ex-Saigon Kick / Skid Row drummer &
?Waking Up Dead? star PHIL VARONE!
We first did 20 Questions with ex-Saigon Kick / Skid Row drummer Phil Varone on August 6, 2001 and a very entertaining Rewind on June 20, 2002. In the nearly 3 years since then, Phil has left Skid Row, but don’t you worry about that. More importantly, he’s been the subject of a feature documentary film entitled "Waking Up Dead," in which Phil’s every move was captured for the world to see.
Anyhow, it’s more than time to catch up with the one and only Phil Varone, so let’s get to it with his long-awaited 3-wind! Here we go.
1. What are you currently up to? This is your only chance to plug your shit.
Currently, I am promoting my new movie ?Waking up Dead? at film festivals around the United States. You can see the movie trailer, and get info on the movie at www.WakingUpDeadMovie.com. Along with that, I still record records as a hired player. Matt Kramer and I have been putting a band together to play at the movie premiers. It is a fun project to promote the movie, and play the songs that are on the soundtrack.
2. Let?s get right to the point. You star in the new documentary ?Waking Up Dead,? in which a camera crew followed you around for 4 years and captured your every deed on film. How did you happen to be selected to star in such a film, and what made you agree to have your every moment ? both good and bad ? documented for the whole world to see?
Well, the film maker is from Florida, and I had first met him while on Tour with Kiss. He was at a show to do a story on Kiss, and after finding out we were opening, he asked about doing a few things with Skid Row. He eventually shot the Skid Row DVD ?Under the skin?, and did a story on me for local South Florida news. The news story would eventually win 2 emmy?s. At this point he had the idea of following me around. I guess after hanging with me for a while, he realized I was a train wreck, and wanted to get it all on tape. I had no idea that we were going to be able to put a movie together, but after putting a seven minute pitch together, we immediately got interest.
3. Why on earth would anyone want to make a movie about Phil Varone anyway? Come to think of it, why on earth would anyone want to SEE a movie about Phil Varone?
I asked the same thing!! Who gives a fuck about me, except the crazy sluts I would bang on the road. I have to say if just the girls that I fucked went to see the movie, it would be profitable!! Anyway, what was the question? Oh yeah why me? The movie is not a Phil Varone movie. It is a human story of a person who went after a dream, and what I had to deal with along the way. It is a very honest, revealing movie, and it will stand on the message and the story line. No one knows who I am, but many people can relate to my story, and that?s who we want to get to.
A compelling scene from "Waking Up Dead."
4. During the course of the filming, did your bandmates or others around you ever get annoyed with all the cameras and lighting shadowing you day in and day out? We heard a rumor that certain Skid Row members weren?t too keen on that going on at times. Any truth to that, or are we way off the mark?
Actually, I did a lot of filming myself while I was on tour. When you see the movie, there are time when a camera crew wouldn?t fit or be able to capture what I did if I hadn?t filmed it. The band never said a word about filming. In fact, when the film maker would come out, he also was documenting for Skid Row Dvd?s, so it was never an issue. The band always thought I was nuts, so I don?t even think they though twice about it. In all fairness to the band, except for one member, they have been helpful with the making of the movie.
5. Rate the following drummers on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being someone who can barely twirl sticks, and 10 being a skin-banging demigod:
Eric Singer = 10
Frankie Banali = 10 solid
?Wild? Mick Brown =10 great guy
Steve Riley = when he played with skid row for a show, I heard he barks while playing
Steven Adler = Great guy, sorry to see what happened to him. Appetite is still one of the greatest Rock records ever.
Dave Grohl = 20? He can do no wrong
Charlie Benante = 15
Paul Geary = 10, nice guy, many nights on the road with him?
Steven Sweet = 8 for the show, and what he accomplished
Ginger Fish = can?t really say. Its hard to tell with all the loops goin.
6. What?s the deal with you and Skid Row, anyway? Are you still in the band, or are you gone for good?
There is no deal with Skid Row. I had an amazing time with them, and was able to accomplish many things. I had to leave the band, because I was going to die. My doctors advised me, that I did a lot of damage to my body from drugs and touring, and it was time to make a decision. I could live, or be a statistic of the road. I chose to live, and go to rehab. There was no way I could continue touring, and stay away from the temptations of the road. It was probably the hardest decision I had to make in a long time. I had to leave something I love , but I had no choice. I have nothing but great wishes for them..
Phil Varone in his days with Skid Row
7. Didn?t you quit Skid Row once before, but then came back? What was that all about?
When I went to rehab the first time, I left the band. When the tour started , they had some other guy playing drums. Some guy named Tim from Orlando. This guy sucked, and didn?t learn the songs, after having 6 weeks to practice them. One thing lead to another, and they called me to come out and finish the tour which was about three weeks long. They are my friends , and I didn?t think twice. I went right out , and met them on the road. Because at the time, I was fresh out of rehab, I fell hard, and started right back up where I left off. To say the least I knew I couldn?t do that anymore. I finished the European tour that I committed to, and went back into rehab for number two.
8. Of the following, which do you prefer and why:
Magilla Gorilla or the Banana Splits = Magilla Gorilla, wasn?t he the perverted monkey that peeked into people?s windows?
Red Lobster or Joe?s Crab Shack = Joes of course. Red Lobster is white trash seafood. Wait maybe I should like Red Lobster then.
Bobby Borg or Mike Fasano = Mike of course. Great guy, and the hardest working drummer in show biz!!!
Hernia checks or prostate exams = I am offended you would ask. I think I am the only person that gets my prostate checked once a week. Well not by doctors…
The Judas Priest Reunion or the Motley Crue Reunion = Motley Crue. That is my favorite band of all time.
John Travolta or Olivia Newton John = John Travolta, the under dog in Hollywood, and then Pulp Fiction and a new career..
Hand jobs or rim jobs = Well being the President of Ass Eaters Anonymous, I have to go with Rim job. You know what they say… there is only one thing better then eating ass.. Getting your ass eatin…
Fields of Rape or Spidee the Rapist = Yikes
Los Angeles or Miami = Miami.. I have lived there too long.
Powder or rocks = what are you talkin g about.. I never did anything… There is no evidence that I did cocaine… oh wait, I did the movie already, shit!!!
9. There have been many musicians who have tried to take the leap from vinyl to celluloid (metaphorically speaking, of course). Alright, so rate the following musicians-turned-actors on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being someone who has no business being on screen, and 10 being Oscar or Emmy material:
Jon Bon Jovi = 6 he is getting better, he could have skipped the vampire movie
Brett Michaels = Never saw Brett in a movie
David Bowie = I like him better on Vinyl
Courtney Love = I think she is really good
Mark Wahlberg = Great acting..
Little Steven Van Zandt = Huge. You gotta love it
Mariah Carey = Hey Mariah do the world a favor, and buy 15 feet of rope, and find a real strong branch!!!
Gene Simmons = The ultimate bad guy. Great stuff.
Ice-T = I think he made a good jump to acting
Meat Loaf = I?d rather hear him sing
10. Matt Kramer wouldn?t quite answer this in his 20 Questions interview, so we?ll try it with you: Why was Jason Bieler?s famous nickname ?Jabba,? and when?s the last time you spoke to him?
You would have to ask Matt about that one. I don?t really have much to say about the whole thing, other than, it is a shame when you grow up with someone and have many of the same goals , and then when you are about to achieve goals people do a 180 on you, and change for the worst. You never think a friend would turn on you, but it happens all the time through life. That is what hurts the most. In my life I have gotten rid of many negative people. Whether they live or die, has no significance on my life anymore. I believe in Karma, and I have paid for my fuck ups. One day everyone will meet with Karma.
Phil Varone (with a mohawk!) in the latter days of Saigon Kick
11. In your 20 Questions interview you did a few years back, you stated that ex-Saigon Kick bassist Tom DeFile was one of the ?biggest dicks? you?ve ever met, yet you guys reunited for a few Saigon Kick shows in 2000 (minus that Jabba guy) ?just for fun.? If you had such a problem with Tom, how were you able to put aside your differences and do those shows without killing each other?
That was really hard. I realized that a bad mistake was made by asking him to do the tour. We were already out on tour, so it was too late. You just chalk that one up to experience, and hope you never make the same mistake twice.
12. What do you remember most about writing or recording the following songs:
What You Say = greatest time of my life, first record, first trip to LA, Mike Wagener
Hostile Youth = Hated the whole recording process. We were in Sweden, and I was miserable!!!! One of the dumbest decisions to record in Sweden
All Alright = refer back to Hostile Youth
Dizzy?s Vine = not me on that one
One Step Closer = back to Sweden, the second dumbest decision, Matt leaves the band
Killing Ground = band falls apart, chickens without heads, a real miserable time.
Spanish Rain = garbage… the band lost it
Ghost = Love this song, had lots of fun… Thick skin is an amazing record..
One Light = One of my favorites. Johnny is amazing on it, and the song writing is brilliant.. To this day this song effects me
Just Hold On = proud.. I wrote the music, and Matt being the master that he is sang an amazing vocal line, and wrote incredible lyrics. It was two good friends writing a song together
13. Out of all the bands that you ever toured with while in Skid Row or Saigon Kick, which ones were the coolest to work with, and which ones were the biggest bunch of jackasses you?ve ever met?
The coolest… Ramones, Extreme, Cheap Trick, Kiss, Tesla, Poison, Vince Neil,
Jackasses…. hmmm let me think KINGS X, KINGS X, KINGS X and did I mention KINGS X. What a fucking joke. I am just sorry Jason didn?t beat their spineless tour manager up more. FUCK YOU KINGS X!!!!!! I will wave to you from the top!!!
14. Who?s the most overrated band today and why?
I have to say, I don?t listen to new bands.
I can?t tell them apart, and most of them can?t play live for shit. I guess its not their fault. The record companies spit them out like crazy, and before long they have a hit, and no experience what so ever. I enjoy old bands that are amazing and can play. You know when you had to play the song all the way through in the studio… Hey do you remember the 2 inch tape machine?
15. Yes or No, has Phil Varone ever:
Grown a Chia Pet = yes, the Scooby Doo
Swam with dolphins = well he was the running back , but I was coked up
Worn a ball gag = no, when I had the carrot put up my ass, I had a dog leash hooked to my dick piercing and I was hog tied, but never a ball gag, thats weird.
Worked a 9-to-5 job = yes
Prank-called Rob Affuso = no
Gone bowling with Sebastian Bach = no
Considered getting a second Prince Albert = hell no, I have enough problems peeing
Accidentally sliced open your nutsack while shaving it = YES!!!!!!! and blew a ball out while jerking off with wesson oil for 2 days on a coke binge
Tasted your own semen = I am offended… OF Course. The problem is those greedy girls who don?t want to spit it back in your mouth.
Stopped breathing = Ummm, yes
16. For what amount was your largest music-related paycheck, and what did you end up blowing it all on?
I don?t know off hand, because most of that is a blur. It wasn?t much, and I bought Drugs, drugs, drugs…….
17. Name one good thing about:
Girls = everything… sometimes you wish they just didn?t talk
Vodka = nothing, I had the worst experiences drinking vodka. I was robbed, bruised a rib, and woke up naked on my bathroom floor with my ass bleeding. (wait that was a good one)
Disco = Saturday Night Fever
South Beach = Not too much, too many fake assholes
Chihuahuas = none
The Van Halen III album = don?t know it
Hamburger Helper = good food cheap when you are poor and on drugs
Paris Hilton = nothing
Anal sex = giving or receiving?
Cocaine = at a time many things, but there is nothing good about it now
18. For a tax-free $250,000 in cold, hard cash: You have to climb down into the cesspool beneath a stinky outhouse at an extremely busy campground on a hot day in July, and stand down there in the murky stench and filth as happy campers come by and piss and shit on you; then when they finish their ?business,? you have to yell ?Thank you!? to each and every one of them from the depths below. Do this for a full 3 hours without taking so much as a smoke break, and the cash is yours. Would you do it?
Of course, I don?t smoke.
19. The Last of Phil Varone:
Last book you read = Gene Wilder?s ?kiss me like a stranger?
Last movie you saw (other than your own) = in the theater ?Meet The Fockers?
Last casino you gambled at = I don?t gamble
Last drug you did = cocaine a long time ago
Last fast food drive-thru you hit = Wendy?s
Last porn site you looked at = street blowjobs
Last new song you heard on the radio that you really dug = Green days new one
Last time you cleaned your Prince Albert = today in the shower
Last time you talked to Snake Sabo = not too long ago, we talk a lot. He is a great guy.
Last time you barfed =1990 at the Saigon Kick party to celebrate our signing. I got alcohol poisoning, and slept with my head in a pot to I wouldn?t choke on it
20. What?s next for Phil Varone? Seriously, how do you top having a movie made about you? You?re not planning on a ?Waking Up Dead Part II: Jabba Strikes Back? or anything whacky like that, are you?
I am writing a new TV show right now, and I hope to be able to do some acting in more movies.. I am taking it day by day…
21. Time for Metal Sludge?s Word Association! We mention a name, and you give us your thoughts.
Paul Stanley = ultimate front man
C.C. DeVille = I will remember our times forever…
Robbie Gennet = goofy but tolerable
Marilyn Manson = Amazing Talent
Pete Dembrowski = great guitarist
Chris McLernon = Funniest man alive
David Ellefson = Don?t know him too well
Scotti Hill = Crazy… good times
Fabio Jafet = We have been through a lot.. I appreciate and respect the journey we have been on, a best friend
Matt Kramer = The next Morrison.. Talent for days!!!! Underrated and ready to be unleashed. A best friend.
Now there you have it! Straight from Mr. Varone’s mouth! (Well, fingers, actually, ’cause he e-mailed us his answers. Never mind.)
For more information on "Waking Up Dead" and to view the trailer, see the official film site at www.wakingupdeadmovie.com.
The film premiered at the Chicago Documentary Film Festival on April 9th, 2005 and will be showing at other festivals in the coming months including the Beverly Hills Film Festival on Saturday, April 16th. It’s definitely hard core and a peek into the not-so-glamorous side of the music industry, so be sure to check it out!