L.A. GUNS singer PHIL LEWIS!
Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns has had a long and interesting relationship with Metal Sludge. Well, we don’t know how interesting it is but it does go back at least as far as April 11th, 1999 when he first did 20 Questions with us. We were pretty hard on Phil in that original interview but he stepped up to the plate and answered all of our questions anyway. The next year he played a solo acoustic set at our second-ever Metal Sludge Extravaganza on November 30th, 2000 but afterwards things seemed to get a bit strained. We weren’t sure why, but we just chalked it up to him being quirky and British. Phil did sit down for an audio Rewind with us in 2002, but he later changed his mind and snatched the tape back from our interviewer! For more details on this incident and lots of other interesting stuff, you can read the written Rewind that Phil eventually submitted on July 6th, 2004.
All things considered, we weren’t sure how Phil would respond to another in-person interview. So to increase our chances of success we sent in our ace correspondent C.C. Banana to work his yellow magic! Not only had C.C. been successful in convincing loose cannon Jani Lane to finally commit to his Back-4-More earlier this year. The Banana has really been racking up the interviews over the past few months.That damn fruit has really been on fire this year and we’re lucky that someone like VH1 hasn’t come along to snatch him away from us! Here’s what C.C. Banana had to say about his Phil Lewis experience:
Hey there, Sludge!
Here it is, the long-promised 3-Wind with Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get it to you sooner, but the interview clocked in at around 60 minutes and it took me more than 12 hours just to transcribe it! Regardless, Phil was very forthcoming with lots of great stories to share. Though he and I had met briefly on one prior occasion, this was our first real mano-a-banano. As an L.A. Guns fan from way back (with dozens upon dozens of their albums, singles, imports and promos in my collection) it was a sincere pleasure to sit down for an actual conversation with the man behind the music. Phil was a real class act and I even got to bond with him over our respective tours of duty performing as superheroes at birthday parties! The less said about that the better. Anyway, I very much hope you enjoy the following encounter between the Brit and the Split!
Sludgeaholic of the Year 2003
Thanks for the intro, C.C.! The following is by far the longest and most detailed of the three interviews we’ve done with Phil. The last time we heard from him, he was promoting a new album of cover songs and telling us that he regretted L.A. Guns turning down our premier Metal Sludge Extravaganza Tour. This time around, he and the band are about to release their first album of original material since founding member Tracii Guns departed in 2002. They’re also currently traveling the country as part of the American Metal Blast Tour alongside Stephen Pearcy, W.A.S.P. and Metal Church. On the night this interview was conducted (July 17th at the Brookhaven Amphitheater in Farmingville, NY) the bill also featured a special performance by legendary crossdressers Twisted Sister! Not to mention an appearance by a large talking banana. Anyway, read on and enjoy!
1. What are you currently up to? This is your one and only chance to plug your shit.
Well, the tour is going great! It’s nice to be out with a slightly different package than the last few summers, a serious metal package. It’s really brought out the metal in us! We dropped “The Ballad of Jayne” immediately! We’re having a lot of fun. And now, here we are in Twisted Sisterville! Just waiting for the helicopter to land any moment now! Metal Church is great and it’s great hanging out with Steven and W.A.S.P. is putting on a great show every night. So you’re saying that everything is “great,” Phil? Hey, that’s great!
2. L.A. Guns is just one of the many fine bands featured on the new “Hollywood Rocks” box set. In fact, L.A. Guns is the only band to have not one, but TWO tracks featured in this 4-CD collection. What makes L.A. Guns so special that they deserve this honor? Do you think anyone really cares about that one song with vocals by Paul Black?
Ah! Thank for you for informing me because I didn’t actually know that. And I think we SHOULD have two bloody tracks! Paul Black or whomever, we’ve had enough singers! Let’s spread it around a little bit.
Are you getting paid for both?
Actually, Paul is and I’m not. Look, here’s the deal… when I joined the band in 1986 the first record was pretty much recorded, but I was having trouble deciphering Paul’s lyrics. He’s one of those singers who mumbles a lot, and I really couldn’t make them out. So I’m sitting there in my Speedos at the Tropicana Hotel, listening very, very, very carefully and trying to make out the words. As a result, the lyrics on that first record are mostly what I THOUGHT Paul was singing. You’d have thought that the manager or somebody in the band would have said, “Well yeah, but maybe we should include Paul in the writers’ credits.” But instead they were like, “No, no, fuck that. Phil, you wrote the words!” And it really wasn’t my writing, it was just my interpretation! So Paul sued us and he got $100,000, which he rightfully deserved. And that’s what happened.
Paul is actually a very good friend of mine. He was one of the first guys I met when I came out to L.A. and I expected him to be a dick but he wasn’t. He was actually pretty cool. But I do feel bad for him sometimes, you know? Sometimes I feel like I stole his gig. But if he hadn’t nodded off at the A&R guy’s interview just as they were gonna get signed, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten the phone call!
3. Give us 3 reasons why anyone should give a fuck about a new L.A. Guns album.
Because it’s brilliant! We’re actually about to release a brand-new record called “Tales from the Strip.” It’s not a concept record but it does have a central theme of Hollywood, sex, drugs, rock & roll… very sexy, very dramatic record. We’ve been working on it for the last year or so. It’s supposed to be coming out in August, but it really all depends on Mike Varney at Shrapnel. Depends on how busy he is! But I suggest that you all run out and buy it because it’s brilliant.
4. When Jani Lane did his 20 Questions interview in early 2001, he told us about the time you gave him a recipe for a throat spray — a secret potpourri of oils and spices for when your throat is all fucked up and you have to get through just one show. What makes this recipe such a big a secret? Did you invent this elixir yourself or was this wisdom imparted to you by someone else? How many other singers have you made privy to this secret recipe?
I swear to God, not two days ago I got a call from C.J. Snare on the “Rock Never Knows When to Stop” tour, asking me for some herbal tips. It’s true, you know, I’m a little bit of an alchemist! I like to burn incense and candles and I like aroma therapy.
You do smell very nice.
Thank you. I don’t do drugs but I do have these little remedies, little pick-me-ups. And it’s mostly just eucalyptus and stuff that anybody can buy. I don’t know, it could just be psychological but it does help me. And I guess now other people are interested, too.
So you made up these concoctions all by yourself?
Well, they have these throat sprays that you can buy anywhere. I just read the ingredients on the label and then I make it myself. So I guess it is mine, actually!
5. Rate the following singers on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 being someone who sounds like they’ve just had a tracheotomy and 10 being someone with pipes from beyond.
I hate this question!
John Corabi = John Corabi is off the hook. He’s a really, really good singer. I hate doing numbers but if I had to give him one, then somewhere between 8 and 10.
Jack Russell = Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. We’ve done a lot of radio stuff together and the thing that I love most about Jack is that even at 7:00 in the morning, he can just switch it on! And that’s something that I really admire about him as a singer.
Jizzy Pearl = Jizzy does a really good Phil Lewis!
Joe Elliott = Joe Elliott, of course, is undoubtedly a good singer… ummm… next question.
Stevie Rachelle = Oh! If you add all those singers together, that’s how good Stevie Rachelle is! He is absolutely the matrix of all vocalists.
Donnie Vie = Donnie who? Vie.Never heard of him. From Enuff Z’Nuff. I don’t know who you’re talking about.
Mark Slaughter = Good singer.
Blackie Lawless = For me, Blackie Lawless is… you know how Cher sings? She has that sort of chesty “neck” voice. I think Blackie is like the male Cher, if you can imagine Cher exponentially powerful. I think he’s great. I mean, I was at that gig at the Lyceum back in the day. He’s really got talent. I’ll be honest, I’ve never bought a W.A.S.P. album in my life. But I think he’s an absolutely off-the-charts singer.
Steve “Sex” Summers =Steve needs some singing lessons.
Paul Black = Now, for a drummer… he’s really good! (laughs) But then again, so is Steven Tyler. And they’re both absolutely brilliant singers. I just can never understand what Paul is saying! That’s why we got sued for $100,000! It’s alright, it’s fair. I mean, it should have been him. Absolutely should have been him.
6. Who is the most overrated band today and why?
I don’t know specifically who they are, but it’s the band that plays that happy rock music with the singer that’s got that really awful English accent.
No. I’m not sure if it’s Good Charlotte or Blink 182 or 183 or whatever, but it’s one of those guys. I don’t know who they are, but they’re the ones. I suspect there might actually be a few of them out there.
7. Since the split of Tracii Guns from L.A. Guns, there have been numerous instances of shit-talking between the two camps. A few months ago, Tracii posted on the Metal Sludge Gossip Board (among other places), accusing Steve Riley of lying and stealing Tracii’s royalty checks. He even threatened to sue Steve and sell his house to Nickey Beat for $10 bucks! What is the current status of this feud?
I think Tracii was just having a bit of a Robin Hood complex at that point. He probably had a little too much time on his hands and should have been concentrating on making his new record instead of talking smack on the internet. Steve Riley never ripped him off, Steve Riley never ripped anybody off. You know, we just… Tracii left. He left and he expected us to just collapse. But we didn’t, we carried on. We scrambled for awhile but we managed to get our shit together. And in some weird kind of way, maybe it pisses him off that we’ve been able to do that. So he takes it out on Steve. But it could be me next week. I don’t know. But I think he should just get over it and concentrate on writing some good songs with his new band.
8. What’s the smallest and the largest crowd that you’ve played for in the past 12 months?
Well, I must say that the smallest crowd we’ve ever performed for was on that tour we did a couple of years ago, where it was Firehouse, Ratt, Dokken and all those guys. (The Metal Edge Rock Fest, which we invaded HERE) They actually made us go on before they’d even opened! So the answer to the first part would be that we did start a set with NO ONE there, in a big huge open field! We gave up after about 3 songs.
The largest, I guess… it would have to be one of those big radio station-sponsored events they have in those huge states in the midwest, like Nebraska or Minnesota or the Dakotas. They put on these all-day festivals and there are anywhere between 20,000 and 70,000 people out there, just baking in the sun. It’s remarkable. You could play one night like that and the next night there could be no people at all. So it varies quite a lot.
9. Of the following, which do you prefer and why:
Dr. Who or Red Dwarf = Oh, totally “Dr. Who!” “Red Dwarf” disappeared up its own ass. It tried to be too funny. “Dr. Who” never tried to be funny. They took it really seriously and they had like a $100 budget and made the best use of aluminum foil and smoke and mirrors. “Red Dwarf” was just lame. Good question, I like! Thank you.
The Liberators or Filthy Lucre = Same thing.
Paddington Bear or Winnie the Pooh = Paddington, because I was born in Paddington. I was born about 10 yards away from Paddington Station, where the bear was abandoned.
Rowan Atkinson or Peter Sellers = Oh, tough question! The Black Adder or Birdie Num Num! It’s impossible, I love them both. I was never a big fan of The Pink Panther series but the Peter Sellers films of the early ’50s are just so funny! You know, he used to hang out with The Beatles. Just brilliant. Recently HBO made a movie about him, “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.” Geoffrey Rush, the guy who played The Marquis de Sade in “Quills” played Peter Sellers. I haven’t seen it yet, but watch for it.
Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square = Trafalgar Square. Piccadilly Circus is a bit dodgy because that’s where all the rent boys hang out! That was the epicenter for male prostitutes in London back in the day. You’d get off the train and it was a very, very sketchy neighborhood.
Were you ever a rent boy?
No! I was just passing through. But Trafalgar Square is just Nelson’s Column and the fountain and the pigeons. And every year, everybody gets drunk and jumps in the freezing-cold water.
The Old Grey Whistle Test or Top of the Pops = That’s a difficult question because we were actually on both. I saw Alice Cooper on “Top of the Pops” doing “School’s Out” when I was 13 and it changed my life. He was lip-synching but he wasn’t even pretending to be in sync! “The Old Grey Whistle Test” was sort of a highbrow kind of a show that would normally feature jazz fusion bands. Somehow or other, my old band Girl ended up getting on the show but the anchor Anne Nightingale didn’t like us one bit. She was moaning about us being a “hype band” and she was very unhappy about us being there. And we had to stand right next to her while she was gritting her teeth and giving us this lovely intro! Then we went on and just kicked some ass, just like we did every night.
Torme’s “Sex Action” or L.A. Guns’ “Sex Action” = Aaaaaaaaah! Busted again! You know, Bernie Torme came up with that (singing from the chorus) “Sex Action…” It’s 100% his. L.A. Guns had a song, and again I couldn’t figure out what Paul was singing, but the words “Sex Action” just fit right in there. Bernie, please don’t sue me! So… I don’t know whose I prefer. I think they’re both really good, straight across the board.
Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan” or John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” = I have no idea what you’re talking about. Is that English literature or something? I’m “Catcher in the Rye,” dude. I’m not into Shakespeare or “Lord of the Rings” or any of that stuff. It bores me to death. Bollocks!
Gerry Laffy or Simon Laffy = Well, Gerry Laffy because he left home.
Burger King or Wimpy’s = Wimpy’s! Because you can’t get the egg burger at Burger King. It’s a nice toasty bun with a quarter-pound beef patty and a fried egg on top. Yummy! And you chew into it and it all dribbles down your chin. The egg burger! It’s fantastic.
10. Where is the strangest place you’ve ever pleasured yourself?
Ummm… I don’t know… some mongrel in the back of a shed somewhere…
11. Give us a memory about touring or being in the following cities:
Sheffield = Uh, breakfast at Joe Elliott’s mum’s place. She made egg & chips for breakfast.
Dublin =Never been.
Amsterdam = Can’t remember! (laughs)
Istanbul = Um… Istanbul, yeah… man…
I’m just impressed you were in Istanbul!
Yeah. We played a show in Istanbul and it was just weird. It was a room upstairs and there were hundreds and hundreds of people all jumping up and down. And I thought for sure the floor was going to collapse. Fortunately it didn’t! I was actually amazed at how cool and how nice it was there, considering it’s just 200 miles from Syria. That was this year, February I guess. So yeah, I loved it in Istanbul.
Tokyo = Pretty girls in Tokyo.
Bangkok = Uhhh… you know, I went there once back in the day with Girl and it was really sketchy. The promoter was also the chief of police, who also happened to own the radio station. It was actually kind of James Bond-ish. I remember getting paid and having the money in my back pocket while I was singing, because it was so sketchy that I just couldn’t leave it backstage. I guess this would have been around ’83 or ’84… 1884, that is. And there were all these guys, these little drones standing around with machine guns! In case the crowd got too rowdy. And then everybody had to calm down. I’m not getting too serious, am I? We’re trying to keep this light, but you asked me about Bangkok and I’m just telling you what happened when I was there a long time ago.
Hong Kong = Hong Kong is great. The airport is right in the middle of downtown, and when your plane comes in to land you can literally look at people hanging their washing on the lines in sky-rise apartments.
Chicago = The Thirsty Whale! That’s where we started, you know? The first time we played Chicago was at The Thirsty Whale. It’s long gone now, but we went over so well there that ever since then we’ve had this bond with Chicago. Whenever we play there now, I mention the Thirsty Whale and the place always go bonkers.
Salt Lake City =Strange sort of Stepford grandmothers selling you little bottles of Jack Daniels and vodka behind kiosks that shut down at 7:30 at night. Yeah, weird.
Seattle = You know, we used to play Seattle but we haven’t played there in awhile. Back in the day, we were on the same label as Mother Love Bone, who later became Pearl Jam, so we were very privy to that whole new scene that was just then starting. Little did we know that it would end up smothering us! But honestly, we used to have the best, off-the-hook shows up there in Seattle at places like The Metro. And we played… I believe it was called the Enormodome, with Def Leppard. And there were something like 60,000 people inside this amphitheater! It’s not an arena, it’s a stadium! We were playing with Def Leppard and it was in the round. That was one of those really fucking fantastic moments, because it was absolutely packed. The sound made by 60,000 people inside a stadium like that is just amazing. They’ve since pulled it down, I guess about 10 years ago. We have to have a little weep here.
12. Which L.A. Guns song do you have absolutely no desire to ever sing live again?
Ohhh… “Big House” or, um…. you know, there are a few clunkers out there that I’d rather just forget about. We’ve recorded something like 13 or 14 records so there are more than a few! But I’m kind of having fun thinking about the good stuff right now.
Which ones never get old?
Ummm… “Electric Gypsy” never gets old. “No Mercy,” that never gets old. “Sex Action,” “Never Enough,” you know, they’re great. They’re what we call “the nuggets.”
13. Yes or no, has Phil Lewis ever:
Tried to suck your own penis = No, but I have a video of Ron Jeremy doing that.
Sucking your penis?
No, not MY penis! But it can be done, Ron Jeremy did it. I’ve got a video to prove it. It’s called “Sulka’s Wedding.” I found it at a swap meet and it belongs in the Smithsonian. It’s fantastic.
Seen Bernie Torme naked = Unfortunately.
Lit a ?100 note on fire, then used it to light a cigar = No.
Had phone sex with an underage girl = Well, at one point I was working at a psychic hotline for Alex Kane, who’s now in AntiProduct. At the time I was also running a studio, this is when I was making my “More Purple Than Black” CD. And Alex called me and said that he had a great way for me to make $20 or $30 an hour: “Why don’t you join the psychic hotline?” And he had a whole network of rockers! You got paid by the minute. The longer you kept somebody on the phone, the more you got paid. And I did a lot better with the women than I did with the men, you know. Typically, the first question I’d ask would be “When were you born?” Something like that. “Oh, so you’re a Sagittarius, blah blah, blah…” Then eventually I’d ask, “So what are you wearing?” And at that point they’d either hang up or it would continue. And there was this one girl, clearly underage, and I had her on the phone for about 2 & 1/2 hours. It must have cost her parents $1,000! So the answer to your question is yes, I have had phone sex with an underage girl, but her parents were paying for it.
Shit on a tour bus = NEVER. The absolute golden rule. Of course not.
Had a wank in Battersea Park = I love that question! (laughs) No, I’m so sorry. I would love to say yes, but I haven’t. Next time!
Planned for your retirement =No such thing.
Touched another man’s penis = Well, I didn’t actually touch it but I may have felt a few behind me on the tour bus. Tracii, Muddy… they’re not the shyest guys in the world.
Contemplated suicide = Never.
Drove drunk = Unfortunately yes, I have. And I regret it enormously and I’m never going to do it again.
14. Give us your fondest memory from the following years:
1620 = Haha! Oh, what a good year that was! The wine was fantastic. I loved the bustles back then, women just don’t walk the same without them. Did you have a squire? Yes, of course. Then and now.
1812 = Uh, it was a bit bumpy. There was a lot of agro going on back then. Sharecroppers and all that. It wasn’t quite as smooth.
1971 = Um… T-Rex.
1979 =In the studio recording “Sheer Greed” with Girl.
1983 =Ummm… that was really kind of a druggie time for me. I was very unproductive and I actually can’t remember much about it.
1986 = April 1st, joined L.A. Guns. April Fool’s Day!
1989 =A good year.
1992 = Ummm… mid-life crisis. Yeah, that was it. I’m afraid so. Shitty time. I left the band. We were recording “Vicious Circle” but we knew the meter had run out. Even if we’d recorded something like “Dark Side of the Moon,” we knew the record company wasn’t going to get behind it and people weren’t going to buy it. It was really depressing.
1998 =I rejoined L.A. Guns!
2003 =Ummm… that’s getting closer now. That’s around when “Waking the Dead” came out, and it woke us from the dead! And everybody else, I hope.
15. Name one good thing about:
Girls = Uhhh… just one? Okay, pick two. No, there are hundreds! Too many. I can’t answer that question.
Drugs = Nothing.
Cake = Uhhh… cake…. I like cake with rum in it.
Circumcision =Essential. Nothing to do with religion, just for cleanliness.
Bubbles the Van = Bubbles! (laughs) I actually gave Bubbles a credit on “Man in the Moon,” if you look closely enough. Some guys like Jags, some like Corvettes, I like ’70s vans. Bubbles is just an old 1970’s Dodge van that I’ve had for the last 4 or 5 years, maybe a bit more. My daughter Trinity christened it Bubbles and I absolutely cherish it. This thing has got, like, a shower and a fridge and a sink and a bed and a mirror ball… and I think I may have had sex in it once or twice. It also works as a dressing room when I do a local gig or go to the beach or something.
Strawberries =I love strawberries. And bananas. Good man!
American Idol = I really don’t like it. What I don’t like about it is that it’s all cover songs, that’s the thing that really bugs me the most. These kids are singing their hearts out, and I really love that about it, but it’s the same old shit. We want new stuff! If they were singing songs that they wrote, then I’d be interested. But you know, it’s just too corporate.
Tracii Guns = I love Tracii Guns.
Buggery = Well, “buggery” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What it actually means is anal sex. But it’s kind of an English term, let me give you an example. Say there was something that you didn’t want to do, like take out the trash. And you’d say, “Well, I’ll be buggered if I have to take out the trash!” In essence, you’re saying, “I would rather have a man’s penis in my bottom than have to take out the trash.” A quaint, colloquial English term!
Metal Sludge = Awww… like with the girls, there are too many good things about Metal Sludge. Pick one thing you read recently that you liked. I loved that fucking 6-page thread on the message board about the first L.A. Guns record, and how absolutely everybody loved it for its rawness and its intensity and honesty. Even though that doesn’t stop them from slagging me off once in awhile.
Phil Lewis with some anonymous Sludgeaholic wearing a Metal SLUT shirt!
16. Have you ever looked at Steve Riley and thought, “Blimey! Steve really is looking pretty old these days!!”
Phil breaks out into a huge cackle at this question! Uhhh… no more than I’ve looked in the mirror and said the same thing to myself.
17. What do you remember most about writing or recording the following songs:
Hollywood Teaze = Well, I kind of made up this thing about living in a Hollywood basement, but at the time that I wrote it I didn’t realize that there are no basements in Hollywood! Everybody lives in condos!
Overnight Angels =Can’t remember it.
Let It Rock =Can’t remember it.
Electric Gypsy = I remember it was April of ’86 when I first moved out to L.A. and I lived at the Tropicana Hotel on Sunset. And somehow or other I borrowed or I stole a motorbike, an old Yamaha or something, just driving it up and down Mulholland and being totally inspired to write “Electric Gypsy.”
Never Enough = I was trying to sort of comment on the excess of ’80s, like the $100,000 videos and $500,000 records. Just the whole excess of that period. Sure, we’d sold a million records but it really wasn’t enough because everybody else, like Cinderella, Poison… they were selling two million, four million, six million… and it was just never enough. And I kind of wanted to write a song about that. No matter what we did… it was never enough.
The Ballad of Jayne = This is a little complicated. It’s not about Jayne Mansfield, like a lot of people think. Jayne is an anonymous character who, kind of like myself, ended up in the creative pool of Hollywood. She just sort of got swirled into it, but she wasn’t quite as lucky as I was. A big person from a little town… it’s tragic. That’s why we’re not playing that song on this tour, I makes you cry. Cry from boredom!
Kiss My Love Goodbye = You know, that was the most corporate fucking piece of shit we ever did. It was like we were in a sausage machine. We had the managers, the business managers, the lawyers, the lawyers’ wives… and everybody had a fucking opinion about the direction the band should be going. You know, they sat us down and gave us the big pep talk: “Kids, you need a hit single!” That sort of thing. So we were bringing in outside writers… Legs Diamond, everybody! I don’t detest the song itself so much… but the chorus was written in Seattle and the verse was written in Studio City… as I said, it was a really corporate thing. And we had “Over the Edge” on the same record, which was our essence and our soul. And we wanted that to be the single from “Hollywood Vampires.” But the suits put out “Kiss My Love Goodbye” instead. So that album was just an amalgamation of all this stuff, everything I hated. It was really the most insipid time for us.
What about “It’s Over Now?” I’ve always liked that song.
You know, I like that song too. That was a bit more of the same thing, a lot of writers. Jim Valance was involved in that. I didn’t dislike that song quite as much, it had a bit more soul to it.
Access Denied = That’s from that really obscure record I was telling you about before. My daughter Madison had just been born. I wasn’t in a band but I had my own recording studio. It had one of those TV monitors so I could watch my daughter sleeping while I was in the studio recording. And I could be on psychic hotline duty at any moment! Occasionally I had to stop singing so I could do a little bit of the hotline. I love that song, though. And I love that record, I’m extraordinarily proud of it. I know it’s not a big-sounding metal record, but I put everything I had at the time into that album. And the whole point of “More Purple Than Black” was that I’d left that whole black period behind. And it wasn’t that I was going to get all Christian or anything, I just had a few issues I needed to work out.
Beautiful = I, um… I’m an orphan. Really an orphan. And before we recorded “Man in the Moon” my girlfriend hired a private investigator to track down my family, or what was left of my family, with what little information I had. And even though I thought it was absolutely a lost cause, this investigator somehow tracked down legions of cousins I had in Ireland, Scotland… I flew out with my daughter and I met my people for the first time. They all looked like me, same haircuts and everything! And that was just beautiful. “When I’m with you, I call it home.” That’s the song that I wrote when all that stuff was going on.
Vampire = “Vampire” is a song that encapsulates all the song titles and album titles… the whole history is in that song. I’m starting to think of it as Phil Lewis’ “My Way.” People are responding to it well when we’re up on stage, so that’s great.
18. If you could be involved in a group sex activity with two of the following five historically significant 20th century political figures, which two would you pick and why?
Hillary Clinton, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Josef Stalin
Ohhh… who sat up and thought of that question? I’m sorry, I don’t have any idea. You’ll have to ask Andy Johns, he’s the history major.
19. If you were standing naked in a field divided by a razor wire fence, and on your side are 20 fat chicks ready to get jiggy and on the other side are 2 hot skinny chicks, would you risk slicing your bag open to cross the fence or stay to hit the fatties and save your sack?
Oh, I always go with the fatties. Because they’re always so much more grateful.
20. Out of all the bands with whom you’ve ever toured or shared the stage while in L.A. Guns, Girl, etc., which ones were the coolest to work with and which ones were the biggest bunch of wanks you’ve ever met?
Oh, Cheap Trick were the coolest. AC/DC were very cool, Def Leppard were very cool. Billy Squier was a wanker. He was a bit of a prima donna. Uh… when Girl opened for Kiss at Wembly back in the day… in 1886… we had a cover of their song “Do You Love Me?” in our set. And Gene asked me, “Could you please not play our song?” So of course, we opened with it! But there really were very few times that we’ve had problems, we’ve opened for some sensational national acts. For the most part they’ve all been pretty cool, though Billy Squier was a big disappointment. But I’ve got to say that the good experiences really far outweigh the bad.
NOTE: This next question was not one of the ones we gave to C.C. Banana, but he says that it’s something he’s always wanted to ask a member of L.A. Guns. We actually don’t think the Banana gets out very often, so we’ll let him have his moment in the sun. Knock yourself out, C.C.!
The song “Crystal Eyes” appeared on L.A. Guns’ “Hollywood Vampires” album in 1990. Then four years later, it also appeared on “Vicious Circle!” The exact same song, the exact same recording! That’s like Kiss releasing “God of Thunder” on “Destroyer” and then just for the heck of it, throwing it on “Rock and Roll Over” too! Come on, what gives?
That was the suits again, trying to fix things because they’d made such a mess of “Hollywood Vampires.” They tried to salvage the song. “Oh, this band really does have a soul!” So they tried sticking it on “Vicious Circle.” I think they also released it as a single, but by then I just didn’t care.
21. The Last of Phil Lewis:
Last drug you took = Marijuana.
Last sporting event you attended = Does tonsil hockey count?
Last concert you bought a ticket to see = Rammstein.
Last tribute album you performed on = Uh, I just did a Judas Priest song, “Living After Midnight,” but I don’t know the name of the album it’s going to be on. And before that, I did “Heartbreaker” with Frankie Banali for a Led Zeppelin tribute, which I thought would be out by now. But both of them sound absolutely great.
Last piece of useful advice you received = “Get a real job.”
Last time you talked to Phil Collen = I’m not sure. Way too fucking long ago, I can’t even remember. But you know, it’s all good. We pick it up where we left off. It’s not like we have to call each other and keep in touch and have tea parties and baby showers. Because we’ve been through so much. Is there any bad blood there?There’s no bad blood. I don’t believe in bad blood. I don’t have bad blood with anybody, I always address it.
Last time you vomited = Uhhh… awful question! Not that long ago.
Last time an audience spat at you = Uh, Reading Festival… in like ’83 or ’84 when Girl played there. But it was a compliment! That was the tradition, to get spat on.
Last time you got arrested = I’ve never been arrested. Because I never got caught!
Last time you lied = Just now!
22. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association! You know how this works.
Adam Hamilton = Brother.
Stacey Blades = Brother.
Britt Eckland = Goddess.
Biff Byford =Drinks a nice cup of tea.
C.C. Banana with Phil Lewis and his “brother” Stacii Guns or Tracey Blades or whatever the hell his name is.
Keri Kelli = I want Keri to write a good song. He’s got it in him! You know, he’s a great player and we’re all just waiting for Keri to do something amazing. Come on Keri, it’s time!
Pete Way = Ummm… Pete Way once told me a wonderful story about how his girlfriend forbade him to go on the road. He actually promised her that he would no longer tour! But one day he told her that he was popping out to buy a newspaper and a pint of milk… and instead he got on a tour bus and didn’t come back for six months! It was the Girl / UFO tour and he showed up with absolutely nothing! No suitcase, nothing!
Don Arden = He’s like Fagan from “Oliver.” He really was the idol-maker back in my day. And when I was getting my new band together, EVERYBODY warned me: “Whatever you do, don’t sign with Don Arden!” So who was the first person I signed with? (laughs) But I don’t regret a second of it. He was a great manager and he was a good mentor. We did have a few arguments along the way, you know… I was a kid and he was incredibly stubborn. But if there was no Don Arden, there’d be no Girl.
Corky Gunn = My hero! Corky actually saved me on numerous occasions. For awhile there, L.A. Guns went through this phase where we were always buying guns! We had nothing better to do than just go around to pawn shops, buying Glocks and Smith & Wessons. And incredibly stupidly, I pinched one. I got caught shoplifting a Colt .45 from a store in Colorado Springs. And they called the cops because it’s a serious, serious federal offense to steal a gun. But I didn’t know that, I just saw it sitting there and put it in my pocket. I thought maybe nobody would notice. And Corky stopped me from actually, um… I’d still be in jail if it wasn’t for Corky!
Ted Nugent = You know, I think he’s really good but he’s just got to chill out a bit, that’s all. Lighten up on the testosterone a little, you know? I’m not saying he should wear glitter… (laughs) but you know… I just don’t know what his deal is. We did a tour with him and he was great on tour. But I’m not big on raw meat. He wanted us to eat raw liver every night! He’d always take us out to his friends’ steakhouses and such, and there’d always be these huge venison steaks and antelope chips! But he’s good, you know? He means well.
Chip Z’Nuff =Chip Z’Nuff is welcome on my bus anytime! Any of those Enuff Z’Nuff guys… Johnny Monaco, Ricky Parent, all of them… uh… yeah… all 3 of them.
Well Sludgeaholics, there you have it — our big 3-Wind interview with Phil Lewis of L.A. Guns! Who would have known that Phil is actually psychic? We’ll have to ask him for a reading sometime. Phil told a bunch of great stories and even though he didn’t talk a whole lot of smack, he did take a swipe or two at Donnie Vie, which is always fun. We’re still not exactly sure how Corky Gunn saved Phil from a lengthy prison stay, but maybe we’ll ask about that when Phil does his Back-4-More sometime in 2019. As ever, our sincerest thanks go out to the tireless C.C. Banana for snagging yet another big-name interview on our behalf. We’d also like to thank Dave the tour manager for taking care of the Banana during his visit to the American Metal Blast Tour, with additional thanks to Louie V. from da Bronx for helping out as well. Check out L.A. Guns while they’re on the road this summer and look for their new CD “Tales from the Strip” wherever fine music is sold. For more information on Phil Lewis, his van Bubbles and his band L.A. Guns, visit their website:www.LAGuns.net
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