Jani Lane Interview

July 19, 2007

On July 12th, 2007 in Wichita, Kansas, Justin ‘Crash’ Crafton had the pleasure of interviewing and catching Jani Lane LIVE!! For those who aren’t aware of whom Jani Lane is, he WAS the lead singer and main songwriter for multi-platinum recording artist WARRANT and had such hits as “Heaven,” “Cherry Pie,” “I Saw Red,” and my all-time favorite “Uncle Tom’s Cabin!” He left WARRANT in 2004 to pursue a solo career, releasing his debut solo album “Back Down To One” the previous year!!

Jani Lane Band Photo Courtesy of Mike Fasano
Anywho, Jani and his amazing band, “The Formerly Of’s”, hit Wichita with a fury!! His band consists of (left to right) bassist Chad MacDonald, keyboardist Shawn Zavodney, Jani Lane, former Warrant drummer (2000-2003) Mike “The Sack” Fasano, and 17 year old guitar phenom Dario Lorina!!

Jani was kind enough to grant me a pre-show interview…however, not to get ahead of myself! So I arrived at JC’s House of Rock in Wichita at 3:30pm per Jani’s invitation to watch the band soundcheck! The band went through WARRANT classics such as “32 Pennies,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Heaven!” After a few post-soundcheck adjustments to equipment, I joined Jani in the bar for our interview!! I was nervous as hell being it was my 1st “LIVE” interview and the fact that Jani’s ALWAYS been a hero of mine since my sister and her ex-husband turned me onto them in 1989!! Thanx to my pal Josh for videotaping the interview!!

I’d never had the pleasure of meeting Jani and I’d seen WARRANT numerous times over the years…I’d met most current and former members of the band but never the man responsible for their success!! Jani was very honest, candid, humorous and all-to forthcoming during the interview!!

Post-interview we led Jani and band to Guitar Center per their request!! Josh and I left to grab a bite to eat and then headed back to the venue. While waiting at the venue we had the pleasure of watching the Navy Blue Angels practicing for this weekends air show in Wichita, since McConnell AFB is just south of the club! Approximately 30 minutes later Jani and band assistant Bobby C. arrived, we made our way back into the club where at Jani’s request I set up the merchandise booth where I was to sell the band’s wears before, during and after the show!!

A local band TAINTED (www.myspace.com/taintedks) opened the show with a variety of cover tunes (Poison, Dokken, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice In Chains to name a few) and original tunes, my favorite being “Love & Crazy.” After their set, I helped Bobby C. prepare for the impending ass-kicking known as Jani Lane & The Formerly Of’s LIVE!

The band is amazingly tight, Jani is on top of his vocal and frontman game like I had never seen before, and his guitarist, 17 year old guitar phenom Dario Lorina, is every bit (…and then some!!) the guitar stud that Richie Kotzen, Jason Becker, Zakk Wylde, and George Lynch were proclaimed to be at that age. He will be a force to reckoned with in the coming years, MARK MY WORDS! Below is the set list:

01. Train Train (Blackfoot Cover)
02. Down Boys
03. D.R.F.S.R.
04. Machine Gun
05. 32 Pennies
06. Heaven
07. I Saw Red
08. Hole In My Wall
09. So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)
10. Dario’s Solo
11. Mr. Rainmaker
12. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (complete with the only ‘Spinal Tap’ moment of the evening when Jani busted a string during the intro, only to borrow Dario’s axe then pass it back when the tune kicked into overdrive!!)
13. Cherry Pie
14. Big Talk

The band took a short break, returning to take pics with the fans and sign autographs at the merch table!! Thanks to Bobby C., Jani and the band for truly making me feel like one of the “Down Boys” that entire evening!! See ya down the road……………..

Jani Lane Band Copyright Justin 'Crash' Crafton
Jani Lane & The Formerly Of’s TEARIN IT UP…LIVE!
Jani Lane Band Copyright Justin 'Crash' Crafton
Mike Fasano, myself, Jani Lane, Dario Lorina, and Shawn Zavodney…Chad was M.I.A.!!

Sleaze Roxx: First off, how is the tour going?

Jani Lane: It’s going really good! I mean, I think the band sounds great, everybody is playing really well. No arguing or anything like that so it’s a pleasure. It makes touring a little better. It’s going really good, I especially like the shows we have been doing with Great White because we get along with them so that has been a big plus. We’re not arguing over stage space, gear, or any of that crap. I have actually been getting up and jamming with them on the last song of the night. We’ve been having a good time!

Sleaze Roxx: How has the fan reaction been?

Jani Lane Courtesy of Jani LaneJani Lane: GREAT!! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how people are taking to Dario because my initial feelings were bringing…he’s a kid you know. Lets be honest, he’s a kid, he’s 17 years old, so I didn’t know if people were going to react ‘What is a kid doing here?’ or they couldn’t relate because of the age gap or whatever but people are just accepting him as a really good guitarist.

Sleaze Roxx: Which I have to say, he is! I was shocked during soundcheck with some of the licks and blues phrases he was throwing out there.

Jani Lane: He’s amazing for his age!! I’ve said it before. I know what I was doing when I was 17 years old in my bedroom and he’s out here touring so it’s pretty impressive.

Sleaze Roxx: How much longer will this tour last and will you be hitting the West Coast?

Jani Lane: We are gonna hit the West Coast in September and probably take it up through October. At that point Alice Cooper will finish up his tour and Ratt will finish up with Poison. Then Bobby Blotzer, Robbie Crane, Keri Kelli and myself have a project called SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND, which we will release this fall and take it out on tour, probably through the holidays.

(At this point Jani’s cell phone goes off. Mike Fasano came in and introduced himself while Jani took the call!)

Sorry about that!! That was about my t-shirt order, very important!

Sleaze Roxx: No problem! For those who are not aware. Who is in the band?

Jani Lane: It is, we were talking about him earlier, Dario Lorina, 17 years old out of Las Vegas and he is, in my opinion, he’s gonna have a long star-crossed career, I think! Mike Fasano, who played with Warrant for several years, on drums. Shawn Zavodney on keyboards and backing vocals, he played with Warrant since the Poison tour in 2001. So, a couple of ex…or as we like to call ourselves “The Formerly Of’s!” Chad MacDonald on bass, he’s from Phoenix and plays with Dizzy Reed’s band Hookers n’ Blow as well. It’s just a group of guys I got together who have a grip on how I originally wanted the Warrant stuff to sound. They don’t over play or anything so they keep it pretty true to the originals.

Sleaze Roxx: How hard has it been to keep the women away from Dario?

Dario Lorina Copyright Justin Crash CraftonJani Lane: (Laughs) That’s a dangerous question because he is underage! I don’t know how far I can go into this but lets put it this way, he’s had a bit of an education in the last year and we will leave it at that!! (Jani plays drum part on the table…Badda Boom)

Sleaze Roxx: What is like working with Mike Fasano again?

Jani Lane: Mike is AWESOME!! He’s ‘The Sack’…Mike is, what is great about Mike is he is fun to play with but he also keeps everyone in a good frame of mind touring wise because he’s ALWAYS joking around!! Mike is Mike! Mike is like this So-Cal surfer dude, (Jani holds up surfer signs as I call them and takes on an accent reminiscent of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) “Like what’s up bro? We gonna bust some horse tonight?” He’s great to have around for morale. Shawn, ‘wrong turn Zavodney’ we call him…

Sleaze Roxx: Now I see why ya asked for me to lead you to Guitar Center later!

Jani Lane: Right!! Dude we can’t get anywhere without making seventeen wrong turns when he is driving! (Laughs) It is just insane. Chad is the veggie in the band. Everything is a special stop for him. He has got to have his alfalfa and his green sponge Algae or whatever the hell it is!?! I don’t know. I don’t live in that world!

Sleaze Roxx: Will you be making an album with this lineup?

Jani Lane: I don’t know. We haven’t even talked about that. I do plan on doing a new solo record. That will probably be next year. The only thing that would interfere with that is if another project comes up that I think is more important. Because I have a tendency to put my own stuff on the back burner as I work on projects, but if you do that constantly you wind up going “You know, it’s like, hey, it’s been three years since I’ve released one of my records.” I have, probably, four to five new songs in the can, two of which I am really excited about. One is called ‘Salt Water’ and the other is called ‘Along For The Ride’. I’m probably going to mix in four “Jabberwocky” tunes with those and write a couple more.

Sleaze Roxx: Your first solo album, ‘Back Down To One’, came out in 2003. In between that time you have appeared on several tribute albums, done SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND, and appeared on VH-1’s Celebrity Fit Club.

Jani Lane: (raises arm to show tattoo) I do it all!! I am the ‘Song & Dance Man’!!

Sleaze Roxx: When can your fans expect the release of ‘Jabberwocky’?

Saints Of The Underground Courtesy of Jani LaneJani Lane: Those songs, I don’t know because I haven’t really even sat down with my label, which is Immortal (Immortal/Sidewinder is the label ran by the band Incubus). I haven’t sat down and talked with them about it either. So, it is really a matter of releasing SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND, doing a healthy ‘Get people to know the band’ tour. We’re not going to go out and blast everywhere that has electricity but we will probably go out for four weeks in the U.S., two weeks in Europe, and a week in Japan to let people know it is out there. Then we plan on, as soon as everybody’s schedules allow, doing another S.O.T.U. record cause I write with Keri Kelli like that! (Snaps fingers) We write really well together. It has really been a juggling act right now. I have some other, kinda big exciting things coming up in the next year that I am planning on right now but it’s a little too early to really get into but I’m gonna be doing some studio stuff that, I think, is pretty exciting, so we will see.

Sleaze Roxx: So, SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND is not just a one-off type of a project?

Jani Lane: NO! It originally was going to be that but we liked making the record so much together. We liked the songs, that you know…I think it is kind of healthy because Keri, really I mean, Alice Cooper has a really regimented schedule. They’re out from May till October 31st…Figure that, it ends on Halloween every year!! (Laughs) So, Keri really has to plan for his projects but it is also good for him to do something besides the Alice thing. Obviously with Alice, I am probably putting words in Keri’s mouth but I think he likes to have other creative outlets besides that.

Sleaze Roxx: He does seem to do a lot of other stuff besides just the Cooper gig…

Jani Lane: Blotz (Bobby Blotzer), it is good for him to step out from Ratt. They wanna keep, I think, I just spoke to him in Pittsburgh. He came out to one of our shows and they have such a fresh good vibe with getting back together now that they wanna keep it together by not suffocating each other by a year-long thing. So, I think it is healthy for everybody!!

Sleaze Roxx: Do you do any songs from Back ‘Down To One’ or ‘Jabberwocky’ in your solo set?

Jani Lane: We do sometimes, we don’t sometimes! Depends on time constraints. Like when we play with Great White. We only have an hour, I can barely fit 3/4 of the Warrant stuff I like to play so tonight, for instance, we will do a full 90 minute set. When we do a full 90 minute set we like to throw the song ‘Back Down To One’ or something in there to let people know there is a new record out. (Note: the album was re-released in 2006 through Sidewinder Music. It can be purchased from Jani through his MySpace site at www.myspace.com/janilane) But I pretty much stick to a ‘Best of Warrant’ set!

Sleaze Roxx: I had to ask that because I am a huge fan of ‘Back Down To One’ especially the title track and the song ‘Funny’.

Jani Lane Back Down To OneJani Lane: Cool! We do “Funny’ or “Back Down To One’ some nights, when feel froggish we do both of them!

Sleaze Roxx: Was ‘Back Down To One’ an intentional statement as to your desire to leave Warrant?

Jani Lane: You know, it wasn’t. It started out……

(At this point, Shawn Zavodney walks in, showing Jani an old Warrant publicity photo the venue had posted on the wall. Jani looks at it and proclaims “That’s HOT! You look much different there!” Shawn replies “I do, had longer hair!” Everyone laughs and Shawn exits the room…)

It started out as ‘Back Down To One’ was just a play on words saying “I’m stepping back from Warrant for a second, to do a solo record. So, this is kinda like it’s just me and my guitar you know, just writing some songs!” Then the artist who did the cover artwork was kinda funny, he goes “Let’s put the body bags on the cover.” And I think that might have offended a couple of guys in Warrant. I dunno, whatever, but I did it as a joke but it turns out…You know I had this talk with several people that are close to me including my own daughter. I said it is weird but my album titles sort of being a chronology of my life. Where ‘Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich’ was like through the roof, hit the money. ‘Cherry Pie’, married her, had a kid with her, divorced her too but I still have the kid! ‘Dog Eat Dog’ came along and that is when we hit some lean times with Seattle. Everyone was into flannel shirts and really introspective, kind of dark music which was not what Warrant was about, so it was a very difficult time for us. Then ‘Ultraphobic’ made no sense and neither did the record. ‘Belly To Belly’ was sort of a rebirth, I dunno…we put a fetus on the cover, you know, in the womb…baby in the womb thing! It was us kinda coming out in the 90’s, saying ‘Hey, we still have a heartbeat, we are still ticking, lets get out n’ play and write some new stuff!’ With ‘Back down To One’, obviously I left the band you know. Saints Of The Underground, I don’t know what it’s gonna come out to be. If I ever do another Warrant record, I don’t know what I’d call it? (Laughs)

Sleaze Roxx: Well, you can’t use ‘Born Again’ because they already took that for their new album….

Warrant Courtesy of Jani LaneJani Lane: (Laughs) They did ‘Born Again’, yeah, (Laughs) I mean that is all right, it’s cool! But I don’t know what I would call it, probably ‘You Didn’t See This One Coming!” (Everyone Laughs)

Sleaze Roxx: With ‘Back Down To One’, you wrote seven out of the eleven tracks with Keri Kelli yet he didn’t play on the album, why is that?

Jani Lane: Well, it just so happens with scheduling. I was living in Ohio at the time, because I had moved back to Ohio, my mother was ill and I wanted her to spend time with her granddaughter, my daughter. So I moved back to Ohio and just the logistics of getting Keri into Ohio where I recorded it was just too difficult. I had some friends and I really made them stay true to what he [Keri] originally played on the demos. Keri’s all right with that, he’s easy going, kinda like “Whatever Bro!”

Sleaze Roxx: Of everything you have written, from Warrant, Jabberwocky, Back Down To One, Saints and so on. What do you consider your best song or what are you most proud of?

Jani Lane: I don’t know! I’m like anyone else. I’m sure people who write, paint or whatever. They think whatever they just did is their best. Then in hindsight, after it’s been around for a while, you think maybe it wasn’t quite the earth-shattering composition that I thought it was!! I give a lot of credit to ‘Cherry Pie’. It has stood the test of time. It’s a little catchy. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek. It is probably not the most complicated song I have ever written but to write a song that is used as a measuring stick for a genre of music. I mean, it is kinda like that song, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Girls Girls Girls’, you know, those kind of in-your-face, blatant sexual tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top kind of songs. It’s stood the test of time. ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ is another one of my favs as is ‘Song & Dance Man’! I have favorites for different reasons. ‘Stronger Now’ is a song from ‘Ultraphobic’ that I originally wrote to go on ‘Dog Eat Dog’ but didn’t make it but I thought it should have!! I think it is a very well written song. The new song I have for my next record called ‘Salt Water’ is probably one of my favorites EVER that I have written.

Sleaze Roxx: For those who are reading this and are thinking of hitting one of your shows, can you give them an idea of what to expect?

Jani Lane: It is just a balls-out ‘Best Of Warrant’ I like to say! That’s what it is. It’s all the songs I wrote and sang with the band that I really like playing live. I have the freedom now to pick my own set list and say these are the songs I really like. We’ve thrown in some of the old favs like ‘Big Talk’, ‘Train Train’ which of course I didn’t write, it’s a Shorty Medlocke tune (Note: the song was made famous by Shorty’s son, Rickey Medlocke and his band Blackfoot), ‘Mr. Rainmaker’, ‘Hole In My Wall’ is one of my favorites that I make sure we do. We open with ‘A.Y.M.’, that was, out of the newer songs. That song just always is a great opener with good energy! It’s pretty much a balls-out, the ‘Best Of Warrant’ tunes, I think. The rest is icing on the cake. We get to throw in a little of (the album) ‘Back Down To One’, occasionally on a blue moon, we will do ‘Serial Killer’ off of Saints Of The Underground’, just because we all like that tune!

Sleaze Roxx: Anything I missed that you would care to talk about or plug?

Jani Lane: No…just rockin’!!! We’re gonna finish out this tour, um, probably like I said, up till October doin’ this, having a great time! I’ll bust off a few weeks with Saints, get back into the studio during the winter months and just be ready to hit the touring trail again next year. Now, whether we will be supporting a new record of mine or I will be out on some sort of package tour, I have no idea. I haven’t started really talking to anybody. Now, obviously Poison will be back out next year, The Scorpions, all those bands are bands I’d love to tour with!! We will see what happens. This year we really wanted to do our own thing, get our feet wet, make sure the band is tight. We are doing a few amphitheaters and bigger shows but mostly staying in clubs to make sure we don’t make fools of ourselves when we do get on a big stage. By the turn of the year, I think, we will be ready to hit things full-throttle but of course all that can change! (Laughs)

Sleaze Roxx: Thanks again Jani and I look forward to tonight’s show but first we got to get you and the band to Guitar Center.

Jani Lane: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure! A real no-brainer because you actually did your homework, I love that.

On Wednesday, July 18th, I caught up with Jani via email in reference to an article that appeared on RollingStone.com.

The article stated “There was a strange backstage scene on Sunday, when Jani Lane unexpectedly showed up, getting into a shouting match with his old bandmates in the parking lot.”

While Jani did perform with GREAT WHITE at Rocklahoma on Sunday, he stated “Warrant was in Los Angeles by the time I arrived in Oklahoma!” Therefore, making the statement on RollingStone.com a lie!!

Thanks to Jani Lane and Justin “Crash” Crafton