An Interview with Phil Lewis from L.A. Guns
The “Man In The Moon” era of the band
Rock N Roll Experience: How did the band get back together?
Phil: Tracii came down to one of my side project shows & after he did an Alice Cooper tribute CD, It was called Humanary Stew, alot of good people played on it...Roger Daltry, Slash...I got recruited at the last minute to stand in for David Bowie...they couldn't get him obviously, but it was a real high caliber compilation tribute & I got designated "Billion Dollar Babies" & up until that point I was moving much more into the folky direction, sorta Tom Petty, Bob Dylan like & I didn't really feel that L.A. Guns was the best platform for me to do then & Tracii had been, when we split up after the Viscous Circle CD, he really wanted to do something very heavy along the lines of Pantera, Megadeth like, he was so into that Death Rock thing & it was apparent after Viscous Circle that we were into different things so blah, blah, blah, I went off & I did my folk implosion & enjoyed it tremendously & thought I was so happy doing that & then I got asked to do the Alice Cooper thing & I hadn't sweat in front of a microphone for a long time in like 2 or 3 years & it felt really good. My solo record was called More Purple than Black & when I did this Alice Cooper thing I felt more Black than Purple & it sort of inspired me to want to get down again & Tracii came down to this side project gig I was doing & he got up & jammed & the chemistry was just absolutely there. What we wanted to do is just bottle the enthusiasm we have working with each other as quickly as possible.
Rock N Roll Experience: Can I ask how old you are?
Phil: I'm not telling, (Laughs)
Rock N Roll Experience: How come Kelly didn't play bass on the new CD?
Phil: Because he just had a kid & Before we started touring he found out that he was going to be a Dad so we got somebody to cover for him who worked out pretty well, Muddy & the chemistry was there too with Muddy, it was just like a shot of enthusiasm that we really needed & we wanted the guy that was going to be playing on the tour to play on the record..he was good, he was really good...I'm not saying that Kelly is bad, it's just that he wasn't going to come out after we finished the record so we didn't see much sense in him laying down tracks
Rock N Roll Experience: What ever happened to L.A. Guns prior Drummer Bones?
Phil: We don't know...it's sad because he got in a lot of trouble...we found out that after he joined the band he'd gotten really badly beaten up at a Motley Crue gig in Seattle & ever since that he had Epilepsy & he was a fantastic drummer, he was involved in the first thing I did after I left L.A. Guns, Philthy Lucre & I thought he was the best drummer in town. He got more & more removed & we've lost touch with him & we liked him...it's a great opportunity really to mention that if anybody has any information we'd really appreciate it...you can get in touch with me through our web site which is lagunsweb.com. & any clue or hint would really be great for me & a bunch of us..we're really upset about it, he has alot of friends in LA & we miss him.
Rock N Roll Experience: The track "Spiders Web" off the new CD reminds me of "Never Enough"
Phil: The opening riff is the same opening riff of "Never Enough" & it’s just folly, it's not like we couldn't think of anything else, I just love what the song went into after that & Tracii will tell you that he bought a new piece of equipment & he was testing it so we was just getting a level on the machine & he just banged the first thing he would think of out which was the riff for "Never Enough" & then it went into something & I thought it would be amusing just to keep it...it's nothing like "Never Enough", it's just a riff at the beginning.
Rock N Roll Experience: Was there ever a time that you quit music & worked a day job?
Phil: Yup, I was an audio mixer for Fox Sports & I basically filled & recorded & mixed like 30 second sports trailers.
Rock N Roll Experience: Do you still do that?
Phil: No, when the band started to take off again, I needed more & more time off..it got to were I was spending more time on the bus than on the job & it was impossible for me to do both. I did that for about 3 years.
Rock N Roll Experience: I thought I had seen you on VH-1 where are they now
Phil: Yup, and It's so ironic, those VH-1 things are so weird because my interview in it...I was so adamant that I was never going to be in L.A. Guns again & it was so clear in it & it was a matter of a month after I did that when everything happened & it wasn't just for the money because the deal was there...John Kalodner from Portrait (Records) wanted to sign the band & there were certain things that he wanted control of creatively & it was totally bumming us out & if we had just wanted to money we might have gone, oh well, fuck it, we'll do it. We had something that was too good to be messed with & no disrespect to John, he's got great ears & he's a terrific guy, & I hope to work with him in the future, but under those conditions we didn't feel comfortable so we held out for a little while & Spitfire came to the rescue & we played them 4 or 5 songs that we had been working on & they gave us a deal & we just took it from there & they didn't mess with us creatively, they are an incredibly helpful & useful company & I'm really enjoying working with them
Rock N Roll Experience: How come Mick Cripps only plays Keyboard on the new CD?
Phil: Tracii kinda woodshedded it, it was all of his riffs. Him & Gilby Clarke just locked themselves away in a room & he just let it rip & there was no point in Mick...Tracii wasted more time showing Mick what he wanted so he did them himself. Mick is really into the keyboards anyways, so it worked out good.
Rock N Roll Experience: Do you still collect Alice In Wonderland stuff?
Phil: Yes I do, I've pretty much got everything now so I don't know what else there is, just old books..I get them for my daughter
Rock N Roll Experience: Will you be touring with the Bullet Boys & Faster Pussycat this summer?
Phil: We'll be doing that in June, that's something that I'm really looking forward to, we'll do this promo tour, come home for a few weeks...on the promo tour, we're only playing songs from the new record & that is a breath of fresh air for me...we don't need to rehearse "Sex Action" anymore. It'll be great going out on tour & doing the new stuff, & then coming back & playing "Sex Action" again.
Rock N Roll Experience: Is the song "Beautiful" about someone?
Phil: Not really...maybe about me...it's an interesting story, my Mom died when I was a kid & I lost contact with her side of the family for most of my life & 2 or 3 years ago a girlfriend got a private investigator to see if she could track down any information they had about her side of the family & the guy was successful & I went over & had this big family reunion in Scotland & in Ireland & when I was in Ireland I was delighted that all of my cousins were all musicians, but the guys, my first cousins..their idea of a good time was setting around & passing the acoustic guitar around & they're not like big rock fans or anything, & I really felt great in that environment & the guitar had came to me & I'd already been thinking about the song to me, I know it's called Beautiful, but I think of it as home, because that's the title that I've always used for it & it's about that & then the second verse becomes a little more romantically linked but it's still the same vibe. You just know when you're home, be it with your family or your girl, it's just that feeling
Rock N Roll Experience: Do you see L.A. Guns lasting this time?
Phil: Yeah, hopefully providing the enthusiasm remain & it's definitely a labor of love at the moment
Rock N Roll Experience: What does the title "Man in the Moon" Mean?
Phil: Nothing...it was a working title & I was apologetic about it & everything else that came up as a title was really crappy, so it got to the point where Tracii said, "I don't want to bum you out, but I really like man in the moon." And I said, are you sure, & he goes yeah, yeah, it really fits, it works