JOE LESTE INTERVIEW:
August 4, 2008
On July 24th, Jason L. had the opportunity to sit down with Bang Tango vocalist Joe LeSte after their set at Doubles Bar in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In this exclusive interview Joe talked about a new Beautiful Creatures album and a full-blown Bang Tango reunion slated for 2009. Sadly, a few days after this interview took place Bang Tango cancelled their remaining shows “due to a sudden illness in the band”. Rumor has it that Joe LeSte is suffering from a bleeding ulcer, but the band states that “after a six week mandatory rest, Bang Tango will start to make plans to tour again.”
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve been on the road for about a month now. How’s it going so far?
Joe LeSte: It’s goin’ great. I mean the shows have been amazing. Out of the ten shows, we’ve had like four sold out and the rest have been pretty good. There was only one show, like the Meridian [in Houston, Texas], that wasn’t that great. It was one of those rave clubs [laughs] and they had us! I was like, what is this?! But yeah, everything is goin’ great.
Sleaze Roxx: Maybe they figured Faster Pussycat was going to do their industrial stuff?
Joe LeSte: Yeah, yeah, I don’t know man. It was a Sunday night ya know? But it’s been goin’ fantastic. Tomorrow night we have another big show, and then on Saturday we’re in Alabama and we’re doin’ a festival – Skid Row and a bunch of bands. So it’s gonna be awesome.
Sleaze Roxx: You guys weren’t on Rocklahoma this year.
Joe LeSte: Yeah we were. We were drivin’ by there and they called us up at the last minute and asked us to play one of the side stages, and I said sure, I’d like to play.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, that festival seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year.
Joe LeSte: Yeah it was big. And then we did the South Texas Festival, and that was really huge ya know. I’m not very fond of festivals in all honesty because of the sunlight, it just kills you. Being on stage and the sun and the lights, I don’t wanna sound like a whiner, but man it was pretty brutal.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you get hooked up with Faster Pussycat for this tour?
Joe LeSte: Well Taime Downe and I have been friends since we were 17 years old. And me and Tracii Guns have been friends…the first tour I was ever on was with Tracii, opening for L.A. Guns. I’ve known Tracii forever, he’s a great guy, and Taime, they’re all great guys. We’re like kind of morphed together in a sense ya know.
Sleaze Roxx: So was it your idea to get the tour together?
Joe LeSte: No, no, I just got a call that said, “Hey…wanna go out with Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns?”, and I said sure. It’s goin’ really well though.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of L.A. Guns, they’re supposed to be on the tour. Why aren’t they?
Joe LeSte: I have no idea. What I do is I sing, and I take care of my guys. So if anybody else decides to play or not to play, that’s absolutely up to them.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m not sure if you know this but two or three weeks ago, L.A. Guns actually played here.
Joe LeSte: That may be the reason why, because they played here, and they probably thought it was too soon to be back.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything about this tour that sets it apart from other tours?
Joe LeSte: Yeah, there’s a lot involved with this tour. You’ve gotta remember this is nothing but a bunch of Hollywood Strip bands that have known each other for 20 years. So this is like family out here.
Sleaze Roxx: How do you like Green Bay?
Joe LeSte: I love Green Bay! The people here are awesome man, aren’t they?
Sleaze Roxx: Have you been here before?
Joe LeSte: No this is my first time and I’m like blown away. I have fans here and they’re just freakin’, ya know? I think it went over well.
Sleaze Roxx: I noticed that all the songs played tonight were from the first two albums.
Joe LeSte: Yeah I’m sticking to that.
Sleaze Roxx: I was pleasantly surprised.
Joe LeSte: We did “Wrap My Wings” tonight!
Sleaze Roxx: And “Dressed Up Vamp!” I was like what?!!! There were a couple of songs I wish I could have heard, but…
Joe LeSte: Yeah, we only have so much time ya know.
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned Brett Favre on stage, I take it you’re a football fan?
Joe LeSte: Yeah yeah, oh totally man. Actually I’m a San Diego Chargers guy so that’s my team. But my favorite quarterback is Brett Favre.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you think, is it cool for him to want to come back? Do you think the Packers should take him?
Joe LeSte: I don’t know but I gotta say one thing, I’m an older guy ya know, it’s not like I’m young. I’m sitting there and every time my knee screws up or something like that happens, or I’m just feelin’ like sick as a dog (I got a flu or something), the first person I think about is Brett Favre goin’ out on that field. Injured and everything, he’s still an iron horse. He goes out there and it’s just boom. So I figure if he can do it and get out there at his age, on that field, and still kick everybody’s ass, then I have nothing to complain about. I should get out there and do the same thing. So he’s like kinda one of my idols, yeah.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve been a big fan of you guys ever since the Psycho Cafe album. When I saw “Someone Like You” on the Headbangers Ball, staying up late one night, I had to get the album. I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about how that song came to be. Were you thinking that was gonna be your stand-out hit?
Joe LeSte: No, no we didn’t have any idea. What happened was, I was in the middle of writing and I came to my band with this idea that I thought was gonna be cool – ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba. And then I want to hear nothing but the bass and the drums goin’ [sings bass line]. And my bass player, Kyle Kyle, looked right at me and said “I’m not gonna play that, that’s Batman”. I go, “no it’s not ya know”, and a year later it’s blown up, we’re #1 on MTV, and it’s a big hit. And I see him [Kyle Kyle] walkin’ off the bus and they go “oh my God, Someone Like You is so great!” and he’s like, “yeah I wrote that song.” [laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: I’m from Upper Michigan and we used to have a program…
At this point we are interrupted by a bubbly waitress who made her way back to us with a tray full of Jagerbomb shots, and she’s trying to sell us some. She says they are $3 a piece and Joe says, “I just got off stage, working my ass off and you’re gonna make me pay for a shot?” I offer to buy Joe a shot and he obliges. He adds to the girl, “I just sweated my ass off, I’ve got no room to put money in these pockets.” I only had two singles and she didn’t have change so she pitched in the other buck. We said cheers and Joe noticed I was drinking Pabst and said, “PBR Bro!” The waitress then said, “you know what? I’ll even give you a little boobie shot” and proceeded to flash us. So…a little sidetracked we were. After I say thank you for that and Joe offers his compliments, she bids us goodbye and I start to go onto my next question. Joe interrupts me and says, “wait aren’t you gonna talk about the girl who just walked in the room and showed us her tits?”
Sleaze Roxx: We were just flashed [Joe laughs] and um…it was ahh…what do you think Joe? What are your comments?
Joe LeSte: They were nice [laughs]. Anyway you were saying?
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah, the Dancin’ On Coals album was an awesome follow up [Joe thanks me]. Now I want to talk about the Love After Death record because I can’t find it!
Joe LeSte: Well here’s the thing, Love After Death was gonna be our quintessential huge record right. And what happened…Bang Tango’s got a strange history and it’s kinda fucked up, ya know, it really is. A lot of people looked at us, ya know everybody did, Guns N’ Roses guys, everybody figured these guys are gonna be huge right? And what happened was, by the time we did Love After Death, they spent so much money on that album and we were totally into it, it was the best record we ever made. We had the best sound and we worked really hard on that record. And I’ll tell you something man, when we got signed to a record deal it came down to four labels: Atlantic, Elektra, Columbia, and MCA. Well, when MCA came to us they were like “we love you guys, we love the way you are, we wanna put you in a studio right now and do those songs you know”. We only knew those songs, we had not written anything else really. We were young guys, we wanted to go in and make an album. We were excited about it.
So we took the MCA deal and basically, in a somewhat way, told the Columbia guy to fuck himself. And what happens? The third album comes around and we are ready to explode. They hire that guy as the new president and the first thing he did was get rid of Bang Tango. Yeah I was just furious. Well I wasn’t furious I kinda went oh well, it’s no big deal. The thing about me is I don’t care about record deals. Nowadays it’s a different world. It’s not like you’re in Hollywood fighting to get a record deal. I wasn’t fighting to get a record deal. The fact that I did, I’m very fortunate. I got to be in a percentage of people that were. God bless for that. But the thing about it is, Bang Tango ya know, we did our thing. But I’m a non-stop guy, I don’t quit on anything if I believe in it.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s evident in how you’ve kept it going.
Joe LeSte: Twenty years now and I’ll tell you I have no intention of quitting. I don’t want to. Once again, Brett Favre, he’s coming back to play. If someone told me you’re too old or something like that, I’d be just like fuck you man I’m gonna play. I’m a singer and you don’t go to school to be a doctor and just out of nowhere go oh I’m gonna quit. You know what I mean? It’s my passion. I’ll tell you something, I do have different members and they’ve been with me a long time. Me and Michael the guitar player, we do everything together.
Sleaze Roxx: Michael Thomas was phenomenal tonight by the way.
Joe LeSte: Michael Thomas man, unbelievable guitar player.
Sleaze Roxx: He’s in another group, Fastback I believe?
Joe LeSte: He has his own little solo thing, it’s called Fastback. But Michael and I have toured around the world, God, I think we’re going on three times around the world. We’re going to Europe again and we’re looking at each other, it’s gotten to the point now where we show up…oh back to what I was gonna say about Love After Death. I wanted to tell you, the album doesn’t come out in America. They only put it out in Europe because in Europe you’re on Atlantic. And in Europe they go “yeah, we’re putting this thing out.” I’ll never forget it because Megadeth was like #14 on the charts over there and we were #8. It went big. So we have a great fan base over there but I don’t play anything from it [Love After Death] because no one really knows the songs. But hands down I think that’s some of the best singing I ever did.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there a way to get it? Can you tell your fans how to get it?
Joe LeSte: : I think you have to go online and Google it and you’ll probably find it. It may be out of print I don’t know. It was just an amazing album and I went through a lot of things during that album. I was going through a break-up with my girlfriend. I had these teeth pulled, my wisdom teeth pulled, which went haywire. They’re spending a million dollars on an album and I’m supposed to be in there. It was brutal man. I can tell you I sang a few of those songs high on Vicodin like nobody’s business. I had to. It just came out very soulful. I had a very good opportunity to do a ballad with Nicky Hopkins from the Rolling Stones. He played piano before he died. By the way, old members of Bang Tango are still my friends and they are hands down the most talented guys. And my guys that play now have the utmost respect for them. They’re just not touring, those guys.
Sleaze Roxx: I did read an interview with Mark Knight where he said his best, work hands, down was on Love After Death.
Joe LeSte: Me too.
Sleaze Roxx: Beautiful Creatures went on the Ozzfest Tour. Can you tell me just a little bit about that experience?
Joe LeSte: Yeah, it’s simple. In 2000 I got offered to sing for a certain band and they were on Atlantic records. It was like I’m facing another big record deal. This manager who manages Nickleback and a lot of people, John Greenberg…great guy, said “hey, why don’t you start your own band.” And when I did I instantly got signed to Warner Brothers. You know I’m very fortunate, I told you, I think my Grandparents are staring down at me. I’m very lucky, I’m blessed, I’m blessed with the opportunity to be able to do this stuff. I don’t think I’m the greatest singer in the world or anything like that. I just think that I’m lucky to be able to do what I do.
Sleaze Roxx: You made the two albums with the Beautiful Creatures then changed back to Bang Tango…
Joe LeSte: You have to understand something. I have a love for music. I had this idea but it didn’t sound like Bang Tango. It was something else I wanted to do. It wasn’t contrived, there was no like oh da da da da. It was me just wanting to go balls out. I try really hard to keep them separate but the thing is ya know, two different bands and with Beautiful Creatures which we’re getting ready to do a new album right now. And it’s just like my guys in Beautiful Creatures are the best. Kenny Kweens is awesome, I love that guy. He’s like my weird brother or something. And me and Anthony Focx have been together…fuck I’ve know him since I moved to L.A. And Michael Thomas again. And we’ve got Timmy Russell. It’s just a very cohesive unit. The thing about it is that I switch gears. What I do is I leap frog the bands. And I think it’s a good idea because when everybody gets tired from Bang Tango then we jump on to Beautiful Creatures. I do Beautiful Creatures for a while and then everybody asks when Bang Tango is going to play so I jump over there.
Sleaze Roxx: With all of the groups reuniting, you said you keep in touch with all the original members of Bang Tango…
Joe LeSte: Yeah, 2009. ’89 is when the original album came out, it’ll be 20 years. We’re doing a 20 year reunion tour. All originals, every single member and we’ll be headlining.
Sleaze Roxx: So that’s kind of on the horizon.
Joe LeSte: Oh yeah it’s already in the works. All of us guys have already talked. It’s done, ya know.
Sleaze Roxx: You said there’s gonna be another Beautiful Creatures album as well?
Joe LeSte: Yeah, when I go back I have like a week off. Then Michael and I are writing the new Beautiful Creatures album with Kenny and Anthony. All of us are getting together and we’re gonna be working on that. We already have a few songs, we’re gonna see what makes the cut with us.
Sleaze Roxx: Your fans will be ecstatic to hear that.
Joe LeSte: : It’s gonna be great and I’m surrounded by family. Kenny is very close to me. He’s a good friend and a great guy. Anthony’s just a jewel. And Michael and I are like evil twins [laughs]. On stage in between [songs] we tell jokes. I walked up to him tonight and said you’re stinky, we just joke around. Michael and I are very much about keeping it light and having fun. I hand picked these guys ya know, I didn’t want just anybody. I didn’t want whiners or complainers or anything like that and it’s the same with Beautiful Creatures. In both bands I have just nothing but great guys, who on the Tango side have the utmost respect for Kyle Kyle, Mark Knight, Tigg Ketler and Kyle Stevens. They think they’re gods. They even said if you do a reunion tour you’ve got to let us roadie. On the other hand Creatures are hand picked. DJ Ashba, he’s in that band Sixx: A.M. When DJ left the band it kinda broke my heart in a sense because we worked and did everything together. But you know what? DJ’s the kind of guy who marches to his own beat ya know and I think he’s a great guy. I’m very happy for him, very proud of him. Him and I talk once in a while, we get on the phone and shoot the shit. Him and I are like two guys who live by blazing saddles, so we’re always going.
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you for taking the time for this interview. There’s just one more question I need to ask, on your myspace page you have a picture with Jenna Jameson. I have to hear the story.
Joe LeSte: : I was at a club one night when we were big time. We’re like sitting there and this smoking hot blonde girl is like standing next to me and she was talking to me. People were freaking out because it was her, and we said lets do a picture. She just sat right next to me and they took a picture. I ran across it and I’m like, that’s kinda cool. She’s hot man, I love the porn stars man. I just love ’em. I couldn’t do porn but…
Sleaze Roxx: So there’s not gonna be a video coming out or anything.
Joe LeSte: No, there’ll be no Joe LeSte video coming out unfortunately.
Sleaze Roxx: Well Joe, it was awesome talking to you. Thank you for coming to Green Bay.
Joe LeSte: Anytime man. Green Bay’s awesome. I’m very happy that we have fans here. I found that out tonight.
Thanks to Joe LeSte and Jason L.