Ruben Mosqueda of Sleaze Roxx recently conducted an interview with L.A. GUNS drummer Steve Riley. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you wind up with ownership of the L.A. GUNS name? That's surprising, being that you came in after the debut album was already recorded.
Steve Riley: I was still in W.A.S.P. — we were finishing up "Live... In The Raw" when L.A. GUNS were working on the first album. W.A.S.P. disbanded after "Live... In The Raw" and I ran into these guys — they had just recorded their debut album and they hadn't played outside of L.A. at all. They had a couple of club dates booked and I didn't know who they were. I joined the band right away, before the album was even pressed, that's why I'm on the back of the album cover. They had another drummer record the album and they fired him. I stepped in and have been in the band from the beginning as they've never played any dates outside of L.A. without me in the band. They did some club dates without me in and around the L.A. area before the album was recorded, but I've run the band's business from the very beginning. Both Tracii Guns [guitar] and I own the name outright — that's why he's able to take out the "bogus" [version of] L.A. GUNS that he has. The reason I say this isn't because he's a competing L.A. GUNS, but because he quit this band. This is the band that he quit — he quit L.A. GUNS, which features Phil Lewis [vocals] and I, who are original members. He quit this band to do other stuff and then the other stuff didn't take off so he thought he'd start his own L.A. GUNS. I'll be frank with you, we both own the name, we can do it legally but there's no comparison. We are getting all the big shows, we're doing all the world tours, and everybody knows you need Phil Lewis in the band if it's going to be L.A. GUNS.
Sleaze Roxx: If I recall correctly, Tracii Guns has officially retired his version of L.A. GUNS. When there were two versions of L.A. GUNS on tour, that was confusing for the fans. Hhow did that impact promoters interested in booking the band?
Steve Riley: Yeah, that created a lot of confusion for a while until we started playing some gigs with WHITESNAKE, the SCORPIONS, M3 and some of these other big events. The confusion got cleared up — people still knew that he [Tracii Guns] was out there, but it's something that we aren't even worried about anymore. It's got terrible reviews, it doesn't sound good, it doesn't look good... like we were talking about earlier, you've got to have Phil Lewis in the band if you want to pull things off. Tracii was doing covers of PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN, and JIMI HENDRIX. We have so much original material that we can't afford to do that. Sure, we've recorded cover albums, but we don't play them live. We have about 10 or 11 songs that we "have" to play in the set then we can sprinkle in two or three new tracks in there. Phil is Phil, he's the voice of L.A. GUNS and I'm the backbone of all that material that we recorded. We are proud of L.A. GUNS.
Sleaze Roxx: If L.A. GUNS were in a position to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, do you think past members would be involved? Fans that have been following L.A. GUNS would think that it would rival the GUNS N' ROSES debacle.
Steve Riley: I think the past members would be involved. L.A. GUNS has been such a community band — there's been so many members in and out of the band — I think it would be a fun time if that ever happened. I think the five original members would get together for that, I think we'd all put our differences aside. Phil and I never had any issues with... Just so you know the back story on the BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION [Tracii's short-lived side project with Nikki Sixx] thing. We thought that Tracii could do that and L.A. GUNS. We pleaded with him — we had the ALICE COOPER world tour and we had a Spitfire release coming out called "Waking The Dead", which was getting great reviews. I said to him, "Come on, you can do this and you can do the band with Nikki Sixx." We pleaded with him to do that and he left. Once he was gone, we used three or four guitarists to fullfil the dates that we had booked — Tracii just up and left us. When we caught our breath we found Stacey Blades and he's been here ever since. We didn't have any issues with Tracii going off to do other bands while in L.A. GUNS. We didn't have any issues with him playing in another band once he left L.A. GUNS. Our main issue with Tracii was when he put together a band and called it L.A. GUNS. He quit this band and then he formed another L.A. GUNS — that is the only thing we had a problem with. It's crazy because he's had a revolving lineup, he had a chick singer for a month, and he's had four or five different singers since he formed his band — it's ridiculous and it's confusing to some of the fans. We just did 17 countries in Europe and we called it the "Damage Control Tour", because we had to show them what the "real" L.A. GUNS is all about. Now they know they're getting the L.A. — with Phil Lewis on vocals — we did damage control in Europe and we're still doing that here. So he's created quite a mess but we're getting things straightened out.
Read the entire interview from Sleaze Roxx.