Brides of Destruction toss rock a new bouquet
By Naughty Mickie
In Hollywood, the buzz began humming softly last month and slowly its gaining cadence and volume as the word spread throughout the globe-- the Brides of Destruction have arrived. The band blends some of the best known and unknown players in the rock genre for a mix of old and new grooves that are sure to pleasantly surprise.
BOD, vocalist London LeGrand, guitarist Tracii Guns, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Scot Coogan, released their debut effort, "Here Come the Brides" (Sanctuary Records), on March 9. They celebrated the event with a concert and signing at Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Prior to all the hoopla, I managed to get some time with Guns to get the skinny on this new project.
"It's kind of strange actually," Guns replies when I ask him to tell me how BOD was formed. "I had this idea for the band, I wanted to call it Devil and it was going to be me and Nikki and Taime (Downe) from Faster Pussycat. It was just an idea that I had and I talked to Taime about it and he said that he'd get ahold of Nikki and of course he never did. So about a year went by and I was really getting bored musically. I just really wanted to do something other than L.A. Guns for a while, I had been doing it for so long.
"The girl that does the L.A. Guns Web site put me in contact with Nikki through e-mail. She knows him. I wrote him and told him my idea and he loved it, but at the time he was putting something else together. He goes,'Well, I'm kinda putting a band together right now, so why don't we keep talking about it and see what happens to this other thing. Maybe we can incorporate the two ideas.'
"A little time went by, we're e-mailing back and forth and the other thing wasn't happening. It just was not going to happen. He goes, 'Let's talk about your idea.' I go, Well, that's what I want to do. I want to put a new L.A. Guns together basically with a twist, different people, new songs, fresher singer, something people can't identify with immediately yet because they haven't hear him before.' And he was game.
"So what we did, I actually was on tour about a week after we decided we were going to do it," Guns continues. "We really put our heads together about who were we going to get in this band; how were we going to find the right singer. That's the hardest thing in the world. Then, before I left, the bass player in L.A. Guns, Adam Hamilton, brought me a picture of this guy. He goes, 'This is your singer.' I go, 'Man, there's no way that guy can sing, he looks way too cool.' Usually if a guy looks great he can't sing or if he sings great he doesn't look good at all. He goes, 'No, this is your guy. He can sing, he's everything.'
"I wasn't even going to send the picture to Nikki before I left, but girlfriend, Kristen, said, 'No, you've got to send that picture to Nikki, he's going to dig it.' So I sent him the picture, I was on tour like two days and he called. He goes, 'Man, do you think this guy can sing?' I go, 'I have no idea.' So we both called him at different times and wanted him to sing for us over the phone." Guns laughs, "It's so embarrassing. What if he was terrible? We'd be like, 'Dude, that was great. We'll talk.' But he really was great. So we had a singer, we didn't even audition anybody.
"We immediately just started writing songs. I had to go buy all this recording equipment for the tour bus so I could write. A lot of putting the music together was done through e-mail and listening over the phone and doing that kind of stuff. I had a one week break in our tour, so we all got together at my house. Adam set up my living room as a recording studio and we recorded an old Sweet song. We really wanted to hear what London sounded like recorded. We did this song that he knows, a Sweet song, and it was fucking amazing. We were completely blown away. Of course I had to leave again.
"Everything was in place, so I called my friend Kris Kohls, who was in Adema, drummer, I said, 'Dude, we're putting this band together and we have all these songs written and we're going to start rehearsing two days after I get home from tour. And he's like, 'Perfect, I'm in. I'll do it.' So he came and we got in the studio and it was really awkward for a few days. It was like, wow, who are all these new people and all these songs we've never played, we've only written them on Pro-Tools and all that kind of stuff. But then after ten weeks, it started feeling like a band and all of a sudden Kris had to go. Adema had to go do a new record and oh, no, what are we going to do? Because Kris fit so great, he looked great. he's really fun to be around."
Guns goes on, "Steve Bruno, the guy who actually produced our album, owned the studio we were rehearsing in, goes, 'I've got this drummer for you guys.' I was like, 'OK.' We went and saw Scot, who is our drummer now, and he was playing in a Led Zeppelin cover band and singing lead vocals at the same time. I saw this guy and I'm like, wait a minute, this guy can still be a singer and an amazing drummer? Wow, OK.
"He came down and he missed the first day, of course, and we're sitting there waiting for this guy and we call him and he says, 'Oh I thought you guys said tomorrow.' So we knew right away this guy's a flake because you don't miss the first day, especially when you're kind of auditioning. He finally came down and we did our thing with him and he fit perfect. And we were a band. I think then we were still called Cockstar and we had to change our name because everyone said no one will work with you with that name. There needs to be more humor in the world."
Researching biographical information on Guns, I came across a reference that stated you began playing guitar at age six, is that true?
"Yes, it was a long time ago. I just turned 38. I've been playing for 32 years and I still can't figure out what I'm doing." Guns recalls, "My mom was a classical piano player, she also played pedal steel guitar and listened to a lot of music when I was a kid. I always have that floating around my head, she was constantly listening to what was popular at the time, Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, stuff like that.
"Now my uncle, he was a guitar player and right before my sixth birthday I was hanging out with him in his bedroom - he had the coolest hippie bedroom - in my grandma's house and he was playing electric guitar. I think a day or two before that I had heard 'A Whole Lotta Love' on the radio and wow, what is that sound? I have to make that sound? Kids, little boys, they just want to be loud. I told my Uncle Ron, 'I want to play guitar.' He showed me the opening chords for 'Pinball Wizard' and that was it. I was addicted instantly. I would tell my mom, 'Mom, you've got to take me to Uncle Ron's, I've got to play guitar.' Eventually he just gave me his amp and his guitar because I was just over there while he was studying for college and I was playing really bad driving him nuts. That was it. After that I didn't care about anything.
"Even when I was a teenager, I was surfing and skating and racing bicycles, everything you do as a kid, but the guitar was everything." Guns adds, "I actually started playing drums when I was about nine and my mom, she couldn't handle it. I can stick to the guitar all right. I can still play a drum roll, but my thing is really piano and guitar. Piano's wonderful."
Guns studied music theory, harmony, classical guitar and more in college.
"When I was 25, me and my girlfriend went to Valley College (Valley Junior College, Van Nuys, California) and did the whole music program there," Guns says. "It's made my musicianship a million times better."
Knowing the usual musician score, I ask Guns what kind of work he did before he made it.
"When L.A. Guns got signed I was working with my ex-girlfriend at a place called Orien's Health Express, which was on Vine and Willoughby," Guns replies. "She was taking the money and I was flipping the burgers. That was it pretty much. When I was a kid, I was a plumber with my dad because he was a plumber. My mom always managed restaurants so I was washing dishes, being a bus boy. All those normal kinds of kids' jobs. When we got signed I was only 19 and I was just doing a regular job.
"The place we worked at was owned by the guy who invented the Garden Burger. He's famous now. He was so supportive of the band. He was friends with a lot of heavy jazz guys and the whole black jazz scene in L.A. All those guys are not into heroin any more, they're all into good food and healthy. They were all friends with this guy, Orien.
"He wouldn't let me be late to work, he would pick me up if I was sick or hungover from a gig. All of sudden we got signed and he was like, 'Oh my god, who's going to cook my burgers?'" Guns laughs. "We had a system going down there. But that was the last time. All of sudden, I was 19, I still had zits and braces and everything and we were on our way."
"So what do you do in your free time?" I wonder.
"I still skate, I ride my bike, I work out a lot," Guns says. "I fuck around on the computer for hours and hours and hours and I run an online guitar store through eBay. I do a lot of stuff. And Nikki keeps me ultra-busy all the time, 'We've got to write, we've got to write.' Our next record, we're really planning on doing a double record, so we've already been writing for that."
This leads right into my next question: how do you write?
"We bring stuff to each other constantly, 'I've got this idea,'" Guns answers. "He's (Nikki) a real songster, that's what I call him. He's really into clever lyrics and melodies and I'm into putting together pieces of music, like I was in L.A. Guns too. I was really concerned that if the music will stand by itself without the melody and the lyrics, then it's a great foundation.
"But we have the same relationship that me and Phil (Lewis) did. Where I would bring in the stuff and Phil would go, 'That's fucking jazz, I can't write over that.' I go, 'Yeah, you can.' And eventually he would and it would end up being really good. With Nikki, I can bring in something really complicated and he goes, 'Can you make it more complicated?' He loves the challenge, 'We'll figure it out, we'll make it work. We'll do this.'" Guns goes on, "When he brings me stuff it's usually a pretty simple chord arrangement with the melody and lyrics. I bring it to my house or we stay at his house and we just dump everything into Pro-Tools and I just go nuts creating parts, playing guitar and other instruments. That's not exactly how we started, but that's how we do it now. A lot of effort is going into the next album already."
So what does a seasoned musician like Guns think of the current music scene?
"I think it's lazy." Guns clarifies, "I think people are not really exploring the capabilities of being a great musician. A lot of them are relying on really simple hooks, redundant guitar parts, not a lot of flash in the musicians. I think the songwriting might be about a B, but the musicianship is really average. For people who are a bit older like me, I'm not a teenager any more, to really get me off, I've got to hear something really interesting in the music. I don't hear it a lot. Nowadays I can't really tell you hey, this band is really clever, unique and musical. But it has to change or there won't be any music because kids won't be inspired to pick up instruments.
"I know that when Slash's band comes out, I'm sure there will be a lot of solos. And then The Darkness over here, they're making noise and solos. I think people just need to get hip to it," says Guns.
I comment that BOD sounds like a mix of old and new styles and ask where do you fit in the scene?
"We have our own scene, we don't fit in any scene," Guns replies confidently. "The plan is right now, when the record comes out, to do a week with Slipknot, then a week with AFI and then do a couple shows with Aerosmith, a couple shows with AC/DC; go do a leg of the KISS tour. We don't really want to fit anywhere, we just want to show every rock band that, hey, this is music. What can still be done and still really be great.
"We're relying on London to be the thing that identifies the band," Guns continues. "The first record is diverse, but all the stuff right now is kooky, everything from serious Elton John epic type songs to really blistering metal. So we really have to count on London to have the voice that people will go 'That's Brides of Destruction,' no matter what kind of music we play. L.A. Guns kind of had a sound, Motley Crue definitely had a sound and we're going to do everything and not get pigeon-holed into our own sound because we already did that.
"I just got the Queen DVD 'Live at Wembley' and people don't have a clue what music is," Guns comes back to today's scene. "Freddie and god, that's what musicians should be striving for. They should not be striving for simplicity. It gets really boring when you play live. Leave something open enough to where I can play it different every night. So that's where we're coming from now, which nobody will get to hear for sixteen to eighteen months from now. But we will probably throw some new stuff in when we play live."
"What do you think of the Internet?" I query.
"It's really good for art," Guns answers. "There's so many independent artists, not just in music, but people that get a lot of exposure by joining communities on the Net. It gives them a chance when before you had to struggle to put on art shows, live gigs and things like that. For years people wouldn't come, it was really hard to promote. I think that the Internet is a tool for all kinds of business; it's a place where kids can get lazy and fat, which is sad. They love the games. But when used correctly, it's awesome, it's better than the television."
Before parting, I seek some advice from Guns for aspiring musicians.
"Practice. The thing is you should play for yourself first. If you really enjoy and love it, when people come watch you play then will enjoy it and love it. No one likes to watch somebody who's trying too hard. Play because you love it and don't expect to get anything out of it. I see so many of my friends over the years try to get successful and they lose sight of their music. Or you can be completely the other way around and go out and network, meet people, you can have a hit song. Your soul will be empty," Guns laughs.
Find out when Brides of Destruction will be "walking down the aisle" in a venue near you at www.bridesofdestruction.com
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