INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Singer-songwriter Oni Logan’s musical journey has taken him from South America to Hollywood and Switzerland, where he currently resides. Logan’s best known as the lead singer in the heavy metal band Lynch Mob, with whom he did the classic WICKED SENSATION album in 1990. Later in the mid-’90s, he worked briefly with former Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson in a Violent Demise band. The group recorded an album, but it was unfortunately never released. Logan took a long hiatus from the music business before hitting back in the L.A. club scene with his new band Head Set. After moving his family to Europe, Oni released his first, all-acoustic, solo album STRANGER IN A FOREIGN LAND in 2005. Logan reunited with Lynch Mob in 2008, and one year later, the band released its latest album, SMOKE AND MIRRORS. The band started their European tour last October, and a couple of weeks late,r I had a chance to sit down with Oni in Sweden and discuss his return and various other topics. Here we go!
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Well, I just witnessed your brilliant performance here in Gothenburg, and although the place wasn’t too big, you guys still rocked out great!
You know, at every show, I always give 110 or 115 or 120 percent on stage.
Don’t you get frustrated and have a feeling like, “I just run this through, and that’s it”?
No, I never do that because if the band sounds good on stage and we’re vibing together, and it sounds quality on stage, it’s a pleasure for us to have the opportunity to get our sounds together, to get our set together, you now. Because there’s a lot of different places in the world, and you get to this venue, and you go off well Jesus Christ what do we have here for these boxes as monitors, oh they’re complete “scheiße, “they’re completely shit or what do I have to rely on. Okay, so tonight was a night venue, but we had a nice audience, but they were small, but they were mighty. And what my feelings ais, my ultimate feeling is I don’t care if it’s 70 or 100 or 150 or 200, the next time we come by, they’re going to know that we rocked the house. And that’s what—you have to give it up, you have to give it all because it sounds so good on stage that it’s a pleasure to make this happen.
That’s a great attitude, and as you said, people will come to see you next time as well.
Absolutely, I mean, you cannot have an ego that big. I mean what it comes down to is the music, I mean we travel many miles, we travel enduring many miles of riding in buses, not buses but even smaller accommodations, vans, what have you, going to you know flights and into a van and then you travel four hours or five hours, you get to the place where your destination is, you have two hours to get ready. So you have to do a soundcheck and then take a shower and get ready for the gig. It’s a lot to ask without too much sleep, you know, and you wake up so early. I mean, today we woke up at 5:30 in the morning from France. So we’ve been going, you know, and any little bit of sleep you get is only 10 minutes, 15, you know whatever you can get within the flight.
I actually talked with George before the show, and then we discussed this current tour and its crazy schedule…
Yeah, it’s just been a roller coaster in a way. Your body doesn’t feel like it’s ever getting any rest. When you get to the hotel, you still feel like you’re moving, you know. It’s been a bit rough, but what we want to do and the goal is to invite the European audience to Lynch Mob world.
Are you kind of rebuilding a Lynch Mob career here in Europe?
Yes, of course, we’re trying to rebuild a relationship with the audience. Many fans out here have welcomed us, and we’re just trying to do as best as we can under any circumstance, you know. When we hit the stage, it’s about giving the audience hopefully what they’ve been expecting for the night, even though if we haven’t had any sleep. So it’s been rough.
THE LEAD SINGER OF LYNCH MOB
This SMOKE AND MIRRORS tour has been going on a long time before this European leg. You sit out for some of the U.S shows, and the band then had some replacing singers like Marq Torien and Keith St. John there… What happened then?
Well, you know that’s personal, personal things that happened in my life. This year has not been the best year for me. I’m going through a divorce, and I’m living out a suitcase. I had to take care of things. I had to get back to Europe, where I’ve been living in Switzerland. It hasn’t been the easiest last five, six months for me, and for anybody that was upset and that came to the show in Canada or L.A., you know my thoughts towards it was George do what’s best for your family, I’m not going to take that as an if you choose to use somebody, I recommended some singers. But I had to give my life straight. I’ve got things going on. I’ve been away in America for five months. And my whole life in Europe, it’s crumbling at the seams. So you have to understand my situation. So I said whatever’s best you have to do. And so I recommended a couple of singers and he ended up choosing a great singer. So for me, it’s not disrespectful to me. It’s that everybody needs to make a living, and I’m not going to stop you; I’m not going to stop you. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
I’m asking that many fans are confused about what’s going on with the Lynch Mob lineup?
Yeah, they’re very confused, yeah. And I can only express and maybe make a statement right now because we will continue to make music. I’m just at a point where I need to sort out my situation, I’ve been living abroad in Switzerland now for over nine years, and well, you know, we have our highs and lows within relationships. I’m going through a divorce. So I can only ask the fans to please understand.
So that divorce thing is still going on?
Yes. And I can only ask the fans to understand. Sorry for the confusion, but I will be there. I will be there. George and I make great music together, and I believe that from the bottom of my heart. It’s just I had to take a leave of absence because of this. So that’s my situation, you know, I’m sorry if I offended anybody, I know there’s been people that came to the show, and they go: “what the fuck? who is this guy, and what’s going on, and what is all this confusion?”
How much do you follow metal and hard rock discussion or forums on the web with media like Blabbermouth or Metal Sludge?
Well, to be honest, I don’t go on the web that much; I’m a primitive, I like my time alone, I like my time to do simple things like walk my old dog, my old pal Gaucho. I never was the type of person that was up at first at the forefront to promote myself. Friends of mine told me to come on, you should do this, and you should do that, and Facebook and Twitter twat and all that stuff, it’s just not me. I’m about just keeping it simple; I’m into writing upmost. Foremost I’m into writing music, writing lyrics, spending my time in the forest, spending my days in nature, and trying to discover within myself and soul search within myself as to what I need to say in this or that moment in time, you know?
In a way, that’s sounds great!
I don’t apply myself too much into the cyber world because, yes, emails are okay with me, but once it gets beyond that, you know, I don’t know, I’m not one of these guys that are looking for stardom, I’ve never been. That’s why I kept a low profile over the years. I don’t care that much about that. What I care about is the music, that’s first and foremost in my life, and that’s what you have on SMOKE AND MIRRORS. What you have is the rebirth of the Lynch Mob, so to speak.
It’s funny when I talked with George about SMOKE AND MIRRORS, and I told him that for me, it sounds like a kind of back to the roots album, back to the first Lynch album, and he said, it’s all about the chemistry between you two. Do you agree with that as well?
It does. It’s not a mind—what we have is what we come out with, for some reason, our energy; we speak in a language that is primitive. He plays his guitar, and I sing my lyrics, or I come up comes my theme for the song, the song title, and it’s like the ancient way of weaving, primitive. It works. We don’t have any preconception that we have this and that amount of song titles, and this is what we’re thinking about. No, it’s about jamming in a room. It’s about George being able to let loose and just get into his groove. And then I take that groove that they come up with George as we did on SMOKE AND MIRRORS with Marco Mendoza and Scott Coogan, and I’d come in for about an hour, I’d say okay yeah that sounds great man, okay that would be a verse or that would be a pre-course, and that’s a course, that’s killer. One hour, one hour and a half tops. I take this piece of music, and I would go into a room and then start writing thinking of what, you know, my whole thing is going off all of the vibes of what it’s giving me, and he gave me a great platform as he did what is it 19 or 20 years ago, it was really working it this time you know. And he was stepping up, you know, George was giving me the best that he’s got, you know, we’re back together, and we’re going to do this, right. And I had to show up for that, I had to come up to bat for that, and I was like, okay, this guy needs some business, I’ve got to give him some business.
I mentioned to George that when I listened to the new album, I mentioned that there are some Southern influences there as well. Do you agree with that remark?
Well, if you listen to the track “Smoke and Mirrors,” yes, it’s Middle American stuff, you know? We’re from there; I was raised in South Florida. I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1976 with Ronny Van Zandt a few days before the plane went down. It was a record-breaking crowd at the Hollywood Auditorium out in the Everglades in 1976, and I was like 11 years old. It was one of my first concerts. My first concert was Peter Frampton Comes Alive in 1976. That was in Miami Baseball Stadium. It was Mother’s Finest, Gary Wright, and Peter Frampton. My second or third concert was the Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then a few days after that show in South Florida, they had that plane crash. I remember this very well. I mean, it was a very emotional thing. I also saw Aerosmith and more, and I’ve seen all of them as well. So what we’re digging from is from the past of classic rock, and we know Middle America, we have the resonance of those feelings of the time of classic rock and roll, that’s where we come from. You know, George may have been with Dokken and created a whole different scene, but realistically we’re from the same egg. So what you hear, you know if George plays a bit of slide on SMOKE AND MIRRORS, that’s just by his choice, it’s not me saying play some slide.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to sound Southerns something new for Lynch Mob…
Yeah, something new, it gives him another avenue, and it gives me another way of telling a story. “Did you hear about the news today,” you know that kind of people push for a new kind of way, you know? And I was talking about the movement of the presidential situation within America, you know the election of Obama, everybody’s pushing for a new kind of way. This is a whole different. This is historic for a black man to become President, so here I am taking all this information, you know, and I’m just trying to be a channel of some sort of my little two cents, my little one cent.
So unlike most artists from the 80’s/90’s, you’re trying seriously to say something with your lyrics?
Well, it depends on who wants to be involved and who wants to say something about it. I mean, you’ve got many guys from the time period who just want to rock. And that’s their business, which is cool, you know, keep it showtime. But if you want to get any deeper than that, well, you might want to look to me.
Well, I’ve been missing many years and only purposely because I needed to find another life beyond just rock and roll. I needed to find a family life. I needed to find myself spiritually, you know. I did little things here and there, but I never let the music take me over or the egoism of rock and roll to take me over because I’m not interested in that. What got me into music was the music, not because I could forward or have the prosperities of I’m a rock and roll guy, I can buy this, I can have this, and never that. It was always about the music.
SOLO ALBUM AND OTHER STUFF
Okay, there’s your solo album called STRANGER IN FOREIGN A LAND and…
Yeah, the solo album was actually…
It was released in the middle of your “lost years”?
It was in 2005. I just had been to Switzerland, Switzerland, one year and then I got a call from this producer fellow Michael Voss from Germany. He goes, “I hear that you’re living here in Switzerland, in Europe, and I would like to get you back in the biz,” and I was like, “Wow, okay, so what do I do?” I had an acoustic guitar, and I think many fans were like, they didn’t know what to think of it when it came out because they were expecting the shouter, the howler, the dark, creepy-crawly cat, you know. And what I gave them was a safe album only because I was feeling very humble in my life, I was feeling very satisfied in my life, I was living on a farm you know. I had mountains around me; I was living in a picturesque environment. And everything, he was like, looks, just come up with some songs, come up with your songs. I wrote the whole record on acoustic, and I would bring it to Monster in Germany, and this is what I was feeling was different stylistically. I thought, ultimately I asked Michael, I said don’t you think we need a riff or a rocker, he was like “No man you’re in a different place.” I respect Michael for telling me that. Because I went through and true to where I was, I wasn’t in that headspace of doing riff and rock and roll. I was just writing music and talking about my life at that moment. In the end, it was a nice little album, people weren’t ready for it, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do it, and it’s just a different timeline in my life. I mean, maybe in a half year, I’ll write a completely another album, you know I always want to keep it fresh. That’s where I’m at today.
Well, this is a little hypothetical question, but what kind of material would you now do for that album? Perhaps some more hard rock-oriented stuff this time?
No, if I do an album with the Lynch Mob, it will be Lynch Mob. If I do an album by myself with another artist or project, it will be different. I want to keep it interesting for me because, as I said, I only got into this business. After all, it’s the music. It needs to fuel my soul, and it needs to complete me. I don’t want to play some fucking role of I’m going to do this; I have to do this, showtime every year.
You don’t want to be anyone’s puppet in the business.
I don’t want that because you know what, it’s not worth it, there’s not enough money for that, you know.
Ok, I think I know what you mean here. How about Rowan Robertson? Tell me something about your artistic relationship with him?
Oh, that’s a beautiful relationship. He’s my best friend, and we’re writing music; actually, he’s been sending me amounts of ideas, and so what you can expect from Rowan and me is something very special again. He’s a special person, he’s a special friend of mine, and all I can say is that the next project I think everybody should look out because it’s going to be coming on very cool and it’s going to be coming on very soon.
Do you already have some release schedule for that project?
At the moment, no, because we’re talking about Lynch Mob, I’m trying to accommodate everybody. I’m trying to make things work within my personal life to make everything work. So time schedule, I would say 2011?
Okay, we have to wait for that until next year. By the way, where is Rowan living at this time?
He’s in L.A., doing great, doing his thing with his band DC4, and he’s been sending me great ideas with this drummer from Devon, England; his name is Ryan Snow. He’s a fucking catch man, and he’s a special drummer. I mean, I’m talking about creative drumming, percussion drumming, and then Rowan sends me these little ideas, and they’ve been sending and sending and sending and everything, so I just have to get involved in it. Once I find the right place and my right headspace, it’s going to be very special, and that project will be called something other than Violets Demise … but we’ll see “laughs.”
Did you hear that some of your and Rowan’s old stuff from the ’90s is finally going to be released?
Yes, it is, and my dearest Wendy Dio. She’s always been a source of creation for me…
It seems that we have to leave the venue very soon. Is there still something you want to say for your fans?
All right…. Yeah, all I can say, people, is that I love you very, very much. Oni Logan stands for music, soul and power, and peace. Thank you for coming to all the shows here in Europe. I appreciate it all the best to you all. We’ll see you the next time around. Thank you.
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LIVE PICTURES FROM LYNCH MOB SHOW IN GOTHENBURG!