Exclusive Interview with George Lynch!
Somewhere in the bowels of the Hard Rock Casino, George Lynch silently and stealthily sneaks toward the stage. George Lynch is the ninja of electric guitar. I envision Lynch ducking and weaving between the rows of slots and go-go dancers on the casino floor…slowly and methodically making his way towards his gig with the Sin City Sinners. His arrival is heralded by the presence of stern bouncers and a tiger striped Stratocaster but there is still no physical sign of Lynch. Then from the darkness comes the fist in your face.
We conversed briefly with George after his high volume, high speed guitar barnstorming and asked all the questions that really must be answered. What are his plans with his latest band, the Souls of We? What does George think of the Guitar Hero explosion? What’s going on with Don Dokken?! George also answered the infamous A-Team question with a new twist.
Veni, Vidi, Lynch!
BNR: Your new project is Souls of We and your album, Let the Truth Be Known was released earlier this month. Do you have any plans to tour with them?
GL: It's sort of a difficult situation with Souls of We because these are all high caliber musicians that do lots of other things, and to be able to take that on the road we really gotta have something substantial to tour with. So the catch 22 is that the name isn't that well known so the demand isn't there and if the demand isn't there the money isn't there. We were offered the Black Label/Sevendust tour but the money was so low we would have had to pull money out of our pockets to do it...and we all got families, we all got obligations. I don't know and what we're thinking of doing is maybe just bundling up our stuff and taking it on the road ourselves and going out there and just taking the music to the people, I think that's the only way we're gonna get out there.
BNR: So is that something that ideally you would like to be your full-time gig?
GL: I would love it to be but I'm looking at Souls as a work in progress and as something that will have to grow, hopefully not gradually but if gradually, I'll be happy with that as long as we can do another record.
BNR: I saw a couple people with your album tonight and it had the cover with the skull, but everywhere online I see the Robert Johnson one. What was the inspiration behind that?
GL: Well, it was one of my big influences and I started out playing blues; some Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and those kind of guys. But when it came time for a general, real record release the label got a little nervous about name and likeness which is understandable.
BNR: Yeah, then you get the lawsuits and what not...
GL: ...From the estate of Robert Johnson, so we changed it up which made it kind of interesting because we released a thousand with Robert Johnson and we signed them all.
BNR: What gear did you use on that album, guitar wise?
GL: I used an LTD baritone and for solos I used my tiger guitar, mostly. For amps I used Lynch Boxes with a variety of modules and a combination of old Hiwatt cabinets and Lynch Box cabinets with Eminence speakers.
BNR: Did you have the giant Lynch stack? I've seen those in a few guitar stores. It's towering.
GL: I've got a few of those, but when you record you only need one. More does not necessarily sound bigger in the studio. Less is more.
BNR: You're a pretty disciplined musician, what percentage of your life is dedicated to just playing the guitar?
GL: A very, very small percentage unfortunately. I wouldn't say small, that probably isn't accurate, but I spend a lot more time on the business of music rather than the playing of music. My obligations to play are so heavy that I've got a guitar in my hands a lot of the time, but as far as sitting around and doing disciplined practicing and tearing stuff apart and reading and expanding my knowledge base, I unfortunately don't get to do much of that.
BNR: That's kind of odd because you normally hear about the Guitar Dojo and everything...
GL: Yeah, well… I've been playing 44 years so I have a nice backlog of stuff to draw from.
BNR: Back to the Souls of We, did you have a different approach to writing and recording or was it just kind of the same 'ol George Lynch banging away?
GL: This record has been a very strange process. The earliest ideas on the record started out as a project called Stone House when I lived in Northern California and had a studio. That band never really happened... that was something I released for a second on my website. It never turned into a released record. Then from there I went and did LP which came out with Jeff Pilson. Right after that I jumped into a thing called Microdot and that was with London LeGrand as well. London, in the middle of that project skipped over to Brides of Destruction, so that sorta got put on the back burner but we had those songs as well, some of which ended up on this record...one did. Then I went to Henson studios where I had a production room for two years and had a band called Band of Flakes with Jason Slater from Snake River Conspiracy. London was gonna be in that as well and Scott Coogan on drums and so forth. It was sort of a post-Alice In Chains kind of a feel and it was very, very cool. That's where "Push It" came from; "Key of Noise" came from that and I think one other song. That's also a project that fell apart due to the fact that nobody ever showed up except me, thus the name The Band of Flakes. So then I started writing for something, I didn't even know what it was going to be. I just thought, "Ok, this is a new project, this is a George Lynch record, I don't know what it's going to be called." Wrote about eight or nine songs over the period of a year, recorded them; spent a lot of time on it. We called it Starfish just for a working title, West Hollywood Starfish. So that ended up also not going anywhere. I sent it to my management company they went, "Eh, keep working," and I go, "Ok..." And then at that point I shifted gears, and what really ended up being Souls of We was about half the record was a culmination of ideas from all those projects, changed up a bit, obviously, and the other half new ideas that I started writing at that point. It wasn't like you sit down with a band and write a record and go record, it wasn't anything like that. It was just spread out over five years. Five years, lots of musicians, lots of studios, lots of engineers...big different periods of time and inspirations... and I think that's why the record's so rich in depth is that it has all that history in it. And then at the 11th hour we pulled Johnny and Yael and London and myself together and that's the band. And hopefully we'll be able to get out and represent.
BNR: If you were a character from the A-Team, who would it be and why?
GL: Uhh...I'm not even that familiar with that...what's that?
BNR: The show from the 80s.
GL: Hmmm...not to familiar..., I don't watch too much TV.
BNR: That's probably our most original A-Team answer so far, because normally they all go with Face, but you're like, "The A-Team, I've never seen it."
GL: I don't know that one. (Looks puzzled)
BNR: You were probably on tour during the whole run of that.
GL: I was probably high the whole time.
BNR: Your house is burning down and you can only grab one guitar, what do you grab?
GL: Can I grab two?
BNR: OK, I'll give you two.
GL: That's a no-brainer; it's not even an interesting answer...the tiger, which I built myself so it has a lot of meaning to me and my skeleton guitar.
BNR: I haven't seen you play that yet, but it's funny, that was the first time I saw a Dokken video was you and the skeleton...
GL: ..."It's Not Love" in the back of the truck there. I take that out when I go out on the road and I use that for "Mr. Scary."
BNR: What was the coolest car you owned in the 80s?
GL: A '73 built Pantera...got in a lot of trouble with that...very dangerous.
BNR: Less than other people though...
GL: Yeah...it's up on the wall at Hall-Pantera. If you go to Paramount and go to Hall-Pantera in California it's up on the wall, and that's where I used to get my car worked on so that's how I know that.
BNR: You are an actual guitar hero, what do you think about the Guitar Hero games?
GL: I think it inspires a lot in interest in guitar but I don't think it's relative to guitar. I think it might be a transitional thing, it could introduce people to the idea of wanting to play real guitar but I haven't met anybody that's good at one and good at the other. I know lots of shreddy guitar players that couldn't play a note on guitar hero, including myself, and lots of kids that can get to the Dragonforce level with one hand tied behind their back, blindfolded and couldn't play a C chord. I know Best Buy is starting to sell musical instruments and I think that makes sense because you get these people that are Rock Band and Guitar Hero and they are going to want to make the transition to real music.
BNR: Are there any guitar players of this new generation that you admire or if you think they are the up and coming studs?
GL: Alexi Leiho from Children of Bodom, and this other guy isn't a new guy but I really like this guy - Mattias from Freak Kitchen from that genre if you're talking heavy music. I like Joe Bonham as well.
BNR: A couple of months ago I read an an excerpt of an interview and you were talking about Dokken and you were saying basically that you and Don wouldn't have a problem with it (a reunion) and you're pretty much just waiting until the right time. Is that the situation, are you guys still on hold?
GL: Well, there's no dialogue there so I don't know. That's really an unanswerable question. I mean, I'm totally fine with it but to get four people at our age, at our points in our careers where everybody's really busy...Mick Brown's in Ted Nugent working his ass off, Jeff has been in Foreigner for four years making tons of money, having tons of success...why? You know, what's the point? I think the problem has always been...people go, "It’s personalities," it's not. It's really money. It's always behind all of it.
BNR: It’s management behind it saying, "Hey, you guys should hook up so we can make some money."
GL: Uhh, no. It's within the band. There's certain components of the band that are very much thinking that it's all about them. My position is, and I think most of the rest of the guys is, that unless it's going to be an equitable situation like it was for most of the time we were together, that it just isn't going to happen. I think Don enjoys having the control of his Dokken tribute band, so good for him.
BNR: So if it happens, it happens and if not that's cool also?
GL: Oh yeah, I'm down. If they gave me my 25%, we go and do a real record; no games, no bullshit, no lies, everything's up and up and transparent and go out and create some closure for the fans and ourselves, I think that would be a wonderful thing for everybody. Everybody wins, why not? But uh, a lot of egos there... The thing is, you get bands that achieve some success and then they break up and there's always this one-upmanship thing going on, you know.
BNR: Yeah, it's kinda like Humpty Dumpty, right? It's never the same.
GL: "I don't need you guys!" "No, well, I don't need you either!" Well, maybe the people that we worked so hard to get to, that we sold them on our music and they loved the band and the personalities... maybe we should give them this and it wouldn't be a bad thing for anybody. Its music, it's a lot better than having a day job!
BNR: Yeah it is!
GL: They're offering us millions of dollars to go back! Your own T.V. show, your own record, giant tour all around the world... "Nah!" Fuck! That shit pisses me off. I try to do everything I can. I work as hard as I can. I say no to very little; thus, why I'm here tonight. I don't necessarily have to do this, but it keeps my chops up and keeps me busy. I never ever try to pretend I'm a rock star, I don't give a fuck because you go up, you come down and meet the same people on the way down, then you gotta live with yourself. Try to stay humble…and play the best I can and stay relevant, and that's all you can do. But when you get involved with other people that don't think that way, you get the conflicts.
Thanks to George Lynch for taking the time to talk to us and to the Sin City Sinners for having awesome guests!