Here is an interview with the experienced and legendary multi-instrumentalist Chris Laney. I have followed both Zan Clan, where Laney plays guitar, and Randy Piper’s Animal, where he also plays guitar, with great interest. When the opportunity for an interview came I took the chance to speak to Laney who’s also a well renowned producer and songwriter.
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Chris Laney for the promo pictures
Promo pictures taken by Uffe Magnusson and Helena Larsson
Live pictures of Chris and of Zan Clan by Anders Sandvall
About Zan Clan
Hi Chris, nice to talk to you. It’s kind of you to take the time to answer my many questions.
Well, let’s start off with talking about Zan Clan, can you tell us how you and the legendary Zinny Zan first met?
Well, I am a Shotgun Messiah fan/collector and I met this guy Kimmel on the net who also was a collector. He had interviewed Zinny and had frequent contact with him…
So I asked Kimmel to get me in touch with the Zan Man….
We talked over the phone but we never got our shit together for a meeting. Then I got booked for a show with KYSS and to my surprise Zinny was a guest for another band playing that night. We started chatting, drinking and have been like twins ever since. He is the brother I never had.
How come you and Zan started up a band again in the first place?
Zinny had just released his solo album “City Boy Blues” when we met, and I told him that I was kind of disappointed of it, too “grown up”, and as a fan of his I would love to hear him go back and do the cocky stuff he did B 4, we started writing and after 3 songs he said he wanted to start a band with me, not be solo any more…I told him, I know some guys I think would like to be a part of this, and I was right. We had a meeting at Kolebergs place and Zinny wore an old Zan Clan T-shirt, that’s when we decided, Zan Clan is the name we should use even though it’s a new band.
Are you and Zan the almighty rulers in Zan Clan or is the band an equal democracy where everyone gets to decide what’s gonna happen in the band?
We are a family, we wouldn’t do anything if not everyone’s a 100% into it, but let’s face it, you can’t have 5 guys in the spotlight, that is something that Zinny and sometimes I take on as our part of the band, we are the guys doing all the business which means we know all the facts first, so It is easier for us to do interviews and give correct answers.
So far you have released one studio album and one live with Zan Clan, when can we expect to find the next studio album out in the stores do you think?
ASAP, it is all just a matter of business….Deals and shit. We have 15-20 songs written and 3 recorded, BUT we won’t just record a low-budget thing, we want the fans to get value for their buck, so we try to stay calm and just wait for the right time and partner.
When you first started Zan Clan the both Pontus and Pontus (now in The Poodles) were in the band, why did they leave the band and are you friends with Pontus x 2 still today?
They didn’t leave the band; they didn’t want to, it was Zinny’s and my decision to let them go. Zan Clan got asked to do the Melodifestivalen (Eurovision Song Contest) thing, we didn’t want to since we didn’t think it would do us any good if we couldn’t write our own song….so we turned it down, then, they went behind our backs, didn’t say it to our face what they were about to do, that’s what went wrong. I would not have a problem with them doing this if they told me right there and then, Here’s the deal, but no, they kept us in the dark and did until they were in too deep to get out.
They are fantastic musicians and I have nothing against them, I was angry and disappointed, but not any more. I miss them as friends, but hey, Life’s just another band 😉 (Thanx Piper for that comment) ha ha ha
What do you think of The Poodles music?
Not much, don’t like that vein at all, it is good performed songs, but It is just a matter of taste.
The glam/sleaze wave has stayed current for a while now, why do you think the glam/sleaze music had such an arrival these past years?
People wanna party, I know how I work, I wanna escape the normal 24/7, what could be better than a beer listening to Crazy Crazy Nights for example….PAAAAARRRRTTTTYYYY
Besides musicians you are also a producer and you have produced the both albums with Zan Clan amongst others. What’s it like to produce your own band? Isn’t there any chance of you being home blind?
It is hard, but fun… When I produce other acts I have to think of their best, when it comes to my band that’s when I develop, I try new ways and do stuff just for the hell of it. I always wanna find THE sound, and that is something you will find only if you are prepared to fail. Sometimes you get home blind, but then I just burn a CD and play it for some friends and look for reactions.
What do you think of the outcome of the two albums?
I LOVE them, today I wouldn’t have done them like i did then, BUT that is my legacy, how we (an I ) sounded just there and then, They both have a certain magic.
Why haven’t Zan Clan played more live through the years, I think you’re pretty cheap with live shows to be honest.
Ha, you don’t think we wanted to play more?????
The problem was that no one wanted us!!! Ha ha
In retrospect what do you think of the Zan Clan debut CITIZEN OF WASTELAND from 1994?
One good song, awesome song to be honest “Private Hell”…But the production and over all performance sucks big time… As Zinny say, I don’t even remember doing that album…might be a reason for the result!
How would you like to describe what kind of music Zan Clan plays to day?
Kick Ass in Your Face Rock & Roll
On the live album you can hear that Zan says that the show is recorded, is there any plans on maybe releasing a DVD any time soon?
We did record it for a DVD, and then we had a “Dog problem”… (poodles)…So we decided to end all focus on that line up and look forward…The Live album was out to show how good we were as a live band and also as a “Hi & Bye” to Zan Clan Mark 2. That release bought us time to look for new family members.
You have been signed to many different labels, you are now signed to Perris Records, or?
No, we have only been signed to GMR, Perris license our live album for a couple of years… ZAN CLAN is looking for a label for the new album.
When Pontus x 2 left, two new guys entered the holy Zan Clan, what can you tell us about those guys? And how did they end up in the band?
Me and Johan Koleberg has played with Nalle Grizzly Påhlsson for ages in KYSS, I knew he loved the Clan so I asked him to join, and he was thrilled. What is good about that is that Johan and Grizz was already a solid base after all these years playing together, so we sounded tight right away. We had a big problem filling Pontus Norgrens shoes; he is one of my favorite guitarists ever, so I was picky as fuck. We tried out a lot of people and then this guy Rob, 20 years old, walks into the studio with a broken foot in his Cowboy boot ha ha, He picked up the guitar and it was “EYES OUT POPPIN’ JAWS DOWN DROPPIN'”, he made Zinny cry (he could be my son, he is so young) ha ha, We asked him to join directly just to fuck with Zan hahaha no, he was thrilled too!! So Grizz and rob, I love them to death, fantastic musicians and brothers.
Zan Clan performed at the Rockhimlen Rock Metal Festival in your hometown Helsingborg this summer, how was it to be on stage there and what did you think of the show you did?
It was great, cool to finally play a show in my home town, great Festival, not so many people, but I had a blast!!! I had so many friends there, in the audience and on stage. My mom and Dad came and hung out backstage, they are the best.
You’re not only involved in Zan Clan but also in the old W.A.S.P guitarist Randy Piper’s new act Animal, how come you joined that band?
I started with me sending a request for a signed “blessing” from Piper to use on my old WASP tribute band’s home page…
I talked a lot to their manager and she asked me what I thought of their ANIMAL 900LB STEAM album and of coz i was too honest saying I thought it sucked. So she asked me to send some stuff I’ve done, I didn’t take long til I got a call and they asked me to join their tour in the US, but I had to turned it down because of bad timing. We kept in touch and later on Piper asked me to join the band. I became a full blown member in 2005.
Last year Animal released their debut album VIOLENT NEW BREED, what did the media and fans think of the album?
We have gotten tons of GREAT and Superb reviews, the only country who has hated us so far in the press is the UK except from some magazines. Germany loves us and so does the states. The fans have been fantastic, and we have gained a bigger crowd over the years, it was great meeting some on the road.
Where does the title come from? You know that there is a Shotgun Messiah record that has that same name?
Actually here’s the thing…. We all hung out in Pipers kitchen bar
drinking one night, we talked about the new album and so on…I said, it is a shame Shotgun Messiah had an album out called VNB since we are ANIMAL and a new line up, we should have that title…they said Fuck yeah, Fuck shotgun messiah, Let’s do it! So we used it hahaha.
You weren’t a full act then, besides playing guitar you also handled keyboards and bass, wasn’t it hard to keep track of all instruments and produce the album?
Nah, it is kind of what I do when I write songs, I play everything…when I do an album I add the stuff that I hear should make the song better, I even play the harmonica on the forthcoming album, and I had never played it before, I just like playing and if I get my hands on an instrument I just HAVE to learn to master it, at least good enough for using on the track I hear it fulfilling the picture of sound I have in my mind.
I don’t see a problem in having many different instruments, since that is what I do for a living, Mix stuff.
Zan Clan drummer Johan Koleberg also plays drums on the Animal debut, is he a full time member of that band as well?
Yes, after a couple of rehearsals Piper and Lewis Asked Grizz and Johan to join the beast called ANIMAL.
Animal played at Sweden Rock Festival this summer, how was that?
It was hectic!! We got stock in a traffic jam right outside the festival….They started letting people in while we did the line-check and then we just tuned up and Pedal To The Metal. It was a blast doing that show; it felt like that was the kind of magnitude of stage/audience ANIMAL should play, always. It was also cool to see so many people singing our songs…I guess our album was popular downloading since we haven’t sold THAT many albums in Sweden hahahahahaha
You did a few shows, how was the response from the fans? Why didn’t you do more shows?
The response was fab!!! The fans were really happy and into the music, we met a lot of fans after the shows. We always went to the merchstand after every single show to meet the fans, sign stuff, and take pictures and shit. Some people thought we should have played less WASP songs but you can’t make everyone happy…to be honest, the promoters asked us to do at least 3 WASP tracks…so we did it… It is after all Pipers history and the die hard fans loved it! We didn’t do more shows since the main reason for Pipes and Lewis coming here was to do the new album, doing shows was just a way getting tight together and taking the chance meeting our fans too, I mean, it was like 20 years since Piper was in Scandinavia last time.
You are now three Swedes in the Animal crew, bass player Grizzly fell into the line up this summer as well, why did Jackie Livengood quit the band?
I never even met the guy hahahahahaha….Jackie had been in ANIMAL for short period years ago, he is a good friend of Pipers. When Pipes lived in Florida he and Jackie started jamming again, that’s when Pipes called me and said he wanted Jackie in the band…And then the problems started… He couldn’t leave USA for personal reasons and so on…Piper moved to Arizona and things just faded between the band and Jackie. He mailed me one day saying he didn’t feel he could give the band everything we wanted and he didn’t wanna stand in our way…He was a good sport and I’m sure you will hear of him in some other band soon.
During Randy Piper’s time in Scandinavia this summer you recorded a new album, how was that? Did everything go well?
It was a blast!!! We had a great fucking time even thou the pressure were on time-wise. Rich sung like a KING and Piper did a great fucking guitar work, it all just went very smooth. We can’t wait to release this fucker, it’s the BOMB!!!
What can you tell us about the new Animal DVD that’s about being released soon?
It is a real rough thing, no fucking bullshit, just handy cam-in your face-fly on the wall-Rock n Roll Frenzy. It is the story of animal, a lot of talk, a lot of music, rehearsals, Live, at the studio, you know, you will feel like you’re in the band. It wasn’t made to be released in the first place, i made it for us in the band but when the label got it, they loved it and said we had to release it to the fans… So we will, it will have a Limited 1000 copies incl a live album, single, patches and shit. I think it will be out by Xmas in Europe.
Some say that Animal sounds a lot like W.A.S.P, what do you think of that? Is it true?
Well, Randy Piper was in WASP, he has a sound ID when he plays, go figure, maybe that’s why WASP doesn’t sound like WASP anymore;)I do think we have some similarities in some songs but no, I feel we sound like ANIMAL and when you hear the new album, you will say I’m right!
Are there any plans on heading out on tour with Animal soon again?
YES!!! ASAP, this time we wanna do North America; also some European dates are in planning. Keep your fingers crossed and it might just happen sooner than you know.
How does the co-operation with Animals label Diesel 8 Glory work? Are you happy with the job they have put into the album when it comes to the promotion etc?
Yes, they are a great label. It is a indie label with NOT that much money but they do magic with the shit they have. We are proud to be their highest priority instead of being on a Major label being the lowest priority. We stick to them we trust and hope we all will make a buck on the way.
Can you reveal any new titles from the new Animal album?
L.U.S.T., Don’t wanna die, Crying Eagle, Can’t Stop, Cardiac Arrest, Judgment Day, Shoot To Kill…
Most of the songs is about Fucking up realizing you just have one life to live….And that it might be too late to do something about it, some dark lyrics all over the album…I love it!
Do you see any problems in that members in the band lives in USA and the rest of the band lives in Sweden?
Costs a lot to go to the pub together…flight tickets and shit…. hahahaha
More about Chris Laney himself
And as you’re not busy enough you, Koleberg and Grizzly together with Anders Ringman have the Kiss cover band Kyss. Have you got any time to put into Kyss? I mean you must be a very busy man..
KYSS is just a thing we do for fun, If we feel too busy with other stuff we just turn down the offers we get, KYSS is only taking the gigs we wanna take.
What does Zinny Zan thinks of that his band members are busy with other bands besides Zan Clan?
He hates it ha-ha NO!! He even do back ups on one of the songs on the album, Rob Love does a guest solo, WE ARE JUST A BIG HAPPY FAMILY!!!! So Zan Clan is on the new ANIMAL CD 😉
Have you been part of any other bands before you joined Zan Clan?
I had a band called 17 Seventeen back in the 80’s early 90’s, we did a few singles and a mini CD.
How did you take the news that the Crashdiet singer Dave Leppard died a few years ago?
It was a tough time… I cried like a baby… he is missed that little fucker.
Are you currently involved in other acts besides the ones I just mentioned?
All the time as a producer but not as a band member, Zan Clan and ANIMAL is a handful, and I only have to hands.
How many instruments can you play? And which one is your favorite to handle?
Drums, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, I LOVE beating the shit out of the drums. Actually, I play drums, guitars, Bass, keyboards on a couple of songs on the forthcoming Karl Martindahl album 😉 It was a blast!!
What/who got you into the music business in the first place?
My sister, she was the one getting me into my first band, Scratch.
They were some 5 years older than me, I was 12, I was in Scratch for 5 years, did a lot of shows, It was a fun time!!
Do you have any idols or role models within the music industry that you look up to or have inspired you?
I have my heroes in bands, like KISS, Jellyfish, Beatles, Shotgun Messiah and more, but I really look up to producers, Mutt Lange, Lennart Östlund, LEO and Bob Ezrin. And I can’t help but loving Desmond Child and Max Martins song writing skills.
From where do you gather inspiration when you write new songs?
Often just a state of mind…Like “Don’t wanna die” that I wrote when I was sick earlier this year waiting for surgery. HEART N SOUL of Zan Clan I wrote when I and Zinny drank whiskey at the studio just rocking away.
You are also a producer, what’s the funniest with being a producer do you think?
Working with so many different people, meeting all these talented jerks, I am a lucky bastard.
Which is the latest album you have produced?
Crazy Lixx “Loud Minority”
You and Anders Ringman own the Platform Studio, when did you started up that studio?
I own the studio since a couple of years back, we still work together from time to time, Anders decided to dedicate more on the songwriting and I went for production. You ought to check his work out at www.myspace/andersringman We built the studio back in 2001.
You also work in Polar Studio now what can you tell as about that and when did you start to work there and is Anders Ringman working there to?
I started working there in January 07, Anders doesn’t work there. I will move more and more of my work into Polar Studios since the result gets so much better working at such an amazing Studio.
Is it a well known studio amongst the bands and musicians?
EVERYONES recorded there: Def Leppard, U2, Europe, Roxette, ABBA, Genesis, Led Zepplin…I could go on and on for an hour here!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you record all kinds of music or do you focus on only metal and hardrock bands?
We do all kinds of stuff….But as a producer I do most Rock and Pop. Lennart Östlund does a lot too; we are a great fucking team.
Is it hard to separate the musician Chris Laney and the producer Chris Laney?
Same same 😉
Which is your biggest asset as producer?
My ears!!!!! And I think I am good in knowing what the artist wants out of their album.
What kind of music do you listen to when you’re at home and private?
Right now I am listening to Tim McGraw (Country)…I love the production on his latest album. I listen a lot to regular radio just to keep up with what’s the flavor of the day.
What’s the next album you’re gonna produce?
I am doing ANIMAL now….next…Can’t tell. I can’t tell you, legally.
You’re a well-known name in the business, can you walk the streets as a normal man or do many recognize you?
If I go to the city with my kids shopping I am probably just Dad…the guy no one pays attention to. But if I’m at a concert or club people know me, but that is cool, I love chatting with people…But let’s face it, I’m no Michael Jackson, so the few people knowing me by seeing me, they are not that many, my name is more known than my looks.
Well, 2007 is soon about to end, what have 2008 in store for Chris Laney?
Work work work!!!! And a lot of releases with ANIMAL and Zan Clan so I might add Shows Shows 😉
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for the fans and readers?
LIVE LIKE YOU WERE DYING!!!!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my many questions.
Thank you for having me buddy, Anders, You rock!
Read the CD reviews with Zan Clan here
More info about Chris Laney
More info about his bands