By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Late last year, fans of the 1980’s Sunset strip, glam-metal band, L.A. Guns were shocked to hear that long time guitarist Stacey Blades was leaving the band. Blades had joined L.A. Guns in 2004 and quickly became a fan favorite with his incredible guitar playing and cool rockstar looks. With Blades, L.A. Guns recorded two brilliant studio releases, “Tales from the Strip” in 2005, and “Hollywood Forever” in 2012. And after a brilliant performance at last year’s prestigious M3 Festival, (which was recently released by L.A. Guns as a DVD/CD set entitled “Live in Concert”) L.A. Guns seemed like they were on their way to possibility become bigger than ever before. All which makes the timing of Blades departure so questionable.
What follows in an exclusive RMS interview with Stacey Blades in which he finally explains why he left L.A. Guns, his future plans and much more.
RockMusicStar: Stacey, quite a bit has happened in your career since we last spoke in May of 2012. Let’s first start with your decision to leave L.A. Guns.
Stacey Blades: Yes, that is the million dollar question. It was a couple of reasons. We were touring and touring and touring, and it was getting really grueling. Things like flying all day and then getting into cramped vans for long drives. I have sciatica in my left leg, and that kind of travel was just making me miserable. I wasn’t enjoying it and I kind of was getting burned out. And then on top of that, my guitar playing was going in a different direction. I was trying to bring in more of a progressive style and they wanted to go in more of a Joe Perry 70’s type direction. Which is really cool, but I’ve done that for so many years. I just wanted to start expressing myself as a guitar player and a musician. So, those were really the two main reasons why I left the band. I felt that it was time for me to move on. It was a great 10 years. I’m thankful for being given that opportunity to replace Tracii Guns. We did a couple great records and had some great shows. I have a lot of good times to look back on. But it got to a point last year, where I was just drifting away from the band. It’s important that when you get to that point, you need to move on. If you don’t move on, the people that you work with will start to resent you and then vice-versa and then you just start fighting. I didn’t want it to get to that point. I didn’t want it to be a bad thing. So, it was all good with the guys in the band. And I wish them the best. And I have a lot of cool things happening.
RMS: You must be very proud of your accomplishments in L.A. Guns. You put out two very solid records, “Tales from the Strip” and “Hollywood Forever.” I felt that “Hollywood Forever” is in the top three L.A. Guns releases of all time, not to mention one of the best rock releases of 2012.
SB: Well, thank you. I think that it was a strong album; it has different styles to it. It was also cool that it came out in vinyl. It was a good way to exit the band, with that under my belt. It was a good record and we had some good times.
RMS: I also really like the live DVD/CD from the M3 festival that just come out as well. I love the raw sound of the live performance.
SB: Yeah, it’s straight off the board, it sounds alright. You do get a little reverb in from playing an amphitheater like that. But it’s alright.
RMS: You have a couple acoustic shows coming up with Robert Mason of Warrant. You first gig is in Warren, PA. No offense, but why did you decide to play you first show in the big rock capital of Warren, PA?
SB: (laughs) Well, Robert and I have always talked about doing something together. He’s a friend of mine. When L.A. Guns and Warrant played together, the two of us and Joey Allen would always hang out. We are just a bunch of goofballs. And we were talking a couple of weeks ago about doing some acoustic shows. At first, we talked about getting different guys from different band to perform with us. But, it’s so hard to do that, to put an all-star team together. Because you have everyone’s schedule to worry about. So, then we decided to do acoustic shows with the two of us instead. And then a week later, I received an e-mail from a promoter asking me if wanted to play some solo shows. I told him that I don’t sing that well, and I suggested a show with Robert Mason and me. And he was cool with it. So, we are going to do a weekend up there playing in Warren, PA and then Erie, PA. That will be our first weekend together. We are hoping to do many more shows, depending on Robert’s schedule of course.
RMS: What is the setlist going to be for those shows?
SB: We will be doing some Lynch Mob, some Roxx Gang, which I haven’t played in thirteen years. One of the songs that we are planning on playing for Roxx Gang, is “Red Rose.” In Roxx Gang, we actually did an acoustic version of “Red Rose” and it really translates well as an acoustic song. We will also do some Led Zeppelin, and a few L.A. Guns and Warrant songs, maybe even some Faces and OZZY. It’s going to sound really cool and I’m really looking forward to doing it.
RMS: In addition, you are also working with Soundtrack loops. They make who make copyright free sound samples.
SB: Yes, that is a real cool project that I’m involved with. Their website is www.soundtrackloops.com , and its music that is copyright free and can be used in downloads, mixes, movies and stuff like that. We did about twenty two – 90 seconds to 2 minute pieces of different guitar styles and sounds. My thinking going into this was to get some rhythm patterns down and then emulate different types of guitar players such as Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, George Lynch and Eddie Van Halen. So we did all of these different styles and they really turned out well. I had a great time doing that and I’m going to continue to work with that company as much as possible.
RMS: Where there any guitarists that were challenging for you to emulate?
SB: I tried doing a Steve Vai thing and that was really difficult. I decided not to do it because it would have taken hours and hours to get it to sound right. I was messing around with an octave doublers effect, and it kind of sounded like Vai. It was towards to end of a very busy day in which I was recording all day long.
But overall, I did a lot of different styles. The Blackmore style was a bit challenging as well, because I had to be dead on with no room for error. He has a neo-classical, Lydian mode sound and style. I ended up using a Fender Strat and it came out really cool.
But creatively it really was a lot of fun. I did a Brian Setzer-Stray Cats sound, and I got the sound down perfect with this amp that I was using. But it was nice to be able to use all this gear to get the sounds right.
RMS: I also heard that you are working with producer Andy Johns again. What project are you working on with him?
SB: Well, it’s a bit of a funny story. Andy is working with a very talented artist Paul Christiana, who is a singer from New Orleans. And his entertainment lawyer is Al Staehely, who used to be the singer in the 70’s group Spirit. So, Paul recruited Andy to record some of his songs and Andy recommended that they use me for the all the guitar tracks. And Paul has an amazing voice, kind of a cross of Janis Joplin, Scott Weiland and David Lee Roth. He just has a great voice and personality. We have done four songs already. We are going to do more soon, and then we are going to start shopping them around to labels this summer. So, this may turn out to be something. But the material is really cool and like I said, he has this amazing voice. And working with Andy is great, we have done three records together and we have a very good working chemistry, we can usually read each other’s minds.
RMS: That sounds cool. A few years back you did a symphonic solo record. Do you have any plans on doing another one like that?
SB: ….possibility. That has crossed my mind. It’s just that so much has happened over the last few months, since I left L.A. Guns. But, right now, I’m just kind of taken everything that has been thrown my way. I’m also doing some show shows with the Hard Rock All-stars, that features Juan Croucier from Ratt, and Jamie St. James and Pete Holmes from Black n’ Blue. That’s been a lot of fun, and our first show is on April 20th, near San Diego, CA. So, I’ve been learning all the Ratt material as well. Which is cool, Warren DeMartini is a brilliant guitar player.
There are also some other offers that are coming in, so I have my hands in a lot of different cookie jars right now. I look at myself as kind of a free agent and I’ve been a busy boy.
RMS: Would you consider touring again, if the conditions were better?
SB: Absolutely!!! It really wasn’t that I was opposed to touring, as much as I just needed to take a break. I was really starting to fry out physically and mentally. And the band (L.A. Guns) just didn’t want to stop. I just felt it would be best for me to back away for that, for them to keep going. And they respected that as well. I’m alright if I’m on a bus and I can stretch out. But any one with sciatica will tell you, it’s a bitch. When you are not looking forward to going out on the road, it’s the most miserable thing in the world. And it will start messing with your head.
RMS: Yeah, well it seems like you are in a good state of mind at this point in your career.
SB: Yes, I am. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for sure, I spent close to a decade in L.A. Guns. It’s like getting out of a long marriage in a way. But a lot of great things are happening. And I’m working with some great and talented people. I’m very excited about the future. Life is a journey, and you have to look at yourself as an open book. I have always wanted to experience new things. And now I have the opportunity to do just that.
For more on Stacey Blades, please visit www.staceyblades.com