the years LA Guns who incidentally have sold over six million albums
worldwide, have had a few line-up changes. But none on them held that
special magic of the original members Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Steve
Riley and Mike Cripps. Synonymous with other legendary bands of that
era including Guns 'N' Roses, LA Guns are back (with the help of Muddy
on bass taking over from Kelly Nickels) to show the younger bands how
it's done. Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns have finally resolved their differences
and moved on, producing what is probably one of their finest albums.
'Man In The Moon' took just two months to complete.
Lewis begins. "It's the most impulsive album I've ever worked on.
We threw it together because we knew what we wanted. When we got back
together we knew it was important for us to bury all the past bullshit
and figure out what it is about the band that we and our fans love the
With the rift between Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis now firmly put behind
them, Phil can now look back and see where things went wrong.
"We were really unhappy with each other. Tracii wanted to take
the band in one direction
dark and heavy
like Pantera, and
I wanted a completely different sound - more like Tom Petty or Oasis
and of course it's LA Guns
It took us a little time apart for
us to come to that conclusion."
little time being a five-year gap in which Phil took time out to pursue
solo projects. This included his band The Liberators working alongside
musical comrades Eric Stacey and Brent Muscat of Faster Pussycat. But
at one point he stepped out of the music world altogether. Phil looks
back on this period in his life as a time of personal growth.
"After we finished recording 'Vicious Circle' in 1994 I decided
I didn't want to be in a band anymore
I didn't want to be connected
with the music business
I just wanted to stay at home with my
kid. But I was aware of the realities. I was going to have to get a
Having sampled the rock 'n' roll lifestyle Lewis was not content to
work in any old mundane job. Changing spark plugs or working in McDonalds
held no appeal for the ex-rock musician.
"I got a job at Fox Sports Network as a sound editor
I didn't put ex-rockstar on my resume," reflects Phil.
Even though he was working with other ex-musicians, most of his contemporaries
were unaware of his high profile past with LA Guns
though it was
only going to be a matter of time before his anonymity was blown.
Phil explains. "I was still doing weekend gigs at that time. I
asked my drummer to fax me over a bunch of local dates that we were
going to be doing over the weekend. The next morning it had been intercepted
by my work colleagues. They'd put two and two together and gone to a
website where they had dug up this old picture of me with huge teased
hair and eye shadow
it was on every monitor of every studio of
the whole facility. It was agony."
or not, once a rockstar always a rockstar at heart.
"I began to yearn for it a little bit more," remembers Phil.
"I did an Alice Cooper tribute which George Lynch played guitar
When I did 'Billion Dollar Babies' I got a real sweat up. I
noticed Tracii had started coming down for some of my local gigs."
This was a turning point for Lewis. Once again he felt the need to return
to his musical roots and with changes taking place in his personal life
too, the timing was right.
"My kid and her mum moved back to Texas
so there was no point
in me staying on at Fox. The only reason I was doing it was for her."
back into LA Guns was very therapeutic for their former frontman.
"It was ironic that the very band I 'd run away from came to my
rescue. You see I had sheltered in domestic bliss and when that bliss
turned into a fireball, the band gave me salvation. I lived with somebody
with severe mental problems and that freaked me out
that particular trauma now behind him, Phil has managed to air a few
ghosts through his songwriting. This is very evident on tracks 'Don't
Call Me Crazy' and 'Beautiful' off the new album.
"I write about things that happen to me now. Those songs are autobiographical.
In the old Girl days I wrote these little vignettes
concepts. I was trying to be something that people wanted me to be,
rather than being myself."
Looking back Lewis has mixed feelings about where 'Girl' was coming
"Girl weren't exactly prolific musicians
it was about bluffing
it. Whatever they wanted to hear, we'd make it up!" he quips referring
to the music press.
Phil pauses for a moment before changing the subject.
"Do you want to hear my list of my favourite British people? Starting
with Eddie Izzard
he made a little bit of a splash over here in
America. But they didn't like him; he was just way too weird. The next
one is Richard E. Grant
they went bananas over him. But my big
English hero at the moment is Shirley Manson of Garbage. I think she
I grab every magazine that she is featured in
I love her singing
It's obvious Phil is still very much a Brit at heart as he goes on to
reel off the next few names including author Will Self who wrote a book
called 'How The Dead Live', all about 'the other side'.
"Its just fucking amazing," enthuses the vocalist. "If
you read it you won't ever want to die. All that spiritual thing and
it just turns it on its head. There's more to all
this than meets the eye
a bit more than they teach in Sunday school."
now has a philosophical approach life.
"I think I'm a better person now. I came over to LA in the middle
of a raging storm. I could basically get away with pulling all kinds
of shit that I shouldn't have
I've run into people that I did
stuff to. I realise I was a prick; it was due to bravado and insecurity.
I make my apologies to anyone that I was mean to."
He pauses for a moment.
"I know we can make great music
great albums. I don't need
to be a prick anymore."
On The Moon' is out now on Spitfire Records.
Visit www.laguns.net for more info.