By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
When 80’s multi-platinum selling glam-metal band Cinderella, decided to take a break from touring this year, the band’s guitarist, Jeff LaBar, was determined to utilize this downtime wisely. And LaBar is doing exactly that. Currently, LaBar is involved in two exciting projects. Recently, he has joined up Nashville, TN singer/songwriter Brandon Gibb and fellow Cinderella bassist, Eric Brittingham, in a band called – Cheap Thrill. This band will be playing acoustic shows of covers and original songs across the east coast in late April and May, including a stop at Braun’s Bar in Arkon, NY. In addition to Cheap Thrill, LaBar has also started to record his long awaited solo record. This is a project that Labar has talked about for years, and with the exception of the drums, LaBar will play and sing every note on it.
What follows is an exclusive RockMusicStar interview with Jeff LaBar. During this chat, LaBar talks about his involvement in Cheap Thrill, the recording of his first solo record and more.
RockMusicStar: Tell us a little about your new band Cheap Thrill, that you’re in with Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham and songwriter Brandon Gibb? How did you get involved in this band?
Jeff LaBar: Brandon Gibb has been doing this for years with his brother. And Eric got involved with them a couple years ago and played bass for them, and they played as a trio. And Brandon called me about two months ago about joining up with them. He told me to learn three songs and we rehearsed a couple of times, and ever since we’ve been off to the races. We started out a few weeks ago in Florida, we played one acoustic set and then an electric set.
RMS: How would you describe the style and setlist of this new project? I’m assuming that you will perform some Cinderella songs, right?
JL: Yes, we do perform a few acoustic versions of Cinderella songs. It’s also has a bit of a modern music influence, because Brandon is a bit younger than Eric and me. When I joined this project, there was already a set list. So, there are songs from the 90’s and 2000’s, as the setlist covers all decades. Since I joined, I brought in some songs that I enjoy singing, like some 70’s songs such as Pink Floyd and the Faces. And the Cinderella songs that we do, have a bit of a country feel to them. But overall, Brandon also does his owns songs, we do some of my original songs, some Cinderella songs and some cool versions of some classic songs.
RMS: It been a long time since the last Cinderella record come out in 1994. How frustrating is it for you to go this long without new material?
JL: …at first, the longer time went by, the more frustrating it got, but then after a while, the more time that went by, the less frustrating it got. It was frustrating at first, because we really needed to make a record. But then as more time that when by, there wasn’t that pressure anymore because we’re just not going to do one. Does any of that make sense to you?
RMS: In a way, yes it does.
JL: Everyone in the band has so much going on, right now. The band has been together for 28 years. Tom Keiffer just put out his solo record that he’s been working on for years. I’ve been in the studio making solo record. Eric has a new family and a couple of daughters from his first marriage and two younger daughters that are two and three years of age. Fred Coury has a successful studio out in Los Angeles, CA. in which he does a lot of session work and producing. He does music for sports teams like the L.A. Kings. So, when we get together, it’s just for fun for a couple months of touring in the summer time. And that’s fun, to get out and play some great songs. And getting us all in the studio and working on new songs is work. (Laughs) And everybody already has a lot of work already. But, I will not totally count doing a new Cinderella record one day, because you never know, but I personally would love to do one more.
RMS: So you are recording a solo record?
JL: Yes. I’m three songs into it already. When it came about that Tom was doing a solo record, which came up at the end of our tour last summer. A lot of his material for his new record started out as Cinderella demo’s. I’ve been threatening to put out a solo record for years. So at the end of the tour last year, everyone called me on it. My manager and my wife told me that now was the time, because Cinderella was probably not going to tour next summer. So, I realized that I needed to get to work. So, I went into the studio in October, and I’m doing it all myself. I just contacted a couple of drummers and I’m doing everything else, bass, keyboards, guitar of course and vocals. And some people, like my management, are very surprised. They didn’t realize that I could sing like I do. I got Fred Coury to mix my first song, and I got it back a month ago and it sounds amazing. Fred threw some fairy dust over it and it sounds brilliant. But even Fred was surprised, and he’s known me for 28 years. He was like. “I didn’t know that you could sing like that!!!” For all these years, I just sang back-up vocals.
RMS: Do you have a tentative release date for the record, yet?
JL: Well, I’m working on this on my own dime, so I can take my time and do it the way I want to. But there is one label so far, that after hearing one song, is interested. But, I didn’t go to a label first, I wanted to get some songs under my belt. But, like I said, I’m under no one else’s time table and I don’t owe anybody anything yet.
RMS: Do you like recording this way? Or would you rather record like you did during the 80’s with the stressful deadlines and multi-million dollar contracts?
JL: As far as making my solo record, it’s much more difficult. I don’t have the other three guys, plus an engineer and a producer, to bounce ideas off of to help me. It’s all me. So, what I do is record everything and I sent it to Fred, and he weeds it all out. He takes 48 tracks and brings it down to 24, and makes it sound sparkly.
With Cinderella, whatever money the record company gave up to spend on recording a record, we spent it and then some. We would always go to the label, let them listen to what we recorded and then ask them for more money, because we always ran out after just four songs. (Laughs) So, we never got a big bonus or signing bonus or anything like that. Every time we renegotiated our deal, it was just for a bigger piece or a bigger budget or to have them pay for our videos. But, I kind of liked that, when the record company handled everything, and the four of us, with a producer, would just concentrate on making a record for six months. I really liked that. And then, when we would get burned out, we would go away for a bit, and somebody else would do the work.
RMS: I’ve heard you played many different styles of music over the years, so would it be right to assume that your solo record is going to be just as diverse. Of course, I’m also hoping that there will be a ton of guitar shredding on it?
JL: Well, one song is a slow blues tune. Another one is like a waltz shuffle, one two three, one two three… And then I have an acoustic song. But the next two songs that I’m going to be recording, are going to be very heavy, like Anthrax, Metallica influenced. And then after that I have a rockabilly influenced track. I have all of the songs mapped out. But after I played the first finished song for people, many of them were saying, “Oh, now I understand why Cinderella sounds the way they do.” Many people didn’t realize how much of the Cinderella sound had to do with me. And I’m like, “Well, I am their guitar player.” So, my music does have a Cinderella style, but with me singing. But I’m trying to ultilize all of the different styles of guitar that I can play. And I’m looking forward to getting this out so everyone can hear it.