Heart of Steel: Interviews

WARRANT'S Jerry Dixon

Interviewed by Rick

The early 90s saw the rise of the Seattle grunge scene and the downfall of many great hard rock and metal bands. One of the groups that suffered from this dark time in the metal world was Warrant. Though they fell out of the spotlight, Warrant survived to fight another day and are currently on a summer festival tour that is sure to be awesome. I was lucky enough to catch up with Warrant bass player Jerry Dixon who filled me in on all the is happening in the Warrant world.

 

Lets get started. First I wanted to talk a bit about the tour.

You are doing the summer Rock Fest Tour. How did you get hooked up on this tour and how many dates will you be doing?

We were originally going to go out by ourselves. Ratt was going to go out on their own and this band and that band so our agency started talking about putting us together. They contacted the promoters and they liked the idea of 5 bands who played the same kind of music and it just kind of snowballed from there and the baby was born.

 

Dokken, Ratt,  Firehouse and LA Guns will be joining you on this tour. What do you think of these bands, especially Ratt and Dokken, as they happen to be some of the best hard rock and metal bands from the 80s and early 90s?

I grew up listening to both those bands. They came out about 4 or 5 years before we did so it was kinda cool playing with the guys you listen to. I think it's a good package. It's a co-headlining package and everyone is going to get equal time and space and all the bands are kinda from the same era. Many packages put together weird bands to get the people in but we kinda stuck to our guns to get these bands.

 

Will the set list be a mixture of new and old songs and will there be any surprises and who will round out the bands lineup?

Same guys as always will be with us, Mike Fasano on drums and Billy Morris on guitar. They have been with us for a couple of years. We are not sure about the set list till we start rehearsals so I can't tell ya what it will be.

 

I guess you will be playing Down Boys?

Yeah, we will be playing all the hits. "Down Boys", "Cherry Pie", "Uncle Tom". We always throw either "Bitter Pill" or "Machine Gun" from DOG EAT DOG in there as well.

 

Judas Priest will also be on the bill for a few dates on this tour. How did you hook up with Judas Priest and how do you feel about playing with one of  metals greatest bands?

Man, I am looking forward to it! I can't wait! Its going to be great! I actually met those guys a long time ago but we have never played with them. We got hooked up with them cause many of the shows are radio festivals that happen annually and many times we get on a show that is a festival already. The package got thrown into festivals that were already happening. So that's going to be a good day cause I grew up with Priest.

 

Didn't you cover Hellion/Electric Eye on a Judas Priest tribute CD? Can you tell us a little about that CD as I don't think I have heard of it.

I think that was Jani did that. I just did the Def Leppard one and I did the Bon Jovi one.

 

I saw that one. What song did you play on that one?

I actually played all the bass tracks.

 

What kind of attendance #'s did you get for Glam Slam last year and do you expect big or similar crowds for the Rock Fest shows?

We're doing different markets but the venues are the same size as last year. The tickets are going good and the promoters are happy with the reaction so it looks good. Hopefully we will do the same numbers as last year.

 

What size venues will you be playing?

There are a lot of outdoor venues anywhere from 6000 to 20,000

 

You haven't released a CD of all new material since 1998's BELLY TO BELLY. Are there plans for a new album and what direction will it take? Will it be more in the vein of your earlier work or will the band go in a new direction ?

We've already made the direction change so now I think its time to go back to the earlier stuff. It seems to be what people want to hear from us, more in that vein of the first 2 records. So we are going to try and head back that road and hopefully we'll do that and have something out by next summer.

 

It seemed like after Ultraphobic came out it took you down a slightly different road with some new members, including James Kottack, and though it was still Warrant, it had a slightly different feel. A little heavier and maybe a little bit of a grunge sound thrown in as if you were trying to find a new niche for the band?

Yeah, a lot of stuff on that record was written by Rick and James and myself and that was the first record that Jani didn't write every song on it. So that brought in a completely different style to Warrant and it had a different influence on it. It was natural. We weren't trying to fit in or trying to be grunge. We all got in a room and wrote that record and we had a lot of different guitar styles and riffs and stuff like that so that is why it came out different. I actually love that record. Its just tough when you don't have MTV and stuff like that anymore pushing your records.

 

Yeah, many people think that once your videos stop playing on TV the band has disappeared. When I said that I was interviewing Jerry Dixon from Warrant most people were surprised that Warrant was even still around.

They think your dead before the body is even cold! *laughing*

 

The bands last release was called UNDER THE INFLUENCE and was a collection of covers. Why did you do a covers CD and how did you go about choosing the songs?

Well, collectively as a band we picked artists and let Jani pick the songs. We threw out a few songs from each artist that we liked then he had to sing em. We couldn't pick out some song that his voice wouldn't match. It was kinda a filler record, just something fun. We were actually going to make the new Warrant record and we got the call for the Poison tour. It was kinda good news and bad news that we got that. We didn't have time to put the complete Warrant record together and we wanted to have something out cause we hadn't put anything out in awhile. So we thought it would be a novelty record, just something fun that we could get out in a short amount of time.

 

The CD was released on your own label DOWN BOYS RECORDS. Why was it released on your own label and do you intend to release any other material in this manner?

I don't know. The company is up and running. It was more of a learning experience and we wanted to have control over the record and sell it at shows and stuff like that without having the middleman. Its something we always wanted to try and do. We might do it again down the road. We would rather have a record company do things cause that's not really our forte but we did a good job and it was a cool learning experience to be on the other end. And hey, we can rip ourselves off!! *laughing*

 

Actually there are many bands out there today making more money selling their albums independently from their home offices then if they put them out on labels.

Yeah, it's a different world. We do a lot of business on our website which is www.warrantweb.net Now when you want to buy something you just go to the source you know.

 

Are you signed to a label now? Is there any interest from the labels?

We haven't put the feelers out yet but we definitely would like to do our next record with a major label. We just had a 2 record deal with BMG that ended before UNDER THE INFLUENCE was released and we just need time. We have been working and touring so much that we haven't been able to put the feelers out.

 

I am sure this is a question that you are sick of answering. Warrant was/are often considered and described as a "GLAM" or "Hair Metal" band. What do you think about those terms and how would you describe Warrant's sound?

I think that its alright to be classified. At least we were good enough to get labeled as something. Call it what you will, I still make a living at doing what I do. A lot of bands are trying to run away and hide from that label. It was an era of those types of bands and we were one of em. If it wasn't for that we wouldn't be here but I wish people would sometimes listen to the music a little bit more instead of saying HAIR BANDS! The people still come out.. At least we are being called something!

 

Do you think the image, especially the early days of matching white leather and teased hair, ever got in the way of people taking Warrant seriously as musicians.?

Mostly from people that are not in the industry. They just look at one thing and go "Oh God! I can't get into this". It sucks, but what are you going to do about it? When I listen to bands I listen to all their stuff and prefer not listen to their singles. I mean I know what we are. You don't sell that many records by accident. You don't sell that many records by not having good songs that people relate to and stuff like that. So I just gotta look at it like that. Its not a fluke if you are around 17 years. Obviously we have made something credible and worthy of seeing and buying and hearing.

 

Some of us older fans have wondered what precipitated the exit of Joey Allen and Steven Sweet around the time of the BEST OF CD.?

It was a bad time. We lost our record deal and had a couple of black years where things went shitty for the band. We got dropped by Columbia for no apparent reason after selling a half a million records and we were scratching our heads going what the fuck? And our manager was diagnosed with cancer and he passed away and all of a sudden we had no more friends in the industry and everyone just turned their backs on us. It was just a fucked up time to realize who your friends were. It was just a really hard time and it was kind of a crossroads for the band. It was a good time to get out if you wanted to get out and move on and that's what they chose to do basically. I almost did to, we all almost did. We were just like screw it!

 

Didn't Jani quit for a couple of months?

Lane quit then came back and then those guys quit. After that we were like who wants to be the fuck here and who doesn't. Who ever doesn't get the fuck out! *laughing* and whoever does lets rock and stick it out.

 

Are those guys still involved with music?

Yeah Yeah. I'm still real good friends with Joey and we go to the river every year and water ski and shit. He has a record coming out and a website www.joey-allen.com So he's kinda dabbled in his spare time. I've talked to Steve a few times. You never know. We might get back together one of these days, its not out of the question,  its still open.

 

What are your thoughts on today's music scene especially the level of support hard rock and metal bands have received in the last 10 years and how has it affected Warrant in particular?

I like the stuff out today but its hard to grasp any one band. There doesn't seem like there are anymore rock stars. You hear a band on the radio and go.. Who's the singer? Usually I have no idea. I don't know his name or what he looks like. In the old days there was David Lee Roth, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry. You knew everyone in the band. I miss that part. I think the stuff today, true to what is going on in the world , the topics are very serious. They're heavy and lots of depression and bullshit and it's a mirror of what's happening in the world. I like it to a certain extent then I gotta go have fun, put it down for a little while.

 

What, if any, new bands do you listen to and what bands or musicians influenced you and the music you play ?

I listen to 311, I love that band. I grew up listening to Queen, Aerosmith, Sabbath, Dio. I grew up on the heavier side, Iron Maiden and Priest.

 

Hey man. Anything else you want to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Let me give you our website. Its www.warrantweb.net and my site www.jerrydixonweb.com and people can go there for all the tour dates etc.

Thanks Jerry!

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