FIB MUSIC: So by 1986 Jetboy signs with Elektra?
Billy: We signed with Elektra in November of '86 and.....um....that'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 thing......it'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 that...you 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 was.......as 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 speed....it 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 late.......it 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'd.....as 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 Duff....it 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 been....so
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 of.....you 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
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
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 weeks....it 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,
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 time....it 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.
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.