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Chasing Dragons: An Exclusive Interview With GEORGE LYNCH Of LYNCH MOB

By George Mihalovich, Pure Rock Patroller
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 @ 1:52 PM


"Our plan as artists is that every work we make exceeds our last."

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Talk about an interesting interview. This conversation took place as George and his LYNCH MOB bandmates were driving through the mountains of Pennsylvania en route to Pittsburgh for their show at the Altar Bar on June 26.. Despite bad weather, a few wrong turns and numerous lost connections, George was exceptionally thoughtful and candid on a variety of topics - including LYNCH MOB's latest Frontiers Records release, Rebel.

KNAC.COM: LYNCH MOB has been on the road for a few weeks now in the U.S. How is the tour going thus far?

LYNCH: Personally, I think it's come along better than expected for me because there have been a lot of different versions of the band over the decades. It was sort of getting to the point where it was like, "Oh, it's just another LYNCH MOB." It's actually turned out to be exceptional in terms of the band, the turnout and the response. So I'm really happy that it's kind of gelled.

KNAC.COM: You always use really good players, but the band can't always be the same because of people's schedules and involvement in other projects.

LYNCH: Initially when we put the band together in '89, like all bands, I guess, our intentions were to put it together to keep it together. Man, we've had such a revolving door... I think this is really the final version of the band that has the same elements that it initially was conceived to have in 1989; it just works, the chemistry works. I haven't had that in a long, long, long time.

And the fans are happy. We'd come through town, and people might think, "Well, it's kind of like LYNCH MOB, but it's not really LYNCH MOB." But this version of the band, you see people's faces and it's working and it's pretty cool.

KNAC.COM: It's more like an actual band with the right vibe and sound as opposed to a bunch of guys who are just playing the songs.

LYNCH: Exactly. You said it better than I could have ever said it. I should be interviewing you about LYNCH MOB. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Looks like this leg ends in another week or so, and then LYNCH MOB goes back out in August and September in the U.S. - with some additional dates in February 2016 on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise. When was the last time that LYNCH MOB performed in Europe? Since you're on Frontiers, any plans to tour there in 2016?

LYNCH: We did go over there. That's why we put this version of the band together, for a show we did in Milan, Italy, for Frontiers Records. I think it's called the Frontiers Rock Festival. You know, a lot of bands from their roster; it was cool. We went over just for that one show. So technically we played Europe in April. (check out "Wicked Sensation" from this show)

KNAC.COM: Let's talk about the new release - Rebel. I think that it's a strong record with great performances all-around. The production is crisp and the songs are well put together. But before I take you down any particular path with additional comments, what are your thoughts on the disc?

LYNCH: Same way that I feel about every record. It's like you're having a little musical baby; you're in the maternity ward and you're squeezing its little cheeks and you're in love with it. Then you don't know if the baby is going to grow up to be a fucking environmental tyrant or a president of the universe. (laughs)

From our standpoint, the record we created was a labor of love. It comes out and you have to see how the market reacts to it and critically how it's treated. I've done records in the past that I felt really great about, and then put it out, and people react negatively to it ... all of a sudden your opinion of your own artistic endeavors changes based on the reaction people have to the work.

For instance, the last record that DOKKEN did, Shadowlife; arguably not a very good record, but we were all into it. We thought, "Oh, this is awesome", put it out there and then it flopped and the blame game started. People in the band were trying to blame everybody else for writing the record. But man, when we were done with it, we were all trying to take credit for it. Kind of funny how that works ...

But at this point, Rebel is our baby, and it's new, it's fresh, and we're excited to get out there and see what people think. I can't imagine people hatin' on it? I think it's freaking awesome. Of course, everything we release is always compared to the benchmark Wicked Sensation - and that's a pretty high mark. That record took probably at least a year or more to make, and about a half a million dollars or more. We don't have those kinds of resources these days to make those kinds of records. But we work a lot smarter and are more economical and efficient with our time.

I'm too close to the record to be objective, but we have great hopes for it. Our plan as artists is that every work we make exceeds our last. Sell more records, get in front of more people - just keep growing the organism. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to come up with a plan like that, but to actually implement it ... keep it simple, stay on track, don't fall apart. That's my motivational speech for younger musicians. They always ask me for advice, and one of the things I say is in a band situation that's half the battle - don't break up. Stay together and fight whatever - that's half the battle, continuing to exist.

KNAC.COM: I think that Rebel has a 70s blues-rock influence; I hear shades of JEFF BECK, ROBIN TROWER, MOUNTAIN and some other bands. It connects to the LYNCH MOB of the past, but seems to have moved in a slightly different direction. Do you see it that way? How would you describe the overall vibe of the record?

LYNCH: I think that's pretty accurate. We all tend to revert back to things that influenced us in our youth; those bands you just mentioned were huge influences and actually we still listen to them a lot. I think we started the record as an expression of early influences in modern times. We listen to modern stuff too and try to implement those influences in a modern context that's not forced or cheap. I think that at the end of the day, it's just a matter of ... for our stuff to be genuine, when we write it, you have to sort of channel stuff and get out of your own way. Nobody sits around and goes, "Let's do a new song, but make it like MOUNTAIN or ZEPPELIN." Just clear your mind, let things flow ... don't even know how describe it, writing is such an interesting and mysterious process.

KNAC.COM: Did you have an idea, concept or theme that formed the writing of this record lyrically or musically? Or did you just start writing and go with whatever came out?

LYNCH: For the most part, a LYNCH MOB record isn't a concept; it's more of a chemical reaction to each other. We have sort of subconscious, self-imposed parameters; blues-based, desert rock with a kind of trippy component to it. We sort of instinctively know who we are and what our brand is, so to speak; we kind of weave in and out of that. I kind of know what everybody does, so when I'm writing I kind of subconsciously have that in mind. I'm not gonna write something that isn't fitted to Oni's feel. We start with that blues-rock based stuff with little twists.

KNAC.COM: "Automatic Fix" is the first video. How did that all come together?

LYNCH: The video was done by a guy named Jimmy Brown - with some help - we had other cameramen, including Sebastian, who did some work with KXM. We've been working with Jimmy Brown for a little while now; we did three or four KXM videos with him. This is our first LYNCH MOB video with Jimmy, but we actually did a second one with him as well that's going to be coming out a little bit down the road for a song called "Testify".

We went out to Las Vegas and found a great location; a town called El Dorado Canyon Mine, where we actually rented the town for three days. There's a lot going on in this little old mining town; junk piled on top of junk, but really interesting stuff. There are dry lakes around there, and we had drones and multiple cameramen.

We didn't really have a super storyboard, sort of a general rough idea of what we were going to do. That's my car in the video, so we got that out there. We really relied on post-production and editing to make something out of it. It's the nature of the beast these days; we don't have giant video budgets, so we have to create it with a tiny bit of money - which we managed to do. We shot both videos at the same location and the same time; there are obviously similarities between the two.

"Automatic Fix" - I don't even know if you call them singles anymore, but it's the first song we're going to attract attention to and put it out there and follow it up with "Testify", which is an ass-shaking mid-tempo song.

KNAC.COM: Are you putting these songs in the set?

LYNCH: We will for our next round of tour dates, but not right now, because the record obviously isn't out. But for August, September dates - it looks like we might be going through to November - we'll be definitely adding a couple of songs into the set.

KNAC.COM: You've done a couple of things over the years with Jeff Pilson, but this is the first time he's worked with LYNCH MOB. How did that come about?

LYNCH: I think you're right; let me think about that. Yes, this is definitely the first time he has done anything with us. He lives right down the street; we didn't have Shawn McNabb (bass) and Jimmy D'Anda (drums) in the band at that point. We were writing and recording the record, so Jeff is a neighbor and obviously a good friend and a lot of history with him. It was kind of a no-brainer; who gets that tone, has that feel ... who lives right down the block? (laughs) The thing was with him it's tricky getting him when he's off the road with FOREIGNER - which isn't too often.

And Brian Tichy (drums), same deal, Brian lives right down the road, we all live in the same neighborhood, same part of town.

KNAC.COM: You and Oni are the main writers, but did Jeff did work on some of the material with you as well?

LYNCH: We just brought the stuff over to his studio and he played on it after the fact. Actually, we had a little bit of additional writing help from Donnie Dickman, the keyboard player in my other project, SHADOW TRAIN. Oni and I were kicking around the idea of getting a keyboard player to sit with us in pre-production and gave it a shot. Donnie was cool enough to come down from where he lives in Big Sur, load up his truck with all of his old vintage keyboards and analog synthesizers and set up in our studio for about a week. He was just there for us, you know? He kicked out some good ideas here and there, but the bulk of the writing was me writing the music and Oni writing the melodies - that's pretty much how it works. Sometimes there's some cross-thought, but that's just the way it goes down - the singer/guitar player thing.

KNAC.COM: You did the pre-production and recording with Chris Collier, who also engineered the Sun Red Sun and Sound Mountain EPs - as well as KXM and SWEET & LYNCH records. It's obvious that you like his production and engineering on your material; what is it about working with him that fits with what you're trying to achieve?

LYNCH: He's an "If it's not broke, don't fix it guy." He's a very, very talented guy ... he's a super-musician, one of those guys like Jeff Pilson or some of these other people I've worked with that just kind of do it all. They play keyboards, they can sing, they play guitar, they play bass, they play drums - or whatever, they can play everything. They understand music theory and they understand recording; he's also a great mixer, he's a great singer...We actually had him do some dates in the band at one point. We were without a drummer and I think he did a half a dozen shows with us. It was fantastic. He's a phenomenal drummer, really good just all-around musical guy. But the thing is he's very gifted in the mixing department and a great engineer. He's good at a lot of things, but when you're in there writing and arranging, he's a good third wheel to get an opinion or a little idea here or there that helps glue things together. But his strong suit is mixing - that's what he really loves to do and he just keeps getting better and better. And he's local! He loves to record, and you need that guy; he does it all, everything - soup to nuts, A to Z - from pre-production to mastering. That's a pretty important person to have in the process...the most important person to have.

KNAC.COM: Does that provide a lot of continuity?

LYNCH: Well, if I could suggest that there might be a down side with all of that; working across different platforms of different projects you might not want to have that consistency. He does have a style of his own obviously - which is not a bad thing - but you don't want things all to sound the same.

KNAC.COM: I think that your solos were particularly sharp, focused and structured on Rebel. Did you approach it that way or was that just how it turned out?

LYNCH: I did a mix of more slowhand, blues things off the top of my head and then a more thought-out, calculated, precise kind of thing where I worked out parts. A good example of that would be "Automatic Fix". I sort of put that together as I was recording. I wanted it to be kind of like a "Tooth And Nail" where it goes from one section to another section - versus "Testify", which is just off-the-cuff bluesy wrangling. I think there's a 50/50 mix of that and it's pretty healthy.

KNAC.COM: Oni sounds invigorated, like he's feeling pretty good about things; the two of you are back together and just did a strong record. Do you think now you are in a better place to stabilize the band and keep moving forward?

LYNCH: At this moment in time, in the recent past and for the foreseeable future - I think that's exactly the case. It feels very, very solid. Spirits are good and high and positive and hopeful; right now, we're on track. Hard to say what will happen, but we started to make a plan - I like having a plan - which is to continue grow the band and try to get the music out there. There are still people out there that enjoy this kind of music, this particular style of rock. It's a matter of reaching out and making enough people aware of what you do.

KNAC.COM: Based on your involvement with various projects and high level of activity during the past few years, is it safe to say that your philosophy is not to rest on your laurels and to keep pushing your musical boundaries?

LYNCH: Yes...if not now, when? I've had all of these urges to delve off in other areas of music that I'm passionate about and love. I'm not doing it to prove anything; I just do it because I can. I think from a listener's vantage point, I'd want an artist that I care about to do something like that. To follow their natural musical journey and explore things and evolve; I'm just not one of those guys that sits in one place like a lot of bands. And that's great too, I just can't do that. To do the same thing over and over again, I'm just not built that way. It's not good or bad, it just is; it's what drives me and keeps me going to reach for this other stuff...chasing other dragons. It's great to play with a variety of different people that bring other things out of you. I play differently in the context of THE INFIDELS than I would in LYNCH MOB; it's a whole different approach. It's different equipment, my mindset the writing and sound are different. I become a different person and I love it. It keeps you young and keeps you wanting to get up in the morning and take on the world. Just playing the same old kind of stuff again and rehashing is like getting up and going to work.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of that, SHADOW TRAIN is an interesting concept. How did it come about and do you think it will have a broader appeal - or reach some people that you typically don't reach - due to the way you are mixing the music and a documentary on a serious topic?

LYNCH: That would depend if we can get distribution for the film, which we're still working on. I mean, I'm sure the film will come out at some point - it has to - but we haven't been able to get to that point yet, which is why I released the soundtrack, the SHADOW TRAIN record. I didn't want the shelf life to expire on the music. The record has been done for a little while now - probably a year-and-half or something - and I felt that I needed to at least get this out there while it was somewhat fresh and maybe even create some energy and interest around the film as well. I'm kind of jumping the shark a little bit by releasing the album, but it's out of necessity. Whether it reaches more people, I don't know ... there's obviously a broader element to the record in the sense that it's associated with a larger effort with a political tone to it. We have a mission, and that's the whole point of the film and the band; to address certain injustices and inequalities throughout the world - which of course have been addressed in many other forms by people much smarter and more capable than us - but we felt compelled to do something about it using our music as a vehicle for change. For that reason I hope it gets into people's earballs and into their heads.

KNAC.COM: The KXM disc - another project - was pretty successful and well-received; what was it like working with Dug Pinnick and Ray Luzier? Are you planning a follow-up?

LYNCH: We are planning a follow-up in the sense that we're adamant that we want to do another record and actually get out and do some dates. We feel that doing dates is really, really important next time out, so it's going to be kind of challenging to find that time, that time window to be able to do that. That's the trick, that's always been the trick with KXM. We only had ten days to do that first record, and that was a miracle we pulled those ten days off. We actually had an initial eight days, we had to throw it all down, disband and go our separate ways. We walked away and went, "You know what, we don't have enough music here for a full record, we need to go back in the studio." It was touch-and-go, we almost didn't pull it off, but finally managed to get two quick days and wrote and recorded two new songs - just barely enough music to finish the record. Finding another chunk of time to actually write and record a record ... obviously we're going to spend more than ten days this time. To gear up, rehearse and do the dates, that's going to require a window of at least a couple months. Ray Luzier, the drummer, being in KORN, that's really an obstacle for us, because he's extremely busy with them and we can't really tell KORN, "Hey guys, take a couple months off 'cause we've got a record to do." It doesn't work that way, so logistically it's very tricky. The will is there, we're adamant; we talk about it all the time. It will happen; I just don't know when.

KNAC.COM: Along those same lines - the SWEET & LYNCH project ... Michael Sweet is certainly a talent as a singer, guitarist and writer, but I thought it was unusual that he took ideas that you had and structured them into complete songs?

LYNCH: I thought he said that and it's not really true. (laughs) It's a little unfair to say that, I think he kind of presented it in the wrong light. I would say half the stuff that I wrote was complete in the sense that it was arranged completely. The other bits were...all the parts were there, it's just I kind of left them...I left it up to them - meaning Michael and the rest of the guys - to arrange it the way they felt they needed to arrange it because I hadn't recorded the basic rhythm tracks yet. So I told them, "Here's a verse, a pre-chorus, a chorus and a bridge, but I don't know how long you want the verses to be and I don't know how many times you want this part to occur; so just cut and paste it however you want." But to say that I just threw some random parts out there and they built a song out of them is completely unfair...I actually need to talk to him about that; it's not actually true. (laughs)

Going forward though, there has been serious talk about possibly putting another one together soon. We're trying to find a way; again, that one would be easier to pull off than KXM at this point, so we're making plans for early next year for the second SWEET & LYNCH record.

KNAC.COM: You are doing a lot with Frontiers - they seem to really be a good partner for you; how is that relationship?

LYNCH: It's fine, we also work a lot with Rat Pak Records. So we're jumping back and forth doing records with both companies. And it's interesting because they're two completely different business models. Frontiers is more established, with wider distribution and more of what we're used to coming from a major label background. They're set up the same way as the major labels we've worked with in the past. Where Rat Pak is much more fluid and more of a new model; they're really fair towards the artist and I like their business model. I'm hoping for everybody's sake in the music business and bands that this becomes the prevailing model; bands get a fair share of their records and actually can make money if their record is selling. There are advantages to both ways of doing things; a larger label can make more people aware that you're there, that your music is out there and get people to hear your music. The advantage to a label like Rat Pak is they're - not that they can't do that - but they have the artists' best interests at heart. In terms of some labels you feel you're dealing with an adversary (laughs), but I'm not going to mention any of those. With a larger label - the old model - you get an infinitesimal slice of the pie, unfortunately. I don't think it's fair; I know it's not fair, but that's the only way to go sometimes.

KNAC.COM: Are you still chasing tones and technique, or are you at a point now where you are comfortable and you're just working on composing good music?

LYNCH: No, no, I'm always chasing that tone dragon, man. Equipment and gear are what produces the tone and I'm just a freaking gearaholic. One of the best things I like about being on the road is being able to hit up mom-and-pop music stores and pawn shops and find stuff here and there. To me, that's one of the funnest things about doing what I do is being out there discovering tools that help me get where I want to go. If it's a guitar, pickup, pedal, amp, cabinet or whatever...there's those sleeper amps and guitars; things that aren't $250,000 or $50,000. They're still affordable for the average musician, but they're exceptional instruments that do a wonderful thing that hasn't been discovered by the mainstream. For instance, Traynor amps in Canada ? late 60s and early 70s - are like Canadian Marshalls. They're like Sherman tanks; point-to-point hand-wired, military specifications, overbuilt transformers, lots of headroom and they sound phenomenal for guitar. The old Magnatones are brilliant-sounding - but you have to find the big ones though - and they can have problems, just like old cars and old people (laughs). I'm really excited that on this trip I picked up a 1966 "Black Face" Bassman and matching cabinet and a Gibson Firebird. Oh my God, you don't even understand, they've built classics around these tones and it's so inspiring from a songwriting standpoint. I'm inspired by tone; when my tone is right, it's like a feedback loop and I can play what I'm hearing in my head. Otherwise I have a blockage and it's not gonna happen. That's why I really more focus on tone than my technique. I've got it in my head and hands, I just have to find the tone to be able to get it out there.

KNAC.COM: You are heavily involved in developing gear with the various companies you endorse; anything coming up that you would like to discuss?

LYNCH: We're just coming out with the Randall Lynch Headhunter amp. It's the third amp that I've come out with now with Randall. For the last two-and-a-half years we've been working with Mike Fortin and it should be coming out soon.

KNAC.COM: How do you feel about playing a fair amount of DOKKEN tracks alongside the LYNCH MOB material? Are you OK with that, or would you rather play 100 percent LYNCH MOB?

LYNCH: No, I like doing the DOKKEN stuff. Really, it's up to the singer to be able to add that stuff into the set; they have to be comfortable with it as a singer - so I get that. Oni has been really open to doing it and his interpretation is fantastic. It's nice for the fans to be able to hear songs that were much bigger than the LYNCH MOB songs. And hearing them sung really well which maybe doesn't happen a lot live (laughs)...We do about a third of our set is DOKKEN, a third old LYNCH MOB, and a third more current material.

KNAC.COM: Let's preface the next question by saying all of the former members of DOKKEN are doing excellent work in their various projects. Lots of people would certainly come out to see a DOKKEN reunion tour, but it's a personal decision if you guys ever want to team up again. That said, there has been talk in recent years, but nothing has materialized. Has is been put to rest, or would you still be open to doing it if everyone could come to an agreement?

LYNCH: There's actually...in the last few months, there is current talk. Pretty solid, but until somebody signs on the dotted line or plays a note it doesn't really mean anything - as far as I'm concerned (laughs) - based on my past experience with these things happening. We'll see, but right now, everything's on track; but we're not there yet, so who knows? We've been working towards that and we have things happening.

KNAC.COM: What bands, musicians or guitarists have caught your attention lately?

LYNCH: When we're travelling, it's an opportunity to listen to each other's iPods and share bands. We're really digging on the RIVAL SONS record. Great singer, great songs, very retro - a great recording.

KNAC.COM: All of your fellow guitarists want to know what is wrong with singers and how do you manage them? (laughs)

LYNCH: You avoid the bad eggs dude, you know what I mean? So that really whittles down the pool of potential guys to use, unfortunately. All these guys, they're a different animal, you know?

KNAC.COM: They're a different breed ...

LYNCH: They're basically holding all the marbles because they're the front man and the singer and it's their voice on the songs and so they kind of own it, in a sense. They get a lot of attention and this-that...it requires a certain amount of ego to get out front - be a front man - and sometimes it's a double-edged sword. There are people that get it right without having those problems. Dug Pinnick is a fucking beautiful guy and kicks ass, does everything he needs to do and is a team player. Oni too and a few other people I've played with...it's just finding good people.

KNAC.COM: Here's an off-the-wall question that I've always wondered about. I'm from Pittsburgh, and a few years back I heard you were on the local news?

LYNCH: (laughs)

KNAC.COM: It was during some kind of weather event?

LYNCH: Yeah...(laughs)

KNAC.COM: So there is some truth to that?

LYNCH: Absolutely. My son was there and his wife and two kids - my grandkids. We were visiting - along with other family - my wife and her kids and my ex-wife; a whole bunch of us. A huge tornado came through and was just ripping things off the walls and we had to put everybody down in the shelters and all this kind of stuff. I was standing in front of this big glass window and things were just flying around - trees, lawn mowers and animals and shit - it was just crazy. And a fucking possum went by! I mean it was the craziest thing to see it floating through the air. So we were interviewed on the news about it ... kind of funny.

KNAC.COM: Thanks for clearing that up!

LYNCH: There you go.

Catch LYNCH MOB on tour


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