PAUL BLACK INTERVIEW:
October 9, 2008
Vocalist Paul Black has twice fronted L.A. Guns, and for the first time, tells his side of the story regarding the infamous show in Mexico that led to his second falling out with Tracii Guns. Being “set up” hasn’t soured his desire to perform however, as he already is playing live with a brand new band and working on new material. If that isn’t enough, Paul also plans to resurrect his old band Black Cherry to honor the passing of bandmate Curtis Grant. Even though he was involved in a bitter break-up, Paul admits that it “all worked out great”, and in the exclusive interview he explains why.
Sleaze Roxx: You debuted your new band on September 26th, how did the live show go?
Paul Black: It went great. I was really happy with the response. And I love this new band.
Sleaze Roxx: Who is in the band and how did it come together?
Paul Black: Jo Almeida from Dogs D’Amour on guitar, Muddy Stardust on bass and Dennis Morehouse from Burning Tree, Marc Ford Band and Gilby Clarke’s band on drums.
It’s funny how it came about. I’ve been playing with Jo on and off for years. We write great together but we’ve always had trouble getting a solid rhythm section until now. We were getting ready to do a record together a couple years ago when my old band L.A. Guns asked me to do some shows. I ended up touring for the next couple years and that lead me to a record deal with a Canadian label called Alexis Records. I went to Canada in May and worked for a couple months on the record which we were calling Pretty In Black. Then, we all took a break for a few days to go home and see our families.
While I was at home my drummer Chad Stewart asked me to be a guest singer for an all star band he was putting together to fill in for a cancelled L.A. Guns slot on an L.A. Guns/Faster Pussycat bill in Mexico City. Tracii backed out of the show, which we were all supposed to do at the last minute, but suggested I go to Mexico with Chad and have a good time. At first I said “no” because it didn’t seem worthwhile. But Chad and the booking agency kept calling and saying if I didn’t do it they were gonna cancel the show altogether and Faster Pussycat was gonna lose a lot of money and that everyone was so fed up with Tracii cancelling shows that they were gonna take us off the roster and cancel our summer tour. They made it seem like I would be saving the day for everyone if I did it and if I didn’t do it, we would all likely be out of work for the summer. When they offered to rebook my plane ticket back up to Canada I finally said OK because it bought me a few more days to spend with my son at home which I really wanted before having to go back to work. I’m glad I did. Chad had gotten Muddy to fill in on bass for the jam and I’ve always wanted to play with him. While I was in Mexico I had a chance to get to know Muddy and play him some of the songs I recorded with Jo. He loved the music and told me if I ever got a break from L.A. Guns we should get together on some music.
After Mexico I went back to Canada to finish the L.A. Guns record. But, when I got there I discovered Tracii was all over the internet accusing me of betraying the band and telling Alexis Records they had a new singer. Tracii and the rest of the band would not even face me. It was quite a set up. Anyway, our label was not happy and told them, ‘nothing doing, Paul Black isn’t going anywhere’. But, with Chad, Tracii and the rest of the band turning on me like that, it completely destroyed the relationship and there was no repairing it. It was all exactly as it happened 20 years ago.
So, Alexis offered me my own record deal and I headed home to put my own band back together. I called Muddy and Jo. Muddy brought in a great drummer, Dennis Morehouse, and it’s the best band I’ve ever had. It all worked out great. We’re planning to go back to Canada in a couple months to do the record of our lives.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think when Tracii told you to go to Mexico and play the gig that he assumed you were doing the all-star jam and not playing as L.A. Guns? Who played with you as L.A. Guns that night?
Paul Black: L.A. Guns is in the past for me. What’s important is right now. Musically the future is looking good. I’m looking forward to a reunion show with Black Cherry at the Viper Room in Hollywood on October 16th and I’m really excited about my new band. Not just musically, but spiritually as well. I should have had this band 25 years ago.
To answer your question though, Mexico is a red herring. It’s merely a distraction to cover up what they were already planning to do. The line-up was Chad Stewart, Muddy, Michael Thomas and me. Danny Nordahl sat in and sang a song as well but we didn’t play as L.A. Guns. The accusations are ridiculous anyway. I was a founding member and current member of the band. Tracii has been using the name without me for over 20 years. He’s been playing my songs and taking credit for them as well. I finally buried the hatchet with him and forgave him for stabbing me in the back during our Polygram deal only to have him do the same thing all over again. I guess some people never change.
Sleaze Roxx: Both you and Chad played the Mexico gig which seemed to be the ‘final straw’ for Tracii. Why wasn’t Chad kicked out of the band too?
Paul Black: Exactly…
Sleaze Roxx: So what is happening with all the music you were working on for Pretty In Black? Do you plan on using some of it with your new band?
Paul Black: Well, some of it ended up on the record anyway, though I don’t think they’ll be calling it Pretty In Black anymore. I’m not sure what’s gonna end up on the new band’s record. We don’t have a shortage of songs. I’m gonna have to narrow it down to about 12 tracks. We’ll just have to decide which songs are best.
Sleaze Roxx: When do you expect to put out an album with the new band?
Paul Black: Well we should be recording in the next couple months. I’m not sure when it will be released though.
Sleaze Roxx: Have you even come up with a name for the band yet?
Paul Black: If I tell you I’d have to kill you.
Sleaze Roxx: OK…well at least tell us about the music. Is the band similar in style to L.A Guns or something completely different?
Paul Black: If you’re expecting something similar to L.A. Guns you’ll be happily un-disappointed. This band has depth, wit, passion, harmony and soul with maturity and no egos. The style is very Rolling Stones/Faces/Beatles, but much more than that. We incorporate ragtime, jazz, country, blues. rock, bluegrass, Motown and Latin, it’s very eclectic and unique.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you play any cover songs during the band’s debut gig, and if so what ones?
Paul Black: Yeah. We played 16 songs and mixed in four covers. I think picking out cover songs that you like to play is a good way for a band to find its style. We played The Kids Are Alright and Substitute by The Who, Crazy Mama by the Stones and Cracking Up by Bo Diddley at this show.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any other gigs already lined up?
Paul Black: Thursday October 9th and October 23 at Mr B, 1333 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, Ca. 91505. It’s a little hole in the wall place in the valley we’re gonna play at every other Thursday to try out new material. We’re gonna play Hollywood at the Viper Room at the end of October. I think that will be on the 27th. Also we will be doing three nights with Cheech and Chong in February, it just got booked.
Sleaze Roxx: You also have a charity gig with Black Cherry coming up. How did that come together?
Paul Black: Well it’s not really charity. It’s to honor our guitarist Curtis Grant who we lost last year to cancer. We were actually gonna do a reunion show a couple of years ago while Curtis was still alive but it all fell through and then I got busy with touring. Our drummer Scott Lipps got ahold of me a couple of months ago and we worked together to get this thing rolling. I got ahold of all the original members and they all agreed to do it. Scott is gonna fly in from New York, our bassist Michael Stevens is coming in from Maryland, my guitarist David Walsh and I are still here in L.A. We’re gonna rehearse for two days on the 13th and 14th and do the show on October 16th. It will be at the Viper Room in Hollywood. It will be our first show since April of 1992.
We also have Gilby Clarke, Jet Boy and God Mother on the bill. God Mother used to be called Hardly Dangerous.
Sleaze Roxx: How strange will it be hitting the stage with Black Cherry again after so many years apart?
Paul Black: Well, I’m really excited about this show and seeing my old friends. Black Cherry was such a good band. It’s too bad we were caught up in such a political mess when we were together. It will be weird to get together for two rehearsals and then play a live show after not having played with them for 16 years. I haven’t played these songs for that long either. I’m looking forward to it.
Sleaze Roxx: What sort of ‘political mess’ ended the band in the first place?
Paul Black: Well, Black Cherry was a great band. I had a lot of major labels wanting to sign us. But when L.A. Guns took credit for my songs and didn’t pay me for them, it forced me into a lawsuit with them and Polygram records. The record industry is kinda like high school and they all talk to each other. A&M, Capital, Virgin, Arista… they were all talking to me and saying they wanted to sign Black Cherry but they all wanted to wait until the lawsuit was finished. I kept wanting things to settle so I could move on with my career but the lawyers dragged things out for a couple years trying to soak up all the money. Everything was bad timing. By the time the lawsuit did settle in 1990 music had drastically changed and it was not a good thing to be associated with an 80’s band like L.A. Guns. Black Cherry broke up in 1991 but promoters kept booking us and we did two more shows in 1992. Our last show was at the Whisky A Go Go. I’m planning to have a CD available at our Viper Room show with some of the demoed songs we recorded for the labels between 1988 and 1990.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any ideas yet of what Black Cherry songs will be on this upcoming CD?
Paul Black: Home Street Home, Fading Away, It All Comes Back, Change My World, On and On, Don’t Let Tomorrow Pass You By and Devil In You.
Sleaze Roxx: Will the CD be sold online after the live show is over?
Paul Black: We’re just making a limited amount for this show for now but eventually we’ll put it out.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think this show will result in a Black Cherry reunion, or are the other members out of the music business now?
Paul Black: Well, it is a reunion. But it’s just the one show for now. I guess it’s possible we may do more shows. It all depends. We live so far apart now. But…if someone offers a good tour, I’d consider it. Most of the band is still in the music business. Scott Lipps has One Management in New York which manages bands, David Walsh writes music for TV and movies and Michael Stevens still plays bass but his main business is running a company he owns called Scootertonics (www.scootertronics.com). He’s making a killing selling scooters now because of the high gas prices so he gets to play music for fun on the side.
Sleaze Roxx: Besides the new band and upcoming Black Cherry show/CD, are there any other things in the works for you?
Paul Black: Yes, I wrote a children’s book called “Where The Sun Forever Shines.” Brian Mylius is doing the artwork for it. Also I’m playing a part in a TV pilot that’s being filmed the first week in November.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell us a bit about the TV pilot. What kind of show is it?
Paul Black: I can’t say too much about it because it’s just a pilot and I don’t wanna give it away. But it’s a great part and it involves a lawsuit. My bass player Muddy is in it as well. We are the plaintiff and the defendant.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there any way on Earth you will play with Tracii Guns again?
Paul Black: Tracii hasn’t changed in 20 years. I don’t think he’ll ever change. Because of his egotistical disregard for others, I believe I will join the group of countless musicians who will never play with him again.
Thanks to Paul Black