Stacey Blades - Guitar
Phil Lewis - Vocals
Steve Riley - Drums
Adam Hamilton - Bass
They got their start on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip more than 15 years ago, but for all intents and purposes, L.A. Guns have been born again. Sure, they haven't stopped touring the world since the release of their self-titled debut in 1988, but for seven of those years they did so without original frontman Phil Lewis. However, since the release of Man In The Moon in 2001, which marked the reunion of Lewis with founding guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Steve Riley, there's been a new fire burning in the L.A. Guns camp. Their new release, Waking The Dead, significantly furthers the band's classic rock and blues vibe by propelling them into a heavier, more musically challenging realm. One that has ultimately proven more satisfying to the band themselves.
"I was thrilled with the musician that Tracii had become while I was away," beams Lewis, more than a year-and-a-half after regrouping with one of the Sunset Strip's more timeless bands. "He was always a great technician, and no one could take that away from him, but he was always too speedy to just sit down and write songs, and I used to get really frustrated with that." Even so, you can't deny the lasting power of Guns tracks like "Ballad of Jayne," "Over The Edge," "No Mercy," and even the whimsical timepiece "Sex Action." But it's always been about more than just the songs with L.A. Guns, and that's one of the band's most appealing attributes, according to their frontman.
"The thing with L.A. Guns is, we were a lot more experimental than a lot of other rock/metal bands around with us then. We played very different styles of music. We just didn't go out and do the AC/DC or Led Zeppelin." And image be damned, their early looks always pigeonholed them as a "hair band." Despite the music's more aggravated punk rock spunk and blues-hued bravado, they never received the accolades they deserved for creating music that defied the trends and dared to be different.
Produced by the legendary Andy Johns [Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones], Guns describes Waking The Dead as, "More metal than the last record, more like Iron Maiden and early Scorpions. The guitars are crunchier, and not as riffy. It's definitely heavier. It's a lot like Cocked and Loaded, with elements of Vicious Circle, and Phil sounds even better than on the last record. He's just getting better and better."
Says Lewis: "There was a lot of stress in my life when I was writing Man In The Moon, and it was a really weird time for me. Being able to retreat from my life and make a record was an escape for me. For this record, my life wasn't as stressed. I was happy, and things were going well." So well that after spending the latter part of 2001 on the road with fellow Sunset Strip enigmas Faster Pussycat, the band returned home to write and record Waking The Dead, their second album for Spitfire Records. They also recorded their first DVD release and were tapped to take part in the inaugural Metal Edge magazine Rock Fest tour.
With a renewed focus and sound that stings as sharp as anything from their fabled past, as well as a new member in bassist Adam Hamilton, formerly of Joe 90, L.A. Guns may not be poised to conquer radio, but they're well on their way of proving their place as one of Hollywood's hardest hitting and longest lasting acts. Some call them a hair band, others considered them more of a got outfit circa their Hollywood Vampires era, and many more pay closest attention to their punk rock roots. All in all? They're a rock band, and no matter how they're labeled, that fact will never change.
"I don't even know what L.A. Guns sounds like," laughs Guns. "After nine records, there aren't two records that sound the same. I guess that's what we do. We do something different every time, but we're always L.A. Guns."