September 15th 2015
Los Angeles, California
Long time no see, brothers and sisters. Though I should probably apologize for the lengthy break between these digital confessions to be honest I think once in a while it’s good to make one’s self scarce. I get positively sick of myself now and again. I think in this day and age of needing to share every thought that enters our heads with the twitterverse/Facebookland/SocialNetworkVille has gone too far for my comfort level. Now and then I think it’s healthy to unplug and disengage from the great neon bloodstream that is the internet. That said, I’m never really completely unplugged and since I’m posting now to catch up on all the time that has gone by I suppose I may as well have been posting all along.
Sometimes you just don’t have anything to say and that’s perfectly ok. Better to say nothing than a whole lot of something that equals nothing.
Though the good ship, USS Conspirator landed in dry dock some time ago things have been anything but quiet. I don’t remember the last time things were quiet. I don’t know that they ever were. Never. Ever.
Upon arriving home from the road I spent time bouncing from Las Vegas to LA to Vancouver back to LA back to Vancouver to Calgary back to Vegas back to LA.
SMKC senior staff have been down in the engine room preparing for a whole new journey set to make way in 2016 tentatively titled SMKCIII. Well, at least I’m calling it that. As it has been, off and on for the past five years, Slash, Fitzy and myself have holed ourselves up in a cold, dark room to create the music that Myles Kennedy will eventually sing upon turning riffs into songs. Commander Kennedy beams aboard now and again to assess progress and make his suggestions then we other three put our heads down and get to work. It stays this way until SMKCIII is in your hot little hands and ears.
Before even re-acclimating to Las Vegas’ dense atmosphere we found ourselves in Malibu celebrating Slash’s birthday with our home team of family and friends. A good time was had by all. Slash has built a very happy and strong world around him these past five years and I’m happy to be a part of that.
From there we were writing, writing and writing in our rehearsal space. While there we saw Duff and Matt rehearsing for a Kings Of Chaos show. Always good to catch up with the extended family. Those who came before us. They are the Kings Of Chaos. I am but a Squire Of Silly.
Back to Vegas where the Conspirators all watched Aerosmith play at the MGM Grand only a year after we shared that same stage with them on the Let Rock Rule Tour before World On Fire was even officially released. I have been especially focused on these artists that are in their 60s and still rocking. None as powerfully or convincingly as the mighty Aerosmith. It is inspiring to know I’ll still be doing this well into my 60s and 70s. And beyond. Rocking into my grave.
From there I was off to Vancouver for something resembling a family holiday sprinkled with initial rehearsals, for the first time in 17 years, mind you, with The Age Of Electric. It has been no secret that my old band from Canada played a reunion show August 29th in Calgary. These initial rehearsals were just early refreshers with the Dahle brothers as my brother, John, was still in Toronto and would be ’til about five days before the show. This initial visit to Vancouver was still about three weeks out from August 29th.
The strangest thing about revisiting these songs with these guys for the first time in almost two decades is how NOT strange it was. There was something very expectedly normal to be playing those songs with THOSE guys. It’s what we did. It’s the music we made together. Mostly it was a lot of laughing and reminiscing. These guys are more than ex-bandmates. They are family. I truly mean that. Whatever differences we may or may not have had over the years in no way precludes that. I have known Kurt Dahle since we were 17 or 18 years old. We formed a band with our little brothers and went on to achieve more than, I think, we ever could have imagined. We weren’t the biggest band on the planet and we didn’t get rich but we did go Gold and cover a lot of ground, geographically and otherwise, in the almost 10 years we played together.
There’s a reason why each member managed to do a lot of great things beyond the end of AOE. Kurt played on Letterman a bunch of times with the New Pornographers. I never got to play on Letterman. He will always have that on me.
But these were only preliminary jam sessions. Refreshers. Homework for the eventual REAL rehearsal. Besides…I’d been called back to LA!
Things had gone so swimmingly with the writing/preproduction of SMKCIII it was decided we needed to do another week of racket making. So off I went back to LA.
This was Vegas, LA, Vegas, Vancouver back to LA.
Another week of mining and polishing rare gems from deep within our souls proved extremely productive. Fitz and I caught up with Biff Byford, the lead singer for Saxon who happened to be rehearsing next door. That was a trip. He’s a legend. Saxon had been on tour with the almighty Motorhead. A tour which has since been cancelled due to health problems for the one they call Lemmy. We are all wishing Lem a speedy recovery. He has been through a lot these past couple years but he’s still kicking. We only hope he can regain his full strength and get out there and show us how it’s done again as he always has. Every time I sing Dr. Alibi I am singing it for Lem.
Troy Duffy, the writer and director of one of my all time fave films, Boondocks Saints, stopped by for a visit. He is a real character and a very cool guy. There is an amazing documentary about Troy called Overnight which is a cautionary tale about this beast called Hollywood. I’m a big fan of documentaries that show the challenges of seemingly doomed projects that go on to be sometimes great like Apocalypse Now (the documentary of the making of that film is called Hearts Of Darkness). Sometimes not like The Island Of Dr Moreau. The documentary about the making of Moreau is called Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr Moreau. Speaking of cautionary. There is another great doc called Lost In La Mancha which was to be a Terry Gilliam film starring Johnny Depp that never got made and has no foreseeable future either. I find it comforting to know that creators often go through unexpected challenges to finally see their art realized. My Apocalypse Now was called Static In Stereo. That was a very challenging project but ended up being a personal high water mark. Another one is called TKO. That one has yet to see it’s complete fruition but it will. I promise.
Anyway, long story short-I’m a fan of Troy’s. Boondocks Saints is a classic. Always good to see him.
So then after a week of cooking up future classics with Brother Slash and Brother Fitz I headed back to Vancouver to commence official rehearsals. For those following along that’s home from tour, Vegas, LA, Vegas, Vancouver, LA back to Vancouver.
Interestingly enough upon my arrival in Vancouver my brother, John, had arrived ahead of me. Both of my brothers and I had dinner with our parents for the first time without girlfriends, wives or children since we were kids. It was kinda surreal. Like going back 20 years just like that.
Just as before John’s inclusion there was something eerily normal about when all four members of The Age Of Electric were plugged in and playing together. As if an entire 17 year gap had simply been folded over and stitched up rendering the order of time…1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2015…as if 1999 thru 2014 had been torn out of the book altogether. On top of working through songs that we hadn’t played in a loooong time we had three brand new songs that had never been performed live to work up as well. I was reticent to force new material on anyone crazy enough to join us on this trip down memory lane but Ryan Dahle was rightly insistent and I thank him for being so. We didn’t want it to be an oldies show.
So after about five days of actual, full band rehearsal we hopped on a plane and played our first show in 17 years at the Marquee in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
It’s hard to really put into words how this event felt. To be honest at first, during rehearsal and even the trip to Calgary it all felt very normal. I’m a working, touring musician. This is what I do. That all felt very familiar and normal to me.
On the day of the show I think the gravity was still lost on me. It was a day of chaotic socializing. Reed and his band Zuckerbaby, who had played with us back in the day were there to add to the nostalgia of the event. Of course, Reed is one of my closest friends so seeing him was probably more comfortingly familiar than time travelingly nostalgic.
Zuckerbaby were incredible. One of the most underrated bands I know of. Andy has one of those voices that scratches me where I itch. Ian is not only one of my favorite drummers to watch but one of my favorites to play with. He plays drums on the TKO project and portions of Go Time! Jamie is a great addition to the fold. Reed is one of my favorite guitar players on the planet and I say that without hyperbole. He should be playing for someone important. He’s that good.
Then it was time.
And I think that’s when it hit me. I looked out at those faces and I realized that this wasn’t just something important to me. It wasn’t just something special for the four guys on stage. It seemed to me that those faces looking back at us thought this was pretty damned important and special, too. There were smiles from one end of the room to the other and those smiles were shared by the guys on stage.
We opened with Motor, the first song from the ’95 Untitled album and the crowd sang the chorus at the top of their lungs. It was, admittedly, one of the heaviest moments of my career. A song that we played back in ’95/’96 that didn’t even find it’s way into the ’97/’98 Make A Pest A Pet Tour setlist. From that moment on I knew this was going to be a very special night. Possibly one of the most special nights of my life.
All capped off with an entire crowd singing Oh! Canada at the top of their collective lungs, no less.
Though it is easy to keep things in perspective there is nothing wrong with losing one’s self in the moment. I knew that the next morning I would be back in the US and in the comforting breast of my new life but tonight I was 17 years younger. We all were and we were going to enjoy it.
I had been saying for years that I always wanted to do this someday and now it has been done. All that can be done from here is to do it again. I have no answer as to when that could be. Or, as is the most frequently asked question, where. But I can say that this will happen again. Hopefully sooner than later. Only time will tell.
We played songs we hadn’t played since 1993. That’s 22 years ago. We played three songs that had never, ever been played live before. Songs that don’t have an absolutely defined idea of what will happen to them or where they will go or what they will be. Maybe a release someday. I don’t know. Isn’t that the beauty of not knowing? I like to think so.
After our show we moved on to a friend’s club where I had done an acoustic show the previous year called the Trop where we had an after show party. It was a chaotic yet enjoyable time. I only wish the boys in the band could have spent more celebratory time together. We were sucked into the vortex and didn’t really see one another again. Ryan Dahle and I went back to the hotel together and agreed that it had been a magical time. Ryan and I have had our differences over the years and nothing makes me happier than to have those childish things behind us.
I think this show has probably created a momentum that will lead to more. Even Kurt Dahle who carries himself with a certain amount of healthy skepticism seemed to have a good time.
And just like that I was up and back to Vegas.
For those keeping track-
I was OFF tour yet still ON tour.
While in Vegas Fitz and I joined Bob Kulick to watch Grand Funk Railroad which features Bob’s brother Bruce on Guitar. They were playing a the classic Fremont Street casino, the Golden Nugget. It was a great time. Bruce Kulick is an old bandmate of Fitz’s when they were in Union together with John Corabi of Motley Crue.
Bob Kulick is a legend, of course. He has been closely associated with KISS since the very beginning playing on recordings throughout their career. He played on Paul Stanley’s solo tour back in 1988. Eric Singer was the drummer on that tour. He went on to replace Eric Carr for the Revenge album.
Bruce Kulick has been a friend of mine for almost a decade. I first saw him play when I was a kid at the Agridome in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in March of 1985 when he was in KISS on the Animalize tour. Now he’s a friend. Life is funny that way.
The next night the Conspirators went to see the Guess Who at the Cannery Casino in North Vegas. A good time with a bunch of Canadians playing hit after hit after hit.
Funny to have been to see two golden age bands like that two nights in a row. Like Aerosmith it made me think what it’ll be like playing music in 10, 20, 30 years from now. I think it’ll be awesome. Can’t wait.
So now here I am back in LA. In the same hotel I’ve been staying for the past five years off and on.
We played a private show over at the Chrome Hearts factory. Chrome Hearts, the high end, jeweler/clothier. It was an immensely good time. Most especially because I got to meet yet another hero, Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. Steve was there and got up and jammed Rock And Roll by Zeppelin with us. That seemed like the least and most punk rock thing ever at the same time.
Some of you may know that I named my cream Les Paul Custom Jonesy after Steve. He has made a long standing impression on me all of my life.
I also loved the one off album he did with Duff and Matt called the Neurotic Outsiders. I told Matt and Duff at the above Kings Of Chaos rehearsals that if they ever do a Neurotic Outsiders reunion show and John Taylor can’t do it to call me. That’d be a blast. Of course, I’m sure Mr Taylor would be happy to be a part of that.
9/11 showed up again as it does every year. It brings with it terrible memories and pending melancholy.
Kerry Simon passed away. Slash and I played a benefit gig for Kerry a few years ago that included Bill Murray, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Vince Neil, Billy Duffy and Matt Sorum. We were trying to raise money to help save Kerry from his terrible affliction but he, sadly, has succumbed to his disease. It’s heartbreaking but one can only find peace in the idea that he is suffering no more. Little solace but that’s what we cling to.
The other day I stopped by to say hello to Duff at a Hollywood Vampires rehearsal and had a pleasant surprise. Duff and Matt are playing with Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp’s Hollywood Vampires. What a blast.
Sure enough who should walk in but Mr Depp himself. I’d never met the man but he was as charming and as friendly as I could have hoped. He was engaging and thoughtful. We chatted about his new film, Black Mass (which looks amazing). I asked if he had to shave his head as he did in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (one of my faves). He said he didn’t have to this time but told a very amusing story of how he would walk around undetected during the filming of Fear And Loathing as no one could recognize this bald man as the world famous actor, Johnny Depp. The only people who did pay him mind were other bald men who would nod to him as if they were all part of some secret society. I found that to be an amusing story indeed. He told us to stick around as he headed off to his duties but I had rehearsing of my own to do. I’m glad he was a cool guy. You always hope that those kinds of meetings will be positive. I still think Johnny is one of the greats. Ed Wood, Raul Duke, Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow…he has created some almighty characters. I look forward to his next creation.
Alice Cooper said hello and he is always a total gentleman. I never expect these people to remember me and maybe he didn’t but he sure seemed like he did and that’s enough for me. Speaking of ‘the greats’-Alice is in a class all his own.
So yesterday we pressed the pause button on the writing and preproduction chapter for creating SMKCIII so that today we could focus on the World On Fire US/Canada Fall Tour 2015. Before closing the pre production chapter we erased all the titles from our dry erase board from the World On Fire writing sessions. That wasn’t an easy exorcism. I remember writing those titles down as if it were yesterday and here we are ALREADY writing new ones in their place. I won’t give away too much about this chapter of SMKCIII but let it be said that we are well over halfway through the writing of that future album as it stands today. The entire album could be written before the end of 2015. I’m that optimistic. You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…
Today Slash, Fitzy, Frank and I ran through all the songs we are going to play on the upcoming tour. Myles shows up tomorrow for full rehearsal. We will run through it as a refresher and be ready to kill by the first show of the tour this Friday.
For the fall tour we have introduced a limited, one of a kind, white DAMMIT-True, Strong, Free shirt. Created in conjunction with Caffeine Nation for Dammitwear. Caffein Nation is my brudda from down Unda’s company, Andrew Treadwell. Check out his stuff it’s killer.
We’ve never done a white Dammit shirt before. I think it’s time. Stay tuned to when it will be available.
Alright, well it’s now 2:18am September 15 2015 so I should get some rest for the full rehearsal tomorrow. Hope to see you out there helping us set the world on fire!
Though these have been seemingly dark times of late with so many shootings, latent racism, latent homophobia I still believe that we are better than all of this. It is my belief that our children are better than we are. They are going to be a part of a world I hope I live long enough to see. Tolerance, life without fear. Crazy words like ‘brotherhood’ could actually mean something. I am ever hopeful and I hope you can join me in doing the same. Love is bigger than hate. It always has been. It always will be.
Big love to each and every one of you
Your loyal and humble servant,