INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Tommy Henriksen is an American musician from New York who is best known from his current work as a guitarist / songwriter for Alice Cooper’s band and Hollywood Vampires. Henriksen is also a solo artist and sought-after songwriter, arranger, producer and mixer. He has worked with, among others: Lady Gaga, Meat Loaf, Lou Reed and Halestorm. For the last year and a half, the Alice Cooper band has toured the world with Motley Crue. In November, the tour finally arrived in Finland. I met a good-humored Tommy in Helsinki, and here is a summary of our interesting conversation which runs through Tommy’s past career and future projects.
THE MOTLEY TOUR
Let’s start with this current Alice Cooper/ Motley Crue tour which has been going on like 18 months already or so?
Tommy Henriksen Almost two years, yeah.
Anyway, this tour is going to end in a few weeks and then Motley Crue will retire for good. How has this tour has been, and what does Motley Crue means to you on personal level?
The only thing I’m sad about is that we’re not playing the last three shows in Los Angeles; we’re not closing it with them. Because we have to do this charity thing in Maui. That’s the only thing that I’m really bonded about, so is the rest of the guys in the band and Alice. Because we don’t get to finish it. We start it, we finish, we put… you know? For me it’s been amazing tour, because I’ve been a Motley Crue fan since TOO FAST FOR LOVE on the Leathür Records. I’ve been a huge fan of those first two records. So to actually finish a tour with those guys and the farewell tour and become really good friends with those guys, especially with Mick and Nikki. It’s been a great tour and they’re just sweet guys.
You’ve been a fan of Motley Crue for a long time, but have you ever worked with them?
I’m actually working with Mick on his solo record. We’ve already done, we’ve finished three songs, and we’ve got like 20, and we’re going to finish it up. We’ve been working on it on the road. We’ve got some great stuff and Motley Crue fans are really going to love this, because it sounds like old Motley. Like the SHOUT AT THE DEVIL album, like the real heavy rock stuff. I think everyone is going to be really pleasantly surprised at how good it is!
There are lots of rumors about that album, who will be involved etc. For example, John Corabi’s name has been mentioned on many occasions. Want to comment on those speculations in some way?
Right now, the only guys around are Mick and myself “Laughs”. Corabi – I don’t know. It’s still in the early stages of where Mick wants to go with it, but right now the three songs we have, Corabi wasn’t part of any of them. They sound amazing. But it’s up to Mick, whatever Mick wants to do. If Corabi wants to do songs with us, whatever he wants. To write, sing. I’m cool with of any of it. Because I love John’s voice and I love him with the Scream and the Motley record that they did together.
I think that MOTLEY CRUE is the strongest album they ever did.
Yeah, it’s a great record. That record. I love that. “Hooligan’s Holiday” is still like I think one of the best songs Motley ever wrote.
WORKING WITH ALICE COOPER
You have been working with Alice since WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE. Tell us about when you first met Alice Cooper and how you ended up working with him.
I’ve known Alice, I’ve worked for Alice in ’95 as a road man. I was Ryan Roxie’s, Reb Beach’s and Paul Taylor’s tech for a couple of weeks then. That’s how I met Alice the first time and then I worked with this band called Still Standing, that one of the guys was dating Calico. Alice came to my house another time and that was in like 2000 and something. How I got back working with Alice was, I moved to Nashville 2008-2009. I was working with the band and Bob Ezrin wanted to sign them to his label. The band got, I don’t know. They took another deal from somewhere else and then Bob approached me and said; I love your production on it, I want you to work on something for me. The first project I worked on with Bob was Lou Reed. I did that and then Bob was like; me and you, we’re going to do everything together. Then all over sudden, the funny story was; we were working on a bunch of other projects and stuff like that. He said; Tommy, Shep wants me to do this. Redo it for Alice thing for Guitar Hero and he’s like; I don’t have any time to do it. Could you do it? I was like; yeah, I’d love to do it. So I started doing it and then Bob was listening to what we were doing and he’s like; alright, cool. I’ll do it with you. Then after we finished like “School’s Out”, because I wanted it to sound like the original. I just talked to Bob. He was like; dude, Alice is going to come in here and you guys are going to start working together again. That’s exactly what happened, Alice came in. He was like; let’s do WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE. Then that’s when Bob looked at me and he’s like; let’s get to work. That’s just how it happened. Then were in the studio and then Steve Hunter came in and I was playing… I have my studio, I’m engineering. I’ve got a guitar next to me, I have a bass next to me. I have a keyboard over here with Bob playing it. I have a vocal mic over there. I’m doing the job, we’re like 10 people and I’m doing all the stuff. As we were working on the stuff and Alice just looked over at me and says; I want you in my band. I was like; Okay. Here I am! Plus I engineer, I mix, I produce. A lot of other stuff; I do song writing, I know the song writing. I’m always writing songs. I also mixed the LIVE AT WACKEN DVD and that too came out really good.
I have listened to a lot of WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE but I think that the album is a little confusing because there are so many different styles of music mixed together. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think of WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE album?
I know. It’s like Alice’s nightmare of going, like each song is a different nightmare for him. That’s what it is. Whether it be he’s on a runaway train going on that one and he’s in a disco from hell, then he’s in this other thing where he’s going to bite someone’s face off. So it’s all his dreams, like you’d have to ask him about that more. But that’s kind of what I thought. That’s why we’re doing all these songs, we had so many songs. There was a couple of songs that didn’t make that record, that I still think are made like; one of them in particular was “Under the Bed”, which I thought they missed that one. That to me is like the best song that didn’t make to the record. We had another song called “Vicious”, that I thought was amazing that we did with Desmond Child. That was like the “Poison” thing, really good song. I would imagine that we will probably go back to that one of these days. I thought these songs which one is called “When Hell Comes Home”, that’s one of my favorite songs on the record and the ballad that Dick Wagner did. Those two songs to me are like amazing songs, my favorites anyway.
The original guys, the Alice Cooper group members Neal Smith, Dennis Dunaway and Michael Bruce also participated on the album. How was it to work with them?
I’ve known these guys since I’ve been in Alice pretty much. I love the way Neal plays drums and Dennis is one of my all times favorite bass player. Michael Bruce, same thing, he’s written the most amazing songs. I work with these guys all time, it’s great.
Overall, the critics loved WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE, but it wasn’t a big commercial success. How important are the sales figures for you or Alice these days?
No one is buying records these days, like a commercial success. People selling 10,000 units is a commercial success. Alice makes records because he wants to, he’s not making records because he’s trying to win people over it. It’s because he likes to be creative, he’s always working. The same thing with Bob Ezrin. Bob is always working, he doesn’t have to work. But he loves doing what he does, that’s his thing. It’s like we’re doing it out of passion. We’re not doing this… We have to make records, it’s the same thing going back to Mick Mars. I said to Mick, I was like; “dude, we make a record for the fans. We’re not making a record to sell units, we’re making a record to give back to the Motley Crue fans.”
When I’m making records with Alice or Mick, I’m thinking; I’m a fan. Who do I want to hear as a fan? I don’t want to hear you guys trying to do something it sounds like… I want to hear you guys do what you do. That’s what I want to hear.
You mentioned earlier that Alice has the intention to make a new album. Please tell us something about what you have in mind this time?
Yeah. We just started talking about it. But we’ve already got some great ideas and great songs, like ideas are just flowing around right now. But I know he wants to do a record with this band, like this touring band. No outside musicians or something like… He just said he wants to do a record with this band and will see what happens with that. We’re all excited about it, like myself, Ryan, Chuck, Glen and Nita.
The last album, which he did on that method was THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER and that’s a great one.
Yeah, it’s what he said. He said he wants to go back and he wants to make something really street garage rock. Not a lot of production. I was like; I love it. Plus if we do something like that, we can do that really easy and simply. We all will take part of it, it will be a collaborative effort on all of us.
Next, I would like to talk about a new interesting band called the Hollywood Vampires. If someone doesn’t know, this band is a real super group which includes you, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, and many others. When and how did this project originally start?
Yeah, Hollywood Vampires has been so good. It’s been in the making for about three years and it’s just one of those things, where Alice and Johnny got together; and the next thing I know we were like in the studio working and all over sudden it turned into this band. Which has been like the coolest thing ever? You’re getting to play with those guys live; it’s an honor for me.
I have noticed that you have a big role in this project or how do you see it?
Yeah. My role is always like whatever, I don’t know if it’s big or however you want to call it. It’s just one of those things. I work closely with Bob Ezrin on a lot of stuff and Alice on everything. Writing songs and stuff like that. Johnny brought in all these amazing riffs, which was incredible. Just working with Johnny and Joe Perry and Alice and everyone in the studio. All your heroes coming and man you’re like going; just watching these guys. It’s really exciting and it was like one of those things where you sit back and make some… When you’re working as hard as… I have been working on this a long time, I work hard every day. All over sudden you do that and you go; this is what it’s all about, I feel like a little kid. I feel like a little kid next to Alice on stage, so I look at Alice at times and go; fuck, there is Alice and it’s great.
The album is accompanied by a large number of guest artists and musicians. How have you and Bob managed to keep the package together during the recordings?
On notes. A lot of notes, a lot of details. Because every time we do something we’d write it down, whether it be on a piece of paper on the session. I know they videotaped a lot of it, for a DVD or whatever. What else we’re going to do with that. But just a lot of detail, when you’ve got a lot of guys in there doing certain parts and then working with Joe Perry too. I’ve been the biggest Aerosmith fan when I was a kid and now I’m hanging out with Joe Perry. We’re just standing and we’re talking about guitars and it’s just like; at the end of when we did Rock in Rio, the best. My favorite moment of Rock in Rio was at the end of the show; Joe Perry walks out to me, grabs my face and I thought he was going to kiss me. He looks at me and he goes; I love you Tommy man, this is great. That was like the coolest moment. I was like; man! That was cool. He’s the sweetest guy too, Joe.
Do you know if/when the DVD is coming out?
I don’t know, but they’ve recorded a lot. That’s what I’m saying; they videotaped a bunch of stuff. I don’t know if they’re going to use it for that behind scene footage or whatever. Plus we did a lot of cover songs and we also wrote a lot of originals for that record and Johnny was a big part of; like coming up with a lot of those riffs. He had pretty much all the riffs and music and I would go in and work with him in Bruce Witkin on it, and Bob and Alice would come in. We were doing it like that and there is a couple of originals that didn’t make the record, left-overs. I think those are freaking amazing. So there will be more.
That’s great to hear because I really like the sound of those originals. “Raise the Dead”, it sounds like classic 70’s Cooper for me.
Yeah. When I heard “Raise the Dead”, Johnny had that riff and was… He started playing it and I was just like; hey! I was like singing this thing and I was like; it’s going to be perfect for Alice. That was the first one we did and I was like, I knew it was perfect for him.
Christopher Lee’s spoken word piece on “The Last Vampire” is something incredible. How did you come up with that?
That’s Johnny, Johnny hooked that whole thing up and it’s amazing that they got done before he sadly passed away. I wasn’t there for recording that, I think they recorded it in England. But that was amazing when I heard that.
Alice mentioned yesterday that Hollywood Vampires have a couple of shows booked for the next year. Can you tell us something about those upcoming shows?
I’m finding out as you’re finding out. Like we’re doing this, we’re doing that. We’re doing a bunch of things; we’re doing something really big next year. So if Alice didn’t tell you more, I’m not going to tell you either “Laughs” But there are a couple of things. One thing is confirmed, it’s coming up and that’s going to be… That’s amazing for us.
You’re talking about the Rock in Rio festival in Europe?
That’s one, so we will see what else is the plans?
Let’s next talk about your solo career and the latest opus TOMMY, TOMMY, TOMMY which was released earlier this year. Well, I was a bit confused when I first heard WELCOME 2 MY VIGHTMARE but this album went even further…“What is this?” “Laughs”
I know, and Alice Cooper fans are always like; “What is this?” Once again, I don’t make…… I make records because I want to make records. I’m not trying to win fans over or trying to sell a record. Who cares if anyone buys my record or not?
But after a couple of more listens TOMMY TOMMY TOMMY started to sound like a great album to me. There are strong melodies and interesting elements from different genres and styles. It sounds like you! “Laughs”
Yeah. I just love all genres of music. I grew up on punk, I grew up on rock. I went through the ’80s. I’ve been through every genre of music. So my whole thing is when I made this record I was like; how can I make a record of everything I love and put it all together. It doesn’t sound like anything out there. People hear it and they go; what is this? I talked to one of the Alice Cooper fans in Germany on the other day, she goes; I bought your record and I like heavy music and I didn’t know what to think. It sounds like, I don’t know. That’s me. I’m not going to write some record with roaring vocals … I don’t do that, I’m a happy guy. I like happy melodies, I love lyrics that are stiff and I love keyboards. But I have another solo record to do right now. It will be less keyboards, because I’ve got that album out of my system. This one is going to sound more like Ramones, The Clash or even Bruce Springsteen. That’s why I say this one is going to be like that, it’s pretty cool already; that I have been working on.
I think that there are some truly great songs on TOMMY, TOMMY, TOMMY but which are your own favorites?
My favorite songs on the record? When I did “We Let It Rock”. I wanted to do like, let me do something that’s just like a solid rock song. It sounds cool. As a producer, I’m a huge fan of Mutt Lange, Trevor Horn and Bob Ezrin. I like all these things. I just love like big cool stuff; I love stuff that sounds great. “We Let It Rock”, I was like; it sounds cool and I got my buddy Russ Parrish alias Satchel from Steel Panther. I was like; hey, do you want to throw a solo on this? He’s like; yeah. So he threw a solo on it. Then when I did “Teenage Kicks”, there is a song called “Teenage Kicks Part 2”. That’s my favorite song on record. Then “Give’Em Hell” was like, I just want to do like a straight up like pop song. I love “Big Guns, Big Fun”. I was dealing with 80’s heavy pop stuff on that, because I’m a huge fan of Iggy. Then I wrote a song about my son. It’s called “Mr.Finn” and Steve Hunter plays amazing solo on it. That’s another favorite song of mine on record.
Speaking about the overall sound of the record, I can hear some ’70s disco influences on the album or am I wrong here?
All that stuff, I love it. There is certain elements of music that I just love and one thing I love about Alice are his lyrics, those are great lyrics to me. It’s like, it’s always been a problem for me to write lyrics. Because I’m not like one of those guys who could sit down and just like… Like that’s a gift. Alice does that, like he blows me away sometimes mic on. With me it’s why whenever I’m thinking about lyrics I always want to make lyrics that are real, that are real to me. That’s strip and not trying to be cheesy. Sometimes it can help, but it’s hard to be clever.
I also have your first self-titled solo album and it’s is quite different to this one.
My Peter Gabriel record? Yeah. Peter Gabriel is my number one, I’m his number one fan. That’s the thing, it’s like I’m still going to do another record like that. Because I want to get… When I did this record I was like, I have elements of that. But I think I want to go a little more rock, more punk. But I’m going to do another one of those too. I’m just not ready to do it now, because when I did that record; that’s a lot of work to do those records. It’s like the layering and just the lyrics and all the stuff. I was in a spiritual mode when I did that record. But I will get back to that again, I want to make another record like that. I just love stuff that’s like really rich at heart. That was a record, that record changed my life.
Let’s talk a little bit more about your producer’s career. As you probably know, most of Alice Cooper fans don’t know much about your producer work and they don’t even know much about you role on WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE and HOLLYVOOD VAMPIRES albums. But you have also worked with many, many interesting people and artists from different kind of genres, right?
The whole thing, I was doing a lot of stuff for American Idol. David Cook and Chris Daughtry, all those guys. I did a lot of like electronic stuff that nobody really knows. I’ve had like big songs in Japan, like number one songs with one of the biggest artists in Japan called Kumi Koda. I have J-Pop, number one song. I’ve worked with like boy bands in… What was the one Korean band? Tohoshinki. I’ve had top five songs… Like no one knows this stuff.
I’m learning now. “Laughs”
They sent me to Japan one year, because I had these two back-to-back number one with the biggest artist in Japan and they sent me to Japan one year. I was in the punk, I think it was called. Whatever it was, I forgot what it was. They put in Sony Studios for a week and I was working with like Monks, Shaolin Monks and J-pop artists and all these people. It was like the most amazing thing and it was so cool. It was like, because we were like; man! Japanese people treat you so well and I felt like a fucking rock star.
Like you said, you’ve worked with many interesting artists but I picked one who’s really special and she’s called Lady Gaga. Maybe you could tell something about your collaboration with her?
When Lady Gaga first came into my studio, she walked and she had on these gold shorts and high heels and the make-up and everything like that. I just looked at her and I was like; I don’t know who this chick is, but this chick is a fucking star. Because I remember, when she walked in the room. We wrote like five songs for first record and amazing songs too. It looked like I was almost going to have a shot at me, like doing the first record. But it just happens all of a sudden, all these other people come in and politics. But I had a great time working with her. She doesn’t take my calls anymore, but whatever.
THE WARLOCK DAYS
Next, we go a little back in time and a time when you were best known here in Finland. Can you guess which band we are talking about?
Das metal band Warlock? Yeah, that’s another time man. Nobody even knows maybe that I was the bass player in Warlock! “Laughs”
So let’s start this thing easy way. How you first get in touch with Doro Pesch back in the day?
She was just recording in New York at the time and I was in this New York band called Ruffkut. You know the Ruffkut? We were like this big, like we had a big draw around like the whole New Jersey, Tri-state area, New York and everything like that. Warlock needed a bass player and this guy Tommy Bolan, like his band opened up for our band. He joined Warlock and he recommended me for Doro; we should get this guy Tommy Henriksen play bass. So I was contacted and I was like; I don’t know who this band is? I was doing really well. So I wasn’t interested at first. I was like; no. Then they called me again and then I remember having a conversation with my mother when she was still alive. I was like; I don’t know if I want to do this thing. I’m really not into this music and the band. My mother was like; just go down and check it out anyway. So I did, I went down I met Doro and Joey Balin who was the producer and Bolan again, and all those people and Misha Eurich; who I just saw last week. I was just like, I just really liked her and I started listening to the music. I was like; alright. That’s how it happened and I just went, the next thing I know they were like; we want you in the band. I was like; go ahead and join the band. So I joined Warlock in 1987. They flew me up to Germany, the next thing I know I’m being fitted for these outfits and stuff. The next thing I know, I’m in a German metal band touring with Megadeth and Dio. So it was fun. Doro is great, she’s still doing it and she’s out there. She hasn’t changed one bit man, I have nothing but respect for that girl. She’s committed to her fans and she’s amazing. I would love to make a record with her, like to produce and write a record with her and Joey Balin. So whenever she’s ready, if she ever wants to do some. I would love to do it.
I think that the most legendary thing that Warlock ever did was the video for “All We Are”.
Yeah, that’s right.
Do you have any memories of the video shoot?
Yeah, I remember that very well. We were in Los Angeles and I used to do this move. I used to do this move where I’d have my bass standing still and I’d like corral around and keep the bass there. That was one of the things they put in video which I thought was funny. It was like a really expensive video, I remember back in the day. I thought it came out great for what it was. It did really well for her.
It’s still her biggest hit today.
Yeah. Good song too.
At the time when you joined the Warlock, everything went great but soon the changes started. The line-up disbanded and the band’s name was changed from Warlock to Doro.
It sucked, that was the biggest mistake. I even told the manager that, Alex Grob. That guy, whatever. But I remember sitting in the office after we did that tour and him going; Tommy, I’m firing everyone in the band but I’m keeping you. I looked at him and I was like; why are you doing that? He goes; we’re changing the name, we’re getting rid of Warlock and we’re calling it Doro. I looked at him and I was like; we just did so well. This is about to break for her and you’re going to do this? I just looked at him and I was like; big mistake pal. I never liked that guy.
Anyway, things happened and the band recorded FORCE MAJERUE with new members Bobby Rondinelli and Jon Levin. I can guess that things were quite different now compared to time when you first joined in the band?
It was. Because it’s one of those things, a lot of the key elements were out. But that record I thought came out good and it was like one of those things, to learn and process. Jon Levin played amazing on that record, he’s a great guitar player and Bobby is a great drummer. So when it came time to putting the band together, I was like; I can make two phone calls and have a band for you and that’s exactly what we did. Then after that record we toured, which was really great. We had a great tour, it was cool. Then the next record, that’s when Gene Simmons was coming in the door. But when the whole thing switched and got moved to L.A, that’s when all of a sudden it got weird and stuff like that. So that’s why I left. I said to Doro; I love you, but I can’t do this.
LIFE AFTER WARLOCK
After Doro, you briefly had a band called Big Trouble with Bobby and Jon but it never went anywhere, although you had some songs finished. What went wrong with that band and what did you do next?
Yeah, we did that too and that thing fell apart. We did like five songs, we did like an EP almost. We worked on a record, but the manager at the time was this control freak guy and it got all weird. That’s the thing man. I ain’t going to listen anyone, I’m kind of… I’m not like one of those guys who’s going to sit around and like be told what to do. I’ll tell you a funny story. After Warlock when I moved out to L.A, I used to be in a band with Ray Gillen from Badlands. We got in a band with Bobby and his brother and stuff like that and then Ray left and joined Sabbath. But when I left Warlock, Zakk Wylde called me and he was like; Tommy man, fucking Ozzy is looking for a bass player. You got to come out to audition. I was like; okay. I was out in L.A and I was getting ready to audition for Ozzy and I knew all the songs, because I’m a huge Bob Daisley fan. I go down to audition for Ozzy and as I was auditioning for Ozzy, it couldn’t have went any better than you could imagine. Zakk, I had a really cool relationship with Zakk. So I go in there, I loved it. Zakk is like; dude, you’re the best guy who came down. We’ve got one more guy, but this looks really good for you. So I was like; cool. So I leave that and then Ray calls in, he’s like; dude, I just got a call. David Lee Roth is looking for a bass player; you should go down and audition. So I go down to audition for David Lee Roth like the next day and I’m at David Lee Roth’s house. Audition, when Jason Becker was there in the band. I go down there, audition. Goes great. I do that, same thing. Because I know all the Van Halen stuff and all Roth’s stuff I was told; you did a great job. However we’ve got a couple of other guys. So I never forget it, it was like a Saturday and I’m going; wow! This will be cool if one of these things happen. Zakk calls me and he goes; Tommy man, Ozzy came in and Mike Inez came in and he didn’t like the way you looked. He liked Mike Inez, the way he looked and you didn’t get the gig. That was what the Ozzy did and I was like; shit! Because I had that stupid fucking New York hair. If he would have told me to cut my hair I wouldn’t. That’s another story, Joan Jett story. I could have been Joan Jett and they want to cut my hair like an idiot and I should have. But anyway, I would have straightened it. So then Ray calls in and said; yeah, David wanted a blond guy and he took Todd Jensen. So it was like one of those things, the next thing I know I was a roadie for Alice Cooper out there. You never know what’s going to happen dude, its life. That’s why you got to keep on plugging away and just being positive and just… Life, it’s a journey. It really is and it’s just like, you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s what I try and tell kids all the time, it’s harder to live. It’s easy to die. But if you ride this thing, it’s up and it’s down. You just got to be prepared for it.
CHANGES IN LIFE
In the early 90s, the entire metal world began to change and the grunge invasion started. How do you remember that time and how did it affect your career and life?
Yeah, it did. When that whole thing folded in like ’91, that’s when I said to myself. I was like; I played with C.C. DeVille for a minute, we made this thing. It was C.C., James Kottak from Scorpions, Kelly Hansen from Hurricane and we had a band. We were doing that and I looked at, it was going to be pretty cool. Because we were making like a cool record, it was like a cool punk rock record. I was like, C.C. man, we should do this, and C.C. was like; yeah! It was coming out great. The next we know, he fired Kelly and he fired me and then he fired James and that was it. Then I was in L.A and I was like; I’m just going to make a punk rock record and I started working on punk rock record. Because I was like, I hated everyone. I was like; fuck you people. That’s why I came up with this P.O.L record, I was like; just fuck it. Then the next thing I know, I got a record deal from it which I couldn’t believe. I didn’t think I could get a record deal from that. I did that record with this guy named Garth Richardson and Joe Barresi, who are two great producers and engineers and stuff like that. Then I did that and that fucking label went on when I did that, and then I was sitting in Hollywood for like a year going; this sucks. I’m not going to play in Pearl Jam band. It’s like; what do I do that I love and then I sat back and I was like. My hero is like Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, and Sting. All these guys. Joe Strummer and I thought maybe I’ll make this weird record and really stretch myself out. I started working on these demos and it was weird, because every time I played for people, same thing. People were like; what is this? I was like; I don’t know, but I like it. The next thing I know, I was in L.A man. I had no money, I owed Wells Fargo 11 bucks and the next thing I know I was like a millionaire. Like three weeks later, I was like at this huge deal. That’s the one thing with music, one day you could be broke and the next day you can like have a million dollars and that’s what happened. It was really weird, it was like one of those things. The same thing happened with that later, making this record. Just going great. But I always look at it like this, you never know what’s going to happen but always keep a positive attitude. The next thing I know some people get fired; boom, my record is over. Then I just started producing bands and then I did this band Revis. I got these guys the biggest record deal in Sony and I got all these bands record deals within like a year apart. You’re talking 12 bands, 12 different artists with huge deals.
On the late part of the 90’s you did producer work only?
Yeah. Late ’90s, early 2000. That’s all I did. I had my own label because I was getting all these bands’ record deals and stuff like that. Then I was buddies with Jimmy Iovine and Ron Fair and all these guys and it was great. For as long as it lasted. But it just happens when you just realize that some people just don’t want to make music, they want to make money.
But it would be a boring life if you always know what’s going to happen in the future?
Really, I think so too. It makes you stronger. It’s like one minute I can be a millionaire, the next minute I’m broke. But it’s just like that, it’s just the way life is. Like when I first joined Alice, I didn’t know… When I first joined Alice, I was like; cool, I’ll go do this. The next time I know, I’m married and I live in Switzerland and I got a baby. I didn’t know if it was going to happen.
How did you actually end up in Switzerland?
My wife is a Swiss-German and it’s one of those things. It’s like all of a sudden, I just met her and I was like going; I don’t know who she is, but it was like…. I married her after two years, it was given her two years. Because I knew she was the one. She’s just so amazing, she’s beautiful and she’s smart. I never wanted to have kids. I was like; she don’t want to have kids and then the next thing I know, was like we have this great kid. It’s just wonderful; I just miss him so much. I’ve been on the road, I’ve been on the road a long time this year. I haven’t had any breaks, me and Alice between the Alice Cooper tour and Motley Crue and Hollywood Vampires. We haven’t had a break in a year.
But I think that you are a lucky man when you have all these great things going on?
Exactly. You’ll never hear me complain about it. Flying, that’s the only thing man. To travel and just being away from the people you love, that’s the only top thing about it. Everything else has just been amazing. I’m in a band with one of the biggest actors in the world, I’m in a band with Joe Perry, Matt and Duff from Guns N Roses, Alice Cooper. Then I play with Alice Cooper “Laughs”
And you’re producing Mick Mars’s first solo album. One person can’t ask much more at one time. “Laughs”
No. I never take that stuff for granted; I’m not a cocky guy. I’m not this ego, crazy dude. I talk to everyone and I just want to make great music. If people like it, great. If they don’t like it, that’s great too. Like Paul Stanley always said; if you love KISS, that’s cool. If you hate KISS, that’s cool too. But if you’re in the middle, get out. But hopefully man, I’m just hoping that everything keeps on continuing to go where it is and we just keep on making great music and just staying positive. Just hopefully people just get it together, because there is a lot of fucked up shit in the world. It’s tough for kids out there these days. It’s a lot tougher compared to when we were kids, with social media and all these things. I try and tell kids all the time; I get it. I never sit back and go; when I was a kid… It’s a different world, different generation. I’m just so lucky and fortunate that we grew up…. I grew up in the ’60s, I’m a ’60s guy. I grew up to all these, every genre of music. The best music that I grew up around. That’s why I just like to take influences from all these things on musically, just writing stuff. There is a lot of great stuff out there. That’s all I want to say. “Laughs”
LIVE PHOTOS FROM ALICE COOPER BAND’S SHOW IN HELSINKI