L.A. Guns Taking Aim At L.A. Guns


June 26, 2008

Andrew McGinn of the Springfield News-Sun reports that when you’re young and rockin’ the tops off girls, you never think the day will come when you’ll get old and turn into Steppenwolf.

But for L.A. Guns, one of the many bands in the ’80s that oozed off the Sunset Strip and bubbled up through the gutters of every city in America, that day has come.

As the band celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, two different groups, each calling themselves L.A. Guns, have shown up to the party.

One, featuring original singer Phil Lewis and longtime drummer Steve Riley, will play locally at Spirits on Saturday, June 28.

The other, formed a couple of years ago, features guitarist and band namesake Tracii Guns along with Marty Casey on vocals.

If Casey’s name doesn’t ring a bell, you apparently don’t watch enough reality TV — he was a contestant on CBS’ “Rock Star: INXS” in 2005.

Guns and Riley co-own the name L.A. Guns.

“Which is why, legally, he can have his own L.A. Guns,” Riley explained.

But for Riley, a hardened veteran of the Strip metal scene who first came to prominence with WASP, that doesn’t mean he has to be happy about it.

“In a nutshell, people should know, this is the band Tracii quit six years ago,” he said. “He quit this band, which is the real L.A. Guns with Phil Lewis singing.”

Guns, who back in the day also hooked up with a guy, last name of Rose, to create Guns N’ Roses, indeed left L.A. Guns in 2002 to join forces with Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx in Brides of Destruction.

His abrupt departure, his old bandmates say, cost them a world tour with Alice Cooper.

Then he went and did the unthinkable — he put together a rival L.A. Guns.

“It’s totally bogus,” Riley complained. “Yes, he was one of the founders, but we’ve turned into a classic-rock band. When I go to a classic-rock band, I want to hear the original singer.”

If there’s an upside to it, Riley knows firsthand it won’t be long before the bizarro L.A. Guns start shooting blanks.

“I was a drummer for Steppenwolf in the ’70s,” he said. “It was one of the Steppenwolfs that had the original bass player and the original keyboard player. It didn’t have (frontman) John Kay.”

Once audiences realized that version of Steppenwolf didn’t include Kay, the original singer, “We phased out,” he said.

“Me and Phil are just waiting for it to fizzle out on its own,” he said.

Then L.A. Guns can get back to the task at hand — rockin’ the tops off middle-aged women.

Everybody’s older now, but for the mighty hard-rock bands that roamed the Earth until grunge blocked out the sun, this is a second golden age.

“The ’90s were kind of dark,” Riley recalled. “It wasn’t cool to like anything from the ’80s.

“It’s totally turned over now. We have young kids now who are finding our music and are loving it. We’re in a good place right now.”

Aside from “The Ballad of Jayne,” a Top 40 power ballad in 1990, L.A. Guns was maybe lumped unfairly into the whole hair metal thing, anyway.

Riley knows — he was in a true hair metal band.

“It was dressed down. In WASP, it was dressed up,” he said. “When I joined L.A. Guns, it was stripped down to a street level, and the music was stripped down, too.”

Much like their cousins in Guns N’ Roses, they were less Kiss and more Stones, especially on hard-grinding favorites like “Rip and Tear.”

“L.A. Guns was never as fluffy as some of the bands in the ’80s,” Riley bragged. “We always kept it at the street level.”

Courtesy of www.springfieldnewssun.com