Interview with Love On Ice guitarist Dirk Sullivan

INTERVIEW WITH LOVE ON ICE GUITARIST DIRK SULLIVAN
Date: April 2, 2021
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda

“I had a couple of unique opportunities after Love On Ice ended. I was married and I just didn’t want to get back into a van and do the touring musician thing anymore. I wanted a normal life. I chose to have a normal life,” says former Love On Ice guitarist Dirk Sullivan who sat down with Sleaze Roxx for an interview on April 2nd, 2021. Love On Ice had an underground status in and around their stomping grounds of Portland, Oregon. Michael Des Barres once said, “Any band can be the greatest band on any given night.” Love On Ice was the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, everytime I caught a show.

The band was signed to Interscope Records and in 1991 everyone got a chance to get a taste of what the band was about when its song “Showdown” was featured on 1991s ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’ soundtrack with notable acts like Winger, King’s X, Faith No More, amongst others. In 1992, Love On Ice released their debut album ‘Nude’ with standout tracks like “Bone Dance,” “Don’t Leave Me,” “Leave Me Alone,” and “Mine.” The album was produced by the late Rick Parashar who worked with the likes of Temple of The Dog, Alice In Chains, Dinosaur Jr. and Blind Melon.

Photo by Bruce Feely

Sleaze Roxx: How far did Love On Ice go, as in when was the band formed?

Dirk Sullivan: Three of us were from Albany [Oregon]. We wound up forming a band while we were attending Mount Hood Community College. We met Dan Krueger and thought he was a great guy and we loved him. We wrote with him. We didn’t even know he was a singer until we’d gone through a couple of singers. It wasn’t until then that Dan had stepped in and started singing and we thought that was it. It was great. We moved to Corvallis [Oregon] with the idea that we’d work on music for a year and play frat parties and get our bearings as a band. After a year of doing that, we moved back to Portland [Oregon] and we started doing Monday nights at Satyricon. We did a few of those then that led to Wednesday nights, then to Saturday nights and then some great opening slots. We supported some ‘up and coming’ bands/ We played with Mother Love Bone, as well as Alice In Chains. The gig opening for Alice In Chains was a really cool one because I got a chance to get to know the guys in the band and I got a chance to hear their demo tape. I was so impressed with their demo tape. I found out where they recorded it. We booked studio time in Seattle. We recorded it at London Bridge. It was a demo tape that wound up helping us get signed.

Sleaze Roxx: One of the shows that I saw where Love On Ice supported, was Alice in Chains and Mookie Blaylock, which was Pearl Jam.

Dirk Sullivan: That’s right! It was at The Melody Ballroom!

Sleaze Roxx: Love On Ice has a very distinct sound. Hard to really pin down. Love On Ice had appeal to hard rock fans and also brought in some of the ‘alternative’ audience which was huge at the time. And let’s not forget that you also appealed to the ‘grunge’ audience too.

Dirk Sullivan: Our influences were a culmination of everything that we grew up listening to. When we wrote music and collaborated, we dropped some of the stuff that we were really into the music. I like Pearl Jam. I wouldn’t put them in with grunge. Alice In Chains was directly influenced by Gun N Roses. If you listen to Layne’s [Staley] lower register… damn! There it is! Axl Rose! They were the gateway to grunge. With Love On Ice, our influences were very diverse. It was all the hard rock music that we were listening to growing up. There was everything from Van Halen to Nazareth to Foghat. We weren’t trying to recreate that, but those were the ingredients that made the recipe.

Sleaze Roxx: How big of an influence was Jane’s Addiction? The reason I ask is because much like you mentioned, Guns N’ Roses was the ‘gateway’ for Alice In Chains. Were Jane’s Addiction that for Love On Ice?

Dirk Sullivan: Jane’s Addiction is an incredible band. I can’t say enough about them. I don’t think that we intentionally set out to make music that sounded like them at times, but Dan’s voice certainly had a Perry Farrell influence to it at times. Their voices at times are frighteningly similar. I don’t think at the time we were thrilled about the comparison, mostly because we were doing our own thing. Thinking back about it now, you just can’t run away from the fact that it was an influence. I still hold the ‘XXX’ records and ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ in high regard. What great records. You were at the show at The Roseland when ‘Nothing’s Shocking’ first came out, right?

Sleaze Roxx: Yes. You’re taking me way back now.

Dirk Sullivan: What an incredible show! Wasn’t it like you were watching the most important thing in the world?

Sleaze Roxx: It was so different from what was going on with the L.A. glam bands.

Dirk Sullivan: It was such a kick-ass amazing show! You’ve seen a shit ton of shows like I have, but that one just sticks out in my mind. I was like “Wow! We just saw something great!”

Love On Ice‘s “Leave Me Alone” video (2010 version):

Sleaze Roxx: Let me ask you about the name of the band. I’ve never heard the story behind the name and the significance behind it.

Dirk Sullivan: The name? Oh, man! It’s a super sad story. The guy who named the band was a guy who wasn’t in the band anymore [laughs]! We were in Corvallis at the time and we had this singer at the time and our then bass player Tony Villanueva went on to have a great career with The Derailers. They came up with the name for the band. They brought the name to the rest of us. I was like, “Really? That’s the name?” They convinced us that that it was a great name and that’s what we went with. So they left and we were stuck with the name [laughs]! When they left, we thought about changing it, but we have already started to build momentum and we kept it. The name was always a little ‘goofy’ to me. I remember when we were touring Europe and we pulled into a festival that we were performing at in Eindhoven, Holland. We were checking in at the gates to make sure we were approved to perform. I remember that a guy came to us and said, “Love On Ice? What are you? Gay hockey players?” [laughs] I was like, “Yes we are!” [laughs]

Sleaze Roxx: So you get the attention on Interscope Records. They were then a start up. Did they have a major distribution?

Dirk Sullivan: That’s an interesting story. We did this demo tape. I picked them up after they were mastered and I brought them to the gig at our first Mayor’s Ball. I had all of these tapes at the gig and I started giving them away to everybody! Anyone that wanted a tape got one. I can’t recall the amount of tapes I had on me that night. I think it was about 200. A week later, we received a call from someone that said they liked the tape and they thought they could help get us a deal. We got a call from Kevin Williamson from Atlantic Records. He came to see us play. He liked the band a lot. I didn’t think he could get his bosses into the band. We then got a call from Barry Squire from Warner Brothers Records and then we got a call from this guy named Tony Ferguson from Interscope Records.

We hadn’t heard of Interscope, but we did know who Jimmy Iovine was [and that he was] starting out a new label. They didn’t have distribution. In fact, they didn’t even have a building! They were renting office space in these cabana spaces at A&M Studios. We did another showcase. There was a lot of interest. We hired an attorney based out of L.A. who was an entertainment lawyer. We started getting offers and our lawyer said, “You money is best put on Interscope. They don’t have distribution right now, but they will. They are on their way and they will be the biggest label in the world.” It’s funny that he said that because now they actually are. We signed with Interscope. At the time, we were the first ‘band’ that they signed. The first artist that they had signed was Gerrado… You remember that guy. He had that song… What was that fucking song?!

Sleaze Roxx: The guy with the bandana and the leather jacket! “Rico Suave!”

Dirk Sullivan: [Laughs] That’s it [laughs]! So, we signed with them and we were on our way. We flew to L.A. and we recorded some more demos and we decided that as producer, we’d be using Rick Parashar, who had worked on our demo. He was also recording Temple of The Dog, Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten.’ We came in to do some overdubs on “Showdown” for the Bill & Ted’s ‘Bogus Journey’ soundtrack, when they were still working on the Temple of The Dog album.

Sleaze Roxx: You demoed four songs. Two wind up on the record.

Dirk Sullivan: That’s right, “Showdown” wound up on the soundtrack. There was another song called “Sunshine Girl” which didn’t make the cut for some reason.

Sleaze Roxx: That wasn’t exactly a ‘throwaway.’

Dirk Sullivan: Yeah, I don’t know why that didn’t make the cut. We started to record it. I think we had trouble capturing the vibe that we got on the demo. We had other material so we moved on. There were a couple other songs that we had that didn’t make the record. They’re just sitting out there and to this day, I just couldn’t tell you why they aren’t on the record. I have no idea. It’s been too many years [laughs]! I think when you’re demoing stuff, you get a lucky break and you get a magical moment that just can’t be recreated. Sometimes, you just can’t reproduce what you did once. “Sunshine Girl” is a fun song. I just found the mastered DAT [digital audio tape] mixes of that demo. I might do something fun with them and put them up on iTunes or Spotify or something so people can listen to them.

Sleaze Roxx: I think I heard the live version of “Showdown” before I heard the demo version. Why didn’t that song make the album? That turned up on ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’ which was great but that was too good for a soundtrack, don’t you think?

Dirk Sullivan: You’re right! Once again, I could not tell you why we didn’t use that on the record! I have no idea. It really should have been used for the record. I can’t recall if it was a decision that we, as a band, made or that Interscope made to keep that off the album. It’s a neat song. I remember when we wrote that song, it had two distinctive vibes to it. You’ve got the opening part of the song, then part way into it, it kicks into gear. I came up with the main riff and we wrote it basically in one rehearsal. We jammed through it. Thankfully we were running tape so we were able to capture it.

Photo by Scott Mattern

Sleaze Roxx: You did a couple of videos for the ‘Nude’ record. What can you tell me about these because there was live footage on both of them.

Dirk Sullivan: “Don’t Leave Me” was the first video that we did. That was recorded at our record release party at The Satyricon. It was a combination of footage from that show and some other footage, where we did a lip-sync performance type of thing for all of the close up shots. The director was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get those close-up shots with an audience. The next one was for “Leave Me Alone” which was a combination of material that was shot at a rehearsal space and footage from a show at The Roseland Theater.

Sleaze Roxx: What’s a cool memory about cutting the ‘Nude’ record?

Dirk Sullivan: God, there are so many! It was just such a great experience making that record. We were thrilled just to be making a record. I remember the camaraderie we had. Rick Parashar was one spectacular man. He was a dear friend. We became family with him and his brother Raj Pashar. They were wonderful to us. I can’t say enough about them both. Sadly, Rick passed a few years ago, but I still maintain contact with Raj to this day. We also befriended Kelly Gray [Queensrÿche, Slave To The System] who is an amazing engineer, producer and guitar player. He’s still a good friend of mine to this day. There’s a guitar solo that is on the record that I feel is my standout performance on the album. I remember we were about to wrap up for the night, we were taking mescaline. I had never taken mescaline before [laughs]! We were ‘dosing’ and we were still in the studio. When it started coming on, we were finishing up for the night. I looks at the guys and asked, “Can I play the guitar solo?” We had been working on “Self In Blue” prior to that. So Rick said, “Nah, man we’re done for the night.” I insisted and he replied, “Okay, but I’m only giving you two passes. I don’t want to be at this all night!” So I did two passes of the solo and those two passes are what he wound up using on the album. He pieced them together later. It’s complete fucking chaos, but it so rad [laughs]! It’s a fantastic memory that I will have for the rest of my life and it’s just a wicked, cool guitar solo [laughs].

Sleaze Roxx: How did you meet Rick [Parashar]? He had worked with a lot of great bands in his time. He worked with Zakk Wylde’s Pride & Glory.

Dirk Sullivan: That’s right! I got a chance to meet Zakk when Rick did those sessions. Rick did a lot of cool stuff! We met him the first time that we opened for Alice In Chains at The Satyricon. He got their demo tape from the late Mike Starr [Alice In Chains]. He gave us his number. I listened to it after the show and I was like ‘Holy shit’! I called Mike up and asked where they recorded the demo. He got us in touch with Rick, we booked some studio time and we became friends. We did everything there from there forward. We didn’t see the need to go anywhere else.

Sleaze Roxx: Correct me if I’m wrong, because my memory might be failing me and I’m having to dig deep into my memory banks. When you guys supported Tora Tora, you closed with “Showdown.” As Dan [Krueger] was introducing the tune, he said something about “Love On Ice is heading to Europe to support The Beastie Boys.” Did that happen? Does that ring a bell?

Dirk Sullivan: If it rings a bell, it’s because Dan is full of shit [bursts into laughter]! Dan was just being Dan and he was saying outrageous stuff from the stage. I remember that show too! That was the first time we got an opportunity to open for an ‘up and coming’ band on a big stage. It was also the first time we played The Pine Street [Theater]. Tora Tora were really young. They were kids. They were similar to… What’s that young group that sounds like Zeppelin?!

Sleaze Roxx: Greta Van Fleet.

Dirk Sullivan: That’s them! Tora Tora reminded me of them — a young group of kids that had all this potential. They were great! That was a great show for us because that opened up a lot of doors for us. After that, we opened for people like Pat Travers and more and more national acts. It was really neat! We learned a lot from watching established bands do their business.

Sleaze Roxx: When did things begin to dissolve? There was a shot at a second record, which was not released. Was it a record or demos?

Dirk Sullivan: We made a second record. It exists. When it came time for the second album, the band was unraveling in a number of different ways. One of the ways is that there was a lot of heavy drug use. We were shopping the album elsewhere. We had left Interscope. They did not like the material. We believed in the material. We went back to London Bridge Studios and Kelly Gray produced it. It was a darker record. We were experimenting with different sounds. We might have gotten caught up in the ‘grunge’ thing a little bit. The music isn’t as ‘happy’ or as ‘fun.’ There’s like 4-5 things on that record that I feel are fucking great! The rest of it is pretty good. We just moved away from where we were with the previous album artistically.

Interscope wanted us to continue on the same path that we were on, which we could have done. I think we needed to get a record like the second record out of our system. We got out of our contract, we made the record and we began to shop the record. We wound up flying to L.A. to do a showcase. We really just wanted to sign with an indie label. We didn’t want a big label. We just wanted someone that would understand what we were trying to accomplish with the new material. I don’t regret any decisions that we made. I don’t play the ‘what if’ game. It is what it is. There was a point where everything was unraveling and we just decided to call it quits. I think Stan, Brent and I felt that we could recreate what he had with another singer. That whole thing lasted for about a couple of weeks [laughs]! It wasn’t working and we all just said, “Let’s just take a break!” Everyone went on their way and that was that.

Love On Ice‘s “Don’t Leave Me” video (remastered):