INTERVIEW WITH WILDSIDE DRUMMER JIM DARBY (PART 2 of 2)
Date: March 8 and 14, 2021
Photos: Courtesy of Jim Darby
AFTER PART 1 OF SLEAZE ROXX’S RARE INTERVIEW WITH WILDSIDE DRUMMER JIM DARBY WAS POSTED, THE DRUMMER CONTACTED ME TO CLARIFY CERTAIN THINGS THAT WERE GOING TO APPEAR IN PART 2 OF HIS INTERVIEW. DARBY DISCUSSES THE WILDSIDE ALBUMS THAT HAVE BEEN RELEASED SINCE THE GROUP’S TWO STUDIO ALBUMS, ‘UNDER THE INFLUENCE’ (1992) AND ‘WILDSIDE’ (1995), THE WILDSIDE REUNION SHOWS, RECORDING THE DEBUT ALBUM IN EDDIE VAN HALEN’S INFAMOUS ‘5150’ STUDIO AND MUCH MORE!
Sleaze Roxx: In 2003, Stevie Rachelle’s record label RLS Records put out ‘The Wasted Years’ by WildSide. Do you consider that to be like the third album from WildSide or what do you consider that release to represent?
Jim Darby: I wouldn’t say that its a third WildSide — like a formal written third WildSide album. I would consider it more of a compilation with some bonus tracks, unreleased tracks. We didn’t go in and record a new album. Again, some of that stuff was stuff that we had written, that we had written and Brent [Woods] had recorded. That was done at the time that you had asked earlier or Benny had mentioned that we didn’t have songs ready [when WildSide were touring in support of their debut album ‘Under The Influence’ and were asked by Capitol Records to get off the road and start recording a second album]. Some of those songs that weren’t ready are actually on that album and were already recorded. I would call it more of a compilation with bonus tracks. I think that’s the best description.
Sleaze Roxx: There’s a new album from WildSide. it’s called ‘…Formerly Known as Young Gunns.’ It was put out by FnA Records. Did you guys have any involvement in that record? I know some of you did but did you have any involvement in that record?
Jim Darby: Yeah. So Drew [Hannah] and I met with Steve from FnA. There was a function in Nashville [Tennessee, USA] that we attended and Steve approached us with that record already complete. And so basically, we didn’t have any involvement in the creation of the album. However, we did give him our blessings and we endorsed the fact that he was welcome to do with it what he will and we were happy too… I mean, at this point and I will get to it with the new release of ‘Under The Influence’ [by Bad Reputation Records]. At this point, I am just happy to let people get to hear the music. Some it isn’t the best representation. Some of it is a horrible presentation! They were poorly recorded. We didn’t know what we were doing yet but it’s our life, it’s our musical life and something that [laughs] sometimes is embarrassing and sometimes, it’s really great stuff that no one got to hear.
Sleaze Roxx: Now when I listen to …Formerly Known As Young Gunns’, that’s all material that predates ‘Under The Influence’, correct?
Jim Darby: Yes. So as I mentioned earlier, when you say that something is or isn’t WildSide, there’s a real grey area because it’s kind of one and the same. However, WildSide only had — well, we did have the version with Bruce [Draper] on guitar. There was a sixth person but WildSide was the five of us [singer Drew Hannah, guitarists Brent Woods and Benny Rhynedance, bassist Marc Simon and drummer Jim Darby] and then Bruce separately on the second album. So Young Gunns had a lot of different line-ups. They had a couple of different drummers and bass players. They had gone through the Hollywood scene for sometime until we, you know, solidified the line-up. I was the last one in that line-up and then we got our deal as Young Gunns. We signed with Capitol as Young Gunns. That’s what the contracts say but the records say WildSide so it’s kind of the same thing.
WildSide‘s “Easy As 1-2-3” video (via FnA Records from …Formerly Known As Young Gunns album):
Sleaze Roxx: Given that you guys had all those songs in the bank, so to speak, why didn’t you use those songs when Capitol asked you to come back and do a second album? You could have just put a record of those songs and I think those would have been great.
Jim Darby: Perhaps they would have. However, we were evolving musically so what we had written… And again, [that was] music that had been written before as I was ever in the band. I would say that our musical tastes — again, I would mention that Brent was leaning heavier. He was listening to Pantera. Not that we would have sounded like Pantera but that would have definitely been an influence, which is not the way that that earlier stuff sounds. So we evolved at that point beyond that music. So I don’t think that it would have been applicable to who we were at that time.
Sleaze Roxx: There’s another WildSide album that came out maybe a year or two ago. It’s a live album. Did you guys have any involvement with that album, in that regard?
Jim Darby: I did not. That is a straight off the board live recording. I believe it was from the Milwaukee Summerfest. I could be wrong. That live album I think that you’re talking about was something that Drew had uploaded and put together but again, it’s really rough. It’s a straight from the board live mix. No studio polishing after the fact. Nothing. You’re hearing an actual live show. So yeah, [laughs] I suppose that my involvement is that I played drums on it.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: [Laughs] It’s cool. Again, I like anything. Unless we are making a lot of mistakes, I am just proud to have our music heard by the public.
Sleaze Roxx: So that takes me to Bad Reputation Records. The label from France has reissued ‘Under The Influence.’ So Benny obviously had some thoughts in that regard. What are your thoughts in regards to that release?
Jim Darby: Well, on the same note that I just said. I am happy that… Capitol Records only did a very limited print of ‘Under The Influence’ and then, as we have also said, music took a turn. And many would say for the worst. And Blind Melon took over Capitol Records, all of their attention, and they stopped even printing ‘Under The Influence’ albums. So they were going for some astronomical amount of money on these online trading after market websites so people who heard of it later didn’t get the chance to get an actual copy. I’m stoked. I think it’s great that those people could get something and to quash the statement that it’s a bootleg. It is not. We were aware of this company from France talking to Capitol Records and they licensed it legitimately from Capitol. Capitol didn’t want anything to do with it. They weren’t printing anything anymore. They took what they could get. I don’t even know what the deal was. I don’t know what they settled or on what the terms are but they are legitimately selling it. Wal-Mart is selling it and it’s not an individual somehow getting through the backdoor of walmart.com. It’s Wal-Mart that is selling it for this company. And I think it’s great. I think the people that didn’t get a chance to get it. Now that being said, I have not heard the quality. There are statements that say that the quality is not as good. I don’t know. I can’t speak to that. I hope that it is because we spent a lot of time and money making that album sound the way that it does. So I hope that they do it justice but I am glad that people have the opportunity to buy it for a fair price. And the more people that get to hear it, the better as far as I am concerned.
Sleaze Roxx: What about the various WildSide reunions? From what I understand, they have never involved Benny. What’s the deal in that regard?
Jim Darby: Well, again going back to Brent and Benny never being musically compatible or personally for that matter for the most part… Let me say that I cannot say never. From the time that I was in the band. It may have been great before I was around but I never saw a big camaraderie between the two of them and musically, frankly, I think that anyone who listens or saw us live could agree that it’s just two different levels. Brent is a virtuoso guitar player and they — I am trying to think of a nice way to put this — but it just didn’t work for Brent playing with Benny anymore. If Brent had it his way, we would have played with a single guitar. There were rhythm guitar parts that needed to be played. There was also a lot of bad blood as I mentioned earlier from Benny not quitting the band and being fired. So there were a lot of factors that were in play here. It wasn’t just blackballing him from participating. I do believe that it was somewhat mutual. He also didn’t live in the city — the very first reunion was [on] short notice. I think I heard about it… Drew called me two weeks before.
Sleaze Roxx: Wow!
Jim Darby: And what do I think about playing a show at The Roxy? I thought he was kidding.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: And we ended up selling out The Roxy and it was a great show. We had a lot of fun.
WildSide performing “Dance-Swing” live at The Roxy in West Hollywood, California, USA on February 27, 2010:
Sleaze Roxx: What year was the first reunion show?
Jim Darby: 2010. Actually, that was for the Roxy. We did two before that. What year was that? It may have been 2008-2009 maybe? In Salt Lake City [Utah, USA], we did two nights. I’m not sure the year there. Maybe even 2007. I can’t really recall the year. But yeah, we did it several times. That one as a matter of fact, I think it was only with one guitar. We did that with only Brent. So the first time that we got together was Salt Lake City. I forgot about that, and that was only Brent on guitar. Then we did The Roxy and The Key Club in 2010. And then in 2017, we played in Golden, Colorado and Salt Lake City [Utah]. Actually, in 2016 and 2017. We did the same places two years in a row with the same line-up. Those years, we had this great young guitar player, this girl named Lexii Lynn Frazier and she was just a delight to have. She brought just a really good, fresh energy to the band and was a lot of fun. She was super cool and she’s doing a lot of great things now with some other up and coming artists.
WildSide performing “Lad In Sin” live at Wolf Fest 2016 at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, Colorado in 2016 (video by Rockin’ Ron of Decibel Geek TV):
Sleaze Roxx: So are there any talks of any further reunion shows?
Jim Darby: Not right now. Certainly, this Covid — everything getting cancelled now [and] coming on the second year hasn’t helped us move along any further. We all talk all the time. I talk to Brent often. I talk to Marc occasionally and we’re great friends. Drew and I, as I think I mentioned, we talk every single day. We are working on the YouTube channel [80’s Metal Recycle Bin]. We do now — my business, I invested in real estate and he lives in Nashville [Tennessee, USA]. I have property in Nashville and we work together on that stuff. We work together on the YouTube stuff, which started out as documentary film making. So we are constantly talking with one another and if the right thing came up, nothing is out of the question. I don’t know if the right venue or the right circumstance is there for us to take the time and energy to do it properly. We don’t want to do it unless it’s right. The last couple of times, we went out and had fun with it. We want to do more shows so that we make more of a production and get more rehearsals. I think that if anything were to happen, it would have to be a unique situation and sort of an offer that we could not refuse. So nothing is off the table but we are not talking about anything currently.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you know what the status is for Brent? Back in November , he had indicated that he was doing some chemotherapy treatments to battle some sort of leukemia. Do you know what his status is?
Jim Darby: Yes. I do.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Do you want to share?
Jim Darby: Well, I don’t want to speak out of turn. I know that he is doing well and he’s become quite the advocate for people getting these things tested — the blood levels. It caught him by surprise. He handled it amazingly. His attitude going into it — I talked to him right when he found out and I just couldn’t believe how upbeat and positive he was about it. I think the results are showing that. So he seems to be doing really well. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be but he doesn’t let on to that.
Sleaze Roxx: I am glad to hear that he is doing pretty good. Now what about — Benny obviously has had a social media presence for WildSide and what are your thoughts in that regard?
Jim Darby: [Laughs] Yeah, well, one thing — I am not on any social media. I’ve just never had the time just to do that. Most of what I have seen is through other people showing me on their Facebook or somehow, on their screen shots. Seeing this history of WildSide, part one to whatever.
Jim Darby: Yeah, again, these stories about quitting the band and the ways things happened, a lot of it is hard to read because it’s not accurate. The reason that it’s called ‘WildSide News’ now was because the four of us — four of five who were also there and saw what happened and read these versions of what happened — either exaggerated or completely made up. There’s too much of it to go into the details. Some of the stories are true. They may have a sliver of truth mixed in with bullshit but the reason that it’s called ‘WildSide News’ is that the four of us were not going to have him represent the band, misrepresent the band unilaterally. To go out and call himself — a single person — WildSide when none of the rest of us were involved. We didn’t have any say. I believe that when we did these reunion shows, people were coming up to me and telling me about conversations that they had with me on the WildSide Facebook page. That wasn’t me that they were talking to. Apparently, they were getting answers from me from Benny’s Facebook page. So yeah, none of us were involved in any of that so now it’s changed to technically a news page so he can talk about things the way he chooses.
Sleaze Roxx: I don’t think that you guys have a page for WildSide, right, like on Facebook or Instagram?
Jim Darby: No. I think Drew has a Twitter [account]. I’m not sure. Nothing active really. I guess in one sense and Benny seems to point this out often, that he’s the one that’s taken the reigns and the time to do that. I suppose that that part is true. I just wish that what he said was all true. I wish that he gave the real version of the story. Like I’ve said to you earlier when we were communicating by e-mail is that I think that our story [laughs] is far interesting enough not to have to make shit up. Just getting to the tours that we did, recording at Eddie Van Halen’s house, getting the astronomical record deal that we did get, the opportunity to do the things that we did, recording with [producer] Andy Johns, putting out that album that we are so proud of [and] that turned out so great — there’s enough real stuff to talk about that it does not need to be glamorized anymore. I don’t think, or fabricated.
Sleaze Roxx: So does that mean — and I know that Benny had opined that a WildSide original [line-up] reunion would never happen now. Do you think that is the case as well?
Jim Darby: Well, let me say one more thing about the reunions that you asked [about]. Brent gave Benny an invitation to send a tape of himself. Not only have we not heard him play guitar in 20 years, we have not seen him. We don’t even know what he looks like. Neither does anyone else on his Facebook page. I don’t know that he has shared any photographs of himself in 20 years. I don’t know that that matters so much but it would be good to know. We’re all older guys now so whatever! None of us has seen Benny. I talked to Marc [Simon] the other day and I asked him, ‘When is the last time that you saw Benny?’ and he said, ‘When he was in the band with Bruce [Draper].’ Marc is the one that talks to him the most.
So, not that that matters but we’d like to know, especially how he plays. Brent extended an invitation to him in writing that ‘Send a tape. Send something. Come down, rehearse. Let’s hear… Can you still play?’ And if that would have happened, he might have been part of that. So that said, I don’t think that there is any possibility whatsoever at this point beyond even playing now because of all of the things that have been said. He made snide remarks of Brent I think as of yesterday [March 7, 2021] or today [March 8, 2021]. He called him “Trent Goods” or something. I am not sure what that even means but yeah, it’s just too much little jabbing here and there. He’s done that with Drew as well. He hasn’t lately but in the past, he would throw little things out there about Drew’s life or family names or whatever that might be that wasn’t cool. It sort of crossed the line.
Sleaze Roxx: So you guys did reach out to Benny to play in the reunion shows?
Jim Darby: He was talking to Drew for what he said was a brief minute until Brent got wind of it and it was over. I was talking to Benny. My mother, before she passed away, he reached out to me and it seemed like a very sincere conversation we had.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s good!
Jim Darby: And then shortly after that, I read some more on some of his… By way of other people showing me on some of his social media pages, it just felt like it might be an attempt to get in through the back door on this situation that he had heard about — these reunions.
WildSide‘s “Hang On Lucy” video (from Under The Influence album):
Sleaze Roxx: That’s fair enough. What was the recording like for ‘Under The Influence’? You had a pretty big time producer in Andy Johns. Who did what on the album?
Jim Darby: When we were signed to the record deal, Capitol set up interviews with all of the top producers. You name it — every multi-platinum record of the day. Tom Werman to Keith Olsen. Bob Rock. The guys that were doing Mötley [Crüe] and Bon Jovi and Metallica. Dokken, Ratt, Skid Row, Michael Wagener — all of these guys. We had an interview with Andy Johns and he, as you may know, recorded Led Zeppelin’s ‘II’ , ‘III’  and ‘IV’ . Being a drummer, I was immediately — that was my guy. However, the band was not necessarily a Led Zeppelin type of a band. We were much more aligned with those other groups that I mentioned. We went to lunch with him and asked him what he was working on. He told us that he was working on the new Van Halen album [‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’]. And immediately, all of us had to put on our poker face. He now became everybody’s guy.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: We were all huge Van Halen fans so we left that meeting and we knew that he would be our producer and he was. He ended up being [the producer]. I did my drum tracks at A&M Records. They have a nice big huge drum room there. One thing with Andy, he’s really famous for hiring ghost drummers. He did that on Cinderella’s albums I’m told [Andy Johns produced Cinderella’s ‘Night Songs’ (1986) and ‘Long Cold Winter’ (1988)]. Some of the other albums that he recorded, he would have Cozy Powell. He would have these older English drummers come in and do the drum tracks, maybe in the middle of the night, maybe in front of the other drummer — I don’t know. I let him know up front that if that was to happen, I have a baseball bat in the trunk of my car and that wasn’t going to happen. He laughed and we did the drum tracks. Andy and I got along famously. We became really great friends. So you know, it was really intimidating to have the guy who recorded John Bonham sitting on the other side of the glass and also known for hiring other drummers. Got through the drum tracks. Eddie [Van Halen] and Alex [Van Halen] had come in one day. I am in there trying to record and Alex Van Halen is standing on the other side of the glass.
Sleaze Roxx: Wow!
Jim Darby: Yeah, it was crazy. It was really surreal. When I’m telling you the story, I could be reading a book about someone else’s experience. It’s crazy that that really happened to me. So Andy hated it there. We loved it. We had pinball machines and catering brought in. I mean, we had a huge budget and we were going to spend all of it. Andy did not like it. He spent the previous year at Eddie’s house so as soon as I finished the very last — literally hit the last cymbal — on the last drum track, he called Eddie and asked… We didn’t even know who he was calling or where we were going. He called Eddie and asked if we could go to Eddie’s house. We literally packed it up and took our stuff up there. I was done. So my tracks were finished so I just got to hang out at Eddie’s.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s a pretty cool hangout!
Jim Darby: Oh my God! I was 13 years old [laughs] with my walls wallpapered with Van Halen posters and eight years later, I’m at his house doing our first major label album. It was insane! And so, it didn’t even seem real but we got used to it. And Sammy [Hagar] was there. Sammy was the singer of the band at the time. The first day that we went up there, I was sitting back watching TV with Alex. Michael Anthony and Sammy — what great guys those two were. The Van Halen brothers were a different breed man. They’re just… They’re almost superhuman [laughs]. It’s weird to be in the room with Eddie and Alex Van Halen. But especially coming where all of us did. I was in the line in the rain at 13 years old to get nosebleed tickets to go see them and now, we’re at their house. So yeah, they’re in there recording. Andy started doing the tracks and again, along the lines that for the drums, he’s replacing drummers, everybody started doing their individual parts. And when it came time to record the guitar tracks, basically something most people — I think that Benny talked about it on his website [Facebook page] — his tracks being replaced but they were entirely replaced. ‘Under The Influence’ — the album that everybody loves does not have Benny playing guitar.
Sleaze Roxx: I knew you were going to say that [laughs]. That’s crazy!
Jim Darby: It’s 100% Brent. So Andy Johns listened to Benny try to record some tracks and Andy Johns wouldn’t have it so Brent redid every single part. When you listen to ‘Under The Influence’, the only thing that you are hearing from Benny Rhynedance is background vocals. When you hear ‘Under The Influence’, every single guitar note you hear on that album is Brent Woods.
Sleaze Roxx: Does Benny know this? Does he know that all of his parts are gone?
Jim Darby: Does Benny know it. Yes, he does. He’s even alluded to it I believe. I don’t know if he knows every single part. I think he said that some of his parts were redone. The fact is all of his parts were redone. Andy has passed away [on April 7, 2013] so he wouldn’t be able to corroborate but Brent is still around. I am sure that Brent would happily let you know. I think I’ve seen on his website / Facebook that he’s mentioned that parts were replaced and basically, that was from Andy Johns’ direction. As the producer, he demanded that they be redone by Brent.
Sleaze Roxx: At the end of the day, that was sort of common place back then. If a producer didn’t like the way a certain musician sounded in the band, sometimes they just wouldn’t use them in the recordings, right?
Jim Darby: There is a lot of that, Now, we didn’t bring an outsider. It’s all Brent. He was part of the band. Certainly, he was “the band” in that regard. So there were no outsiders brought in but yeah, Benny did sing background vocals on the album. He had a great voice that complimented Drew’s [voice]. I didn’t sing a single note. Thank God!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: Nobody wants to hear that.
WildSide‘s “How Many Lies” video (from album Under The Influence):
Sleaze Roxx: Right. What about [bassist] Marc [Simon]? Did all his parts make it on the album?
Jim Darby: Oh yeah. Marc is great. Marc is solid.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you still keep in touch with Marc?
Jim Darby: Yes. Marc does well. I just talked to Marc a few weeks ago. He makes wine in Santa Barbara, California [USA]. He’s got a winery and a wine label. Marc does really well and he’s a great dude. He’s just one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet.
Sleaze Roxx: So it’s interesting to hear about ‘Under The Influence’ and who played on what. Were there any arguments with Andy on that he was only going to be using Brent’s parts?
Jim Darby: No. None whatsoever.
Sleaze Roxx: And why is that?
Jim Darby: From Benny?
Sleaze Roxx: From anybody? Obviously Benny would be one of them saying, “Hey, I want to play on the record” type of thing.
Jim Darby: I don’t think at the time that Benny knew. Brent and Andy were spending a lot of time at the studio together alone. They would stay late. I would oftentimes meet Andy at his house. He had this sort of man cave / recording studio in the back. We’d polish a couple of bottles of scotch, which Andy was famous for. And I didn’t have to record the next day and he’d go hang out with Brent at Eddie’s and they would go and record all day long. I mean, Brent was recording literally — I don’t know — as long as Andy could stand, which wasn’t long.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: Maybe by 5:00 or 6:00 o’clock [pm], he’d have too many drinks to keep going and we’d call it early. We were on the opposite schedule of the normal bands. Most bands get started sometime in the evening while we were done for the day.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] You’re just going according to your producer’s schedule!
Jim Darby: Yeah. Andy’s vodka breakfast [laughs] didn’t suit well for late nights. He was great though. Andy was just the classic, old school, English rock producer. I mean, Andy was more of a rock star than anyone in our band. Certainly, he had the credits beyond anyone in our band by a mile. So I don’t think that Benny was aware of it at the time. There wouldn’t have been arguments there. There certainly weren’t any arguments from any of us. Brent’s playing speaks for itself. We wanted the album to be the best that it possibly could be and that lent itself to Brent playing guitar on it.
Sleaze Roxx: Right. That’s fair enough. You had mentioned that Benny was not compatible with Brent for the guitar playing but you had also mentioned that Benny was not compatible with Bruce [Draper] as well. I was wondering what you meant by saying that Benny was not compatible with either guitarist.
Jim Darby: Well, my understanding when — what I came to understand when I joined the band – was that it was very clear that Benny and Drew had moved to Los Angeles together and Benny was part of the Drew… It was a package deal so to speak. I don’t think that neither Brent, nor Bruce, would have chosen Benny as their rhythm guitar player. Simply, I would say that Brent, his forte is rhythm. He makes it easy. Being a drummer — any musician in any band is going to play better with Brent on rhythm guitar. So it’s not a real knock on Benny as much as a compliment to Brent. As far as Bruce is concerned, as I mentioned, he is so different as a guitar player and he’s just the kind go a guy that I don’t know who would be compatible with Bruce. He’s a guy that just really needs to be the only guitar player in a band.
Sleaze Roxx; From what I understand, WildSide or I should say Young Gunns, started with Benny and Drew so they were kind of the founding members and then the rest of you got added in as at the years went by. Is that correct?
Jim Darby: Yeah. I am glad that you asked that because in this history of WildSide, and then subsequently, the talk of reunion tours and who was part of what band, all of those things, Benny’s version of the history, he talks almost exclusively of “us three” meaning he, Brent and Drew. I don’t hear much talk about Marc and myself. To say that, he’s excluded us from these things that we’ve done, and then to go back and read his actual history about when we were all five of us there together is bothersome. The idea that there were founding members of WildSide is also kind of a false narrative.
Sleaze Roxx: Why is that?
Jim Darby: Because WildSide was a blend of a couple of bands. Benny and Drew had a band called Rogue I think. Brent was in a couple of bands, when he joined Young Gunns. Mark was in a band called St. Valentine. I recorded with NRG and Kane Roberts. And everybody came together. Young Gunns in a former line-up got turned down by all of the record labels and when all of the pieces were put into place, was finally a complete unit. To say that WildSide, the band that did that record, was founded by anybody — well, you can say that any of the members founded something because he brought in the other four. I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. The band that people know as WildSide is a group of guys that came together and eventually we formed what became of WildSide. There were certainly early iterations of Young Gunns, several players all along the way but the fact that Drew and Benny grew up together, making them founding members. They went and got Brent in the band. They went and got Marc in the band from other bands. I found out about them… I guess that they knew about me from the previous stuff that I had done and I joined the band. I think that it just became that version of Young Gunns. Again, technically, we’re splitting hairs on the name WildSide. The band WildSide was the five of us. There are no founding members of WildSide. Bruce [Draper] came in later.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of Bruce, when you guys decided to do those reunion shows, if Benny was not in the picture, why didn’t you get Bruce to come in as the second guitarist?
Jim Darby: Are you talking about the most recent reunion shows?
Sleaze Roxx: Any of the reunion shows after WildSide disbanded.
Jim Darby: Well, there’s two things. One is that, again as I mentioned, they are just two different styles of guitar players that really wouldn’t go together. It would be oil and water. And Bruce passed away a few years back.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh, I did not know that.
Jim Darby: These most recent tours, obviously that goes without saying. It speaks for itself.
Sleaze Roxx: What about that female guitarist that you had for the reunion shows? How did she get involved?
Jim Darby: Well, Lexii was great. Brent had been doing… Brent has been doing a bunch of production. That’s kind of what he is leaning to nowadays although he’s always going to be a live player and he’s been touring, as I am sure that people know, with Sebastian Bach. He recorded with Taylor Hawkins. And he’s played on the late night shows with Taylor with his side band. Brent has really come into his own as a producer. He’s concentrating on that. he was producing some stuff for this girl Lexii Lynn Frazier and we needed a second guitar player to have the sound filled out. To have it sound right, it’s a two guitar album with two guitar sounds. It really sounds empty and it drops out on the guitar solos without a rhythm, and some of the sections have a two part guitar thing going where there’s some colour of some sort on top or behind the rhythm. And that’s the way that Brent wrote that stuff. So he suggested that we have her come in and play. Again, we have already talked about the history, and that’s something that I want to get back on a little bit, because… Let me just say that, Benny mentions in his interview that there were a lot of people asking — the main question after our shows was ‘Where is Benny?’. We didn’t hear any of that. Actually, we heard how pleased that people were with her playing, what a fresh young face and new energy that she brought, and I don’t see how some magic formula would have been there with Benny on stage rather than her. Benny did harmonize some vocals with Drew but Brent does that quite well now and other than that, she’s a fantastic guitar player.
Sleaze Roxx: Did Lexii play all of the reunion shows?
Jim Darby: The 2016 and 2017 shows — she played all of them.
Sleaze Roxx: Who was before her?
Jim Darby: You know? I don’t even know. I don’t even remember her name. We were on such short notice for The Roxy and The Key Club, which used to be Gazzarri’s. Being a two guitar band, it really frees Brent to play and do his thing. Like the Scorpions or Judas Priest — the way that those songs are, they really require two guitars. They sound empty without.
Sleaze Roxx: I think Benny has admitted that he was taking cocaine for a little while at least. How much did the partying have to do with — I’ll call it WildSide’s “downfall” or “downturn”? Did that have anything to do with it?
Jim Darby: Yes, as far as Benny is concerned, I do believe that’s probably the reason that he sold Drew’s gear. Being a drummer, I cannot really do the speedy drugs like meth or cocaine. It wasn’t really my thing. I’d smoke weed and drink. We all had our thing. I’d say Brent did the least of all of us. Again, when I read these old accounts and history of the world Parts 1 through 5, it seems like it’s a lot of DJ rock, Hit Parader sound bites — like Ferrari’s and gold records. It sounds like these cliches that I don’t know, a DJ on the radio might use. That just doesn’t sound real to me. So I think that that’s part of it. It seems to fit the narrative to say, ‘Oh yeah, it was all about drugs. It’s part of being in a rock band. Everyone’s on drugs and it’s all a party. Up all night, sleep all day.’ All of those things, sure we did. There were times when everybody did their things and Benny did — I think — probably get a little heavy into it, more than he should have. But I certainly was not aware of some major problem. I know people who have real major drug problems and maybe he did. It’s possible. I think I would have been aware of it. He was functional. He seemed together. It wasn’t like there were some black circles under his eyes and not able to roll out of bed type of thing. That wasn’t happening so I just don’t know. I’ve been around enough of it to where you know the difference so I think that glamorizes things which goes along with the story that he tells.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your thoughts with the disclaimers that are put forth with Benny’s WildSide story and as well as his Sleaze Roxx interview. I am assuming that Benny asked me to put that disclaimer because I wouldn’t put that myself.
Jim Darby: Yeah, that this is interesting and I think it’s important because I know from your end and many of the other websites — liability, slander, libel, whatever — they need to protect themselves from and rightfully so. He tends to — even on his Facebook page — he tends to write, ‘The above content is his recollection based on his personal experience and if it’s different from anyone else’s, it’s not in any way intended.’ He’ll reference the Copyright Act, 1492 or some silly thing, libel suit disclaimers, the ‘above written account is the author’s sole opinion.’ I’m not giving opinions. I’m just telling you the story. I don’t have an agenda. Without being on any social media ever, I’ve not done many interviews and this has been bottled up for a long time watching him tell the story about what was likely the most important time in my life and not tell it correctly. And it wasn’t any real sense of animosity necessarily.
Again, ironically, he leaves me and Marc [Simon] out, being a part of the band in a way… If you read through that — recently I read it and it’s ‘the three of us.’ It’s constantly talking about ‘the three of us’ — him, Brent and Drew. Over and over, talking about founding members. He calls himself a founding member. Generally, maybe a reporter or a media outlet might reference somebody like that but he references himself like that every time he talks about himself. And it’s like grabbing for straws I think. But ironically, he leaves us out.
He is kind of poking the bear of Brent and Drew, and he kind of leaves Marc and I alone. So I don’t have a huge personal issue here other than Drew is one of my closest, very closest friends, and Brent and I have a history that goes back — I told you — we worked well after WildSide together. We played shows together. We lived together. We have a different history than even any of the other guys. But Drew at this point… We’re so close, not only working on this thing together but we’ve been working on — you know, we even advise each other on real estate deals which both of us dabble in. So my friendship with them, it strikes a nerve when I read him talking about them. Calling Brent Woods ‘Trent Goods.’ Like I said, it’s almost junior high. It’s really bizarre to hear him say and do these things for no apparent reason other than possibly a grudge that he has on his shoulders for what I’m letting you know is the way things really happened.
Sleaze Roxx: If I play devils’ advocate, some people might say, ‘Well, Jim is just bitter that him and Marc are not being mentioned by Benny in the WildSide history.’
Jim Darby: Ummm. I wouldn’t say just bitter. I would say that when I read the story — again, given that we were all there together — we did this together. Five people signed the WildSide Capitol Records contract as five equal members. If you read Benny’s story, it does not come off that way. Is it enough for me to think about it 30 years later and try to come after Benny with some untrue story about him? Not at all but for two decades, I’ve been seeing this story which is also my life and I’ve been seeing it misrepresented. And I have been seeing him attack my friends. He’s done a couple of small jabs at me like somebody asked him what we were all doing now that the band is over and he said that I worked at a flower shop [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Jim Darby: [Laughs] My mom owned a flower shop so there was something there. Again, the credibility is just shot man. There’s no way that you can look at which part and try to decipher the code of what he says is true and what’s not. And that’s the thing that got to me. He could have left me out of the story entirely but he’s the self-appointed WildSide historian, if you’re going to call yourself that which is kind of silly also.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand that you actually own a restaurant on top of your real estate dealings so tell me a little bit about your restaurant.
Jim Darby: Well, we have a — my brother, myself and my cousin — we opened a restaurant here in Redlands, California in 2013. It’s not what I do on a daily basis. I’m an owner with my brother. It’s a fantastic place. It’s called Darby’s American Cantina and we’ve got these really rare whiskeys, 100 different whiskeys, 40 craft beers on tap… It’s just a great little spot. If I wasn’t an owner, I’d be a customer. It’s really a lot of fun. It’s named after my brother and I — Darby’s American Cantina — so it’s kind of cool that after WildSide, for so many years, it was my identity and anybody that I ran into forever would ask about the band. Even years after we weren’t together, [it was] ‘What’s the band doing?’ constantly. And that’s how everybody knew me. So this has kind of taken this thing on its own. Not having any social media and not ever doing interviews like I am with you right now, I don’t really feel the urge to have a platform to talk about myself but since we’re doing that right now, it’s a pleasure to really be able to one, set the record straight, but also to talk about what I’ve been doing because I am proud of it.
Sleaze Roxx: Now, I know that you might not be super objective but WildSide’s debut album has been touted as one of the best debut albums of all-time. What are your thoughts in that regard?
Jim Darby: [Long pause] Ummm. That’s hard for me to say without sounding really pretentious and vain. So for me as a drummer, the songs were really straightforward and required almost AC/DC simplicity. I think that the drums are in the pocket and Andy got a really great drum sound but it’s not necessarily any kind of showcase of drumming. It’s more the songs and which is — if you look at The Beatles or The Rolling Stones — that’s what it is about. It’s the songs. So when it comes to the recordings and the songs, beginning to end, the first to the last song, I do think that it stands up there with the best of them for our style.
Sleaze Roxx: Yes. That is what I mean — for that style.
Jim Darby: Yes. I think for that style of music, certainly we got shortchanged and we did not get the chance that we deserved because of the timing. Underrated for sure. One of the best ever? I don’t know. I like so many bands. There are so many great bands. If we are in the same league as Van Halen and Iron Maiden and Rush and AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, the answer [laughs] is “no.”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Jim Darby: For what we were, I am super proud of what we did. Yeah. Personally, I think that it should have done so much better and I think that it is right up there. The one thing that we did have is the songwriting was fantastic. The production was amazing. There’s really no filler. The only one that I kind of consider a filler song is the one song that we didn’t write by members of our band is “Monkey See Monkey Do.” We did “Clock Strikes” with Paul Stanley but that’s a great song. “Monkey See Monkey Do” was written with this guy named Jim Vallance who wrote some of the Aerosmith hits I think. I don’t remember which [songs].
Sleaze Roxx: I think that he wrote a lot with Bryan Adams too.
Jim Darby: He wrote almost all of the stuff for Bryan Adams. I heard some really cool beginning of the songwriting cassette tapes of what became some of his biggest hits. It was really cool to hear. So that song would be the one. Sure enough, it’s the one that wasn’t really a WildSide song per say. I’d say that’s more of a Jim Vallance song that he just handed our way and that we just played. Drew and Brent wrote it with him so it’s got their flair on it but I think that it’s a Jim Vallance song on a WildSide album. But even that one fits in and it flows with the rest of the album.
Sleaze Roxx: Alright. We have covered a lot of ground. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Jim Darby: No man. I’m just really happy to talk to you. It’s really cool to be able to clear some of these things up after reading for so many years all of these stories. One one hand, I was compelled to set the story straight. On the other hand, I saw that on Benny’s Facebook page, there was a handful, a dozen comments of people that would align with what he was saying and I didn’t think that was to the point that there was enough damage but I really think that people should know the real story. Again, there would be no reason to set it straight if it was set straight in the first place.
WildSide‘s “Little Piece of Heaven” video (via FnA Records from …Formerly Known As Young Gunns album):