Immediately following the live debut of the new Steve Riley-anchored L.A. GUNS lineup at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland on May 4, bassist Kelly Nickels spoke with Bob Suehs of Rock N Roll Experience. The full conversation can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's M3 performance:
Kelly: "It was really hard to hear on stage, but it was a lot of fun. This has been an absolutely crazy road to get here, and we've really been through a lot. It was great. We had a good time, so that's what matters."
On why he stepped away from his music career in the early 2000s, when he left L.A. GUNS just one year after the group's "classic lineup" reunited:
Kelly: "I quit [in order to focus on] raising my daughter, and I just felt like I had had enough at the time. It was a solid 10 years, and I felt music was changing [and that] I should probably do something else for a while. I just needed a break, I think, but [it's] really great to be back right now. It's, like, the perfect time for me in my life to be able to come out and do a show... I'm very happy to be here right now."
On getting back into musical shape:
Kelly: "When this project started, I couldn't even play a song the whole way through. I could play, but I had no stamina anymore. To do a whole show, it's been a lot of work on everybody's part — a lot of traveling, [going] across the country twice, to get to today."
On the future of the Riley-anchored L.A. GUNS:
Kelly: "[M3] was always a one-off. It's going to serve to help us perhaps get other gigs and see if we want to do something else. We'll have to see what happens in the future. We really can't say. We'd like to keep it going; we'd like to go do a record with these guys — do a record written for Kurt's [Frohlich] voice and his style. That would be interesting to see."
On the disparaging comments made by Nickels's former bandmates Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis, who have toured and recorded under the L.A. GUNS moniker over the past three years:
Kelly: "It's a free country. You can say what you like. I'm all about love. I believe life is precious, and I'm not going to waste it on negativity."
On whether he'd consider performing with Guns and Lewis in the future:
Kelly: "I would never say never to anything. It's probably a far-fetched dream or reality that it would ever happen again — not so much with me, but... [it's been] a long time with other people, and they might not be as forgiving as I am. I don't know if it's ever going to be possible, which is really a shame, because we used to really never have any problems. I never had a problem with Phil, ever. It all really came out of left field. They can say what they want. Like I said, it's a free country. You can go the route you want to go."
Kelly: "I don't see him. It's not like we hang out and stuff. I don't know where his head's at, and I don't know what they're going through or anything. I'm going to just be positive."
Nickels — who appeared on the first four albums by L.A. GUNS — joined forces with Riley, Frohlich and guitarist Scott Griffin to play at M3 as L.A. GUNS, a name which is jointly owned by Riley and the band's founding guitarist, Tracii Guns. The event marked the first-ever L.A. GUNS performance that did not feature either Guns and/or longtime vocalist Lewis.
Riley is the longest-tenured member of L.A. GUNS, a group he joined shortly before the release of their 1988 self-titled debut. (While he is pictured on the album, he did not actually perform on it.) Although the band has famously featured more than 50 members in its ranks through the years, with the exception of a two-year period in the early 1990s, Riley was the sole constant from 1987 until the end of 2016, when the group that he and Lewis managed to keep alive for nearly 15 years without Guns (who quit the band in 2002, on the eve of the release of their acclaimed album "Waking The Dead") dissolved. Since then, Lewis and Guns — who, after years of acrimony, buried the hatchet in 2016 — have forged ahead as L.A. GUNS while Riley focused on other projects.
The Guns-Lewis version of L.A. GUNS released a new album, "The Devil You Know", on March 29 via Frontiers Music Srl.