The Tracii Guns Group
Michelle LaRose talks with Tracii Guns for Caustic Truths! Magazine
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Being dubbed as “The man who put the Guns in Guns N’ Roses,” Tracii Guns is also “The man with the Midas touch.” Tracii has pioneered the successful Guns N’ Roses, L.A. Guns and Brides Of Destruction. Tracii is currently leading a new band under his own moniker The Tracii Guns Group. The new group should look familiar to L.A. Guns fans with original members Paul Black and Nickey Alexander back in place on vocals and drums respectively.
Tracii’s son Jeremy Guns on bass rounds off the Los Angeles based quartet. Will this venture be as successful as his previous ventures? With a proven track record it seems that Tracii has indeed found the formula for success. We were able to sit down and chat with Tracii about his past, present and future as a professional musician.
Tracii: We were talking about it today. How we’re going to do it, why we’re going to do it and when we’re going to do it. Basically we’re going to get through this tour. Then we’ll get home and start listening to a lot of old music we wrote a long time ago. The singer in this band is Paul Black, he’s the original singer for L.A. Guns and the drummer is Nickey Alexander who’s the original drummer from L.A. Guns. We’re the guys that actually wrote the first L.A. Guns record so we have a lot of other songs we wrote back then that we’re going to listen to and decide if we want to re-record any of those songs. We’re going to write new songs. We’re just taking it one step at a time.
CT: You are only on tour for one month. Why such a short period of time?
Tracii: That’s usually what I do. You tour for a month. Take a month off. Tour for another month. It isn’t like the old days. I have a woman I’ve been with for fifteen years; I have to spend time with her. So we do it just enough to have fun and not get bored. Then we’ll go get creative at home and then we’ll come back out.
CT: We heard you’ve been practicing cover tunes. Do you incorporate any cover songs into your show?
Tracii: Absolutely. We do some Beach Boys and some Aerosmith, New York Dolls, some Stones.
CT: Do you play any L.A. Guns songs in your show?
Tracii: Yeah. We do two Brides songs and twelve or thirteen old L.A. Guns songs. We only play stuff from the first two L.A. Guns records and the cover songs.
CT: Can you tell us how you go about the song writing process and what inspires you?
Tracii: It’s different all the time. The best songs are usually the ones where I come up with a little tiny piece of music and you jam with the band then a melody happens before a lyric, vocal melody happens. Those are always the best ones because they happen really fast and I like writing that way. But there’s nothing wrong with sitting down with a couple of guitars and hammering out a cool song. The easiest way is just to jam on a riff. That’s the way Jimmi Hendrix did it. Of course that’s just my opinion because I’m a lazy bastard. Songs come in many ways and forms. I really believe that musicians don’t really write the stuff. It comes from somewhere. Know what I mean? It flows through you. Maybe it flows through you from something you’ve heard in your life or something you’ve heard recently, something that influenced you. It’s really difficult to just sit down and say, “Let’s write a song.” Then you’re putting pressure on yourself. I really don’t like to do that. I like when it just kind of flows. Kind of like life in general. I like it when it just flows. I just go with the flow.
Tracii: Not really. She wanted me to be a Doctor or a Lawyer or a Veterinarian. She’s kind of like a white trash hippie, if that makes any sense. You know, “Do as I say and not as I do” kind of a person. Very contradictory to the Gemini. My dad was very supportive. My dad, he’s also a guitar player. My Uncle’s actually the one who taught me to play guitar. They’re the one’s that really supported me. When L.A. Guns got signed my Mom kind of forced her way into being the President of our fan club. Which is a very thankless task. I don’t know if you’ve ever known anybody that’s ran a fan club. The band doesn’t give a shit. People don’t give a shit about people that create jobs for themselves. I have a mom that’s kind of like that.
CT: It sounds like she’s supportive now.
Tracii: No, no, no. She was looking for a paycheck.
CT: Jeremy Guns is playing bass for you. Is he related to you? How so?
Tracii: That’s my son. My oldest son. I have two.
CT: Is this the first time he’s come out to play with you like this?
Tracii: No. He actually played bass in The Brides right before Christmas last year. He’s old enough to do it. He’s got it together.
CT: How old is he?
Tracii: Twenty-three. Yeah, so he knows what he’s doing. I’m with the three guys now that I want to be with. Period.
CT: You had your 1960 Les Paul stolen from a rehearsal studio years ago. Was it ever recovered?
Tracii: Never recovered. It’s weird because some of the shittier guitars were though.
CT: You had other guitars stolen?
Tracii: Yeah. That was the expensive one. I had a double-neck stolen. A Gibson double-neck. A couple of Flying V’s. Both Flying V’s were recovered. The double-neck and the 1960 Les Paul weren’t. I bet those are worth fucking bank right now! I could buy a house with that guitar!
CT: Is there anything you’d like to say to the rat’s that have been taking your guitars?
Tracii: You will meet your maker.
Tracii: Theft is a crime!
Tracii: No reason in particular. What had happened was… I was still on tour with The Brides and Kevin and Frankie got a hold of Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records. He was my partner on the last Brides record. He thought I’d be interested. One of my favorite guitar players was Randy Rhodes and he started Quiet Riot. I’ve been friends with Frankie and Kevin for a long time. I think they jumped the gun. We never got in a rehearsal room. I was still on tour. We weren’t going to make an announcement until after the New Year. Somehow it leaked out. We really didn’t have the details worked out. The day we finally got together, we got together to audition bass players. It just didn’t feel that good. It had nothing to do with me not being good or them not being good. It just didn’t really feel right. So I just called them the next day and said, “You know, I think you can find someone better for this.” “Awe man! Come on dude!” I’m like, “Let’s just stay friends.” Inevitably, you work with people you know and that are older and you end up not being friends when it’s over. It’s better this way.
CT: You wrote songs for their new album. Will they still use the songs on their new album?
Tracii: I don’t think they’re going to use them. If they do, I’m sure they would give me credit. They actually had a bunch of stuff written already, I learned some of the stuff. That was the uncomfortable part. The stuff that I was writing for them is stuff that I pictured… Like, what would make Quiet Riot great? That’s what I was thinking. What would make this band mind-blowing? So I wrote some pretty crazy classical metal, in your face cool shit. They were stoked. They were really like, “Wow!” They can use it because I did write it specifically for them. But I don’t know.
CT: If they don’t use the songs, is it something we might see on your next album?
Tracii: Probably not. Probably not. No. I just turned forty and I made a promise to myself that when I turned forty if I was still playing I was going to strip it down to Rock-N-Roll. I don’t want to be playing metal in my forties. It’s kind of like being the oldest guy hanging out at the club looking at eighteen year olds. It’s awkward for me. I like all the L.A. Guns music I wrote. I’m sticking to that kind of format, Stonesy, bluesy hard rock. I think that’s where it’s at for me.
CT: What are your goals for the Tracii Guns Group?
Tracii: I don’t have any. I’m going with the flow. I’ve achieved every goal I’ve wanted to do for the past twenty years. I don’t really have any goals other than to have a really happy band where we get along and we just love being in the band without having an ulterior motive.
CT: No pressure.
Tracii: Well there’s always going to be pressure because we’re adults. When your adults you have to maintain your life style and you have to do things like that so there’s going to be pressure. Any goals that we’re going to have in the future. I think they’re pretty much going to be self-driven goals. They’re going to be goals that we’re going to be able to attain on our own with as little help as possible from the music business. We were talking today about connecting with our fans in a more direct way when it comes to new music and things like that. No deadlines. No release dates. We’re older than most of the snotty little guys in the music business. We’re more knowledgeable. So when I say we really don’t have any goals… Of course we have goals but we have to decide what those goals are.
CT: We see you are on myspace.com which has become an Internet phenomenon. Do you actively partake on your myspace page?
Tracii: Oh absolutely! One of the coolest things for musicians is myspace. It’s kind of taken the place of Sunset Strip. Everybody gets together there. They email each other at 2:30 in the morning, “Hey! Come over! Let’s fuck!”
Tracii: [Laughing] Yeah! But it’s really great networking for musicians. I see a lot of younger bands on there. It makes it possible for you to hear people’s music and decide if you like it or not. That’s how music should really be. It’s a personal choice. It shouldn’t be crammed down your throat. I really like myspace. I feel that people are very respectful on myspace as well. I don’t really read negative stuff on there about anybody. I really like it. I really do.
CT: I think we’re friends because I requested to be your friend a while back… if you accepted me.
Tracii: Oh cool! I did! I accept everybody. I want lots of friends.
Paul Black: [Friends] That come over to fuck you!
Tracii: Hey was that you?
CT: The jig is up!
CT: Do you think myspace helps build your fan base?
Tracii: Sure! I think in particular the internet, anywhere there is a large gathering of music fans, any band that is actively involved…There’s nothing cooler to the fans than getting a response to a question they have. Music or your lifestyle or who you’ve been shagging.
Tracii: It’s cool you know. I think there’s a line though. You can take it so far, you gotta’ be careful. It is a great place for music, the Internet. All those web sites are great.
CT: Can you tell us a little bit about the artwork on your arms?
Tracii: Wow. I don’t remember.
CT: Is there one that has special meaning to you?
Tracii: [Showing right forearm] Well, that’s my girlfriend. I’ve been with her for fifteen years. I got that fourteen years ago.
CT: She’s cute!
Tracii: That’s when she was seventeen. She’s hot as shit still! It’s just a bunch of tattoo’s I’ve got over the years. [Drilling into arm] “Hey, lemme’ tattoo ya’!”
CT: You have the sleeves. They say it’s like potato chips, once you start you can’t stop.
Tracii: Pretty much. But then you finally get to the end. It’s like, hmmmm? I want to start over!
CT: You ran out of space.
Tracii: Yeah. I pretty much have.
CT: Thank you for taking the time to speak with Caustic Truths today.
Tracii: All right. Cool!