Cleopatra Records released ?Hollywood Rocks? book a short time ago that was promoted by the Hollywood Rocks tour featuring LA Guns. The label has followed this release with a 4-CD box set featuring songs from arguably the greatest hard rock era of its time. In the compilation you will find demos, b-sides, live and rare tracks from the bands that made Sunset Strip what it was – Dokken, Ratt, Jetboy and many, many others. With so many bands on this project, I decided to interview the man behind the release ? Cleopatra Record?s Tim Yasui who gave the lowdown on this new release. You can check out their website at www.cleorecs.com to get more information.
How did the Hollywood Rocks project come about?
The HOLLYWOOD ROCKS book was the brainchild of Cleopatra Records? owner BRIAN PERERA. He came up with the concept of a coffee table book consisting of a photo album from Hollywood?s Sunset Strip glory days. We worked on this project together for two years and the final result was awesome! In 2004 our HOLLYWOOD ROCKS! book hit the streets and quickly became a cult favorite.
How hard was it to put the book together?
The hardest thing about putting this book together was collecting and editing the content. When you?re trying to put together a visual product based on a scene that included literally thousands of participants ? bands, solo artists, clubs, retail stores, salons, photographers, writers, magazines, radio stations ? it is nearly impossible to get it ALL without missing someone. We?d have to make it over 1,000 pages long to get everyone and that just wasn?t possible.
Has the book sold better than expected?
The hardcover version of the book sold out immediately but the soft cover version didn?t perform as well. The Japanese responded that their fans wanted an entire book about a single band, like a GUNS N ROSES book or a MOTLEY CRUE book and thought that our book simply had ?too many bands??also, since we are not a book publisher, we had to sell this book thru our music distributor who initially had a tough time figuring it out but eventually the laws of supply and demand combined with an excellent product evened up the playing field to our advantage.
Tell me about the boxed set coming out (bands, recordings, etc.).
Ah, the CD BOXSET. This was my idea ? after the incredible book was being put together I looked at it and asked my boss ?why don?t we put out a soundtrack and a MOVIE based on this awesome book?? Brian said ?great idea? and so I wrote a small typed line on the inside of the book for bands to mail me their demos, b-sides and unreleased songs from 1978 thru 1992 (we eventually allowed 2 songs from 1993 as a favor) and the flood gates were open! I originally envisioned a double disc set of one CD and one DVD but due to the volume of the submissions, Brian pointed out that we had enough audio to comprise an entire 4 CD box set and that we?d produce the ?movie? at a later date.
How hard was it sifting through so many great songs to finally pick the ones that made it?
It was incredibly hard to sift thru the countless submissions, some obviously of better quality than others. Luckily, Cleopatra Records is based in Los Angeles, California so we have an advantage over other record labels in that most of these bands are still living here! We were also limited to an era, like I said, and had to eliminate any mid 90?s, late 90?s and millennium recordings. Finally, the title of HOLLYWOOD ROCKS pretty much skewed our tastes to all that rocked hard, and thus there are no hard core punk bands, ska bands, r&b bands, rap bands, etc. on this release.
Are the songs all originals, demos or a combination of both?
The songs that make up the final 78 track, 4 CD box set are a combination of demo recordings, b-sides, unreleased studio versions, live versions and an occasional licensed track from a major label or two (i.e. we licensed the Poison track, the W.A.S.P. track, the Armored Saint track, etc.)
How much different is this release compared to all the 80’s compilations that are out there already (Monster Rocks, etc.)?
It is entirely different in that those other 80s compilations are usually 100% reissued tracks that you probably already own. Where else can you get a DOKKEN demo track with JEFF PILSON singing? Or where else can you find GEORGE LYNCH?s band from his teenage years? Or the ZEROS unreleased demo or JAMIE ST. JAMES first BLACK N BLUE demo BEFORE Gene Simmons produced him? The answer is right here on our HOLLYWOOD ROCKS! box set.
I see that some of your band’s songs made it on there. How does that feel to be part of such a big compilation?
Ah, it feels GREAT! My boss is a great guy to work for, and we met when he came to see SPIDERS & SNAKES open for Bret Michaels/POISON. In fact our first project together was putting a SPIDERS & SNAKES version of the MOTLEY CRUE hit ?Public Enemy # 1? on the Cleopatra Records ?Tribute to Motley Crue? back in 1999. Also, I was the 13th drummer in the legendary band LONDON, who deserved to be on this whether or not I was in that band AND this was indeed a rare, out of print track!
Why was the last T in Ratt taken out on the project?
Keith that?s a GREAT QUESTION! You are definitely paying attention. We HAD to remove the 2nd T in Ratt for legal reasons, and I will have to leave it at that (when you?re in Hollywood the next time, we?ll talk about that over a cold beer! hee-hee)
Will there be another ‘Hollywood Rocks’ tour to promote the boxed set as was with the book’s release? And if so, who might be on it?
Believe it or not, I?ve been getting phone calls from Europe from various personnel who are asking me and Lizzie to be part of a proposed LONDON reunion. Also, SPIDERS & SNAKES may possibly be part of a U.S. based HOLLYWOOD ROCKS tour so anything is possible!
Do you have contact with some of the bands that are on the release, that have not been together for some time?
Well, I had to be contact with almost everyone, or their manager or agent at least. If I wasn?t in contact with them, then the owner was or our legal department was. Many bands came thru licensing thru their respective agents or copyright holders so a few didn?t need to be contacted personally
Will you follow this up with a DVD release?
Yes, that was one of my original ideas: a soundtrack to the book and then HOLLYWOOD ROCKS: The Movie which will be filmed ?Documentary Style? at our Record Release Party/Performance at the KEY CLUB on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005!
What are some of the memories that you have of this time of great music and good times?
Highlights include when I joined the band LONDON a year after I graduated from College in early 1988 and toured the U.S. with them! I also had a chance to earn my S.A.G. card with LONDON when we performed the song ?Nothing Happens Till It Happens To You? in the Roger Corman movie HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD PART II. SPIDERS & SNAKES actually got signed at the end of this fabulous era and were fortunate enough to have two albums distributed by RED/SONY distribution, a video on MTV (finally) and mega-endorsement deals. Recording with Lizzie for 7 albums was a gift that I still don?t take for granted and if I had to do it all over again ? where do I sign up for that?
Some say there will never be a scene like the ‘Sunset Strip’ scene. Do you agree?
It will never happen again
Even though in the early 90’s, these bands took a beating, this genre of music has made a decent comeback, as shown by the Motley Crue tour. Why do you think that is?
Everything goes in cycles?in the 80?s Rhino Records made a fortune recycling 1960?s material?in the 90?s even TV shows like ?That 70?s Show? made a huge impact with the nation?now it?s the millennium and everything ?80s is coming back?do the math, every 20 years, that era comes back
Anything else you’d like to add or promote about this new release?
You really can?t read about this release to appreciate it. You have to buy the package, look at the beautiful 75-page color book inside, check out the killer 4 color laminated ?back stage? pass and the free collectible 4 color button! You just can?t download that shit!