Prior to joining L.A. GUNS in 1987, Steve Riley spent nearly four years drumming for W.A.S.P. The Massachusetts-born former member of STEPPENWOLF, THE B'ZZ and ROADMASTER joined the group in 1984, replacing original drummer Tony Richards. Although he did not play on thW.A.S.P.'s self-titled full-length debut, he performed on its subsequent tour, as well as on the group's next two studio albums, 1985's "The Last Command" (the final W.A.S.P. album to feature guitarist Randy Piper, and a record for which he co-wrote the song "Jack Action") and 1986's "Inside The Electric Circus". He also appears on the group's 1987 concert album, "Live... In The Raw".
During a recent interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET, Riley was asked if he put out any feelers to the W.A.S.P. camp in 2016 when it became clear that his time with L.A. GUNS was coming to an end. "In 2016, when Phil [Lewis] had told me he was going to do the dates with Tracii [Guns], I got a call from Randy Piper," Riley said. "We'd stayed friends over the years — I'm actually friends with all of them — and this is how the story mushroomed into me doing this W.A.S.P. reunion. Randy called me and said, 'Would you be interested if Blackie [Lawless] and Chris [Holmes] jumped on board and we did a 30th-anniversary bunch of shows?' I said, 'Of course I would. No doubt, I would love to do that.' I said, 'You just tell me what happens when you talk to Blackie and Chris.' Nothing came about [from] it. I think Blackie's off the road. I don't think he likes to tour in the U.S. at all, and I think he's changed his whole ways too — I think he found religion, I'm not quite sure. He's not touring here, and that never came about. It was just something that I mentioned in an interview that I got a call from Randy and if something like that was to come about, I would love to do it, but that was about the extent of it."
Later, Riley reflected further on his years with the legendary shock-rockers. "Obviously, people associate me with L.A. GUNS first, and I can see why because I've been in the band for so long, and on all the albums too — most of the albums, I'm on them. So they associate me with L.A. GUNS, but the W.A.S.P. years were something really special. That band is a special band. That's why I jumped at the idea when Randy asked me — 'Would you do a show?' I said, 'Of course I would,' because I was very disappointed that that band got broken up by Blackie. It was a long story, but everybody got fired. That band there, I think I had the most fun with. I knew we were really, really good on stage and that we had this killer show too. I felt like we hit on every cylinder. That was a fun time."
W.A.S.P.'s music video for the classic song "Wild Child" — which features Riley on drums — can be seen below.
Soon after parting ways with W.A.S.P., Riley joined L.A. GUNS, a band he subsequently recorded and toured with for most of the next three decades. The current incarnation of L.A. GUNS features drummer Shane Fitzgibbon, who toured with Tracii in various groups during the months leading up to his reunion with Lewis.
Riley kept a low profile for much of 2017 and 2018, but that changed last month when he announced plans to perform at the M3 Rock Festival, one of the largest annual '80s rock-themed events in the world. There, he will perform under the L.A. GUNS moniker — a name he co-owns with Tracii — alongside classic-era L.A. GUNS bassist Kelly Nickels, longtime L.A. GUNS member Scott Griffin and an as-yet-unnamed singer.
Riley says that he has no intentions of starting a second incarnation of L.A. GUNS to compete with the version featuring Guns and Lewis, but that he is open to performing at other festivals with Nickels in the future.
Photo credit: Cole Riley