INTERVIEW WITH L.A. GUNS, SIN CITY SINNERS & SIN CITY REJECTS MEMBER, AND EX-RATT BASSIST SCOTT GRIFFIN
Date: January 29, 2019
WHEN DRUMMER STEVE RILEY ANNOUNCED THAT HE WAS PLAYING THE UPCOMING M3 ROCK FESTIVAL IN EARLY MAY 2019 UNDER THE NAME L.A. GUNS AND BRINGING SOME L.A. GUNS ALUMNI TO PLAY WITH HIM, THE BIG QUESTION WAS WHO WERE THE L.A. GUNS ALUMNI? AS WE NOW KNOW, ORIGINAL BASSIST KELLY NICKELS WILL BE A PART OF IT ALONG WITH EX-L.A. GUNS BASSIST SCOTT GRIFFIN WHO WILL BE HANDLING LEAD GUITAR DUTIES THIS TIME AROUND. EVER SINCE JOINING L.A. GUNS IN 2007, GRIFFIN HAS BEEN IN THE LIMELIGHT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, MAY IT BE HIS TWO STINTS IN L.A. GUNS, BEING PART OF THE FIRST LINE-UP OF BOBBY BLOTZER’S VERSION OF RATT, FRONTING PUNK ROCK BAND SIN CITY REJECTS OR PLAYING IN SIN CITY SINNERS WITH MANY DIFFERENT ’80S ERA HARD ROCK GREATS. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH GRIFFIN TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIM AND ALL OF HIS EXPERIENCES.
Sleaze Roxx: So when Steve [Riley] announced that a bunch of L.A. Guns alumni would be playing with him as L.A. Guns at the M3 Rock Festival, I predicted just for fun that Kelly [Nickels] would be part of it and because of that, I didn’t think you’d be part of it. I was wrong with respect to your participation [laughs]. How did you end up being part of the L.A. Guns line-up playing the M3 Rock Festival this year?
Scott Griffin: Basically, Steve just called and asked. Simple as that. At first, Stacey was asked to play guitar, and I was gonna play bass. Or I was gonna play rhythm guitar, and Kelly was on bass. Or something like that. It all happened so fast. Very quickly, Stacey realized he couldn’t do it because he had too much time and money invested into his new, original band [Electric Radio Kings], so Steve asked if I wanted to play lead guitar instead. I said “Hell yeah, man!” I mean, who wouldn’t?
Let me say real quick though, I make my living playing music. I rarely ever say “no” to a gig. I know there are some people who may be thinking I’m trying to compete with Tracii, or get back at Phil, or something stupid like that. No way. I play music, that’s it. If some guy who sang with Jimmy Page or played guitar for Robert Plant told me he wanted to put together a band and call it Led Zeppelin, and wanted to know if I was interested in joining, the only questions I’d have would be “How much does it pay?” and “Do I get my own room?” A gig is a gig. At least in this band, there are two original/classic members, including one who owns 50% of the name. And I am even an alumni myself who helped write and record one of their best albums [‘Hollywood Forever’] with them. Hell, I was in Ratt with only one original member who owned only 33% — maybe even less — of the band name. This isn’t a rockstar/ego thing for me. It’s fun as hell sure, and better than digging ditches, but at the end of the day, it’s just a gig. And I live on gigs. I can’t afford to say no.
L.A. Guns‘ “You Better Not Love Me” video (from Hollywood Forever album):
L.A. Guns – You Better Not Love Me (Official Video) Get Hollywood Forever full album now CleoStore: https://goo.gl/RyXiTf (CD/LP) Bandcamp: https://laguns.bandcamp.com/album/hollywood-forever Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/hollywood-forever/524442123 Follow L.A. Guns Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialLAGuns Twitter: https://twitter.com/LA_GUNS?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor L.A. Guns on Deadline Music: https://laguns.bandcamp.com Produced by Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones) Featuring the singles “You Better Not Love Me”, “Requiem” and “Araña Negra” (Black Spider) Catch L.A.
Sleaze Roxx: Obviously, people know you the best for your bass playing. How long have you been playing guitar and have you played guitar in any bands in the past?
Scott Griffin: I’m a guitarist. I’ve always been a guitarist. Growing up, all the bands I was in, I played lead guitar. Mostly local L.A. bands that “paid to play” to open for national acts at places like the Whisky, the Roxy, and the Viper Room. You know when you go to see L.A. Guns, or Faster Pussycat, or whoever, and there’s like ten local bands on before them? That was me. I was in like one of the the fourth or fifth bands on the bill [laughs]. I guess that’s called paying your dues. No shame in it at all.
Sleaze Roxx: Very true. I know from Kelly that you’ll all be meeting for rehearsals in February and again in March. I also know you’re likely not going to tell me who the singer for L.A. Guns at M3 will be but will the singer be attending the rehearsals in February and have you guys chosen who the singer will be?
Scott Griffin: I can’t comment on who the singer is, or if we even have a singer yet. But, yes, when we begin rehearsals, we will already have a singer, or will be auditioning singers at the very least. Kelly has already made the setlist, so I’m able to focus on what I need to learn. Like I said before, I’m not trying to compete with Tracii at all. I just want to play the songs as faithful to the original recordings as possible. That’s the best I can do. If I do a good job, I’ll be happy.
Sleaze Roxx: You seem very respectful towards Kelly. How does it feel to get to play with another classic line-up L.A. Guns member and really the guy whose bass parts you played for all your prior time in L.A. Guns?
Scott Griffin: It’s fucking awesome man! Kelly’s a great guy. I first met him when he came to L.A. and played on a track on ‘Hollywood Forever.’ I always thought he was the coolest member of the band. He looked the coolest. He was the guy riding the motorcycle with no hands in the “Electric Gypsy” video [laughs]. I owned the first three L.A. Guns albums when they came out. And whenever I’d try to put a band together, or join a band, those albums were the look and sound of the band I wanted to join. But it was hard. Back then it was a bit of a cliquey scene. I lived in L.A., but on the valley side, not in Hollywood. So there were valley bands, and there were Hollywood bands. I didn’t move to Hollywood until a while later, way after all that stuff had passed. It might’ve been a good thing in the end actually. I would’ve most likely ended up dead. A lot of guys sadly did.
But you kind of always wonder “What if…” although I did eventually end up playing bass in L.A. Guns, and now I’m getting ready to play lead guitar in L.A. Guns at a huge festival. So, you look at the glass half full and and be grateful. Know what I mean?
Sleaze Roxx: Yes. I do. Not only are you a talented bassist and a guitarist as well but you can also sing! You are the frontman for the punk band Sin City Rejects. How did the band come together and how did you wind up as the lead vocalist?
Scott Griffin: Well, I sing as good as I can. Singing is what I originally wanted to do. My idols have always been the singers. Elvis, Robert Plant, David Lee Roth, Ozzy, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, etc. When I was around 12 years old and just getting into rock n roll, I had one of those Realistic tabletop tape recorders, and I taped myself singing along to “Stairway To Heaven.” When I listened back, ummm, let’s just say I realized I was gonna have to learn an instrument if I wanted to rock [laughs].
But I always kept singing and trying to get better. I think I have. I’ll never be Sebastian Bach, but the Sin City Rejects is a punk band. It’s like Cheech says in ‘Up In Smoke’, “Man, you don’t need to know how to play [sing], you just need to be a punk!” It’s more about attitude. And I love being onstage. I’m an extrovert, so it works. We already have a debut record out called ‘Death Of A Nation’, and a Tuesday night residency at a cool local club called the Dive Bar. It’s been a blast. We do songs by bands like Dead Boys, Ramones and Social Distortion as well as originals. We play porn parties, and our bass player smokes pot onstage. Proper vocal intonation is not a priority.
Sin City Rejects‘ “(I Just Wanna) Waste Some Time With You” lyric video feat. Richie Ramone:
SIN CITY REJECTS (I Just Wanna) Waste Some Time With You from the Debut CD ‘Death of a Nation’. Scotty Griffin – Vocals, Johnny Roxx – Lead Guitar, Jason Green – Bass, Rachel May – Rhythm Guitar & featuring Special Guest Richie Ramone (Ramones 1983-87) – Drums
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] So let me take you back a little bit. You and Kenny Kweens played musical chairs with the bassist position in L.A. Guns for about 10 years. You joined L.A. Guns in 2007 and your departure was announced in early July 2009. How was your first stint in the band?
Scott Griffin: It was great! I have no bad things to say about my time in L.A. Guns at all. In fact, when I left, I had a rehearsal space I was renting out with some other guys, and I let L.A. Guns use it to audition bass players free of charge. That’s where they auditioned and hired Kenny. I wanted to help out and make the transition as easy as possible.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you leave L.A. Guns in 2009?
Scott Griffin: Well, I had a chance to do a gig in Las Vegas that paid really well, but I had to commit every weekend to do it. The only regret I have is that I didn’t move out here [Las Vegas] right then and there. I could’ve bought a house and saved a lot of time and gas and money driving back and forth from L.A. to Vegas every weekend. Instead, I gambled a lot of it away. Oh well, at least I learned I’m not a great poker player [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] You rejoined L.A. Guns in January 2011. What were you up to during your year and a half away from L.A. Guns and why did you rejoin the band the second time?
Scott Griffin: Well, like I said, I got a gig in Las Vegas. It was originally a British rock cover band, and that morphed into a parody type of tribute band, like if Steel Panther were around in the ’70s and looked like ZZ Top [laughs]. It was pretty funny, completely ridiculous, and it paid well for about a year and a half. But then the casino we were playing at changed management. We were still doing really well, but the new team just wanted to go in a different direction I guess. That happens a lot here in Vegas. But luckily, as fate would have it, within a week or so of losing the gig, Steve [Riley] called me and asked if I wanted to rejoin L.A. Guns. The angel on my shoulder really came through for me on that one!
Sleaze Roxx: That time around, you got to write songs and play on the L.A. Guns studio album ‘Hollywood Forever.’ What was the writing experience like for that album and what were your overall impressions recording that album?
Scott Griffin: Well, that’s probably the single biggest thing I’ve done in music of any significance to date. I feel truly blessed to have been given that opportunity. If I died tomorrow, at least I’d die knowing I made a real album in a real band with a real producer on a real record label. It even came out on vinyl! It was something tangible I could give to my mom. She framed it and everything and it’s hanging in her living room. That was a big thing for me.
It was also a kinda dark time for me. I wasn’t in the best health. I actually thought I was gonna die for a while there. Just a nagging feeling I guess. Y’know, having dreams and shit. I wrote a song on the album called “Requiem.” It’s about someone who dies but doesn’t want to leave the earth. I kind of wrote it about me, and how I was feeling about death at the time. Not being ready for it yet. I’ve never really admitted that, but yeah, that was the inspiration for it.
A good memory I have from the experience was meeting Andy Johns who was producing us. He’d worked with Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Rod Stewart, etc. A real legend! The real deal. We started off in a big studio to record the drums. It was a real professional place where Andy was behind the plate glass window and talking to us through an intercom. That kind of thing. Just like I’d always imagined it would be. I was playing bass to guide Steve through his drum takes. And I just remember looking at Andy through the plate glass window while we were recording and thinking “Wow! This is exactly the way John Paul Jones did it!” It was an amazing experience! He also gave me the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten on my bass playing when he said I reminded him of Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix’s bassist. Fuuuuck! I was floored! Sadly, he passed away within a year after working with us. I believe our album was the last full album he produced.
L.A. Guns‘ “Requiem” video (from Hollywood Forever album):
L.A. Guns – REQUIEM Official Music Video From the album HOLLYWOOD FOREVER Get full album CD here: https://goo.gl/pZbdpr Get full album on vinyl record here: https://goo.gl/xz5Pdx Get full CD+DVD here: https://goo.gl/z8ksou Includes “The Making of HOLLYWOOD FOREVER” (The Documentary Film) A magnificent DVD capturing the recently resurgent golden boys of Hollywood glam metal, L.A.
Sleaze Roxx: I know you like to think of the positive but you were suddenly let go from L.A. Guns in 2014 and it seemed that Phil [Lewis] had a problem with you. What do you think happened?
Scott Griffin: Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure Phil will have an answer in some chapter of a book he’ll probably write someday, [laughs]. And I will completely disagree with it [laughs]. But y’know, we all have our reasons for doing what we do. And at the end of the day, he had a right to do whatever he wanted. It was his and Steve’s band. Just for the record, the only problem I initially had was that I was let go with no warning. And there were still shows that I was scheduled to play that were taken away from me. I might be a rock bass player, but I don’t have Nikki Sixx’s bank account. I live week to week, paycheck to paycheck. It was in the middle of the month and all of a sudden, the money I had budgeted for next month’s rent, my car payment, etc. was gone! I think a lot of people can understand my frustration at the time. But I’ve never talked shit about Phil or any of my experiences in L.A. Guns. In fact, this interview and most of everything in my life since, would not be happening at all if it wasn’t for Phil. I’m eternally grateful to him and I always wish him the best!
Sleaze Roxx: Did you keep in touch with anyone from L.A. Guns after that?
Scott Griffin: Yes. I keep in touch with Stacey semi-regularly. We’ll do lunch now and then, or meet at a party, etc. In fact, I just saw his new band, Electric Radio Kings. They’re really solid, and they’re recording an album with a lot of money behind it. So I understand why he had to decline the offer to play M3 with L.A. Guns and concentrate fully on his band.
Sleaze Roxx: You joined Sin City Sinners in September 2014 and have been one of the mainstays of the group ever since. What’s it like playing with so many guest musicians and do you enjoy that more than being in a “regular” band?
Scott Griffin: Sin City Sinners or Sin City Sinners “All-Stars” — don’t ask me which one! I’m just the bass player. It’s a good paying, fun gig. It also features Oz Fox of Stryper on guitar. Some of my favorite shows have been with Sebastian Bach, Bruce Kulick, Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister, and George Lynch. I actually got to sing a [David] Bowie song with George one night, and some KISS songs with Bruce another time. It’s a great opportunity to play with people you might not normally get a chance to play with. We also do a lot of shows for charity. That’s really important to me. Giving back is one of the greatest things you can do in life. Y’know? I think when you look back on your life, it’s not as much about what you got, but what you’ve given, especially to those less fortunate, that matters the most.
Sin City Sinners (including Scott Griffin on bass and Last In Line singer Andrew Freeman on lead vocals) with ex-W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley and guitarist Randy Piper performing at Vamps in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA in October 2016:
4 Wasp and 2 LA guns songs Live at Vamps in Las Vegas Nevada
Sleaze Roxx: Yes, that’s important and commendable on your part. You were part of the Bobby Blotzer Experience in 2015. What were your thoughts when the Bobby Blotzer Experience suddenly became Ratt in September 2015?
Scott Griffin: Bobby was another guest we had with the Sin City Sinners. In fact, our version of Ratt was basically the Sin City Sinners with a different drummer. And we added a young guitarist named Blaze to play the Warren DeMartini parts. Fortunately, our drummer had just quit, so we didn’t have to do the dick move of leaving a band member in the cold. We sounded awesome! Our singer [Josh Alan] nailed Stephen, and Blaze played all of Warren parts note-for-note. We all played note-for-note actually, but Warren is especially difficult to recreate. But Blaze did it.
It’s funny, because at the time he was like 22 years old I think. And after the shows, we’d meet the crowd and take pictures, and some of the people thought we were the original band. I mean I’m younger than [the original] Ratt [band members], but I could understand people mistaking me because I’m still in or around that age range I guess. But Blaze is super younger, and one time someone came up to him and said, “Man, you still sound great, Warren, and you LOOK amazing!” (Laughs) I mean, seriously?
Sleaze Roxx: I never got the chance to see that version of Ratt play live but I did read that — maybe from Blotzer himself [laughs] — that you guys sounded exactly like Ratt. But the band started as the Bobby Blotzer Experience, played a handful of gigs under that name before Bobby apparently decided that you were going to play under the Ratt name. Was this a unilateral decision from Bobby? Why the band name change? What were your thoughts when the Bobby Blotzer Experience suddenly became Ratt in September 2015?
Scott Griffin: I think he changed the name right before the Whisky A Go Go show. He just got us on a group call one day and said “Hey guys, we’re Ratt now.” I remember afterwards I was talking to someone from the band, and we just kinda laughed about it, like “Hell, why not [laughs]?” We had no say in anything, which I looked at as a good thing personally. It started off as the Bobby Blotzer Experience, so his name was on it. It was his project. He did a lot of things we didn’t necessarily like. But he was getting the band good gigs that paid well. And to his credit, with the exception of one gig, he always paid us what was agreed upon, and in a timely manner, usually the night of the show.
Sleaze Roxx: Blotzer’s version of Ratt seemed to receive a lot of backlash in the press. Was that something that you felt when in the band and if so, how did you manage it?
Scott Griffin: Well actually, when we started, we flipped a lot of people to our side. A lot of the internet gossip boards at pages such as yours for instance, Sleaze Roxx, or Metal Sludge, Blabbermouth, etc. usually always just trash anything like that. But they were giving us compliments at the beginning. That was a nice change. And I think we deserved it too. We really worked our ass off to sound as much like the original recordings as possible.
I’m not gonna blame anybody, but I really think if we would have just collectively kept our cool, played on and not rocked any boats, that thing could’ve lasted a lot longer than it did. We were making great money! It’s when you go changing things that don’t need to be changed, that things start getting fucked up. First, I was ousted, then Blaze left, then the singer left too I think. And with each personnel change, it just got worse. And then the fans started to turn. I always remember what Gene Simmons said “The fans are your bosses.” People were digging us. Why fuck with success? Anyways, it was what it was. Great money by the way! And L.A. Guns opened for us once. OK, I’m not gonna lie, that was pretty awesome [laughs]. It’s all good though. I’ve never made a big deal about it. Just a fun little historical fact.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s pretty neat any way you look at it [laughs]. While you were in Blotzer’s version of Ratt, there seemed to be a lot of litigation between Bobby’s WBS, Inc. company and the other Ratt classic line-up members. Was Bobby keeping you guys in the loop on what was happening in that regard and if so, what was he saying?
Scott Griffin: I didn’t want to know anything about anything going on, although I did know a lot of things going on just by virtue of being in the band. But it’s so far in the past. I’d have to really think to remember all the crap that was going on. There was definitely drama of the first order going on. If I thought L.A. Guns was dramatic at all, it was nothing compared to the Ratt world I jumped right into. Wow!
Sleaze Roxx: Your buddy [and band manager] Jason [Green] parted ways with Bobby [Blotzer] seemingly on bad terms and you were out of the band shortly after. What led to your departure from Blotzer’s version of Ratt?
Scott Griffin: Like I said, people just started fucking with success. That’s my opinion at least. And the fact that it started to fall apart more and more after every change just confirms that in my mind. There are bands touring the world right now making really good money that sometimes have no original members, and they’re making a great living at it. They’ve kept their cool. They’ve acted smart. They’ve not let stupid things cloud their minds.
Bobby Blotzer‘s Ratt (including Scott Griffin on bass) performing “I Want A Woman” live at Vinyl, Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on November 29, 2015:
Bobby Blotzer’s band performing I Want a Woman at Vinyl, Hard Rock Casino, Las Vegas, November 29, 2015. Lead vocals: Joshua Alan Lead guitar: Blaze Guitar: Doc Ellis Bass: Scotty Griffin Drums: Bobby Blotzer
Sleaze Roxx: What are you looking forward to the most about L.A. Guns’ upcoming M3 Rock Festival appearance?
Scott Griffin: Well, although I love playing bass, and I love singing, guitar is what I spent hours and hours playing every day after school when I was a kid in my room while looking at the rockstar posters on my walls dreaming of someday being like them. And it’s what I played in all my bands from the very first one to pretty much right up to when I joined L.A. Guns. That’s something special that nothing else on earth will ever be able to replace. When you start something that young, it ends up being a part of your DNA. And although I made it to the club level playing guitar, I never got to play lead guitar at a festival like M3. So it will be a bit of a long overdue accomplishment in a way. That’s if it does happen. I’ve learned not to count my chickens before they’re hatched. Shit happens. Let’s just skip to the next question now, shall we [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Well, I really hope it happens! Last question for you — Scott or Scotty [laughs]? Which name do you prefer people call you and why?
Scott Griffin: Oh, either one is fine. I change my mind all the time myself [laughs]. I’m even thinking of changing back to my original last name, Stone. I never met my father. He died a couple months after I was born. His last name, Stone, is on my birth certificate, but I changed it to my mom’s family name, Griffin, right around the time I got into rock n’ roll. I guess I thought it had a more rockstar ring to it. But I recently connected with my dad’s side of the family, in particular his brother, my uncle Bruce, who I had never talked to before, by finding him through the internet and ultimately on Facebook. We’ve talked a lot since, and he’s told me tons of stuff about my father and a family I never knew about until now. So it’s kind of brought a whole other side of me out. My mom’s side is a bit reserved, and I can be too. But I’ve also always had this crazy rock n’ roll side to me, obviously, and I never knew where it came from. Now talking to my uncle, I definitely know it comes from my dad’s side [laughs]. So now I’m thinking Stone sounds more rockstar. Who knows? I might change it back. Why not? I like to make my own rules. And hopefully piss a few people off in doing so [laughs].