Interview with Dirty Looks and Dangerous Toys guitarist and 99 Crimes frontman Paul Lidel

INTERVIEW WITH DIRTY LOOKS AND DANGEROUS TOYS GUITARIST, AND 99 CRIMES FRONTMAN PAUL LIDEL
Date: December 10, 2019
Interviewer: Olivier
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (first, sixth and seventh photos)

FOUR DAYS AGO, IT WAS REVEALED THAT DIRTY LOOKS WERE REFORMING AND PLAYING BRAD LEE ENTERTAINMENT’S BALLROOM BLITZ EVENT IN GLEN BURNIE, MARYLAND, USA ON MARCH 20, 2020 WITH DANGEROUS TOYS FRONTMAN JASON MCMASTER ON LEAD VOCALS. IT WAS LATER REVEALED THAT THE DIRTY LOOKS LINE-UP WOULD ALSO FEATURE ORIGINAL BAND MEMBERS — PAUL LIDEL (GUITAR), JACK PYERS (BASS) AND GENE BARNETT (DRUMS) AND THAT ANOTHER SHOW WOULD BE TAKING PLACE IN CENTRAL, PENNSYLVANIA, USA ON MARCH 21, 2020. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH LIDEL TO FIND ALL ABOUT THE HISTORY IN THE MAKING REFORMATION OF DIRTY LOOKS ALONG WITH DANGEROUS TOYS AND 99 CRIMES’ RECORDING PLANS.

Sleaze Roxx: Dirty Looks are back! I have so many questions for you [laughs]. How did the reformation come about? How long has this been in the making?

Paul Lidel: These two shows have been many, many years in the making. We talked about doing a reunion show over 10 years ago when Henrik was still alive. Back in 2007, Henrik [Ostergaard] asked me to write and play on a couple songs on the ‘Gasoline’ album, which I did. The titles were “New White Naked” and “Trick Of The Moon.” After that, we started staying in touch more and Jack [Pyers] and I played on all of the “Superdeluxe” album. We tried to get a show together but it never materialized. Henrik and I did have some good laughs over the phone while the ‘Superdeluxe’ album was being recorded. I did my parts in Austin, Texas so we never did get to see each other. It was heartbreaking when he passed. I’m glad to say that we were on very good terms. Our last conversation was really nice. I think he knew it would be our last. A few years after he passed, Jack contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a memorial show, which I definitely was. Since then we have been trying to get it together, but until now, it never came together. I would refer to these two shows as memorial shows to honor Henrik and his legacy, and to celebrate some cool music that we all made together back then. At this point, we don’t have any definite plans to play any other shows, although we haven’t ruled out the possibility. I’m really looking forward to sharing the stage with Jack and Gene [Barnett] again!   

Sleaze Roxx: We actually spoke about this at Rocklanta [in Atlanta, Georgia, USA] back in March [2019]. You told me at that time that Jason [McMaster] was going to be handling the lead vocals in Dirty Looks. Anyone that has to replace Henrik [Ostergaard] has big shoes to fill but Jason seems like a great fit. How did you end up getting Jason in the band and were there any other singers that were considered?

Paul Lidel: Jason would be the first one to tell you that there simply is no “replacing” Henrik Ostergaard. Having said that, I’m quite sure that if Henrik could pick someone to sing for these shows, it would be Jason McMaster. Jason, Henrik and I used to hang out when I was still touring with Dirty Looks. Jason would often come to Dirty Looks shows in Texas and Henrik would always get him up on stage to sing. There was always a lot of mutual admiration between them. So when we first started kicking around the idea of getting a show together to honor Henrik, the choice for the vocalist was just obvious. When Jack came to Texas a couple of years ago to jam with Jason and I, Jason was also playing guitar. We have since decided it would be better for him to just focus on the vocals, so we are bringing in our good friend David Beeson to play rhythm guitar. 

Sleaze Roxx: You have kept very active in the music industry and have kept in the limelight with many bands including Dangerous Toys, Adrenaline Factor and 99 Crimes. How was it reconnecting with Jack [Pyers] and Gene [Barnett]?

Paul Lidel: When Dangerous Toys played at the M3 [Rock] Festival a couple years ago, Jack and I got to spend most of the day together. I also got to see Gene for a bit, which was the first time in many years. So it’s been great to reconnect with them. I’m looking forward to our rehearsals together, and to feel that energy that I always felt when we played together. 

Sleaze Roxx: It appears that Dirty Looks’ first gig will be at the Ballroom Blitz event in Glen Burnie, Maryland [USA] on March 20th of next year. What made you guys decide to make the comeback at that festival?

Paul Lidel: The Ballroom Blitz festival is a Brad Lee Entertainment production. Brad Lee Entertainment also put on the Rocklanta festival that Dangerous Toys played earlier this year. I mentioned to him that there was some talk of doing a show or two and he said he would like to have us on the Ballroom Blitz festival, so things came together from there. He’s always very professional and great to work with, so I’m glad that we have the opportunity to work with him for the first show. 

Sleaze Roxx: Yes. Brad does host some kick ass events! One very special part of your comeback show is that Dirty Looks will be playing ‘Cool From The Wire’ in its entirety. I love that album by the way [laughs]! Who came up with the idea for that one?

Paul Lidel: I’m not exactly sure who came up with that idea, but that album definitely has some of my favorite songs on it. I think we’ll be playing other songs too, but much of the set list will be from ‘Cool From The Wire.’ 

Dirty Looks‘ “Oh Ruby” video (from Cool From The Wire album):

dirty looks – Oh! ruby

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Sleaze Roxx: About 3.5 years ago, a fellow by the name of Todd Cage announced that Dirty Looks were reforming but without the involvement of any original band members. There was some severe backlash from fans to that piece of news and a week later, Cage announced that all efforts to form a new version of Dirty Looks were being dropped due to the negativity being too much to go forward. How did this happen and did you, Gene and Jack discuss this?

Paul Lidel: We were of course aware of it, but I don’t think any of us really took him seriously. It just seemed like an absurd idea. I was glad when he finally dropped the idea. I figured he would. 

Sleaze Roxx: Even Henrik’s former wife Amy chimed with comments on a Sleaze Roxx article. One of Amy’s comments was: “We appreciate the admiration of the original band, but this tribute band doesn’t own the music and never will. That belongs to our sons (mine and Henrik’s) and another original Dirty Looks band member. Just to set the record straight. It makes us happy to know that people are still enjoying the original band and their music. We all know that nobody will be able to recreate Henrik’s voice.” Did you guys get Amy and her sons’ blessing to continue Dirty Looks?

Paul Lidel: Amy and I have recently been exchanging emails. She said, “I think playing the shows is a great idea! I’m sure they will be a great success. I love the idea of keeping the music and the memory alive!” I feel that it’s important that we have her support.

Sleaze Roxx: One thing that Amy mentioned in her comment above was that nobody will be able to recreate Henrik’s voice. Do you think so as well and how do you think that Jason will handle the pressure?

Paul Lidel: Henrik, and his voice were one of a kind. There will never be another like him. But I will say that Jason sounds great singing Dirty Looks songs! Jason is one of the biggest Dirty Looks fans that I know and he is the only one that could do justice to Henrik’s memory. As I said before, I’m quite sure that Henrik would approve. 

Sleaze Roxx: Dirty Looks have also announced another show in Central, Pennsylvania [USA] on March 21, 2020. What are the plans in terms of future shows, the band and dare I ask, new material?

Paul Lidel: Yes there will be a show in Central, Pennsylvania [USA] on March 21st. At the time I’m writing this, they haven’t announced the venue yet, but that should be any day now. At this time, we are only focusing on these two shows. It took so many years to get these two shows together, so who knows if we’ll do it again? Regarding new material, there has been no discussion about that at all. 

Dirty Looks‘ “Nobody Rides For Free” (from Turn of The Screw album):

Dirty Looks – Nobody Rides For Free

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Sleaze Roxx: Back in March 2019, you had advised that Dangerous Toys had written a handful of killer songs and that you were hoping to get in the recording studio pretty soon to record a new album. Where are you guys at now in terms of the recording and releasing a new Dangerous Toys album?

Paul Lidel: I’m happy to say that tracking for a new Dangerous Toys album has begun! It’s a slow process because we don’t all still live in Austin [Texas, USA], but we have been getting together on a semi-regular basis and there is progress being made. The songs we have so far are really cool. To me, it sounds like old Toys but maybe with a little more attitude. I know that some of the lyrics will shock some people [laughs]! Jason is really outdoing himself this time around. I can’t wait to sit back and listen to the finished product. I think it will be my favorite Dangerous Toys album! 

Sleaze Roxx: I really liked the new song “Hold Your Horses” that Dangerous Toys played at Rocklanta back on March 31st.What made you guys decide to play a new song live after all this time?

Paul Lidel: We had several songs to choose from, but we didn’t want to play too much of the new stuff since it hasn’t been recorded yet. We were just really excited and wanted to share some of the new stuff with the fans. “Hold Your Horses” has become a part of our live set. We’ve played it at every show since we debuted it at Rocklanta. We’re planning to add some others too! 

Dangerous Toys performing “Hold Your Horses” live at Rocklanta in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on March 30, 2019:

Dangerous Toys – Hold Your Horses

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Sleaze Roxx: Dangerous Toys will be playing the M3 Rock Festival once again. How does it feel to see Dangerous Toys recognized and playing some of the bigger festivals?

Paul Lidel: Yes, 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Dangerous Toys! We have lots of big shows and festivals coming up. I can’t wait! Things have really been picking up over the last few years, and I’m excited that we’ll have some new songs to play for people this year! 

Sleaze Roxx: I understand that 99 Crimes are returning back in the studio to record some new material. When we spoke in March, you had indicated that 99 Crimes had played 26 different original songs live so you definitely have a lot of material despite releasing only one album [laughs]. So tell me about the new 99 Crimes material and how it might differ from the tracks on the band’s debut full-length album?

Paul Lidel: I’m VERY excited about the new 99 Crimes songs! We’ve been a band for over 3 years now and I feel like we’re really starting to find our sound. We have several songs that could have easily made it onto the first album, and we have been getting great reaction at the live shows for the bran new songs. We have live videos for some of them on our facebook page. Titles of some the new songs include “Chasing The Dragon”, “Wolf Blood Moon” and “Contact High” We’ll be going back in the studio in January to record some of the new songs. 

Sleaze Roxx: Were you pleased with the overall reception for 99 Crimes’ debut full-length album?

Paul Lidel: I was very pleased! I am really proud of 99 Crimes’ debut album, but until an album comes out, especially with a new band, you never really know how it will be received. So I was really happy that people liked how it was straight up rock and roll, with some catchy melodies. One of the reviews said “An album that will probably satisfy to the fullest fans of Dangerous Toys, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Dirty Looks.” I couldn’t ask for much more than that! Our label, Perris Records, was also very happy with the success of the debut album. The video for “Coming Down Like Rain” has done very well on YouTube. We also have lyric videos (edited by Josh of Hair Band Heaven) for the songs “Devil In Your Dreams” and “Rumor.” “Rumor” was also featured on the compilation album ‘Hollywood Hairspray Vol. 8‘, which is available at Perris Records. In addition to the 99 Crimes debut album being available at Perris Records, people can also check it out on Spotify. After we record some of the new songs, we plan to make another video. We also plan to expand our touring radius this year to include the east coast, as word of the band is really getting around there. 

Sleaze Roxx: That’s great! I’d love the chance to see 99 Crimes play live! Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?

Paul Lidel: Just that I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the shows in 2020!

99 Crimes performing “Blood From A Stone” live at Acadia Bar & Grill in Houston, Texas, USA on November 23, 2019 (video from Live Music in ATX):

99 Crimes – Blood from a Stone – Acadia Bar & Grill – 11-23-19

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