BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION – interview by bushman
Tracii Guns. Founding member of Guns and Roses, most notorious as the explosive guitarist for LA Guns. Now, joins forces with Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, a seasoned drummer for hire Scot Coogan and vocalist London LeGrand, an unknown street rat of LA via Georgia. And they call it Brides of Destruction. Picking an unknown frontman helps avoid the tag of “Supergroup” and gives the unit a better identity against the resumes of Sixx and Guns. The end result is greasy and guitar driven with that ever present snotty attitude. Song titles like the disc opener “Shut the Fuck Up” and follow-up track “I Don’t Care” fly that middle finger with pride while the grinding sleaze of “2x Dead” shows a darker crawl. A three album deal with Sanctuary Records signals this is more than an one-off project. Speaking to guitarist Tracii Guns, it was easy to feel the commitment and drive he feels for his new band.
There are two pretty high profile names in this band. Who was the catalyst for forming Brides of Destruction?
I was, sort of. I can’t take all the credit. I really stayed on Nikki’s shit to get this done and make it happen. It was really down to him to be totally into it. I really had to make sure to put music together and a band together around us that was intriguing enough to make him come out of his house on the hill. I did the best job I could. We were brainstorming and trying to figure out what we should do. But when you try to calculate things, it doesn’t happen. We were just really patient and let everything we did just come. Especially our singer. Right before I went on the last LA Guns tour a few years ago, me and Nikki were like, “Well, we got some guys, but we need a singer. And we are not gonna have some guy that is already known, singing in a brand new band. Because that’s what identifies the band.” And I knew he was right. And we really weren’t into auditioning a bunch of new guys.
So you didn’t want to audition new guys, but you didn’t want a well-known new guy?
Yeah, we were like, “What are we gonna do?” So right before I left on that LA Guns tour, Adam, who plays bass in LA Guns now, brought me this photo of London and was like, “This is you guys singer.” And I looked at him and he looked so damn cool, I told Adam, “I’m sure this guy can’t sing.” He had a face like Steven Tyler and body like Tommy Lee, and these insane Channel glasses, perfect hair, tattoos everywhere… there is no way. But Adam was like, “Yeah, he can sing.” And I was like, “Ok, whatever.” Because we were leaving the next day. So my girlfriend saw the picture, and I think she emailed that picture to Nikki. And the phone rings right before I’m getting ready to split. And Nikki is like, “Who is this guy?” and I’m like, “What guy?” and Nikki says “The picture that you sent me.” And I’m like, “I didn’t send you a picture.” And he’s like, “No, Kristen did.” And I’m like, “Oh she did, huh? But that’s a singer that Adams been telling me about.” And Nikki’s like, “Do you think this guy can sing?” And I’m like, “Adam says he can.” And Nikki says, “Wouldn’t that be amazing?” So I get out on the road for a couple of weeks and then London calls me and is like, “Hey I never heard anything. Do you guys wanna like, check me out? Or do I have to interview or…” and I said, “Well, it comes down to ‘Can you sing?’” We would have been happy if he had like, one voice. If he could just sing in key that would be fine. And he was sitting there with an acoustic guitar and just started screaming over the phone. And I’m glad he didn’t tell me he was going to because I would have told him not to. Because there is nothing worse than having someone, one on one, and they all suck and you are all embarrassed and you don’t know what to say. So I was completely blown away. And told him, “Hey man, you can really fucking sing. Wow, man, fuck. Maybe we can do this.” So we had a break on the LA Guns tour, so me an Adam and Nikki and London got together at my house and we recorded a Sweet song from their “Desolation Boulevard” release, and London was just fucking the shit. We couldn’t have formulated this guy more perfect. So the cool thing was we didn’t have to look at other singers. The shitty thing was a I had to leave for six more weeks. We did that, and we knew we had a thing, and the last piece was the drummer. And I told Nikki, “I got this guy in the band Adema. I think he would fit in good. Especially with London.” So Nikki went and saw him at the Ozzfest. And then called me like, “That guy was really cool.” And I go, “I know.” So he was like, “Ok, we got a band. Get home. Now. Hurry up.” And the whole time on the second run of that [LA Guns] tour, I had the front of the bus set up like a recording studio. And I just wrote. The only time I wasn’t writing was when I was on stage. So I got home and had been emailing songs back and forth [with Nikki]. The technology really helped. I mean, that’s how me and Nikki first started talking about this, over instant messenger.
That’s got to be an exclusive buddy list there.
It’s a pretty crazy buddy list. Y’know, just hit a button and be like, “Hey you wanna start a great band.” I got one that’s really public because I run an eBay guitar store, so I got people shooting me shit all day. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t. I try to limit it to guitar equipment questions, but every now and then, someone is real adamant, and just keeps hitting that enter button, “Dude, dude, dude, dude…” But it’s cool.
So Instant Messenger gets credit for the formation of Brides of Destruction.
What names did you throw away, or was Brides your first choice?
No, ‘CockStar’ was the first name, and still in a lot of ways, still my favorite name. I think it’s the snottiest name. The most fuck you name. We are obviously not some punk band, but we just loved that. But unfortunately, guys like us, we have real careers and have people that work with us, that all they are concerned about is making money, and are like, “Look guys, the band is great. We want to work with you. But you can’t call the band CockStar.” And we were like, “Fuck you man, we are leaving. We are gonna tour in a van. And fuck the world up.” Then we decided after about ten minutes of whining, “Ok, let’s come up with something else.” So we came up with a bunch of names before we decided to use any of them. We were MotorDogs for a while, then we were The Black Apples for about 10 Minutes. We came up with a really good one after Brides of Destruction called ‘The MilfMen’. I know somebody is gonna use that. It’s fucking great. But a friend of ours, this guy Danno in New York, is always going on about having a name like, Sisters of Mercy, or Lords of the Church or something like that. And me and Nikki have always liked that dark, creepy stuff. And Danno just said, “Hey man, Brides of Destruction.” So we just looked at each other like, “Hey Ok, that’s it.” And a lot of times for us, if somebody comes up with something and we like it, it means that’s the end of brainpower wasted. It’s like, “Ok that works.” “What does it mean?” “I don’t know.” So I came up with my own reason for the name. A Bride of Destruction would have to be a black widow. We want to call the tour “Every New Bride Needs a Good Fucking Tour”. You always gotta try to push what you can get away with.
How has it been working with Nikki Sixx?
It’s probably a lot cooler for me than it is for him. He always claims, “Oh… you are my favorite guitar player. Love LA Guns. I always wish we had more of you guy’s vibe.” And I’m like, “Ok, yeah right dude, we stole everything from you.” So for me, it’s like, it’s almost cooler than jamming with Johnny Thunders or something. I had stopped playing guitar by the time I was 15, well not stopped, but basically lost my drive. Randy Rhodes came out and I was like, yeah, that’s sick man, really great metal and stuff like that. But then I started getting into the Germs, and weird LA punk bands, and it just became non-guitar driven. So all the music I was listening to, I wasn’t listening to it like I used to listen to Zeppelin or Rush. It was just more non-inspiring for a guitar player. Until I saw Motley Crue at the Troubadour in LA. I walked in and saw their Music Connection ad and I told my best friend, “Man, look at these guys. They gotta be good.” So we went, and it was the most brutal fucking band I had ever heard. You gotta remember, in ‘81, I wasn’t really listening to Anvil. Like the heaviest thing I ever listened to was like Black Sabbath or Van Halen I. So here they were. Their songs were great. They looked great. They were loud as fuck. And I was 15. And I went “Holy Shit!” I went home, picked up my guitar and knew exactly what to do with it from that day on. So for me to be playing songs and writing with Nikki, and calling him a fag everyday, it’s really cool.
So you are doing this very rocking thing (naturally), and when sitting back and thinking of all the ingredients to make this truly ‘rock’, at what point did somebody say, “We need the drummer from All 4 One!” (Which is not only a boy band, but was kind of a bush-league one at that).
Had we known that, we probably would have passed on him. (laughs) I’ll tell you what my impressions of that was. Stevo, the guy that owns our recording studio and our practice studio says, “Hey man, I play in a band with this guy and he’s fucking great.” And we were like, “Yeah, Yeah. Everybody’s got somebody.” Now Stevo knows I’m a complete Zepp-head, so he goes, “Naw, you got to come see this guy play. He’s in a band called Six Foot Nerve, he’s the singer and the drummer and they do all Led Zeppelin, Beatles and Cream.” And I’m like, this aught to be a train wreck, let’s go. I remember I was really sick that night. I get these weird gas bubbles in my stomach where it feels like I’m having a heart attack for like four days. And it was at the end of one of those, and I was like, “I really don’t want to go Stevo. I just want to lay in bed until I blow one out my ass.” And he was like, “No. No. No. You gotta come. You guys need a drummer and this is the guy.” So he came all the fucking way out to where I live and dragged me down to this little club in Hollywood. I drank about a half a fifth of Jack Daniels on the way down just to make me feel kind of normal. We got in there and this guys is fucking singing “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” by Led Zeppelin AND playing drums. And it sounded unreal. So I went up and jammed with them stomachache and all. And they never let people jam because it’s such an easy one to call. “Oh we play Beatles, Zeppelin and Cream.” Everybody knows every song. So I ended up playing with him for 20 minutes and it was really fun. So I was like, “Listen man, we really don’t want to audition drummers, but come down like Monday.” This was a Friday night. And he was totally into it, like, “Fuck yeah man. I’ll fucking be there.” So what did he do? He went home and went on a bender for three days. Did tons of blow. So we are all down there at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon, and no Scoty. “Where the fuck is this guy.” He didn’t show up. He didn’t call. Nothing. We were sitting there until like 9:00 at night until we were like “Fuck this.” And finally he called one of us at like, midnight. And he’s like, “You guys ready for rehearsal tomorrow?” And I’m like, “Dude. You just completely blew us off.” And he’s like, “No man, tomorrow’s Monday.” And we were like, “No. Today is Monday.” And he was all freaked out. He didn’t tell us he went on a bender until way later. He insisted that we were wrong. He’s definitely the rock star. Nikki especially really watches his steps on everything. Me, I drink moderately. London’s a complete loser, so he’s ok. But we needed a guy that we knew was just going to end up in jail. So we got Scot, and we were like, “Well, who have you played with?” And he’s like, “I played with Otep.” And we are like, “Ok, ok, they are a heavy band.” So the months keep coming and we keep hearing stuff like, “Oh yeah, Scoty’s a great drummer. He played with Sinead O’Connor’s band.” And “He played with Ednaswap.” And we were like, c’mon, no way. Then we found out about the band you just said, and we’re like, “Oh, no, dude, no more playing with any weird, gay fucking bands.” He’s the only professional musician in Brides of Destruction.
It’s fairly common knowledge that you were a founding member of Guns and Roses, but no one ever seems to ask you why you left that band?
Well, it was really time. I had been living with Axl for like three years. He sang in LA Guns for a long time, and then we put Guns and Roses together. And for some reason, in Guns and Roses, he really started to get confident, which is great, of course you want your front man to be confident. But like, all that shit you read about him, started. Before that, he was my best friend. We were fucking hitting Taco Bell in the middle of the night to get free old food. We were tight together. But with Guns and Roses, around our eighth or ninth gig, he was just completely changed. I could just feel it. And I won’t be in a band if I’m not having fun. That was really the only reason. I’m still pretty tight with Duff, and I’ve known Slash since I was kid in school. At the time, I told people I wanted to change my name to Tracii X since everyone was using my name but me. But those guys were really pissed off, so I just kinda stopped showing up and stopped calling. Then, when I think about it, this was in 1983, I just wanted to be in a brutal metal punk band. And Axl was making me play these Chuck Berry solos all the time, and I was into it, but it was drama. And I had enough drama. But then I went on to create a whole bunch more drama.
I have a home video you guys did early in your career called “One More Reason” and there is an interview segment that’s right by “Cry No More” (a guitar instrumental track from their debut), and you said you never had a lesson and were completely self taught.
It’s probably not fair to say that. When I was six, my uncle showed me how to play “Pinball Wizard” (by The Who) and I kind of took off from there. I had a lot of learning books, like Mel Bay books. Chords and scales and shit like that. I would spend hours everyday until I was like 15 playing along to like “Frampton Comes Alive”, Ted Nugent’s “Double Live Gonzo”, UFO “Strangers in the Night” and Randy Rhodes on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. All these live records. So I spent a good six or seven years completely immersed in my favorite guitar players records. Later, after “Hollywood Vampires” (LA Guns), me and my girlfriend went to a musical school. But that was way after I did that video. The schooling actually helped my guitar playing and hurt it. Because before that, in the early LA Guns, it was a complete blistering shred fest, and I dig it when I listen to it. And I’m like, “Damn, I never held back back then.”
The album is done, you’ve heard it finished and you’ve probably got some feedback from the advance releases. What do you think the impact of this album and the band will be on the current music scene?
Because of bands like The Darkness and Jet and a few rock bands out there, people are going to be really prepared to hear music like this. It’s just like the next level. A little more brutal. A little more tasty. A little less cheesy. But right in the same vein of rock that we feel is about to happen. But y’know, hope for the best and expect the worst. But I think we nailed it.