Interview w/ Lies, Deceit & Treachery, and ex-BulletBoys & King Kobra guitarist Mick Sweda (Part 1)

Date: August 28, 2019
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography (first and fifth photos)

“We did two cruises [Monsters of Rock], we have been talking about making a record, I’ve sent Andrew [Freeman] a couple of tracks and he’s sent back a couple of vocals. When he’s in three other bands and your drummer is in three other bands, they have other obligations. Something has to get put on the back burner and ultimately that is L.D.T. [Lies, Deceit & Treachery] about a month ago I said, “If we’re not doing L.D.T., then I’m moving forward with The Hot Summersand other stuff that I’d like to do. You guys can do your projects and I will move on and it’s all good.” That apparently didn’t go over too well. We had two shows lined up in Canada. Those wound up getting cancelled. We also had this Denver, Colorado show and that would be our last show. This all went up in flames. I jammed with Marq Torien last night [August 27, 2019] in LA. We jammed on “Rock Bottom” and Andrew Freeman took exception to that and he quit the band today [August 28, 2019],” says a frustrated Mick Sweda.

Sleaze Roxx has spoken with Mick in the past (see Parts 1, 2 and 3 of interview in May 2018) and when I was scrolling through Mick’s Facebook page, I noticed that there was an ad for what was billed as Lies, Deceit & Treachery’s ‘last show’ on September 7th, 2019 in Colorado. I reached out to Mick and he agreed to talk, but things took a turn between the day I messaged him and the night we actually spoke. As with the majority of interviews, I had to dig a little deeper and we went back into BulletBoys and King Kobra’s history. 

Sleaze Roxx: You jammed with Marq Torien and Andrew [Freeman] got upset over it? I guess I can understand him being sensitive to this.

Mick Sweda: Listen, I can’t think of any other business that has more exposed nerves, than rock ‘n’ roll! People get very ‘upset’ very easily. They react very ‘impulsively.’ Our relationship with Andrew up until this point had been very professional and very rational. He’s been very overwhelmed with his schedule with Last In Line and now working with Lynch Mob. We also talked about making an L.T.D. [Lies, Deceit & Treachery] record. So up to this point, we had been getting along great, so whatever happened in the last couple of days was catastrophic enough for him to quit and force the cancelation of a show that is a week away. I don’t know if we can make that show happen in some form or another, but it doesn’t look likely at this point in time. We had a good run. I’m proud of the shows we did. Right now, I’m neck deep in The Hot Summers mixes and there’s another album that I’d like to do. I want to work, I can’t wait for someone to get back from a George Lynch tour.

Sleaze Roxx: Mick, you getting on stage with Marq is a huge step and it will get people talking. It triggered Freeman to quit the band.

Mick Sweda: Yeah, I know. Marq and I have had our issues in the past, he said some things and I said some things, it’s been a tough road, no doubt. I don’t like to hold grudges. As I get older, I like to hold them even less. I’d like to think that we can all get along and ‘co-exist’ as you said. Last night was great. He looked great, he sounded great and he was on his best behavior. It was a great time. We got along very well. It was a lot of fun and I walked away like we mended things some and we don’t have to be enemies. I don’t know what’s going to come of this? I’m just glad to put all the hard feelings between us in the past.

Sleaze Roxx: BulletBoys and Lies, Deceit & Treachery were on the 2019 Monsters Of Rock which was a strange coincidence. I observed you watching the BulletBoys’ set on the pool stage. Afterwards, I ran into you outside and I mentioned the contrast between the two bands. I said to you that my wife who isn’t a huge hard rock fan said about the BulletBoys, “They’re playing the same songs as the other band, but they don’t sound as good.” So a casual listener, was able to decipher that the execution varied. To me, Marq still has the pipes. The band he has just doesn’t do it for me. There’s something about having the classic four there, there’s chemistry and I saw that with Lies, Deceit & Treachery. To me, that’s as close as you could get to BulletBoys. I have seen Marq before. He sounds great, he is a great showman but he’s doing all the heavy lifting. He needs the rest of the band to dial things up.

Mick Sweda: [Laughs] You know I recall that [laughs]! Listen, I love Andrew’s proficiency, range and swagger. It was so much fun to perform with him and have those songs sung with such dexterity. And playing with Jimmy [D’Anda] and Lonnie [Vencent], there’s no other band that I could play with. You add anybody else and it changes the dynamic of the entire band. Without offending anyone, it totally dumbs things down. I have played BulletBoys songs with other people and it’s kind of a joke. It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t want to do it. Jimmy and Lonnie bring something to the songs that you can’t grasp it, you can’t define it, you can’t put a label on it. It’s basically just what you said it’s chemistry that I will NEVER find with any other band. Playing with those guys feels like home.

I wish Lies, Deceit & Treachery could have done more shows. I wish we would have had a longer run. I wish we would have released a record. I appreciate what Marq is doing. He’s working hard. He’s kept the name alive for a while since we parted ways. He’s a great performer. There’s a sincerity in what he does, but I also know that he would prefer to not do all the ‘heavy lifting’ as you put it. I think he would like to just sing and focus on that instead of trying to fill in on all those other parts. It was so nice to chat with him and to get back on stage. We’ll see how this all goes. I know Lonnie and Jimmy are open to playing again. I don’t keep up on this, but evidently having as many members of the classic line-up is a huge selling point. We’re all still here. We’ll see what happens in the future. Unlike some of these bands that have like one original member and the rest are ‘scabs’ for lack of a better word, we’d have the four classic members.

Lies, Deceit & Treachery performing “Smooth Up In Ya” live at the Monsters of Rock Cruise on February 24, 2019:

Lies, deceit & treachery-Smooth up in ya-monsters of rock 2019

Lies, deceit & treachery-smooth up on ya-monsters of rock cruise 2019

Sleaze Roxx: I’m a King Kobra fan. I love ‘Ready To Strike,’ You were more involved in ‘Thrill of A Lifetime.’

Mick Sweda: Absolutely, by the time I was on board, the first record had been entirely written. I contributed some guitar tracks to the ballad [“ Dancing With Desire”]. When the second record came along, I was more involved. On the second record, there was a mandate from Capitol Records that we needed a single. That was in my wheelhouse being that I’m a pop guy. I started presenting my songs to the band and they started getting selected for the record. It’s funny you mention King Kobra, because I just bought those records…

King Kobra‘s “Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)” video:

Iron Eagle (Never Say Die) – King Cobra

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Sleaze Roxx: The Rock Candy Records remasters?

Mick Sweda: Yeah! I wanted to read the interviews that I did with Malcolm [Dome] for the expanded liners. I don’t even remember what I said! I wanted to see if I was somewhat lucid in there [laughs]!

Sleaze Roxx: I’m curious to hear what you think about those liners?

Mick Sweda: I don’t know how old you are, but you can’t be as old as I am! Reading through those CDs reminds me of my youth looking through the liners of some of my favorite records, reading who performed on them and who had a hand in creating it. I remember buying albums and hoping that when I tore the cellophane off and slid the album out, that it had all these liners, instead of the blank sleeve with nothing on it! Even though I have to use a light and a magnifying glass to read the liners on these CDs, it’s still interesting to look over [laughs]! They go really in depth, which I think is a huge selling point of these CDs.

Sleaze Roxx: You had a second run with King Kobra and two studio albums for Frontiers Records — ‘King Kobra’ in 2011 and ‘II’ in 2013.

Mick Sweda: To me Dave [Henzerling] is really the driving force behind King Kobra. Most of the material on those records were born with Dave. He called me up and said he had some material for a new King Kobra album and he wanted me to play on it. I played on four songs on each of those records from what I recall. I did some leads and give it that King Kobra sound. As far as Paul [Shortino] goes? I have always like his voice. As a lyricist? I’m not as big of a fan but it was fun being a part of those albums. I love working with Dave. I know when he sets out to do something, he puts his heart into it and puts a lot of effort into everything that he does.

Sleaze Roxx: I think people often refer to King Kobra as Carmine’s [Appice] band, but from what you’re saying, it’s Dave that does a lot of the writing and he takes the lead.

Mick Sweda: Carmine is ever present. I know if there is a search for lyrics, he’s always there for some input. Unfortunately, in the early days he would take calls from people like Nikki Sixx and say stuff like, “Yeah, right now we’re working on a song called “Raise Your Hands To Rock.”” Then Nikki will immediately steal the title and place that on his record when our record is due several months after that…. So there was a downside to Carmine, which was taking phone calls from other guys in bands [laughs]!

Sleaze Roxx: The ‘BulletBoys’ also received the Rock Candy Records remaster treatment. There was a comparison to Van Halen. Like them you were on Warner Brothers Records and you were produced by Ted Templeman. I think even a guy like Dave Mustaine of Megadeth took notice that there was a Van Halenesque vibe to the band.

Mick Sweda: I think he called us ‘The Bulletfaggots’ or something like that…

Sleaze Roxx: Jesus, you’re right! Was the Van Halen comparison warranted or was it just unfair?

Mick Sweda: You know, I’m not going to tell you or others what to think. That is for you and others to judge. There’s a portion of our material where I did a bunch of ‘hammer ons.’ It’s something that I did in King Kobra and that I brought into BulletBoys as I tried to develop a style of my own. Listen, I obviously have to tip my hat to Eddie [Van Halen] for the technique. I felt like that was a part of my playing back when we got signed. I remember seeing Brian May in 1975, where he took this note and he bent it in a way that I had never witnessed before, so it was at that time before Van Halen, that I realized that you could play the guitar in such a different way. So, anyway I ‘cut out’ the Van Halen stuff, specifically because I did not want to be associated with Eddie Van Halen references. If you can believe this, the rest of the guys in BulletBoys were and still are, heavy, heavy into Van Halen. I was not. I could appreciate them, I wasn’t that big of a fan myself…

When it came time to look at producers for the debut album, Ted Templeman came up. If you recall around that time, he had produced Aerosmith’s Done With Mirrors. Aerosmith is one of my all-time favorite bands, but that record was so ‘lifeless’ and ‘flat.’ It was devastating to me, because that was not the Aerosmith that I remembered. I associated that album with his production. At that point, he was not on any list of mine! I had Brendan O’Brien on my list along with a host of others. We even had a meeting with Bob Ezrin, so we sit down to get to know each other and the first thing that he says, “BulletBoys. Bu-bu-bu BulletBoys. We’re going to have to change that name!” The meeting ended three minutes later [laughs]!

King Kobra‘s “Have A Good Time” video (from II album):

King Kobra – Have a Good Time (Official Videoclip 2013)

Don’t forget to LIKE the Frontiers Records Facebook page”Have a Good Time” is the first video/single taken …