Jetboy Guitarist
Billy Rowe

FIB MUSIC:  Tell us about the new Jetboy news.

Billy:   Well Jetboy has pretty much reformed. The owner of Cleopatra Records, Brian Perera, is an old friend of ours and a fan of the band from the LA days. They put out that Hollywood Rocks Book along with the audio companion and they contacted me for a song and all that. Well, Brian came out to a gig with my new band, American Heartbreak....we were doing a gig at the Viper Room and he comes up and says, "You know, the audio companion is coming out for Hollywood Rocks....What will it take to get Jetboy to be the featured act for the release party." I just kind of said, I don't know.....let's go get a drink (laughs). So we just kind of shot the shit a little bit and I said I would talk to everybody and we'll see what happens. And honestly, I just kind of let it go; I didn't really pursue anything. So, Brian emails me a couple of times and I wrote him back, "I don't know" and then they called me.....his assistant Tim (Yasui) and he was like, "Come on, you've got to make this happen" and I'm thinking, man, they are into it. So I said, alright, give me a little time and I'll call Mickey (Finn) and Fernie (Rod) and if they are down with doing it.....I am down with doing it, but I can't get up there by myself. I called them both and left a message and within five to ten minutes they called back and they both said, "BOOK IT". And Mickey and Fernie hadn't seen each other in about fourteen years. So we got a few weeks in and Mick was living in Hawaii at the time...Fernie and I were communicating, our bass player, Sammy Yaffa, couldn't do it because he was playing in the New York Dolls, so my bass player from American Heartbreak did it. Actually, the first show we did, Ron (Tostenson), our original drummer, kind of had cold feet...he wanted to do it and then....NAAAHHHH, he hadn't pulled his drums in fourteen years. Like two weeks before the show, Fern was like, "Man, we've got to rehearse" and I'm like, "Yeah, we better, huh" (laughs). Mick was planning to come in five days before the, we went ahead and started rehearsing and it was beginning to come together and once Mick showed up.....he flew in like ten o'clock at night, I picked him up and we went right in...the guys were waiting at the rehearsal room and we said, let's try "Feel the Shake". We had already rehearsed about a twelve song set, but once he started just fucking just came was so natural and felt so good. We did the gig not really expecting anything, but to just have a good time. But the energy in that room.....the crowd was there to see us and it was probably like a thousand people.....the energy in the room was just unbelievable. So, Brian comes up and is like, let's do another release, let's release some old demos and put out a cd and maybe a dvd. We kind of kicked it around, we didn't really talk much about it....Mick went back to Hawaii...and then we just started talking about booking more shows. That was in June or July, so the next year, we kind of decided to do the deal with Cleopatra....they wanted us to re-record "Feel the Shake", and so, we booked a show in San Francisco, our hometown, our first gig there in fifteen years and we booked another one in LA.

FIB MUSIC:   When was the show in San Francisco?

Billy:  It was April of 2006, at a place called The Pound. So....that's when Mick came out, you know, his folks were always backing him on doing this.....we started sitting down, throwing around ideas and thought about the whole release idea, and Mick's like, "I going to move....move back to LA or San Francisco". Once we signed the deal with Cleopatra,.....that was right before we did the San Francisco show...and we did a show at The Whiskey. Then a month after that we were offered the Cathouse Reunion, you know, Rikki Rachtman's thing. So by that time we were already in full swing, working on getting new shirts done and all that....we're still in the motions of management and all that stuff. Really, that first show, just showed us.....I knew it was it there, because I have been doing the rock thing with American Heartbreak. They just tripped out on how much people want this stuff are still into it. Now there's a whole swing back of this 80's and straight up rock n roll thing going on.

FIB MUSIC:  So, this is going to be a full Jetboy reunion, release and tour.

Billy:  Yes. So we were just doing these spot know, we're doing everything on our own, we don't really have anyone helping us out. Right before the Cathouse gig was when Mick knew he was going to move out. We started sitting down and talking about ideas and trying to get the Cleopatra release in order and we just kind of figured, let's do it as a chronological thing....we can't release any of the album tracks, so we had demo versions of certain songs from the album, then we re-recorded "Feel the Shake", we also re-recorded "Folsom Prison Blues", which is a song we used to play at the end of the set, or an encore on the "Feel the Shake" Tour. So, it just started all coming together, with the DVD, we started pulling out all this footage and it just made us realize, man, we got all kinds of shit...I mean we got loads of videos and stuff that was never released. It just started getting into full swing. To backtrack a bit, after we did the San Francisco and LA show, Ron's wife had emailed me and said that Ron had bought his daughter a drumset, so I called him and he said "count me in". So he's been doing the last three or four gigs and then we went in the studio again about a month ago, end of December, and again it was just easy....everybody had such a great time. Now we are just putting it together, with the packaging, it's going to have a slideshow movie, with a chronological history showing the first show photos, first press photo and all the way up until we ended, as well as a new photo. It's also going to have a dvd of a live show from 1986 at the Whiskey. Which is like a full set and it was also with our original bass player Todd Crew, who passed away. I am doing a lot of the graphics stuff and my buddy Bam from the Dogs D'amour does a lot of video stuff, so he is doing all the editing. When we went in to record the songs in December, I have a buddy who does a public access show and we had them document everything. We did interviews with each member and we are going to edit it all together. It's going to be a real extensive package. After that, we are going to secure some management and just jump on a of these 80's packages, or whatever it might be.
FIB MUSIC:  Is there a new twist on "Feel the Shake", or is it about the same?

   Not really. I think the twist is, it's more like what we wanted it to sound like. It's more raw and gritty and more "Powerage", "Back in Black", in your face sounding...not so produced. It sounds awesome. The guitars are grittier and the solos are a little whackier, but it's the same melody and arrangement.

FIB MUSIC:  How was the turn-out at the San Francisco show?

Billy:  The club we played was kind of hard to get to, but we drew about 500 people. The place was packed. The owner of the club is an old friend of mine and he has owned the club for about four or five years and he said to this day, it was the best show he'd ever had at the club. I mean, the whole atmosphere was just like the 80' was just pure fun.

FIB MUSIC:  Is there a release date for the cd/dvd package?

Billy:  We're looking at a spring release. It really falls into our lap. As soon as we get the material to them, there will be a two to three month window until the release. I doing all the photos, you know, we're trying to do everything as cheap as we can. We just did the recording and we almost finished the mixing today, they're being worked on right now. So, we are hoping for spring, possibly summer....just in time for touring. That's my main focus...once all this stuff is done, I want to get on the road.

FIB MUSIC:   What has Mickey been doing all this time?

Billy:  Believe it or not, he really got into electronic music, a lot of drum and bass and house music.

FIB MUSIC:  He was releasing music?

Billy:  He hasn't really done any releases....a lot of djing in clubs, pretty much like that.

FIB MUSIC:   Anything else you want to promote?

Billy:   Well, the new album from American Heartbreak came out last year...we did Japan in November, we're supposed to go back in the summer. But with the Jetboy thing going, I am just focusing all of my energy toward that.

FIB MUSIC:  How did Jetboy form?

Billy:  The band formed with Fernie and I. I think it was in early '83, it was at an old club called the Old Waldorf, it was Bill Graham's club at the time. And we used roadie for a guy named Frankie Wilsey, who later went on to join the Sea Hags and Stephen Pearcy. Fernie and I just really hit it off and started hanging out a lot and I was jamming with this other guy and Ron was the drummer, but that band didn't really do anything. So, Fern and I just had a lot of the same ideas and we started working on songs and we were like, let's put a band together. He knew Todd and I knew Ron and prior to that we went through a couple of people, before Todd was brought in. Then Todd and his girlfriend and Mickey's girlfriend were all good friends at the Todd knew Mick. We met Mickey in the alley, right next to the Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway where we used to all hang out. Mickey was piss drunk and face down in a puddle of piss probably (laughs). His girlfriend is like, he's a great singer, I swear. So, we gave him a couple of songs that we had demoed....and I think he missed like four rehearsals and then he finally showed up and knew like four songs and as cliche as it is...the rest is history.

FIB MUSIC:  How long is it before Jetboy is out playing gigs?

Billy:  I think it was like the summer of '84. So it was about five or six months later. Our first show was in June of '84. Looking back, it happened fast. Within a year we were headlining clubs and selling them out over bands that we were opening for prior. By 1985, we were selling out 500 seaters in San Francisco. I mean, I could really say that we created the San Fracisco glam scene.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you remember Metallica back then?

Billy:   Oh yeah. Sure.

FIB MUSIC:  Don't you play with a guy from Exodus?

Billy:   Yeah, Mike Butler. He plays in American Heartbreak and Jetboy. He played on the last Exodus release. But I've known Kirk Hammett since I was seventeen. I saw Metallica with Dave Mustaine and the whole bit. I remember seeing them play in the days in front of like twenty people.

FIB MUSIC:   Any cool Metallica shows stand out from back then?

Billy:  Uhhh. I wasn't as into it as when I discovered bands like Hanoi Rocks, GIRL and Lords of the New Church. Bands that were much more image concious. I was very much more image driven back then.

FIB MUSIC:   Who were some of your influences?

Billy:   Bands like KISS, Aerosmith, ACDC, Stones, Cheap Trick, Zeppelin and of course the obscure ones like Angel, STARZ and PIPER (Billy Squier), that was really the core of my early days. Along with bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Pretty much, those are the bands and the guitar players in those bands are huge heroes of mine. When Jetboy started, we were really into bands like KIX, which funny enough, became our friends and a band we toured with.....Hanoi Rocks, which one of the members joined the band.
FIB MUSIC:  How long does it take for you guys to start traveling to Los Angeles?

Billy:  That was like '85. But before Mick and Todd were in the band, Fernie and I would hitch a ride to LA; a friend of ours was a big W.A.S.P. fan....this was in like '83, that was when we met Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin, when they were doing Hollywood Rose. Again, we hit it off because they were into the same things...Hanoi Rocks, Lords of the New Church and kind of more of the punk-edged, glam stuff, or whatever you want to call it. Izzy and I were pretty tight and we said hey, when we get our bands up and running we'll start swapping gigs, we'll come up and play with you guys and you come up and play with us. So, I think it was '85, I think it was Vicky Hamilton and this girl Deb Rosner, who was working with Poison. I think Vicky Hamilton booked our first show at the Roxy; we played with Madam X and a local band called Doll.
FIB MUSIC:  Sebastian Bach wasn't in Madam X at that time, right?

Billy:   No. It was the band that toured for the record that Rick Derringer produced. So, yeah, it wasn't long before we started making monthly trips to LA. We started playing shows with the Joneses, Guns n Roses and we went down and played with Poison......then LA Guns and bands like that started popping up.....they were just forming when we started playing LA.

FIB MUSIC:  Was Tracii Guns in Guns n Roses when you first started hanging out with them?

Billy:   No. It must have been right after that. The line-up had already changed into what it was......the big, massive line-up. It must have been in about '85. Jetboy and Guns n Roses really latched on to one another, we did a lot of shows together. We did Johnny Thunders together, we did shows at the Country Club, where we would play to like bar stools and that was it, you know? Then they would come up here and play with us.

FIB MUSIC:   And it doesnt' take long for Jetboy to get established in LA?

Billy:  Yeah, the same thing....Within two months we had a manager chasing us down and became our manager and then a year after that we signed with Elektra. So, once we started playing LA, we started going there more often, because the whole scene was just blowing up at that time. At that time, it hadn't even become what it's known for today.

FIB MUSIC:  What were the differences between the San Francisco music scene and the LA music scene?

Billy:   I guess the best way to describe it; it was just more LA. (laughs) LA is known for what it is, more over-the-top, glitzy and was just more of everything. You just saw more of it anyway.....more people into it, more bands, more drugs, more girls, more everything. But we were the one band, out of that whole genre, that could pack a club in LA and San Francisco. I mean, Guns n Roses, until their record blew up, they couldn't pack a club in San Francisco, nor could Poison.

FIB MUSIC:  Was Guns n Roses very popular in LA during that club days?

Billy:   They were becoming big.....they weren't really that much ahead of us, but in a way they were. Poison was the one that was really ahead of us. In 1985, in LA, it was Poison, Guns n Roses and Jetboy. Then Poison got their deal and they put their record out and we were both like, wow, we've got to do that. I think Poison was the biggest. But there came a time, when we could sell out a club, in LA, on our own. By 1986, we were headlining on our own down in LA, unless it was somebody like Iggy Pop, or someone like that.

(L-R)Billy Rowe, Mickey Finn,
Timo Kaltio, Izzy Stradlin

FIB MUSIC:   What was Guns n Roses like back then? Was there a big difference after they became so successful?

Billy:  I guess the only difference was really.....all the stories about Axl (Rose) and all that....I mean there were always the issues....always things here and there....I don't know, I guess we were just more kids and naive of everything. We were still huge fans of the bands we were into. We were all friends; there were no attitudes. It was a big party.

FIB MUSIC:  Any gigs with Guns n Roses stand out?

Billy:   We did a gig with Johnny Thunders in Long Beach. That was a stand out one, but other than that, they all were stand out-ish in their own way. It was more of a thrill to headline your own have a packed show. Looking back now, I thought that was just the way it was supposed to be. Once the five of us got together, it just started to happen. We started playing clubs, we started doing curfew shows, because all these kids would show up. Ron and I were just out of high school and the other guys were like two years out of high school.

FIB MUSIC:  Were you guys making a living from your music, at that time?

Billy:  No. I can remember going back to The Rock on Broadway, it was the main clubs in San Francisco and we kind of ruled it and one of the first times I go back there, the owner hands over 1500 bucks and I'm like whoa, you kidding me, we made this....I was really naive to it.... none of us cared about money. If we had enough money to get to LA and have a hotel and party and come home; no problem, we're there. Until we got management, Bridgette who took us on in '85 and that's when we started getting ads in BAM, press shots and paying for gas and hotels when we came to LA. So we started making a 1000 to 1500 dollars a show, but it all went back into the band.

FIB MUSIC:  Did you guys do any touring during the club days?

Billy:  No, just up and down the coast. Hunnington Beach, up north a little bit Santa Rosa and Sacramento. The biggest thing for us back then was......we were all into that band KIX and they had just released Midnite Dynamite and they hadn't been out to the West Coast in years, so I told our manager Bridgette, why don't they come out here and she contacted them and they came out and opened for us. They were signed and on their third record. Anyway, that's when we hit it off and they ended up coming back and we booked a West Coast thing....we did about six shows with them. So for us, that band really taught us how to be professional and showed us what it took to get to the next level. Funny enough once "Feel the Shake" came out, KIX released, "Blow My Fuse" and I was like, let's go out with KIX. We're all friends, both our records are out, the same director did both of our videos...and those were some of the best touring dates that we did, because we worked so well together.

FIB MUSIC:  So by 1986 Jetboy signs with Elektra?

Billy:  We signed with Elektra in November of '86's when it kind of got ugly, so to speak....Todd (Crew) was really threading on serious abuse, with alchohol and drugs.

FIB MUSIC:  Todd was in the band by the time you guys signed with Elektra?

Billy:  Yes. He was in the band when we signed and he was in the band when we were showcasing for producers and the whole's just a sad story. But we were at a point where it wasn't just the five of us...we had managers and a label and this person telling you that...and this person telling guys are going to be the next big thing......and here's your bass player and he's three sheets to the wind and you just kind of start resenting......we just eventually made that decision.

FIB MUSIC:  He's strung out on heroin, or a combination of things?

Billy:  He he used to say, he was on his deathwish...the main thing was alcohol.

FIB MUSIC:  Was he like that from the beginning?

Billy:  No.....When he joined the band, I remember well, he drank California Wine Coolers and it led to whiskey....Jim Beam....a little just got ugly. At that point, we were like 19 or 20, selling out clubs and not a a care in life, but playing rock n roll and doing what we were doing; that was our life. We were always playing; always rehearsing. Again, we were buddies with Guns n Roses, but the difference was, when they went to rehearsal, they got shit done. We got shit done, but we had one member who sometimes wasn't all there, or would show up sucks, because of what happened to him.

FIB MUSIC:  How does all that go down? Did you guys have a meeting and just say, it's over?

Billy:  Pretty much. We had a few meetings. We tried to talk to his parents...his mom....and then we just decided to say let's move on. I mean, producers are starting to say your bass player is weak and what's up with him. He'd be like passed out on the couch when they would come see us play and check out our songs. We made the decision....and he knew it was coming. He walked in and said, "I'm fired, huh?" and we were like, yeah, we're moving on without you. And that's when it kind of got ugly, because it was like us and Guns n Roses and we were like, "we're going to come up together and be the two bands"....and they (Guns n Roses) were like, "you can't fire Todd, you guys party too and we party".....Then it got ugly, where we would argue with each other and didn't get along and Todd ended up hanging out with them, he toured with Guns n Roses, he went to Europe with them as a roadie, then he went to New York and was hanging out with them. Then Slash and this porn star, Lois Aires, got high and Todd OD' far as I understand, not being there, they revived him and then they left and then he OD'd again and then he died. And then Guns n Roses became the biggest band in the world.....that's why they did Knockin of Heavens Door and all that stuff.... then they broke big and we were like in this feud....we shouldn't have fired Todd, you guys party too....and so on. Then funny enough, they fire Steven Adler for the same thing.

FIB MUSIC:  Then eventually the whole band gets fired.

Billy:  But Adler first....he's whacked out on drugs and not holding up his end on the drums...whatever it might be, it was the same thing that we said Todd was doing...and they were like, "you can't do this" and all that....and then they fired him when that band was on top of the world, screwed him out of money....I don't know who did what to who. Still, for me there's always an ill will with that band.

FIB MUSIC:  So that really caused such a problem that you guys didn't even like each other?

Billy:  It kind of got ugly in the press a little bit. Not like Izzy, he was the one who I thought was kind of the smart one and not so much was kind of a little bit of everybody, but not Izzy. Then after the whole Adler deal is when we all made up and we've all spoken since then, except for maybe Axl. Everything is fine. I saw Duff about a year ago at NAMM and he was nice and gave a hug, how you everybody's grown up basically, but the sad thing is Todd was not able to grow up. He's dead.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you remember the day you got the call?

Billy:  Yeah. Sadly enough we were in Florida mixing "Feel the Shake". My sister called me and I found out that he had OD'd. You know, two days later was the wake and we didn't have the money to fly out, we were out there doing the record. We sent flowers and did our thing. My sister went and kind of got the stink-eye from a few people here and there, she was sixteen at the time, so it was another personal issue with me. You know, my sister had nothing to do with it and she knew Todd better than most of the people that were there. Most people showed up because they thought there was going to be a party.

FIB MUSIC:  Now do you guys feel any guilt as a band, or was it just understood that you had to do what you had to do?

Billy:  No. I know we were so caught up into our own thing and you know, just taking advantage of our chance of what we had going on. You know, we got Sammy Yaffa in the band, he was a great player and the band grew quite a bit when he joined. That's another reason I think GNR and us got in a fight, you know, one of the guys in the band we were both influenced by (Hanoi Rocks) and kind of met because know, one of the guys ended up in our band, so people were looking at us like man they're going to be the band that's going to be big and I think it got into a jealousy thing too.

FIB MUSIC:  Is the rest of the band whacked out on anything, or are you guys just drinking?

Billy:  Ummm. There were a few guys that um.....

FIB MUSIC:  I know Mickey had a cocaine problem for a little while.

Billy:  Yeah. Mick dabbled in his stuff too, but when it came to writing and rehearsing the four of us were on top of it. I think that's what really threw the wrench in it with Todd, because there were times he just couldn't play...he was just so out of it. He would show up an hour or two late, when we are paying 20 bucks an hour to rehearse.

FIB MUSIC:  So then Sammy Yaffa comes in and replaces Todd. How did all that go down?

Billy:  I am pretty sure, it was me who said, I wonder whay Sammy Yaffa is doing. There was another band at the time called Easy Action from Sweden, so it was the two bass players that we were going to contact. I can't remember the whole story, but Sammy was interested. We went to London and met with his old managers from Hanoi Rocks, we listened to a couple of songs from his demo. So he came over to LA and never moved back. It was as simple as that. He came out, we rehearsed two days later, we all met and hit it off and were working on the album about a month later. It was pretty incredible how it all came together.

FIB MUSIC:  How was it working with Sammy?

Billy:  It was awesome. Again, I think it was a timing thing. We all clicked; he really wasn't doing much, so I think we kind of picked him up and put him back on his feet and he did the same for us....and it just clicked. Everything started coming together for the band. It was a high point.....we were in a big studio, we're working with the guy who worked on all the Judas Priest records, so it was all good. There's things I wouldn't do that we did back then and things I would change, but we were kids....good times.

FIB MUSIC:  Like what? What would you change?

Billy:  Mainly, like the first album, just being more aware of what was going to tape and being more involved in the process....I was totally green....I had never recorded an album before, so I didn't listen. But I always thought the first album, so did the rest of us, could have been more grittier sounding. I mean, I think it's a great album....I'm proud of it. I think it could have been, or should have been a huge record. When we re-recorded "Feel the Shake", that was the first thing we said, let's make it a little dirtier sounding, like we really were before we recorded that record.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like having Tom Allom produce "Feel the Shake"? Did he share any cool Judas Priest stories?

Billy:  He did "Unleashed in the East", all the way down to "Ram it Down". But yeah, I don't really remember the stories, but what I do remember the most, is that the guys in Priest loved to play golf. I am sure they were living quite the lavish life, because from "British Steel" and on, they were a successful band.

FIB MUSIC:  Why did you choose him as a producer?

Billy:  He was the guy who just seemed to really get it. I guess he just said what we wanted to hear. We also met with Jack Douglas, who did the Aerosmith records, Paul Stanley was also interested and a few other people. But Tom was a great guy; he was comfortable to be around and he was just really into it and that was what we really went for. He just seemed to understand the band and loved the songs and was very, very eager in producing us. Like I said, we had a great time working with him....he was a great guy.....awesome. It was nothing but fun working with him.

FIB MUSIC:  Just so I can get this straight, you guys were signed with Elektra for a year or two?

Billy:  We signed to Elektra in like November of '86. The A&R guy for Elektra was interested in like '85, signed in '86....we did the record...the record was done.

FIB MUSIC:  Ok. So you guys actually recorded the entire record, using Tom Allom, while you were signed to Elektra?

Billy:  Everything is set. The press shots, all the advance cassettes, they all go out. All the interviews are being set up. We're already doing interviews; we're already popping up in magazines. The end of the year comes and our A&R guy gets fired and the president of the label was kind of walking on thin ice, with his career, because he hadn't really pulled much success on the west coast and we got dropped.

FIB MUSIC:  But Elektra had Metallica, Motley Crue and Dokken.

Billy:  I guess he wasn't involved in those signings. So, I guess they just looked at our band and thought, we've spent this much, we're cutting some losses and they just let us go.

FIB MUSIC:  Had you guys already done the video for "Feel the Shake"?

Billy:  No, but the artwork was pretty much already done. So there is artwork out there for "Feel the Shake" that has never been seen. It's a pretty crazy story. We were doing so well with the press and all that. I mean, we were pretty much press darlings at that time. There's probably more to it, business-wise, that I don't really know, but that's how I remember it happened. A few days later after our manager dropped the bomb, right before Christmas, that we were dumped. I mean, we had a release date of January of '88. So Michael Goldstone, who is best known for signing Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine, jumped on us right away. He was on MCA. Warner Brothers wanted to sign us, but they wanted us to re-record the album. We had just recorded the record and wanted to go with who wanted to just release it and put us on the road. So we went with MCA and little did we know that we had to play showcases, then we had to play for the promotion department, then we had to play for the president, then we had to do a show. So by the time all that shit came around, it's like the middle of '88. Then we finally sign the stupid deal, did the album artwork and by then it came out a year after it was recorded. But at the time, we didn't know it was going to fuck us up.

FIB MUSIC:  What kind of deal did you guys sign? Were the labels still shelling out enourmous record deals at that time?

Billy:  From what I remember, it was pretty big. I mean, at least a half million.

FIB MUSIC:  With a nice signing bonus as well?

Billy:  Yeah. I remember the day we signed our contract, we got a check for fifty grand. Then after that, we did a publishing deal, then we did a merch deal. The album cost like, $150,000 or $200,000. It was still a lucrative deal; we were a priority, we had it all going on really.

FIB MUSIC:  What was the 24 hour lockdown session?

Billy:  That was right when we signed to Elektra. They threw us in the studio and had us record everything we had at the time. We just locked it out for 24 hours and recorded like eighteen or nineteen songs in less than 24 hours. We just stayed there all day and all night. But they were just demos to get out to producers and see who was going to do the record. Those were the last recordings with Todd. But there was something about those recordings, they are not all finished, some of the solos you can't hear too well and the mix isn't the greatest. But there was just something magical about those recording; we were just on fire.

FIB MUSIC:  Which you guys actually released those recordings, right?

Billy:  Yeah. That was "A Day in the Glamorous Life".

FIB MUSIC:  Since you recorded the songs with Elektra, did you have to license those tracks to release them?

Billy:  Well, because they're demos..... Technically, I think, Elektra would own the recordings, but I have the master reels.(laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  Back to "Feel the Shake"; did MCA just buyout the deal from Elektra?

Billy:  Yeah, they basically bought the deal out.

FIB MUSIC:  Didn't MCA want to remix the record?

Billy:  We had been writing and Michael Goldstone came in and he heard the song, "Make Some Noise", and we had song called, "Missing You", that was originally the ballad...the pop hit, or whatever you want to call it, on "Feel the Shake". So, he heard "Make Some Noise" and just fell in love with it and he said, "I want this on the record; we're going to bump "Missing You" and put this on". We were like, fine, whatever you want to do. (laughs) We didn't really give a shit at the time, we just kind of rolled with everything. So we went in with Ric Browde, who did Faster Pussycat and did the first Poison record and we recorded that song. We tried to record the song, so it would match up with the rest of the record, but that was pretty much all MCA did. Except for doing the video and the album artwork and all that.

FIB MUSIC:  Several people I have talked to complain about MCA dropping the ball at some point? What was your experience like with them?

Billy:  Um. The Who, Lynrd Skynrd and Elton John were all on MCA, so I thought, man, this is a great fucking label. But yeah, I don't know what it was, whether it was the people running it.

FIB MUSIC:  You guys only did one video for that album, right?

Billy:  Yeah. One video.

FIB MUSIC:  That always blows my mind; I remember MTV playing the video for "Feel the Shake" non stop and then you don't even release a follow-up to it.

Billy:  Exactly. That's the thing. I think we just missed the boat. The song was like a year old by the time the album came out. By then, bands like Warrant, Faster Pussycat and LA Guns...they were all just blowing up and I'm like, wait a minute, we were way before this. We recorded our record before these bands got deals. So, it was frustrating as hell for us. But, looking back, MCA spent a lot of money, they were honest, they were behind it, but once we got to a certain point, Michael Goldstone was gone; we had another A&R person come in and they said, we want to pull you off the road and do a new record and go fresh with something new. Now the records two years old, because of being dropped and then coming out....we didn't really have any choice, so we came back. I think if they would have worked the record harder; we would have gotten the units up to a more successful number. But at that point, with writing and all that, we had grown so much and it was time for us to go write and do a new record and that album, I'm more proud of. It's more kind of what we wanted the first album to sound like. To me, I think that album still holds up today and could be big today. "Feel the Shake" has its moments, but for me, personally, and I know the rest of us, Damned Nation, was a blast doing and we really worked hard on it.

FIB MUSIC:  Any cool moments stand out from the "Feel the Shake" recording sessions?

Billy:  The moment for me during the recording was, Rod Stewart was our neighbor, hanging out with him and Jim Cregan, his guitar player, who I'm a huge fan of. Those are some of the highest moments. Brian May, of Queen, popping his head in while we were recording, "Hard Climb", and saying, "brilliant sounds are coming out of this room; keep it up". Those guys were our heroes and we are working right next to them. The Beastie Boys were in there, they were like a bunch of punk kids at the time, picking up our guitars, I'm like what the fuck are you guys doing and they were just kind of bouncing around. Little do you know, everyone likes the Beastie Boys and I'm like, I remember those guys, burning us out in the studio. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  Where was the record done?

Billy:  The whole record was recorded at the Record Plant and then we mixed it in Miami, because thats where Tom Allom lived.

FIB MUSIC:  How long did it take to record?

Billy:  I think it was June to August? It might not have taken that long, but that's what I remember. It was a few months.

FIB MUSIC:  How much did Tom Allom get for doing the record?

Billy:  I think we paid him around $50,000 and I think the album was around $150,000.

FIB MUSIC:  Did he also get points on the record as well?

Billy:  I'm not sure what he got point-wise on the record, but again, we never understood stuff like that at the time. We just kind of trusted our lawyers and management on those decisions.

FIB MUSIC:  Who were some of the other bands besides KIX, did you guys tour with to support, "Feel the Shake"?

Billy:  We toured with Stryper, which wasn't one of my choices. Then we also toured with Cheap Trick.

FIB MUSIC:  Wow. How was that?

Billy:  That was incredible. That was a topper?

FIB MUSIC:  You guys are doing arenas with them, right?

Billy:  Yeah. I think it was the end of "Lap of Luxury" for them. It was awesome. I remember the first show, I think it was in Portland, or Seattle and looking to my right and seeing each member of Cheap Trick watching us. So the show ended and Rick Nielsen had hung around for our whole set and there was an elevator to the dressing rooms and he road the elevator with us and he welcomes us to the tour and says, hey, I was hanging with your old labelmates in Motley Crue, Nikki (Sixx) and Tommy (Lee), and they said to say hey to you guys. From that night on, we just clicked with those guys and they loved us. I remember going to some aftershow party, or some signing party, and I look over and there's Robin Zander signing autographs and he looks at me and he puts his arm around me and pulls me towards him and right then, some kid comes up and has a "Feel the Shake" album for me to sign it and I said, Man, dreams to come true. I saw them open for KISS, the day Elvis died, in '77; so, for me it was crazy. Then the last night of the tour in Denver Colorado, we did "He's a Whore" with them. I was like, hey, we know "He's a Whore" so on the last night, if you want to bring some of us up, I'm ready. (laughs) Funny enough, we also did it at soundcheck before the show, Nielsen screaming, Jetboy on stage now and says alright, you said you can do it, so let's do it. Then we played it again at the show that night. It was awesome. We had our roadie at the time dress up like male whore and then we got some hot chick that we met there to come out of the audience. Of course, there is always a prank at the end and they got a couple of us with eggs. I remember Zander coming on the bus and telling us man, who the hell was that, where did you find her? Then he proceeded to tell me that we were the best band to go out on the road with them in a long time. And he said, you guys remind me of Cheap Trick back in '74 when we first started. I was tripping....hardly able to take it all in.

FIB MUSIC:  How long did you tour with them?

Billy:  It was just a few was under a month.

FIB MUSIC:  What was the total length of the tour for "Feel the Shake"?

Billy:  I want to say the album came out in October of '88 and we toured from then, until like, April or May, of the following year. We toured nearly a year. We did Japan right before we started recording Damned Nation. We were in pre-production for the Damned Nation album and found out a promoter wanted to bring us to Japan and we were like, Fuck Yeah. We were headlining like 2000 seaters in Japan. The album did very well in Japan for the time.

FIB MUSIC:  Any idea how many copies "Feel the Shake" sold?

Billy:  I think in the States it sold around 200,000.

FIB MUSIC:  Any idea what worldwide sales were?

Billy:  Nah. I think in Japan it went gold, which at the time was around 30,000 or 40,000 copies.

FIB MUSIC:  Why hasn't "Feel the Shake" been re-released?

Billy:  Don't ask me.

FIB MUSIC:  What's the hold up? Can't somebody license it?

Billy:  Well that's another thing we are looking into. MCA dissolved into Universal, but over at Cleopatra they are kind of helping us with the contacts and who to talk to. I'd like to get it licensed and maybe release it as a double-pack. There are actually songs we never finished on "Feel the Shake", maybe put some bonus tracks on there. In a perfect world, I'd like to go in and do some remixing too and remaster it. I'd love to re-release it with the original artwork.

FIB MUSIC:  Who has the original artwork?

Billy:  I am assuming the labels have everything, but I am actually in touch with the photographer who shot all the artwork. So he's sending me a cd next week of all the key stuff that he shot. He's the one that did the treatment to the album cover, so if anything he might have it. That would be cool.

FIB MUSIC:  What's the state of the band when you guys go in the studio to record your second album, "Damned Nation"?

Billy:  Ummm. We had grown a lot....We started working with outside writers. We worked with one outside writer on "Feel the Shake", which was cool. A guy Mark Radice, who co-wrote "Standing on the Edge" with Cheap Trick and he used to play keyboards with Aerosmith in the 70's...real talented guy. So, on the second album they threw us into the songwriting pool to just write that hit. To me, we already knew had to do that by being who we were. But we worked with some cool people, we worked with Jeff Klaven, who was the drummer for Krokus on some of the big records. Tom DeLuca and this guy Tom Mitchell who wrote "The Flame" for Cheap Trick. It was cool, but we were a little annoyed, but in the end the songs they helped write turned out great. Some of us felt a little bit threatened, myself being one, because it does push certain guys out of the songwriting who are actually in the band. Mickey, Fern and myself were kind of like the sole writers. I felt like if anyone got pushed out, it was me. But looking back now, I learned a lot from it, so I just look at it like that.

FIB MUSIC:  Didn't you work with a few different producers on that record?

Billy:  Yeah, well it was Duane Baron and John Purdell, so it was two guys and they worked as a team. Duane Baron cut his teeth working with Spencer Proffer who did Quiet Riot's Metal Health and Still Standing by Jason and the Scorchers, Ted Nugent; John Purdell was like a great musician who played with Rick Springfield. They became a team for Tom Werman. They broke off from Tom....I think after Motley Crue's, Girls, Girls, Girls. They did Cocked & Loaded / LA Guns and then they did Damned Nation and then after that they went off to do Ozzy's No More Tears. But they were a great team; Duane was kind of the vision guy with the ear for certain things. John was the technical guy who could play guitar great and was an incredible singer. Not that Mickey needed the help, but an extra voice like that always helps. It was a great was hard work, it really was. It was a lot more intense than "Feel the Shake". I got into my guitar and was doing all these open tunings and just our approach was just work, work, work. Funny enough, Tom Werman was in the next room doing a Stryper record. We had toured with Stryper and we didn't really get along with them that well, because they were preaching all the God stuff and from what I saw they weren't really that way. You know, the bass player was walking around the studio with a Budweiser, but when we were on tour with them, we couldn't step out of our dressing room with a beer. But Tom Werman actually played shakers on one song and he loved the band. He would always come in and see what Duane and John were doing and then I think I remember him saying that he wished he was working with us.(laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  I didn't even realize Tom Werman did a Stryper record.

Billy:  Yeah, I think it was that one Against the Law.

FIB MUSIC:  Oh, Ok. That's when they had fallen to the dark side.

Billy:  Exactly.

FIB MUSIC:  Did MCA consider "Feel the Shake" to be a success?

Billy:  Well, successful enough for us to be a high priority. We got a huge budget to do Damned Nation.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you remember what the budget was?

Billy:  I think that one was over $200,000. I think it was twice as much as "Feel the Shake". The artwork on the album was ten grand on its own. We were a high priority and they didn't really say no to us. The video cost about $100,000. But within a few months.....we toured with Vixen and the Electric Boys on that and we were dropped again within three or four months. But the first two months we were at like 50,000 copies sold....I think we were selling like 25 to 30 thousand copies a month, which is not bad. If you got behind that and put us on a good tour that record would have gone gold. But the label had been bought by Seagrams at the time and it got into that big corporate money machine crap and we were basically casualties. So again, we were headed home for Christmas and this time we didn't go back. It was quick. We came off the road and it was the same thing, we met with our manager, "the labels not picking up your option" and we're like why don't you just say it, they dropped us. I love the way they beat around the bush when it comes to stuff like that.

FIB MUSIC:  Any other things stand out from the Damned Nation recording sessions?

Billy:  It was just a great experience. Michael Monroe came down and played sax on "Rock n Roller". That was a cool moment. We hadn't hung out with him and then when Sam joined, he would come out quite a bit. Other than that we really didn't have any guest stars coming in, we just really focused on recording a really great album.

FIB MUSIC:  Thanks for taking the time with us.

Billy:  Thank you.

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