PURE is the name of the brand new solo album by well known multi-instrumentalist/producer/guitarist Chris Laney. On PURE Laney delivers straight up American glam/sleaze 80’s hardrock. Laney is a very busy man and I was really glad when he decided to take the time to talk to me.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Helena Larsson at Rock N’ Roll Agency Management for setting up this interview
Thanks to Sound Pollution for the help
Thanks to Metal Heaven for provide the promo pictures of Chris Laney
Promo pictures taken by: Matte Blom
Live pictures on Chris Laney is taken from the archives of Anders Sandvall
Hi Chris, it’s always a pleasure talking to you.
The same to you buddy!
You have recently released your first solo album and I thought we should talk about your album called PURE but also a bit about the person behind the album, Chris Laney. And let’s start off the interview with you telling me when the idea of doing a solo album first struck you?
Well, it was my friend and boss Lennart Östlund whom I played a couple of my tracks for. After a few beers he popped the question why I never made a solo album. To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would care. But after a few more brewzki I emailed Metal Heaven a few tracks and they responded within the hour wanting to sign me!!! I was stunned. So there I was, hungover with a contract Funny how things happen!
How long did it take to write the album?
I wrote and recorded the album from Dec 1 2008 to Jan 13 2009, recorded, mixed and then I was done! It was a fast and wicked session, but I am very proud of the result!
You have written all of the material together with other song writers, why didn’t you write the material on your own?
Well…I am probably more of a band member type. I love to work with people, that interaction often takes the song ideas to another level. I think it is good to have someone to bounce ideas off. I like to have people around me; it is good for my inspiration.
You have co-written the material with well known names like Mats Levén, Zinny Zan and Bruce Kulick, what was it like to work with those guys?
It was great! Bruce and I have talked about working together for a while and I am glad it finally happened. Zinny is still my favorite singer… we always have a blast together, writing or partying, doesn´t matter, we always have a good time. Mats I have known for ages but we have never worked together before. He came in with some good shit!
“The Stranger In You” was written together with Brue Kulick, did you know him from before? How did he end up working with you?
I sang with Bruce on his Scandinavian tour back in 2004. And since then we have kept close contact. I think it was last year (2007) when I went to LA for the NAMM show we decided to try out writing stuff together. He is such a talent!!!
Have you written the songs specifically for the PURE album or did you write any of the songs to be featured on any of your other projects like maybe Zan Clan?
There are 4 songs that were "lying around" on the album. 2 of them were the so called Zan Clan tracks "Pissed At What Ya Missed" & "I Hate Yer Guts". One was intended for Animal’s VIRUS album, "Situation", one is the Def Leppard tribute "Get U Down". All songs are tracks I always loved but never gotten out. So I saw the opportunity to finally release these (in my ears) amazing song.
Had you already decided in what musical direction the album would point before you recorded it?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone if I went too metal or too pop on this. I had to make it a PURE Chris Laney sounding album, and I think I did that. This is the kind of music my heart beats to.
Was it an obvious choice to join forces with Johan Koleberg and Nalle “Grizzly” Påhlsson on drums and bass?
Yes it was. We have worked together for such along time, and since the deadline was so close I needed musicians who knew my work and that were fast learners. They are amazing!
Guest appearances from Martin Sweet, Vic Zino, Rob Lowe, Zinny Zan and Mats Levén are featured, was it easy to get those guys to join you on the album?
I called em up and said…"There’s cold beers in the fridge, come by and help me out"…they all took the offer
Were there any other artists that you wanted to work with but couldn’t work with besides the ones I already have mentioned?
KISS…Def Leppard…Still my dream bands to work with…such big influences on me musically.
And when we’re speaking of guest appearances, why didn’t Randy Piper or Rich Lewis appear on PURE?
I just quit the band at that point and I did it because of the fact it is a hassle to live on different sides of the planet. So it felt a little "wrong" for me to ask them to join me on my solo effort. I still speak on a weekly basis with the guys and we are still the best of friends. I hope they will do something on my next album.
You are extremely talented and a multi-instrumentalist to say the least, but was it something new to be singing lead vocals?
Thanx!!! Yeah, it was, in the sense that I needed to sound like me and not like Paul Stanley whom I have been a copycat of in the KISS tribute KYSS for around 15 years now. But let me tell ya, I had a blast singing, a new weakness & vice.
I think your voice fits really great to be singing lead vocals, are you a trained singer or have you taken any vocal classes/lessons?
Nope, never!!!! Man, I am thrilled you think so!
Do you have any special artist that you look up to when it comes to lead vocals?
Paul Stanley, David Coverdale, Mats Leven, Rob Halford, Rich Lewis, Zinny Zan…Robin Zander, man the list is long!!!!!!!!
What’s it feel like to be standing in front of a band and sing?
WEIRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am still trying to get warm to doing that. We will do 2 shows next weekend so I better get used to the idea! On the release party I almost forgot I was supposed to sing…I am still just a rhythm guitarist in my stage brain!
Who did the cover-art work of PURE? What do you think of it and does the cover have any special meaning to you?
It is a guy called Matt of Nale, one talented MF! He is the guy who made the Zan Clan LIVE and Animal VIOLENT NEW BREED covers. I love his work. So when he wanted to do my solo thing I was just, Hell Yeah! All I said was, you have full control, I just want it to be fresh, like a freaking perfume commercial or something… anything but too sleaze. And man, I love the final cover!
I was wondering a bit about the song “I Hate Your Guts” is it you or Zinny Zan that sings on that song?
BOTH! I couldn’t do it without his attitude… and when I asked him to join in on background we ended up splitting the lead too! I love you Zinny!
I think that the music on PURE sounds like 80’s US glam/sleaze hardrock, but how would you like to describe what kind if music PURE are all about?
You are pretty much spot on! It is my vinyl collection blended with my 2009 "knowhow" in the studio…old new fresh cool kick ass rock!
Why did you name the album PURE? Any hidden meaning behind the title?
No, just a disc with pure Chris Laney music
Is it fun to be working with Koleberg and Påhlsson? You have worked quite a lot together through the years?
Yeah, I and Koleberg have worked for 15 years!!! Nalle Påhlsson is one of my best friends so it was a natural decision. Always fun to be around these knuckle heads.
Have you read any reviews of PURE yet? What have the media said about the album?
It looks promising!!! I think the rating so far is around 8-9 out of 10!! So that is pretty f**in awesome in my ears!
You co-produced the album along with Lennart Östlund, how was it to produce yourself? Is it any risk of being too blind to errors and so on if you produce your own album?
Yes, that is why I invited Lennart to co-produce. And also why I wanted other people involved. I don’t see the point in being too "me, myself & I" when you make a solo album. It is the final result that counts.
PURE was recorded in Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, how was it to record in that studio? Were all the guests also doing their parts in Polar Studios?
Polar Studios is where I work, I almost live there nowadays. It is the best studio around Stockholm and the knowledge in a man like Lennart is endless. So the sound on the album couldn’t be done elsewhere. All guests except from Vic Zino were recorded at Polar. Vic was down in Gothenburg recording the new Hardcore Superstars album at that point so he couldn’t attend. That’s when I love internet the most
You also had a release party for PURE; how was the party? Did you invite many people and did you perform a few songs on the party?
I invited a small group of people, mainly the guys who helped out making the album and then some who worked with distribution etc. We did a short 30min set, it was a blast!!!!
Do you have any particular song(s) that are your favorite on PURE?
I Love “Skin On Skin” and “Last Man Standing”, these songs are so much ME. But to be honest, when you make a disc all songs become your children, and it is not fair to love one more than the other;)
Was it harder or easier than you thought to put together a solo album?
It did go pretty smooth!!!
Are there any plans on releasing a deluxe version or a limited edition of the album?
Nope, but I would love to get it on vinyl
And do you have any plans on releasing a CDS?
I DUNNO will shortly be released as a single for radio only. The hard rock singles aren’t selling that much anymore so the label doesn’t see a point in releasing it to the public.
Were there many songs that didn’t make it on to the final edition of the album?
There were about 3 of them. One of them was left out because I was hoping Ian Haugland and Mic Michaeli would have the time to play on it….but their schedule was colliding with mine and it got lost on the way. But that one is definitely on the next one!
Are you gonna shoot videos to any of the songs?
Yeah, we will shoot a video, maybe in June!
You have done signing sessions at record stores in Stockholm but not in the rest of Sweden, why?
We will do that in every single town we play in, so hang in there!
You are part of the band Zan Clan whose latest album came out in 2005, are you gonna follow up that album any time soon do you think?
We want to but we don’t have a label…so it is hard to get the stuff out! We have about 15 songs written.
You have also been a part of Randy Piper’s Animal, but you left the band earlier this year, why did you leave the band?
As I said, time difference and distance… I work full time as a producer in Sweden, I have my family, and now my solo thing. If there were more hours in a day, I’d probably still be in the band….
In the bio to PURE it says that a DVD called “KICKZ THE SHIT…. OUTTA STOCKHOLM” by Zan Clan was released 2006, is that correct?
Yes and no…It was released as a CD, but there is an unreleased DVD also. I have so much unreleased stuff I want to make a box set one day. Lots of Animal and Zan Clan stuff lying around.
The distribution of the last Animal album was a disaster to say the least, but the band did sign on to a different label on the second album VIRUS. Was it a smart move to change to another record label when fans could not get this album?
No…I totally agree. It was mainly because we wanted a US release for VIRUS (VNB never got that). But the second we signed the deal, they closed their US office and all the staff was sacked/left…. I hate to se such a great album die the sec it was released…
Are you still friends with Randy Piper and Rich Lewis despite your departure from the band?
Hell yeah!!! Blood brothers…but I was adopted by Sweden
And recently did the Animal camp launch the news that also Påhlsson and Koleberg are out of the band, what’s going on over there?
Well…They want to go on tour, and I think they should! That is the thing… to do a tour with a band that lives on such different places on the planet the starting costs are huge!!! I mean, we need to rehearse too…so that is 3 guys flying to US from Sweden, it costs to live, sleep, eat…and all that money before even hitting the stage! You know… that is why we all had to realize ANIMAL should be Piper & Lewis and an all-American band.
Do you think that the DVD finally is gonna be released in May? What do you feel towards the DVD if it’s finally gonna come out, I mean now that you have left Animal? I know that there have been a lot of twists and turns when it comes to that DVD.
No, it will not come out in May. It is signed to our old label and they do not plan to release it in the near future, where did you get that information? I spoke to the label a few days ago.
Do you have any plans of joining or forming a new band now that you have left Animal?
No, Now I am Chris Laney full time… I have a great band with me and I am dead-on satisfied.
How many acts are you currently involved in?
Only Chris Laney solo now… that is pretty much what I have time for now,
Do you have any message to all of the fans that have waited for a new Zan Clan album?
Don’t give up!! We haven’t! Get some Zan Clan vibes on the stuff from my album, Zinny still roxx!
PURE is released by Metal Heaven, why did you sign to Metal Heaven? And are you happy with the work the label have put into the album so far?
Yeah, they are great! I chose them after seeing what they’ve done for acts like Sister Sin and others.
If you compare Metal Heaven with other labels you have been signed to, what are the benefits with Metal Heaven?
They are for real. They know what they are doing, no bullshit, just straight answers and good guys. I am really happy to be signed to this label.
Can you tell us how many albums you have signed on for at MH?
They have the option for one more. I really do hope they want me to make another one…I already have new songs
Do you see any problems in that MH aren’t based in Sweden?
No, not really, they are only a phone call away!
Is PURE released worldwide today? If not are there any plans on doing a worldwide launch of the album?
It is only released in Europe for now (if you don´t count the illegal downloads ha ha). But I know we are working on getting Asia and the US shortly!
Does MH distribute PURE worldwide or do they have a distribution label that does that?
They have an organization with distributors for different territories.
You are a highly acclaimed producer hired by many bands, what do you think is your strongest feature as producer?
I love music and I love sound. I am a musician and songwriter. I can get under the act’s skin and figure out what they are after even though they might not know themselves.
Are you still co-working with Anders Ringman in Platform Studios that you and him started together?
We still work sometimes, but he lives in Copenhagen nowadays and I sold Platform and moved my work to Polar Studios.
I know you’re now working with the owner of the legendary Polar Studios Lennart Östlund, when did your co-operation begin?
It began for real in 2007. I got a call that they wanted to try me out, I went in and I got the job!!!!! woho!!! The best day in my life!
What’s it like to work in the famous Polar Studios?
It is unreal! I get to work with such great gear. Having a mentor in Lennart Östlund is priceless and also to meet bands I never would get to come to Platform. It is simply fantastic
Which is the latest album that you have produced besides your own?
Babylon Bomb’s new and still unreleased one. Superb album!
And what album are you gonna produce next?
I can’t say, still unofficial. I know I have at least three albums to do this fall.
Which album/band have been the most funny to work with/on?
My own, different, exciting and developing!
Is there any difference between the producer/songwriter/musician Chris Laney?
I’m like a kinder egg ha ha!!!! Nah, I do my part when it is needed. But I can’t be Sleaze Chris doing a band like Candlemass…that’s when I transform to Doom Chris
The bio says that you have won two Swedish Grammys, for what albums did you win?
Candlemass white album (s/t 2005) and Swedish pop dance band Barbados.
You have also been nominated six times for a Grammy, what does that feel like?
Cool!!! I’m still waiting to get my trophies
You are sponsored by Motoby Guitars and you have designed your own guitar model called Laney Vee, what can you tell us about that co-operation?
It is a German company. They asked me if I was interested and hell yeah!! After playing their stuff at the NAMM show I was hooked! My Guitar is KILLER.
You have also designed a guitar in Ripper Series called Bastard Axe, and what can you tell us about that model?
It is an Explorer kind of guitar. Amazing rhythm guitar, sharp edges, I hurt my leg playing not that long ago
You have also got your own amp from Kulick Design called Chris Laney GP-1, you are a really popular guy.
Hahahahaha…But let me tell you…. That Amp is a MONSTER!!!!!
Are your guitars and the amps available for the masses?
You have put together a live band, what members are there in the band?
Rob Love – Guitar
Fredrik Bergenstråhle – Bass
John "Saphyre" Berg – guitar
George Egg – drums
Me on Vox and Guitar
Have you and the band rehearsed much yet?
We try to get 2 rehearsals a week…we rehearse at Polar so we have to sneak in past bedtime
You have currently two shows booked, are you gonna perform more than that?
Yeah, we have a few more before the summer festivals come…we aren’t doing festivals this year but we will get this thing on the club circuit this very fall…Can´t wait!
Do you have plans on going out on the road now that the album is out?
As I said, hell yeah… I am 100% pumped to get my music to the masses
If so are you only gonna play songs from PURE?
You can’t really play that long set live on a rock club, but we might throw in some Animal and Zan Clan.
You are signed to the Rock N’ Roll Agency Management, are you happy with the collaboration?
Oh yes…My manager Helena is a gift from God!! She is a great partner and friend… I trust her with anything.
Do you have any booking agency?
No, not yet.
How active are you on MySpace where you have your own page?
I try to be on MySpace every day and answer as many messages and comments as possible. I love to be able to be in direct contact with my fans. MySpace is great!! Please check in on www.myspace.com/chrislaney and drop me a line!!!
You also have a street team on MySpace, what do you think of that?
That is so cool!! I hope I will one day have street teams in every country
You have also a fan group on Facebook, how’s that feel?
I love that too!! I am so thrilled that fans want to reach out to me, I very much appreciate that!!
What’s the most common question you get by fans?
When do you go on tour?!
You and Anders Ringman, Påhlsson and Koleberg have a Kiss cover act together called KYSS, is KYSS active at the moment?
Not that much as before but we do have a gig in Uppsala, May 16.
But aren’t you also involved in another cover act besides KYSS?
Are you gonna continue with releasing solo albums in the future do you think?
Absolutely, as long as people want my music, I will give it to them!
I know you are a very busy man, how do you have time with all the bands/projects, song writing and producing?
I really don´t…. ask my wife what she thinks ha ha.
When can we expect to find the next solo album by Chris Laney out in stores?
I have already written a few new songs for the next solo album. If the label still wants me and all runs along fine my guess is that it will take a bit over a year before another Chris Laney release will be out on the market. I want to take quite some time to tour with the PURE songs before I fully start to think about recording a sequel.
Give the readers three reasons why they should buy PURE?
That is all I have this time, I wish you all the best in the future and good luck with the album. Do you have any words of wisdom for the readers and fans?
Keep checking this site, awesome stuff!!! And go get my PURE album; it is a good album to pop a beer to!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to me once again Chris.
Thanx Anders, always my pleasure.
More info about the band