INTERVIEW WITH EX-BULLETBOYS AND CURRENT LIES, DECEIT & TREACHERY GUITARIST MICK SWEDA (Part 1 of 3)
Date: April 25, 2018
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
MOST OF US THAT ARE FANS OF THE WHOLE ’80S HARD ROCK/HEAVY METAL GENRE ARE WELL AWARE OF THE GREAT LOS ANGELES BAND BULLETBOYS. FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T, WELL LET’S JUST SAY YOU ARE MISSING OUT. POSSIBLY IT IS TIME THAT YOU WENT ON AMAZON AND HUNTED DOWN THE BAND’S FIRST THREE ALBUMS. I MAKE MENTION OF THESE ALBUMS ONLY BECAUSE AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, THESE THREE ARE THE ONLY TRUE BULLETBOYS RELEASES. OF COURSE SINGER MARQ TORIEN HAS GONE ON TO RELEASE UNDER THE BULLETBOYS MONIKER, BUT WELL, THESE ARE DIFFERENT SOUNDING ALBUMS TO THAT OF THE ORIGINAL BAND. TORIEN IS STILL OUT FRONTING THE BAND AT LOCAL CLUBS AND FESTIVALS THROUGHOUT NORTH AMERICA. FOR ME AS AN ORIGINAL BULLETBOYS FAN, I FIND IT DISHEARTENING THAT MARQ WILL NOT RELINQUISH THE NAME TO THE OTHER THREE GUYS AND GIVE THE FANS WHAT THEY TRULY WANT. CAN YOU SAY REUNION ANYONE? INSTEAD THE OTHER THREE MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL BULLETBOYS ARE OUT PLAYING AS LIES, DECEIT & TREACHERY. FOR THOSE WHO ARE FANS OF BULLETBOYS’ FIRST ALBUM, THE BAND NAME MAKES TOTAL SENSE. IT IS ALSO DISHEARTENING THAT MARQ IS NOT ONLY SINGING, BUT PLAYING ORIGINAL GUITARIST MICK SWEDA’S LICKS NOTE FOR NOTE. READ INTO THAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT, BECAUSE I USE THE TERM ‘NOTE FOR NOTE’ SOMEWHAT LOOSELY.
WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ BELOW IS A PERSONAL RESPONSE TO YEARS OF MISCONCEPTIONS CREATED MOSTLY BY MR. TORIEN TOWARDS SWEDA AND BULLETBOYS. IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT MARQ TORIEN EITHER IN THIS INTERVIEW, BUT THERE WAS A LOT THAT NEEDED TO BE SAID. WE ALSO TOUCH ON MANY SUBJECTS INCLUDING LIES, DECEIT & TREACHERY’S DEBUT ALBUM, THE FIRST BULLETBOYS ALBUM AND KING KOBRA. IF I TELL YOU TOO MUCH YOU WON’T READ ON.
THIS INTERVIEW CAME TO BE BECAUSE OF MY PERSONAL DESIRE TO TALK TO SWEDA. BEING A FAN OF BULLETBOYS AND ESPECIALLY SWEDA, I ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW THE TRUTH BEHIND SO MUCH OF THE TALK THAT TORIEN HAD BEEN SPEWING FOR YEARS. HEARING HIS SIDE OF THINGS. I REACHED OUT TO SWEDA VIA FACEBOOK. THIS WAS A FEW MONTHS BACK. I ALSO WANTED TO KNOW WHAT HE HAD BEEN UP TO. I WAS VERY IMPRESSED BY LIES, DECEIT & TREACHERY’S LATEST SINGLE “DEVIL.” IT WAS TIME TO REALLY GET A GOOD STORY FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE.
WHAT CAN I SAY OF MICK SWEDA? IN THE HOUR AND A HALF WE SPENT TALKING, I NEVER ONCE GOT THE FEELING THAT HE WAS LYING ABOUT ANYTHING TO MAKE HIMSELF LOOK BETTER. IT WAS SWEDA’S TURN TO REALLY TELL THE WORLD THE REAL STORY. I THINK THIS INTERVIEW WILL REALLY SURPRISE SOME. SWEDA DOESN’T HOLD ANYTHING BACK. I GENERALLY DON’T TAKE SIDES, BUT I HAVE WATCHED TORIEN AT A FEW SHOWS. ONSTAGE AND BACK. ON THESE OCCASIONS, IT HAS LEFT A BAD TASTE IN MY MOUTH.
DUE TO THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT SWEDA AND I SPENT TALKING, WE WILL BE DOING THE INTERVIEW IN THREE PARTS. PLEASE ENJOY PART ONE.
Sleaze Roxx: Hey Mick. Very good to talk to you. Starting off, let’s talk about your background a bit. You’re originally from Buffalo. When did you move out to L.A.?
Mick Sweda: I moved out to L.A. in 1981. It was a long time ago. I’ve been basically been in the middle of it for years. We moved up to North, Central California. We spent twelve years up there. Other than that, I’m an L.A. guy.
Sleaze Roxx: I guess you’ve lived there longer than you lived in Buffalo.
Mick Sweda: Yeah. Definitely.
Sleaze Roxx: Lies, Deceit & Treachery is what you’re currently working on with original BulletBoys bassist Lonnie Vincent and drummer Jimmy D’Anda. You released a single for “Devil” last year. Are there still plans to do a full release?
Mick Sweda: Yeah. In fact we’re talking to a couple of different labels right now. We’re getting material together. It’s going slower than I prefer. One of the guys is in Vegas. One’s in Houston. Jimmy and I are here. So the process sort of has to find its momentum. We’re doing that now. Everybody’s sort of recovered from the [Monsters of Rock] Cruise and the gig surrounding that. As I mentioned, we’re now putting the material together.
Lies, Deceit & Treachery‘s “Devil” song:
“Devil” is the first single from Lies, Deceit & Treachery’s upcoming record due in late-2017. Lies, Deceit and Treachery is the fusion of three former original members of BulletBoys and Best of Seven singer Shane Tassart. Mick Sweda, Jimmy D’Anda and Lonnie Vencent were the driving force that gave BulletBoys their powerful trademark sound.
Sleaze Roxx: Who will be singing on the album?
Mick Sweda: Well, Andrew Freeman is the guy we’ve been working with. Hopefully, if everything goes well, he’ll be the guy on the record.
Sleaze Roxx: Would you redo the vocals on “Devil” then?
Mick Sweda: Yeah, it’s possible. We haven’t even gotten that far really. We’re sort of working on newer material. That song has sort of gotten a good response. So we’re probably going to end up doing that.
Sleaze Roxx: On “Devil” were you subconsciously trying to make it sound like classic BulletBoys or was it something that came out naturally?
Mick Sweda: I think the latter. That’s just sort of the way I play. Those are the sort of things I like to do on the guitar. If it’s sounding like BulletBoys, it shouldn’t be a surprise because that was me. A lot of people are commenting that it seems like a natural progression. It should. I’m like a power pop cat. I have this band called “The Hot Summers.” I have a lot of material from that and it doesn’t sound anything like BulletBoys. I don’t really tend to write in that direction anymore. The reality is that when I play with Lonnie and Jimmy, it sort of brings back a lot of things that I don’t do. A lot of things I have not done for a long time. It’s fun. It’s actually a ton of fun to play with those guys. There’s an energy that doesn’t really exist in any other situation that I’ve been in. So it’s pretty easy to get back into that frame of mind with those guys.
Sleaze Roxx: I really love your guitar tone on “Devil.” It’s very crunchy and seems to have little effects on it. What are you currently using in terms of gear to achieve that sound?
Mick Sweda: Well, I used the same amp that I used on all the BulletBoys stuff. Honestly, it’s tuned a little differently. I used that old Jose Marshall combined with another Marshall. I did add another Marshall to that sound. It’s kind of a combination of a couple different things. Probably a little grittier because frankly, and I’ve said it many times before, recording that BulletBoys record was a bit tough for me because the tone on that record wasn’t something I wasn’t accustomed too. It’s the amp that I own now, but at the time I had never worked with that amp before. It was new to me, so that was an interesting process to go through. It’s been mine for all these decades. I can do what I want with it.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking in terms of guitar sound. The three demos that are on your YouTube site, “Crank Me Up”, “Smooth Up In Ya” and “Hard As A Rock.” I took a listen to them. I find the guitar sound totally different than what ended up on the debut.
Mick Sweda: You know what I’m talking about then. That’s more me than the actual record. Again, everybody likes the sound of the record. Everyone’s happy with it. Cool, you know. It’s not the way I would have done it. When you hear those demos, that’s closer to the way I envisioned our first record sounding.
Lies, Deceit & Treachery performing “Smooth Up In Ya” live at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, Colorado, USA in early 2017 (video by Rockin’ Ron of Decibel Geek):
Decibel Geek TV Presents: Lies, Deceit & Treachery: Smooth Up In Ya Captured live at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO. by Rockin’ Ron Subscribe to this Decibel Geek YouTube channel for over 600 videos of Classic Hard Rock and Heavy Metal artists captured live from around the world along with Video Episodes of the Podcast, Interviews, and much more with new videos added daily!
Sleaze Roxx: What did Ted Templeman do to the guitar on the album?
Mick Sweda: I can’t tell you, other than a reverb. It’s just dry. I didn’t print any effects. I just basically plugged straight into the amp. I went out that way. I didn’t use a lot of effects, back then anyway. I’m trying to remember if I used any at all. We did six or seven gigs before we got signed. So what he did to the mix? I don’t know. It seems to me there might be a touch of verb. He might have done the same thing he did with Eddie Van Halen where he sent a delay bus to the other channel. Ultimately, I am not sure.
Sleaze Roxx: So getting back to Lies, Deceit & Treachery. Are you playing any more shows this year?
Mick Sweda: Ah yeah, we hope to. We’re got some lined up in Colorado. There’s a festival we’re playing. We’ve got some other things we’re looking at. We don’t have a booking agent yet. We’re looking at solidifying that. Everything’s kind of booked for the summer. So anything that comes our way is going to be headlining gigs. Hopefully, that will happen soon. I’d love to get up to TO [Toronto, Ontario, Canada].
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s talk some more BulletBoys. I have to admit that I have a hard time seeing Marq Torien just being BulletBoys. As far as I am concerned, it’s not BulletBoys. He plays all the songs, mostly from the first album. He’s still releasing music as BulletBoys. Have you heard any of the albums?
Mick Sweda: My wife has shown me some stuff, but no, not any of the records. I mean she’s played me snippets of it. She even says, “He can’t play that stuff!” It’s funny. There was one point in some interview where he’s talking about how he had to show me how to play. How I wasn’t really an accomplished guitar player at the time even though I had two records under my belt before I ever met the guy. He couldn’t play any of that. I guarantee it. There’s always been some trip that he’s got.
Sleaze Roxx: Are you cool with talking about this stuff?
Mick Sweda: Ahh, no, no. This isn’t anything I wouldn’t say to his face. That’s for sure. I’d just like to set the record straight. He’s basically out there every chance he gets. It’s really funny. It’s always when it’s one of his records he’s trying to promote. It’s like dude, promote your fucking record and shut up about it. Teaching me guitar? Give me a fucking break. Just go on YouTube. Look at him play and look at me play.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve seen him live. So I can attest to that.
Mick Sweda: It’s like someone dropping silverware.
Sleaze Roxx: Just out of curiosity, have you ever read Rudy Sarzo’s book?
Mick Sweda: No I have not, but I’ve heard about that audition he did for Ozzy, where Tommy Aldridge finally goes, “What the fuck is he doing man? Get the fuck out of here!”
Sleaze Roxx: If I recall from reading the book, it mentions something about Marq being tone deaf.
Mick Sweda: I can tell you a story of the BulletBoys in the beginning. Everything I wrote was for two guitars. I always liked to have that full sound. That nice sort of trade off. The thing I had with David in King Kobra. I didn’t necessarily want to duplicate that, but I wanted to be a tough, bad ass sounding band. I talked the guys into it one time. I said, “You know, I know he can play, I’ve heard everything you’ve said about him. Just let him come up and play! Just let him bring a guitar to rehearsal. I want to see for myself.” They just bluntly said, “Mick no!!! Please don’t do that!” “C’mon guys. One time!” So turns out they let me do it. He comes in one time. Now he’s in his own world. Tuning to his own friggin’ pitch. Turns his amp up as loud as it will go and we start to play. He’s nowhere to be found in the song. He’s off doing something else. It’s way too loud. Not in tune. The guys are looking at me going, “See!” I was like, “Okay, I get it!”
Sleaze Roxx: So they already knew?
Mick Sweda: Yeah, they had tried to play with him before. In music, you have to be in tune to what’s going on around you. You have to be a part of the band. Not something that the rest of the band puts up with or tolerates. However, you want to say it. That’s the thing that I think… you’re not going to want to talk about Torien the whole time. There’s a lot of this stuff that he gets to talk about and I don’t. It’s like him being in Ratt right? Well, why wasn’t he in Ratt anymore? Got the audition with Ozzy. Why wasn’t he in Ozzy anymore? He’s so amazing. He’s this great guitar player. Well, why did I have to play guitar in the band? Just all these questions that answer themselves if you think about it. If you go online people are going, “Here’s a crazy guitar player. He’s really fucking great!” Well, that might be for the 30 second clip that you see, but play in a band with him and you get, like I said, silverware falling down the stairs. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Bottom line, see for yourself. You be the judge. It’s all cool. If the guy’s got fans and you like what he’s doing out there, fuckin’ head on man. It’s perfectly fine with me. But when obvious mistruths are being put out there, I have the right to address it.
Sleaze Roxx: A few years back, those demos we spoke of were posted on Metal Sludge. I don’t really know the whole story as to what when down. Was it Marq taking credit for writing the material that he actually didn’t?
Mick Sweda: Yeah, based on that. He has absolutely taken credit for writing songs. In fact, at one point he called ASCAP and tried to steal our royalties. Songs that I wrote. I brought “Hard As A Rock.” I brought “Badlands” and “Kissin Kitty.” I brought a bunch of songs to the band. It’s been a struggle with the guy because I think he’s got some issues there.
Sleaze Roxx: So he obviously owns the name BulletBoys?
Mick Sweda: Yeah, when I split the band in 1993, I just wanted to get as far away from it as possible. If you know him, you know that at some point you just have to escape. You just have to take your belongings and get away. So I said, “Look, just give me my gear, you can keep the name!” All with the idea that he would write new material, go out and promote that new material. I had no idea he was going to make a living off of my songs. Or at least try to make a living. So, you know that didn’t really go the way I expected it. But I got out of there, I got my gear and went on and did my thing after that. That was ultimately how I escaped. But it sucked. That was my band I started. Those guys didn’t even want to join in the beginning. I’m the one that took off from King Kobra. Started looking for other guys to play. They finally figured out, you know, King Kobra wasn’t going anywhere. They came along for the ride. I always felt like that was my band. It kind of sucked to have it end that way, but oh well!
Sleaze Roxx: In 2011, BulletBoys did the reunion show, was there talk of doing more or was that show it?
Mick Sweda: No, there was talk. There was an agreement that when we came down to do the show, we would discuss Marq relinquishing control of the name and control of the band. Basically he’s running it into the ground. So we wanted to try to sort of revive the brand and make it cool, but he couldn’t do it. He likes controlling three guys that aren’t BulletBoys. He wants to be BulletBoy!
Sleaze Roxx: So he probably makes all the money and the band makes shit?
Mick Sweda: That’s what I heard.
Sleaze Roxx: I couldn’t tell you who any those guys are anyways.
Mick Sweda: Let’s just put it this way. The last time I tried to play with him, wait no, the time before he tried to short me. That’s when I said, “If I’m playing the show, I’m getting paid in advance!” ‘Cause I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him.
Sleaze Roxx: Ah man, that’s horrible.
Mick Sweda: You know that’s the way it is. It’s rock n’ roll. He’s not the first guy to do that. It’s not a very honorable way to conduct business.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything you recollect from the recording of the first album that possibly people don’t know?
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon…