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TORN FROM JIMMY’S PAGE: Les Paul and all, Stevie D admits to borrowing heavily from Led Zeppelin’s legendary guitar hero. As co-guitarist in Buckcherry, Stevie has also made a nice little dent for himself while sharing stages with KISS, AC/DC, Aerosmith and Motley Crue. Sure beats swinging a hammer on a rooftop in July.

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BLACK (UNDER)DOG: Led Zeppelin’s 1976 concert movie soundtrack, ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ is often overshadowed by the band’s towering discography.

By Metal Dave

I first met “Stevie D” in an alley off the Sunset Strip (and no, it wasn’t for the purpose of some illicit exchange).

The year was 2004 (or was it ’05?) and I’d flown to Los Angeles to meet the Crank County Daredevils as they pillaged their way to the West Coast following a “debaucherfest” at my home in Austin, TX.

Having made friends years prior with Buckcherry singer Josh Todd and guitarist Keith Nelson, I talked them into meeting us on their home turf. They agreed and somewhere during the hugs and handshakes, I was told Buckcherry was quietly reforming after a brief hiatus and Stevie would be “the new guy.” A year or so later, Buckcherry was re-lit and exploding bigger than ever with the album “15″ and the monster hits, “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry.”

Today, Buckcherry is touring in support of “Confessions,” a sixth album that swings like a wrecking ball at a time when the band could be coasting. The tour stops in Texas later this week, including San Antonio on Friday, April 18 (ticket info below), so I asked Stevie what album made him want to rock.

2FAST2DIE: Hey, Stevie, thanks for the great work on “Confessions.” It’s a knockout album and it’s been in heavy rotation at 2Fast2Die since its release. I love it. Speaking of great albums, which one stole your soul as a kid and got you hooked on rock-n-roll?

STEVIE DACANAY: That’s a tough one! I could easily say “Back In Black,” “Axis: Bold as Love,” “Strangers In The Night…” All influential in my early years, and all still in rotation today. Probably the most influential for me was Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same.” It was the soundtrack for my life with or without a guitar in high school. It’s funny, even now when I’m in the bus and the movie is re-running in the front lounge, I’ll hear Jimmy Page play something and I’ll laugh to myself and think … “Ya, I totally ripped that off ;)”

2FAST2DIE SAYS: In Led Zeppelin’s holiest of houses, “The Song Remains the Same” is basically wallpaper. Not necessarily because it’s a bad album, of course, but because it’s surrounded by the Stonehenge of hard-rock records. That said, an all-time favorite album is ALL about personal memories and everlasting resonance — not historical hindsight and mainstream significance — which is why it’s so cool that Stevie chose something a whole lotta less than obvious. Thanks for playing, brother!

For more on Buckcherry, including tour dates and ticket info, go here.

FUTURE FOUND: Reunited cult-punk favorites The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs are, left to right, Bruce Duff, Frank Meyer, Dino Everett and Mike Sessa. A fierce live band that first formed in 1995 (with Myer's actor-brother Breckin Meyer on drums), the Cheetahs are back on tour and writing new songs. Consider yourself warned.

FUTURE FOUND: Reunited cult-punk favorites The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs are, left to right, Bruce Duff, Frank Meyer, Dino Everett and Mike Sessa. A fierce live band that first formed in 1995 (with Myer’s actor-brother Breckin Meyer on drums), the Cheetahs are back on tour and writing new songs. Consider yourself warned.

Cheetahs tour poster

TWO-HEADED MONSTER: The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs join Cheetah Chrome for a tour beginning April 3. Dates and ticket info are linked below.

By Metal Dave

The Stretwalkin’ Cheetahs didn’t enter my life with a warm smile and friendly handshake. No sir, they brick-bashed my ears and chainsawed my face in an ambush of chaos and decibels. Of course, I’m eternally grateful.

As best I can recall, the year was 1999 and I somehow dragged my quivering corpse to yet another SXSW gig, because I just HAD to see the Backyard Babies and the Dragons who were sharing a bill with the Cheetahs and local heroes/villains, The Bulemics. I had no idea who the Cheetahs were, but after Bulemics singer Gerry Atric was dragged off stage in handcuffs for showering the crowd with broken glass, I was fairly certain I’d survived the night’s most belligerent assault. Boy, was I ever wrong.

The Cheetahs didn’t just take the stage, they stormed it like a do-or-die jailbreak.  The sweat exploded, the energy was ballistic and the whole self-inflicted, punk-rock whiplash had me convinced the band would leave in an ambulance. It was devastating in the best possible way and still stands as one of the Top 5 gigs I’ve ever witnessed and survived.

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NO SLEEP ‘TIL AUSTIN: When the Cheetahs returned to SXSW in 2001, they slept on my apartment floor. The specifics are as foggy as this photo of Frank and I, but I do recall turning them on to Broken Teeth and landing a steady gig writing for Frank who, at the time, was serving as managing editor of We’ve been friends for life ever since.

Needless to say, I was fairly bummed when the band called it quits in 2002. Fortunately, not all good things must come to an end. Sometimes they just need a break before they kill themselves (or worse) in a fit of music-biz burn-out and murderous frustration.

Not only are the Cheetahs reunited and roaring back with killer new material — including the feel good song of the summer (below) — they’re also revving up to tour with their longtime pal and legendary Dead Boys guitarist, Cheetah Chrome, beginning next week (dates below).

But enough from me, here’s frontman “Streetwalkin’” Frank Meyer to give you the good, the better and the completely insane …

So what prompted the Cheetahs reunion?
Last May, Ruyter from Nashville Pussy and I went to go see Turbonegro and saw some kids in Streetwalkin’ Cheetah’s T-shirts. When she introduced me to a few people and they all had stories of seeing the Cheetahs around various parts of the world, it dawned on me that there was still awareness of the band in some circles. So I called up Dino and Mike Sessa, and we agreed to get together and rehearse to see how it sounded. Art Jackson has retired from music so he passed, and we got our old pal Bruce Duff from ADZ on second guitar. It sounded like the old days right away and we quickly wrote a bunch of new material. So now we are hitting the road with Cheetah Chrome to support a new single on Little T&A Records.

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CHOKING THE CHEETAH: Frank Meyer unleashing his inner raw power just like he did the night I first saw him during a sweat-soaked assault on SXSW.

Is this a long-term reunion? Are you back to stay?
Yes, we are back for good. The “Escape From New York City”/”Fuck The Future” single (Little T&A Records) is our first new release in well over a decade. We have tons of new songs, so the plan is to record and release a new single every 3-4 months for the next year, and then collect that and some other new tunes into a new album for next year. We will be hitting the road throughout the year to support all this activity. The Cheetah Chrome tour in April is simply the first of many tours to come. Little T&A has agreed to release this first single, and likely more…though we haven’t made a commitment for the full album with anyone quite yet. But we’re really happy with them. Got awesome new music videos for both new tracks coming very soon too, including a John Carpenter-themed “Escape From New York” tribute video directed by horror movie director Joe Lynch.

You and new Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs guitarist Bruce Duff (ADZ. 45 Grave, Jesters of Destiny) played with Cheetah Chrome in 2004. Any stories from that era?
I first met Cheetah in 2003 when Ramones tour manager Monte Melnick and I interviewed him for our book “On the Road with the Ramones.” But Bruce already knew him from when they both played if Jeff Dahl’s band in the ‘80s. Our post-Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs band Sweet Justice — which featured Bruce — opened for Rocket From the Tombs in LA in 2004, where Cheetah and I discussed doing some shows together. So a few months later, Sweet Justice and Cheetah did a west coast tour where we backed him up each night playing Dead Boys, RFTT and solo stuff from his repertoire. We ended going to Spain for some festivals, and that’s when things got really crazy.

Go on …
So, one time we played in this small beach town that happened to be the port for all the cocaine that comes into Europe, so there were piles upon piles of cocaine EVERYWHERE. The first night of the festival, our buddies, the Lords of Altamont, played and while they were on, some kid ran up on stage and darted behind the curtain for the backstage catering. He grabbed the entire roasted pig and hurled it into the crowd. Suddenly, thousands of punk-rock kids are ripping this huge pig apart and throwing the meat around like a giant food fight. It was raining pig meat and blood. Then they tossed all the meat onto the stage and covered the band in it. It was disgusting … and hilarious! Cheetah and I laughed for days. A few months later when the Lords played LA, me and Bruce went to the store and bought a bunch of ham. When the band hit the stage, we tossed some ham on their feet so they’d remember our trip to Spain. They were only slightly amused.

For Two-Headed Cheetah tour dates beginning April 3, go here. For the Cheetahs on Facebook, go here.
For the Cheetah’s brand-new, feel-good song, “Fuck the Future,” click below and free free to sing along.

OUT THERE: As if there was any doubt that Tool has a fun side, Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor invite you to party "Deliverance"-style with blowtorches, gasoline and kiddie-pool floaties. Enjoy!

OUT THERE: As if there was any doubt that Tool has a fun side, Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor invite you to party “Deliverance”-style with blowtorches, gasoline and kiddie-pool floaties. Enjoy!

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BLUE MOON: Adam Jones strikes a pose as a shadowy man from a shadowy planet.

By Metal Dave

In 2006, I was fairly certain I could sooner have a beer with Bigfoot than land an interview with Tool.

While the band dropped its mysterious shroud for international music publications like Rolling Stone and SPIN, it was rare for the guys to speak to every daily newspaper along the latest tour route. That grip of secrecy loosened a bit over time, but in 2006 — after multiple attempts — I still considered it a victory to finally score some Tool time.

On the eve of a reported new album and a current tour that stops in Austin and Houston March 24-25, I asked my former San Antonio Express-News editor Robert Johnson to crack the vaults and dig up the Tool. Welcome to the dark side …

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News

The progressive alt-metal rock band Tool has a wrench in the gears when guitarist Adam Jones finally calls from Calgary, Canada.

“We’ve been touring through Japan, Korea, Hawaii and now into Canada,” he says, while apologizing for calling two hours late. “When we got to Canada, we picked up a whole new (stage production). It’s very big and spectacular, but there were a few little bugs to work out so there were meetings about what was working and what wasn’t working. I’m kind of running around with my head cut off like a chicken.”

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STRANGE DAYS: As with their previous albums, Tool’s fourth release cut across the grain in every conceivable way, yet still was a huge success.

Considering Tool’s tight-lipped past, a late interview is still a major score. Tool fans apparently feel the same about the band’s latest album, “10,000 Days,” which sold more than 500,000 copies during its first-week release. Like top-selling predecessors “Aenima,” and “Lateralus,” “10,000 Days, ” is a visual and audio explosion of helter-skelter soundscapes, three-dimensional artwork, pained vocals and sci-fi sounding noises.

“One journalist asked me if I could explain Tool in just one word and I said, ‘experimental,’” Jones said. “We start off with a lot of jamming and experimentation. It’s four people meeting in the middle of a room and expanding out from there with creativity and arguments, and all the good and bad of the process. It’s a very rewarding thing for us.”

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POWER TOOL: More atmospheric in sound than his heavy metal peers, Adam Jones is known for his crushingly innovative style.

The resulting rewards will be shared with the band’s many fans Tuesday when Tool hammers the AT&T Center for what promises to be a gripping attack on the senses. Joining Jones is eccentric vocalist/showman (and part-time A Perfect Circle singer) Maynard James Keenan, drummer Danny Carey and British bassist Justin Chancellor. Isis opens. It’s the band’s first area appearance since a 2002 Verizon show.

“One thing I really like about the four of us is we have very different tastes in music, but it’s all overly eclectic,” Jones says. “We learn from each other. Maynard really loves Joni Mitchell and I’m not really into her, but I listen to some of her stuff and go ‘Oh man, that’s really cool and this is really cool.’ Tool is not four guys who think exactly the same.”

Forged in Los Angeles in 1990, Tool has been on the cutting edge of popular music since its inception. At once strangely beautiful, menacing and majestic, Tool is known for its epic, metallic songs, shadowy subject matter and grotesque imagery and videos.

 If you're a fan of Tool, you can thank bands like Yes for their boundless visual and musical imaginations.

YES, PLEASE: If you’re a fan of Tool, you can thank bands like Yes for their boundless visual and musical artistry.

“We’ve always shot big,” Jones says of the “stereoscopic lenses” that allow fans to view magnified and distorted images within the “10,000 Days” packaging. “The four of us grew up in the ’70s with vinyl (records). You’d sit on your bed and smoke pot and look at the double gatefold of Yes or whatever album. It was a very visual and stimulating time. With my favorite records, I felt like I was always getting more than my money’s worth. That’s what we want.”

Getting what the band wants comes with a price, Jones says.

“We fight everybody,” he says. “We’re in this for the long, slow climb and most of the people that are investing money in us, like the record company, they want the fast money as soon as possible. But we don’t want to sell ourselves short. As a band, a lot of times, we eat (dirt) on our residuals (in exchange) for better artwork or a better T-shirt or poster or video. When we first started this band, we decided we were going to push the music and not ourselves. It’s been a fight all the way.”

For those keeping score, Tool is winning the battle. From its early recordings, including the 1992 EP “Opiate” and the 1993 full-length album “Undertow” featuring breakout singles “Sober” and “Prison Sex,” Tool has amassed impressive critical and commercial acclaim. From pivotal performances at Lollapalooza ’93 and ’97 to Grammys for Best Metal Performance in 1998 and 2002, Tool has been plated in platinum for more than a decade.

Part of the appeal, Jones says, is Tool’s musical mystique, which invites listener interpretation.

Close Encounters: Besides being Tool's guitarsit, Adam also is the creative force behind the band's disturbing videos.

GHOULS ON FILM: Besides being Tool’s guitarist, Adam is also the creative force behind the band’s disturbing videos. Before Tool, he worked in Hollywood movie studios.

“Oh, absolutely,” Jones says. “We could sit there and spoon-feed everyone and go, ‘OK, here are the lyrics, this is exactly what the song means, blah, blah, blah’ and you still can’t connect with everybody. What we like about other music is coming up with our own conclusions. That’s why we’ve always kept our lyrics out (of the album notes) and just let people come up with their own conclusions.”

Pressed for insight regarding new songs on “10,000 Days,” Jones shines a light on the track “Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann).”

“Hofmann is Albert Hofmann who basically, accidentally, invented LSD,” Jones says. “We’ve done songs about expanding your mind with different kinds of drugs, (but) in a good way. On this song, I’m not quoting Maynard, but he’s kind of showing the irresponsible side of doing drugs and having an experience that maybe doesn’t have such a mind-expanding result.”

If Tool comes off as heavy or pretentious, Jones assures there is a lighter side to the band.

“We take our music and our art very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously at all,” he says. “It really balances out. People meet us and a lot of times they’re very disappointed because we’re goofy guys who like ‘Caddyshack’ and having fun and pulling pranks. I meet fans and you can see it in their eyes that they’re disappointed because I’m not some kind of Aleister Crowley guy. I’m a guy just like you. I love ’40-Year-Old Virgin’ and I’ve seen it, like, 40 times.”

For 2014 Tool tour info, go here.
To rock out, trip out and creep out with Tool, click below

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AIN’T NO LOSER: The former Eugene O’Connor dares you to call him Chrome Dome. (photo by Anna O’Connor)

By Metal Dave

Cheetah Chrome isn’t the biggest cat in the cage, but he can damn sure rattle it just as loud as the rest.

From the machine-gun riff of  ”Sonic Reducer” through the rest of the Dead Boys’ savage punk rock, Cheetah’s raw guitar power is every bit as vicious as those strummers in the Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols and Stooges. Sure, those bands amassed more prominent legacies, but you’d be bottled behind CBGB if you didn’t count the Dead Boys’ 1977 debut album, “Young Loud and Snotty,” as an absolute, must-have, punk-rock classic (the title alone spits volumes).

Today, Cheetah lives in Nashville where he probably scares the neighbors while serving as a head honcho at Plowboy Records. Established to preserve the legacy of country western singer Eddy Arnold, the record label also nurtures renegade, outlaw-Americana-cowpunk artists and other musical misfits. No surprise then that Cheetah’s new album, “Solo,” is right at home on Plowboy (and if you like the streetwise, garage-rock of Alejandro Escovedo’s “Real Animal,” you’ll love Cheetah’s “Solo”).

As he readies for multiple SXSW appearances in Austin and a tour with his pals, the Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs (no relation), 2Fast2Die caught up with Cheetah for some (very) random Q&A.  

As a kid, what album changed your life and inspired you to play music?
Well, “Meet the Beatles” was the first to make me want to play. When I did begin to play guitar, I really got into “High Tide and Green Grass” by the Stones and the first Steppenwolf album. The leads on “Born to Be Wild” inspired me to be a lead guitarist.

Any Questions?: The Dead Boys' debut album was a rare case of truth in advertising.

ANY QUESTIONS?: The Dead Boys’ debut album was a rare case of truth in advertising.

What inspired your stage name, Cheetah Chrome?
Nothing really. It was sort of a joke nickname in school when I ran track for about two weeks; I’d also had a sort of fascination with cheetahs after seeing one at the zoo when I was a kid. When “Search and Destroy” came out, that clinched it! As for Chrome, well Bators insisted I have a last name, because I wanted to go with just “Cheetah,” like Tarzan ‘s monkey. Stiv was big into numerology and I guess just “Cheetah” didn’t bode well or something. So he came up with Chrome, which I hated, but he finally wore me down.

What do you remember most about Stiv? Share your overall memory of him and then share one crazy specific memory
Just his friendship and how we used to hang out together. I have a lot of good onstage memories: the eye contact we used to have, the jokes we used to make to each other away from the mics. But mostly I remember just hanging out and laughing a whole lot. One of my favorites is when he used to do the whole Dick Van Dyke entrance to a hotel, coming in the front door and tripping over all of the lobby furniture, knocking over and catching lamps, ashtrays, plants etc. … and then just straightening himself out and walking calmly to the elevator, leaving nothing out of place. Genius!   

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STIV FOREVER: Cheetah on stage circa 1977 with iconic Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators. The Dead Boys relocated to New York from Cleveland and became a crowd favorite at CBGB along with the Ramones, the New York Dolls and others. Stiv would later form The Lords of the New Church before dying in 1990 from injuries suffered after being hit by a taxi.

Describe your most chaotic Dead Boys gig
Had to be one of the Halloween gigs at the Ritz. Those were insane. We had two bad-ass roadies, Johnny and Kenny, who spent the entire show out front with us throwing people off the stage. This was the height of the moshing, stage-diving days. I always hated that shit! What a frigging waste of time; pay an outrageous ticket price and then do your best to distract the band so they can’t play – wise move! Of course these were the same people sitting in squats being “straight edge,” not drinking, taking drugs, having sex or eating meat, then complaining how life sucked. Well, duh!

Hell-O Cleveland!:Prior to forming the Dead Boys, Cheetah, second from right, was in the Cleveland band, Rocket From the Tombs. The band is cited as the birthplace of later-day Dead Boys songs like 'Ain't it Fun,' 'Sonic Reducer' and 'Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth,' among others.

HELL-OOoooo CLEVELAND!: Prior to forming the Dead Boys, Cheetah, second from right, was in the Cleveland band, Rocket From the Tombs. The band is cited as the birthplace of later-day Dead Boys songs like ‘Ain’t it Fun,’ ‘Sonic Reducer’ and ‘Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth,’ among others.

What exactly is a sonic reducer and how many times have you been asked this question?
I have been asked that question 20,000,093 times. This makes 20,000,094. It is a fictional object that you don’t want to be on the receiving end of. Let’s leave it at that. Classified.

Speaking of, there are some punk purists who feel the inclusion of the Dead Boys song “Sonic Reducer” in a TV commercial is blasphemy. Then there are those who feel it’s about damn time the Dead Boys got paid. Your thoughts?
I  think it’s a no brainer. It’s for a state-of-the-art speaker system that really does kick some serious ass. It’s named “Sonos,”so I mean, it’s a natural: “Sonic/Sonos.” It shows the band at their best, prominently featured. I see no conflict, although even if it was a Massengill ad I could argue that after 37 years the Dead Boys have enough street cred to tell anybody who doesn’t like what we do to kiss our asses.

Blitzkreig Book: In 2009-2010, Cheetah wrote a book chronicling the chaos of his dangerous life.

BLITZKRIEG BOOK: In 2009-2010, Cheetah wrote a book chronicling the chaos of a life lived dangerously. As you can see from the cover, the book is enthusiastically approved by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash whose band once recorded the Dead Boys classic, ‘Ain’t it Fun.’

What was your first impression of CBGBs and then your overall memory of it?
That it was smaller than I expected and that there was dog shit on my shoe. Then it just began to feel like home, which is my overall memory of it.

You lent your consulting expertise to the movie “CBGB.” In your honest opinion, is the movie an accurate snapshot of that era or is it enhanced with a lot of Hollywood “creative license”?
It’s a pretty accurate story of Hilly and how the club got started. A lot of the Dead Boys stuff is very accurate, at least in capturing the overall vibe. Other things are not – I never drove back then, and even if I had, none of those guys would have ever gotten into a vehicle I was driving! They were nervous about my walking, let alone my driving! I didn’t have a license until 2001!! A lot of the stuff on other bands is pieced together from things like “Please Kill Me,” and some accuracy got lost in the mix – like the truck crash happened to the Stooges, not to us. I’m told some of them were asked to help with the film and refused, so they had their chance to set the record straight and didn’t take it. I took mine. One major discrepancy was the part when Johnny is in the hospital and someone says something to the effect that “well, if he dies at least we’ll sell some records.” Nobody in the band said that, though it was said; I won’t say by who.

So Good: Cheetah's 'Solo' album features guest musicians from the New York Dolls, The Cult and the Blackhearts.

SO GOOD: Cheetah’s ‘Solo’ album features guest musicians from the New York Dolls, The Cult and the Blackhearts.

What’s your fondest memory of Joey Ramone?
Coming back to my place on E .5th St after closing down the Cat Club and drinking beer and playing records till dawn.

What took so long to put out “Solo” and why is now the right time for its release?
Well, I never had the right label to put it out after Smog Veil went on hiatus. Frank Mauceri was the only person I trusted in the music industry in that regard. When Shannon Pollard, Don Cusic and I started Plowboy Records in 2012, and I became an A&R man, I thought to myself, “Hmmmm … Now who was that guy I saw that I thought was pretty good? Oh, it was me!” The timing had something to do with the movie — strike while the iron is hot. Again, a no brainer.

Boys-n-Dolls: Cheetah with longtime pal and sometimes band mate, Sylvain Sylvain

BOYS-N-DOLLS: Cheetah with longtime pal and sometimes band mate, Sylvain Sylvain of New York Dolls fame.

I met you in 2010 when you and Sylvain Sylvain played at SXSW in Austin under the band name, The Batusis. You may recall your publicist had me pose as your driver so I could get into the gig. So, who’s the better guitarist, you or Syl?
Hey, thanks for not putting me on the spot! I really appreciate that! Actually, we’re very different guitarists, which makes it work nicely when we play together, but I do have to give the nod to Syl. He has the best instincts of any musician I’ve ever played with. He can fly by the seat of his pants better than I do. He’s extremely spontaneous. When we were recording the Batusis EP, he brought in “What You Lack In Brains,” very bare bones. He was calling out the changes to us as we were playing it the first time – and that ended up being the track! I don’t think he even had more than a couple of lines of lyrics ready, but he knew where it was going instinctively. I’m more methodical. I like going back after the track is done and working on my leads, trying guitar parts. Syl’s a one-take wonder 90 percent of the time. As personalities, we’re pretty much on the same page. We’ve been hanging out for 30-odd years, so we know each other well. Traveling with Syl is a gas. The Batusis tours were probably the most enjoyable I’ve ever done!

Tell us something we don’t know about Cheetah Chrome: Any hobbies? Hidden talents? Guilty pleasures? Favorite pastimes when you’re not making music?
Hobbies? None really. Hidden talents? I’m not a bad piano player; I also play a lot of open-G tuning stuff on acoustic around the house, and slide. Guilty pleasures? I really like Robbie Williams’s “Escapology” CD. And I love the Bee Gees.

Thanks for taking the time, Cheetah. I’ll see you at SXSW and hopefully this time I won’t have to pose as your driver to get into the gig.
Hey, you walk in like ya own the place this time! Thanks for the interview.

* For more info about Plowboy Records’ Saturday March 15th SXSW Showcase featuring Cheetah Chrome and more at Saxon Pub, go here
* To see Cheetah Chrome guest with Dead Boys tribute band Flamethrower Love on a bill that includes the Sons of Hercules and others at SXSW on March 13, go here
* To see Cheetah Chrome guest with Dead Boys tribute band Flamethrower Love on a bill that also includes Lower Class Brats, Flash Boys, the Bulemics and more at SXSW on March 14, go here

* To see Cheetah Chrome and Eddie Munoz of the Plimsouls/Skunks guest with the Hormones at SXSW on March 14, go here
* To see Cheetah in all his flaming, red-headed Dead Boys glory, click below and watch out for the spit

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LOADED: Guns N’ Roses’ debauchery was the stuff of legend. Somehow nobody died. (Photo by Eddie Malluk)

By Metal Dave

As someone who will always applaud Guns N’ Roses for kicking rock-n-roll in the ass, I was more than happy to interview bassist Duff McKagan in 2004 as he toured with Velvet Revolver. I came to admire Duff even more after reading his excellent autobiography, “It’s So Easy” (easily one of my Top 5 MUST-reads). The following originally published in the San Antonio Express-News in October 2004  … and it ain’t for the faint of heart!

By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News

Michael “Duff” McKagan is lucky to have a pulse. As the former bassist for notorious rock hell-raisers Guns ‘N Roses, McKagan’s appetite for destruction microwaved his pancreas into an ugly splatter of drugs and booze.

“You basically ingest everything that’s in front of you on a daily basis and you’ll get there,” he says, phoning from his latest tattoo session. “My pancreas did explode and I had a choice of getting sober or dying, so I made the first choice and started getting into martial arts and getting myself together.”

ContrabandRegrouping with former G’NR guitarist Slash and drummer Matt Sorum may sound like a round of relapse roulette, but McKagan says the reformed Gunners, along with troubled former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and second guitarist Dave Kushner, aim to shoot straight in their new band, Velvet Revolver.

Weiland’s well-documented misadventures with drugs and the law resulted in so many arrests, he actually recorded vocals for Velvet Revolver’s “Contraband” album on work-release from court-ordered rehab.

Young Gun: Duff in the early years of GN'R.

YOUNG GUN: Duff in the early years of GN’R.

“He was tail-spinning when we settled on him,” McKagan says. “I can understand that the outside layperson would wonder, ‘Why the hell did they get a junkie for a singer?’ But we’ve all been
through it. To us he was the guy and he was a perfect fit.”

Velvet Revolver is enjoying a new kind of high lately as the platinum-plus “Contraband” shot to No. 1 on the Billboard album charts earlier this year and continues to be hailed as the best-selling rock release of 2004. Velvet Revolver brings “Contraband” and a few surprises (the band is known to cover G’NR’s “It’s So Easy,” STP’s “Sex Type Thing” and Aerosmith’s “No More, No More”) to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Thursday with opening acts Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and Earshot.

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TOO DUFF TO DIE: As a Seattle punk-rocker, Duff played in the Fastbacks, the Fartz and 10-Minute Warning before shooting to fame with GN’R.

“I think there’s just a thirst out there, like you said, for an honest rock ‘n’ roll band,” McKagan says, downplaying his band’s star power. “You get all these pop-punk or Creed-type of bands and it’s just not really rock ‘n’ roll as I know it. There’s great bands out there like Queens of the Stone Age, the Foo Fighters, and I think there’s going to be more of them, like Jet. It’s not a bad thing to say, ‘We’re a rock ‘n’ roll band.’”

A deft blend of rowdy Guns ‘N Roses swagger and Stone Temple Pilots melody, “Contraband” is a solid album as evidenced by lead radio singles “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces.” The video for the latter shows Weiland writhing on the bathroom floor in a harrowing retelling of his well-documented descent into heroin, jail, rehab and relapse.

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MARLBORO MAN: Duff enjoys an afternoon snack.

“If you’ve seen the video for ‘Fall to Pieces,’ the fight scene between Scott and I is just a metaphor for me trying to help him through (addiction),” McKagan says.

Help couldn’t come from a more seasoned veteran. At the peak of their late-’80s and early ’90s fame, the members of Guns ‘N Roses cheated death on an hourly basis. Today, McKagan is a dissertation away from a degree in finance.

“I was way worse than Scott,” McKagan says. “Slash was probably the worst junkie I’ve ever seen. Scott, comparatively, his problem was pretty slight compared to what we dealt with.”

With Weiland teetering between sobriety and legal woes, Velvet Revolver kept the faith and went to work on “Contraband” without any preconceived ideas of the sonic outcome.

“The record really just wrote itself,” McKagan says. “If you look at the credits, we all wrote every song. We don’t have, like, a Lennon/McCartney type of thing. We didn’t try to be a modern-rock band or a retro-rock band — we just are what we are.”

Ripped:Today Duff gets ripped without the drugs and booze

RIPPED: Today Duff gets ripped on martial arts and other healthy pursuits.

Before Weiland and Kushner joined up, Velvet Revolver was a revolving door of candidates, including former Buckcherry members Josh Todd and Keith Nelson.

“Once Slash and Matt and I decided to start playing again, we knew there was a high-water mark that we had to achieve,” McKagan says. “Not that Josh wasn’t capable of a high-water mark, it just wasn’t in the same light as the type of music we play. Josh is a great guy and he’s a really hard worker, and a cool rock ‘n’ roll frontman. It just wasn’t the right thing for us.”

Well-Versed: Duff's autobiography is one of the best rock books you'll ever read. From humble beginnings to addiction and riches to recovery, college, health and victory, Duff is much smarter than many may know. A lifer and survivor.

WELL-VERSED: Duff’s autobiography is one of the best rock books you’ll ever read. From humble beginnings to addiction and riches to recovery, college, health and victory, Duff is much smarter than many may know. A lifer and survivor.

Nelson, too, was dismissed, but not before landing a songwriting credit on the “Contraband” track “Dirty Little Thing.”

“Well, with Slash, you gotta have a guitar player that’s completely different than Slash,” McKagan says. “Keith was really close to Slash as far as a Les Paul (guitar) through a Marshall (amplifier) and straight up major chords. It was kind of redundant. Keith’s a great guitar player and a great guy, too. Again, it just wasn’t the right thing.”

As for the precarious future of Velvet Revolver, McKagan remains optimistic. Weiland’s rebounding health should keep him on the sobriety wagon and out of the paddy wagon, he says.

“He’s put that behind him,” McKagan says. “He’s got his life back.”

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KICKIN ASS: If your music collection looks and sounds like a jailhouse lineup of outlaw rockers, Kickin Valentina will stand up nicely alongside your Junkyard, Little Caesar and Dirty Looks.

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By Metal Dave

More Trash Alley than Sunset Strip, the self-titled, five-song EP from Kickin Valentina sounds like the grittier bands from the late ’80s and early ’90s making a pilgrimage to Nazareth. Think Circus of Power, The Four Horsemen and Sea Hags. In other words, bands that smell more like gasoline than hairspray.

Hailing from Atlanta and featuring former Rockets to Ruin bassist Chris Taylor, “Kickin Valentina” kicks things off (appropriately enough) with “Get Ready,” a song so whoa-whoa contagious you may not wanna bring it home (check the double-kick fills by drummer Jimmy Berdine).

Speaking of contagious, “Dirty Girl” grinds along on a riff that could’ve been borrowed from Johnny Crash or Dirty Looks. Hard to go wrong with that.

Vocalist Joe Edwards is the band’s diamond in the dirt. Boasting a gruff command of power and rasp, his voice falls somewhere between a heavy metal Bob Seger and a perfectly liquored Dan McCafferty. He shines all over “Kickin Valentina,” but nowhere more so than on the growler ballad, “Alone.” The guy’s got the gift of grit.

“Anita” finds Valentina’s swagger and sway giving way to some boom-boom stomp. Peppered with bits of megaphone vocals, the song has a bit of a modern-rock slant not unlike Rob Zombie. Compared to the rest of the tracks, “Anita” is the EP’s speedbump.

Finishing strong, “Eat and Run” starts with out-of-synch vocals that slowly pick up steam to merge nicely with the hard-charging music. The vocals again steal the spotlight, but the chunked-up power chords and a tasty solo from guitarist Heber Pampillion help make the song an EP highlight.

“Kickin Valentina” suffers a bit from spotty, no-budget production that often renders the guitars a bit buzzy and thin. That’s hardly a surprise (or fault) coming from a rabid, new band that’s still clawing through the dive-bar circuit. Better to get it out raw than not at all, eh?

Overall, “Kickin Valentina” is a rowdy hello from a band that shows great promise as upcoming, heavyweight motor-sleaze rockers.

* Overall Grade: B
* Favorite Tracks: “Alone,” “Eat and Run”
* For Fans of: Unshowered rock-n-roll, battered denim jackets, cheap beer

For more on Kickin Valentina, go here

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Faster Pistolcat Taime sporting a Sid Vicious shirt. Don’t try this at home, kids

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Stoned The Rolling Stones corrupted many a young kid, including Faster Pussycat singer Taime Downe. For that and countless other reasons, I owe the Stones my sincerest and deepest thanks.

By Metal Dave

When it comes to lipstick-junkie, sleaze-rock singers, Taime Downe is my absolute favorite. As the voice of Faster Pussycat, his cigarette-choked vocals are so wretchedly debauched that a visit to the clinic sounds like do-or-die advice when you crawl back to life the next morning.

Considering I once had a semi-legendary apartment called “Smash Alley” in San Antonio, it was a pleasure to finally babble with Taime after his hometown Seattle Seahawks beat the New York Giants earlier this week.

2FAST2DIE: So tell me bro, what album changed your life and corrupted you forever?

TAIME DOWNE: I’d have to go with the Rolling Stones’ “Between the Buttons.” I first heard it when I was 4-years-old because my parents were way into music. I had a record player and I wore that thing out. I used to go to my Dad’s band rehearsals so I was surrounded by music from a young age. I remember hearing “Led Zeppelin II” a couple years later and thinking it was my Dad’s band because they would cover that in rehearsal. I was really young when music took hold. I got started on drums, but didn’t want to be trapped at the back of the stage so then I switched to guitar because my Dad was a guitar player. And then I got into KISS’ “Love Gun” and “Rock and Roll Over” and AC/DC. That’s the stuff that put the debauchery into my shit. But I’d have to say the Stones started it all, because I was force-fed so much good shit at an early age because of my parents. 

2FAST2DIE Says: My first guess would have been Aerosmith’s “Rocks,” but you can’t go wrong with the Stones. Thanks for being in touch Taime, and thanks also to our mutual friend Billy Rowe for getting us connected. For Faster Pussycat ticket info in San Antonio on Friday, Dec. 20, go here. For ticket info in Austin on Sunday Dec. 22, go here.

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Jimmy Jazz: An arena rocker with a punk-rock pedigree, Jimmy Ashhurst has enjoyed a rare balance of radio success and underground credibility.

By Metal Dave

Jimmy Ashhurst was once held at gunpoint alongside his friend Stiv Bators. He’s also jammed with Johnny Thunders, Mick Ronson, Ronnie Wood and Smack. Yeah, he’s already cooler than you.

Add his cult-classic album with Izzy Stradlin plus worldwide fame with Buckcherry, and it’s safe to say Jimmy’s earned some serious cred while cruising on the wild side (except, of course, those years he was strung out … and, um, in prison). As if things were starting to get boring, Jimmy was recently fired from Buckcherry right in the middle of this interview. Damn! How’s that for a wrench in the nuts?

Actually, the news had little bearing on my original interview request. Given his colorful career, the idea all along was to focus on Jimmy the well-traveled, rock-n-roll lifer rather than Jimmy the bass player for Buckcherry. Obviously, there’s some overlap, but not enough to derail our interview.

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Cherry on Top: Jimmy’s swan song with Buckcherry is one of the band’s best albums.

With his humor still sharply intact, Jimmy continued powering through our email exchange despite his future uncertainty. His career highlight up to this point? Playing Madison Square Garden with Buckcherry as the opening act for KISS (which was due to be knocked down to #2 this year when Buckcherry landed him on stage in his native Italy for the first time in 20 years … Ouch!). His must-have traveling items? Great headphones and a sharp knife. The one song that defines him? Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story.” 

I’ll miss finding Jimmy during his smoke breaks outside Buckcherry’s tour bus, but as a fan of his and his now-former band (whose “Confessions” album earlier this year rivals their very best), I wish both parties nothing but continued success and look forward to future hellos.

Prolific Punk:Joe Strummer of the Clash

Prolific Punk: Joe Strummer of the Clash

What album changed your life as a kid and who was your musical hero back then?
When I discovered the first wave of British punk bands, I pretty much got sucked in. I lived in Italy and we didn’t get a whole lot of television. We had two channels, so 99 percent of my entertainment came from reading books. I read a book a day from the age of 9 to about 17 … anything I could get my hands on. Some in English, others in Italian … adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, non fiction … everything. The only music I heard was via the radio. We’d get Armed Forces Network radio and every Saturday there was the American Top 40. It was a pretty abysmal time for popular music in the U.S. I mean, somebody called the Captain and Tennille singing about muscrats, or horses without names … uh, nope! One day I read a news item in the Stars and Stripes newspaper about something exciting happening in London. I’d discovered The Clash, The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers and the rest of the phenomenon that was being called punk rock.

What about punk rock appealed to you?
These guys were writing songs that fed my imagination in the same way reading books did. Their music and lyrics took me away on little journeys of the mind. I could envision what they were singing about and it resonated within me somehow. I later discovered that Joe Strummer was from a similar background as I had. His dad was a diplomat and he was born in Turkey. My dad was an Army Colonel and I was born in Italy, so I kinda related to the guy. The way Joe wrote lyrics, his songs would take you places — all of those bands’ songs would — even if I didn’t know where Hammersmith was or anything about Ulster. These songs were like listening to a World Atlas or watching a great documentary or news story. Foreign intrigue and kick-ass bass parts. I was sold. It’s gotta get my mind going. Tell me a story about a faraway place. Imagination is a powerful thing.

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Sign of the Times: Old-school flyer announcing southern California punk bands

Describe the California music scene when you arrived from Italy
My family moved to the suburbs in the early ’80s. In those days there was the Hollywood scene, but there was also a cool thing happening in Orange County and Long Beach that people don’t talk about as much. Bands like T.S.O.L, The Vandals, Social Distortion, Adolescents, D.O.A, Agent Orange, etc. These bands were playing house parties whenever someone’s parents went on vacation. House parties! They’d play until the cops came and started beating everyone about the head and face … usually about 20 minutes into the show. That’s why their songs were so short and fast. They were trying to play as many songs as they could before everyone got their skulls cracked open. :)

Zep belt

Led Zep: Badge of the enemy.

Was the social scene pretty divided between the punk-rock kids and the stoner-metal dudes as was typical at that time?
There were underground punk rock kids and there were ‘regular’ stoner looking long hair dudes who had Led Zeppelin belt buckles and roach clips with feathers on ‘em and KLOS stickers on their mini trucks or VW bugs that said “Journey” or “Van Halen.” There were way more of them than there were of us, and those guys kept wanting to chase us around alla time or yell dumb shit outta their cars at us because we looked different than they did. There was also a place called The Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa that shared a parking lot with this country bar. Dunno who put that together, but it was a recipe for disaster. I saw plenty of bad fights there, and even watched a kid get killed one night when they beat him down and snapped his neck on the curb outside the place.

It’s pretty well-documented that the punk scene could get pretty violent within its own ranks
I was never into the violence that took over the punk scene when it hit Southern California. The hardcore stuff like Black Flag, Circle Jerks … it kept getting harder and faster and never really resonated with me. The punk rock music I’d fallen in love with was, to me, just well-written songs with hooks, grooves and melodies … just like any other rock-n-roll song I’ve liked then or ever since.

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Broken Hopes?: Jimmy at left with future and current Lenny Kravitz guitarist Craig Ross in front. Notice Craig’s name is misspelled for maximum rock-n-roll impact.

How did your early band The Broken Homes come together?
Guitarist Craig Ross, who’d been working with a singer from Pittsburgh named Michael Doman, asked me to join up. At the time I think I was in 4 or 5 bands at the same time, and playing as much as I possibly could. These guys told me they had a manager and a gig at the Roxy on a Friday night. I’d wanted to play the legendary Roxy super bad for a long time, so I jumped at the chance. We played on a Friday night and the following Monday morning we were in the offices of MCA Records signing a recording contract. Of all the bands we knew or would go see play in LA at the time, ZERO of them had a major label record deal. No local band since Van Halen had been signed to a major. This was before the post-Guns N’ Roses signing frenzy and was pretty much unheard of in 1984.

And then came the hard lessons of the music biz?
We were kids. I had no idea about the business side of anything, let alone a band, but they told me they’d be giving us a bunch of money to make a record and then we’d be going on tour!! Hooray! Nobody said anything about the fact that we’d eventually be paying them back, but we wouldn’t have cared anyway. We had no overheads and as long as we had cash for drinks, gas and tacos… Plus. back then, all of us scuzzbag musician types lived off of strippers anyway, so we were stoked. We made three albums, went on tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, INXS, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Georgia Satellites, Jason and the Scorchers, The Replacements and tons more. And then? Guns N’ Roses happened. We immediately went from being the Great Hope to being the Great Nope overnight.

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Cocked & Loaded: An early shot of Guns N’ Roses before they took the world hostage

I’m guessing you were friendly with the GN’R guys from having crossed paths in the scene?
We played a ton of local shows together, even a couple of house parties. It started out with them opening up for us, but that very quickly reversed. It was one of those events in history that none of us realized was as important as it turned out to be. I remember those guys grabbing me at a club because they knew I had a good stereo in my car and they wanted to listen to their first record they’d just come outta the studio with. I had no idea that I’d be hearing those fucking songs for the entirety of my life. I just thought about that today as the hotel lobby band was butchering “Sweet Child O’ Mine” while I was on my way to my room. Christ! Here we are 30 fucking years later and it’s that Same. Fucking. Song.

And then came the copycat signing frenzy?
The labels in Los Angeles discovered the formula of the moment and it was GN’R. They started signing anybody and everybody with a Jack Daniels bottle in their band photo. But GN’R had the right roots and were the real deal from the start. I knew some of the guys came from a punk-rock background and even the heavier, metal stuff they liked were the COOL metal bands that I liked, too, like Rose Tattoo and Mötorhead, with a lot of old Aerosmith thrown in.

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Old Hanoi: Tougher than it looks

Plus, they were into a band called Hanoi Rocks. Hanoi had the perfect mix of everything we loved, plus the style and fashion. They could look and dress like chicks, but without being girlie in any way. This is harder than it sounds. You didn’t know whether you wanted to fight the singer or fuck him. BUT, just like anything else…the imitators missed the ball completely and the Sunset Strip turned into five miles of poodle haircuts, spandex, tiny pointy shoes, and songs about cherry pies. We had a lot of fun making fun of those guys, but it would’ve been a lot funnier if it hadn’t meant the end of our careers.

So, effectively, the explosive success of GN’R signaled the end of Broken Homes
We had short hair and wore creepers and played in open G tunings. Nobody wanted to talk to us anymore. After three albums with MCA they’d figured out that nobody wanted to hear 1-4-5 songs influenced by Chuck Berry, The Clash and Little Richard, and we’d figured out we’d have had to sell something like 10 million records to just break even. Never gonna happen. The very last thing I remember was one night we were playing at a club called Scream and I looked down to see Lenny Kravitz standing right at the front in the crowd. I thought ‘Coooool! Lenny Kravitz came to check us out!’ As it turned out, Lenny Kravitz showed up to steal our guitar player! Craig has been with him ever since.

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New Rose: Izzy and Jimmy in 1992.

How did you hook up with Izzy Stradlin after he left Guns N’Roses?
I was watching MTV in my living room when Kurt Loder came through with an MTV News Update announcing “Izzy Stradlin has quit Guns N’ Roses!” I’m thinking, “Wow, ballsy move, but I wonder what he’s gonna do next?” Then my phone rings and it’s Izzy calling from his home in Lafayette. He asks me what I’m doing musically and then tells me he’s gonna be at my house in two days. He showed up with a road tan from his goggles and bugs in his teeth having ridden his bike from Lafayette to my place in Hollywood. We started the band that would become the JuJu Hounds after we got Rick and Chalo on board.

Izzy is so mysterious, yet loved by so many for his songwriting and sense of “cool.” Tell us something about his personality. Is he funny? Any interesting hobbies? Strange eating habits? Anything?
I haven’t seen him or spoken with him in almost 20 years. Yes, he is a very funny, funny man.

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Good JuJu: The first and still the best “solo” album to ever come out of the G N’ R camp. Jimmy did honors on bass.

He was always just one of those guys, even before he was in GN’R. You know, they come along every once in a while. They have an innate sort of charisma, whether they want it or not.

OK, going back to the funny …. share a funny Izzy story
On gig day somewhere in Australia we were being escorted across a parking lot by local security when this fan, who’d magically been every place we’d been throughout the trip, starts screaming for the thousandth time “IZZY!! IZZY!! PUNCH ME IN THE FACE!!!” Izzy finally turns to the nearest security dude and goes “Could you please punch that kid in the face he’s been asking for it all week.” :)

Did he do it?
Nah, we were all laughing too hard

I once read somewhere that you were a little bitter about the breakup of the Ju Ju Hounds.
For me, the years after realizing that the band was over were the hardest of my life. But the only person responsible for that is me by having allowed addiction to take me over completely. It was his band and he had every right to do or not do whatever he wanted with it. I just wish that whatever it was could’ve been worked out by talking to his friends and band members about it, and I wish that, if nothing else, we could’ve remained great friends.

Lit Up: Jimmy waits for a light from Izzy as the other JuJu Hounds look on.

Lit Up: Jimmy waits for a light from Izzy as the other Hounds look on.

So what ultimately caused the break-up?
There was a ton of pressure on the guy at the time, and even though the crowds in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Australia really seemed to appreciate what we were doing, the crowds and press in the US couldn’t seem to shake the G N’ R comparisons. I felt that must’ve weared on him quite a bit, ya know? The little bit we toured here was pretty brutal and attendance was never enough to be breaking even, let alone for it to be lucrative. He was spending a ton of his own money to make it happen. That gets expensive, and when it starts to feel under appreciated or appreciated for the wrong reasons, it starts to not make a whole lotta sense. Im glad to see that he still enjoys making and recording new music -just without all the drama and hustle-bustle of the whole deal … and right now, boy can I can relate! Anyway, the JuJu Hounds ended because Izzy didn’t wanna do it anymore. I’ll never know what he was feeling that would’ve led him to that decision because i’m not him. Any regrettable behavior on my part happened as a result of the end of that band, not while I was in it.

It was my favorite band and still is, and I was crushed that it was over. It took a long time to for me to even come to terms with it being finished. As a result, I made a series of terrible decisions regarding drugs/crowd in the years that followed that culminated in me being sent to prison.

Share as much as you’d like about your prison stint and heroin addiction. Were there any life-changing lessons or words of wisdom?
You don’t wanna go there. Surprisingly though, I did discover that there’s a certain sense of honor amongst thieves. It’s such a dangerous, loud and crowded environment that the convict laws that have been in place for decades make a whole lot of sense. You don’t steal and you don’t disrespect people. If you do, they kill you. Pretty clear and pretty serious. The free world could use a little more of that in my opinion. It changes you. I’m not the same person who went in and I’ll never be that person again. Losing one’s freedom is something more people should experience once in their lives. Maybe they’d appreciate it a bit more.

Odd Man Out: Jimmy wearing shades with his former Buckcherry mates.

Odd Man Out: Jimmy wearing shades with his former Buckcherry mates.

How did you go about joining the revamped version of Buckcherry?
I was still on parole and living in Cerritos taking care of my Mom when I finally picked up a bass again after about a seven-year “break.” I’d been playing in some country bars with my pal Mike Stinson and really enjoying just playing bass on Mike’s fantastic songs. One night, he’d invited me to some country shin-dig in the Valley, and it happened that Rick Richards was coming to town and I was meant to pick him up at the airport. We both showed up at the bar when (Buckcherry guitarist) Keith Nelson came in and started talking with Rick, who then introduced us. We kept in close touch afterwards and Keith would ask me to come up and play on a lot of stuff he was working on at this little rehearsal studio over the coming year or so. We became pals and he was real close with me through my Mom’s passing and he helped me and my Dad out a lot. Eventually, I guess, he started talking with (singer) Josh again after a time and one day he called and asked if I’d be interested in being in the band. We all met at a coffee shop, and basically it was, “If you wanna be in the band, show up tomorrow at 1:30 with $100 for rehearsal rental.” It was hard to scrape that hundred bucks together, I can tell ya that!

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Smoke Break: Jimmy enjoys a backstage snack.

I personally think the rhythm section on “Confessions” makes the whole album “swing.” How did you approach the songs? Anything new or different or was it all a happy accident?
Cool thanks! As bass player my job is to play stuff where everyone else doesn’t. Once we get a song written and arranged right, my part in the recording is pretty straightforward rock-n roll-bass stuff. Y’know … little bit behind the beat at times, stand up straight in the choruses … Having a great drummer to work with helps a lot. Sometimes these days you have to watch out for over zealous engineers who wanna snap every note you play to a grid and make it in perfect time. If you want it in perfect time, get a machine to do it. Human beings respond subconsciously to certain rhythms. That’s why you can’t sit still when a Motown song comes on. That’s a secret none of these computer music kids have figured out yet ;).

Glam 'Lam': Ronson with David Bowie

Glam ‘Lam’: Ronson with David Bowie

Ok, this is completely off subject, but humor me anyway … How do you and Stevie fight off the nic fits while traveling on what I would imagine is a smoke-free Buckcherry tour bus?
We smoke on the bus. There’s a spot up front where the smoke gets sucked right outta the window. It’s the planes that are trickier, but now we have electronic smokes and vaporizers. It makes for a much friendlier Jimmy after the 23 hours to Tokyo.

Tell us a funny story about Rick Richards, Ian McClagan or anyone else you’ve hung out with
Oh, man, C’mon! Ok, it was Mick Ronson. We were doing a crossword puzzle and the clue was a three-letter word for a type of sheep. Mick said “lam” and it was fucking hilarious. Cracks me up to this day.

L.A.M.F. Johnny Thunders was a New York Doll

Born to Lose. Johnny Thunders was a New York Doll

Gimme something on Johnny Thunders
I never played with Johnny in any official situation, I just filled in here and there during the period when he had some Rastas as his band (forgive me for not knowing their names). They weren’t too pleased with his payment schedule so the bass player would refuse to show up. I was in the support band for most of his SoCal dates and knew him a bit through Stiv and my old friend Timo, so at a soundcheck he said “Ya know my sawwngs? It don’t matta dis one’s starts in…” and off it went. Coincidentally, just a couple of months ago, I played the same place, The Coachouse in San Juan Capistrano, and it was exactly the same once I got inside. Hadn’t changed at all. It still has all the 8x10s on the walls of all the people who’ve played there, and still has the shelf around the top where the toy car that Johnny jumped into and sang from for most of the show was. As I was playing there with Buckcherry some 25+ years later I kept looking up at that same little car and trying to figure out how the hell Johnny ever got up there, let alone down! Hahaa … and it occurred to me that I never got paid either

Of all the bands you’ve toured with over the years, who partied the hardest?
Well, at which time period? Back then everybody partied and now nobody does. You can’t. Since nobody buys records anymore, bands need to stay on the road constantly and YOU WILL DIE if you party non-stop. No joke. There was a time when it was pretty nuts. The Replacements stand out … Jerry Lee Lewis throwing knives into the wall while drunk on champagne DEFINITELY stands out … On the road with Stevie Ray Vaughan when he was wheeled off to the hospital with bleeding ulcers from drinking cocaine … Ohh wait, you wanna know who “parties”? ;)

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Wake Me When It’s Over: How does Stiv Bators dodge a bullet? He zonks out like a Dead Boy.

I heard you were once held at gunpoint while hanging out with Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators
Stiv and I had been hanging out for a while in LA and in London over a period of several months at this point. Lots of pre-crystal meth (when it was just called ‘speed’) had been invading our systems for the time, and it wasn’t unusual to have gone days and days without sleep. One night in Hollywood, my band The Broken Homes had a super important show booked at the Roxy with The Georgia Satellites and Stiv had wanted to come along, which meant I was to drive since he did not. I went to what was then the Holiday Inn on Franklin to grab him thinking, mistakenly, that this would be a quick in-and-out affair. When Stiv started rifling through absolutely everything in the room over and over, I realized it would take a while. An hour later I was officially seriously late, so I was finally able to coax Stiv out of the room and we were on our way. Not 50 feet down the hall we passed two cholo-dressed, white prison-lookin dudes when we heard a loud thump and turned to see Stiv’s girlfriend,Caroline, on her knees with one of these guys holding a huge chrome pistol to her head. They told us to empty our pockets, relieved us of our cash (I had $3) and then forced us to open the room and marched us back inside. One guy held Stiv and I face down on the floor with a knee in each back and nervously switching from Stiv’s head back to mine with the gun tight against our skulls while they argued about what to do with us as his partner rifled the room for about 400 French Francs they had never seen before. The guy on top of us wanted to shoot us real bad, while the other one started talking about stealing my car keys. I remember all I could think about was how there was a club full of people, some of them in my band, who were gonna hate me if I didn’t make the gig. And if these assholes did take my car, there’d be no way to make it in time. I’m not sure how long we were stuck in this position, but at one point the guy got off us while the other announced, “Don’t fuckin’ move or breathe for 10 minutes! We got a guy at the end of the hall watching you and if you try anything, we’ll come back and shoot ya.” Yeah, right, ok. One minute passed … two minutes … dead silence. Stiv and I are side-by-side, face-down on carpet … three minutes … I say, “Stiv, I think they’ve gone.” Nothing. “Stiv! Stiv!! Stiv!!!” Zzzz … snore … zzz … Stiv had fallen asleep. :)

People/bands Jimmy has worked with: The Damned – B-side of Would You single: Phantasmagoria MCA The Broken Homes – 3 albums for MCA Burning Tree – live Mick Ronson/Ian Hunter Stiv Bators – LA LA – Bomp Records Fill in shows with Smack (Finland) Fill in shows with Johnny Thunders (USA) Ian McLagan’s Bump Band Izzy Stradlin & the JuJu Hounds Ronnie Wood Joe Cocker sessions Black Crowes (mandolin on Amorica) Big Toe (jam band with Chris Robinson) Foamfoot (jam band with Chris Robinson) Joe Strummer (film sessions) Buckcherry

To read Jimmy’s official/unofficial Buckcherry departure notice, go here. To see and hear Jimmy “Shuffle It All” with Izzy Stradlin, Rick Richards and Charlie Quintana, click below

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Shuffling Along: Well-traveled and sure to turn up again soon, Jimmy Ashhurst is moving on. Meanwhile, his doorman is breathing a sigh of relief.

Posted Oct. 15, 2013 on Jimmy’s Facebook page:

Ok that’s it … Now even my doorman’s checking on me to make sure I’m not dead sooo…, here goes.

Over a month ago now the band collectively decided that they would prefer to proceed without me. I haven’t made any sort of announcement prior to today since I believed and still believe that this news should have come from the band itself.

However, since they’re already on their 3rd or 4th show without me and still haven’t let anyone know (maybe they’re having trouble finding wifi or somethin …that shit’s expensive yo); since it was not my decision to leave the band; since I’m uncomfortable not answering the many kind but speculative messages I’ve been receiving; and finally since I believe that there are folks out there who’ve been loyal and supportive of us over the years and as such have a right to know; – Im forced post this myself in order to finally put this to rest and move forward with whatever shows up next for me.

If you’re looking for a reason you’ll need to ask them, since the one they gave me of my being ‘unhappy’ and of them ‘doing-me-a -favor-to-release-me-from-this-torment’ isn’t really resounding with the ‘Ring of Truth’…. (If everyone who had a job were sacked for being unhappy who’d clean the tollets for fuck’s sake, only happy people? … dunno…but I digress…)

While it is true I’d become unhappy about certain aspects of touring and of the state of Rock and Roll in general that I believed were of vital importance to our collective well-being, I still believe that those issues could have easily been resolved as a group. Sadly others did not agree and as a result- result.

I dunno. Im gonna go with “Im a Democrat and they’re Republicans” if anyone demands an answer or whatever…

As far as what I’m gonna do next…
Welllll hahaaaa…ZERO for the moment, but after a bit of refresh/recharge I doubt that I’ll be able to resist the temptation of the Devil’s music for very long.
First and foremost, however, I very much wanna take a moment to enjoy the life that my work with the band has provided me with, while it lasts, and I thank the band, all of em, for giving me this opportunity to do so.

I wish nothing but continued success for the guys, and I hope the new guy works out great
(I dunno who it is so please don’t ask. I do hope he’s super cute though).

In closing, to all fans of the band: Arrivederci, Nos vemos, Au revoir, いってきます, Até mais, and See ya later…

but to everyone else… Im back.