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Exclusive! Interview With Bassist Jeff Pilson of Lynch/Pilson

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Tuesday, June 10, 2003 @ 2:01 PM

Mick Stingley Conducts A Doubl

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I first spoke to Jeff… when he called from a studio in LA on his cell phone, prior to the release of Lynch/Pilson. And then again, about a month later -- an affable, charming guy -- Jeff was able to share some time to chat about L/P, his other “contemporary” projects, and some thoughts about that other band he was in…

THURSDAY, April 10, 2003
6:00 PM E.S.T.

KNAC.COM: Hello? Hello? Jeff? (pause) Hello?
PILSON: Wait…I’m on my cell here… let me try and get a better spot for ya…uh… is this any better?

KNAC.COM: That’s great! Where are you?
PILSON: Okay, I’m in LA… but a band that we’re working with is preparing for one of the showcases today… so, that’s why…(static) and I’m on my cell…

KNAC.COM: So the new album -- the new CD, Lynch/Pilson -- is coming out pretty soon. I’ve heard it -- I think it’s phenomenal! You must be excited.
PILSON: Oh, cool! You liked it, then?

KNAC.COM: Blew me away… not at all what I was expecting!
PILSON: And what were you expecting? (chuckles)

KNAC.COM: Maybe more of a sort of Dokken sound, I guess. But this is… it’s new meets old, if I can say that…
PILSON: Oh, definitely!

KNAC.COM: And I was thinking there are more than a couple of songs where you sound like Jon Anderson from YES… especially on the bridge/chorus of “Breath & A Scream”…
PILSON: (Bursts out laughing) I’ve had-- I’ve had friends of mine say that, too! I didn’t think of it, or realize it, until we were done with the record. I had to laugh then, and now. I do love YES…but I never thought I had sounded like Jon Anderson. I hear what you and my friends are referring to, but… that’s pretty funny…

KNAC.COM: That’s a great opener… is that going to be a single?
PILSON: Yeah. “Breath & A Scream” is going to go to “metal” radio, and I think “When You Bleed” is going to go to “rock radio.”

KNAC.COM: Not “The Evil That You Are”? That’s just a killer song…
PILSON: Oh, wow! Interesting…Well, not to my knowledge… not for now, anyway. I like that song a lot, too… it kind of came out better than we thought at the time we were writing it… I think we’re very pleased about that.

KNAC.COM: What was that process like, given your schedules and locations? Was it complicated (to say the least)?
PILSON: It-- no, it didn’t start out that way… The recording process, well… and the writing process… George ended up moving out to the LA area and he would come down to my studio, spend some time, and we’d throw some ideas around… you know what, though? The writing and the recording process was not difficult for us as a rule. Of course, we ran into some difficulties as you often do, but it was just a real natural second-nature kind of thing for us because… it’s just… that’s just… well, like I say it’s just second nature for us…we’d worked together so much and for so long in the past. I think what was shocking is that our chemistry was as intact as it is… and it was like a day had not gone by… it felt good… and we were there and just better at what we did… Very, very positive.

KNAC.COM: When was the last time you’d written together?
PILSON: The last time we’d written together was 1996.

KNAC.COM: …With Dokken?

KNAC.COM: And with all that went on with that Dokken… How did this – the L/P thing -- come about?
PILSON: Uh… basically, George’s manager at the time called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in, you know, working with George… doing a record, and certainly, you know, we hadn’t talked in a while and I didn’t know where we stood with each other, since the, uh, “parting of the ways” in Dokken was unfriendly…

KNAC.COM: That was a pretty big mess, wasn’t it?
PILSON: Uh…yeah. Well, of course! (chuckles) But, after all that, we got together and got through all the crap in the past, you know, with Don and all that, and we got together and the temperature was right and the chemistry was there! And we didn’t think about it once we got through all that… it was real effortless after that and we decided, “Let’s just do a record!” And we did. We didn’t think about anything other than that and “Let’s start recording!” You know? I had a studio, and we had access to other places, nd we pretty much wrote it all very quickly. It wasn’t-- we did put in a lot of work and a lot of hours, but it wasn’t-- the writing was not all that laborious, it just-- it flowed…very naturally. In fact, we wrote even more music… but at some point we had to sit down and narrow it down and say, “Okay, these are the songs we’re going to finish.”

KNAC.COM: The production notes with the CD say “All Songs Written By George Lynch/Jeff Pilson.” How much of that was, “I have a riff” or “I have a bass line or a chorus”? Was it equitable? Give and take?
PILSON: Well, uh, songwriting was very “50-50”… Most of the lyrics are collaborative. There’s a few of the songs where, you know, I might have done a little more of the lyric writing, but it was very collaborative, you know, and we worked very much with each other throughout the whole thing… which made it such a great experience.

KNAC.COM: …Hence the name, I guess…
PILSON: Yeah, it works!

KNAC.COM: Did you feel any pressure to explore your past history together, musically?
PILSON: No, it was we were like, “Let’s not put any limits on this, and at the same time, let’s not be afraid to be who we are either,” you know? A lot of quote-unquote “80s bands”… I think they feel the need to reinvent themselves because they’ve been told they’re not hip anymore… and you know, we didn’t subscribe to that. We said, “You know what? Screw it! Let’s come up with something we like and if it isn’t hip let’s not worry about it, let’s let the fans worry about that…” because you know what? I think the fans have more of a clue about things like that, as opposed to whatever the flavor-of-the-month is… and that’s what we did. And by letting your instincts guide you… that’s the best way to write, and the most sincere and honest way.

KNAC.COM: I really like the lyrics to “Vaccine.”
PILSON: Well, thank you! You know what that is? That’s about the craze of everybody taking “meds” these days, which, by the way, I do! (laughs) Not to sound hypocritical, but, I was kind of saying, “I don’t need those! I’m fine!” (laughs)

KNAC.COM: So, with such a great record coming out, are there plans to tour soon?
PILSON: We hope so. I mean, a lot of it’s going to depend on the reaction we get. If the reaction is real positive, and the opportunities are there, we’d love to tour it. I’d love to go out and play this, I mean, I really would! Love to! George has some commitments right now, though, as I do, so we’ll have to wait and see…

KNAC.COM: So with L/P coming out and no immediate plans to tour, what else are you doing these days? How are you keeping busy?
PILSON: Well, I’ve been working like a dog with the recording studio… I’m producing a couple of new acts. One band, they’re called Clear Static… they’re kind of like The Strokes from here in LA. I’m also working with -- and I’m really excited about it -- this new-- he’s a rapper… his name is “Brooks Buford”… maybe he’s not the kind of music you might expect me to be involved in, but, it’s all music, you know? He’s great -- got this really unique voice…

KNAC.COM: “Brooks Buford”? That sounds kind of like a country artist.
PILSON: Well, he’s-- he’s kind of like “Kid Rock” meets “Eminem” but his music is so much more intense… and I’ve been working with him on getting some stuff together. I’m working on my own thing, completing a new War & Peace record… I’ll have more to say about that after the summer… and that’s about it. I think that’s enough! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Okay, I’ve been dying to ask you…
PILSON: Go ahead…

KNAC.COM: The Dokken CD, Under Lock And Key… it was, 1985, I think…
PILSON: Yeah… I think that’s right, ’85…

KNAC.COM: The cover of the CD…
PILSON: Oh, no…

KNAC.COM: Those clothes… do you still have those clothes?
PILSON: (Laughs) …and do I wear them sometimes? (laughs) You know what, that’s funny. I donated them -- that outfit -- to a hotel in… Wisconsin? They have ‘em…

KNAC.COM: Those… it’s just funny to see now…
PILSON: Well, you won’t be seeing them on me anytime again…(laughs)

KNAC.COM: Which brings me to my last question -- to pacify the Dokken fans… Do you ever see-- any thoughts about-- do you ever see a reunion in the future…? Any of that kind of stuff?
PILSON: Uh… I don’t. I hope there’s never a need for one (laughs)… No, seriously, I just hope that everybody does well on their own, you know? The truth is, it was not a very pleasant experience the last few years… and I hope we don’t need to do that. I hope… I really do wish everybody well and hope everybody does fine, you know, life is too short to be subjected to miserable situations, and I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope someday… someday… that we can all be friends again… ‘cause there’s a deep love in there for everyone and it would be great if we could all sit down and have a drink together and laugh about the many, many experiences we had together… I just hope we don’t have to work together again. I hope that that’s a done deal and that everyone can be successful at what they’re doing now.

KNAC.COM: Any chance to hear any of the old tunes on tour, when and if you go out there?
PILSON: Sure… sure… absolutely… and we’ll be playing Dokken songs, I’m sure. It would be really hard to NOT do that, I think and—and-- I’ve got nothing against the band, or the songs -- not the songs… the problems with Dokken were the egos -- the clashing egos -- and I just hope not to repeat that.

KNAC.COM: Let’s hope it never come to that. In the meantime…
PILSON: In the meantime, we’ll see what happens! So, uh… oh, hey: BUY THE RECORD! And check out www.jeffpilson.com and www.georgelynch.com – and for that matter, www.lynchpilson.com.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
2:00 PM E.S.T.

KNAC.COM: I just wanted to follow up with you…
PILSON: Whatever you need, man!

KNAC.COM: Okay… now it’s like a month later, the new L/P CD is out, and I see from your website that there aren’t any tour plans… maybe you wanted to talk about that a little?
PILSON: Correct. Yeah, it doesn’t look like it… Yeah, although we’ve been trying to put something together but, uh, it looks like if something happens it won’t be until fall now, which is unfortunate, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do… but I’m just real excited about the response it’s gotten. I’ve gotten so much email and so many, many positive comments about it, I’m just real pleased.

KNAC.COM: You get a lot of email… you stay on top of your own website, don’t you?
PILSON: I do, as much as I can. I try and stay involved. The guy that runs it does a fabulous job for me so I don’t have to worry about any of that, but I try and keep contact with people with questions, and anything they need. That’s the beauty of the Internet.

KNAC.COM: What are your hopes with L/P in the interim?
PILSON: I’m hoping that the record continues to do well. We’re not expecting the record to go “Top 10,” of course, but if the record can sustain enough interest, when fall rolls around, we’re hoping that we can go out there. I mean, I would just like people to hear this because the response has been so terrific from the people that have heard it. I would just love it to get a shot, and for everybody that would like this kind of thing to get a chance to hear it, go buy it, and if we could hit the road, we’d be some happy campers…

KNAC.COM: So what else is going on?
PILSON: Other than that, I’m finishing up the War & Peace record that… I didn’t want it to conflict at all with this, I’m sure it will be at least fall, probably later before it comes out -- but, I’m almost done with the record… and other than that I’ve just been doing massive amounts of production work with Tommy Hendriksen, my partner…

KNAC.COM: Last time we spoke, you mentioned, “Brooks Buford”?
PILSON: Yeah! And his single drops in a couple of weeks… and his label, Arista, has been so amazingly behind the whole thing, it’s unbelievable! And the record is turning out just… just beyond! (Laughs) and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t get a hit out of this… I mean there’s some really, really, really good songs… and he’s such a character!

KNAC.COM: Did you go to this guy, Brooks Buford? Did you guys know each other? How did this come about?
PILSON: The way we met… he was in a band, “Rehab,” and he was on Epic, and they had delivered a lot of songs to them, and Epic pretty much just wasn’t into the material- where it was, so they stuck ‘em in with Tommy and I hoping to materialize something, to come up with something. Rehab consisted of two guys, a singer, Danny, and Brooks, who was for that band, the rapper. The record company got really excited and wanted to get behind the whole thing and that was when the singer quit! (laughs) And it was disappointing for us, ‘cause we were gonna do the actual record and it was looking like we could go forward… but after Danny quit, we turned to Brooks and said, “You know what, Brooks? We really believe that you’re a star, and now you’re a singer, too!” So we got him singing and found stuff that really worked for his voice. He’s got a very quirky voice, but it’s really interesting and it’s – he’s just got a coolness about him, including his voice that really delivers songs…he’s got a really cool thing about him. So we did a couple of songs, he ended up getting off Epic, and then he found a new manager in Atlanta and the guy took it to Jermaine Dupuis and So-So Def, and Jermaine and LA Reid fell in love with it… We put a band together for him real quick, like within a couple days. The band went to New York to do a showcase and got signed immediately! And we’re finishing up the record and we have to deliver it by June 2nd! It’s been crunch time!

KNAC.COM: (Laughs) This is a… uh, a rap-- is this a rap thing? Or what?
PILSON: It’s rap. It’s definitely hip-hop… but, you know, it’s got a rock thing… there’s certain comparisons to Kid Rock, just because he’s such a personality.

KNAC.COM: Is this a white guy rapper?
PILSON: Yeah, he is… yeah, it’s like if you crossed Eminem and Kid Rock… just a quirky thing about him. The music is very intense… it’s really, really cool. The music is more intense than Kid Rock, so it’s just really got a great vibe about it… a great storyteller, an amazing rapper… he really is… I’m just really excited about this record -- it’s over the top!

KNAC.COM: Wow. That’s… in my life I could never have put Jeff Pilson and LA Reid in the same sentence until now…
PILSON: I know! I know! Isn’t that funny! I owe a lot of that to my partner, because of his connection to that type thing, but… and I love all kinds of music, and I love to make music – so I just want to make ‘quality’… I don’t care… for genre…(laughs)

KNAC.COM: Right on! So you’re definitely keeping busy until the fall…
PILSON: Well, between George and I – we love to play together and I’m hoping we can hit the road and we would be a trio, so there’s some exciting things we could do live… and I hope the record does well enough to see that we can, you know?

KNAC.COM: Is Spitfire supportive of the fact that you might not be able to go out and support it until the fall?
PILSON: Well, they’re not wild about it….they’d rather us be touring now, of course, you know, who wouldn’t? But they know that there’s a lot of quirky parameters with this band, so you know, I’m sure they’d rather see us go out in the fall than not at all. I think that this record is really much more of a grass-roots thing… with the Internet-- I don’t look at this as much of a radio campaign, I mean, any radio we could get would be wonderful, but I think between the Internet and word-of-mouth between potential fans. This… I just hope this record gets a shot with that… I’m really proud of it… I think it has a fairly broad palette to it.

KNAC.COM: Any final thoughts before we head out?
PILSON: Well, as always, thanks to KNAC for playing the record, man… and keep checkin’ the sites for updates… hopefully we’ll be able to get this together and come out to see everyone real soon!

KNAC.COM: Thanks Jeff!

Be sure to check out: JeffPilson.com * GeorgeLynch.com * LynchPilson.com * Spitfire Records

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