LYNCH MOB – Black Waters
December 2014 EP Sun Red Sun was initially authored and cut by American heavy metal outfit Lynch Mob in mid-2012 roughly, its line-up consisting of guitarist George Lynch, vocalist Oni Logan, bassist Robbie Crane, and drummer Scot Coogan at that time. During recording sessions, that respective Lynch Mob incarnation would ultimately disband.
“Sun Red Sun was written and recorded when the band was really at its peak, I think,” reckons George Lynch. “We were touring a lot, we were rehearsing a lot, and we were writing a lot. We got in the studio with a great producer named Bryan Carlstrom. We wrote and recorded these songs, but we never finished them. The vocals were never finished and the guitars needed to be worked on, so all of those needed to be done. Intermittently, I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to finish these songs and finish this record, because I felt that it was important to get them out there. It was very frustrating to have them sitting in the vault. I managed to finish it, and I’m very happy about that. I think they are important songs for people who are into Lynch Mob. I think they’ll appreciate them, and enjoy them. I hope (laughs).”
Various Lynch Mob line-ups have existed through the years. “There’s been many line-ups, yeah,” the mainman concedes. “Unfortunately, Lynch Mob has just been a revolving door of different members (laughs). Yeah though, there’s been a few that have come through. So yeah, the band unfortunately disbanded and broke up during the process of recording this record. I took it really hard, because really what drives me and inspires me is the effort to get myself into a band situation where it’s a true band, where I’m not the boss, necessarily. Where it’s just a band of brothers; guys that want to play together, and have great chemistry, and write great songs, and stick together at least for a while (laughs). I know nothing’s forever, but I’ve never really been able to pull that off with Dokken, or Lynch Mob, or any of my other projects. It’s been tough to keep anything together for very long. I really had high hopes for that incarnation of Lynch Mob, so I took it very hard when it imploded and fell apart.”
George cites two causes behind the disbanding of Sun Red Sun’s line-up. “To be quite honest, one was I loved the band so much that I came to the band and said ‘Listen…,’” he submits. “I’m not trying to make myself sound like a saint here (laughs), but here’s what happened. I said ‘Guys, I want us to all own this equally. I think if we all own this equally, we’ll care about it to the point where we’ll stick together for a while, and keep going. That’s all I really want to see happen.’ Everybody seemed very happy about that. I offered to split the band up equally, so we all had equal ownership and made an equal amount of money. I thought that that was the right thing to do, but for some strange psychological reason, it had the opposite effect (laughs). The band started to fall apart, and I just watched it happen – I watched it right in front of my eyes over the next however many months it took for that to happen. It just disintegrated, and I still – to this day – have no idea why.
“There were also big problems with the singer, I think. I think he was… Well, I know that he was (laughs)… It got to the point where he was very undependable, and really not anything like a partner that we could depend on. He would be very unresponsive, would not show up in the studio for months at a time, and would not pick up the phone, wouldn’t email, and wouldn’t call for months and months at a time. That got very frustrating, and so we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t operate (laughs), and function as a band or a business, or anything. He was just… And to this day, I have no idea why. He was completely unresponsive, though. That started the whole frustrating process of trying to keep it together, but it just fell apart. It started with him.”
Disbanding following members becoming equal partners is seemingly strange, given that groups tend to break up for opposite reasons. Making band members equals tends to lead to better results, not worse results. “That’s kind of the common way of thinking,” the axeman muses. “You would think logically that that would be true. Thinking about it over the years, there is the idea that maybe there is a natural hierarchy, which is healthy. You can make an argument for that I guess, but somebody needs to be in charge, and I think that that was a problem. When everybody had an equal say, we could never get anything done (laughs). The band is named after me obviously, and I have kind of a vision of how things should be creatively and business wise. When that was sort of taken away from me and voluntarily, I didn’t have a problem with that.
“I found that other people were trying to make decisions, I think based more on just being controlling (laughs). Once in their life, maybe they had the power to do this, and they just went crazy and just turned into control freaks. That hurt us, where people would get into fights over having it done their way versus just kind of going with things. I’m pretty easy going – I’m not like that. I don’t insist on having things be my way at all. I like it when people are involved in the decision making, but other people did not react that way after we made that change in the structure of the band. I guess that’s why a lot of bands are still with a leader, and everybody else is a hired gun.
“I can see how that works, but personally, I think that’s a very lonely situation for a band leader. Say a James Brown kind of situation, where the guy is obviously the leader but he doesn’t associate with the rest of the band, and he’s very lonely. I’m not built that way. I don’t wanna be that guy. I like having friends and playing with my friends, and all working together and achieving results, taking the journey together, and enjoying the process together. I think that’s the reward, not selling a million records. That’s achieving stardom, but the enjoyable process of working together with your friends and brothers, and creating something from nothing, and watching it evolve. I love that.”
Lynch Mob’s next line-up has yet to be cemented. “Well, the current line-up – quite honestly – is just myself at this point,” George confesses. “I’d like to mention we’re working on another record right now for Frontiers Records, for 2015. We will be putting a band together, shortly. I’m in the midst of that now, but we’re not sure. We have to be very careful about who we choose, because we’ve gotta make sure that this one sticks. We’ve gotta try to make sure that this one doesn’t implode (laughs).
“I think people lose faith in you when you keep rotating through members and changing things up, because people get sort of invested in personalities in the band. When you keep changing things, I don’t think people like that. They like to be able to depend on their groups, like AC/DC. It’s the same guys pretty much, or The Rolling Stones, or Van Halen. I know we’re not at that level or anything like that, but I would like to achieve that needed stability at some point. Something that you can sort of count on and depend on, from record to record and from tour to tour.”
An iteration of Lynch Mob toured the West Coast during early 2014. “That was with Keith St. John (vocals), Jimmy D’Anda (drums), and Kevin Baldes (bass),” the composer informs. “Kevin’s from the band Lit, while Jimmy’s also in Shadow Train – a band that’s affiliated with a movie that I’m making called Shadow Nation. Keith I’ve played with before in various projects; he sang for me on the Kill All Control record (July 2011), and has been in and out of Lynch Mob various times. He’s a great guy. We also did some Japanese dates, but that was it. It was just another permutation of the band; it wasn’t really intended to last, or be the permanent band. We’ll see.”
Returning to the topic of Sun Red Sun, straightforward rocker ‘Believers Of The Day’ inaugurates proceedings. “To me, that one is most like classic Lynch Mob,” George reckons, beginning a track-by-track description of Sun Red Sun’s tracks. “Kind of what you would think of Lynch Mob, like the Wicked Sensation album (1990). Very Cult-ish. We were big fans of The Cult back then; they inspired our writing. I think that’s an important song, because it kind of connects us to our past.”
‘Erotika’ is a more groove-oriented affair, meanwhile. “That’s a very strange, surreal song,” the axe-slinger describes. “What I envisioned was riding a camel through the desert on acid or something (laughs), with a harem. It’s just a kind of mystical desert song. It’s got this kind of very strange riff that I think is kind of unique and cool. I think the whole process of recording that record was really trying to stay a little outside but stay grounded at the same time, which is kind of a very fine line to tread – kind of staying on the fence, and not going too far one way or the other. It was challenging, and at the same time grounded and solid. We had a thread of continuity running through it that was classic Lynch Mob, and at the same time pushing the envelope, searching out kinds of sounds and tonalities, and riffs and melodies and things like that – time signatures – without straying too far. I think that’s pretty much true, across the board with the whole record – except for the cover song, which is a Bad Company song.”
The Bad Company cover interpretation in question happens to be of ‘Burnin’ Sky’, the original rendition featured on the March 1977 album of the same name. “I always loved that Bad Company song,” George enthuses. “I like a lot of Bad Company songs, but that one seemed like a natural fit for us. When we were in the studio, we actually jammed it out at the end. There was almost like a (Red Hot) Chili Peppers… It started to get funky, and it was bad ass. The end of the song gets faded out on the record, which I was sort of against. I felt we should’ve just had a whole long version where we jammed out for like three minutes at the end. It just evolved into this really cool improvisational piece, and that’s what I remember about that song. We just kind of let ourselves go in the studio. It was a lot of fun.”
A guitar solo track arrives in the form of ‘Black Waters’. “That was kind of me just experimenting in the studio, coming up with a little interlude,” the musician offers. “The record company felt it would be nice to have some kind of a little guitar piece on there, to bridge two songs. It’s not a super-shred opus, but more of an atmospheric piece. It’s just me in a room with a bunch of pedals (laughs).”
‘Play The Game’ is another of Sun Red Sun’s straightforward rockers. “It’s kind of interesting, that one,” George feels. “It has this sort of whole musical bridge piece that’s in the song, a piece that had no vocals and had no solo. We were sort of debating whether it should just remain an instrumental piece without anything on top of it, like bands in the 70s did, where they would just let the chords and the music itself be, and let the arrangement do the talking. You don’t necessarily have to have vocals and solos over everything, but it just seemed like it needed more. So, this happened very recently. I went in a couple of months ago and just put an extended solo over the whole thing, which is on there now, which I guess they’re happy with.
“Yeah though, it’s always challenging. Sometimes if you have this really interesting music underneath where a solo is supposed to be, once you put the solo on there, you don’t hear that interesting music any more. It’s just kind of there, but your ears aren’t really catching it. It’s just kind of in the background (laughs), which is kind of sad. I thought that it was relevant on its own as well, but then you have a guitar solo all over the top of it. Anyway, we ended up with a solo on there. If people get a chance to listen to it though, to listen to the underlying music, it’s pretty cool.”
‘Subliminal Dream’ falls into the more groove-oriented category, meanwhile. “One thing I’d say about that – just from a gear standpoint – is that I have this one particular old pedal that I’ve had since I was a kid,” the Lynch Mob leader begins. “It’s called a Mu-Tron Octave Divider, and was made in the 70s. I use that as much as I can (laughs). I probably over-use it, but it’s just a wonderful piece. I use it on that song, on the main riff. It’s also on ‘Erotika’ as well, the chorus of ‘Erotika’. I was actually on a tour with Yngwie (Malmsteen) one year. He saw that pedal, and he kind of lost his mind. He said ‘I’ve been looking for one of those for so long.’ It’s just a really rare, classic piece, and no other pedal does what that pedal does, so it’s pretty brutal. Anyway… So yeah, that’s all over that song.”
Dedicated to late Badlands vocalist Ray Gillen, Sun Red Sun’s acoustic title track rounds out the seven-track jaunt. “There’s a little story behind that,” George muses. “Oni and I wrote that on the bus, while we were on tour – while that version of the band was still together. We had had a couple of drinks – it was after the show. We had acoustic guitars out; we were all having fun, and just hanging out. It just flowed. I came up with those chords, and Oni just started busting out. I mean, he had lyrics and everything. They just flowed out of him, and Robbie had the wherewithal to record it on his phone. We always remembered that song. We were always going back to that, like ‘‘We’ve gotta record that, man. It was a beautiful track.’ And we did, so it came full circle. What we did is we recorded it, re-recorded it recently. That was not recorded when the band was still around. We recorded that on our own here recently in my studio, and included that on the record.”
Deluxe and limited edition versions of Sun Red Sun include four remastered tracks, all lifted from August 2012 EP Sound Mountain Sessions. “That was a great experience,” the guitarist shares, remembering recording sessions. “It was really the place that made it so interesting, and I love that studio. I’ve done a lot of work up there, actually. It’s very remote, about a couple of hours north of LA up in the mountains. If we’d be working up there, in the winter it’d be snowing. We had to take this crazy, winding road up into the canyon for like an hour. It’s a very treacherous road, and so if you have bad weather, you can’t get out of there.
“Basically, it’s just a vacant house with a studio built into it that we rented out, and brought in all of our equipment. It’s a fully functional house, so you just live there – which we did. It’s wonderful, because you’re all hanging out together, and you’re writing. What we did is we wrote those songs at the studio while we were living there and working there, which was really neat. We really had no ideas; we just went in and said ‘Okay, we’re gonna trust things to fate and come up with stuff.’ We had no problem thinking we could do that, and we did. In that short amount of time – I guess like a week – we wrote the songs, and tracked them, and wrote the lyrics. It was wonderful.”
As referenced earlier in this feature, George is in the midst of recording further Lynch Mob material, material to be issued in 2015 through Frontiers Music Srl. “That is correct, yeah,” he confirms. “The one that we’re working on now. Actually, after I hang up with you, I’m actually gonna start recording some guitars today (November 14th). So yeah, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks working on guitars, and then there’s some drum tracks to do, and then it’s just all vocals and mixing. Then we’ll have it done by the end of the year, I think.”
The Naples, Italy-based Frontiers Music Srl is also due to release the debut studio effort from Sweet & Lynch. Pencilled in for January 2015 issue, the outing pairs the Lynch Mob mainman with Michael Sweet, who principally handles microphone duties for American Christian heavy metallers Stryper. “I don’t know if I’m misinterpreting it, but the way I look at that record, it’ll make the people that really like Dokken happy,” he laughs. “It has that kind of chemistry, where Michael has that kind of voice and that style – very clear, melodic but yet powerful. The lyrics are kind of on par with the lyrics that we had back in the day. To a certain extent, it’s like today’s version of – my interpretation of – what I’d be doing in Dokken if Don (Dokken, Dokken vocalist) could sing, and we were together and writing good songs (laughs).”
Lynch Mob and Sweet & Lynch aside, other musical projects are firmly in the pipeline. “There’s Unimog, which is named like the German vehicle,” George discloses. “It’s industrial-esque, if that means anything (laughs). All the music has been written and recorded. It’s very heavy yet strange music that I recorded with this programmer named Haze, who’s worked with Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails, and things like that. What we’re doing now is we’re trying to figure out how we’re gonna work different vocalists in. We’re talking to different singers; Benji (Webbe) from Skindred, Al Jourgensen from Ministry, and a huge array of other singers. I’m trying to see what fits on what song and how we can build this properly, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s an interesting record, and then I’ve got another project that I’ve been trying to finish up for quite a while.
“It’s called The Infidels, and that’s Sal Rodriguez and Pancho Tomaselli from the band War – the bass player and drummer from War. It’s sort of heavy funk with kind of a Latin feel to it (laughs), but very improvised, so everything was sort of written kind of on the fly in the studio. We had these long jams, so it’s got a kind of Band Of Gypsies quality to it as well. It’s very hard to describe but it’s really cool, so I’ve got that project as well. It’s called The Infidels. Then lastly, I have this film called Shadow Nation that I’ve been involved in for five years and working very hard on. We have a band that’s part of the film called Shadow Train, and we have a double CD that’s been done for quite a while now. It’s a great, great record. Hopefully that soundtrack CD will come out with the film sometime later in 2015.”
Sun Red Sun was released on December 9th, 2014 via Rat Pak Records.
Interview published in December 2014.
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