George Lynch of Souls of We
Meet Souls of We, the latest brainchild from guitar great George Lynch. When George Lynch puts together a band, he takes the time to get it right. It took him five years to put the final pieces together on his latest project, but the result, Let the Truth be Known, is a modern rock album that combines the musical genuis of Lynch with London Legrand’s (Brides of Destruction) unique lyric stylings.
The two hit it off immediately when they met years ago but unfortunately other commitments kept them from working together at the time. Both going their separate ways they met up again a few years later and the timing fell into place. They headed into Lynch’s studio and the rest is history. Rounding out the band is Johny Chow (Systematic, Fireball Ministry) on bass and Yael (Tom Morello, Alex Skolnick) on drums. The album also boasts a bevy of guest appearances including an all star list of drummers including Morgan Rose of Sevendust and Mike Wengren of Disturbed.
George recently dialed in to TWRY to talk to us about the making of the album, how the band fell into place and his thoughts on music and guitar icons through the years.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | January 2009
You call Souls of We a dream band because you were able to hand pick your band mates as you went along, what do you think it is about each member that made them the perfect fit for this project?
London and I had been friends for years but never really were able to get it together to play music together; we had a few false starts. When we finally did get in a room together in the studio to start creating it was like all this pent up creative juice that was just waiting to be released. It was like a liquid musical explosion. That’s a very sexual analogy isn’t it? We’re not gay, believe me.
You have called him your musical soul mate though, so that’s pretty close!
Yeah we always kid around about that. If I was gay, London would be my boyfriend. Nah, he’s an amazing guy, he’s so funny and he’s so smart, he’s got such a unique personal style that’s so genuine. The thing about London is you look at him and you think well he looks amazing, but is it contrived? Usually guys that look that Hollywood, it’s all put together and there’s no substance there; but in London’s case it actually is. He’s got really deep, southern blues, rootsy kind of stuff. He’s just got such a unique way of writing his poetry and expressing himself musically. It’s a good counterpart to what I do. He’s a little trippier than I am and I’m a little more nuts and bolts and so we complement each other very well and we have a great time just hanging out. Johny is very reserved; as most bass players are. Not the party animal guy or anything like that. He’s very deep in the business, very focused and centered and pragmatic, so that’s a good balancing factor. Yael is very trippy and hippy-ish and really in tune with being an activist; her music is related to the rest of the world and what she can do to make it a better place and I also align with that so it’s a really nice mix of cool, creative, intelligent people.
You already touched upon your working relationship with London – what is the writing process like for the two of you? Did you write the majority of the music and he wrote the lyrics or how did it work?
Yes the writing and the lyrics are two completely separate magistrates. I’m much more comfortable working on my own and creating a bed, so to speak, a foundation. With Dokken Jeff Pilson could pick up a guitar and then offer up an alternative chord or direction but London isn’t like that and I feel confident handling that part of it off to him. When I hand it to him he said it’s his dream music that he hears in his head that I write for him and he knows exactly where it’s suppose to go. He puts stuff on there that I would never imagine could go there and he just makes it work in a way that I never imagined would work so it’s kind of a mystery why it works but why question it. But everything is done pretty independently. I really respect him because although I accept ideas on my end I’m usually pretty self-contained with what I do, and he is as well, so I love to see that in a vocalist. He’s really passionate about it. He always one –ups himself and comes up with amazing stuff that just blows my mind.
I saw an interview where you said that a record should be an experience for a listener, not just a single here or there, do you feel like you’ve created the complete experience with Let the Truth be Known?
I think maybe 7/10ths of it yes. I have some disappointments personally with the way the record ends. I’m disappointed with the instrumental to a certain extent. There are parts of it I love but it just one of those songs I wrestled with over and over again. It was a song with vocals at one point, and I was just never satisfied with it. Also, Nork 13 was more of an afterthought. It was something that we recorded a long time ago for another project, but it’s an interesting little song. It’s strange. I think those two things and a couple other instances on the record just didn’t quite gel and I think after the five year process we were just done. You can keep making a record for your whole life but at some point we had to put a lid on it. There was a lot of pain involved, five years is a long time so we had to let it go. Having said that, I would say that three quarters of the record is a very gratifying experience and it amazes me that there’s continuity throughout the record considering it was done in such a convoluted way over such a long period of time.
For fans familiar with your previous projects, what makes this project different from Lynch Mob and Brides of Destruction?
It’s the total opposite end of a Lynch Mob record. We’re doing a Lynch Mob record right now and they are completely two different animals. Lynch Mob is much more organic, much simpler and much more spontaneous and bluesier. I guess you could call it a traditional blues/hard rock record. I think when people listen to this project compared to London’s past projects I think they’ll be elated because I think he really comes into his own on this record. The first Brides record was okay but it didn’t do him justice. I don’t think he was allowed to flourish and do everything he wanted to do but on this record he had complete liberty to do whatever he wanted to do, he had no restraint and with that type of freedom I think he went beyond himself. He’s a very substantive guy. As far as what I’m doing on here I think that I didn’t change up just to change up. This is really just a genuine expression of where we were at during that period of time in history, we captures it and sometimes its disappoint to see people who are old school diehard Dokken fans say “What the hell is this?” but free your mind a little bit. I wouldn’t have made this record in the eighties but I wouldn’t make an eighties record right now.
Souls of We Wants You!
There’s a few appearance from other musicians that you’ve played with in the past on this album. (Jeff Pilson, Mike Wengren, Andrew Freeman) Were those collaborations planned or did they just happen to be around at the time? How did things come together?
They all have different stories really. Mike Wengren (from Disturbed) and I had been talking because I had been friend with him off and on. I played with them at a couple of shows and they were big Dokken fans when they were kids so it was exciting for them and it was exciting for me, they’re a great band. Mike was all about playing on the record so he flew out from Chicago and we got together in my studio with Fred Leclercq (from Dragonforce) and recorded five songs. We were never able to get that back together again because Dragonforce and Disturbed were both touring heavily and so busy. I originally intended it to be just that band to record a record so I ended up pulling Morgan Rose (from Sevendust) in for a track and Yael on a track who’s now in the band, and Johny Chow on a track and Jeff Pilson plays on quite a bit of stuff. He lives close to me and we’re friends and talk all the time, so that was easy. I had a lot of friends who wanted to help me out, the biggest challenge was making the whole process sound like it had some continuity which we accomplished in the end pretty much. Mike Wengren has got the best sounding drums on the record and I’m regretful that he didn’t get to do the whole record that was really disappointing.
You came out of a music scene that gave us, You, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads – Fans look at that as the golden era of guitar – you were actually a part of that special time – when you look back, how do you remember those times?
Very competitive. Uncomfortably competitive. Guitar has always been that to a certain extent, even in my teens it was always about who was better than the guy down the block, so by nature I think it’s very competitive, which is cool. I think it can be a little weird in the sense that if it’s about one-upmanship then where does that really lead? The demise of the whole guitar shred thing that we saw in the latter part of the eighties where songs were vehicles for solos versus the other way around which is really what rock and roll is about. It’s about the message and the reaction to what’s going on in the world around us and an alternative viewpoint on the status quo. I think that’s the larger picture that people lost sight of in the early eighties. So I think for me the eighties was a vacuous period musically but it did produce some amazing technical guitar players. I certainly don’t look at them as icons that I look to like the players from the British Invasion and the guys from the early seventies like Clapton and Page.