands we admired. But we were woodshedding and leaning how to rock even in those days. One thing the machines did was force us to play in time. You can’t be off tempo with a machine dictating the lock so there was never an argument that ” hey you sped up in the chorus”….
LRI: It’s been said that Ian Astbury and the Cult was a real influence on your singer Jizzy and the band in general in the beginning. The Cult was definitely another band that struggled with its fair share of drug and alcohol demons. Nikki Sixx has often said that a lot of his early issues had to do with following the same fate as his idols. Were there early warning signs that chemicals would be an issue for L/H well before getting a record deal?
Jon: The Cult’s Love album was such an impact on us that we practically changed direction overnight. The power and strong songwriting skills just made us realize that we were nowhere close to being contenders of mass success and that the reliance on machines to enhance our live sound was actually zapping us of the immediacy and energy of the songs. We started really focusing on playing our instruments better and focusing on song composition. As far as drugs are concerned, each individual has to go through their own cycle of learning the consequences of abusing mind-altering drugs. What could start out as a harmless social experience can turn into severe addiction in the blink of an eye. For some they never get the chance to get out… Drugs are BAD……mkay
LRI: Skid often gets the lion’s share of credit for writing most of your classic debut “Blackout In The Red Room” but most bands are usually comprised of several creative forces. How democratic or open was the writing process or band decision process in Love/Hate?
Jon: Skid has always been a prolific song writer, even back in day when he and I would do 4-tracks at his house on the beach. This was before we even had a band together. Skid had a business selling flowers on street corners. Every Mother’s Day he would put out like 30 kids and just make an astronomical amount of money for someone his age. That profit would pretty much subsidize the year’s recording gear acquisitions, new amps, new guitars, rehearsal rooms, etc. basically anything we thought we’d need to get better. After years of honing my engineering chops we could record and mix a new song in a day and have immediate media to evaluate the day’s work. If the song was good enough we might book a session in a real studio and go in and bang it out but for financial reasons, I would always try to make our demos sound as professional as possible even with the limited gear we had. I’m a firm believer, “it’s not how many tracks you have to use, it’s what you put on the tracks available.” Each member was important to the sound of L/H and us 4 collectively were what I feel was the magic ingredient. Skid might have had a great song but it was when we each brought in our own specific strengths that the song would come to life….
LRI: I was one of those middle-America kids who was blown away after seeing you on Headbanger’s Ball and reading about you in Rip. When I went to the AC/DC show and saw a great deal of the crowd having either a really positive or really negative reaction to the music, the beer can cross, etc..it was clear you were on to something. Do you ever feel that the shock factor became too much of a focal point for the band or was that always the intention?
Jon: I think the shock factor came from trying to be noticed in LA where there are a million bands all vying for attention. We would think of clever ways to get noticed either by doing wild stage antics or staging elaborate local magazine ads. After a while we just kind of let our own personal traits show naturally. Skid just happened to like screwing a cross made of Budweiser cans. What started out as a one show joke became a staple in our live performances. We felt like we shouldn’t take ourselves to seriously and having the moniker “The stupidest band in the world” kinda gave us license to do anything and not feel foolish. Music is a release of daily stress and being able to make someone forget they had a bad day is a powerful medium.
LRI: Is it true that the DIO crowds were a bit stuffy in terms of warming up to you guys on that first tour? Were you guys willing to put up with any touring in arenas as opposed to exclusively headlining your own shows at clubs?
Jon: Ronnie was an early believer in us, I will always be grateful that he allowed us to tour with him when he could have had any band open at the time. His fans are extremely loyal and it wasn’t a surprise that we had our asses on the line every time we hit the stage, but to actually win over a few at a time was rewarding. It just made us try harder. I think even if his fans didn’t genuinely like us they respected us for rocking the hardest we could. We ended up doing 4 tours with RJD and I treasure each one.. I’ll never forget the first tour when Ronnie sat me down and tried to educate me about surviving on the road. He didn’t have to take the time to try and teach some young punk but he did and I value his wisdom to this day.
LRI: Was it the bands idea or Columbia Records idea to have you move to New York and live together in order to write your follow up record “Wasted In America”? It sounds like a good idea on paper….a lot of bands second albums are ruined because they are no longer living and writing together.
Jon: New York was an experience to say the least, the whole town is just set up like a playground for the decadence of a Rock band. Unfortunately partying did interfere sometimes with getting the album done. It was a fantasy of Skid and Jizz’s to live in the Village and hang at the old haunts of our peers. When Columbia said OK I was shocked. It cost us a lot of money to relocate and set up a residence. We originally wanted to do “Wasted” at Electric Ladyland where Hendrix recorded but due to limited isolation we opted for Power Station but when I walked into Electric Ladyland I was touched by the aura and vibe that room had. I wish we had done it there instead. ”Wasted” was a strange record for me. We had had a little success and Columbia was still on board at the time. We had originally wanted Dave Jerdan ,(Jane’s Addiction, AIC, RHCP, etc) to produce the record but he was not available so we were told by the label that John Jansen would be producing and that was the way it was gonna go. Don’t get me wrong, I think John is a great guy and great producer he just didn’t quite get what we were about. Also, because we had learned from trial and error how to produce our demos ourselves I think maybe we were a little wary of outsiders.. I still think the demos for “Wasted” are better than the record. Same goes for Blackout…. The fidelity wasn’t as refined but the magic we captured makes up for the fidelity in my honest opinion.
LRI: Around that time Skid and others started lashing out at the record label in press because of differences in style from what I gather. Was it a case of the band getting burned out/tired of the sleaze “Blackout” sound or was it something more going on behind the scenes?
Jon: Skid was furious that Columbia wanted us to conform to a more Radio friendly format and he started letting journalists know it. That’s kind of a bad thing to do when your label has put an excessive amount of money into the band and we weren’t doing platinum figures. You got to remember, grunge was king of the hill at the time. Timing had a lot to do with our lack of financial success. We were a critic’s favorite but it wasn’t selling records and we were all disappointed with the situation. This is when things started to get ugly both internally and with Sony. When Sony bought Columbia there were personnel changes and some of the people pushing us were dismissed. It’s a shame because the next record had the biggest radio success in the bands career w “Spinning Wheel” being heavily played. We were with a little indie label, Caliber and they didn’t have the distribution down. We were out on the road with a top ten radio hit and kids are coming up and saying “I can’t find your record anywhere”. This was before the internet really took hold. Too little too late………..
LRI: When Columbia made it clear that the band and the album was no longer a priority you were the first one to jump ship and you were replaced by another guitarist. Did you feel relieved not being in the band and what were your immediate plans?
Jon: I was not in the best of minds when all that went down. The guys hated me at the time and I was strung out on cocaine.. I was just beat….both financially and mentally. I was in a state of depression and used the drugs as a crutch. So many betrayals, broken promises, bitterness, etc. I just need to get away from all of it. I’d worked my whole life to be where I was and I had failed. Perhaps quitting wasn’t the right thing to do, but we needed a break from each other, or at least they needed a break from me. I was suicidal and a wreck. I can’t say I blame them at the time. After a year or so we came to realize that the 4 of us were the magic and we tried it again with limited success. The 4 of us made some great music together and that’s what is really important when it’s all said and done. Also, I wanted to marry my girlfriend at the time and being on the road was not conducive to a lasting marriage..Turned out that marriage only lasted 4 years so who knows how things would have been had I stayed in the band. Shit happens for a reason.. for better or worse..
LRI: Since you left the band you have returned numerous times for album or tour projects. To help fans understand….Is it always a difficult decision as to whether or not you can or want to commit to Love/Hate?
Jon: Love/Hate is a part of my life. The 4 original members is Love/Hate to me, but people grow up and life demands choices. I’m not bitter anymore. They say “Time heals”… If I had it my way the 4 of us would still occasionally get up and play . Do it and enjoy it for the sake of good music in general.. As far as making a living at it, I’m a little wiser now and realize the difficulties it takes to make a decent living playing music exclusively for a living. But nostalgia aside, I just really enjoyed the time we did the Reunion show in 2007. We picked up right where we left off and it was still magical…In this business I’ve learned, never say never.
LRI: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me Jon. I’ve loved the band for a while but found out some new shit. Love/Hate has a new Facebook page and an upcoming 2013 tour and you ARE going to be playing some of those dates. Do you have anything else to say to any of the old school fans or people who’ve just discovered L/H and would you be opposed to recording an EP or a single with the original lineup if the opportunity was there?
Jon: I’d be up to record something new if it was done right. Preferably with us 4.. Just wouldn’t seem like L/H to me without the real guys. We’re all still alive, knock on wood. Maybe one day……. Thanks to all the Fans… “New and Old” Maybe one day I’ll write my memoirs and go into more depth… Peace
Check out the new official Love/Hate Facebook page and tour dates here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/LoveHate/310132059101782
Read our previous chat with Jizzy Pearl here: www.legendaryrockinterviews.com/2011/05/15/legendary-rock-interview-with-authorsinger-jizzy-pearl-of-lovehate-ex-ratt-l-a-guns/