Q&A with Jani Lane
Sheila Rene': Hello, Jani. Welcome back dahlin'.
Jani Lane: Thank you.
SR: You guys have come up with some great harmonies and one solid album.
JL: This was very much a group effort. Everybody pulled their own weight.
SR: It's so varied. I can't imagine you not getting airplay on this one.
JL: Well, I hope you're right. It tends to be a little eclectic the way it bounces around between ideas, but for me that's exciting.
SR: We have had five albums before this one. We know what you can do, but the more varied, at least to me, the more listenable, such as adding some industrial touches, a few samples.
JL: It's a fine line for Warrant to not completely forsake what you hear and yet be current enough. We want to be current but we can't forget what put us on the map. I'm sure we'll have our share of critics who'll say they failed on one end of the spectrum or the other, but I think in general I think we did a pretty good job on it.
SR: Don't you think we've come a long way from when the whole genre was classified as dead to now?
JL: Oh, yeah. I don't think rock will ever die. It changes its clothes and haircut but it never goes away.
SR: Opening cut, "In The End" says it all. It's a very Beatle-esque sound there with the harmonies. I think you've gained a few more octaves too.
JL: I take that as a very big compliment. It's a difficult analogy because I'm a huge Beatles' fan. I worshipped the ground they walked on to be honest.
SR: I guess you're going to pick up that new video boxed set soon.
JL: Absolutely. I have everything on the Beatles that you can imagine. I love them.
SR: In the '60s I identified with the Stones more, but eventually I began to understand just how vibrant they were.
JL: Right. The Stones were definitely the bad boys of rock.
SR: The "Feels Good" cut has lyrics that say "I'm invincible, Feels really good." I guess this pretty much sums up the feeling of this band.
JL: It's a weird song in that when it says "I'm invincible and at an all-time low" was us saying that we're starting from scratch. There's nothing you can say or do or threaten us with that's going to deter us from what we plan on doing here. There was absolutely no pressure doing this record and not a lot of expectation from a huge label telling us we had to follow up this big hit or that hit. We were given complete control and it's supposed to be fun so let's make it fun. Whatever seems appropriate to us and not necessarily try to please anyone else.
SR: The production on this album in so good. I love it when the music bounces back and forth across the speakers.
JL: It's just a simple little stereo thing. Everyone got away from that because a lot of producers would say what if someone has their equipment hooked up wrong and it's in mono or one of the speakers is blown, the listener won't be able to pick it up.
SR: "Letter To A Friend" is a very uplifting song about reality.
JL: I really didn't sit down with a definite idea of what we were going to write. This record is different in the sense that the band got together for one week in November '95 and one week in January '96 and just wrote songs. It was the easiest record to write. This song was an idea I had of how being with somebody should end with saying "that's cool. I understand. We don't gel but that's no reason to hate you." It has never worked out for me like that so maybe this song is a little wishful thinking. In my case it always ends up I hate you, I hate you." But as I get older I'm sure I'll appreciate this song more.
SR: There's nothing more perfect than God and a California sunset' from that song. Amen. I miss living there ever once in a while.
JL: I moved from Los Angeles. I'm in Miami now. I got to a point where I couldn't take the gang bangers and the traffic. All the other members are still living in Los Angeles. I didn't have family out there so I didn't have the same ties they did. I'd eventually like to move back to Northern California.
SR: Lita Ford just moved to Florida.
JL: There are lots of rockers living down here. It's almost Hollywood East.
SR: You did this entire album in two weeks.
JL: Yes, we did all the pre-production, the writing took two weeks and then it was two weeks to record it and another seven days to mix. Our record up to this point was about five weeks. I usually spend the entire year we're touring working on songs, but we didn't do that this time.
SR: Any first takes?
JL: "AYM" (Angry Young Male) was a first take. We were on a plane to Japan for some shows at a U.S. Naval Base and Rick said he thought we should put a twist on the lyrics. He said I sang the song great but he was not crazy about the idea I was coming across with. Maybe I should re-think the lyrics. When we got back into the studio, I just sat there and wrote a whole set of new lyrics to the song with a tongue-in-cheek satirical look at the alternative thing. No one today has a reason to be angry or fed up. If they really want to rebel, go vote for the Green Party.
SR: There's a tip of the hat to the Stones here where you say it's a 'gas, gas, gas.'
JL: That's just paying a little respect to those guys.
SR: What's your take on all the '70s and '80s band coming back on the road?
JL: I think it's great. I'm not an alternative music basher because I grew up really liking what was alternative then. I liked Bowie, Bolan and a lot of different bands. I've always tried to be as broad minded as possible, but a lot of the attitude the kids that have the opportunity to play and record, for a lot of people just seem that they aren't really enjoying what they do. Maybe that's just an image they like to portray. One of don't like me, don't come and see me. I don't want to be famous.' It's a love/hate thing they have going on. They act as if they're not enjoying themselves to be cool. That's not what rock and roll is about. It never has been. Being in a band has to be the love of your life. Every time you step on stage whether it's for 100 or 100,000 people, it's got to be the equivalent to a great orgasm. You have to eat, sleep and drink it in. I think audiences like to be entertained. I don't think they want to listen to someone who's complete depressed and acting as if they don't want to be there. Hopefully, with these '70s bands coming back out it shows in the way they enjoy themselves and they put on the big show and entertain the hell out of he crowd. Maybe some of the band who've been influenced by those '70s bands will say "hey maybe I'm taking this slacker, I don't want to be here attitude" a little too far.
SR: It sounds good to me.
JL: I hope so. If they come out and see the Stones come out and absolutely blow the stage up somewhere and they go out and see KISS then maybe they'll start thinking "maybe there is something to this extravanganza, entertainment thing." Personally, if I spend $35 or more on a ticket I want to be entertained.
SR: "All For You" is a duet with who?
JL: Jerry is an part-owner in a studio with Stefan where we recorded this album. Stef is very into the industrial sound. He's very hip and he helped us by taking what we do and adding his little touch. His girlfriend was hanging out with us. I had heard her vocals on some music and I thought she sounded a little like Stevie Nicks so that was cool. I asked her to sing a little bit on a song with me and she did.
SR: The bongo opening on "Coffee House Jam" is too cool.
JL: The lyrics are a tongue twister. It says "I don't talk in clichŽs to people who are trying to stroke us...And if you want a place in this world you might want to go off and join a circus."
SR: I'm assuming that you wrote this one. It's always been your forte.
JL: The whole idea for that song was being over at Rick's in his little back room. We decided we had to all wake up, slightly hung over and tired. So we took off the Starbucks for a cup of coffee. We came back and started talking about the spoken poetry thing and the beatnik era with the run-on rambling sentences that somehow came full circle and tied themselves into one thought. Bobby just started playing that groove on the tom-toms. What if the beatniks had a stack of Marshalls.
SR: And for all those jazz freaks, you've thrown in a couple of instrumental jazz cuts coming in at 11 and 18 seconds.
JL: I had nothing to do with that. That was Jerry and Stef messing around. I had no idea they would be on the album. They called me up and asked if I minded and of course I said okay.
SR: I'm really into the megaphone voice.
JL: I do too. It's been around forever. It's just singing into a Green Bullet harmonica mic which people have literally been doing forever. It's come back around full circle. Back in the '80s when you wanted to something like that people said don't do that. It sound like you're singing into a bad mic. A person can only change their voice so much from song to song. Sometimes you have to change the effect on it or attack. Stevie Wonder, for instance, is absolutely one the world's greatest singers. He can play a Fender Rhoades and sing through one mic all night long and I'll be entertained. Other folks like myself to make it fun and to create different vibes it helps to have different toys to use. As we say, the landing planes voice.
SR: We're charting more industrial bands than any other year I can remember. I just think everyone is finally catching up to that whole scene.
JL: I first started to get interested in it when I heard a band called Front 242 with a song called "Headhunter." It had the looping and the industrial feel but it was dance/industrial. It was very primal and I liked it. Nine Inch Nails, of course, started making the whole thing accessible and commercial. I think Trent had a lot to do with the acceptance of that movement.
SR: How did you get signed by CMC International? Between CMC and Castle Records, they're bringing a lot of my favorites back into the limelight.
JL: To be completely honest, with the stigma that surrounded the band, it's been very difficult with the fact that the industry completely did a 180 on us and all of a sudden it was if you were out in the mid-to late '80s and you were playing hard rock and you had long hair, then you absolutely have no talent. You suck and it was the most pointless era for rock and roll ever. That kind of stigma is a real slap in the face because it's very close minded. As you know, everything is cyclical. Every thing that goes around, comes around. We weren't getting our calls returned by anybody. There was this guy, Tom Lipsky out of Zebulon, North Carolina, who called up and invited us to sign with him. He didn't believe that you could bash an entire decade of rock and roll and say it was pointless. That was enough for me. When it all comes around he'll be considered a very open minded person and one who saved a couple of bands. It's already paying off for him. He just sold 50% of his company to BMG. Now we have a field staff to work with and a lot of things we didn't have the first time around, but we're still indie. We're actually the alternative now. It's a fun way to look at it. I've always liked being the underdog.
SR: We all want to be underground but we also want to make a living at it. Are you hip to the Internet at all.
JL: I'm not hip at all. I know I need to get into it.
SR: Do you have an E-mail address?
JL: Yeah, Rick's girlfriend handles all that. She's setting up a website for the band. I'm not the most computer literate in the entire world but I do know what a fantastic tool it can be.
SR: What's the touring situation?
JL: We just finished six weeks with Vince Neil and Slaughter which went a lot better than anyone expected. We were doing as many as 8-10,000 a night. It was fun getting back into amphitheaters. I know a lot of band like to play clubs because it's more intimate, but that's not necessarily true. You want to play in front of as many people as possible and turn as many on to what you're doing. I'll play regardless of the size of the venue. We're releasing the record on October 1 and then planning to go out the middle or the end of October. We don't know who with as yet. We're working on a possible package with Jackyl or going out with one of the '70s bands. We've already had an offer from Deep Purple who's doing a reunion tour. We also got an offer from the Thin Lizzy boys who're coming out again. It's going to be the first time for them in probably well over a decade.
SR: One last thing. What's your message to all you fans?
JL: Well, absolutely to the fans who've stuck with us over the years, words don't really cut it. They've kept our life support system plugged in and I really, really appreciate that. A lot of people turned their back on us because it was extremely fashionable to dislike, and I'll go as strong as to hate all the Î80s bands, to include us, Skid Row, Motley Crue and others. I could never praise them enough. To those who'll come aboard this round, take the blinders off and don't let the industry or anyone else dictate to you, what you think is good music. Never not listen to a band because of the year they arrived on the scene or how they spell their name.
SR: Thanks for giving me a call. I'll see you at the first Austin date you get scheduled.
JL: Believe me we want to get into Texas. We've had some good times in Austin on 6th Street. A real party town with a lot of different kinds of music all in a couple of blocks. Texas has always been very broadminded with their music.