Exclusive! Interview With Adler's Appetite Frontman Jizzy Pearl
Sunday, May 2, 2004 @ 10:50 PM
Jizzy Pearl: Just a Boy
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About a month or so back, at the time of the release of his first solo record,
Just a Boy, I spoke to Jizzy Pearl. The singer, who rose to prominence with Love/Hate, and later sang for LA Guns and RATT, is currently handling vocals on (ex-Guns ‘N Roses drummer) Steven Adler’s project, Adler’s Appetite. With so many irons in the fire, Jizzy was gracious enough to make time for KNAC and talk about his first solo outing… share some thoughts about his past, and hint about his future in rock n’ roll.
KNAC.COM: We’re rolling… PEARL: Okay.
KNAC.COM: You’re back home for a while… PEARL: For the time being… when I’m home, I tend to be home and stay home and enjoy home. You know, the warmth of my own bed, the peace and quiet: because when you tour a lot, you’re in close quarters with people, and a lot of times you’re rooming with people so you don’t get a whole lot of privacy. So I tend to cherish the privacy that I do get.
KNAC.COM: Which won’t last long, I’m guessing. Your new CDs out now; it’s called, Just a Boy… will you talk about that a little bit? You’ve got 10 new songs, and a lot of special guests on the record. How did you get Steve Stevens, for example? PEARL: Well, yes. It’s out now, you can get it at the Jizzy site - jizzypearl.com.
And yes, there’s a few “special guests” playing on it. Steve -- he played on three of my songs, and did a great job. That came about when he came to one of my Love/Hate shows I was playing here locally, and Robbie Crane, who’s in my band -- the Love/Hate band -- he and Robbie were playing together years ago in the Vince Neil thing, so they ended up hanging out a little bit and I played some of my new music at the Love/Hate show and he dug it… and me being the opportunist that I am, I asked him if he would play a solo on it. And it ended up that he liked the stuff so much he played on three songs. Which is exceptional of him and it sounds awesome. And I think anyone that hears this record will agree that, you know, it certainly stands out, his playing.
Tracii is a friend, has been a friend for a long time and he basically helped me out on one of the songs. Jon E. Love I brought in for some Love/Hate-ish texture… and some other guys came in and played rhythm and leads and I played some guitar – I played acoustic guitar and electric guitar -- and Muddy came in and did some stuff… and it was a very concentrated team effort.
I wrote all the stuff, but I had better guitar players than myself come in and play on it. I wanted it to sound better than Jizzy’s “Three-Chord Guitar”… and it was the smart thing to do, because it does sound so much better since it’s a lot more together with those better players.
KNAC.COM: And you also worked with Skid on the song “Extreme”…? PEARL: Well, what happened was, “Extreme” is a fourteen year-old song from the Love/Hate days. It’s just an old song that we had, from probably ’86 or ’87, before we got signed and it’s one of the few songs from that time that really hasn’t aged. It sounds as fresh today as it did back then. I rewrote the second verse, and added a bridge, changed a couple of things… it’s essentially a Skid song, with sort-of a “new improved” couple of lyrics to it.
KNAC.COM: Keff Ratcliffe from Pretty Boy Floyd did the booklet, too… PEARL: Yes he did! Yeah, he’s one of those computer-geeks, and I say that in all fondness. He’s one of those guys that can put stuff together. I designed it and gave it to him, and he took it from there… I shot the cover picture in front of a skid row bar two blocks away from where I used to live in downtown LA. And Sherry Globman did the back photo, which is great. She gave me a bunch of photos and I picked that one. She’s a local celebrity in her own right…
KNAC.COM: And while you were putting this together, you got together with the Steven Adler project… PEARL: Yeah, uh, well, obviously…. the Steven Adler thing is going full-speed ahead. We did a limited European tour playing some sold-out gigs in Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. We plan to -- in June and July -- to go back and do some festivals. I believe some are already scheduled as of now. You know, the music is very strong over there. People don’t have 80 cable channels and they don’t the amount of diversity that they do here… so they tend to get very emotional about their music. It was really cool to be in Spain, and Italy and whatnot, and hear 800 people singing along to “Sweet Child” or one of their favorite songs. It was very cool, you know? And in any case, we’re going to take the Adler thing one step past the so-called “tribute band” and write original music. We have someone interested in financing that, and so this year we’ll write the songs for a new record and hopefully have it done and out by – maybe -- this time next year… and, carry on, you know?
KNAC.COM: Did you have any interaction with people in Europe, on topics besides music? Did you get the feel for their impressions of America, with the war in Iraq? PEARL: Oh, yeah… I definitely caught an earful. They don’t hate us specifically, but… they HATE Bush. They hate him. There are people over there in Europe that consider him, uh… evil. And when you’re on a plane for 11 hours, there’s no where you can run from opinions and people will – they will tell you how they feel. Regardless of how you feel about the justifications for this Iraq… “fiasco,” the media here does not accurately portray how world opinion is, and what other people think… you know what I mean -- it’s a one-sided thing…
KNAC.COM: We’re not exactly “fair and balanced,” would you say? PEARL: Well, it’s a bit – a bit of a culture shock, in a sense, if you tend not to question your government and our motives and whatnot. You’d be in for a rude awakening, and you’d probably get ver, very defensive -- and I’m sure a lot of Americans do -- if they leave the country and find out that there’s a lot of people who just aren’t diggin’ what we’re doing. For whatever that’s worth, I offer no opinion one way or the other, but you really do get a sense of it -- especially in France. Obviously, they didn’t take too highly to the whole “freedom fries” thing…
KNAC.COM: You mentioned talking about playing shows in Europe, all the people singing along, etc. How is it for you, personally and as a singer coming from Love/Hate, having a brand new – and I might say, a very cool, and rocking -- solo record… how is it doing the Adler project, or whatever, singing someone else’s songs? Being the “replacement singer” or whatever… does that ever become a burden? How do you handle your critics or detractors? Do you care one way or the other? PEARL: Well, you know what: it’s not a burden. Definitely not a burden. You know, I am proud of being a working musician and I’ve never been ashamed of being a working musician. In fact, most of the people in the small circle that I know who are working musicians; there’s a very small clique of people who make a decent living off of music. They make money off of it. There’s a lot of people here in LA that, for want of a better word, are poseurs. They don’t play, they don’t support themselves, they live off chicks… and you know, I never did that. I’m proud of the fact that I pay my bills and I can pay for my car with music and art. As far as doing other people’s music: it’s funny that there has been a over-the-top positive response -- at least from what I’ve heard and seen -- as if people are almost surprised at how good it is, in the sense that maybe they didn’t even think that I was capable of that, like I didn’t have it in me, or something. Like I’ve been singing Ratt songs for so long, that no one thought that I could pick up a guitar and write a couple of songs myself. So, it’s gratifying. I’m happy that people are digging the record and I’ve gotten a lot of positive emails and such. It has only just come out, the more it gets out there, the more I think people will appreciate it and I dig that. It makes me happy. As far as me playing other people’s music and being ashamed… as far as me being ashamed of playing Guns ‘N Roses songs? I think there’s a lot worse jobs out there, for a guy like me. A lot worse to do, to sing and have a good time and drink free beer… I am not ashamed.
KNAC.COM: Do you think there is a perception problem? Clearly you are a working musician, but you take a lot of heat from people -- fans of one guy who may not like another guy singing, etc? PEARL: Well, it certainly doesn’t make me better than anyone else, that doesn’t make me a rich man, by any means, ‘cause I’m not. I’ll be the first to tell you that most of the people that I know what are musicians… are definitely, solidly, middle-class or lower. And that’s okay, you know? Nobody lives in mansions. There’s this illusion that when you go to a club and you see a $300,000 Prevo tour coach sitting out in front of the club… we don’t OWN that -- we’re just renting that. It’s a grandiose, glorified motor home. It’s a nice bus; but we’ve rented it. The guys that are in that bus a lot of times, especially if you’re a hired gun musician, some of these guys are making two or three hundred dollars a week… IF THAT. Some of the guys are just making a hundred bucks a week. You know what I mean? So there’s this fallacy that anyone on one of those buses is rich. And, you know: “The guys in Ratt are rich” or, “The guys in LA Guns are rich”… we all make a living. I wouldn’t say that any of us are rich, you know? The bus isn’t parked in my driveway, either. So… again, I’m not ashamed to be a working musician. A guy may not be the original singer, you know -- but if he’s working…
KNAC.COM: Makes me wonder if musicians have 401K plans… PEARL: Well, that is definitely a trick question. There is a Union for musicians, but there is no 401K for guys like us. And it’s a tough thing at the end of the day to realize you didn’t save your money when you had a lot of money, you know? Back in 1990, when I got my first record deal, or ’89… I was a kid, I didn’t save any money. I just thought I was always going to get checks. And I wasn’t alone. Everybody did that. Everybody spent all their money like drunken sailors, and there was a rude awakening two or three years later. For some people, it was two or three months later. You want to know something funny -- and this goes back to your previous question -- I made more money playing as a hired guy in Ratt than I ever made when I had a million dollar contract on Sony. You know? There’s a lot of irony there. Again, just because you have a record deal doesn’t mean that you’re rich…
KNAC.COM: But you’re still here and doing more now… where is the A&R guy that signed you? PEARL: Ron Oberman. Still around? You know, I was talking to Mike from Shrapnel Records and he told me that Ron Oberman is a professional card player now. Isn’t that funny? Very odd… I just can’t picture him with the poker face.
KNAC.COM: Funny… but, now, let’s talk a little bit more about your record. PEARL: Yes. The new record…
KNAC.COM: You mentioned that you’re getting some good notices, and nice feedback from people… this is at your website jizzypearl.com? PEARL: Oh, yeah. You know, like I said, I’m very stoked at the positive response at the record, and surprised, you know? That a lot of people whom you would expect to have a negative impression… you know the Internet. People love to talk shit. I’ve gotten a lot of email from people going, “I’m going to check out your record after reading about you on Metal Sludge” or whatever… it is sort of odd. The fact that everyone thinks their own record is a good record. Do I like my own record, am I happy with it? Of course I am -- I wrote it. Everybody thinks their new record is the shit. That’s just… everybody. But you never know, really… until you put your ass out there and get judged. And the Internet is a harsh fuckin’ judge. People are conditioned to hate stuff, I think. So, like I said, it’s very cool that -- so far -- that people seem to dig it.
KNAC.COM: Since you’ve traveled so much lately and in your past…. Where are some strange places that you’re hearing from? PEARL: I’ve been hearing a lot from Europe, and I just sent out a few CDs to Japan and Australia. Brazil… that’s the beauty of the Internet and for me -- and for anyone who’s got their music out there for sale -- you’re able to create this huge open market. I mean, Amazon.com is not a place that I could use and make any sort of return on my investment, ‘cause they take 40%. That’s ridiculous… so for me, to be able to utilize the Internet and have it become worthwhile – worldwide -- and have someone from Denmark contact me about “when’s the record coming out?” or whatever… that’s just a really cool thing when you think about it. It’s certainly one aspect of the Internet that I like. There’s a couple that I don’t like…
KNAC.COM: Did you ever consider shopping it around for a deal, or was it going to be totally a “DIY” Jizzy production? PEARL: After my books had gotten rejected a while back from a couple of different places, I had thought about it. I got a couple of offers for my record, but they wanted to call it, Love/Hate because of the name recognition. But I moved on from just being Love/Hate. And this isn’t a Love/Hate record. So, I thought it would be pretty cheesy to do it any other way… and maybe that’s going to hurt me -- or maybe it’s not. But you gotta -- at some point -- you have to leave the nest.
KNAC.COM: You have a lot going on with Just a Boy… PEARL: Well, I think that it’s – in one aspect -- it’s similar to a Love/Hate record, in that we never made a record of 10 songs that all sounded the same. We had a lot of diversity, because we grew up liking bands that were playing such diverse kinds of music: Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. The Rolling Stones… And at the time, it was okay to have diversity within a record. It made the band better, to be able to show off that diversity, and their ability. You know? I think AC/DC is the only band that can rewrite a song over and over and over and have it still be classic and good. I think that a lot of records suffer from one good song and nine pale imitations of the one good song. As far as my record goes, I dig the fact that there’s acoustic guitar and there’s punk rock and there’s metal… there’s some Jane’s Addiction in there… I did that. I like to hear that in a record. I like to be taken on a journey and be surprised and blown away by twists and turns…
KNAC.COM: There are a couple of songs that do have a “punky” thing going on… have you always been into that, or do you feel your tastes have changed a little bit? You’re mainly known as being a rock/metal singer… PEARL: Uh… well, some of the songs -- specifically, “Do You Wanna Get High?” -- it’s definitely an homage to Sex Pistols, melodic and fast, pseudo-pop riffs… You know, I’m not the greatest guitar player in the world, so I play a lot of chords. That’s maybe why some of the songs sound punky or have a punk vibe… it’s basically been me, just hackin’ away at chords… chords, because that’s all I could do. I’m not a “riff-dude.” I don’t have or feel the need to do that. I’m probably more comfortable sitting around a campfire playing Creedence Clearwater as opposed to trying to blow you away playing some kind of Yngwie [Malmsteen] lick… that’s not me. I just can’t do it. This is not any one thing or style, though. I wish I could tell you I had a “great vision”… but, to put it simply, this was just a collection of the best songs I had and wanted to put out.
KNAC.COM: Tell me about the song, “Dad.” PEARL: Well, my original biological father died… when I was like four, or five or something like that. So, when you’re that young, you only have very small glimpses of memories… soundbites of who he was to me. And then he passed away. And after that, I was only able to know him from old photographs that my mother had. My step-dad died a year and a half ago… and watching what my mom had to go through, and what the disease did to him and it’s effect on the people around you -- my mom… it made me think about writing a song about my earlier, biological father, without having it be some sort of sappy, “I love you, Dad!” type of thing. It was more of a… trying to make sense of everything. And when you’re talking about a death and a personal experience like that, it’s a fine line between profound and completely cheesy. I – I like to think that I did a good job on that one.
KNAC.COM: Did you play it for your mom? PEARL: No. No I didn’t. [Pauses] If my mom hates anything that I play or write or what I wear -- then I know it’s good. If I played her a song and she thought it sucked, then I knew it was good. She had zero taste in metal.
KNAC.COM: [Laughs] PEARL: I mean, can you imagine if your mom liked a hardcore/metal song that you wrote? [Laughs]
KNAC.COM: Okay… so what does the future hold for Mister Jizzy Pearl? PEARL: Well, like I said, getting the new record out there, and a lot of Adler. Writing and playing with Adler. Maybe some Jizzy shows. Also, I’m moving to Las Vegas…
KNAC.COM: Really? For sure? Leaving LA? PEARL: It’s exploding out there. And I’ve lived in LA for so long… to be honest, I don’t want to end up some withered old Rainbow goofball.
KNAC.COM: Why there? What do you like about Las Vegas? What draws you there? PEARL: Well… it isn’t LA, for one. And, like I said, I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve had to spend most of my life – my musical life -- here in LA. And it’s a very small community… and it’s just the same people, talking the same shit… year after fucking year. I just want to get away from it. We’ll see if I dig it out in the desert… who knows? I might hate it.
KNAC.COM: Didn’t you live in New York City for a bit? PEARL: Oh, yeah. When we were recording Wasted. I lived on 1st Street and Second Avenue... at the edge of Alphabet City. Two blocks away from CB[GB]s… that was in ’91.
KNAC.COM: That was a dicey neighborhood then… PEARL: Well, I loved it. What happened was that this guy I wanted to produce our second Love/Hate record lived in NYC. I convinced the band -- and we had a large budget, this was back in those days, a quarter-million dollars for just the record -- and I convinced everyone in the band, a la, The Real World to live and record our record there. Wouldn’t it be fun, etc., etc., and nobody wanted to go, of course. But once we all got out there… I think we all would agree… it was certainly one of the best experiences of my life. You know? Going out there and living in a four-story loft, rehearse there, we had barbeques… and you get paid! Four or five months… Greenwich Village in the summer… all the bookstalls… it was truly one of the best times of my life. I only wish I could have done my record at Electric Ladyland. Oh, man, did we have such fun. I was such a drunken idiot… Limelight, Cat Club, Scrap Bar… all those old clubs.
KNAC.COM: Any favorite restaurants -- where did you go to eat? PEARL: Oh, I was mostly interested in boozing it up -- I wasn’t interested in the “higher points.” I was interested in the “lower points”… you know? I was “a rock n roller,” man… back then, I was getting drunk every night… getting into fights, chasing girls, fucking… I was larger-than-life and I was, you know? For a couple of years, it was just “Satyricon”… it was amazing. But now, I’d feel foolish. Chasin’ tail… you know what I mean? I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I think you have to get a little bit more dignified with age instead of more of a mess.
KNAC.COM: Well, there are a lot of girls in Las Vegas… PEARL: Yeah, there’s girls everywhere, though. You know? You can get in trouble in Vegas, though, because you can drink all night. THAT might be a problem… that might be a problem, so who knows?
KNAC.COM: You told me about something once -- I want to end on… the “Hollywood Rocks” book… PEARL: Yeah… that’s kind of funny, actually. For some reason, people think I run the website Metal Sludge… Brian from Cleopatra called me up a year and a half-- maybe two years ago and I was originally going to do that book, which I think they are selling on the Metal Sludge site, interestingly… They had a photographer who had all the pictures and all the flyers… and I was going to write for the book. Brian thought I ran Metal Sludge, which is why I got that call. I mean, I know Brian… but, nudge, nudge, wink-wink… I guess he really thought I was behind it all. But he gave the book to someone else to do. I don’t know where people got that impression, but I don’t run Metal Sludge.
KNAC.COM: But you do have new record out… we’ll check your website and we’ll look for you on tour… PEARL: Cool, thanks.
Jizzy Pearl lives in Las Vegas. His new cd is called, Just a Boy,
and is available on his site www.jizzypearl.com, which also has tour updates.