CHRIS LANEY INTERVIEW:
June 1, 2006
Last year I named Zan Clan’s “We Are Zan Clan…Who The F**k Are You??!” record of the year, and upcoming guitarist Chris Laney played a huge part in that album’s success. As a member of both Zan Clan (zanclan.com) and Randy Piper’s Animal (www.animalcave.net), Chris Laney seems to be igniting the creative fire of his seasoned bandmates. If two current releases weren’t enough, in this exclusive interview Chris also talks about producing such bands as Bai Bang and working with Ryan Roxie.
SR: What projects are you working on right now?
CL: I am right now writing songs with Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper). Also I just finished the last touches on the Zan Clan “Kickz The Livin’ Shit…Outta Sthlm City!!” live album. Tigertailz new album is in the works and so is a lot of stuff I can’t say yet… Its pedal to the metal 😉
SR: You also have a new Animal (with Randy Piper) CD coming out in May, how did it turn out?
CL: It turned out GREAT. I am very pleased with it. I can’t wait for the fans to hear it, since they are the judgez. I really put my heart n soul into this one, into the songs and the production, and so did Piper and Lewis. We had a blast recording it, and I think you can hear that.
SR: Who is in the band now and is there any word on a North American release date?
CL: Randy on guitar, Rich Lewis on Vox, Jackie Livengood on bass, myself and I know the guys are auditioning drummers. About the actual date for release in the US I can’t say, but I know it’s released in the UK May 15 so it will probably be around May/June, I know it will be released in 19 countries and one is USA. But Hey!! You can always buy it via cdon.com or sites like that, I know it will be available thru our site as well if you can’t wait for it to hit your local record store.
SR: What has it been like working with Randy Piper?
CL: Just great. We had an amazing time. You know, the day I arrived to the US to record the album was in fact the first time we met. He is a man with a big heart, funny as hell too. We sat up late every night after work chatting, drinking beer and just hanging out, it felt like we’ve know each other for ages. So…It was just GREAT.
SR: How did you first get involved with Animal?
CL: Well, to make a long story short…I mailed ANIMAL, said I’d re-mix their album 900lb Steam for free since I hated that sound and thought I could do it better. That caught their manager’s attention and we kept in touch. I sent over some productions I’ve done, and all of a sudden Piper calls me and asks me to join in for a tour as their guitarist since Chris Holmes couldn’t make that one…I had to turn it down because of personal reasons. But we kept in touch and 2 years later we decided it was time we tried to write some together, that was the first step. After a couple of songs Randy asked me to join the band, and this time it was the right time.
SR: Do you have any idea why Chris Holmes left Animal?
CL: Well, no, you will have to ask Mr. Holmes or Mr. Piper.
SR: Is it difficult to be a member of more then one band at once?
CL: Since I live in Sweden and the rest of Zan Clan does too, we hang a lot together. ANIMAL on the other hand is based in the US… I miss these fukkers a lot, and would like to meet more often. But in today’s cyberlife we keep in touch on a daily basis. So far there has been no problems being in two bands, and I have a hard time thinking it will ever be. Zinny is a big fan of what I do with ANIMAL and Piper is a big fan of what I do in Zan Clan, you know, I think it would be a blast if we did some shows together, best of my 2 worlds hehehehe. ANIMAL to me is more of a metal band and Zan Clan is more of a sleaze kick ass band, so I get the best of both worlds, I’m blessed.
SR: You recently had a song on Hollywood Hairspray Vol. 5 called Instinct Animal. Where did this track come from?
CL: I’ve been asked a couple of times to make a solo record, but I am in 2 great bands where I write the lion’s share of the tracks, I also write stuff for other bands and artists. This time the song that was written just didn’t fit any one of the current projects I wrote for, but it was a killer track, so I mailed Tom at Perris and told him that I could do a “one off” solo thing. It was cool to perform EVERYTHING as well, ego boost. But hey, lets face it, who would really care for a Chris Laney solo disc at this very moment, I am better off with my bands.
SR: Tell us about the tunes you are writing with Ryan Roxie, is this for a solo album of his or what?
CL: We just write, one thing there is never enough of is good songs. We have a Swedish artist we write some songs with and we are also writing stuff for forthcoming projects that we know are gonna need songs. We have a great time doing it, we are a great team when we work, some songs are pop, some rock and some metal. We both have a wide taste of music and are having a blast jamming and drinking coffee at my studio.
SR: Does that mean Ryan is now living in Sweden?
CL: Correct, in Stockholm.
SR: How did you first get into music?
CL: I will have to blame my sister! I have an older sister, she sang in different groups and I would always sit around when they rehearsed. When I was 7 I got my first drumkit. When she took piano lessons I’d play her homework when she was done, so my parents bought me a piano…when I learned to play that my neighbour had a guitar, and of coz I had to master that too hehehe…When I finally got the first 2 songs down (one was STRUTTER by KISS) my parents gave me a guitar. My parents have always been supportive and without them I would not do what I do today, I O them everything.
SR: What bands were your early influences?
CL: When I was 5 (1977) I got my first KISS album, Destroyer. I have loved the band since…More bands in my pile of vinyls are: WASP, Motley Crue, Ratt, Whitecross, Def Leppard, among others.
SR: Sweden seems to have a thriving rock scene these days, but what was it like when you were growing up in the 80s and 90s?
CL: The music scene is good but it was better back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is all coming back but there are still too few places to gig here. Way back when I was between 14 and 20, 1986-1992, we could do 3 shows a week in my hometown alone…now a days you might be able to do that amount of gigs per week if you are ready to travel all over Sweden.
What I also think is worse today if I look back, is the actual talent as musicians. When I was 18, you had to know your shit, play your instrument flawless, do the back ups, have the moves, the whole deal. But today when I work with bands in the studio, I see that most of them (even the more famous) don’t have the whole thing, some don’t even know how to tune their instruments???!!!! I must be honest, I think the kids of today need to take the music more seriously before doing the sex n drugs thing, they will get that later anyhow.
I fukkin sold magazines, helped people to move…ANYTHING to get the cash to save up and buy my dream guitar. I am happy with what I had to go thru, always playing with kids 5-10 years older than me, that taught me a lot, and I have all that with me today. So you guys from Scratch, Unameus, Seventeen….THANK YOU!!!
SR: Does it upset you when you see a more famous musician not knowing what they are doing while someone more talented goes unnoticed?
CL: Nah, not really. That’s the name of the game, some win, some loose. In all industries there’s winners n losers.
SR: You mentioned playing with guys that are older then you. How much have you learnt from seasoned veterans such as Zinny Zan and Randy Piper?
CL: Zinny is like my older brother, we are at the same time soulmates. Zinny taught me to trust my instincts and not to be as modest as I still am, it drives him nuts hahahaha. He also has lots of touring behind him which is nice when stuff happens on the road, he will be the one fixing it, he is Mr. Rock.
Piper, he taught me the meaning of believing in yourself and stay true to what you believe in. He is one hell of a guy, imagine all the shit he has had to take from vicious tongues since he left WASP back in the days til now, and he is not even the slightest bothered, he just laughs it all off. I think I told these two gentlemen a thing or two as well. In a band its give and take, its family time 😉
SR: Being the younger guy, can you out-party your older band mates?
CL: Both Zinny AND Piper are tough onez. Party like teenagers. Zinny, I give him a battle without a doubt. HEY Zinny, don’t mention the Whitesnake gig in Karlstad hahaha. Randy, he just said “let’s have a few beers”, I tried to keep up, FOR A WEEK…. PIPER IS THE WINNER.
SR: Do you have many tour plans set up for this summer?
CL: No. Since Zan Clan is still missing 2 members and ANIMAL has set October to start touring, I have booked myself working at the studio.
SR: Speaking of touring, tell us about the upcoming live Zan Clan album.
CL: It’s a pure live album…there is not a song where something went “wrong”, BUT hey, if you’ve seen Zan Clan live you know why, we are all over the place rokkin. We listened thru the tapes and decided to release it as it is, without overdubs n shit, the real deal and I must say I am very pleased with the result. We also included 2 new songs (demos) + an unreleased track from our last studio disc. If you wanna listen to the Clan live, buy it, coz we kick the livin shit outta your CD player!!!
SR: You mentioned that the live CD has no overdubs etc, don’t you hate (I know I do) when a live album gets so polished that it becomes a studio album with crowd noise?
CL: Yes, I understand when live albums needs to be fixed, if lets say, the guitar string broke or if the power went on the bass amp or whatever, but as you say, I feel a live album should be live.
SR: I’m going to name off some of my favorite Swedish bands. Tell me what you think of each (if you even remember them):
– Bai Bang
CL: Of coz I know these guys, they R from my hometown of Helsingborg!! I produced some of their new stuff 4 their forthcoming album.
– Babylon Bombs
CL: Never heard them but they seem like nice guys.
– Tornado Babies
CL: Wow, these guys I almost forgot about. When I had my band 17 (Seventeen) we used 2 play the same festivals 2gether with Snakepit Rebels. They Rokk.
– Loud N Nasty
CL: Loud N Nasty and very cool guys!
– Smokey Bandits
– Pole Position
CL: Great musicians.
– Nasty Idols
CL: Also a band I’ve played 2gether with on same venues. They R sex drugz N RnR.
– Cowboy Prostitutes
SR: How do the new Bai Bang tracks sound, and what other bands have you been producing?
CL: The New Bai Bang has an “over the top” production, the bigger the better, with a Def Leppard touch. Other bands…hmmm.. here’s some I’ve worked with: Crashdiet, Europe, Talisman, Tigertailz, Candlemass, Crucified Barbara and of coz Zan Can and ANIMAL among other Swedish artists.
SR: How shocking was Dave Lepard’s (Crashdiet frontman) death to the Swedish rock community?
CL: It is always shocking when someone dies. To us who were close it was unreal, in someway not shocking, in someway it was… He loved the good things in life, a little too much, which took over him more n more, we all could see him transforming into someone else the last 6 months. But the second I got that call…man, of coz it was shocking news, I still have a hard time believing he is gone, I miss his late night calls and crazy ideas. It is a huge loss, he was a great guy and a great songwriter, I hope he found his peace. Miss ya bro.
SR: How does producing other bands compare to making your own music?
CL: The biggest difference is that when you do your own stuff you can fukk around with it more. I see it like this, when I produce other acts my goal is to make them better and make their sound more “THEM”, when I do my own stuff I fool around and at the same time get inspired and try new paths and ways of doing stuff…You know, I need to learn stuff too and that is what I love about my profession, you never learn enough!!
SR: Have you ever come across bands that were almost impossible to work with?
CL: Yes, all bands with ego…that is almost all….are hard work, but that is where a producer’s psycho game starts. That’s the way it is, I know what I have to go thru from the first meeting with the act.
SR: You mentioned earlier that you think “the bigger the better” when it comes to production. Sometimes I find a huge production sucks the life out of the music, do you find there is a fine line to walk when it comes to that?
CL: I totally agree, a big production doesn’t always suit the artist. Meaning, I wouldn’t wanna make AC/DC sound like Def Leppard’s Hysteria. As I said before, it is important to rehearse and get to know the band and what direction they wanna go and make them reach that goal. As a producer that’s my job, if I like their stuff or not, I still need to make the decision if I’m the guy to do it and if I can satisfy my clients. I don’t think Candlemass would wanna work with my sleaze-rocked-ass if they didn’t know that I know how they wanna sound, right? So the fine line you said, is the band’s decision in what producer they choose.
SR: Have you ever produced a band where you didn’t really like their music? Wouldn’t that be hard to do?
CL: It’s hard, but you have to learn the bands background and what they are about.
SR: Where do you hope to see yourself within five years?
CL: I try to live day by day but of coz I have dreams…. I hope I have gained more respect as a producer / artist and that my bands are doing good, and last but not least that my family is healthy.
Thanks to Chris Laney