La Jolla Condos

War Babies Vocalist
Brad Sinsel

FIB MUSIC:  Can you tell us a little bit about Suicide Squad?

Brad:  It was right after "Below the Belt" had tanked. I decided to approach Steve Sinclair of Combat Records about doing a solo project myself and he says, "Well, you didn't hear it from me, but if you get a budget from the boss, I would run, not walk, to the nearest record label and get yourself a real deal with the demo"...and I was like, "yeah, whatever". I get Barry on the phone and Rick Pierce and I were working together and I said, "I'm doing this solo project, Rick Pierce and I are working together and it's becoming something and I want to do a demo. Would you be interested?". Barry finagles me down and sends me four hundred dollars. So, I find a sixteen track studio that is down on its luck and Jack Endino, who had done a bunch of Soundgarden and Nirvana....he was the staff engineer there. That's where I met Richard Stuverud, who later played in War Babies.


FIB MUSIC:  What do you mean? You met him at the studio?

Brad:  Well, I met him through Rick....Rick said, "he's not very good, but it's all I could find". To me, he was pretty fresh, at the time, and his meter was kind of lame, so we put him on a click track and kept a close eye on him. On bass it says Rick Bradley and what that is....Rick played bass on two tracks and I played bass on two tracks, therefore, Rick Bradley. We get the thing done and I send a copy back to Combat and they are going to advance 2 to 3 thousand dollars and I said, "let me think about it". Pierce comes up with the idea of putting it out on Music for Nations....that's an excellent idea. We put it out on Music for got critical acclaim. It didn't sell that many units, but while I was in L.A., I called Barry and he says, "I just wanted to tell you, I really liked the album" and I said, "oh, yeah, I forgot about that" and he said, "you probably didn't know this, but I own controlling interest in Music for Nations" (laughs)....I think we got twelve hundred dollars a piece for the whole thing. With my wife went into labor with my son, no medical insurance, some money....they wouldn't let me out of the hospital unless I paid them the, I paid off the hospital, Pierce got a Ford Fairlane and that was the end of that.

FIB MUSIC:  Why doesn't it go any further?

Brad:  We never expected it to go anywhere, that's why it was called Suicide Squad, it wasn't supposed to go anywhere.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with Jack Endino?

Brad:   He kind of rediscovered the thing and decided it was cool. He seemed more annoyed than anything.

FIB MUSIC:  ...because his name was on it?

Brad:  No.....that we were even in there discovering his alternative-ness (laughs)....but we got along great. He seemed like a brilliant guy. He's been emailing me and I have been checking out his website and his new stuff. He's a great guy...he really is. I think he just didn't know what we were doing because we were so mainstream compared to what he was doing.

FIB MUSIC:  That's never been released on cd either, right?

Brad:  No...........not that I know of. (laughs)

FIB MUSIC:  What are your memories of Andrew Wood?

Brad:  He used to follow the band as a kid. Eventually, we were all managed by the same management company. At the time, I had War Babies and he had Mother Love Bone. He was struggling with his addiction, but being really optimistic.....I remember having a conversation with him about....."All I want is a tour bus" and I'm like, "oh buddy (laughs), be careful what you wish for....they're not as luxurious after six weeks on tour, it just turns into butt fumes and deli trays". He was so naive, it was almost beautiful to watch. Ignorance is bliss. His eyes were just wide opened and he was in awe of everything and everything was so cool. It was just tragic when that happened, it was just such a waste.

FIB MUSIC:  Did you attend the funeral?

Brad:  No, but I went to the wake. The wake was at the Paramount Theatre. I went with Kelly Curtis; Kelly was our manager. We're sitting there and it was just an absolute circus. There were bands outside, passing out flyers. Like "The Metal Dogs from Hell Say Good-Bye to Andrew Wood" and then at the bottom, "See us Live, Saturday". I remember somebody, in the family, who must not have understood his spirituality, kind of redirected it.....these fucking monks come out, with hoods and they were chanting.....and I remember leaning over to Kelly and whispering, "what the fuck is this?" and he just shook his head and said, "I don't know what the fuck this is, but this is wrong". It was Seattle at its worst.

War Babies

FIB MUSIC:  How does War Babies come about?

Brad:  I had left L.A. and just decided I wanted to be a dad, at that time. I would get myself a retirement band and play the Pioneer Square area. Alice in Chains were big at that time....and I think Mother Love Bone was and I got back to Seattle and I was approached by Richard Stuverud, who was playing with War Babies, at the time. I had played with Richard in his infancy state, with Suicide Squad. He says, "yeah, come check out my band", so I checked out his band and I thought it was a great little rockin' band and he says, "dude, you gotta sing for us" and I said, "well, let's try it". We started doing gigs....we sucked for awhile, but I was having fun and I was being a dad.....and one day I woke up and we were signed and I was on the road again. I thought what the fuck happened. This was my retirement band (laughs).

The release was, by a good year, which was again, bad timing.

FIB MUSIC:  It was delayed a year after you recorded it?

Brad:  Yeah. The logic was Sony didn't want to launch at the same time they were launching Michael Jackson. They have really big stupid meetings at record companies. Meanwhile, here comes Nirvana and everything changed. But the odd thing is, they were kind of hanging on to us while they were renegotiating, trying to get Aerosmith back, at the time. So, if they couldn't have Aerosmith, they wanted an Aerosmith (laughs), you know? A lot of our original songs that we had brought to them would have been considered in the grunge genre, but they did everything they could to bleed those songs out. You can hear it on songs like "Blue Tomorrow". That was more reflective of the band than "Cry Yourself to Sleep".

FIB MUSIC:  Where did you record it?

Brad:  A&M Records.

FIB MUSIC:  The entire record?

Brad:  I think the only thing that wasn't recorded there, it was one of the beat the demo situations with "Blue Tomorrow" and it just wasn't clicking.....and I said wait a minute, we have the two inch of that, why don't we bring it down and work off of that. So, we just rebuilt off the original and it turned out much better.

FIB MUSIC:  Who produced it?

Brad:  Thom Panunzio. Decent guy.

FIB MUSIC:  What was it like working with him?

Brad:  The brilliance from the record came from the engineer, Bill Kennedy. He had worked on like Nine Inch Nails stuff. It was mostly Panunzio turning to him and saying, "sounds good, right?".

FIB MUSIC:  Do you remember what their budget was for that record?

Brad:  We spent a lot of their money. I think we might have spent about $150,000 on that. We ended up going into Studio A with a full PA for the drums. Doing that thing where you just run the knobs 'til you get a good blend of the direct mics versus the room. I just loved that studio; there was so much history to it. It was originally Charlie Chaplin's place that he did all his movies out of.

FIB MUSIC:  Wow. I didn't know that. I've been there before and I actually got to meet Herb Albert there.

Brad:  Yeah, I got to meet him as well.

FIB MUSIC:  Did he have the little black guy with him? The guy that does everything for him?

Brad:  No, I didn't get to see that. What I saw was he would like to roam around there late at night and Kennedy and I are sitting there finishing the day, having a beer and listening. All of a sudden Kennedy turns to me and says, "do you hear that?" and I say, "what?" and he clicks on the mic and there's the theme from "The Lonely Bull" coming through the mics in the room, in Studio A and all we could see was his shadow. (laughs) So, that was weird.

FIB MUSIC:  You also worked with Paul Stanley, right?

Brad:  Oh Lord. (laughs) Yeah, I did.

FIB MUSIC:  Why do you say that?

Brad:  Well, we just didn't get along very well. Just did not hit is off. Our guitarist, Tommy McMullin, at this point I'm in a band...I used to be the baby of the band. I was singing with guys in their mid-twenties when I was fourteen and now all of a sudden I'm the old guy because I'm eight years older than everybody. Tommy McMullin was a huge KISS fan and a collector of comic books and KISS paraphernalia. So, when Columbia comes up with the idea that we team as writers, Tommy is ecstatic. I thought it was scary because I had seen some of the things that Paul had put together with other up and coming bands and I wasn't looking forward to it. But I agreed to it and I showed up at some house in L.A. and met with one of the biggest egomaniacs I have ever come across, in my career.

FIB MUSIC:  Then it's probably good you didn't meet Gene (Simmons).

Brad:  Well, I think Ken Mary went on to work with Gene in House of Lords. My understanding is shit pretty much rolls downhill. Gene is in charge and bulldozes everybody in his way. So, why should Paul be any different when Paul gets a chance to be in charge. There's other ways to get music going without walking on people. Anyhow, he (Paul) was rude and disrespectful and at some point, I'm playing "Kill the Pain" while we're warming up. So, he says, "I'm going to start playing some stuff and you just tell me if you hear anything". What came out of it was just "Kill the Pain" backwards (laughs). At some point he goes, "how about in this part we do blah, blah, blah" and it was off of "Love Gun", by now I've had enough of his remarks and I just looked at him and said, "look, it's not like I'm like Tommy" and he says, "what do you mean?" and I said, "it's not like I own a KISS doll, or something" (laughs).

FIB MUSIC:  What was his reaction?

Brad:  Dead silence......and we were done shortly after that. We put the song together and he was arrogant as hell, screaming for people to help him with his guitar....can't carry his own guitars. He actually played the twelve string on "Cry Yourself to Sleep" and as he's playing Panunzio goes, "he's out of tune" and I said, "well, tell him" and he goes, "I don't think that's a very good idea" and I said, "What do you mean?" and he goes, "what I didn't tell you is I slept with his girlfriend" (laughs)....and I go, "you know, this just keeps getting better". So, I didn't have a problem with it at this point, I hit the talkback button and he wants to argue with me that it's not out of tune, but then quietly tunes it up. Then Panunzio says, "before he goes, we got to get him to sing on it", it was clear to me that the label wanted Paul's involvement and leech off of their fanbase. So, Panunzio sends me to the task and Paul starts going, "I need help with my guitars" because he is leaving and he (Panunzio) goes, "you got to go get him; you got to get him to sing back up". I go in there and say, "you want some help?" and he (Paul) says, "yeah", I thought, I'm being pretty political here, I might as well ask him, "hey, why don't you come back tomorrow and let's lay some background vocals" and he turns to me and says, "it's not like my name is going to be on this album". At that point, I had two guitars in my hand and I let go of them. "Cool, see ya" (laughs).

FIB MUSIC:  But his name was on the album.

Brad:  Yeah, it appeared on the album. I'll send a picture that will go perfectly with "I never owned a KISS doll". I had the Paul Stanley make up on. I didn't own the KISS doll, but I came damn close (laughs).

FIB MUSIC:  How long did you tour promoting the War Babies release?

Brad:  It started to fall apart, before the release. Within six weeks of being released, it was dead. The market had changed; the music was wrong. Time to hang that up. I believe I left the band. I think it was released in the Spring and by Christmas I was leaving. Typically, first bands have all these expectations about what the label is going to do for them and when they wake up and find out...oh, wait a minute, it just capitulates.

FIB MUSIC:  So, you never got to tour at all?

Brad:  Oh, we did some dates, but they were just warm up dates. They were small venues, which I love, but it wasn't going anywhere. The only great gig that came out of that was....Seattle was going to welcome us, the FM station was going to welcome us at the Seattle Center, the Mural Amphitheatre, which is a small outdoor venue. Somebody else wanted to put us on an environmental bill, Rock the Environment, with Queensryche and War Babies. That was a great one, because I got a call from Rocky Del Balzo.

FIB MUSIC:  Who is that?

Brad:  He's the head of radio for Columbia.....and a very famous promoter once told me, "beware of people who don't use their real name"....I get a call from this guy at 8 in the morning and he is warning me not to do the Rock the Environment show because it is not politically advantageous. "Ok, well thanks for letting me know" and he goes, "I'm telling you, don't do the show". I hung up the phone and agreed to do the show. It was 20,000 people versus 1200...let's see. It was a great show, we did a finale at the end, covered "Gimme Shelter". Tommy and I joined Queensryche and Ann and Nancy from Heart came out and we did "Gimme Shelter" and "Revolution" by the Beatles....and some other freakin' tune, but that was a great way to leave and then it was over.

FIB MUSIC:  What do you do then?

Brad:  I just kind of poked around and did projects that just didn't go anywhere. Then I ended up getting a divorce.....and I used to laugh at guys that were going through divorce because they're crying....and I'm like snap out of it, man. Then I went through it and I was like, (crying sound) "oh God, please help me". I got real dramatic about the whole divorce thing.....I'm passionate about things I care about. So, I was a wreck for about a year. Then I kind of got into the whole blended family thing with my wife and her new husband.....being there for my kid. Now he's eighteen and he's the rocker in the family. He comes back this evening for three weeks and then he'll be moving back over to Seattle.

FIB MUSIC:  You aren't doing any gigs in Seattle?

Brad:  No, I haven't. We have done occassional TKO reunions at EMP and those are fun.

FIB MUSIC:  You're a great live vocalist.

Brad:  Oh, well, thanks.

FIB MUSIC:  So, tell me about this new project.

Brad:  It's called American Standard and I'm working with Brynn Arens. It's like rock for adults. It used to be about.....I don't think my shit was ever about fast cars and women, but it deals with more adult topics. There's just no rock out there that does that. It's just songs written based on life experiences.


FIBM:  What is your most disgusting habit?

Brad:  Most? (laughs) Arguably, I live in what's referred to as wine country. Yakima is the new mecca for fine wines, in the country. So, I think my dirtiest habit would, no......that would be my second most dirtiest habit, my most disgusting habit would be, since I stopped smoking, I picked up Kodiak chewing tobacco. Now I got two bad habits. In fact, Brynn, we were mixing, he's lightning quick on the mixing board and he goes to pick up his drink and it's my chew cup and I save him....inches from his lips (laughs). I think chew would be it, followed by, I think I drink too much Merlot.

FIBM:  I thought you quit all that stuff. Word on the street is Brad Sinsel had a drinking problem, back in the day.

Brad:  Yeah, but that's coming from people who do cocaine (laughs), they think it tastes bad.

FIBM:  It's not that it tastes bad, it's just that it reminds them of cocaine.

Brad:  (laughs) No, the best time to drink in rock is when your deal has blown up....go out with a bang, pull a Keith Moon.....make them pay, that was my MO

FIBM:  What is the most feminine thing you do?

Brad:  I father like a mother.....I do all the laundry, all the cooking and I regret that. Now he's leaving the house and he doesn't know how to do anything (laughs).

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

Brad:   (laughs) Oh..............will you please forgive me.

FIBM:  Greatest Rock band of all time?

Brad:  You know, The Who and the Stones. Obviously there are certain periods of their career that are more loveable than others, but both of those bands in their peak.

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

Brad:  Chewing.......I was......I'm chewing now.

FIBM:  Is Yakima like it is here in La Jolla, where you can't smoke anywhere? You can't even smoke on the beach anymore.

Brad:  Oh yeah, I remember me and Tommy were having this nice record company meal in Los Angeles and these people look over and give Tommy the Southern California look because he had just lit up and he looks at them and says, "everyday you guys breathe in the shittiest air and you have a problem with me smoking?"

FIBM:  ...and that completes your Full in Bloom Music interview. I can't thank you enough for taking the time. It was a real honor.

Brad:  Well, you're a good guy, you're respectful and I appreciate that and I'll talk anytime you want to put up with me.

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