Rock It: L.A. Guns to hit local stage at The Hideaway

Posted on November 13, 2013


Rock It: L.A. Guns to hit local stage at The Hideaway

By: Rachael Mattice

Los Angeles is currently riding a wave of glitzy pop, with auto-tuned and electronic dance music topping the charts.

But not that long ago on the Sunset Strip – the 1980s – glam-heavy music reigned on radio and TV, with sleaze rockers and bands such as Ratt, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and L.A. Guns.

With current trends ignoring a more traditional full band, many rock fans young and old find themselves relying on these “classic” bands to satisfy their nostalgia for that decade.

L.A. Guns’ most recent album, “Hollywood Forever,” released in mid-2012, celebrates that legacy and is cause for the band’s stop at The Lafayette Hideaway on Tuesday.

L.A. Guns formed in 1983, now with members Phil Lewis, Steve Riley, Michael Grant and Scotty Griffin. Over 30 years the band released 10 studio albums, the last four produced by Andy Johns, who has worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen.

Not only does L.A. Guns continue to write music for creativity’s sake, but it’s good for their souls, said L.A. Guns drummer Steve Riley.

“After the years of L.A. dominance, it went into a different direction and we feel fortunate to come out of that well known enough to keep playing around the world with our own material,” Riley said.

“You don’t get as much exposure as a band used to, but if your name has meant something, you can work. Nobody really sells constantly over their music careers.”

Although there remains the mythology of rockers “selling their souls” to rock n’ roll in Los Angeles, the city has an attraction that draws musicians to the city to be a part of the wild underground lifestyle.

“One misconception about L.A. is that people think these big developing machines are still here, and they’re not,” Riley said.

“We feel for the new rockers that come out here, especially since the management companies and record stores are all different and pop-oriented now.”

Riley, who speaks with a thick Boston accent despite living in the City of Angels since 1977, said although L.A. can be a great place to live, there are still just as many people there competing in the same field trying to make it – a cutthroat situation in an expensive city.

But the band did make it. Their level of achievement hit home in the ’80s when the Guns started touring with AC/DC and Def Leppard and playing the infamous Madison Square Garden, Riley said. Pre-Guns, Riley could feel his own fame ascending when his former bands W.A.S.P.,

Steppenwolf and Indianapolis-based Roadmaster shared packed concerts with KISS and Iron Maiden.

“We were making some noise in those first years; we feel so fortunate that we can still play our own material and not cover songs,” Riley said. “Phil gave us an authentic sound of our own, being a British singer in an American band, and we’ve always stayed true to our roots.”

Being in a rock band like L.A. Guns also allows you to tour across the world, including Russia, South Korea and Mexico, Riley said. Japan was a great place to sell records with “unbelievable fans” in the 1980s, he added.

As Riley and the currrent lineup of L.A. Guns still ravage the country playing gigs, do tales from the Strip’s celebrated clubs still dominate their free time?

“We used to go to more clubs when we were younger, but we are on the road and living together so closely that when we get back, it’s the last thing we want to do,” Riley said. “We’re a bit older now and we have families; I don’t drink alcohol anymore, so downtime is valuable to me.”

“Musicians really have to think about longevity and have to work out and stop drinking so much. I’m in my 50s now, so I have to work out every day and think how I will be able to physically do this when I’m older. Bands have to realize they can wear themselves down with all the traveling and playing four or five shows in a row.”

Luckily for local fans, included in one of those packed tours is Lafayette, with a show featuring supporting acts Liberty Lush, Hybrid Glitch and 50/Six Feet.

Tuesday’s show will include nine or 10 of the Guns’ famous singles sprinkled in with some new material and obscure songs off albums, Riley said.

“I hope everyone comes out to see us because the band is in tip-top shape and we’re going to rock Lafayette’s house out.”

More with Steve Riley

Question: Do you tune your drumset?

Answer: Yes, everyone has to tune their drums really well. I do it too, and that is what is so good about working with Andy Johns. He’s done Keith Moon’s drums and Alex Van Halen’s; he is a drum guy. Tuning and making sure they sound how we want them in the studio is absolutely important. Not everybody knows how to tune drums and it’s an art form you have to acquire after awhile.

Q: I’ve heard in a couple of your interviews that Ginger Baker (Cream) is one of your idols. What is one of the most astonishing things that a fan has told you?

A: That’s right. When I get somebody comes up to me and that I influence them and that it turned them around it makes you feel really good because I have total influences too. It’s such an honor and I will never get used to that. I never take it for granted.

Q: You also have the Monsters of Rock cruise coming up in a week or two. Have you been on it before?

A: We’ve actually turned down a bunch of cruises because it wasn’t our cup of tea and we don’t feel comfortable on them. This year and this tour they really wanted us on this cruise and so we got together and felt like it was time to check it out. We’re getting ready with the sick pills (laughs). We’re going to have fun but it’s our first one.

Q: Tell me more about your new guitarist, Michael Grant.

A: Michael Grant, he is somebody that we literally bumped into at a rehearsal studio. We were aware that Stacey Blades was leaving the band, he just doesn’t have the strength to tour anymore. Michael has already done a few shows with us and sounds and looks great. He fits right into the band.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at on Twitter @RachaelM_JC. 

Posted in: "Rock It" Column