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Deb Rao's Exclusive chat with L.A. Guns Drummer Steve Riley

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Friday, March 3, 2006 @ 10:15 AM

"Thanks to the Motley Crue Re-

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When you think of the 80's Sunset Strip scene, one band that played a major role in launching the Glam-metal genre is L.A..Guns. The band's raw, innovative, punkish metal sound and sleazy Glam-Metal looks inspired a whole new generation of bands from a genre when Metal Ruled The World and the rock and roll lifestyle knew no boundaries.

L.A Guns delivered such driving hits as "Sex Action", "Electric Gypsy", and "Ballad of Jayne."

In the late 80's, L.A.Guns were living the Rock and Roll dream. But, over the years, they've had their share of trials and tribulations. With the departure of Tracii Guns, many fans wondered what direction the band would take. With the core of the band remaining, they have emerged with a strong new line-up that features Phil Lewis on vocals, drummer Steve Riley, Stacey Blades on guitar, and Adam Hamilton on bass.

Drummer Steve Riley, who hails from Revere, M.A. moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduation in the early 70's to pursue his musical career as a professional musician. His extensive musical career spans the early 70's to today performing with some of the top musicians in the business including Steppenwolf, Keel, Wasp, and now L.A.Guns.

In this exclusive interview Steve Riley takes a walk down Sunset strip and discusses the longevity and re-birth of L.A. Guns since their 2005 album "Tales From The Strip."

KNAC.COM: Hi Steve, How are ya doing?

RILEY: I'm doing great.

KNAC.COM: I hear that L.A.Guns will be returning to the East Coast soon.

RILEY: Yes, we are continuing to do these fly in weekend shows. We played on February 24, in Clifton Park, NY at Northern Lights., February 25 Clifton, NJ at Dingbatz, February 26 Wantagh, NY at Mulcahy's, and in Hartford, Ct at the Webster Theatre. on February 27.

KNAC.COM: That is great. You recently performed in Los Angeles, how did the songs from the new album that you performed go over?

RILEY: The fans are really digging this new album. We try to play in L.A. every chance we can. If you love the older material of L.A.Guns like "Electric Gypsy" you will love "Tales From The Strip."

KNAC.COM: In a recent interview, you said that "Tales From The Strip" is not a concept album. How would you describe it?

RILEY: "Tales From The Strip" does have a common thread tied to every song on the entire album. It is about L.A.Guns rise to the top in Hollywood. It is about the 80's metal scene, when it was booming in Hollywood. Although the scene will never be the same, it is thriving today. Phil (Lewis) sings and plays his heart out on this album. Every song is a story in itself. Mike Varney and Shrapnel are so happy with the production of the record.

KNAC.COM: How does the Metal scene in Hollywood these days compare to the 80's?

RILEY: There are a lot of new bands on the scene. There are a lot of new clubs to play. Metal is thriving once again in Hollywood.

KNAC.COM: What is your Rock and Roll prediction for 2006? Will the bands from the old school metal genre make a comeback?

RILEY: They are making a comeback right now. Thanks to the Motley Crue Re-union there is a demand for 80's bands. Motley Crue have opened up a lot of doors for bands like L.A.Guns once again. Now that the Seattle grunge scene is over, Metal is here to stay.

KNAC.COM: Let's talk about the L.A.Guns of today versus the old line-up with Tracii Guns. How has L.A.Guns evolved since the 80's?

RILEY: To survive as a 80's band today, you need to have your original singer. We are fortunate to have Phil Lewis. It is very hard to copy that signature sound of the voice of any band. You can always replace a drummer, I think, but you need to have the original singer to still be successful. We are getting along great. We are really excited about this new album. Stacey sounds a lot like Tracii. We are recording so well together.

KNAC.COM: How do L.A.Guns lyrically and musically keep inspired, and keep on writing such exciting new material?

RILEY: We are a band that needs to keep writing new material and to constantly tour. We need to keep on the move, perform live, and write new material.

KNAC.COM: I have seen the band perform so many times, and let me tell ya, you guys really put on a great live show. I love the way you throw in some of those Buddy Rich drum rolls on "One More Reason." What do you enjoy most about being on the road?

RILEY: Thank you. We love playing the older songs. I love "One More Reason," and "Electric Gypsy." Every night is different. I am also really enjoying playing the new songs from this album. The fans are really enjoying the new songs.

KNAC.COM: Will L.A. Guns be heading into the studio soon?

RILEY: We are kind of still riding on "Tales From The Strip" success. We are going to milk this album for as long as we can. We have a lot of new products out. We have a song on the Metal Mania Stripped Cd, called "Ballad of Jayne." We are also on the Metal Mania Stripped Across America DVD. We hope to release a live album in April on Sony/BMG. Right now for new material, we are enjoying "Tales From The Strip." Everyone is raving how it is our best album yet.

KNAC.COM: What are your future tour plans?

RILEY: We will continue to do these fly-in weekend shows through May. We have our name in the hat for the Poison tour, or the Whitesnake tour. So we will leave things open, hoping to be part of an arena tour thru September.

KNAC.COM: I saw LA.Guns perform with Poison in 1999. It was awesome. I hope you get the tour this year. Hailing from Boston, how would you describe the music scene in Boston and have you been influenced by Aerosmith at all?

RILEY: Boston is great. It is everything that Aerosmith wrote about in their book. The thing about Boston is you can only go so far a musician. It is limited. All the great studios and record labels are in Los Angeles. I saw Aerosmith perform there when they were just starting out in the clubs.

KNAC.COM: Back in the late 90's, the Channel was a great club to see 80's bands and Axis down on Landsdown was also a good club for bands to perform. Do you remember playing there and when did you leave Boston and move to Los Angeles?

RILEY: The Channel was great, it was right near the water. We always packed that club. Right after graduation in the 70's, I started my move out West and landed in Los Angeles in 1975. I lived everywhere from D.C, to Salt Lake City for a while. I have been in L.A. ever since 1975. KNAC.COM: Let's talk about your extensive musical career. You have worked with so many great bands.

RILEY: I did some studio albums with Steppenwolf that was in the 70's, then I was in Keel for a while. I was in W.A.S.P. from 1984- 1987. I met Phil in 1987, and then I was asked to join L.A.Guns. There is a lot of luck involved in this business.

KNAC.COM: That was the best career move that you ever made. What can the fans expect to see from L.A.Guns in 2006?

RILEY: It is going to be a great year for L.A.Guns. We have a lot of new products out there. Thanks for your continued support. It is going to be a great summer.

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