Whether you hate them or love them (my girlfriend still loathes them), Cock Rockers Dokken delivered the goods for a nice 6, or 7 year run. Among the most respected musicians from that era George Lynch surely is one of the post EVH leaders from that pack of bands like Motley Crue, Ratt etc. Read on and find out why George is reuniting with some old friends. Our Buddy Lee got him on the phone ripping through the good ole USA. Thanks Lee.
Lee: Hello, George?
Lee: It sounds like you guys are driving through some pretty dicey terrain.
George: I wouldn’t call it dicey. Just the back ways and byways.
Lee: Are you near El Paso?
George: We are driving toward El Paso. We're quite a ways from there. We just went through a little town called (pause) what was it called? Called what? Furburger? Furburger or something. We're in the middle of ... going toward Hill Country.
Lee: I am totally digging Smoke and Mirrors. It's really strong.
George: There you go.
Lee: Why reform Lynch Mob after all these years?
George: Well, I guess all the planets aligned. I don't have control over anything, but you know things kind of lined up when the singer decided that he was ready. I've always been ready, so, you know, it all kind of happened in the right time at the right place. It the larger world, the timing was right for us, so it made sense.
Lee: Hearing it, it sounds like a logical follow-up to Wicked Sensation. It sounds like if it wasn't recorded in the same session, it at least has continuity.
George: It's the second record Oni and I did together, so it’s the second record we would have done after Wicked. But we had 17 years to think about it.
Lee: Had you guys kept in contact over the years?
George: Yeah, of course. I mean, sporadically but with large gaps. We did a tour back in the late ‘90s, I believe, early 2000s and I think we did a couple of tours. I can’t remember. We released Syzygy in the mid-‘90s. There’s been some time passed and new did a few things here and there, but nothing serious.
Lee: What prompted Oni to leave Lynch Mob in the first place so many years ago?
George: I came into that band with a lot of expectations because I had the wind at my back coming off the Dokken machine and the success in that band. I set the bar really high and Oni was, he tended to be a little inconsistent live, to say the least. Taking nothing away from him, but I was very short-sighted in allowing the decision to be made to part ways at that point because I lost my writing partner and that’s everything.
Lee: Was Robert Mason also a writing partner?
George: Because we were sort of hurting from the live performance aspect, we enlisted Robert to join the band and he was a friggin’ machine. He could sing like a robot with a clean range that never quit. Never had a bad day or anything like that. What was lacking, not to take anything from Robert, but with Oni, we established a chemistry between Oni and myself. And our writing on the first record, it was a very short-sighted decision and we paid the price. The second record was very weak compared to the first one. It was downhill after that.
Lee: Smoke and Mirrors sounds so much like an extension of Wicked Sensation that it begs the question about the second album. I thought Robert was strong, but maybe the record was a bit polished compared to Wicked. Would you agree?
George: Absolutely. Of course. We didn’t have the angst in the band. We didn’t have the lyrics to paint those beautiful, dark pictures. I think we were kind of rolling a little bit with the success, so we got a little soft and were going for the commercial thing and was absolutely the wrong time to go in that direction. We went right when we should have gone left. We should have made it tougher and nastier on the second record, not more polished, not more Dokkenesque. So we picked the wrong producer, we wrote the wrong songs. Hindsight is 20/20.
Lee: You say Robert was consistent live. Is Oni more consistent than he was so many years ago?
George: Yeah. He’s in a better place now. He moved to Switzerland, kind of cleaned up his act, centered himself and he’s ready to come back and go to work and give us 110 percent, which he has. He’s very consistent now. It’s wonderful.
Lee: Did you record live all in the same room, or did the guys swap sound files?
George: It went very quickly. We went into Sound City, which is a great ... it was the first real studio I ever recorded in back in 1976. I had a band back then and there was some time available to us between midnight and 7 a.m. We wanted to do our demos, so they gave us the studio all night.
Lee: Was this in the Xciter days?
George: Yeah, it was Xciter [Lynch’s pre-Dokken band]. We went back in there and banged it out and went there and nothing had changed. It was exactly the same. Nothing had changed: the board, the floors, the tapestries. It’s dark and funky, but is a very amazing sounding room. Metallica had just booked the whole place for six months. The litany of records that’s been done there is insane. As long as your arm. It’s one of those warm, natural-sounding rooms. Nirvana did their big record there, Nevermind. Whitesake, a whole bunch of bands. Fleetwood Mac. And on and on.
Lee: Quite a history.
George: We did it all in four days. The basic tracks. Some of the more jammy stuff was done kinda live, like I can’t remember which song: “Let The Music Be Your Master” and what's the other one? The one with the extended solo in there. The fourth track in...
Lee: “Time Keepers?”
George: “Time Keepers.” Right.
Lee: That is my favorite track on the whole album, especially with the extended guitar solo.
George. That was all done there live, except for a few minor punch-ins.
Lee: Given that it took four days to record, I expect everything was written before you arrived at the studio, right?
George: Of course. We still did the overdubs and vocals. That took longer. But the bass, drums and rhythm guitars and some of the solos — we knocked out the bulk of the record in Sound City and then we moved to a different studio.
Lee: What was your reaction on finally hearing the finished master of Smoke and Mirrors. Did a big smile spread across your face, like “Yeah, we hit it!”
George: Well, you can always do better. On a few things on the record, I wish I’d spent more time on. There are a couple of tracks that I really wish had been on the record. I felt it was important to be on the record and other people didn’t. And there’s also a song we kinda had on the table that we couldn’t quite finish up that I thought would have finished up the record nicely. We dropped off one or two other songs that were really aggressive and in your face but we just couldn't get together in time. We were just working so fast and with limited funds and limited time.
Lee: Might those appear on the future release?
George: Or on the next record. They ain’t going anywhere.
Lee: You’ve probably heard this a million times, but I just want to get the true story for myself. It is true that you lured Oni away from Mark Ferrari's [former Keel guitarist] band by asking if he'd rather drive a Ferrari than play in a band named Ferrari?
George: I said would you rather be in a band called Ferrari or drive one? (laughs) But he joined the band and ended up driving a used Corvair, which he ended up dumping in the desert, by the way.
Lee: Any Ferraris in the Lynch driveway these days?
George: Fuck no, I wouldn’t drive that shit if I had the money. Waste of money.
Lee: You seem to be handling your own affairs these days, really taking a hands-on approach. Literally driving your own course, for example, instead of the big tour buses of the ‘80s, for example. Do you prefer that DIY approach?
George: It’s all a matter of necessity. I mean, if you're out on a bigger situation, you need to have everything sort of logistically planned out on a day sheet and with a crew. At this level, it’s much easier to actually deal with people directly. We don’t have the resources to do it the other way anyway.
Lee: Yeah, you've got so many balls in the air...
George: Excuse me?
Lee: Well, I mean...
George: You've heard the rumors then?
Lee: They’re only rumors?
George: Yeah, the three testicles? Yeah, three.
Lee: I thought it was five.
George: Three is normal, right? (laughs) The other day in gym class, I realized three wasn’t normal.
Lee: Speaking of your physique, have you scaled back on the weightlifting these days?
George: Yes, I have.
Lee: You’re still built, but not as ripped as you were a few years ago.
George: Yeah, that was a little ridiculous. I don't know what I was thinking.
Lee: Did it ever affect your fluidity as a guitarist?
George: Yeah, it did. It made it worse. Cramps. It wasn't a good thing.
Lee: So what's happening at the dojo. How many students are you up to now?
George: About 400.
Lee: Is that more than you expected, or less?
George: You never know. We hoped we'd get to 1,000. You can wish for anything, I guess.
Lee: I remember the NEH instructional videos and Metal Method in the ‘80s. How has guitar instruction changed since then?
George: Obviously, the tablature has improved dramatically and you have a sonic fretboard you can follow along. Follow the bouncing ball. It’s incredible, you know? All the shit at the bottom of the screen in real time. We never had that before. Things used to be incorrect. I remember I would need to re-learn a song or something and I’d go to a tablature book and it would be completely wrong.
Lee: Do you think that improved technology has made better guitar players?
George: Obviously. I mean look out there. These guys are starting at a whole other level. In my day, it was just learn a bunch of pentatonic blues licks and go from there. These days, it's starting with Paganini fugues.
Lee: In your heyday — around the time of Sacred Groove and Back For The Attack— you were still striving to up your game. I even remember you taking private classical lessons at Arizona State University.
George: No, actually from a teacher at ASU, but not at ASU. I took lessons for a while, but I found it was kind of embarrassing because I’d be in classes and everybody would be trying not to notice the elephant-in-the-room kind of thing. I’m very stupid with theory and people were always looking over at me and I wouldn't be getting shit that was, like, super simple. People would want my autograph so I couldn’t really learn anything. But then I took private lessons from this guys I looked up in the Yellow Pages. He was a ASU teacher and taught me a lot.
Lee: I used to read interviews where you said you thought you were more self-taught rather than some who knew a lot of theory. But it sounded like you knew a lot of theory. There was a lot of sweeping going on.
George: When I tell people I’m good at sweeping, I mean the floor.
Lee: Yeah, sweeping up the dojo.
George: I’m the owner and the janitor.
(distracted by traffic)
George: We’re going to be getting off here, so if we're almost done...
Lee: Sure. Before you have to go, I heard rumors about the original Dokken lineup reuniting and touring. Any truth to that?
George: That has always been something we’ve been working towards. There’s always obstacles. It's always on the table.
Lee: Have there been any actual meetings about it?
George: Yes. It’s been on the table, off the table forever.
Lee: Also, I'd heard about Lynch Mob actually doing a tour with the original Dokken lineup. Is that true?
George: It looks like it might happen. No, hey, we shouldn’t even be talking about that because none of that’s for real yet. Until it’s for real...
Lee: I hear ya.
George: Look, I got a cop looking at me. I’m not supposed to be talking on my phone. I’m looking at all these immigration cops and I don't want to get a ticket.
Lee: I understand. Thanks for the time, George. I think I can speak for your fans in saying we can’t wait to see Lynch Mob again.