TKO / War Babies vocalist
Brad Sinsel

FIB MUSIC:  What's new, what have you been up to lately and what's in the future?

Brad:  I don't know, I get a lot of offers. A few things are sounding pretty interesting. I may go back to Minneapolis, real quick; probably spend a week and throw something together with my buddy Brynn Arens.

FIB MUSIC:   That's funny, I just read that name over on some message board. There is a comment on there that says "SINSEL STOLE EVERYTHING HE DID FROM A GUY NAMED BRYNN ARENS" and the username was Kreb.

Brad:  That was probably Adam (laughs). Yeah, I worked with David Krebs for a month and it was just too nuts. I got the fuck out of there. I went back and tried to do some stuff with Adam, but too much dope.....I'm too old for that kind of foolishness.

FIB MUSIC:  When I interviewed Adam, it was hard to figure out the timeline. But, let me see if I've got this right. After he left TKO, you went to San Francisco.

Brad:  Yeah, he went on to do his solo project and I think that wasn't panning out at the time and so he kind of came back and was looking for something to do. We both had a mutual buddy, a guy that was in TKO for about a month.... Well he lived in San Francisco and he had something going on in Bill Graham Management. They were trying to put together a SUPER GROUP and I like an idiot flew down there and everyone was like twelve (laughs), there wasn't anything really super about it, but the one thing that I did feel very strongly about was Adam's guitar playing. Because that was at his apex and I just put my foot down and started saying we've got to lose this guitar player and put Adam in. We finally did and within three weeks that band blew up. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  So, who was the Super Group? Do you remember any of the other members?

Brad:   No. (laughs) I remember talking to Mick Brigden....he didn't even like the idea. He explained to me that you can't just put people together like that, it has to come naturally. His prediction was true, because, like I said, in a matter of weeks it just all blew up. So I think that was in '84 and after that was when Adam got his deal. While I was there, we got an offer for "In Your Face" to finally come out, which had been recorded in, I believe, '81.

FIB MUSIC:  I can't believe it took that long to release "In Your Face".

Brad:  Yeah, but at that time, it was deemed as not for public consumption, they thought it was too hardcore. Atlantic Records almost picked it up, at one point, but then they opted for RATT. But, you know we just shopped that thing forever and had finally given up on it and then in late '84 the deal came through to finally put it out. But by that time, everyone was gone. So the producer asks me to throw a band together and that's what I did. That's how Scott Earl came into the picture.

FIB MUSIC:  So, the entire album, "In Your Face", was taken from the original 1981 recordings?

Brad:  Yes. It was a only took a month to make and by recording standards that's..... I like to take a little bit more time than that. But the whole thing had a really good feeling to it and it just took awhile for the rest of the world to go, "Well, this isn't bad".

FIB MUSIC:   That's surprising. I always thought "Give into the Night" was a bonafide hit.

Brad:  That song was actually written in late '79 with Tony Bortko. He was actually the one that brought Adam on board. They finally disagreed and Tony bailed and left me with Adam. But that song was written by Tony and was always a strong cut, so it just followed into our second TKO album.

FIB MUSIC:  Yeah, that was always a favorite of mine. I actually remember the day a buddy and I were listening to some compilation, I believe it was before "In Your Face" was released, it might have been a Metal Massacre release, or one of those. One of those compilations where all the bands are usually terrible, but we found that song and we must have listened to it a hundred times.

Brad:  Not sure, but it might have been one of those Shrapnel albums, who was the guy that owned Shrapnel?

FIB MUSIC:  Mike Varney.

Brad:  Yeah, I think it may have been on that.

FIB MUSIC:   We'll get to more of that later, but my next question is; Where the hell have you been?

Brad:   Ummmmmm......After War Babies capitulated in '93, I moved around, I went back to New York for awhile and tried a few things. Just with the whole grunge thing, that just kind of changed the face of rock as we all knew it. And I just kind of wanted to spend more time with my kid and being Mr. Mom basically. But I have my own recording studio and I still do stuff that's just for my consumption and close friends.

FIB MUSIC:  So you have tons of unreleased material?

Brad:  Well, maybe not tons, but I guess once a month, I'll poke hours and hours of stuff. It's not ever really going to go anywhere, but it's nice to finally record for pleasure as opposed to the almighty freakin' dollar, or have some A&R guy breathing down your nose telling you that you need to be wearing the blue shoes.

FIB MUSIC:  The music your working on with Brynn, is there a chance that some of that will be released?

Brad:  No, we decided we would do it old school and he is putting the players together. And...what was his idea.... he wants to call it SOB, as a reference to us being old fucks. I always wanted to go with Old Bastards on Ice. We have been talking about doing this for a year or two, but we have decided we really need to do it. So that just means basically me flying in and spend a lot of time jamming, power writing and just laying it down and just put it out there for fun.

FIB MUSIC:  Is Brynn still in the band that wears the make-up?

Brad:  Yeah, I don't know if he is still doing that. He was doing that in a band called Flipp. In fact, in '94 he came up to Seattle, with the guys from Flipp.

TKO: Rick Pierce, Brad Sinsel, Evan Sheeley, Gary Thompson

FIB MUSIC:  So you guys go way back.

Brad:   Oh yeah. In fact, I ran into him, through my time with hanging out with Krebs. And he brought up the fact that he remembered being like fourteen when TKO came through his town. I can't remember who he saw us with, but he loved the first album and was always a fan. So, we hit it off really well and have kind of been talking about doing stuff ever since. But now we just have to do it. I mean, I was a workaholic when it came to getting product out there and man, if you ever stop doing that, good luck trying to get started back up. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  Can you give us a little history on how the original line-up for TKO got together?

Brad:  Well, we were all from a town about 130 miles east of Seattle, called Yakima, Washington. But we had to move to the big city when we got out of high school. So I think Rick Pierce, we had played in some glam rock thing in '74 and even opened up for the New York Dolls, but that was our first big debut. That band was called The Wiz Kidz. But that didn't go anywhere. But Rick ended up getting in this band that had connections and they were about the only band that had a chance of getting a deal. We slowly infiltrated this band and they were called Mojo Hand. Once we got in it, we made the record with the two existing guys from Mojo Hand and changed the name to TKO, then about six months later, we canned the two remaining Seattle guys from Mojo Hand and replaced them with Yakima guys. That was a lot of fun. I remember we took the drummer off a forklift job and the bass player out of a sales job and within 5 days they were on a plane to Japan. So that was really a fun time.

FIB MUSIC:   Did you have investors at that time?

Brad:  No, we had the deal on MCA at that time.

FIB MUSIC:  Oh, that was the Infinity deal?

Brad:  Yeah, that was Ron Alexenburg's big white elephant. It was a great label, I mean, MCA just gave him a blank check and Ron went out and hired the cream of the crop, in terms of staff. His only error was he advanced the Pope 6 million dollars, non-recoupable for an album that featured one side of speeches that he did in stadiums, you flip it over and it was the Pope doing folk songs and the thing tanked. So, MCA said that's enough. It doesn't take a band too long, that has been on the gravy train and then all of a sudden, "Oh, my God", before it blew up and kind of splintered off....that's when we started to slowly make changes and brought in Adam and Gary Thompson...Gary went on to play with Floyd Rose. And I think Evan stayed on for the duration, or until Gary left and they both played with Floyd. Yeah, that was the line-up that executed "In Your Face" in '80 or '81. Timeline wise, the first release was in '79.

FIB MUSIC:  What year was TKO officially born?

Brad:   I would say '78. Most of that stuff on the first album was recorded between '77 and '78. Rick had joined Mojo Hand in late '76 and we infiltrated that band in '77.

FIB MUSIC:  So you guys got signed pretty quick after you joined.

Brad:   Yeah. The reason we infiltrated this band was because of their management, who also was managing the band Heart, the guys name was Ken Kinnear and also the producer of most of the Heart stuff that did well, Mike Flicker. So we kind of got sucked into a management deal that got us on the road and we got some GREAT tours out of that thing.

FIB MUSIC:   Who were some of the bands that you toured with?

Brad:  At first, they gave us a warm-up tour, opening for the Kinks, which we were promptly booed off the stage in small colleges. That was pretty funny. I later had lunch with Ian Hunter and I was crying in my 23 year old beer about it and it turns out, when he was in Mott the Hoople, when they first came to the States, that was the first tour they got. And you know, Kinks fans are there to see the Kinks. So Ian says, "booing is one thing, but with us, it was much more humiliating...there were girls in the front row, pointing and laughing." (laughs) So after that, we snagged the Cheap Trick tour, which was their first tour after releasing "Live at Budokan". Which was really good, we did weeks and weeks and weeks with them. We also did some pretty large festivals, we did the Texxas Jam, that was about 80 thousand people.

FIB MUSIC:  You played the Texxas Jam? Do you remember who else was on the bill that year?

Brad:   I should, somebody just sent me a poster of it. I believe it was Heart, Boston, Sammy Hagar and can't remember who else. Yeah, that was huge. I mean we had been doing twenty thousand seaters, which I was just getting used to. And then we do a world of stadium stuff, with wall to wall people wherever you look. That was fun. We also did the Mississippi River Festival, which had Heart on the bill, I think Boston, Blue Oyster Cult possibly. But the thing they had done was the last three bands were "initial-type" bands, they were UFO, ACDC and TKO, in that order. And that was the first time I ever saw ACDC and they cleaned up on that show...they just thoroughly blew everyone else away. I had the dubious honor of being asked to leave the upper echelon beer tent, with Bon Scott, because we didn't have the right wristband. We just kind of looked at each other and he mumbled "piss off" to the security guard. That was my brush with Bon Scott. Other bands we toured with were Foreigner, Van Halen, did a couple of dates with Nugent. A lot of these, you'd go out for eight weeks, take a week off, then go out for another eight weeks.

FIB MUSIC:  How long did you guys tour?

Brad:   Through the end of '79. Then in Spring, when we went in to record the second album; that was when Infinity, our label, folded.

FIB MUSIC:   How did "Let it Roll" sell?

Brad:  I think we only sold about 150,000 units.

FIB MUSIC:   Which for back then was pretty good.

Brad:   Yeah, back then it was promising enough for them to continue and do another record. But nowadays, if you show up with those numbers, forget it.

FIB MUSIC:  So the next record would have been "In Your Face"?

Brad:  Actually no, the next album....there is talk of putting out all the studio demos of the songs that were going to be the second album and just put a sticker on it and the sticker just reads TKO Round Two. There are some great songs. There is also some discussion about putting that out as is. So that maybe something that might happen this year.

FIB MUSIC:  First off, I apologize ahead of time for the ass-kiss session, but I really feel that you had one of the great voices of rock. It is very hard to pinpoint your influences. I was thinking maybe Jagger....

Brad:  Actually, it's just like a big rock n roll blender. But if you listen close, you'll hear Roger around the Quadrophenia era; mixed with Jagger, mixed with one of my all-time influences, Eric Burdon.

FIB MUSIC:  I love Eric Burdon, we tried to hit him up for an interview when I first created the site, but never got a response.

Brad:  Oh, he's great. I'm an old mutherfucker, I'm about to have my 52nd birthday, so my influences go WAY back. What's great about the Animals stuff, back in the mid-60's, things like the Monkees were out there and there was all this MAMBY PAMBY, HAPPY, NICE stuff out there, but the Animals talked about women & sex and all that interesting stuff, so I picked up on that immediately. My hat's off to that guy. There is also a little bit of Zeppelin influence.

FIB MUSIC:  Well, you did a great job of making it your own voice.

Brad:   Well, there is a big jump between where I was on the first TKO album, which I was making up as I was going. But I remember distinctly having the thought, "Boy, I sure hope they don't notice that I suck". So I kind of fake my way through the recording and then I learned an extreme amount from all the touring, that I was later able to use on the "In Your Face" recordings.

FIB MUSIC:  Like what? What were some of the things you learned?

Brad:  I had developed into who I was at that point. And then if you listen to the War Babies album, which is roughly ten years later, you can see what it developed into. I was real happy with that album, I wasn't really happy with the label.

FIB MUSIC:   But it came out in '92, right?

Brad:  Yeah, bad timing.

FIB MUSIC:  But ironic that the movement that killed that type of music all came out of Seattle and it was, more than likely, all guys that you had influenced.

Brad:  But that's the nature of the game.

FIB MUSIC:  Yes, but you guys were kind of lumped in with that group. I never really considered TKO to be a glam band. Maybe Scott Earl looked a bit glammy, but for the most part....

Brad:  Yeah, he brought the Madonna influence into the band at that time and the guy is a power performer, there's no doubt about it. I think the whole "hair thing" had to do with we just wanted to get out and get touring, so you kind of When if Rome.....and at that point you had to have a can of hairspray, or you didn't get on the freakin' tour. Unless, you wanted to go the hardcore route and play 200 seat bars, which I really didn't want to do at that time.

FIB MUSIC:  Was the band really popular in Seattle when "Let it Roll" came out.

Brad:   Oh yeah, we did a couple of headlining things. Got a ton of airplay, but you know they still didn't get us. Seattle was really kind of a hippie town at that point. They even thought that album was too hard....what can you do?

FIB MUSIC:  Now when Scott came in, there were Culprit fans that were pissed and there were TKO fans that were pissed.

Brad:  But they came to the shows. (laughs) Which worked, my plan came together. Basically, what I had to do, with Adam, Evan and Gary gone, I had to throw a band together. So, I was friends with Scott at the time and frankly I was tired of hearing him bitch about how he couldn't stand his band, so I said, "Quit, let's go tour" and he did. But I think he got a lot of heat from his personal fans and the band members that didn't come along.

Scott Earl & Brad Sinsel 2001

FIB MUSIC:  So that is how Scott got his nickname, because he bitches all the time.

Brad:  Yes, you name it and he's got a complaint. He called himself a perfectionist in your interview with him....honestly, truth be known, he loves to complain...nothing is ever right. And it's always what about this and what about that. It's funny....We actually did a show together, a reunion gig, Experience Music Project in Seattle and we brought players from all the three major line-ups. We didn't bring Adam on board, because he doesn't like to play with other guitar players. But it was Rick Pierce, Kjarten (Kristoffersen), Evan and Scott Earl came out. At one point, we ended with two bass players was fun. This was in 2001....Gary Thompson played drums which was a kick.

FIB MUSIC:  So you really didn't ask Adam to come out because of his dislike for playing with other guitar players?

Brad:  UMMMMMMMMMM. In all honesty, I've spent enough time with that guy and I just wanted to have fun, which we did, we had a good time.

FIB MUSIC:  Well, then you'll love my next question. How was it working with Adam Bomb (Brenner)?

Brad:  It was great for awhile and while it was great, it was tremendous. But at some point, he walked away from being the guitar player and decided he needed to sing and more power to him. I had no interest in sharing the microphone, kind of like how he doesn't like playing with two guitar players. I just really wasn't into a duo singing kind of thing.

FIB MUSIC:  He wanted to sing in TKO?

Brad:  Yeah he did. We did some shows together back in probably '94 and we shared vocals. And his style is a bit eclectic. Our styles just don't gel. But he brought out Bobby Chouinard before he died. He was the drummer for Billy Squier, who had also played quite a bit with Adam. Tremendous drummer. Drug habit.

FIB MUSIC:  He died of an overdose?

Brad:  I think his heart just finally gave out, he was pretty deep into it.

FIB MUSIC:  Who is the label Retrospect Records and who gave them permission to release "Let it Roll"?

Brad:  That's a good question, if you find the answer to it, please let me know. I actually sent an email to them and never got a response.

FIB MUSIC:  They look like they're a bootleg label and probably tied to the user Vegascds on Ebay, who also does a lot of bootleg stuff. But you emailed them?

Brad:  Yeah, I wrote something like, So very pleased to see that "Let it Roll" is finally being put out there again, by the way could you please explain to me who put this together. And I never got a response. I don't even know where they're out of.

FIB MUSIC:  They have also released "In Your Face"?

Brad:  Oh, Jeez. You know, I just have to remind myself of why I released this stuff in the first place. And that was to get the music out there, that's my peace. Because if you try to keep up with all the piracy on the internet, it will drive you nuts.

FIB MUSIC:  Do you know who owns the rights to those masters?

Brad:  I am pretty sure by now, there is enough dust on the contract, that the masters have reverted back to the artists. But they are in safe keeping with Rick Keifer. I'm still in contact with him.

FIB MUSIC:  Adam Bomb says he has the masters for "In Your Face".

Brad:  No. Keifer wouldn't do that. In fact, he & I were trying to do some business with this gentleman from North Star, basically they place songs in movies. The guy had said he wanted the catalog and would that be ok. This was a couple of months ago and Keifer was doing some remixing on them. I think Adam has master cassettes of different mixes. But you got to watch it with him. He can be a bit of a schyster. He released that "In Your Face and Up Your Ass" cd.

FIB MUSIC:  That was going to be one of my questions, what did you think about that?

Brad:  I expected it. Nothing he does, good, bad, or indifferent, surprises me. It seemed to be all about him, the pamphlet.

FIB MUSIC:  I read some reviews of it and every one of them says it sounds like shit.

Brad:  Yeah. I wouldn't have put that out. I mean there's live stuff from small venues...... I wouldn't have put that out. I think these guys need to understand, I am about ready to.....if I get rubbed the wrong way long enough..... I've got my collection of stuff too......I could pretty much bury them and their efforts.

FIB MUSIC:  Adam said he had found the guy on Ebay, who was selling "Fatal Attraction" and contacted him. Apparently, the guy was selling bootlegs. Anyhow, Adam contacted the guy and, after Adam calls him out, the guy makes a deal with Adam and sent him a couple of grand and also sent him 200 copies of the cd.

Brad:  Man.

I must say that talking to Brad Sinsel was quite an honor. I always thought he was an incredible and original talent. In speaking to him, I found him to be very humble, insightful and all together generous of his time. -AI