Tim Yasui
London drummer / Vice President of Cleopatra Records
Tim Yasui
aka Timothy Jay

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

Tim:  SPIDERS & SNAKES have a TV commercial currently airing nationwide for the RECYLING commission. If you haven't seen it yet, it's a total SPINALTAP spoof that fits the band perfectly (who says you can't poke fun at yourselves?) The money does not suck, either! Besides the TV commercial, SPIDERS & SNAKES are also appearing on the upcoming documentary feature film called HOLLYWOOD ROCKS! The film centers on the 1980s/early 90s Sunset Strip hair metal scene and also includes interviews with Kevin Dubrow (QUIET RIOT), George Lynch (DOKKEN), Jeff Duncan (ARMORED SAINT/ODIN), Jamie St. James (BLACK n BLUE) and my pal, Stephen Pearcy (RATT) amongst dozens stars of that fabulous era. Personally, I just finished tracking drums and keyboards on the song "Bark At The Moon" that will be appearing on Cleopatra Records's "Ultimate Tribute To Ozzy Osbourne" in February, 2006. Jeff Duncan (ARMORED SAINT/ODIN) played all the guitars and did an outstanding job. Other performers on the Ozzy Tribute include Joe Lynn Turner, Yngwie Malmsteen, Lemmy Kilmeister, Jack Blades, George Lynch and more superstars of metal. Finally, Lizzie and I are also busy co-writing some new material for a brand new SPIDERS & SNAKES album that should hit the stores sometime in 2006.

FIB MUSIC:   Please give us a brief outline of your history. How you got involved with the industry and what brought you to Los Angeles?

Tim:  Like everyone else (almost), I came out to LA to "make it".in my case, I came out with my drums, my car and a huge student loan debt. My first job was with Capital-EMI-Manhattan-Angel Records as an independent college representative, which was a glorified (and slightly paid) internship position. While still in graduate school working on my M.B.A. I had answered an ad at our college radio station, WHUS, and landed the gig as the Connecticut college rep before asking them for a "transfer" out to the west coast. Despite the fact that I had already graduated and was done with school, they were nice enough to give me an extension and continue out of their LA offices in 1987. Shortly after moving out to Hollywood to continue my extended "internship" with Capitol Records, I met a guitarist named Sean Lewis that led to the LONDON gig.

Tim @ The Key Club

FIB MUSIC:  What year did you join London? How did that come about?

Tim:  One of the first musicians I met in 1987 was a guitarist named Sean Lewis who hired me to lay down some percussion tracks on his demo, which featured Mark Free (KING KOBRA) on vocals and a mutual friend named Steve Lacy (KIM CARNES) on lead guitar. He moved into one of the vacant bedrooms in a 4 bedroom house I was renting at the time in the valley and then got the gig as the 2nd guitarist (along with Lizzie Grey) in the band LONDON. Sean arranged for me to play drums on their demo called "Love Games" and eventually got me in as the permanent drummer.

Tim & Cheap Trick drummer,
Bun E. Carlos
FIB MUSIC:  Being the 13th drummer in London, did you ever think you were going to spontaneously self-combust? How did it feel to be in a band with that much history?

Tim:   That's a good one - (wink). I guess I figured that the odds were the band would eventually be signed and I was right.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with Nadir D'Priest?

  A hard working guy who paid his dues...I'd be lying if I said I didn't learn from him or benefit from my experiences with him and the band LONDON. I was young, straight out of graduate school and had just moved 3,000 miles from home and the first band I joined was a legendary band who had been around for a decade - so my learning curve was fast and furious!
FIB MUSIC:  Please share one of your best Nadir D'Priest stories.

Tim:  My fondest memories include playing 3 songs with Nadir and Sean Lewis at an FBI Booking Agency party in Manhattan during a CMJ convention in 1988, getting signed by Noise Records in 1989, performing a song called "Nothing Happens Till It Happens to You" in the Roger Corman film HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD PART II (starring Ginger Lynn) in 1989 which earned us all our SAG cards and celebrating our record deal by going out to Lake Havasu, Nevada and jet-skiing for the entire weekend. We also had a blast touring that year in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix and played some sold out shows in Hollywood, most memorably the Roxy, the LA Stock Exchange and the Palace!

FIB MUSIC:  London has just played the last chord of the last song of the night....After Nadir D'Priest punches a guy in the face and screams Goodnight!!! Describe a typical after-show experience with London.

Tim:  It was girls, girls and more girls! (without the punching part, though - wasn't that a little unfair?) Some of the best gigs back then were the Roxy and the Palace in Hollywood, the NAMM show in Orange County, the Stone in San Francisco, the Mason Jar in Phoenix and FM Station in the Valley..

FIB MUSIC:   Tell us about your first live gig with London. Describe the scene, the smell, how many people were there..etc.

Tim:  I actually do remember that show - it was in the valley at a club on Topanga Boulevard in 1988 and we each had more than one cutie from the Hollywood Tropicana come home with us (that was the infamous "mud-wrestling" club in Hollywood)...I actually got pulled over by the cops on the way back to the after party at my 4-bedroom house that Sean Lewis and I shared at the time. They claimed I was "tail-gating" even though I was the only car on Sherman Way for miles....I never did like the valley cops, man!

FIB MUSIC:  Please share a couple of stand-out moments from the after-party, celebrating the release of Decline of Western Civilization Part II.

Tim:  That party was amazing, and it was at that party that Sean Lewis got me officially in the band. I had been hanging out with Sean, bassist Brian West and our then manager Tony Recasino and we were treated like stars...I remember Lizzie and Nadir both had chicks with them...the food and alcohol were non-stop, crab claws on ice with champagne! At the time I was working full-time at Metal Blade Records and showed up at work the next morning wearing the same clothes I had on the night before, and hung over as hell!

FIB MUSIC:  Typically, how much money did you make while in London, on any average month

Tim:  That was too long ago to remember any "net" figures after expenses, but I do remember playing $1,500 weekends in Phoenix, and averaging $500 per show plus meals and all the booze we could drink in California. I also remember Bobby Corona paying for my plane tickets from Los Angeles to San Francisco to play the Stone... I couldn't leave the Metal Blade offices till 6:00 so I often had to fly to gigs, and Nadir was cool enough to sound-check my drums for me in those situations..

FIB MUSIC:   Describe a typical day in the life of Tim Yasui during your days in London. From the time you woke up to the time you went to bed.

Tim:  That meant getting up at 9am to be at Metal Blade from 10 to 6pm, practicing as soon as I got home with the band, then going out to the Sunset Strip to flyer and promote the band and to meet as many women as possible before finally going home at 2:30 am only to wake up the next morning and repeat the process....

Tim, Alyssa Milano, Lizzie

Lizzie Grey & Tim Yasui

FIB MUSIC:  From some of the promo photos it looks like you were with London when they signed their record deal with NOISE. But by the time the album was released you were no longer in the band. Why did you leave?

Tim:  The infamous "creative differences" ha-ha...the producer, Ritchie Podolor told me he even kept a few of my drum tracks on the album, but I never confirmed that. I think Sean Lewis gave me a credit on the European version of that album, but by the time that album was eventually released, I had already rejoined Lizzie Grey in his band ULTRA POP and was taking the next step towards a 15 year relationship that's still alive and well today!

FIB MUSIC:  What has it been like to work with Lizzie Grey all these years?

Tim:   It's been like having a 3rd brother along with my brothers Todd and Robert. Lizzie once likened us to a married couple who's been together so long we can now get mad at each other, yell "fuck you" and then say "I'm sorry" in the same breath. This past year was definitely a break-through for us with me singing lead vocals for the first time on 4 songs on our current album "Hollywood Ghosts" and the release of our very first DVD. Lizzie was also very cool in that on "Hollywood Ghosts" he allowed me to contribute songs I had written myself, as well as co-write with him on others.

FIB MUSIC:  How would you describe Lizzie Grey, not only as a person, but as a musician?

Tim:  I know him as a friend and band member but also know the Lizzie that is a great husband to his wife and father to his daughter and a musician who loves animals, motorcycles and British Glitter-rock - and not necessarily in that order. If he wasn't so addicted to Rock and Roll, he'd most likely be an attorney and probably a damned good litigator at that. If he didn't play guitar and sing then he'd probably be a great producer who knows how to write, arrange, layer tracks and produce great albums.

FIB MUSIC:   Do you think there will ever be a London reunion? How about Lizzie Grey, Nikki Sixx, Nadir D'Priest, maybe bring in Slash as another guitarist and you on drums....record an album and do a world tour. Would you do it?

Tim:  I honestly did try to include Nadir, whom I'm still in touch with, in a show recently with Lizzie and I at the HOLLYWOOD ROCKS record release party at the Key Club six months ago but don't Slash and Nikki already have bands?

FIB MUSIC:   You studied under the legendary Carmine Appice. What was that like? How would you describe him?

Tim:  I remember having to "audition" just to be accepted as one of his students! His personal assistant asked me to send him a demo tape of me playing, along with my "resume" (I didn't even have one at the time). I spent 2 years on and off with him and was amazed at how fast he actually had me "reading" drum charts again. He also was the first drum instructor I ever had that focused on my feet - many people don't know how important footwork is on a drumset, including myself at the time. He also had me form some good habits that I work on to this day, like practicing to a click track, etc. When I started with him and the band LONDON, I had zero experience with click tracks (and it showed) but after LONDON and studying with Carmine, I finally mastered it, which is a good thing since Lizzie always insisted on recording to click tracks.

FIB MUSIC:  Did he ever force you to play King Kobra songs from "Thrill of a Lifetime"?

Tim:  No, but one of the thrills of studying with him came at the end of each lesson, where he would turn on a metronome, and we would "trade off" drum fills, much like two guitarists in a band trading off "guitar riffs...the drummer who studied right after me every Saturday with Carmine was my good buddy, Joey, the drummer and co-founder of the infamous LIZZY BORDEN.

FIB MUSIC:  Tell us about one cool drum technique Carmine taught you or a great piece of advice, or MAYBE a couple of techniques, you would be nice enough to pass on?

Tim:  Make sure you are included in songwriting! No seriously, he used to say "Don't waste so much energy with your left foot while you open and close the hi-hat during a song" play the hi-hat with your left heel "down"...when you grip your sticks, keep your pinkie finger wrapped around the bottom of the drum stick -don't allow it to fly on and off of the stick...work on your left foot, work on your left foot, etc, etc., etc.,

FIB MUSIC:   What year did London appear in the movie, Hollywood Boulevard? What did you guys do in the movie? What did Ginger Lynn look like up close. Any good stories from that shoot?

Tim:  Again, see the answer above regarding fond memories...Ginger looked fine up close...we played ourselves and pretended to be filming a music video for the "B" movie company in a movie about making movies... this was on HBO for a few years but must have been pulled from rotation since I haven't gotten a royalty check in years. We shot a 14 hour shoot in Malibu, and then drove directly to Montebello, California to play a gig at a club called THE GREEN DOOR or something like that the same night!

FIB MUSIC:  Please tell us about the story behind the song "Rainbow Bar & Girls". Did London ever receive any money for their contributions.

Tim:   I actually played live cymbals over a drum machine track on that one and still have the 12" single that Atlantic Records released somewhere. I think only Lizzie got anything for that one, since he wrote the original version which was called "Glamour Girls"....SPIDERS & SNAKES re- recorded that song on our 1997 album ASTRO POP. A rumor got started that the song featured members of MOTLEY CRUE, GUNS n ROSES, etc. but it was all bull and only LONDON actually played on it...Atlantic finally yanked it from the shelves, but not before it went gold, I believe..

FIB MUSIC:  You briefly worked with King Kobra vocalist Mark (Marcie) Free. What was it like to work with him/her? Have you talked to her recently.

Tim:   See answer to the 2nd question above..never saw him/her since.

Tim with George Foreman

Spiders & Snakes circa 1991

Lizzie, Kim Fowley, Tim

FIB MUSIC:   You also played in a band with vocalist Rob Rock. Who else was in that band? Did you release anything with them? Play any shows?

Tim:  You're talking about the band JOSHUA and Rob Rock had just left the band before I joined and was replaced by a singer named Robin but he was the main reason I even went to audition for them, due to my respect for his talent. Yes, we recorded a demo that I still have on cassette somewhere, and I remember we tracked the Edgar Winter Group song "Free Ride". We did play some shows, most notably opening for DOKKEN in Torrance, California in early 1990. I was "fired" by the band for a recreational substance issue incident that the band leader, Joshua, didn't approve of. JOSHUA was a "Christian" band, and even though I am a lifelong Methodist (Protestant), I was way out of my league and had a difficult time adjusting to the rules, I guess.

FIB MUSIC:   Tell us about your days in Forty Thieves? Who was in that band? How long were you with them? Did you release anything with them?

Tim:   They actually called me at home when they heard I was "released" by Joshua, since I had signed a contract and everything with Ron Rainey Management. Once I was cleared, I immediately hooked up with guitarist Jim McMellen (BRITTON), bassist Kenny Chaisson (KEEL) and power vocalist Dave FeFolt (ALEX MASI). We played sold-out shows in Phoenix in front of people like ALICE COOPER and ROB HALFORD and also recorded a 4 song demo in the valley at a studio run by Joe Floyd from WARRIOR. We shared the songwriting 4-ways, the first time a band ever did that with me. It was Jim McMellen who showed me how to form a publishing company, how to join BMI and to this day I'm appreciative of the time he spent with me "schooling me" on that part of the biz. Jim was (and is) a real cool person who was also a killer chef - he taught me how to make buffalo wings and I still use his recipe today!

FIB MUSIC:  What is your job at Cleopatra Records? What kind of work does it entail? What does a typical work week look like for you?

Tim:  This is almost a separate interview - but in a nutshell, I just started my 7th year at the company and was recently promoted to Vice President/General Manager, a first for me! A typical work week is busting my ass for Brian Perera and being rewarded for it - he's a great guy who literally changed my life from the first day I met him when he offered SPIDERS & SNAKES a spot on the Cleopatra Records Tribute to Motley Crue back in 1998.

FIB MUSIC:  Who came up with the idea for the Hollywood Rocks Boxset and Book? Did anything inspire it?

Tim:  The book was entirely Brian's idea and the idea for the soundtrack /boxset/movie was mine.

FIB MUSIC:  How were the songs submitted for the Hollywood Rocks boxset? How were some of the songs transferred? Cassettes and so on

Tim:  The original book HOLLYWOOD ROCKS featured a blurb on the first page asking bands from that era to submit material for the soundtrack and movie. The only rules were you had to have been a Hollywood band (sorry NYC) and the cut off date was nothing recorded after 1992. We received everything from vinyl, cassettes, CDs and even MP3 files on the internet.

FIB MUSIC:  Didn't you license some of the tracks on the boxset? Which bands?

Off the top of my head, we licensed STRYPER, WASP, ARMORED SAINT, BITCH, POISON and a few others....
FIB MUSIC:  Do the bands receive any type of bonus or money up-front for appearing on the boxset?

Tim:  Except for the tracks we licensed from the majors, We paid each band a one-time, non-exclusive "usage fee"

FIB MUSIC:   What is the running cost of licensing a WASP track or Poison track? Do they still have points on the record?

Tim:  We do pay mechanical royalties on the licensed material of course and there's different prices depending on who owns what.

FIB MUSIC:  Who are some of the bands that are on Cleopatra / Deadline?


FIB MUSIC:  You had mentioned something about being involved with the liner notes for some the records released on Deadline.

Tim:  That's another bonus about working at Cleopatra - we get to all wear different hats and I was lucky enough to be allowed to research and write liner notes for bands like WARRANT, PRETTY BOY FLOYD, DANGEROUS TOYS, VAN HALEN, WHITE LION and others.

FIB MUSIC:  Anything else you would like to add?

Tim:  SPIDERS & SNAKES is alive and well in 2006 and Lizzie Grey and I are working on what we are hoping will be our best album to date! The recent television commercial success has been like a "shot in the arm" and the songwriting is going great up to this point. We also have a new bassist named Phil St. Vincent and we're having a show on New Year's Eve at the UNIVERSAL BAR & GRILL in Universal City, California - if anyone is gonna be in LA on New Year's eve, please come by and have a drink on Spiders & Snakes! For more show info, please check out www.spidersandsnakes.com or www.myspace.com/spidersandsnakes

FIB MUSIC:  Tim Yasui is transported back to the year 1985, is there anything you would do differently?

Tim:  Yeah, I would have studied even harder so that I could have finished my master's degree one year earlier so that I could have moved to Hollywood in 1986 instead of 1987 - seems I missed the real sunset strip metal "boom" by 12 months!


FIB MUSIC:  What is your most disgusting habit?

Tim:  Watching too much television.

FIB MUSIC:  What is the most feminine thing you do?

Tim:  Wear makeup on camera and when we play live

FIB MUSIC:  If there is a God, what is the first question you would ask God when you arrive?

Tim:   What the hell happened to the DALLAS COWBOYS?

FIB MUSIC:  Greatest Rock band of all time?

Tim:  A tie between the BEATLES and LED ZEPPELIN

FIB MUSIC:  What were you doing 40 minutes before you sat down to do this interview?

Tim:  Having lunch with my boss, friend and Cleopatra Records owner, Brian Perera.

Don't Forget to visit Tim & Spiders and Snakes at their websites:

Here is a site with some more history on the band:

Other References
Make sure to read our second interviews with
London vocalist Nadir D'Priest Part I

London vocalist Nadir D'Priest Part II

London Guitarist Lizzie Grey

Search Fibits for Spiders & Snakes cd's

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