GEORGE LYNCH – In 1983, Dokken released their first studio album, “Breaking The Chains”. The guitarist for Dokken was George Lynch. The legendary guitar status of George Lynch had just begun. Upon George Lynch departing Dokken, he founded his own Hard Rock band – Lynch Mob. The 1990 release of the critically acclaimed “Wicked Sensation” album gave Lynch Mob the launching pad to stardom. With that said, the life of a working musician and getting rich quick in the music business is easier said than done, as you will read in this candid interview Hard Rock Hideout had with George Lynch.
Every guitar player knows or should know who George Lynch is. While every fan of 1980’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal knows him as “Mr. Scary” as well, a nickname taken from his guitar instrumental heard on the 1987 Dokken album “Back For The Attack”. A nickname and legendary status aside, George Lynch comes across as a musician that is as dedicated to the business side of music as he is to his ultra exemplary guitar playing. Much can be learned from a conversation with George Lynch, he has as the cliche’ goes… seen and heard it all.
George Lynch graciously devoted some time to Hard Rock Hideout recently, to discuss the current Lynch Mob tour, the business side of music, guitar influences, a Dokken concert experience in Belfast that turned into the bizarre and his admiration for his kids. George Lynch has proven to this writer, that there is so much more to him than his legendary guitar leads and jaw dropping solos. Here is what George had to say:
HRH: Lynch Mob is ready to embark on a Summer tour of the States, which city or venue are you looking forward to most?
George: We will be navigating the U.S. in a sprinter van, gorilla style. To be completely honest, I don’t pick apart the itinerary, we get there when we get there is the way I do things. Anytime we are at a place where the chemistry comes together it’s great. I take one bad and one good experience at a time. Theaters are the best to play in. Unlike a club or arena, a theater is designed to sound good. The House Of Blues is great, you can’t beat a wood stage and a great PA.
HRH: Does it feel like old times or the first time, reuniting with Oni Logan?
George: Well, we’ve been back together actually for two years. It’s not old times, yet we have the same chemistry and like the same music. It’s investing in the machine that sets the band for years. In the old days, when a band was set, we were a band of brothers, experiencing everything together through the ups and downs. Today, it is very hard to keep a band together at this level. Lynch Mob really has nothing to lose, I haven’t achieved so much success where I can afford the resources to have this band stay together. I’m in the middle, where there is enough resources to make an album and do some touring. I’ve just lost two members of this band, they are going to go where the money is.
HRH: Really? Two members have left?
George: My bass player, Michael Devin, has gone on to join Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. My drummer, Brian Tichy, will be going to play for Whitesnake next year. A band like Metallica, they can afford to stay together!
HRH Note: James LoMenzo (formerly with Megadeth, David Lee Roth) has joined Lynch Mob as their new bass guitarist for the American and European 2010 tour.
HRH: “Smoke And Mirrors” really resonates Hard Rock glory, with plenty of Hard Rock relevance. Is it difficult to side step the heavy sound of the 80’s?
George: It’s not like you intentionally side step, you evolve and change over time. You can’t be what you were twenty or twenty-five years ago. AC/DC doesn’t change and it works for them. I enjoy change and an adventure, I like to be challenged. There are times it can get a little bit treacherous based on the component of business we’re in and the sound and style doesn’t adhere to it consistently. You can lose your audience with a drastic change and it’s not always a luxury to change . Jack White with White Stripes, he can change from album to album and still sell a ton of records. (Lynch Mob) “Smoke This” was a change for me, (released in 1999), it was a Rap record. The fans and critics hated it. I listened to it recently and I’m like, damn I love this!
HRH: “Time Keepers” is my favorite song on “Smoke And Mirrors”, your guitar solo is so intense.
George: It’s my favorite too!
HRH: That’s cool!
HRH: What is your secret to a memorable guitar solo?
George: There are different kinds of solo’s. In the Dokken era, there was always a story within a song, a beginning, end and body to it. This could leave a solo very constrained. I like the band of gypsy’s style of solo, where you forget about yourself and the surroundings and I find it all comes together. I like when a solo is not premeditated, when it’s random and not structured. Then there is a formulated solo done in the studio, it’s put together piece by piece. Then you can selectively fix the solo. A random solo is like streamed consciousness, that is what happened with that solo on “Time Keepers”.
HRH: How difficult is it to balance both the melodic and heavy side of guitar playing?
George: It is a balancing act. Rhythm wise, I enjoy listening to Lamb Of God, the impact and sheer weight of that tone I love. The super Metal tone is so much fun. When I do that I give up something, I’ve never found a middle ground. I did the down tuning thing and with solo’s I struggled, both tone wise and tuning wise. Songs I wrote in the past were built on configuration, Dokken and Lynch Mob are not down tuning stuff.
HRH: Crossing Rock genres, who is the young guitarist today, that impresses George Lynch?
George: There are so many in recent years. I like listening to the Neo-Classic European shred guys! Alexi Laiho from Children Of Bodom, Jeff Loomis from Nevermore and Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth. In Country Music it’s Brad Paisley. Derek Trucks is an incredible slide guitarist. I listen to many players.
HRH: Who are the guitarists that influenced you?
George: Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck are two primary early influences. I lived with their records and played them through, non stop. Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page round out the big four for me.
HRH: Doesn’t get any better than those four. Are there any other influences throughout the years?
George: Johnny Winter, Leslie West, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen. Jan Akkerman of Focus and Blues-Rock guitarist Peter Green. All the blues guys. In my fantasy world I would be a guitar player for Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
HRH: Your rightfully looked upon as a guitar legend in the Rock Music world. How underrated is Oni Logan as a lead vocalist?
George: Oni is one of those singers that will stand the test of time. There will come a day when he will be looked upon as an iconic Rock vocalist. Oni is Blues based like Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers. He’s right there. He is a great songwriter. Oni is very conscientious live now, he has had great performances on the road. He has changed his behavior and is very careful about how he presents and takes care of himself. Time is on his side
HRH: What is your favorite song to cover?
George: There are quite a few. I released my “Furious George” album of all covers back in 2004. Deep Purple’s “Stormbringer” is fun to cover. Any Montrose and Led Zeppelin. Any Jimi Hendrix as well. A great jam song is Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”, it’s just a fun song to play.
HRH: What’s the greatest advice ever given by George Lynch about playing guitar?
George: Good question. In a nutshell, be yourself, it is so important. I see a lot of guitar players that are amazing technically, only nothing sounds like them. When I see a guitarist that is just like Eddie Van Halen or Stevie Ray Vaughn, I have to stop and say we already have an Eddie! We had Stevie! I’m so bad at mimicking other people that it comes out my own way, through my own sound.
HRH: What is the funniest or craziest thing that you have ever witnessed while on tour?
George: Well, let’s see, there are a few that come to mind. Dokken was on tour in Belfast and the IRA problems were happening, it was like a war zone. We were playing in a theater with Accept, while the context of a civil war was happening. People were openly using drugs and having sex in the audience. Hundreds of people were spitting on us and my neck was dripping with saliva. Jeff Pilson (bass guitarist) actually had spit land in his mouth. Our tour bus was fire bombed at this same show.
HRH: My God, George, that’s terrible.
George: Well, we asked the fans what went wrong.
HRH: What fans? The ones who were spitting on you?
George: No, the ones who were hanging around after the show that we could approach outside. They said that showed they really liked you and you wouldn’t want to know what happens if they didn’t like you!
HRH: Talk about a backwards society.
George: The people were victims of their environment.
HRH: Is a live Lynch Mob album out of the question for the future?
George: It hasn’t been discussed. Historically, they say at the end of the life cycle of a band is a live record. A live record is expected to rehash the older stuff. It just shows there is less fuel for the fire and your running out of ideas. It’s the bottom of the bell curve, the swan song of a band. Lynch Mob has to achieve success first, before a future live record happens.
HRH: Looking back on your career, who is the one person that you entrust the most?
George: All the components of the music business I’m so preoccupied with, creating opportunities for our music to be heard someday. I’m a salesman more than a guitar player! Over the course of my day it’s all business and most things don’t even pan out.
HRH: Your just a gentleman who loves and lives for his music.
George: Well, the business end and politics of the music business is very challenging. When people ask me to contribute to a record there is a lot of business management involved, I just can’t walk in and play a solo, it’s more complicated than people know. There are a number of things involved on the business end that have costs, a studio, equipment, maintaining a rig and people that work for you. I design guitars, pickups and amps, so ninety percent of the weight in the music business is office work and using the phones. It’s about keeping it all together and having all the elements in place. I hope this hasn’t made you depressed.
HRH: No George, it hasn’t made me depressed. You are just telling it like it is and being real. You are talking about the reality side of being a musician and running the business end of it. Fans need to know this side of it.
George: With Lynch Mob, we will be doing eleven thousand miles in a van for this tour, with a skeleton crew. We will be sharing equipment and rooms. I’m a working musician and not a rich man. Just because my picture is in a book doesn’t mean I’m wealthy. Yet once we get on stage for that one hour, it’s all worth it. On stage is the payoff, playing for the fans, compared to how little financially you get out of it.
HRH: What long lasting memory will you always have of Ronnie James Dio?
George: I had an Elf record as a kid! I was on board early on in the Rainbow years too. Listening to Ronnie James Dio on the “Heaven And Hell” record, what a massive sounding album! Ronnie was a multi-dimensional singer. We did a couple of Dio tours with Dokken as well. I remember Ronnie James Dio as being a caring, compassionate and kind human being. After so many years in this business, the character of people means more than anything else. It’s character that Ronnie James Dio possessed.
George: I have six kids and five grand kids.
HRH: George, that’s excellent!
George: Why, do you think that’s a great achievement?
HRH: Of course it is George. Having a family like that is something special, family is so important.
George: Songs are like your children, it’s just trying to get them to be songs that are special. Making songs is like having sex, that’s the easy part. There is a lot of work in trying to make a song standout. I teach to my kids a good work ethic and character. I teach them to treat people kind. I have wonderful human beings for kids and I am very proud of them.