Tag Archives: Don Dokken

George Lynch Discusses Lynch Mob’s New Album, Offers Career Advice To Zakk Wylde, And The Latest On Another Dokken Reunion

By Andrew Catania

I caught up with George Lynch to discuss the new Lynch Mob album, any potential Dokken reunion, and his future 2018 plans.

Congratulations on the new Lynch Mob Album The Brotherhood.  Personally, this is my second favorite Lynch Mob album as the first Lynch Mob is my favorite.  A classic!

GL:  Well thank you.  That’s saying something.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

What is your favorite song on the new record?

GL:  Miles Away is a beautiful song it’s Pink Floyd’ish.  It’s intense, and that came out of soundcheck rehearsals when we’re on tour, and there was this typical thing you kept quiet, and we got to the point where we were playing it as sort of an interlude piece in between other songs. We did it quite a few times probably a dozen times, or more words become a song, and we developed this song by jamming it live in front of audiences which is interesting so yes, but it’s just I did that stand out.

One of the standout tracks is Main Offender which was the first single primarily written by the drummer Jimmy D’Anda.  And although we all handed him some parts and things like that; we got good things from Jimmy in the end. So it was some fresh blood, and then I say Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde which is another song interestingly which was created while we were on the road just jamming at sound check. We never jam the song live in front of the audience. The bones of it were built on the road, and then we brought in the studio and developed it from there. And that’s the second video that’s coming out.  It’s a trippy video.

The main feature of the song that I love is just that trance like hypnotic groove at the end that just goes and goes up.

Chris Collier produced The Brotherhood.  He also did the KXM albums?

GL:  Yeah I mean the band produced. The producer is a tricky word I get you know when I was in bigger bands in the 80s we’d have producers who did a lot less than Chris Collier did. Who could maybe be listed as an engineer, so it’s tricky.  I would say to be fair that any record that Chris has been involved in with me whether it’s KXM or Lynch Mob or others. It’s pretty fair to say he’s a co producer because we use him as a sounding board for ideas and a multi-instrumentalist. He does it all like Jeff Pilson in that respect.  Chris is kind of a utility guy I’m excellent at a lot of things, but Chris is very knowledgeable, with music theory and music history from engineered to mixing mastering.  Chris could get up there and help with background vocals or help Oni flesh out the vocal melody with words. He gets his hands involved in all areas of the music that we’re creating.

Have you thought about producing Lynch Mob Records yourself? 

GL:  I’m not much of a producer.  I used to produce stuff years ago.  Zakk Wylde doesn’t live far for me he lives up the street. We were talking at one point a few years ago, and I tried to be really honest with him, and it was a bit different to be objective I said without hurting feelings or anything, and I mean Zakk’s in a way better place than I am in the marketplace and so it’s a very widely recognized and a fantastic musician.

What I thought was his records don’t do him justice you know. I mean I feel that he could present himself in a lot better way with the right team or producer or writers. But you know what I’m just expressing my opinion, I suggested to him why don’t we get together, and you don’t even have to put my name on it. You don’t even have to pay me. But we live right down the street from each other, and maybe we’ll work on songs together in crafting some songs that are a little more memorable, with bigger hooks sonically a little bit more sophisticated.  He’s such an amazing musician because of so many different things I j know how well directed it is. And that’s just my humble opinion.

Of course, that never happened. So my point is I’d say to your question of whether I would ever consider producing it could be possible in a particular situation that was tailor made to what I can do.

Lynch mob the brotherhood page header

Are you considering doing a solo album? 

GL: I’m considering doing an instrumental solo album next year, but I have many projects going on.  I’ve Never done one. I thought if I do it I figured I need to bring in somebody complete an objective outside influence that takes control. And so you know I’ve done records on my own now for the past 40 years. So maybe I need some fresh ears and eyeballs and new thinking. You know somebody they’ll take me in a whole different direction I’ve never thought of it.  I’d love to have Daniel Lanois produce it.

You’re considered one of the top shredders of all time.  

GL:  I wouldn’t consider myself a shredder by any means. I was practicing last night. I read somewhere somebody said gee I think that I don’t know what they’re referring to but they said something about me and I don’t think I ever heard was the first time I ever heard George attempt it’s like sweeping.  I don’t sweep. Any time I sweep is when my wife asks me to grab a broom and clean up. That’s as close I get to sweeping. I’m not that guy. I have no interest in it. I think at one point it starts looking silly.

I always try to elevate my abilities to a certain point. I’m not a woodshed guy that sits there and practices you know 10 hours a day or anything like that.

I don’t think I want to get complacent in my in my place and my style. I like to push myself.  You know I’m not going to transform myself. It’s not super secret or anything, so shredder is not a term that applies to me.

Photo by Renee Jahnke

Which guitars of yours did you use in The Brotherhood?

GL:  The rhythms were one of my ESP’s I can’t remember which one like the Tiger or the Kamakazi.

George Lynch Les Paul I’ve built it the specs of the 59 or 58 standard, and then I’ve got a beautiful couple of Teles a couple ESP Tele’s, and I’ve got a Linhof tele, and sometimes I’ll throw those on the second track when I want something with more spunk. For solos,  I guess I mix it up I’ve got to get a kamikaze with great sustain.  On some of the tracks where I want that infinite like Steve Vai sustaining kind of the thing. My Kamikaze is probably the bulk of the soloing and when I do ear candy for atmospheric stuff at the very end of the recording process who knows what I’ll bring.

What’s your guitar neck sizes and ratios? 

GL: I have necks that can go from seven and a half radius to no radius. My necks are a 16-inch radius.

What does the rest of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 have in store for you? 

GL: I’ve recorded seven albums in the last two years. So I’ve got to Lynch Mob Brotherhood coming out on September 8th. Next step is we have Sweet and Lynch’s second album coming out in November of this year. Then we have the Ultrasonics record which is finished, and that is coming out January 2018. A team with Corey Glover and guys from War and Tower of Power. That’s our second record. Then we’ve got a Dokken Live DVD and album with new studio tracks coming out sometime early next year as well as a Lynch Mob Live DVD/CD next year. Then I have a project called The Banishment. Tommy Victor from Prong that I’ve been working on for about five years, and we’re hoping to get that out later, the music’s all been made it’s just a slow process getting the vocals finished, and that will come out at some point, and I might even be missing a project here.

Are you going to rejoin Dokken for another reunion?

GL: No there’s nothing. I’m pushing for it. But you know unless all parties are or wanted to happen it’s not going to happen. For various political and economic reasons, there’s there are reasons why it won’t happen. I think those are pretty strong arguments that it won’t. But you know what. Having said that I think there might be a couple of one offs here and there but I’m not sure I’m interested in doing that.

Jon Levin’s Still Rokken With Dokken

By Andrew Catania

Jon Levin is the current guitarist for Dokken.  He was involved with music very early on in life.  He began playing piano at age 4, trumpet by age 7, and guitar at age 9.  Instead of having formal lessons, Levin played along with his favorite musicians including Randy Rhoads, Eric Clapton, and George Lynch.  He played in a club band called Devias at age 19 in the Long Island, New York area and then auditioned for and joined the German Band Warlock at age 22.  When the grunge scene took over in the early 1990s, Levin took a break from being a musician because he wasn’t interested in that type of music.  Levin went to Law School and moved to the West Coast to become an entertainment lawyer.  In his capacity as an entertainment lawyer, Levin has served as legal counsel, working with Jim Paidas of Paidas Management, on a myriad of licensing programs; some of which include Orange County Choppers, Dog the Bounty Hunter, American Hot Rod and Rockstalgia

In 1998, Levin got a call from Jeff Pilson, Dokken’s bassist, who asked him to play some solos on a demo.  He anticipated playing on a solo album for Pilson, but when he eventually arrived at the studio, Dokken in its entirety was there.  Levin played on a Dokken track called ‘Dancin’ known as ‘The Irish Song,’ which originally was supposed to be included on the Erase the Slate album but was later included on the Long Way Home import instead.  However, Levin didn’t join the group full-time until late 2003.  He’s praised by many hardcore Dokken fans for his George Lynch-influenced style of playing.

Throughout the late 80’s, Levin had built himself a solid career as a heavy metal guitarist, most notably with the German Band Warlock.  When Nirvana hit, he saw the writing on the wall.  Levin graduated in 1996 and by 1997 had his practice in Century City.  He used his old music contacts to build his client list, specializing in entertainment contract law, as well as the occasional divorce case because, well, rock stars get divorced a lot.

He still plays guitar in his spare time, but his old music career was the furthest thing from his mind.  So far, in fact, that when one of his clients, a member of Dokken, invited him down to the studio to “play a few solos,” he showed up in a suit and tie. “I’d been in court that day, I think.”  Levin had assumed that he would be helping out his friend and clients solo project.  Instead, he was greeted at the studio door by one of his childhood idols, Don Dokken himself.

Growing up playing in bar bands on Long Island, Levin had studied the solos of Dokken’s original guitarist, George Lynch.  So despite his nerves and Dokken’s deliberately vague directions, he nailed the audition and was invited to perform with the band at a Fourth of July concert in Dallas just a few weeks later, and it was a sold-out show.   There were 20,000 people in attendance.  Despite the success of that gig, Levin opted to go back to his law practice.  “I was getting my business going, and I didn’t want to let that go,” he explains.

He’s been with the band ever since, enjoying the career resurgence they’ve had since their 2003 album, ‘Hell to Pay.’  Levin himself, who now co-writes most of the bands material, had a strong hand in shaping the record.  “I wanted us to do a Dokken-sounding record,” he explains; a concept Don Dokken was slow to commit to, but has since fully embraced.

Jon Levin playing guitar with Dokken

Also, Jon Levin and Lynch Mob shared some moments together.  Lynch Mob released several albums, but the most popular will always be Wicked Sensation in 1990.  Dokken, on the other hand, had more releases and live albums, but neither was able to reach the popularity they had when they were together.  With that being said, in 1993, they gave it another try.  It was a disaster.  They also put out an album that Don claimed was completely controlled by Lynch and was an act to ruin the Dokken name.  Lynch argued that Don refused to modernize his music this was an attempt to put the Dokken name to rest because the album ‘Shadow Life’ was terrible and poorly received.  In 1997, they broke up again when George walked out on a European Tour.

Both went their separate ways again and recorded materials that have done very little to the Heavy Metal landscape, but their names come up in a big way a couple of years ago when they decide to do a song together at Rocklahoma.  It went well. However, one song doesn’t make a band.  Jon Levin is a man wearing two caps, namely an incredible guitarist as well as a lawyer.

Dokken’s Jon Levin Gives An Update On A New Dokken Album And Future Touring Plans

By Andrew Catania

I recently spoke to Jon Levin from Dokken about future touring plans and a new Dokken album.

“We’re on the road all of July; we come back to do some US dates, then were back to Europe.” Explains Levin.  “As November and December come, and things slow down, we’re going to start writing for a new Dokken record,”  I asked if it was going to have the classic Dokken sound or going in a new direction.  “It’s definitely going to have the classic Dokken sound.  We should have it released in May of 2018 I’m thinking,” says Levin.

When I asked him his opinion about George Lynch stating in my April 2017 interview with him that he stated there’s going to be another Dokken reunion, Levin says he encouraged singer Don Dokken to do the last one.  “I encouraged Don to do the reunion last fall.  If they do another reunion, I’m perfectly fine with it.  It’s Don’s decision to make.”  Don Dokken said in a previous interview that he doesn’t see the need for another Dokken reunion as the current lineup is doing fantastic.

For up to date Dokken tour dates, please visit their website @ http://dokken.net/

Interview: George Lynch Discusses KXM, The Future of Original Dokken, Lynch Mob and More!

By Andrew Catania

George Lynch is more than an extraordinary guitar player.  He’s a luthier, an activist for causes he firmly believes in plays in multiple bands and has over 20 albums worth of music.   His work has spanned over thirty years. Although he was born in Washington, Lynch grew up in sunny California, and it was there that he learned how to play the guitar at only ten years old. Roughly two decades later, in the 1980’s, the band Dokken began to rise, with Lynch as the guitarist, Don Dokken as the vocalist, Mick Brown as the drummer and Jeff Pilson, the bassist. Due to the fame of Dokken, Lynch’s work became well-known. Lynch had been a member of Dokken is what truly started Lynch’s career. Dokken has sold more than ten million albums throughout the world.
In 1990 George Lynch left to form Lynch Mob.  George Lynch then released a solo album, entitled Sacred Groove, which was well received by his fans.

In 1994 Lynch and Dokken reunited and released two more albums, while Lynch continued to work on his solo work. Regardless, Lynch and Dokken still had differences that they were not fortunate enough to settle and Lynch again left the band in 1997, returning to Lynch Mob. This time, Lynch took his band in a new direction, and by 1999 Lynch Mob was touring. After the tour, Lynch put the band on hiatus to focus on some other work. In 2002, Lynch brought Lynch Mob back, again, this time with more contemporary music than before.

George Lynch worked with Dokken’s former bassist Jeff Pilson to create Lynch/Pilson, and then he also went on to form The George Lynch Group. In 2008, Lynch Mob released a new album. In 2009, Lynch worked with Raven Quinn for her self-titled album which would be released in 2010. That same year, George Lynch toured with Souls of We and Lynch Mob.

It was in 2013, at a birthday party for Ray Luzier’s son, that band KXM was first thought of. Lynch, along with Ray Luzier and Dug Pinnick decided to label their new band after the names of their full-time bands. K for Korn, X for King’s X and M for Lynch Mob. KXM released their first album in the next year, after hard work from the three members. They released their second album, Scatterbrain, with part of Lynch’s most recent work, on March 17, 2017.   Saying George Lynch is a busy man is an understatement.  I recently caught up with George to discuss his new KXM album, Lynch Mob, and Dokken.

The KXM album,  I think it’s darker and heavier than your first KXM album.  Would you agree with that? 

I don’t know if it’s heavier, not that it’s contested, but I think some elements might be heavier.  I believe that it’s recorded better, sonically or pleasing, you know.  It’s got more fidelity and frequency range and depth because we did it in an actual real studio rather than a vacant house that we just built a studio in you know.  So sonically it was a better record.  A more adventurous album by the mere fact that we already established something with the first record and we built it.  Since we created a foundation, we could start building on it and expanding on it a little bit.  Go sideways, up and down and so forth and add different influences a little bit of ska and jazz motives here and there

You guys don’t have a lot of pre-production when you are going in.  Do you guys just do it on a whim when you’re in there? 

For sure! That’s the whole philosophy behind the KXM.  It’s the whole premise of the band, and it’s funny I read some comments from someone yesterday saying that they thought the record was whatever, but they felt that we should spend more time on the next record working on the song

(laughter)

That is the whole defining thing about KXM is that we don’t do that.  That’s like telling a jam band well you guys should you know you guys should go in and have well-prepared songs and that’s a jam band that’s the whole point.  I try to press that in interviews to people whenever I talk to them

I have other projects that we put more thought into, but we didn’t need to take time in developing an arrangement in songs we have that already

You have many projects going on.  I see you with one band then you’re with another then you’re back with Lynch Mob.  I don’t know how you do it.  And then you make guitars too

Yes.  I’ve got a project called Abanishment which I’ve been working on for about five years with a gentleman called Haze who is an industrial programmer engineer,  fixer, real talented and has worked with Brian Schnell The Prodigy and Zombie things like that.  It’s an industrious less project.  And Tommy Victor is the singer, and again that’s called Abanishment we just got everything done except we’ve got some vocals to finish up.  I’ve got the new Sweet & Lynch record that I just finished writing that last week. We were in the studio on the east coast with Brian TichyJames Lomenzo, and Michael Sweet and we finished tracking that.  We’ll be done tracking tomorrow and finish up the vocals, and that will be done this coming week.  Sweet & Lynch 2 or whatever we end up calling it, which I hope we don’t call it that Thirdly, we have a project called Ultra Phonics which is an evolution of Project Nfidelikah which features Angelo Moore from Fishbone on vocals which we replaced with Corey Glover from Living Color.

Sounds great!

And that took the rhythm section more with Tower of Power.  That record has all been written, and Corey is finishing up the vocals, and we’ll be getting the mix on that, and that record should be coming out soon, I imagine.  And our new Lynch Mob is coming out it’s called The Brotherhood that’s coming out, it’s been finished for a while, that will be coming out in June

 Any future Dokken records going to be released?

A Dokken Live album was coming out with three new studio tracks on it as well as live DVD.  That will be coming out probably at the beginning of 2018.  And then Lynch Mob also has a live album and a DVD coming out at some point.  So yes, I’ve got a lot of things in the pipeline which is very confusing

(laughter)

It’s confusing to me.  I had to get that all off my chest, sorry 

The photo was taken at Steakhouse Studios in North Hollywood on 02/11/16.

 The KXM album I know you go in that’s the whole preface to it that you guys don’t have any production.  Do you like it that way or do you like it where you guys go in with a plan? 

Well,  there’s apple and oranges, I like them both.  I’ve made a similar approach to other projects where it’s just sort of jam things out, improvise and just capture the moment.  The Lynch Mob EP Sound Mountain Sessions is done that way.  It is done in the same way we did in the studio with KXM in, and a lot of my records are done very quickly.  We’re just kind of done working on another secret kind of project right now with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown we’re working on it as we speak and we write a song a day.  Now we’re writing it in a controlled atmosphere without the whole band, but it’s still somewhat the same thing.  The difference is the full band we are just working off each other, feeding off each other, reacting off each other.  Point being is I’m most comfortable being in an improvised atmosphere rather than being in a laboratory situation.  I come from that era of jam and the lost art improvisation at least in the rock context work.  You don’t see bands do that at all.  Even bands that classify themselves as jam bands, I don’t think they are jam bands because to me a real jam band is when you just start something at the top of your head, and everybody picks up on it, and you just take it where ever it leads you.  Whether it’s without a safety net, whether it dissolves into whatever or it evolves into something else.  That’s a true improvisational jam band environment.  And I don’t appreciate the bands that do that.  Even the bands that claim to be like Phish or anything like that.  They seem to jam like Umphrey’s McGee they’re amazing, and I love them.  They improvise within the context of a prearranged composition versus which is everybody actually creating something in the moment.  You’re recreating the creative moment, you’re in the creative moment, creating on the spot and the audience is witnessing that. Which sometimes isn’t as exciting as it sounds.  I mean if you listen to Band of Gypsies, which a lot of it was spontaneous,   Early Led Zeppelin’s Black And White stuff, some of those shows we were just kind of going off jamming a bit.  You know it takes some work to listen to that and appreciate it.  It’s not an easy sell but challenging both for the player and

I’ve heard you use the word evolve and evolving in a lot of interviews on music.  How important is growing today with all your projects that you have going on?

Without change,  we die so you know I think we’re always in a state of flux.  I think for me it requires more work to remain in a status.  I mean it’s tough for me to put myself back in the 80’s and recreate that.  I’m evolving fine, and I’m in a position to, for instance, writing new Dokken stuff.  I’ve done a project or two where I was hired to recreate that era of myself and write a song and play in that style with that sound, and that is tough to do.  I think asking does it matter is the wrong question it just isn’t inevitable and I think it just depends on who you are.  I mean I know a lot of my friends do what I do and they’re a different animal than I am.  They’re comfortable doing what they’ve always done it’s not a right or wrong thing.  I don’t think AC/DC can change any at this point and all of a sudden start playing an influence to any of the rap metal.

That’s true

Because I’m not locked into anything with like with the mega-millionaire success you know I’m not trapped.  Which is a little bit of a good and bad thing.  I have the freedom of flexibility to do go a lot of different directions to be nimble and be flexible.   It’s not the smartest thing.  I’m marketing and selling myself as an object that you sold, a marketable product; they can go and just market that.  But I don’t worry about that you know,? I go out and do just the best I can do honestly, creatively, genuinely and just hope it takes me in the right direction.  For me, it’s an adventure. Otherwise, it’s just a job. Recreating what I did in the last 30 years was not just enticing or appealing to me at all.

(laughter)

Not saying that what I’ve been involved with in the past is not valid not to say that at all, not denigrating my work or anybody else’s work for thirty years ago.  You know I’m still just trying to be Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton and Cream I mean  I just try to live in the shoes of my hero’s and just try to fill them a little bit
Many people include you in the best of the best. 

You know the other thing about the guitar aspect is you are aware that I again use that word evolve to try to describe my philosophy or my view about that is you know over the years I’ve sort of transitioned I think from as a younger man wanting to be you know the fastest you know the loudest, the shreddiest or whatever and you know which is a natural thing as you get older just to sort of think about compositions actually as a more global historically significant thing and gratifying thing than you know being the fastest guy on the block which if that stays behind me, that’s okay.  I mean I have my little tool bag, and I do what I do, and I have a style, and I’m very comfortable with that, and I try to learn new things and evolve as a better player but on the same note what more interests me is the bigger picture which is a song and creating a band that matters.  I mean building Rage Against the Machine says more to me than doing you know a kind of shreddy solo that’s guitar players do.  Or writing a song that stands the test of time you know writing Imagine.  Could you imagine writing Imagine?  I mean it’s writing a prayer for the world, come on!

Your CD Shadow Train, when it came out, I knew it there was a story behind it.  Are you ever going to make the movie that you said you were going to about it?

Oh, the film’s done, been working on it for eight years.  It’s essentially finished.  It’s been finished for a few years now.  The struggle that we’re having getting it out there is recently we’ve had some fans who have taken it upon themselves who pick up the initiative and say look we’ve got to get these done and are helping us get it out there.   Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the complicated inner workings of getting the film distributed it’s a monolithic task.  And you know I’m used to doing records obviously which you know have their obstacles and challenges they’re nothing like a film which seems to have been cursed from the beginning.  It’s just like moving many mountains and rebuilding them again and rebuilding them again; it’s just insane.  So having said that, it will come out, and I can say that with some certainty that it will be before the end of the year 

I’ve been waiting for this movie to come out; You’re  very active in a lot of different political/social movements.,  Do you like having those deep conversations on your social/political issues when you’re talking for an interview on a record?  

Well, no, of course, I don’t mind.  I think it’s important to talk about things that matter, all of it.  I’ve been blessed with you know I have the luxury of having a small soap box and a megaphone because of my music career so that I feel that I have a compulsion and an obligation to talk about things that matter.  A responsibility to address issues that affect all of us and I think that’s what you know rock & roll did when I was a kid.  You know I mean there was serious revolution going on in this country and the world, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement and the Environmental Movement and millions of people were protesting and rallying and you know the country was polarized at a critical time and music would help litigate on a lot of those issues and mainly a reflection of the culture and reality at the time and lent power to the voices of a lot of people on both sides. So music has always played an integral part of that you know the way people see themselves and manage ourselves, and I think it should continue to so you know I try to play a small part in that.  Not saying I’m superb at it but I’ve got to try you know.

 

Take some of the hot topics, environmental stories like the Dakota Access Pipeline,  something you feel strongly about. Is that something you would try to get your opinion out there and get a movement against that?

Well absolutely!  I was at the Seti camp my wife and me were there for a week.  It was a very profound experience, and I’m very passionate about it.  You know the reason in that particular case, that was such an important issue or say it was because apparently money won and people lost is because it was revealing in a very transparent fashion to people about what was really at stake.  So FOX News couldn’t lie about it because of jobs, it doesn’t provide jobs.  What it was really about was a handful of banks and industrial billionaires and hedge funds.  You know people who are millionaires and multimillionaires and multimillionaires becoming billionaires.  Individuals with you know that financially have the luxury of having their money work for them and the rest of us have to suffer and the environment suffers, and environment means we suffer selectively.  Well, these people are insulated from suffering because they have so much money they can protect themselves.  They have great health care, and they can live in you know glass towers and filter their air and eat pure food, and people wait on them and so forth.  You know the rest of us don’t have that luxury and they don’t care.  So you know it exposes the capitalistic side of a system that is uncaring and uncompassionate and very harmful to most people.  You know 60% of the wealth and assets on the planet are owned by forty families in the world I mean that’s inequality on a historically precedent scale.  And that is the basis of all of our problems, inequality.  I mean if you’ve got to simplify things make them a blanket issue really, I would say that all your environmental problems, your health concerns, your unemployment issues, just about any issues you can run down you can trace it back to inequality being corporate.  So you fix that you fix a whole lot of other things just as a trickle down effect.

Yes, Dakota was one of my proudest and saddest moments in my life.  I mean to share that struggle with 7,000 to 9,000 other people and you know, the Lakota Sioux and Standing Rock Tribe,  as well as 250 other tribes that were represented there along with all the other supporters.  Including the Veterans who came in for us and that changed everything.  The real war is getting in the face of these rental cops and local police who are just working for the pipeline company working for Dapple.  You know I saw a couple of cops just take their badges off and cross the line.  But it was a very profound and very scary experience.  I mean these are militarized the police, they’re no joke.  You know you’re up in the middle of North Dakota out in an hour from Bismark you’re in the midst of nowhere and these guys are using you know armor, armored Humvee’s with sonic weaponry and automatic AR 15’s with bullets and drones and planes and connected to  wires and tanks you know fully swatted out with gas masks and concussion devices.   If you’re willing to use that kind of militarized weaponry against our own citizens who are basically fighting for all of us and fighting for the earth is disgusting.  And you know trace it back of course to we have to mention Indigenous Rights and Treaties I mean again, the Treaty of Fort Laramie explicitly,  a grant made of Americans this land that now is covered in the same as in dispute which is not in dispute but a Treaty which is a contract.  So when a country built on rule of law supposedly a contract is basically scripture. And this country can basically say fuck you because you know what, you have resources that we want to steal and we’re just going to take them regardless of what we signed and what we agreed to because you have what we want.  Resources are the basis for you know our capitalistic economy where all the money flows through the pump and there’s no inherent cost put on those increases you know on the books.  They call them externalizing externalities.  A fancy way of putting the cost of extracting resources that do cost all of us something.  I mean and externalizing them so they are not reflected in the cost of doing business.  So it’s a complicated issue but to really keep it simple you know do know harm or do as little harm as possible and make things that most benefit most people all the time and that’s the right thing to do. Keep it simple.

Have you ever considered running for public office? 

No, I’m kind of busy right now.  You know,  listen,  when I lived in Cave Creek Arizona for 13 years, I was involved a little bit in things like political things on a very local level thinking globally and acting locally, city council and so forth.  I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.  I thought band politics were ugly, oh my God!  I mean literally, I witnessed fistfights in the parking lot, the silliest shit, crazy! So you know I’d rather influence people through my art, my music you know maybe write a book someday you know if I ever have the time to sit down and you know to apply myself and maybe with some help write something that matters and not some rock autobiographical silliness you know.  Not the Bobby Blotzer book.  Write something about something that matters.

I wanted to get to Mr. Scary Guitars.  When did you decide you were going to start Luthering your guitars?  Are you doing this in conjunction with ESP or is this strictly all you? 

No, it had nothing to do with ESP.  Well actually, I started, listen the two go back in time.  I was younger.  I gave guitar lessons on the side to sort of supplement my income, and I would like a lot of occasions to assemble guitars out of you know a bolt on necks and bodies and throw some parts on it for my students, and of course, I do that for myself as well.  My entire guitar or many of my earlier guitars were bodies and necks that I picked up at Mighty Mite and bolted them together.  You know the tiger guitar costs me $40.00.  $20 for the body and $20 for the necks and I got the parts for free, and my friend painted it in his garage, and so that got me started.  And then 6 or 7 years ago I set up shop at ESP, and they gave me a room there, and I started taking my signature models of ESPs and tearing them down and rebuilding them.  I learned a lot doing that, and those were my first Mr. Scary Guitars.  They were modified GL 56’s and Super V’s built on an ESP platform.  Then I completely moved away from that.  Everything I’ve made in the last six years is basically from scratch, no C NC, everything is pin routed.  I’ve got a pin router that used to belong to Leo Fender from the GL factory and I’m proud of that.

You’re doing this from your house,  aren’t you? 

Well, I do a lot of the work at my house but I don’t have room for machines at my place, so I work at a shop that is not my shop that I rent and I’m able to come in and use tools when I need to but all cosmetic work and finish and stuff is done at my house, yes. I mean literally, I spray nitro in my back yard, I hang a body of the guitar with a clothes hanger on a tree you know and when I’m done and send it to you-you know it’s probably got bugs and lint and leaves in it.

I saw some of your pictures on Instagram about that. 

Yes, it’s all pretty much learning as I go.  I’ve taken luthier lessons on and off the last 5 or 6 years and learning more and more as the time goes on and changing up my approach and designs slowly

Are you still going to carry on with ESP as an endorsee?

Oh absolutely!  They’re gracious enough to allow me to do this. It’s extraordinary.  It’s a company  I’ve been endorsing for over 30 years and a great guitar company.  But you know I make very few instruments.  I probably go at the most, ten a year.  It’s a lot of time to do, and so it’s not anything that’s going to threaten ESP it’s a different animal.  You know ten made.  It was interesting though ESP did do a run of 300 of my Tiger which is one of my models for a much more affordable price and they’re great.  Sound great, they look great.  Obviously,  you know they’re Korean made but still high quality.  Not hand made or anything but at a much cheaper price point

Are you using the same rig for each of your different bands?  Or do you just change it up?  I mean Dokken, then KXM and Sweet & Lynch?

You know I change everything up with every band all of the time.  There’s no set anything, and I love that.  I just love experimenting with gear and swapping heads out.  I mean it’s kind of stressful in some ways, and I just don’t have one thing that I use, and you know it probably would be nice to have that some day but I’m always swapping heads out and swapping pedals out and changing up guitars.  It makes it fun for me and challenges me and interests me.  You know sometimes I think I’m going forward and then I’ll end up you know after a whole bunch of experimenting I’ll go after all these years I went back and use my amp I used you know back in the Dokken days with Lynch Mob days and it sounds better in everything so I’ll go back to that.  Maybe it’s just the exercise in enjoying you know,  actually just enjoy trying different gear but I don’t know.  Maybe I’m evolving; maybe I’m not with my tone.  It’s fun because I’m trying anyways.

 You guys put three tracks on the new Dokken DVD project that’s coming out next year you said?

Right, yes

Have you guys completely shut down doing any more reunion shows?  Is that all done and over with? 

Oh no.  We’re talking about doing something possibly in 2018.  Don’t want to say what yet because you know nothing is set in stone.
We’re talking about it.  I think something might happen next year.

 There’s a lot of people hoping that you guys will do some dates in the US.  Yes, you definitely would have sold them out

Right

I know what we can expect from you in 2017.  Are you going to be touring with Lynch Mob?  Which albums are you going to be touring with?  KXM, Sweet & Lynch or just one of the bands you are this year?    

Primarily Lynch Mob is my touring band, and we’re walloping it starting in June through the fall

What musical direction did you go with the new Lynch Mob record?  

It’s along the lines of Rebel.  I don’t know if you heard the Rebel Record, but I think an extraordinary Lynch Mob effort you know it came out two years ago.  It’s right along those lines.  You know we always try to kick back into the Wicked Sensation days and always make sure you know that that’s in the mix a little bit, but you know again it’s 25 years later so you know we’re not that anymore so yes.  This album is adventurous but still,  that blues based hard rock with a trippy element and with Oni (Logan) doing his magical poetry and you know one of the greatest rock singers on the planet, unique obviously, he’s got his ways.  Nobody else sounds like Oni.  Yes, we’ve got a chemistry here.

How does it feel to know you’ve inspired so many guitar players to pick up the instrument? 

Well, it makes you feel good.  It’s hard for me to appreciate it in a truer sense in that you know I can’t feel that.  For me,  I’m on the inside of it.  To me,  I’m just a guy playing like everybody else and trying to make a living and trying to make music and just you know in the middle of the process.  I don’t see it that way.  It’s interesting I met Jeff Beck for the second time just very briefly in the lobby of a hotel somewhat recently, and you know the way some people have talked to me about expressing gratitude that I’ve influenced them and so forth and it’s hard for me to get my head wrapped around that.  I felt that same kind of dynamic with Jeff Beck when I met him.  I was so in awe and almost near tears and shaking.  I didn’t know what to say and here’s this guy who is a giant in my life you know, influentially you know guitar wise and I’m standing right next to him, and it’s just you know.  You could see it in his eyes he was just you know, he needed to get in his cab and get to where he was going you know.  I mean he was just friendly and polite, and it was like, okay good meeting you, gotta go!  You know he doesn’t understand the fact that you know Truth was the first album I bought and took my lawn mowing money and walked two miles to Mom & Pops Record store and brought it back and put it on my dads tv console stereo and plugged my guitar into the headphone jack and jammed along with it for a whole year, trying to be Jeff Beck.  You knew and been an enormous influence on me throughout my entire playing life you know.  He doesn’t understand that nor should he.

Do you think that with the current state of the music scene, what is your opinion about that? 

I believe that it’s an excellent time.  I feel that there’s so much out there for people to pick from and choose from it’s phenomenal.  I mean and guitar playing is at such a high level right now.  I mean these younger generations are just taking it to a point where you know it’s beginning to explore places that people have never gone before,  it’s just fascinating.  And the music itself too,  you can pick a genre and find so much great music in every genre.  People are just pushing the envelope in all directions, so I think it’s very gratifying and satisfying.  It’s a little challenging to pick through I mean from this thing back in the day when I was growing up there’s like a half a dozen or 10 big giant great bands that are super groups you know.  Now it’s like there are thousands of bands.  Picking through everything is hard.  It’s stressful trying to find all the right music you know.

I saw a video of you at NAMM 2017, and there was that 11-year-old kid that you were playing before.

Oh geese, yes one of the things is I don’t think he was human.  I believe he was a robot

 

 

A lot of these YouTube kids are now; they’re just 4,5 years old.  They’re picking up and playing parts of music of Bach and Beethoven, and it’s incredible

 

Yes, some of these younger people their first influence might have been Yngwie.  That’s their first influence you know.  They start with that.

You can check out George @ http://georgelynch.com/

http://www.mrscaryguitars.com/

 

https://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/kxm

https://www.ratpakrecordsamerica.com/lynch-mob

http://www.shadowtrainmovie.com/

 

 

George Lynch – Mr Scary of the Axe

By Andrew Catania

 
georgelynch-1 Gеоrgе Lуnсh iѕ оnе оf thе mоѕt recognizable nаmеѕ in thе world of hеаvу mеtаl guitar. With a саrееr spanning mоrе than thirtу years, George has rесоrdеd mоrе thаn twеntу albums, toured thе еntirе glоbе mаnу timеѕ, аnd iѕ thе оnе оf thе most rесоgnizаblе еndоrѕееѕ of thе wоrld’ѕ finеѕt guitars аnd еԛuiрmеnt.

Gеоrgе Lуnсh began learning to рlау guitar at thе аgе оf 10. A nаturаllу giftеd muѕiсiаn, his guitаr рlауing ԛuiсklу рrоgrеѕѕеd аnd became a сrеаtivе outlet for him during hiѕ tееnаgе years реrfоrming with several bаndѕ, mоѕt nоtаblу Sеrgеаnt Rосkѕ.

In thе late 1970ѕ, George mоvеd to Lоѕ Angеlеѕ, California where he formed twо bаndѕ, The Bоуz and Xсitеr. With Xсitеr, Gеоrgе’ѕ tесhniсаl аbilitiеѕ and uniԛuе style wаѕ a vеrу important drаw tо the bаnd’ѕ fаn bаѕе. Plауing the L.A. сlub сirсuit, it wаѕ сlеаr thаt hе wаѕ аlrеаdу taking the nесеѕѕаrу ѕtерѕ thаt would lеаd him tо ѕuссеѕѕ in thе 1980ѕ аnd hiѕ partnership with legendary bаnd Dоkkеn.

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Whеn Gеоrgе Lynch jоinеd Dokken in the early 1980’ѕ, success саmе very quickly. As hiѕtоrу proves, muсh of thе bаnd’ѕ аlbum ѕаlеѕ аnd credibility iѕ the rеѕult оf Gеоrgе Lynch’s guitаr аbilitiеѕ аnd ѕоngwriting. With Dоkkеn, Lуnсh recorded fivе albums frоm 1983 to 1988, аll of whiсh did remarkably wеll in thе Unitеd Stаtеѕ, Eurоре and Asia. This wоrldwidе ѕuссеѕѕ mаdе George Lynch one оf the mоѕt influential rock guitаriѕtѕ in mоdеrn muѕiс, еvеn еаrning thе bаnd a Grammy nоminаtiоn in 1989 fоr Best Rock Inѕtrumеntаl. 1989 was also thе уеаr thе Gеоrgе раrtеd ways with Dokken аnd bеgаn the new dесаdе with a diffеrеnt аррrоасh…еntеr Lynch Mоb.

Bу thе early 1990ѕ Gеоrgе hаd bесоmе a mаrԛuее guitаr hеrо throughout thе world. Aѕ a rеѕult, wоrking with  Lynch Mоb wаѕ a highlу scrutinized аnd аntiсiраtеd project. In juѕt three уеаrѕ, Lуnсh Mоb rеlеаѕеd two rесоrdѕ and hit the rоаd on two wоrldwidе tоurѕ. Aftеr the ѕесоnd tоur’ѕ completion, Lуnсh tооk hiаtuѕ and retreated tо thе ѕtudiо tо сrаft hiѕ firѕt ѕоlо recordings.

Sасrеd Grооvе,” Lуnсh’ѕ firѕt ѕоlо еndеаvоr was rеlеаѕеd in 1993. Fоr thе firѕt timе in his саrееr, he wаѕ аblе tо display a broader аѕѕоrtmеnt оf musical and guitаr ѕtуlеѕ. The “Sасrеd Groove” аlbum clearly еѕtаbliѕhеd Lуnсh аѕ аn есlесtiс muѕiсiаn with a volume оf eccentric work. Hаving ѕаtiѕfiеd thiѕ еndеаvоr, Gеоrgе Lуnсh tооk ѕеvеrаl уеаrѕ оff tо ѕреnd timе with hiѕ children аnd еnjоу life in Arizоnа. That wаѕ until a call frоm an old friend саmе in 1994.

Fоllоwing his dераrturе, Dоkkеn hаd reformed without the use of Gеоrgе Lуnсh, but whеn thе rесоrd соmраnу rеfuѕеd to rеlеаѕе a nеw Dokken rесоrd without Lynch, рhоnе calls wеrе made in lаtе 1994. Lynch came in tо fulfill thе rеԛuеѕtѕ оf thе record соmраnу and rоund twо with the bаnd bеgаn. Sооn to follow were twо mоrе Dоkkеn records and thrее more уеаrѕ оf touring thе globe.

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By 1998, Lуnсh finiѕhеd hiѕ соmmitmеnt with Dokken аnd ѕеt оut to wоrk with Lуnсh Mob. Thiѕ rеѕultеd in “Smoke This,” аn аlbum thаt featured a сulminаtiоn оf hiѕ playing styles, but with a nеw аррrоасh. Thе 1999 tоur thаt fоllоwеd brought Gеоrgе’ѕ playing tо a nеw audience аnd rеѕultеd in a rеnеwеd interest in thе bаnd аnd Gеоrgе Lуnсh’ѕ influеnсе. With nеw соnfidеnсе, George began working with fоrmеr Dоkkеn bаnd mаtе bassist Jеff Pilson оn what wаѕ tо become a lеngthу album titlеd “Wicked Undеrgrоund.” Which wаѕ соmрlеtеd undеr thе nаmе LP (Lynch/Pilson) аnd dеlivеrеd tо ѕtоrеѕ in Aрril 2003.

Also in 2003, Lуnсh bеgаn rеwоrking thе sound оf earlier Lynch Mоb аnd Dоkkеn material. Tо соmрlеtе thiѕ tаѕk, Gеоrgе rе-аѕѕеmblеd Mоb bаnd members, Robert Mаѕоn аnd Anthony Esposito, аlоng with Michael Frоwеin оn drumѕ. Tоgеthеr, they rеinvеntеd the ѕрirit аnd firе of early Lуnсh соmроѕitiоnѕ onto аn аlbum titlеd, “REVоlutiоn,” which was аlѕо rеlеаѕеd in 2003. Thе guitаr wоrk on both “Wicked Undеrgrоund” аnd “REVolution” demonstrated Lуnсh’ѕ соnѕiѕtеnсу with his ѕignаturе sound while bаlаnсing a mоrе еxреrimеntаl ѕidе.

In 2012 Gеоrgе released 3 ѕuссеѕѕful аlbumѕ via Rаt Pak Records, “Legacy” an аll instrumental EP, Lynch MobSound Mоuntаin Sessions” and T&NSlаvе Tо Thе Emрirе” that featured оriginаl Dokken mеmbеrѕ Jeff Pilѕоn аnd Miсk Brown along with a hоѕt of оthеr guest singers including Sеbаѕtiаn Bach, Tim “Ripper” Owens, dUg Pinnick аnd Wаrrаnt ѕingеr Rоbеrt Mаѕоn)  & the album  fеаturеѕ remakes оf 5 classic Dоkkеn ѕоngѕ and 7 new оriginаl ѕоngѕ.

In 2014 George rеlеаѕеd Lynch MоbUnрluggеd – Livе Frоm Sugаr Hill Studiоѕ(Rat Pаk Rесоrdѕ) аn аll-асоuѕtiс performance оf thеir сlаѕѕiс hitѕ. In 2013 Gеоrgе fоrmеd KXM a super-group trio that fеаturеd King’ѕ X frоnt man dUg Pinniсk аnd Kоrn drummеr Rау Luziеr. Thеir debut album rеlеаѕеd in Mаrсh оn Rat Pаk Records аnd lаndеd #31 оn thе Billboard tор 200. Lаtеr thаt year in December, George hit #6 оn thе Billbоаrd Hаrd Rосk Albumѕ сhаrt with thе сritiсаllу ассlаimеd Lynch MоbSun Rеd Sun” (аlѕо оn Rаt Pаk Rесоrdѕ) that fеаturеd Oni Lоgаn, Robbie Crаnе and Scot Coogan.

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January of 2015 Gеоrgе Lуnсh rеlеаѕеd album Sweet Lynch, “Onlу tо Rise” fеаturing Miсhaеl Sweet оf “Strуреr”.   In July Gеоrgе rеlеаѕеd the аlbum “Shadow Train” the movie ѕоund trасk оf his forth соming dосumеntаrу film “Shаdоw Nаtiоn”.

Dokken is reuniting in Japan for six shows titled “Unleashed in the East.” starting October 5th, 2016.

George Lynch iѕ аlwауѕ еvоlving аѕ a musician. And with the Gеоrgе Lynch guitаr legacy соmеѕ rеmаrkаblе business орроrtunitiеѕ. Many musical instrument mаnufасturеrѕ consult with Gеоrgе сrеаtivеlу tо produce еԛuiрmеnt. As a rеѕult, mаnу quality products bеаr his nаmе.

The mоѕt nоtаblе iѕ his еndоrѕеmеnt with ESP Guitаrѕ. ESP hаѕ hеld George аѕ their highest рrоfilеd еndоrѕеr for сlоѕе tо 20 years. Electric guitаr pickup guru Seymour Duncan has also hоnоrеd Gеоrgе with hiѕ оwn signature ѕеriеѕ рiсkuр called thе “Screamin’ Dеmоn.” Now a highlу rеgаrdеd ѕtаndаrd in thе guitar world, thе “Screamin’ Dеmоn” rеignѕ as оnе of Sеуmоur Dunсаn’ѕ mоѕt popular itеmѕ to date. Gеоrgе аlѕо соnсеivеd thе design fоr a triрlе amp selector switching system called thе “Tripler” which iѕ mаnufасturеd bу Morley. Amеriсаn Rесоrding Tесhnоlоgу mаnufасturеѕ аnd distributes the Gеоrgе Lynch Signаturе guitаr, раtсh and ѕреаkеr cables. In 2005, Rаndаll Amрlifiеrѕ revealed a nеw George Lуnсh modular amp called the “Lуnсh Bоx.” Alѕо оf note, Gеоrgе Lynch and Robert Kееlеу hаvе developed thе Lуnсh Time Machine, a uniԛuе аnd powerful еffесt unit that iѕ gаining a lоt of intеrеѕt аnd momentum within thе guitаr industry.

SOME OTHER EQUIPMENT USED BY GEORGE LYNCH

  • The Kamikaze mоdеl, bаѕеd оn hiѕ first ESP guitar
  • Thе Tiger mоdеl, a hоmеmаdе Strat constructed frоm a ѕtосk of parts George bоught frоm Chаrvеl in the 1980ѕ
  • The Skull & Snаkеѕ, a design later used fоr the Lynch Mob “Wicked Sensation” аlbum artwork
  • The Flame Bоу, bаѕеd on аn ESP Forest dеѕign
  • The Nеw Suреr V, whiсh inсludеѕ diѕtrеѕѕеd hardware and fеаturеѕ аnd a nеw “Suреr V” рiсkuр
  • Thе Ultrа Tоnе, the firѕt ESP guitаr thаt Gеоrgе designed himѕеlf
  • Thе Sеrреnt, an ESP model released аnd uѕеd in thе 1990ѕ
  • Chаrvеl Dinky Tiger (mаin guitar until аbоut 1986)
  • Krаmеr Baretta (аlѕо used реriоdiсаllу in Dоkkеn’ѕ еаrlу dауѕ)
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Jon Levin – Rokken with Dokken’s Axe Master The Interview

By Andrew Catania

August 21, 2016 

My first interview for my website is with Jon Levin.  Jon is the guitarist for Dokken.  Jon was very gracious with his time and was an excellent person to speak with.  I’m very proud to have Jon Levin from Dokken as my first interview!  Thank you Jon and good look on the road!

 

Jon, thank you very much for this interview.  You’re going to be my first interview and new launch off my new website. With your background being an attorney, a guitar player for Dokken and all that, you have quite a story / history here. 

Cool, Right on! Fire away man what do you want to know??

Basically, I know you’ve been in Dokken for about thirteen / fourteen years, and I know you started playing piano as a kid and all, for people who do not know you, how did you end up trying to play guitar for the first time? 

 

That’s a good question.  Well I started out with the piano, then I went violin, then trumpet and actually, I wasn’t very good on piano or violin but I was a good trumpet player and that was like in third or fourth grade. Then I found I knew I was into music somehow. Then I went to a friend of mines house and he had this electric guitar a very inexpensive old one you know and a Peavey little amp and this Beatles book The Beatles Complete and he didn’t play it at all and then I started monkeying around with it and realized we had this old acoustic guitar in our basement that was once my mothers and it as just lying around down there.  So I started learning how to play a few cords on that and I took a couple lessons I remember, then I took to it quickly and I forgot about the horn playing after that. Once I discovered the Beatles, I discovered the Rolling Stones and that was when I was completely hooked once I found the Rolling Stones.

With the Stones did you progress with the guitar?
Did you get into Clapton or any of that era there before getting into Randy Rhoads later on?

Totally, I started out in my earlier years when I learned how to play I learned how to play like Eric Clapton solo’s. it’s funny you should have mentioned this cause just two nights ago I pulled out — I have a pretty good memory when it comes to music, not always so much for names and places but for music I can remember things just like uncanningly. I just pulled out the guitar and I started playing the Cross Roads solo I knew it pretty much note for note when I was a kid and I remember how to play it now. Funny you should mention that because I haven’t played that guitar solo in probably 30 years or more and I was playing that just the other night.  Yes, I got into Clapton and he was the first major influence when I was a kid. I learned the Crossroads Solo, I learned Sunshine of Your Love, then I learned a couple Hendrix things. I got into Hendrix. When I was a kid, I would try to play these things as closely as I could as be opposed to ‘sort of’ doing it.   I actually really got into it and from there I found, of course, Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen – went down the gammit… Ace Frehley, I was a Kiss fan too when I was kid that was a little earlier.

That’s what I was going to ask you, did you get into any Kiss at all or Sabbath?

Totally Kiss, when I was a kid I remember I had the giant Kiss poster in my room. You know the one of Ace with the smoking guitar?  I don’t know if you remember that but I had that in my room when I was maybe 14.

Yes, I was a baby back then.

You know there were other influences too, I played a lot of different things when I was a kid. I had a phase where I was really into Lynyrd Skynyrd. I learned how to play a lot of that stuff. Then I got into Judas Priest for a while.  I was sort of all over the place. I have phases where I would really get into particular records, you know we had records back then, vinyl and I would just like beat it to death and then I’d somehow get onto the next thing and go to that. I went through many phases and it altered my ability, it altered what I wanted in terms of musical gear too you know.

What were you using? We’re probably back to the late 70’s probably early 80’s when EVH and all the guys were coming around what kind of guitars where are you using at that time?

In 1979 I got my first real Gibson Les Paul custom, it was a gift and I still have it today, I’m the original owner I still have that.  That was my first real guitar. Back then they were inexpensive toy type guitars I had a Univox hi flier that was my first electric guitar.  Then I got the Les Paul and then I bought one of the early Charvels in early 1981 – 1982 right around there one of the original ones. I still have that also. So it started out on the Gibson for a while.  Once I found the Charvel then I knew I liked the ones when I was kid once I sort of latched on to that I went for a bunch of guitars. Then I went veered back when I got a little older early 20’s I went back to the early Gibson and Fender and I started playing vintage instruments.

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Back in Long Island. I was reading that you were playing the club scene in your late teens and early 20’s, was that typically a hard rock band? where are you playing some different music? how did that come about?

That was a hard rock band called Devias.  I went to college for two years and I found this singer whose name is Frank Vestri who’s really a nice guy and we started a band together then I decided to drop out of college. So I dropped out of college and started a band with him and started playing Long Island clubs. There was a bass player that we played with his name was Greg Smith he was an old dear friend of mine who went on to be in many bands from Alice Cooper to Ted Nugent, he’s been in a ton of bands.  That happened when I was a kid, he was a little older than me and he was in a bigger club band called Cintron – I went on to play for him and it was a bit thrill for me, so we got into a club band together did quite a number of dates that was where I developed my ability to play concert and start focusing more as a professional, the transition from just bedroom to taking it to stage.

When that ended, did that end on its own?  You said he went to another band?
Did that end, did you guys actually blossom out together? 

You’re asking a really good question.

Ok here’s what happened. we had a deal with Capital. we got offered a record deal, they said if we had a keyboard player on stage we were signed and it was Clive Davis who was going to sign us but for whatever reason, we did not want a keyboard player in the band so we didn’t end up doing that which we probably should have, we were jerks back then, I don’t know what we were thinking. Tommy Hendrickson who is another dear old friend of mine, saw me play one night when I was in a club and I got a call one night from one of the producers, from Tommy actually telling me he was in warlock and they needed a guitar player , I’ll never forget this, I was 21 years old, the early twenties, and then he said to me , I want to tell you, I know you’ve been in club bands , I remember exactly what he said, “when they tell you something in this band, it happens and he was doing videos and touring and doing it on a real level where I was still in the clubs and I said to him alright let’s make this happen, so I met with him, I started learning songs, I went down and played with Doro. Then I got a call the next day from her manager Alex Grobe.  I didn’t know who he was and he said, can you come to my office in Manhattan and I did that and he offered me the job and I took it. Then when I was 22 I made my first record with Doro and did my first European tour that summer, which was. I think I was 23 when we toured it was 88 we made the record in 88 and we toured in 89.

I remember that video being on MTVs Headbangers Ball, I was 16 years sold seeing you for the first time. I remember you vividly because Doro was a warlock and her playing under her name, then warlock, and I remember bobby rock was in the band too if I am not mistaking?

The videos I was in was in was hard times and whiter shades of hail they were both played a lot, they were played heavily on MTV back in the late 80’s.  No Bobby Rhondonelli. when I was a kid my very first concert I saw was when I was 15 at Madison Square Garden was Rainbow and Scorpions, Bobby Rhondonelli was the drummer in Rainbow and he did this 15-minute incredible drum solo so for me to be in my first situation with Tommy Hendrickson and Bobby Rhondonelli we made for a great band, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever been in.

What happened with Doro and you, did you move on to greener pastures? how did that end?

What happened was me, Tommy, Bobby and myself found another singer, this guy who I’m still friends with again, he lives in Switzerland now.  Eric St Michaels and we had some down time because we finished touring with her, with Doro and we had some down time, Tommy and I decided we wanted to keep writing so we wrote a couple songs with Eric and we recorded them and then all of a sudden they came out incredibly and the next thing you know we had a manager and a deal from Atlantic Records. That was really how that went about we all decided that we wanted to do our own deal. We all left Doro and Doro is a wonderful girl, it was great playing with her, had it not been for that other event with our own thing, I’m sure we would have stayed but that’s just how it went…

When you were with Doro, just kind of getting technical here. what kind of gear where you using at that point and time? Was it endorsements?

Yes, my first endorsement I got in 1986 with Kramer guitars. I didn’t have anything happening at that point. 86/87 I was just in a club band 20 or 21 years old.  I sent in just a tape that we did and they called me because they liked the way I played and said we’re going to endorse you and they gave me my first endorsed guitar and I had a good run with them they were very kind to me.  For amps I remember I was using the Marshall 50 watt, 2205 model  it was the first channel switching Marshalls they had it’s the same amp that Michael Schenker used 2205 and I liked them, I had four of them 2205s and I had one 100 watt one that I got from England, actually when I was a kid  my parents went to England and sent me one of the amps from London it was a great one too and I used those amps, I use the 50 watt version of those when I was in Warlock, you know with  my Kramer Beretta with no effects .. I plugged straight in, I think I had a graphic EQ that I ran through the ??? and that was it. literally, no pedal nothing, I just played direct and I did that for many years and even through the Dokken days I didn’t start even putting a pedalboard together till after I was in Dokken probably for 3 or 4 years, the first 3,4, or 5 years maybe I just played straight direct into the amp with nothing. Wow! yeah, now I have a couple effects I use but they’re very minimum.

Yeah, the Dokken stuff that is the next on my list. 

When the Grunge scene came on with the Pearl Jam and Nirvana and all that, did you. I read the other articles where you said that guitarist position was pretty much DOA because everyone was in flannel and Hollywood and whiskey and go – go and sunset strip and everyone pretty much retired at that time was that the main reason you decided to attend law school how did you go about reaching that decision? 

You know that was definitely a big part of it and there were other outside influences like my mother passed away right around that time, and I think that really once that my mother passed away I sort of gave up the music thing mentally and it was that and the combination of my not being able to see past the grunge thing the lead guitar thing was over at that point I wasn’t thinking it was ever going to change is it going to come back? who knows? I just had to do an about-face at that point, I got into some sort of panic mentality where I saw a job-making nothing from life, there’s no guitar playing thing anymore, I don’t do this grunge thing, you know what am I going to do? It got to that and for reference, I did quite a few number of years where there wasn’t much lead stuff, it went on for a long time.

Right, you’re absolutely right. that went on for a long time… You graduated later from law school, I believe it was 1996?

Yes, 1996 I graduated from law school. right

When you got out of law school, you started practicing law and then the music industry and you had your own record company if-if I’m not mistaken.

Yes, that is exactly right, I started out right away  and I had a record label with my friend Brian Landau who had worked for Electra for ten years at that time we started a record company together.

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What did you do, did you sign anybody of notoriety or did you just kind of keep it to one side or specific genre or music like music contacts?  What did you do?

We did we had a couple of bands, we signed a band called The Dead Life. We got a deal for them on Elektra and we had another band called the Eccentric Sound System, I think was on Sony so we put out a few records and the label was actually doing well but then after this, there goes the music industry.

That brings us up to the late 90’s, like 98-1999 that’s when Dokken started kind of coming in the fold for you 1998, did you start, was that when Jeff Pilsen told you to come down and jam or was that more towards 2003?  How did everything come about with Dokken? Was that the conversation you had?

Yes in April or May, around may of 98, Jeff asked if I would play some solos for him, he had left a message on my office voice mail. He didn’t mention on that message that it was for Dokken, because had he done that, I probably would not have never done it is — at that point, I hadn’t really played guitar from 93/94 or all the way to that point, I played guitar just occasionally it was like in my brain over… so it was my dad, I heard the message at my father’s house, I was having dinner at his place.  I would still dress in my work clothes on that day, I remember, it was a suit and I checked my messages and mentioned to my dad, ‘I just got a call from someone who asked me if I would play and he was like ‘DO IT’ so I said why?  He’s like ‘go and do it’ and I remember it was so much, it was raining that night and I was dressed in a suit and I’m like, “I don’t want to go” my dad pushed me into it. So I drove down to Redondo Beach then the studio door opened and this is how it happened, “literally the door opened and Don was there and he had a Les Paul in his hand and he put the Les Paul in my hands and I think he was skeptical he was just like here, play and you know, knowing now, I  think he must have been skeptical, I mean  who wouldn’t be skeptical.

I remember I threw off my jacket and took the tie off and he just ran the tape. I said, can I hear the section?  at least let me hear what you want me to play over, he was like, it’s in E, just solo … I was like OK. so I soloed on two songs and it actually ended up getting released, one was Iris song and the other was a demo version of what became the maddest hatter, that one didn’t get released by the Iris song got released in Europe or Japan or somewhere and that was in 98. Then in June of 98, Jeff calls me again and I guess George had just quit at that point and said, hey we have to play at Dallas star club and do a headline can you learn all these songs July 4, we have like two weeks, I’m like Ok, yes! So that was my first. actually, we did a tune up show for Don’s birthday.  Don owned a restaurant called the Stake Out, and we played at the Stake Out, I almost didn’t make it, I couldn’t find my way there , I thought he said “The Steak House” but it was Stake Out and I remember I was with my girlfriend at the time and we were just looking around at Redondo Beach and after an hour and a half of looking I was just going to turn around and go home, I’m sure had that happened we wouldn’t be on the phone today and then my girlfriend at the time she says, “wait is that it? I see people outside, you mean the Stake Out? so I said, I guess so!! We luckily found it and after that, I did the Star Plex show


How many people were at the Star Plex show? was that an arena or a club?

It was a typical outdoor amphitheater; it was a large amphitheater.  I would say it was somewhere from 15 to 20,000.

Oh wow. OK
yes, it was big.

So during that time between then and 2003 were you still practicing law or were you still filling in for Dokken ?

Oh yes Between 1998 and 2002 actually not even 98, I think between 2000 and 2002 I did about another dozen or so shows just filling in when they needed somebody and it wasn’t really ever discussed about me joining until one day I got a call from Don in winter 2002, he called me in the winter and asked me to fly out to where he was, and once he asked me that I thought hmm , this might actually end up happening actually and it did!

You kind of had a jest this was going to be happening and you knew he was going to ask you to come on board, full-time, I would imagine at that time?

I didn’t know for sure but I had a feeling that it was somewhat headed in that direction.

Ok, so Don asked you to come aboard full time.  Did you put your law practice on hold while you started working with Dokken on the record in 2003 or did you?

No, I didn’t have to because at the time 100% of my law practice was entertainment law, and when I say entertainment, music, I’m a music attorney.  As a music attorney, all of my work just put on a computer and a fax machine at the time and email. So I actually from that point up until 2008 when we would go on the road, I would just bring, literally all my law stuff with me, I’d bring a brief case, a little portable printer, my laptop, I had a modem, a portable modem and I’d work from the back of the tour bus or in my hotel room.

Wow, that is awesome! That’s really good.  When you started recording with Dokken in 2003, where you a little bit apprehensive you know coming in after George Lynch, I know you said he was an inspiration to your playing — I do believe. Was it hard filling in for that or was it pretty easy for you? How did you handle that? 

You know for some reason; it didn’t bother me at all.  I think it was because you know how I was telling you earlier I had my phases where I listen to like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Judas Priest , I had a very long phase of being, I mean a Dokken phase it was a very long phase for me, I was this George Lynch fan, you know, they were really my favorite band for a long period of time so for me it was a really natural fit, I didn’t have to force it at all, it never really struck me as trying to put a square peg into a round hole or anything, it was just a proper fit for me and I  think that’s why I just always felt comfortable with it.

OK, I was going to say, when you debuted in 2003, die hard rocking fans accepted you and have said nothing but positive – high praise for your playing and I have not heard anything negative about you. Every Dokken fan I’ve known has said that you blend in with Don and the band and mix magnificently.

Well thank you

Like I told you, I sent your picture of to my group and told them I was going to be speaking with you, there was several responses of how they saw you on tour at different clubs and they said that you can really really play guitar and I agree with them, I look on YouTube and I can see the way you’re playing and the albums are just phenomenal, I mean I’m not just talking as a journalist talking as a fan of yours and a fan of Dokken’s 

Thank You! It’s very greatly appreciated

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It’s awesome, that leads to my next question. The Dokken albums that you’ve played on and I’ve told you that you sound amazing with the great guitar work, how different was your gear when recording each album? 

Completely different from each record, do you want me to tell you specifically what it was, I can.

I mean yes, if you can go into details because the guitar nerds that I deal with. this was a question they wanted me to ask you, what kind of gear that you were using. 

Yes, sure! For Hell to Pay, we did that in total access, we did the whole thing in the studio, from what I recall anyway, at least all of the guitar parts we did basic track in the studio and I know I did also all my guitar parts in total access as well, I’m not sure I think Don may have done some of it in his studio and for that record it was my JCM 2000 head, an actual. yeah, we mic that up, I used different guitars for different stuff. I used my ‘57 Les Paul for some of it. and then for all of the solos on that record were from an amp that Don had that’s modified, I think it was a 100 watt Marshall with snakeskin around it and all of the solos with that were with that and I think my Kramer Beretta’s.  From there on Lighting Strikes Again, I did a lot of that in my studio for my part, not all of it but a lot of it, I mean we actually used a few different places for that, we did some in total access, we did some at another studio up in the hills in Hollywood here and then Don did some at his place and I did some at my place.  So for guitar sounds all that was rhythm was I used my JCM 900 in my place, one day Wynn Davis just came here and mic’d up a cabinet in my house, and we bought this thing called the hotplate? it was like a tower attenuator so that basically allowed me to crank the amp all the way up so it sounds like the warmth of a cranked up amp but it wasn’t blasting my neighbor’s head’s off(laughing). so I wasn’t really getting that speaker push it was nice.  My JCM 900 was a tube screamer that was that entire, all the guitar sounds are all of that and that’s more of a retro sound, I wanted something a little more that I would fit in with the Dokken catalog a little better. Then we did Broken Bones , that I decided I got tired of , I didn’t like having time pressure to do my leads and it seemed like that was would always end up happening because you know it’s expensive when you’re on the clock and I didn’t want to just be like ‘Johnny on the spot’  throw a quick solo down on the first , as soon as they get something that somewhat works , that’s like good enough and lets do the next one — I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t like doing that and that’s how I did all the other stuff and at that point, so for Broken Bones I actually got this thing called the ‘Eleven Rack’ and had an engineer come and set me up in my studio and I was able to just record solo after solo with this thing called re-amp track .  So we weren’t so much worried about tone, it didn’t really matter because after I had done when we went to Mick, I was able to run my signal back to anything I wanted. Do you know what I mean?

Yes

Because there was a direct signal running, printing at the same time as the actual tone all at although it turned out at the same time    That sound I created on the eleven rack and I borrowed this guitar, I knew I wanted to use the sustainer?  for something on that guitar on that record that I borrowed from Fender , yes Fender endorsed it , they loaned me a guitar that had a stain mechanism in it, it was one of Phil Collen models , yeah it was nice, it had incredibly heavy strings on it and when I got home, I just plugged it in and played a few solo’s with it on those incredibly heavy strings actually more than a few, I took half, maybe half the album and just had a moment of inspiration with this sustainer on this guitar and I like a lot of what I did but that, unfortunately, had me locking into doing almost the whole record with those incredibly heavy strings and  it really bothered my hands after a while but if you ?? our want to use these parts you do realize you’re locked into this , you want to make a teensy change you have to use that exact guitar so that happens and I actually ended up really liking the lead sound I got and a lot of the rhythm sound too I think for tone wise I am happiest with some of the tracks on Broken Bones with the rhythms some of them are re amps and also incorporate my original eleven rack sound almost all of it is that.  I was pretty happy with how that went and its basically what evolved.

The Broken Bones album, I think between you and Don it felt like you guys were probably the most comfortable of the albums you guys had done together just seemed like you guys, just the flow was there. the music was.

Yes, it was, that’s how it went down when we recorded it like that it was amazing, that translated like that because before we did it you know for some reason when we did that record it felt all along like we were doing something that was just going to be really great you know.

When the album came out, Don said it was going to be the last Dokken album is that pretty much carved in stone?

You never know, we’re talking about potentially doing another one now. Don and I both always did this for the art we love making music and we love to play  and we like to collaborate too, so it was always about that and not so much about anything else it’s the bureaucracy of the record business and all that neither of us really love that you know I guess it’s just part of my only problem with it and I know Don feels the same  is you spend so much time pouring your heart  into these albums that there’s really no outlet for record sales anymore or even to really have it heard there’s just no industry left .
You spend so much time on it and you really can’t sell it and then you want to hear it and just hope people are able to hear it on YouTube so it’s just that, you have to somewhat do it for no reason other than you want to write or play for yourself because it’s not like it was back in the day when there were real record labels and you know there was a lot going on.  There are no record stores anymore.

John, you actually jumped ahead of questions here of mine and I’ll just get right to this, with you practicing law and the music industry I would love your opinion about the YouTube situation? Their compensation bands have many people angry about that Nikki Six is leading the bleed on it and being very vocal about that , that’s something I started studying about and listening to You Tube it’s kind of like Spotify that you’re really not getting compensated for it as an artist because if you have like an end user account like me because I’m a journalist or as a fan and I got one of your videos that if I saw you down here in Orlando at The Hard Rock or you know and I’m playing that less than two minutes , how do you feel about that or what is your opinion about that do you feel that artists should be properly compensated ? If so how do you think that YouTube should police that? 

You know I got to tell you that I really don’t have an answer for that. As far as the music side of things, I always just did it because I love music as far as what it really is. At this point in my legal career the original music law left, you know I’ve veered into other things at this point so I don’t know that I have a definitive opinion on it.  I’ve just always thought that the only real reason to play music is because we love music and you want people to hear music I always felt that if it’s simply for money or business then do something else.

I don’t want to put words in Don’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure he feels the same way. It was always about the music because you love making music and you want to do something great and hopefully the money follows.  You know, look, people need to make a living and you have to hope that the money will follow but that’s not a priority in the reason to do it I don’t think and the reason to do it is because you love making music.

 

I think that anything that can get you heard is a good thing that’s my whole thing with not wanting to make records so much, it’s hard to get it heard and any vehicle that you can access and use to get your music heard is a great thing for the artist.  There’s plenty of other money you can make in touring and other facets but it’s all got to start with getting the music heard.  I’m from a concern that you know ten or twenty years there may not be anything left, the music industry to me is just dying out largely.

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The new bands now, like you said back in the 80’s where we had large budgets for bands, we could spend half a million dollars on videos that are just not the way now and a lot of these bands are touring for a couple years at a time because this is how you guys are making a majority of your income from T – Shirts to concerts and other revenue like that because you can’t get any money off of I-tunes or some of the other places. 

Yes, it’s really a catch 22 because the only way a new band can make money is if you can tour but you can’t tour until you have a name that you can sell tickets, it’s very difficult. That’s the reason for exactly what I was just earlier saying that I’m concerned that a lot of the industry is going to strain even more because new bands can’t find a way to break out.  It’s a catch 22.

Going back to your Charvel signature series guitar. I remember Charvel was talking with you about launching that.  Did it sell out?
No, they’re out and also they sold all of them.

That’s what I thought because I can’t find one anywhere. 

The deal was they wanted to make a limited amount of a custom signature model and they made them and they all sold pretty rapidly and that was that.  Maybe they’ll do more, I haven’t really discussed it with them since, I’m sure it will come up at some point.

Your signature series had rave reviews about it and all.

Yes, they came out and really knocked it out of the park. They came out unbelievably.  I was really happy about that.

I wish I could have played one, I didn’t.  With the younger generation that we have of guitarists and bands and all that was there any guitars that you might have heard that you know that you like or some of the other shredders that you could pass the torch on from musicians like yourself that have been playing for so long and you’re playing in a band like Dokken is there any one of the younger guitarists out there that have caught your eye? 

Yes, there have been a few actually, let me see if I can pull up names.  Frankly one of them was someone I saw, I found on YouTube and it was this young kid he must have been his early teens and he just had an incredible feel.  I wish I could recall his name but I don’t. You know there’s another younger guy, he’s a little older he’s in his early 20’s Brandon Paul, he’s in his early 20’s, he’s a great player and it’s great to see someone in their early 20’s perform. I think it’s great because you don’t want to see this art form die out. cause I hate to say it but today’s kids I hate to say it but they play video games.

 

 

Are you using primarily Charvels now when you’re out on tour with Dokken or are you mixing them up with your old Les Pauls? What are you using these days? 

I still pretty much use all the Charvels I have a bunch of Les Pauls, it’s really difficult, it’s become harder and harder with the airline situations. I don’t like to check guitars so I carry it on with me.  Now these newer planes I just flew just recently and the brand new plane doesn’t have a bin that is big enough to even hold the guitar and now that’s concerning, so you know just the old Gibson thing is I love my Les Pauls but they’re not really conducive to doing this job. At my point, I don’t really want to deal with having to tune mine.  There are enough other things to do without having to deal with it.  I try to keep it simple.  I love my Charvels and they stay in tune with   the sound great so I just stick with that.  I love my Les Pauls too but those stick more home or in the studio. Although I have brought a Les Paul with me in 2004 I took one with me.

Do you enjoy touring? do you like being out on the road or do enjoy more being at home around LA?

I love playing the show, I love playing.  The traveling element of it I can do without but that is just you know you have to suffer through the grueling traveling schedule to do what you love to do.  Nothing comes without a price you know I don’t really love the traveling but I love to play so in order to do what I want to do I have to deal with traveling.

Do you enjoy meeting the fans? Do they treat you well? Like at the meet and greets? 

Yes, the fans have always been great for me and I love meeting the fans. You know we have some of the best fans of anyone in my opinion.  We have really loyal wonderful fans that I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of great people through my travels the band

John my last question is do you have any plans for putting a solo album out with your work? Maybe going the Mike Varney way? You got the talent!

Thanks, Man! You know frankly there’s a whole lot of other facets of how I play that really aren’t exposed in the Dokken situation so it’s not something I oppose to but what I’d be opposed to is just anytime I’ve ever heard anything instrumental just for me for the 99% of it I just find incredibly boring so you know that’s just sort of why sort of I didn’t want to do it. If I could find a way of doing it that it really wouldn’t be, to me I just haven’t never heard much by way of instrumental that I think that it’s great. The only one I’ve ever heard that was able to do it well not the only one’s but one of the only artists I’ve ever heard do it was and in a great interesting way is Nuno Bettencourt.

Yes, I met Nuno on Generation Axe when I was still in North Carolina about four months ago with all the Steve Vai and Yngwie

yeah, I heard that was great and he put on a great show and was amazing in it.

Nuno really put on a great show, Steve Vai was great, Yngwie put on a good show and Zakk Wylde They all put a good show on

John those are my questions you’ve answered every single one of them that I had for you.  I appreciate your music with Dokken I’ve followed you since you’ve been kind of creeping in their 1998 – 1999 then you came in in 2003. Are you guys going to be out on the road after the overseas thing?

We’re back out, we’re not stopping, I’m leaving next Thursday.

Excellent, OK, well good! 
We have a bunch of shows for that and then after that reunion as well

Alright well, fantastic, I hope to see you guys down here if you guys are hitting in Florida down here and all that, I’ll definitely reach out to you guys. 

Yeah sure! 

Yeah, you play excellent guitar with Don and you put on a fantastic show. You’re definitely one of the elite guys out there. 

Thanks so much, I really appreciate your call and I appreciate your time.