INTERVIEW WITH BRYAN WILKINSON AND ADAM ARLING OF THE LAST VEGAS
Date: April 20, 2016
Interviewer: Metal Mike
THE LAST VEGAS ARE RAMPING UP TO BEGIN THE CANADIAN LEG OF THEIR NORTH AMERICAN TOUR BEGINNING TONIGHT IN HAMILTON, ONTARIO. THE LAST VEGAS ARE NO STRANGERS TO SLEAZE ROXX AND ITS READERS GIVEN THAT THEIR ‘WHATEVER GETS YOU OFF’ ALBUM TOPPED SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2009 AND THEIR ‘SWEET SALVATION’ ALBUM LANDED THE NUMBER NINE SPOT ON SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2014. IN ADDITION, ‘WHATEVER GETS YOU OFF’ WAS NUMBER SEVEN ON THE SLEAZE ROXX READERS’ TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2009 WHILE THE LAST VEGAS’ ‘BAD DECISIONS’ ALBUM WAS NUMBER SIX ON THE SLEAZE ROXX READERS’ TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2012. ON THE EVE OF THE LAST VEGAS’ MINI-CANADIAN TOUR, SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH GUITARISTS BRYAN WILKINSON AND ADAM ARLING TO TALK ABOUT THE BAND, THE NEW ALBUM ‘EAT ME’ AND MORE.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve got the new album ‘Eat Me.’ You’re touring all over North America, and Europe later. How’s that going?
Bryan Wilkinson: So far everything has been fantastic! Chris Laney over in Sweden kind of post-produced the album and mixed it, and we couldn’t be happier. We’re super happy with AFM Records and the working relationship we’ve had with them in this process. They did a beautiful job with pressing the album, and our management/design team at FM Entertainment in Chicago did a great job putting our vision together. People are responding really well to the songs with excitement and also have paid great compliments to the direction we took things on this album.
Sleaze Roxx: Any Canadian road stories? It’s a big country even though you’re only playing [in the province of] Ontario so far on this tour.
Bryan Wilkinson: One story that comes to mind, is coming out of the hotel in Montreal [in the province of Quebec] on Thanksgiving — for the US anyways — in 2012 to a snapped trailer axle. Locating a garage to fix this thing when you don’t speak French was a bit of an adventure, and then unloading all the gear down a hallway of the hotel and limping the trailer 30 minutes away to get welded to make it back to Chicago. We hauled ass five hours to make the show in Peterborough after we got her patched up, and ended up having a lovely time.
Sleaze Roxx: On April 14, 2009, ‘Whatever Gets You Off‘ was released. Still a great party album so many years later. What do you remember about the recording, touring, etc. for that album?
Adam Arling: ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ was a pretty rad time for The Last Vegas. The album was half songs we recorded out in LA with Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba and Marty Frederiksen, and half songs Nikki really liked from our self-titled album we recorded just a few months before. We were staying in hotels around LA, would wake up, go to Marty’s house, meet up with Nikki Sixx, eat pizza and flesh through ideas, track them, then go find a show and/or party, stay out til 3am and generally act like a bunch of Chicago maniacs around town with a lot of press coverage on the band. Pretty surreal, and in the ‘moment’ every band strives for cause you know it ain’t gonna last more than a few weeks [laughs].
The Last Vegas was pretty good at teetering on the edge of destruction and chaos, without letting the live shows ever suffer. It fueled it in a fucked-up, unknowing way. The touring initially on that album was big-time — stadiums, large clubs, sheds — we really connected with a lot of people in that cycle. Nikki Sixx, Allen Kovan and all the Eleven Seven / 10th St. Entertainment people were great to work with and helped build the band. We made a lot of friends and fans that we still hang with today from those times.
Sleaze Roxx: And working with Nikki Sixx must have been a thrill?
Adam Arling: Of course. Nikki Sixx wrote the book — literally — on capturing LA teenage goth mystique, and he was so cool to The Last Vegas in every aspect. There was a day when we were messing with a chorus for “I’m Bad” — four of us rocking acoustics — and I remember looking at the The Last Vegas dudes and just laughing, thinking you gotta be kidding me! Wait ’til we tell our jerk Chicago friends about this one! Above and beyond the initial shell shock, what impressed us is how genuinely cool, smart, and artistic Nikki is. He went above and beyond for us, offered a lot of great advice on matters ranging from the creative process, writing ’sticky lyrics’ to managing ex-wives. The dude gets a lot of respect for a reason, and it was really telling to get some personal insight on why he’s the man.
Sleaze Roxx: The Last Vegas is known for its somewhat eccentric approach to song writing. Your new album ‘Eat Me‘ was reviewed by Sleaze Roxx in February. One quote from that review states, “There are so many different styles on Eat Me. The band covers overtones from the ’60s with the Beatles-esque “Universe You” to some more ’70s groove-oriented rock with tracks such as “Hot Fudge” and The Faces’ styled “Hard To Get Over You.” The Last Vegas have really done it well.” Can you respond to that?
Bryan Wilkinson: We are quite proud that we’re in the company of Beatles, Faces, and 1970s references with this album. We had no goals, musical direction, producer, or genre in mind when we did this album. Just got in a room and had a blast putting these songs together, creating as friends. The album came out better than we could have ever hoped for, and proof that if you don’t overthink it, great things can happen. A live show is a moment, but an album is forever.
Sleaze Roxx: When the band jams, what gets you in the groove? Do you shoot for a sound or does it just come out?
Bryan Wilkinson: Gets us in the groove… How about granola, pussy, and a good bottle of suds? For real, we thrive off our influences and what bands we’re listening to, not to mention the excitement of getting out and playing. The gear we play also plays a large role in our sound, our approach, and our enjoyment. Playing quality instruments, amps, and drums gives us daily inspiration; and we’re lucky to have great people working with us at companies such as Ernie Ball, Marshall Amplification, Natal Drums, Crabby Guy Amps, Music Solutions, Hanson Guitars, ESP/LTD Guitars, Humes & Berg, Pro Mark, Evans, Sabian, In Tune Guitar Picks, Shure, etc.
Sleaze Roxx: Sleaze Roxx and other websites often include The Last Vegas with mostly European bands like Shiraz Lane, Hell in the Club, The Treatment, etc. How would you define your sound and do you like being compared to those bands?
Bryan Wilkinson: We would describe our sound as 1970s influenced garage/boogie rock. It’s hard rock at heart, but we don’t prefer to be labeled as a hair band, or sleaze metal or anything referencing the ’80s hair band era. We have attributes of such in small ways, but our sound and tones are more in line with the ’70s, and perhaps with this album the ’90s & 2000s.
Sleaze Roxx: That being said, why do you think the North American market is so much less interested in hard rock acts than Europe, where it seems to really push that style?
Bryan Wilkinson: America has is markets that allow hard rock acts to thrive. Europe has a deeper appreciation for music and they listen differently than people in America. That’s just a fact. There’s support all across the world, but I do hope Americans can take a page out of the book Europeans live by in terms of choosing the music they stand behind. We’re lucky enough to have great shows in many parts of the US, Canada, and UK/Europe.
Sleaze Roxx: In the fall, you’re in Europe touring with The Quireboys. That sounds like a great match-up. Have you worked with them before?
Bryan Wilkinson: We are super stoked on The Quireboys run! Playing some great towns, and more being set up in other parts of Europe as well. Never worked with them before, but Nate [The Last Vegas’ drummer Nathan Arling] did book them at the club Double Door where he’s the talent buyer at in Chicago [Illinois, USA]. Loved seeing them live, stoked for the tour!
Sleaze Roxx: And the typical question follows… Who are the coolest bands and the biggest pains in the ass you’ve ever performed with?
Bryan Wilkinson: We’ve been lucky to play with tons of bands we admire and relate with. Everyone’s been pretty cool to us, especially Alice Cooper and company, Buckcherry, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, etc.
Sleaze Roxx: After Europe, what’s next? More touring, a new record, or what?
Bryan Wilkinson: Time will tell!
Sleaze Roxx: Thanks so much guys. I am looking forward to meeting you in Barrie. Metal Mike
The Last Vegas’ 2016 tour dates (so far):
Apr. 20 — This Ain’t Hollywood — Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Apr. 21 — The Roxy Side Room — Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Apr. 22 — Cherry Cola’s — Toronto, Ontario, Canada (w/ The Anti Queens)
Apr. 23 — Call The Office — London, Ontario, Canada
Apr. 27 — House Of Blues — Chicago, Illinois, USA (w/ The Darkness and Raven Eye)
May 12 — Bottom Of The Hill — San Francisco, California, USA (w/ All Time Highs)
May 13 — Viper Room — West Hollywood, California, USA (w/ All Time Highs)
May 14 — Counts Vamp’d — Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (w/ BulletBoys)
May 15 — Harvelles — Long Beach, California, USA (w/ Tribe Of Gypsies)
July 23 — Burning Cow Music Festival — Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Nov. 17 — Keller Klub — Stuttgart, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 18 — Airport — Regensberg, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 19 — Paunchy Cats — Lichtenfels, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 20 — Garage Deluxe — Munchen, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 21 — 27 — Platten, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 23 — Turock — Essen, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 25 — Logo — Hamburg, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)
Nov. 26 — Das Bett — Frankfurt, Germany (w/ The Quireboys)