INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL GRANT & THE ASSASSINS FRONTMAN AND EX-LA. GUNS GUITARIST MICHAEL GRANT
Date: June 22, 2020
Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda
Photos: Olivier (first, third and fourth photos)
Band Websites: Facebook
Guitarist Michael Grant is about to release ‘Always The Villain’ via Frontiers Records on July 10, 2020. It’s been long in the making for various reasons that he detailed to Sleaze Roxx when we spoke with him on June 22nd, 2020. He also spoke to us about his previous band Endeverafter, his time in and his departure from L.A. Guns, the delay in the release of the album and how Prince’s “Purple Rain” wound up in the L.A. Guns’ set and what Prince means to him. Enjoy the interview.
Sleaze Roxx: Your previous band Endeverafter did a tour with Stone Rider…
Michael Grant: And Airbourne! That was such a great tour. We had such a great time on that. We did a three month tour. They were all such nice guys too.
Sleaze Roxx: I caught that show in Portland at The Roseland on like a Wednesday night and caught three new bands. I enjoyed your album ‘Kiss Or Kill’ quite a bit and if I recall, you guys got a little bit of a pop, you wound up getting a song on WWE and you were asked to do Shiprocked.
Michael Grant: Thank you. Endeveafter got selected to do Jeff Hardy’s theme music. In fact, he still walks out to [that song to] this day. We did do Shiprocked too. Endeverafter is one of those likely stories. People stop getting along, things dissolve and eventually the band goes away. It was heartbreaking for me.
Sleaze Roxx: I was listening to Eddie Trunk’s show. It must have been two years ago now. You premiered a song. You had just parted with L.A. Guns. You were gearing up to get your band launched. Why has it taken this much time?
Michael Grant: It was two years ago, you’re right. At the time, I was still shopping for a label. It was a pretty tumultuous and life changing time for me, after breaking it off with L.A. Guns. It was a tough time [as] I had to move, a break-up and a bunch of other stuff happening at the same time. I didn’t have a label and when I did find one, the negotiation of a contract happened at a very slow pace. All of these things resulted in the delay of the album. There was a moment where I lost inspiration, but then I found it again, then I banged it out.
Sleaze Roxx: In the past two years, I imagine you’ve written and recorded songs that you’ve added and subtracted from the vision of what ultimately would make the album. You must have a wealth of tunes in the archives.
Michael Grant: Absolutely. There’s a nice catalog of songs archived from these songwriting sessions. There’s a chance I might revisit a song or two from these sessions, but I’m a huge fan of writing for the now. If I run out of inspiration, I might dig into those archives at some point. Generally, I keep the creativity flowing and keep it in the now.
Sleaze Roxx: As far, as with the Assassins, is it safe to say that it’s basically you handling the bulk of the instrumentation and the songwriting?
Michael Grant: You’re spot on. In the studio, it’s predominantly me. I have a line-up to play live. You have to check out a lot of people before you find out who really works. I think the true test will be when you get to do a tour and take the band out to do it live in front of an audience. We’ve played in a room together and we’ve gotten a chance to jam some songs and then this quarantine thing happened, which makes things a bit more tricky all around. We have a band in place that will bring the live vision to life, when we’re able to hit the road.
Sleaze Roxx: You played on the pool stage on the 2019 Monsters of Rock Cruise. How was that for you? You had Jimmy D’Anda of the BulletBoys on drums for that.
Michael Grant: Right, the night before the cruise some things changed and Jimmy graciously offered to play with us and we had one rehearsal before the cruise set sail. I think we had about 90 minutes of rehearsal. We were excited but definitely a little anxious because we only had one rehearsal. Jimmy displayed the highest level of professionalism and don’t tell him this but he actually made us sound better [laughs]!
Michael Grant & The Assassins performing “Red Light Run” live at the Monsters of Rock Cruise in February 2019:
Sleaze Roxx: What did you take away from that gig?
Michael Grant: I think the one thing that I kept hearing was the song “Red Light Run” really connected with people. I thought that song would have been the least likely to do that. I remember Frank Hannon [Tesla] coming up to me while I was in the dining room area and he brought up. He was sitting up on his balcony and he said, “I heard you doing this really ‘swanky’ and kind of ‘poppy’ song. It was really good and the melody is fantastic.” What a pleasant surprise. I was honored. The fact that I received that kind of feedback from people on the cruise, it was a factor in me getting that out as a single when it came time to launch the album. I remember on that cruise when people would see me walking around they’d scream one of three things, ‘Prince,’ “Purple Rain,” or “Red Light Run.”
Michael Grant & The Assassins‘ “Red Light Run” video:
Sleaze Roxx: I think it’s safe to say that most of the L.A. Guns were disappointed when you parted ways with the band.
Michael Grant: Thanks. Thinking back now, I think it was time. The truth is I think regardless of whether it happened then or now, it was going to be the outcome. The way certain members of the band decided to handle the situation wasn’t cool. In the grand scheme of things, it had to happen. Unfortunately, it happened the way that it did.
Sleaze Roxx: Did you have some fair warning that it was coming or were your sideswiped by it all?
Michael Grant: I had an internal fair warning. I felt it. I got the sense that there were these ‘jealous’ instances. Things started to escalate. I could feel the jealousy. It was like a ticking time bomb. Toward the end, I just didn’t give a fuck anymore. There was just some weirdness between other members and I. There were things that would displease certain members and I just didn’t care anymore. When you’re constantly getting ‘muted’ and turned down, it’s time to do your own thing. Even me doing my own thing was too threatening in the end.
Sleaze Roxx: When you performed “Purple Rain” with L.A. Guns, it was well received and became a highlight of the show. How did that originally get added to the set?
Michael Grant: I’m a huge Prince fan, especially ‘Purple Rain.’ That was one of those albums that changed my life. At the time, Prince had just died and the O.G.’s [Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis] of L.A. Guns decided they needed to take a break during the set so they could make some costume changes, grab a drink or smoke or whatever. It was meant to be a filler during the set, while the guys took a break. The first night I did, it was so well received. I recall there were people shouting it at the top of their lungs from the balcony! We did that a few times but over time, it became a staple in the set, which some [in the band] people hated, but it was one of those things that I didn’t want to do in the first place. I was asked to fill five to seven minutes in the set and it was even suggested that I could do an Endeverafter song, but I didn’t want to do that. This isn’t Endeverafter, this was L.A. Guns. I don’t need that kind of tip of that hat cutting into your legacy. “Purple Rain” was perfect because I wanted to honor him, it took off and it ultimately resulted in my departure from L.A. Guns.
Sleaze Roxx: So it stirred up some resentment, because it was meant as a filler and it grew legs?
Michael Grant: That shit tousled all the feathers! Are you kidding me? That tousled all the feathers. When you watch the videos and we did that, there’s some band members that just couldn’t take that.
L.A. Guns performing cover of Prince‘s “Purple Rain” live in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA on February 28, 2018:
Sleaze Roxx: On the L.A. Guns’ ‘Made In Milan’ album and DVD, did you perform “Purple Rain” on that and it was taken out?
Michael Grant: No, we didn’t do it on that. What you see on the video and hear on the album was the set for that night.
Sleaze Roxx: You came on board on ‘The Missing Peace.’ How did you get approached about that?
Michael Grant: Tracii [Guns] said they were going to release new music together around the same time that I joined the band. I was asked if I had any song ideas to contribute for this new album that they were talking about releasing. I wrote “Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gunfight” and “The Devil Made Me Do It,” both made it on the album and “The Devil Made Me Do It” opened the show. That was an awesome experience. The recording of the album was us passing files amongst the band members, not old school in any way. It was really ‘piecey’ or should I say ‘missing piecey’ [laughs]?
Sleaze Roxx: As far as music from ‘The Assassins’, is it incorrect to say that the music is modern punk meets power pop meets hard rock? I hear all of that on the album.
Michael Grant: I think you’re hitting it on the head. There’s elements of all of that and other stuff of course. It’s a culmination of all or a lot of my influences. I like to call it ‘voodoo stew’ [laughs]! I didn’t want to create an album that was ‘one dimensional’ and I think I achieved that.
Sleaze Roxx: What is the significance of the album title?
Michael Grant: At the time that the title was conceived, the L.A. Guns break-up had taken place. I was being portrayed as being this ‘monster’ and there was all this negativity being said about me, via social media and in the press. That was so far off the mark, but when people have a platform like that, people listen and they get sold all this bullshit. I was a victim of all of that bullshit. I think that sparked the rebellious part in me because I was being attacked by inaccuracies. It was like “Okay, you want a villain? I’ll give the baddest villain that you’ve ever seen!” The title is all encompassing of where I was at that time and where those songs came from.
Sleaze Roxx: What got you through the dark time that you went through, aside from working on music?
Michael Grant: One thing that really helped was severing all ties with negative people in my life. Also, anyone that was spewing venom my way or lied about me, I deleted them from my life. There’s a lot of snakes in the grass in life and when rid yourself of them… some of them are sneaky as fuck. They show up in the forms of friends, shit sometimes it could even be family! It’s a tricky thing to navigate through. I think once I got past that point, things began to come together and the healing began. It took time. Also, being in a great relationship and becoming a father changes you for the better.
Sleaze Roxx: Were you in the delivery room?
Michael Grant: Oh man, yeah! I was in the delivery room and witnessed my baby’s head pop out! What an experience. It changed me. I was there for her first scream at the world and her first breath. It was an incredible experience.
Sleaze Roxx: How close were you to having a Ratt problem?
Michael Grant: Say again?
Sleaze Roxx: How close were you to having a Ratt problem, as in I read that you were being pursued by them.
Michael Grant: [Laughs] I see what you mean now! [Laughs] Yes! They contacted me, but it didn’t come close to happening. I’m grateful that they asked. I’m grateful for the potential opportunity. On both occasions that I was asked, I told them that they could probably find a better fit. I was trying to get my own band going. The second time, they asked I let them know that I would be down for a few shows but it wouldn’t be a long term deal. I’m a professional. If I could only do a few dates because I’m trying to get my band going, then what’s the point, right? So because I wanted to get Michael Grant & The Assassins going, I had to respectfully decline.
Michael Grant & The Assassins‘ “Anthem of Us” single: