INTERVIEW WITH NEW LYNCH MOB SINGER NATHAN UTZ
Date: March 15, 2018
Interviewer: Tyson Briden
FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE NAME NATHAN UTZ AND PLEASE PARDON MY BLUNTNESS, “I THINK IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES MY FRIENDS.” UTZ RECENTLY BECAME THE NEW FRONTMAN FOR THE BAND LYNCH MOB. LONG BEFORE UTZ WAS THE SINGER FOR LYNCH MOB, HE WAS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA FRONTING A BAND CALLED THE BLONZ. OF COURSE, THE BLONZ WERE ONE OF THOSE GREAT BANDS FROM THE LATE ’80S THAT GOT LOST IN THE SHUFFLE, POSSIBLY DUE TO RECORD POLITICS OR PLAINLY BECAUSE THERE WERE SO MANY BANDS THAT CAME AND WENT. FOR EVERY POISON OR CINDERELLA, THERE WERE TEN OTHER BANDS LIKE THE BLONZ THAT JUST NEVER GOT THE CHANCE THEY DESERVED. THE BLONZ RELEASED A REALLY GREAT ALBUM IN 1990, BUT FOR SOME REASON, IT JUST NEVER SEEMED TO BREAK LIKE SOME BELIEVED IT WOULD. THAT’S JUST THE NATURE OF WHAT WE CALL “THE MUSIC BUSINESS.” THERE IS A REASON IT’S CALLED A BUSINESS. OH, PLEASE DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THAT TOPIC.
UPON HEARING OF UTZ’S HIRING IN LYNCH MOB, I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF TO COLD CONTACT HIM. THAT’S RIGHT, COLD CONTACT. YOU KNOW WHERE YOU BECOME VULNERABLE AND JUST THROW YOURSELF OUT THERE HOPING TO GET A POSITIVE RESPONSE. WHEN PERFORMING AN ACT LIKE THIS, THERE ARE REALLY ONLY TWO WAYS IT CAN GO. IT’S EITHER A ‘YES’ OR A ‘NO’. MR. UTZ, PLEASE CHECK OFF THE BOX TO WHICH YOU PREFER! WITHIN A FEW HOURS I HAD A RESPONSE THAT READ “FOR SURE. THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.”. I BELIEVE THAT’S A ‘YES’ KIDS.
AS WE WERE SETTING UP A TIME AND DATE, I RECEIVED ANOTHER MESSAGE FROM NATHAN ASKING ME IF WE COULD DO IT RIGHT THEN AND THERE. HE WAS AVAILABLE. I WAS VERY, VERY IMPRESSED BY UTZ’S DRIVE. UNFORTUNATELY I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS NOT READY. I AM VERY SORRY NATHAN. SO WITH THAT SAID, WHAT YOU ARE READING RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, WAS SET UP ONLY 48 HOURS AGO FROM MESSAGE TO PRINT. IN ROCK N’ ROLL TIME, THAT IS PRETTY OUTSTANDING.
SO BEFORE WE GO INTO THE INTERVIEW, I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A FEW COMMENTS ABOUT NATHAN UTZ. I DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH NICE COMMENTS TO SAY ABOUT THE MAN. HE IS A TRUE GENTLEMAN. HE IS A POSITIVE HUMAN BEING WHO REALLY INSPIRES YOU WHEN YOU SPEAK TO HIM. IT IS PEOPLE LIKE THAT THAT YOU REALLY FEEL HAPPY FOR WHEN GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO THEM. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I WISH NOTHING BUT THE BEST TO NATHAN UTZ. I HAVE A GOOD FEELING ABOUT LYNCH MOB’S DECISION TO HIRE NATHAN. I LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE OF LYNCH MOB. PLEASE ENJOY.
Sleaze Roxx: Nathan, I want to congratulate you on being the new vocalist in Lynch Mob. Initially, when the press release came out I was surprised because I hadn’t heard your name mentioned in some time. Before Lynch Mob, what had you been doing musically?
Nathan Utz: I had been doing Pandora’s Box which is a Tribute to Aerosmith. I have been at that for three plus years. The band consists of myself, guitarist Tim Cabe, Evanescence guitarist Troy McLawhorn — Tim plays when Troy is unavailable — drummer Mike Foreman, bassist Trent Horne and The Blonz guitarist Steve Taylor. Steve is our Joe Perry. Actually Steve and I have worked on several projects together. Of course The Blonz, Chain Gang, Mr. Natural. As for the guys in Pandora’s Box, I love them man. They are my brothers.
Mr. Natural‘s “Addicted To Shame” video:
1999 Danny Hamilton, a band manager, and business man in Atlanta had me shoot some 16mm film with my arri SR2. the club was owned by the guy who invented the facsimile, aka fax. Nathan Utz-vocals Steve Taylor-lead guitar Dennis Ogle-guitar Tony Langham-Bass Mike Burdette-drums
Sleaze Roxx: I actually checked the video on YouTube of Mr. Natural. What a great song.
Nathan Utz: Actually, we sat at the table with labels. We gave it our best shot. It just didn’t happen.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s funny though it comes up as “Natural” on YouTube.
Nathan Utz: Yeah, we’re like that. The Dirty Blonz became The Blonz [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: So how did you being hired by Lynch Mob come about?
Nathan Utz: That came about through Will Hunt from Evanescence and Slaughter’s Jeff Blando. We were all playing the circuit together back in the day. It was a plated circuit. Will came to see us a month prior in Pandora’s Box. He loved it. He said “That’s awesome dude.” Will got a tip from Blando about Lynch Mob looking for a singer. He told him “I got the perfect guy.” I had done a few songs with Bevan Davies who is in Zoso, the Zeppelin thing. I did Van Halen’s “Light Up The Sky”, Whitesnake’s “Ready And Willing” and Deep Purple’s “Fireball” on his solo album. So Will sent George those songs and the photos [of] Pandora’s Box. The visuals and the music. A week later, I was talking to George Lynch.
Sleaze Roxx: How much of the material were you actually familiar with or did it take some time to get the material down? To me, it sounds like you’ve been singing some of those songs forever.
Nathan Utz: Well, Dokken of course. I grew up in the ’80s. If you weren’t a fan of Dokken… The Blonz did a tour with Don Dokken on the “Up From The Ashes” tour. Dude seriously, Dokken are one of my three favorite bands of all time. So I knew the Dokken stuff. George calls and says “I’ll send you a list.” So I’m on the phone with George and he says “I’ll send you everything we got so you’re caught not off guard. Then I’ll send you the short list.” When I saw those Dokken songs, I was literally levitating. Then it all comes rushing back in. “Oh my gosh, I gotta remember this stuff.” So I’d go down to my wood shop in the basement. We all have our man caves. I did my homework. “Tangled” ended up in the set on the weekend. It’s was awesome. “No Good”, it was like wow, that was a great surprise. When it comes to the songs, I’m the neutral guy. Imagine being someone in my shoes. A cool part about this past weekend as I’m thinking about it, on a side note, was that the bar we played at in Iowa was where Buddy Holly last played. They still have the phone booth that he made the infamous call from. I took pictures. George took a picture of the flyer. He sent it to us. It was very cool and surreal.
Sleaze Roxx: As a Lynch fan, I’m going to play a little bit of fan boy here. I need to know what it was like standing beside the man. That first show must have been a rush.
Nathan Utz: You know, that was the question I was coming too. It was humbling, amazing. George is just a great guy. I really mean that. He’s like the big brother. He’s very keen to the world. Not loud. You’d expect him to be the guy that expects a red carpet when he shows up somewhere. On the weekend, George insisted on driving. He’s the guy that wants to make sure you got there good and safe. He’s so respectful. He’s like having a big brother. He wants to make sure you got on stage okay, you got off the plane. This weekend was the first time we met. We went for dinner and he’s cutting up. We’re talking about the set. He says “We might change a few little things. If we have too, does anyone know Aerosmith [laughs]?” You know, they were talking to me and said, “You know you didn’t win the lottery. You earned this. You did your homework.” I am one of those people that loves life. I’m a happy guy. Life’s too short. I’m on the moon. I treat every day like that no matter what.
Sleaze Roxx: So how did George Lynch feel about your performance? Did he say “Oh that was so great or anything along those lines?
Nathan Utz: He had no beefs. By the end of the weekend, he was joking and calling me “somewhat of monkey” on stage. Just me moving around so much. He’s that big brother. He didn’t acknowledge, but that’s George. He said “Buddy, welcome to the team.” You feel like that respect is there. He’s George. He’s not like some meathead. He’s just that guy. He walks it, he talks it. It’s a beautiful thing.
Sleaze Roxx: I was just listening to him on a recent interview. George is so well versed [and] intelligent. He is so interesting to listen too. He really blew me away.
Nathan Utz: You know my Dad lives up in Washington. He was part of the whole Reagan thing back in the ’80s. You put him and my father together. I’d be out of my element. He really knows what’s going on. He can talk about heritage, politics, anything. If you ask, he’ll indulge you. I love it.
Sleaze Roxx: I loved your execution on “It’s Not Love.” When approaching that song, which version did you work from? The original or the Robert Mason, T&N version?
Nathan Utz: Yeah, when I was woodshedding, it was the cut off the record. I wanted to stay in honor of the song. When I see a show, sometimes you come back disappointed when someone doesn’t live up to your expectations. You wanna mix it up but you have to play those important songs. I know what I wanna be. I won’t shortcut either though. People that come to see you, they paid their money that they worked hard for. The same applies for the band. You want to do your best for the band. I give them what I got. Bottom line, I gotta keep it to the original.
Lynch Mob‘s “It’s Not Love” with Nathan Utz on lead vocals live at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on March 10, 2018:
Lynch Mob plays Dokken’s song “It’s Not Love” Live at The Surf Clear Lake, IA on March 11th 2008. What a killer show with Nathan Utz on vocals!
Sleaze Roxx: What does the band’s schedule look like for the coming year?
Nathan Utz: Right now, there are dates booked to September. It’s sporadic. It’s good these days you’re not on the road for three months. Besides, there’s really not a money value in that. Back in the day, when you’re out playing for three months, it was great. When you’re young, you’re running around. You don’t mind being away from home. I have a plastic fish at the apartment. So the dates are kind of peppered. It’s down between Robert Mason and I on which dates I will be doing. I know I’m doing all the dates this month. Beyond that I haven’t heard.
Sleaze Roxx: I’d like to talk about The Blonz a bit if we could. It’s kind of nice to bring our readers up to speed on the band and maybe there are those that are not familiar with the band. Can you give our readers a little background about the band?
Nathan Utz: Well it was me, Steve Taylor and Dennis Ogle. We spent a long time writing. We had the same goal. The same vision. We had some member changes tweaking the band. Aaron Tate was on drums. Jon Bon Jovi took an interest in us. Ultimately, CBS came to us. Our management of Danny Hamilton and Charlie Brusco with Christie Vance played a big part. Christie is like family. My second Mom. With Steve, we’ve played together in and out for 30 years. We came right at the tail end of the era. I think we had great anthem songs. We had some exposure. Songs like “Miracle”, “What’s On Your Mind”, “Rainbow” — they were all great. We enjoyed it. Just remember I was 20 when the album came out.
Sleaze Roxx: Metal Edge Magazine seemed to really be helpful to The Blonz back in the day. I believe you were termed as something like “The next Bon Jovi.” What do you recall from those days?
Nathan Utz: We did get some references. Some referred us to Tesla. I really couldn’t tell you. That’s really nice to hear.
Sleaze Roxx: Why was it that there was only one The Blonz album?
Nathan Utz: Because of the political game. We worked hard and we were tired. Sony bought CBS. They did some house cleaning within the label. Everybody that was there was gone. They wanted a renegotiation on our contract. They wanted us to go the lighter route. It didn’t work for us. We had offers from European labels. You know Vinnie Hornsby was our last bass player? He was in the band at that time. He went on to Sevendust.
Sleaze Roxx: Brendan O’Brien engineered that album. What was it like working with Brendan?
Nathan Utz: Yes, Brendan was the engineer. He was awesome. He’s done some great work. Now you can’t get him on the phone. You know, he’s an amazing guitar player. I’ve been lucky to work some great guitarists. Steve Taylor — I love my brother. George Lynch. Both amazing. The two styles are like apples and oranges. Both so great.
Sleaze Roxx: I am always curious about label politics. Why was The Blonz put out under Imagine label, which of course was a subsidiary of Epic Records. The only other artist I recall being on that label were Danger Danger.
Nathan Utz: That was Lennie Petze’s personal label. There was us, Danger Danger and Firehouse.
Sleaze Roxx: Firehouse was on the same label?
Nathan Utz: Yes, Epic.
Sleaze Roxx: The song “Hands Of Love” was written by Joe Lynn Turner and Tony Bruno. Was this a song that the record company wanted the band to record?
Nathan Utz: Yes, it was Lennie who made that happen. We got it and thought it was just a great tune. Why discuss what is understood. Joe Lynn Turner heard it after we recorded it. We spoke on the phone. He said “Hey man you did a really good job.” For us, it was an honor for someone to consider us good enough to do their song. He was great to tip his hat to us. The way I look at it, it’s anything to make the album great. I didn’t sell my soul.
Sleaze Roxx: Was Byte the Bullet who later became Southgang playing in Atlanta back then as well?
Nathan Utz: Yeah, we were on with them guys. Jayce and Slug, they’re still here. Not sure about Butch. I think he may be around.
Sleaze Roxx: I found some footage on YouTube of The Blonz reunion back in 2015. Have you guys done anymore shows since then?
Nathan Utz: No, we put that hat on the shelf. There may be a reissue in the works. Who or when, I don’t know. We could do it, but I don’t want use Lynch Mob to gain popularity. Hey, God has a way. Life’s good. We had a good run. I thank the man upstairs.
The Blonz live at 37 Main Johns Creek for the first time in 25 years:
BLONZ live on stage at 37 Main Johns Creek for the first time in 25 Years!
Sleaze Roxx: Well Nathan, I really look forward to seeing you out there with Lynch Mob. Thank you so very much.
Nathan Utz: Hey man, thank you. Let’s keep in touch. God Bless You.
Lynch Mob‘s “Wicked Sensation” with Nathan Utz on lead vocals live at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on March 10, 2018:
Lynch Mob plays their hit “Wicked Sensation” Live @ The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on March 10, 2018! What a great show with Nathan Utz on vocals!