Felicity Hall of GetYourRockOut conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen (THE WINERY DOGS, MR. BIG, POISON) at the U.K. edition of the Sonisphere festival, which was held July 4-6 at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire. You can now watch the chat below.
On whether he feels any pressure trying to follow up the success of THE WINERY DOGS' self-titled debut album as the group prepares to begin work on its sophomore CD:
Richie: "Personally, no. With music, I'm one of those people that, like… I don't think about anything other that doing what feels right to me. I mean, I probably could have put myself in situations where a lot more people would know about me, but I don't, because I don't wanna play music that I don't wanna play. I learned that in the past. And so either, personally, I'll play music that I wanna play, that I believe in, or I won't play music at all. And I've done that; that's me. And I think the other guys [in THE WINERY DOGS], I won't speak for them, but making a record with them, and knowing them as well as I do now, I don't think THE WINERY DOGS would make a record that the three of us would put out that we all didn't love. Once you start looking at music like a math equation and you start making choices that are outside the realm of creativity, you put yourself in a situation for a lot of emotional failure. And when you are there, then the music is meaningless and everything suffers and then things fall apart. So, I think, whatever we do, we'll do what feels natural and what the three of us can get behind. Even in the decision-making process, if I make a suggestion and one of the other guys loves it, but the other guy doesn't, we don't do it. We don't move unless all three of us agree to move. And then that way, once you're in a position, at least you know all three of us decided to go here; it's not like we were drug here by… you know what I'm trying to say?! By someone that didn't wanna go there."
On whether THE WINERY DOGS will make a conscious effort to create a second album that will be stylistically similar to the debut:
Richie: "I don't think in those terms. We're gonna write what we we're gonna write. We're gonna get in a room and we're gonna do what we did last time. Mike's [Portnoy, drums] gonna play a drum beat, I'm gonna sing a chorus idea and Billy's [Sheehan, bass] gonna play a bass thing, and we're gonna jam on it and manipulate it and write to it. And it's gonna be what it's gonna be, because, like I said, music isn't math to me; music is something that you feel, that comes from creativity. As someone that writes lyrics, I personally need to take a break. I feel like writing music is output, so you're constantly putting things out. You've gotta have input, and so to have input, you've gotta separate yourself and get away from it. So we're gonna do this last tour, and then we're gonna take a break, and then we're gonna reconvene. In that break, we're gonna do some other things, do a little living, live a little bit, and come back and we'll be fresh, and then we'll be able to write."
On what's going on with his solo career:
Richie: "I've got a solo thing coming out in September. It's pretty interesting… What we've done… The label that signed THE WINERY DOGS put together kind of a retrospective on my solo material. So I handpicked 32 compositions. There's two brand new ones, and then there's a bunch of other things that I just thought were the most significant things of my career and put it one package. So it's two CDs, one DVD. It's called 'The Essential Richie Kotzen'; one of my friends named it for me. And the reason being is that there's a lot of people, apparently, that when they heard THE WINERY DOGS, some people didn't even know I was a singer. And I'm, like, 'I've been singing since I was 18 years old.' So it's kind of interesting. When you do a high-profile gig that I did when I was 21, like POISON, for example, and then you kind of go away for awhile, people just associate you with that and don't really know. So all this other stuff has been happening over the years with my solo career, so we decided to make one package so that the person that says, 'Wow, I never knew you could sing. I never knew this.' Well, here's what I've been doing for the last 20 years. If you're curious, you can see it on the video and you can listen to it. So it's a cool package, and it'll come out in the downtime of THE WINERY DOGS. And I'm gonna do a couple of shows to support it. I'm coming to Europe in September and then I'll do a run in the United States and a couple of other markets. It's something to keep me busy."