INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Guitarist Randy Piper is an American musician who made his name with W.A.S.P in the early ’80s. The band’s debut single, entitled “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” (1983) was an instant success. The self-titled debut album came out year later including such classics as “I Wanna Be Somebody,” “L.O.V.E Machine,” and “Sleeping in the Fire.” THE LAST COMMAND was released in 1985, and it another successful album with the hits,”Wild Child” and “Blind in Texas.” After the Last Command -tour, Randy quit the band and worked briefly with Alice Cooper. Soon later he tarted the band, Animal. Although Animal has been around for more than twenty years, it wasn’t until 2002 that the band released its first studio album titled 900lbs STEAM. There have been numerous line-up changes in the band’s history. At one point, former W.A.S.P colleagues Chris Holmes and Tony Richards were both part of the group, but nowadays, only Randy and vocalist Rich Lewis remain from the original Animal lineup. The band’s second album, VIOLENT NEW BREED saw the light in 2006. The album is produced by Swedish guitarist/producer Chris Laney who also had joined in the band’s ranks. Now there are three Swedish guys in Animal; Chris on guitar, Grizzy on bass, and J.Koleberg on drums. The new lineup made a brief tour in Europe last May/June, and I was honored to talk with the guys at the Sweden rock festival. Here they are: Randy, Rich, and Chris from ANIMAL!!!
ANIMAL, WHO ARE YOU TALKIN’ ABOUT?
Well, first of all, welcome back to Scandinavia after all these years, Randy!
Randy: Thank you. It was about time to come back here. “Laughs.”
You’re here with your own band, Animal, for the very first time. Animal is a band that has been around for a long time with many different lineups in the past. How this latest incarnation of banded start, and how have things been with this new lineup so far?
Randy: We just got together with this lineup, we just started playing some shows, and you know what? We’re a fucking band now, and we know it!
Chris: When we went to Cincinnati, where we recorded the first album, I got to see some videotapes that I would love to show people, and they will be on the soon-to-be-released new DVD. There’s Animal footage from 1988; it’s a big fucking arena show, something you would never see in Sweden; a band that is really big here wouldn’t have that kind of stage show. When I saw that for the first time, I was like, “Shit!” I thought we were dead for a while (laughs) because I was there in America, and it was a totally different thing, so people are going to see that. Animal has been around for ages in different versions; this is the violent new breed of that! That’s why we named the band Randy Pipers Animal this time around to start over.
So there’s a big difference between the present and past versions of Animal?
Randy: Oh yeah, big time. You know you go through the years playing in bands and whatever, you know? We have strayed and gone to other places, and we’ve been in other bands, you know? Then we said, “Let’s try it again,” So we came back together, and we are trying it again with a whole different lineup. We’ve got three Swedes in the band now, and it’s really working. It’s the best lineup so far. This is it!
Was it the Swedish guys who contacted Randy to collaborate with the new Animal lineup?
Chris: Actually, I didn’t contact him to work with him. I contacted him because I was in a WASP tribute band, and I wanted their blessing, and I had already got Blackie’s blessing. They loved the shit! All of a sudden, I stumbled over the management for Animal. So I got in touch with them. That developed into me getting the Animal CD 900Ib STEAM, and I thought the production sucked. I loved the fucking songs, but it sounds terrible. I would gladly remix it for free! I can’t stand my guitar hero sounding like that!
I would say that t really sounds like a crappy demo?
Randy: It was a demo! We gave it to someone, and they mastered it, then someone else mastered it. And actually, Chris said they turned it into mono, then they mastered it again and turned it into a stereo, and that’s where it all got lost. So that’s what happened because that demo actually sounded good; it fucking smoked! The more people got their hands on it, the worse it got.
Rich: I want to tell you something! I’m from the fucking US, and I played in Oslo, Norway, the other night, and you know what? After the show, some kid came up to me, and he said, “Why didn’t you play “Feeling nowhere”? How the fuck did he knew that song? He goes, “Because I have 900Ib STEAM. That’s on the other side of the world! And somebody, regardless of the fact the production sucked, still liked the songs.
Chris: Yeah, the songs are great on the album!
Randy: This is what Chris said; he goes, “You know I like the songs, but the production sucked. I would like to do your next album,” So that’s where it started, right there. So we did this tour with Chris Holmes, brought Tony Richards in. We thought that maybe this would work. I mean, you don’t know, you try everything, everybody’s playing with everybody, and everybody’s trying this, seeing if this works. We played a lot of shows, we went to New York, Chicago, the whole of the eastern seaboard, and it didn’t work. So Rich and I said, “What are we going to do now?” and he says “What about Chris Laney?” That’s when we called him, and that’s when it started, right there. He sent some songs over on the Internet; we did some vocals and guitar, sent them back, and just started from there. When we were three-quarters done with the album, we listened to it. And I went, “You know what? This fucking kicks ass!”
Chris: We were all psyched about it.
Randy: And he says, “How about if I come over, bring some hard drives with me, and we can do this for real?” Cool! He calls me about three days later and says, “How about if I come sooner rather than later?” “When?” I expected the next month or something, and he goes “Next week!” I was like, cool, come on over, man! He gets on a plane and comes over. We locked ourselves in a studio for a week.
I got to ask this, who paid the bills for the flights and stuff for Chris?
Chris: I actually had that for a birthday gift! (Laughter)
Randy: You gotta love that, man!
Chris: I took my shit over there, and I saw it as a holiday. I remember we were sitting there at your kitchen bar, and I was like, this is like Monopoly money for me! How much beer can we buy with this?
Randy: We had a picture of the beer, the empties, and stuff outside the door. It was about 6 feet tall! I piled in a corner!
Chris: If I drunk like that tonight, I would be drunk for three years!
Randy: I know, but this guy can drink, man. We were drinking whiskey, and we were drinking Scotch; we were drinking beer.
As you probably know, Scandinavian people drink a lot!
Randy: Well, I found that out!
The 900Ib STEAM album, was everything written fresh for that album, or was it a collection of stuff you had from previous years?
Randy: No, actually I talked to Rich; we had been together before. I called him and said, let’s try this again, maybe the time is right, you know? It’s a different year; a couple of years have passed. I said, let’s try it now! Everybody fights over who wrote what, and I don’t give a shit! It’s a whole band that makes it. You know everybody contributes one way or the other ok? No matter what it is, it’s broken a lot of bands up over who wrote 15 seconds of this or I wrote the chorus or I wrote the hook or this word or whatever. It doesn’t mean shit unless you’re a fucking dickhead! It destroyed WASP, yeah it did destroy WASP, Blackie wanted everything, and no one dug it. No, Blackie is still doing that, it’s his entire band, and that’s great, you know? But it wasn’t for me anymore. I’ve always wanted everything to be equal, and if we are all out working and we are all striving for it, then everybody deserves the same equal shares. I think that’s fair. And I’ve always been about being fair. That’s how it is right there!
Well, this was a question that one of my friends wanted me to ask. You never got any writing credit for WASP songs, but for sure you have done something there? Also, how do you share the writing process in Animal?
Randy: Well, yeah. Blackie wouldn’t let anyone else do it! And thatï¿½s where it started going downhill. I hope to god that this never happens with this band. When someone starts getting too big in the head or whatever, then you got problems. As long as we don’t do that, I think we are going to be fine. We really like each other in this band.
Chris: As a producer, I have worked with a lot of bands. When it comes to credits and who has written what, that’s where it gets tricky. Let’s say I’m the singer and I wrote the song, but hey, who’s gonna play the guitar? When the guitarist comes up with his fucking riff going duh duh duh, he didn’t write the melody on the vocals, then I say no, you can’t have a credit for that because it’s my song! Ok, let’s drop that riff then! That’s when it gets tricky.
Randy: It gets ugly, and I don’t want it to get ugly; this is a beautiful thing, man! It’s like magic! But when everybody starts fighting over trivial bullshit like this, then we are going to fuck this up. I think everybody is old enough and smart enough to realize that we can either make this happen, or we can fuck this shit up! Ok? That’s where it’s at, right there!
So to answer my question, you have written songs for WASP?
Crew: I talked to Chris Holmes about this, and he was like…
Randy: What? Was he angry about it? Is that what you’re saying?
Crew: He said that he did a lot of things for WASP that no one knows about. He met Blackie back in 1976.
Randy: I know! This stuff is gonna surface! I’m talking about Animal right now. I want to get away from the past and talk about what’s going on right now because this band is really cool. There are so much energy and positive shit. I don’t want to hear any negative; you know what I’m saying? We’re just trying to move forward with this band!
Chris: That’s why we are releasing a DVD with interviews and the whole story of what happened from start to now.
Is it all about Randy Pipers Animal?
Chris: It’s about Randy Piper, to begin with, so there’s going be a VOLUME I that is about before WASP until after WASP, then we have the volume that is the Animal DVD.
Randy: Then we start again! Because I don’t want to keep going back or whatever, these guys deserve their due too. And that’s what we are starting over. I want it to end the past and start again, and that’s what the deal is. We are going to start again; it’s like being reborn! The Phoenix is rising from the ashes.
When is the DVD coming out?
Randy: We’ve been filming since we have been here, for a month and a half. So it’s going to take time to get it edited?
Rich: Sunday or Monday, we are going in to do a real DVD thing. To make sense of all the stuff we have done.
Chris: I don’t want to be a bitch, but I really need to leave. I’ve got a gig in 45 minutes, so I need to go and soundcheck. Can I go?
Chris: Fuck you, mother fucking fucker! (laughs)
Randy: Can you feel the love?
ALICE COOPER AND THE BIRTH OF ANIMAL
Randy. After you split with WASP, you played briefly with Alice Cooper, but something went wrong, and you never made it to the final lineup?
Randy: It didn’t work! That’s when I started Animal; you know what? I played with Alice for a while, and I was like, this isn’t going to work, so I started my own band, and that’s when we started Animal. Then there’s a huge story behind it, how we came up with the name, how I met this guy, how it started to evolve. I’ve been playing with Rich Lewis longer than I played with Blackie. Blackie and I were good friends for eight years, something like that. I’ve been with Rich for 20 years! But we will put all this in the DVD and try and explain it all for once, so I don’t have to keep telling this fucking story!
Would you still tell more about that Alice Cooper thing?
Randy: Actually, he was looking for a guitar player. I heard it through the grapevine or something, and I would love to play with Alice. He’s a good man. So I wanted to do it, but it didn’t work out.
Was it around the time that Kane Roberts joined his band when you did your audition?
Randy: He wrote the CONSTRICTOR album with Alice right after that. Ken Mary was playing drums. Kip Winger was playing bass when I first started to do it.
There were rumors that Andy McCoy was also doing an audition for Alice at that time. Did you ever meet him during those sessions?
Randy: I don’t know about Andy McCoy? The reason I didn’t stay was that Kane and I didn’t get along. It just didn’t work out. So then I said I’m going to start my own band.
Rich: It was actually a really cool thing because I went from Ohio to LA to put a band together, and I heard that he was out of WASP, and I thought that guy and I would click! I know we would; you know what I mean? Then I heard he was in Alice Cooper, and I thought Fuck! I went back east, oh fuck it; I’ll go back east! Then he puts his own band together after Alice Cooper, and the bass player brought his own demo to try and be the bass player in the band, and he heard my voice and said: “That’s my singer!”
Randy: When I heard his voice, I said that’s the guy for the band, we didn’t have a name or anything, and he had just gone back from LA, turn around, and fly back again! It actually a pretty cool story of how we met, and we’ve been brothers ever since! I’ve never had a real brother, I have two older sisters, but he’s like the brother I never had, and we hate each other, and we fight and shit and “Fuck you!” But we’ve been friends for 20 years now.
Right, and also, Animal has been around more than 20 years already…
Randy: On and off, you know it’s evolved. I’ve been in other bands too.
Which other bands have you been to?
Randy: I’ve been to a lot of other bands, I’ve done other things. I wasn’t out of WASP for more than two weeks, and then I was already in Germany recording an album with Michael White. Then came back and played with Alice, then Animal, then Kings Horses, it evolved into Kings Horses, you know what I mean? It’s like everybody out here playing with everybody else. Everybody fucking everybody else!
Rich: You guys over here still dig this kind of music in the US. Some people like it; some people don’ know what I mean, and the media tries to keep it down for some reason. For some reason, they don’t want this kind of music. Do you know what I mean?
But like you said, it’s different here in Europe and especially in Scandinavia.
Randy: We went out on tour with Chris Holmes, and we were playing with death metal bands, and it wasn’t working! All these young guys are going “rooaaarrrgg” you know what I mean? And they are looking at us like we are fucking aliens. But we came over here, and it was like, “You know?” That’s why I’m moving over here!
Randy: No!!! (laughs) Maybe I should! Maybe I should move to Norway!
Crew: Two weeks ago, WASP had the attendance record for this place in Norway; these guys broke it. They had more people in this place than WASP did.
Randy: Actually, our first two shows broke the record! It’s cool.
There are lots of WASP fans who still want to see you.
Randy: Yeah yeah yeah. And I haven’t been here in a long, long time.
I was disappointed that you never made it to Finland on this tour.
Randy: We didn’t have any control over that.
Rich: Every gig we have played, we have slammed them! We packed the places, and people love us.
VIOLENT NEW BREED
Your new album VIOLENT NEW BREED is completely different from 900 lbs STEAM, and I would even say it’s one of the best albums released this year?
Randy: Wait till you hear the new one! It smokes it! You think I’m kidding; I’m not kidding, man. It fucking blows it away!
Your new album is modern hard/rock-metal with a tough attitude and great production. I think Chris Laney had a lot to do with that?
Randy: Oh, he has a lot to do with it, big time. He’s a great guitar player! A great bass player. He plays keyboards, sings, produces, engineers. When we met him, it was like a godsend! He’s talented and young too! He’s only 34 years old! A Swedish guy, he’s the bomb dude. Let’s move to Sweden!
Rich: The whole thing starts with an idea, he has great ideas, and we take the ideas, and we embellish.
Randy: He’s fucking talented!
If I had to compare your new album to other bands, I would say it sounds like Rob Halford’s solo band?
Randy: Ok yeah, what a bummer! What a fucking drag! To sound like fucking Halford? Are you kidding? He’s a metal god of all gods! Do you know? What a compliment that is! Am I right? Am I fucking right? Oh my god, to be even in his reverence!
Rich: I would so much rather hear Halford than Blackie. Nothing against Blackie. I like Blackie. But I don’t give a fuck!
Randy: If it has a few Priest overtones, it’s because of the fucking Priest fucking rule!
So I have a good point here (laughs)
Randy: Yes! Absolutely man! Fuck yeah, man! The best metal band of all time! For someone to say that our music sounds a little Priest is fucking awesome!
Rich: I’ve been often compared to Bon Scott, Ronnie James Dio, or Blackie “Laughs.” Don’t get me wrong; I like Blackie! I don’t have a damn thing against Blackie! When we do a WASP song, I feel I should sing it close to how Blackie did.
Randy: Blackie and I, we have a couple of issues! But that’s because we have been friends for so long. We are not in competition with WASP, people keep on wanting to pit us against each other, and that’s not how it is. I’ve moved on. This is a new band, we have all new members, and we are just trying to make good records. Itï¿½s got nothing to do with Blackie, WASP, or anything else!
Do you know how many copies of VIOLENT NEW BREED have sold?
Randy: I have no idea! I don’t have a clue.
Was it a worldwide release?
Randy: No, it was never released in the States, only in Europe. But we are working on that; we might release it there. But by that time, the new one is going to be out anyway! So fuck all this shit! It doesn’t matter because it’s on the Internet the next day anyway! You have no control over it anymore. One person buys the record; it’s worldwide the next day, over the internet. So we are giving shit away; we are doing videos; we are doing stuff on YouTube. We are giving tons of shit away to try and keep this rolling. The new one fucking kicks ass!
It’s been less than a year since VIOLENT NEW BREED came out, but the new album is already finished?
Randy: Oh yeah, it’s gonna smoke your ass, ill tell you that right now!
When is it coming out?
Randy: As soon as possible, we’re working on it! I want to start working on the next one!
WASP, BITS, AND PIECES
Do you guys have kids?
Randy: Yeah, I have a son who’s 23, actually. He’s going to be on the new album. He’s a rapper! He’s a white rapper! He’s terrific. Richïe’s son wrote some lyrics on the new album, so finally, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time! Our kids to do something with us!
Animal, the second generation!
Randy: Yeah, yeah, but it’s fucking cool, you know? I’m really proud of him. I’ve never tried to dictate what he should do. He loves rap, and you know he’s better than Eminem, I don’t know, he’s fast, you know? Fuck, that’s my kid! It’s pretty cool, man. He’s going to do a little something on the album, he’s written some lyrics, and I think that’s pretty cool. We have almost come full circle now. That’s fucking cool when your kids are doing something, you know?
Randy, Chris Holmes, Tony Richards, and Balckie Lawless
It’s been 22 years since you left WASP, and people still know you because of that. Does it ever get difficult for you to deal with that?
Randy: Deal with what? With people still asking, “WASP WASP WASP!!” It does. As I said, I’ve been with Rich longer than I was ever with Blackie. Blackie is a very talented guy. We had our day, right? It’s like our turn or whatever. We’ve done demos; we’ve driven across the country a million fucking times, you know? We’ve been brothers forever, man. I want everybody to concentrate on what we are doing now; it’s no big deal.
Crew: You still had your rock star status just yesterday; we were driving by the festival, and you opened the door, and everybody’s going “Randy Piper!”
Randy: Hey, it was the chick that jumped in that I wanted to keep! I would have put her in my guitar case and took her home!
Rich: I wouldn’t be in a band with him if he weren’t who he is; he’s a fucking awesome good person.
Randy: Thank you, man!
Rich: Everything we have done, we have broken records. People said that we wouldn’t do it. In America, they are waiting on young bands to do something, but everyone is sick of the fucking bands there. We are going to be the guys who fucking change their minds.
Although you don’t like to talk about it too much, I still give it a try and ask some more… Randy, do you remember when you last time visited here in Scandinavia with WASP?
Randy: I don’t know, maybe 1984 or 1985? It’s been a long time! I don’t remember, not really! You know I’ve got a trunk at home full of stuff from everywhere. It’s sitting on my back porch! There’s some cool shit in there!
What do you think of the latest WASP album, DOMINATOR?
Randy: I haven’t heard it, I heard one song, and I thought it was good?
Do you have any contact with Blackie at all?
Randy: I talked to him a couple of years ago, its water under the bridge; you know what I’m saying? We can talk, everything is fine.
How about Chris Holmes then? As you said, he was briefly a member of Animal at some point. Why didn’t he stay permanently in the band?
Randy: Chris had some issues that he had to deal with or whatever. I love Chris. We have been friends for 25 years or something like that?
The very last questionï… Who actually plays drums on the first WASP album? Was it Steve Riley or Tony Richards? I’ve heard different versions about that?
Randy: Tony. I was there when he was recording his parts. Tony’s a fucking great guy, man!
Alright, guys, we have to finish this because Heaven and Hell will start play soon!
Randy: Make fucking Ronnie wait! Who the fuck does Ronnie James Dio think he is? I love Ronnie! He’s the bomb dude; he’s one of my favorites!
Is he better than Halford then?
Randy: There, neck and neck, man, “Laughs.”
Ok guys, have a nice evening and see you later!
Randy & Rich: Thank you!
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