NADIR D’PRIEST (LONDON) INTERVIEW:
November 23, 2010
Nadir D’Priest is the legendary vocalist of Hollywood Strip sleaze legends London — a band that helped launch the careers of Nikki Sixx, Slash and Blackie Lawless. Nadir has also fronted the bands Vertigo and Steel Prophet and was the project manager behind the highly successful Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge Tour CD-ROM. Most unforgettably Nadir was present, and at times central, to the boom period of metal that was L.A.’s Sunset Strip at its untouchable height — even appearing in the classic documentary about the thriving scene, The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years. In this exclusive interview with Sleaze Roxx, Nadir reveals his plans for London’s future and talks about his journey from childhood to rock star.
Sleaze Roxx: To start us off, what’s currently happening? What are you up to?
Nadir D’Priest: At this time we are working on new material to put together a new London album. This is the original line-up from 1989 — we have Brian West on bass, Sean Lewis on guitar and Krigger on drums. It has been over 20 years since we have had this line-up together, which are the original players on the album ‘Playa Del Rock’ released trough Noise Records/BMG in 1989. I am really looking forward to new tunes, a new album, and also a new music video. The band sounds louder and better than ever. It’s great having Brian West and Krigger back on the London ship. We are now ready for take off!
Sleaze Roxx: Before we discuss London, past, present and future, tell us about your childhood. How did you discover your passion for music?
Nadir D’Priest: Well, drumming was my first passion — as a kid I started playing on empty oil drums at the age of 6. They were large plastic drums which my father would use to change the oil on a fleet of tractors. I see those same drums/buckets being played on the streets of New York, in Europe, and on Broadway shows too… who knew! They were loud and unbreakable. Hey, it was fun!
I later played in a junior military marching band in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. The band included around 20 drummers with 20″ deep snare drums which were made out of cow hide. It is quite a loud head sound! It is larger than you can imagine and an extremely loud super snare drum. It also included 20 bugles and two leaders listening to you in case you dropped out or fucked up the march. These guys in uniform, also playing bugles, can scream at you and play in 120 degrees temperature. Basically it was a shit load of fun when you are a kid who is part of something real cool. You basically march in front of the soldiers when you go to war and of course the band gets shot first (laughs)! I thought it was the coolest thing to do. I was happy to be in it — playing and wearing the uniform. It also made me focus as a little kid and gave me a bit of discipline. It was a great experience for a little kid.
Sleaze Roxx: What were your influences during this time? Not just music, but people, places and events as well.
Nadir D’Priest: My mother and father and the people around me who truly cared about us. I had a very strict father who did not fuck around with us kids. Music varied for me thanks to my oldest brother Ramses who was the one that introduced me to all the amazing rock ‘n’ roll bands from the ’60s and ’70s. I grew up with basically Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and James Brown… just to mention a few of them.
Sleaze Roxx: What is your current motivation? What drives Nadir D’Priest at this moment in time?
Nadir D’Priest: My family — and music, which is always the great motivator for me. I can remember when things were not so great on the Strip and music was always the one that made it better for me. You must keep the machine going or you will lose yourself. People always seem to bring your dreams down a few levels. Life is too short to just sit around and think about what you should do. Just do it now because there may not be a tomorrow for you. Keep going is my motto… and don’t listen to the haters of the world. Do it!
Sleaze Roxx: With the experiences you’ve had, if a young band came to you and asked for advice what would you say them?
Nadir D’Priest: Are you sure you want to do this???? Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. If anyone in the business tells you ‘trust me’ then you just met the person who will fuck you first. These are just a few things that I would say to anyone who plans to go for the dream of living in Hollywood, California. If you can walk away in one piece in Hollywood then you have made it through the first stage of your rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. There are so many elements around you that can misguide you. You have to be focused on your music and don’t eat too much candy while you are there.
Sleaze Roxx: That brings us to London. You have spoken previously about your experiences in the band, and you’ve said that ‘Don’t Cry Wolf’ was your favorite album. What makes you favor that one over ‘Non-Stop Rock’ or ‘Playa Del Rock’?
Nadir D’Priest: ‘Don’t Cry Wolf’ is one of my favorites. ‘Non-Stop Rock’ was a struggle to deal with, being our first born for London. London had never ever recorded a record, so I had a bit of pressure to deliver a great album and dealing with the record label’s lack of support. I still listen to it sometimes, and it was a cool album, I just wish we could have had a real record company with a real budget to have the right team behind it. ‘Playa Del Rock’ to me is a GREAT album and people to this day think we just recorded the tunes. The quality and production is better than some of the records that are out by these new rock garage bands.
Sleaze Roxx: You were speaking of re-releasing it in a DVD set with footage, etc. What’s the status on that?
Nadir D’Priest: It’s a work in progress. We are basically filming most of our gigs and rehearsals with all the extra dirt in them. We would like to get as many of the past members in it but that may be difficult. Some may be a bit too BIG for me to get them in it (laughs)! I also have original video footage from back it the day which is very rare and with special and unseen dirt. It is going to be very cool since I believe London is the only band from Hollywood with so much history behind them. People don’t realize how much history London has.
Sleaze Roxx: I’ve had the pleasure of hearing ‘Don’t Cry Wolf’ and quite frankly thought it was outstanding. What’s your favorite number from it?
Nadir D’Priest: Which one? I say all!
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s move to the scene at this time. London, as did many of the bands of this era, played a lot of gigs at the big clubs like The Starwood, The Whisky, The Rainbow, and you’ll remember Gazzarri’s no doubt!. What was your favorite?
Nadir D’Priest: The Roxy Theatre, to me, was the best venue for London. The Whisky and the Troubadour were also great venues with a lot of classic history behind them. We played in so many venues, that looking back now, they were all very special to me. The Rainbow Bar & Grill was my home, and the home to many, many rockers who practically lived there. I used to be roommates with Mario Maglieri Jr., who was the son of Rainbow co-founder Mario Sr., who is a very special person to me. Mario always helped London out with shows — food cocktails and good advice from time to time throughout my career. I am very grateful to him for being so cool to me. Mario Maglieri is London’s friend.
Sleaze Roxx: Do any particular stories jump to mind about the clubs?
Nadir D’Priest: Too many to mention at this time.
Sleaze Roxx: It was always said that when you left the band you became a star. Did you wonder why that never seemed to happen with London?
Nadir D’Priest: I think that it is still the million dollar question and it will probably never really be answered. Maybe it is just the fact that so many became superstars and that an American band had an English name? Honestly I don’t know, but London is still alive and well. I personally don’t plan to stop my mission — which is to put out a new album and a DVD documentary based on the band.
Sleaze Roxx: Why do you think that question may never be answered?
Nadir D’Priest: Because I get that question asked a lot and I don’t really have an answer for it. Some may think that the band was not great and many others think the band is still fucking great. Well it IS!!! Really, it makes me think if I should just hang the name up and just moved on with something new. NOT!!!! Or maybe it is me who is the one that has kept the band back. I don’t have a clue, but wish I did.
Sleaze Roxx: Are you still in contact with any of London’s old members?
Nadir D’Priest: I got together with Lizzie Grey last year and had planned a London reunion with him and old drummer Tim Yasui, Brian West and Sean Lewis. Around three days before the show Lizzie pulled out without a warning. I had rehearsed three times with Lizzie, Tim, and their bass player to freshen up a bit. It was like the old days… very comfortable to do since we had that connection. Unfortunately he was not motivated and I guess it was not in the cards. It was very disappointing and a waste of time for everyone.
Brian West is in the band, and as for all other superstars who were part of London, they basically forgot the band that launched them to the next best thing I guess. I wish everyone all the best life has to offer them. I keep my head high and I keep going. London may have been the unluckiest band of the ’80s, but we were one of the best live bands around and we are still doing it strong!
Sleaze Roxx: I can still recall the first time I watched ‘The Decline of Western Civilization Part II’ and saw you guys live and just thought, ‘wow, fantastic!’ Tell me about the usual crowd reaction you got.
Nadir D’Priest: The reaction was always great since we had a great show filled with surprises. We always made sure we had over the top drum risers, dancers, concussion bombs (safely triggered), lots of props and our own soundman. It was important that every show had something new and exciting. We made it all happen without any label, or any, support. We did it all at home with a low budget. Basically we knew what was important — sound, lights and stage. That is still is my motto.
Sleaze Roxx: Are the ladies still friendly to you? I ask because as part of researching for this interview my friend Claire, who by the way is now your biggest fan, just said “Who is that? He is gorgeous!” I can imagine you’re still getting a good reaction from the all the women out there.
Nadir D’Priest: Mmm! I do get some reaction, but just a few (laughs)! Ladies are always friendly to me but they are also a bit afraid of the persona and scared of the unknown. Love the ladies… what would we do without them? I think that women make hard rock… or rock ‘hard’!!
Sleaze Roxx: Hahahahaha! Moving towards the end of London, you got the deal and changed the name to D’Priest. Your video came out for “Ride You Through The Night”, a tremendous tune, which got some airplay. What happened towards the end of D’Priest that things seemed to lose momentum and grind to a halt?
Nadir D’Priest: Our wonderfully fucked up record label pulled the carpet out from under our feet in the middle of the tour. Basically, they left us on the road and could not pay for the bus or any of the band’s expenses. The other ‘good’ thing is that our tour manager also took off in the middle of the night and never told anyone anything. So, that is some of what was happening, not including the in-fighting and the scrambling to get our asses back to Los Angeles.
Sleaze Roxx: You then got the opportunity to do the Voodoo Lounge CD-ROM with the Rolling Stones. What are your thoughts and recollections on that opportunity?
Nadir D’Priest: The Voodoo Lounge CD-ROM was the most expensive and extensive CD-ROM ever made in the history of multimedia — $1.2 million I believe it was at the end of the project. I was project director for the venture in charge of putting together the team. I worked directly with the band and the immediate Rolling Stones tour team and entourage. Virgin Records and Second Vision were basically my dealings back then. It was a very cool project with the biggest band in the world! Now anytime any rock band or musician pulls the ‘Rock God’ attitude I laugh my ass off. You must be humble to be in this size of opportunity.
Sleaze Roxx: What did you find were the main differences were between production work behind the scenes and actually being the focus of the production?
Nadir D’Priest: The pressure is a bit more intense behind the scenes since you have all the responsibility to make a team of this magnitude work. You must take everything that comes your way and not take it personal. Project director was a lot of responsibility since the original guys choked a month in to it.
Sleaze Roxx: You then reformed London, with your own name in association, which I thought was a great move. When this was happening, did you do anything differently than previously with the band?
Nadir D’Priest: Absolutely nothing! I just changed the name and the music and videos did all the talking. We also did not have the original guitar player for London which gave us a heavier sound than before.
Sleaze Roxx: ‘London: The Metal Years’ CD was then released with your version of Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”. What was the motivation behind the release of the album?
Nadir D’Priest: Well, I must say that we did not plan to release those demo recordings. The old drummer Tim brought it up to us and Cleopatra Records had an interest in those tracks. Those tracks were one takes of the band playing for our producer Richie Podolor (Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, Iron Butterfly and Alcatrazz). They are not bad recordings… if you really listen you can hear me talking to the band about where to go parts wise as we were recording.
Sleaze Roxx: “Shout At The Devil” showed your voice is still in great condition.
Nadir D’Priest: You are the first person to ask me about the Crue tune which I find very interesting. I was a bit skeptical about recording any Crue tune, but I found it to be fun, and not bad for the time limit. It was a rush job, but it’s not bad at all. The voice is still there and we are going to put together a new album — looking at 2011. It would be great to have a tune from Nikki Sixx and Blackie Lawless with me on vocals, and maybe the others who came through London. What do you think? It would be killer. I don’t think that would happen though, way too big for little old London (laughs)!
Sleaze Roxx: That would be a fantastic thing to happen. Following on from a new album then, a tour perhaps? I always thought that seeing London in London would be fabulous and something special.
Nadir D’Priest: I have been pounding the phones and the internet but no one has offered any shows or deals. Maybe a song in a movie soundtrack would do it cause that always seems to get the attention of the right people.
Sleaze Roxx: What music are you currently listening to?
Nadir D’Priest: Old school hard rock and rock ‘n’ roll as much as possible. There is nothing out there giving me a boner except for that German band called… fuck! I can’t remember!
Sleaze Roxx: Given a chance to remake any song from any genre what would you pick?
Nadir D’Priest: Any genre would do as long as the chorus rocks! Of course everyone would know the tune since it is a remake. I am always open to a good song as long as the band likes it and it also suits my voice.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you think of the current state of the ‘Metal scene’?
Nadir D’Priest: Well, honestly, it really blows as far as I see it. There are soooo many bands, or poser bands with money behind them, who suck out there. But hey, who am I to question it? I guess the ‘Metal scene’ is all about the money and not about the quality and longevity of the band. I believe that in this business you have to be a chameleon if you want to stay in the game. You will be seeing a lot of kids/bands dressing in black and basically emulating their favorite ’80s metal band — no substance of their own, just ‘Commercial Metal’ created by the new music industry.
Sleaze Roxx: If you could change something would what that be?
Nadir D’Priest: I wouldn’t change anything! I would like to be onstage with a lot of these new bands and show them how it is done live!
Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned in a previous interview that you would say a lot of things in your autobiography? What’s the status of that?
Nadir D’Priest: I am working on it but it is going to be a few years before it is ready for consumption. I will be mentioning names and very sticky situations with some names that will probably not like what I have to say. It’s going to be a wide open book to say the least.
Sleaze Roxx: Some word association if you will please. Lizzie Grey, Bill Gazzarri, Decline of Western Civilization, Nadir D’Priest.
Nadir D’Priest: Lizzie Grey, my old friend and ex-guitar player of London who is not friendly anymore. Bill Gazzarri, the godfather of rock on the Sunset Strip. The Decline of Western Civilization, my friend and director Penelope Spheeris’ cult classic, and London’s big break. Nadir D’Priest, The original ‘Darkman’ and founder of Vamps Worldwide Media… lead singer of London.
Sleaze Roxx: Any other stories you would care to share?
Nadir D’Priest: There are always stories from the London camp!
Sleaze Roxx: Finally, what would you like to say to your fans?
Nadir D’Priest: Thank you everyone for supporting London/D’Priest after all these years. We are very thankful for all the emails and requests throughout Asia, Latin America, Europe and USA. London is still alive and until the last nail in my coffin hits I will continue with my mission. Please visit us at www.dpriest.com. Leave messages… we like the feedback and any ideas you may have. To the young rockers out there, thank you! Keep metal alive!
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you very much for your time Nadir. It’s been an absolute privilege and a pleasure!