When George Lynch started digging into the writing process for his latest solo album Kill All Control, the intent was to write a new Souls of We album however, what would follow is a solo album with contributions from four different lead vocalists and a bevy of guest appearances. On vocals the album offers up tracks with London LeGrand (Souls of We), Will Marten (Earshot), Marc Torien ( Bulletboys), and Keith St. John ( Montrose) – why pick one lead singer when you can showcase four of the best!
Kill All Control also features “Son of Scary”, a song that follows up one of Lynch’s most beloved instrumental tracks written during his time in Dokken, “Mr. Scary”. “Son of Scary” also has a guest appearance on it, Cinderella drummer Fred Coury offers up his skin-bashing for the recording.
With a new solo album, a new Lynch Mob album in the works and a Lynch Mob tour on tap, you’d think that George would be short on free time, but somehow he’s managed to launch his own custom guitar company called ” Mr. Scary Guitars” selling custom, hand carved, guitars he creates – each one like a piece of art.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with George to talk about the new solo album, Lynch Mob, his career and his new guitar company.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Did your new solo album Kill All Control start out as a George Lynch solo record or did the project have a different intent initially?
It was originally going to be the second Souls of We record. Really all that’s changed is that instead of having one vocalist, I had four vocalists on this record. That occurred primarily as a series of events that were really unpredictable and totally out of my control, kind of like turning lemons into lemonade. I still intended it to be a Souls of We record but then it didn’t make a whole lot of sense when we were done with it because (for one thing) how are you going to tour with four singers? My name is a little more recognizable than the Souls of We brand so it made more sense to be released as a solo album. The record company wanted it that way so we went with it.
Who are some of the guest musicians that worked with you on Kill All Control?
Will Marten (Earshot) sang on a few tracks with me. They were on Elektra (as I was during my years in Dokken) so we had a mutual friendship. There was a point in time a few years ago that I was hoping to work with him on another project and we met in the studio but he passed on it because he was working on something else at the time. I got lucky this time around because I caught him at the right moment and he was inspired by the music and he really made these tracks his own and did a wonderful job. I always loved Will because he has it all in terms of a vocalist. He had a bad rap for awhile as a Maynard James Keenan clone because his band was somewhat ‘Toolish” but I think he does his own thing and especially now because these tracks are very hook orientated. His music is very personal and it doesn’t come from a silly place. He’s a very deep guy and really thinks about a lot of different things that come though in his music. I also had Keith St. John (Montrose, Burning Rain) aboard to sing three tracks. He was working with Jeff Pilson and I earlier this year on another project (that’s not yet completed) that I thought might be the next Lynch Mob record. Keith was in on that project helping us out on some of the vocals and I’ve worked with him and played gigs with him in the LA area here and there and the one thing about Keith that I have admired the most is that he is a really hard worker. He’s very dedicated to his craft and puts in 110% into anything he gets involved with. He never says NO to me! Marq Torien (Bulletboys) came in at the last moment to kind of fill in the gaps because we were not certain that Will was going to end up on the record. I thought I might have to replace him but fortunately that was not the case. Marq came in under not ideal conditions and very quickly came up with some great melodies. Lastly London Legrand came back to the band after going through some personal things and contributed quite a bit to this project. I think what he was going through was very reflective in the song and first single “Wicked Witch”. It’s the best I have ever heard him sing on anything. It was something he and I had worked on at his place many, many, many months ago. We just let it go and I had thought I may have to have someone else sing it but he came back and he internalized all of the stuff we had worked on. He changed it up a bit for the better and he has to be very proud of himself for what he did on that song. If the band does ever go out London would handle all of the vocals on the tour.
Speaking of touring will you go out on the road in support of this or will you be out this summer with Lynch Mob?
Lynch Mob. I’m all Lynch Mob right now for as long as the market will sustain us. The record I talked about earlier that I was working on with Jeff Pilson (it has actually been put on the back burner for now and it’s something Jeff and I will finish later) was the start of the new Lynch Mob record. We are actually starting the recording of it right now and we are reworking some of that session work into this new album. I’m glad we rewrote it because Jeff and I have a certain chemistry and it’s great. We both love working with each other but it’s not Lynch Mob if it’s not the band writing it. That’s the disconnect that occurred in trying to bring Jeff into the fold for a Lynch Mob project. Oni (Logan) listened to it liked it but said it’s not Lynch Mob. He was right actually. We are writing some great stuff right now. Scott Coogan (Brides of Destruction, Stephen Pearcy, Ace Frehley) on drums, Robbie Crane (Vince Neil Band , RATT) on bass, Oni Logan on vocals and me on guitar. The album will get done hopefully sometime this year but Lynch Mob will be out on the road starting in July no matter what. The touring plans are not clear right now. We had a proposed Mr. Big, Kings X and Lynch Mob tour in place but that fell apart. I have to just learn to shut the hell up sometimes because only one out of every 10 proposals actually ever materializes. We want to play everywhere. It’s not like I have someone calling me saying George do you want to play Boston? We realize we have missed the New England area the last few years but it’s not done with any specific intent. Some things are a bit out of my control.
Talk about the follow up to “Mr. Scary” called “Son of Scary” another great new track featured on Kill All Control.
That happened because a few years ago Guitar Hero approached me and were interested in using “Mr. Scary” on a future release. So I talked to the guys (Jeff Pilson, Mick Brown, and Don Dokken) because it is a Dokken song and Jeff and Mick seemed fine with it but Don” lawyered up” and made life difficult for everyone and scared Guitar Hero away with a barrage of phone calls from his attorney so the deal fell apart. The mistake I made with my all for one mentality on that song really came back to bite me in the ass years later in trying to get the rights to use that song because it is a Dokken song. I never had a problem giving ¾ of the money away but what I hadn’t realized was that I would be giving away ¾ control away of the song as well and I need everyone to sign off when the song gets used elsewhere. Well one person killed the deal and it really pissed me off. It wasn‘t a huge amount of money but it was the principal of the thing and the importance to me as a guitar player to be included in the franchise. Well I then decided to create “Son of Scary” which I did. Guitar Hero started to suffer from poor sales and as of February 2011 they disbanded any further development of any new games. The song has new life on this new record and I think my hardcore fans will love it.
George talk a little about Mr. Scary Guitars and your involvement in it?
I have my own company not affiliated (directly) with ESP guitars called Mr. Scary Guitars. What happened was that I had to have back surgery (stemming from a night mountain biking accident in the mid 90’s) and was actually playing shows in a wheelchair believe it or not for awhile and was on doctor’s orders to stay home and rest which was more painful than the injury itself because I’m so restless! I started to do artwork to occupy my time and be creative and so forth and started to assembly stuff from junk. Then Matt from ESP came to me and asked me if I would sign a few guitars and maybe do a little something to them, wood burning or something unique to the body of the guitar. It just evolved from that creative restlessness to helping out ESP and morphed into what I now have with this new company. It all just worked out so well. I do these all by hand from scratch. Originally I was creating them off of ESP flat forms now it’s all from my own creation and I love it. They are unique creations with the inlays all carved out. What’s funny is that people think I have nothing better do and have tons of time on my hands (which is completely untrue) and that these guitars are wall hangers, which they are not. These will outperform anything you own, that I can promise you. I have some terrific testimonials on the site and just had a great review done in Guitar Player Magazine. They did a pro and con breakdown and the only negative they had to say was that they are expensive. If Eddie Van Halen or Slash or Zakk Wylde built a guitar by hand in their back yard it would be expensive right? They run anywhere between $4-8,000 dollars per guitar. I just built one called The Snake Hunter. Killed the rattlesnake, ate the meat and put the blood into the red paint and carved it all out and included the rattlesnake skin across the whole guitar. Seymour pickups, stainless steel frets, this thing is loaded.
Based on your last appearance on That Metal Show and the year that has passed since then how would you describe your relationship with Don Dokken?
I have a better relationship with my ex-wives (horrible at best) than I do with Don right now. It’s not very good at all.
If you look back at the 1997 Dokken album Shadowlife and 1999 Lynch Mob album Smoke This do you think the hardcore audience of each band just didn’t identify where the direction of those albums were going?
No question. The Shadowlife record was a weak record. Dokken was not a real tight band at that time. A lot of that had to do with where we were all scattered in different states. We didn’t practice or hang out together and the album had no real direction. There are a few good moments on it. Not my best record in fact maybe it’s my worst record. Definitely has THE worst cover on any Dokken album I was on by far. Smoke This was George not giving a shit what people thought of me at the time. We all want to sell records because we want people to hear our music but I think the timing was wrong. I’m not a business man by any means and I’m constantly amazed at the twists and turns of this business. As much as I think about it I never get it right. I should not have called the band “Lynch Mob” I should have called it “Lynch Biscuit”. The record company wanted the known brand but I wanted to call it something else. Looking back I should have insisted on it. At the end of the day it really didn’t boost sales by calling it Lynch Mob. It was a really fun, challenging record to be involved in. The audience hated us on that tour but Fuck’em the band had talent and we had a lot of fun in spite of it. The band took a heap of shit on that tour and we were criticized throughout most of the dates but we survived.
In 2003 you recorded an album of Dokken and Lynch Mob material called Revolution with vocalist Robert Mason. In retrospect do you wish you had done another album of original material with Mason at the time and are you at all surprised that he seems to have found a home with Warrant?
I’m not all surprised he has found success with Warrant because Robert is an amazing singer and a consummate professional. I just did a radio anniversary show with a station in LA with Robert and Mick and we did some Lynch Mob songs and he nailed them! Of course I would have rather done a new record in 2003. It comes down to a business decision and we were offered a deal to record the tracks that had already been written and to re-record them. It wasn’t financially feasible for us to go into the studio and write a bunch of new songs with no deal. It’s a lot easier to go into the studio to rework something you have already written and just do it a different way. It was fun for all of us. Making a new record is like making a movie. It can take a long time. Kill All Control took two years to make. I wanted to do it in one month. I wrote the thing in 10 days and recorded all of the guitars in 2 weeks. You have to learn to have a ton of patience in the studio. In can take years off your life if you let it get to you. I get hired a lot to do studio work and guest on so many tribute albums and I love it. The song is already written, they have an outside producer, they have their own sound and mix they want and I just have to go in play guitar. It’s a short amount of time and no pressure or deadlines or drama. Revolution was the best of both worlds. Anthony happened to be in town at the time and they wanted Robert on vocals and back in the band and had hoped to springboard Lynch Mob back again to that 2nd lineup success that we had 10 years previous.
The Lynch Mob story has had quite a few different twists and turns along the way have you ever considered putting out a George Lynch/Lynch Mob live DVD retrospect with footage from the first tour with Logan, the 2nd tour with Mason, the comeback tour in 1998 with John West, the 2003 tour as the George Lynch Group where you played tracks from Sacred Groove, the 2008 tour with M. Mendoza and T. Aldridge and other rarities and TV appearances?
I’m exhausted just hearing you read that question let alone try and tackle that type of project!! You’re trying to give me more shit to do!! It’s a great idea and I may want to put something out at some point but at the same time I don’t want to look back. People at the end of their career may want to do mop up releases and best of and a live record and a bunch of stuff we never intended to release on a few different albums and put that out as a new record. Mentally I’m not there at all. I’m still reaching for that brass ring. I feel a creative fire right now that’s not slowing down. I still feel like that young kid in the garage just starting out and trying to get to the top of the mountain. But because it’s a really cool idea Roger I’m going to put that on my “to-do” list.
What are your best memories of the Hearing Aid project of 1985 and of working with Ronnie James Dio?
That was the guitar player jam of the century for sure. Other than Eddie not being there it was really amazing. I was really disappointed the way they edited “Stars” as a single track. It just ran on too long and it was tough to distinguish one guitar player from another. The video was actually a better way to experience the song because you could tell and see who played what lead. I just hope the money actually went to help the cause because Ethiopia really needed it. We did a few tours with Ronnie and all my memories are good ones.
Looking back at your entire musical career if you were allowed to go back in time for one day change any one event or decision that you made what would it be and why?
Image wise I have some regrets, boy some of those outfits in the 80’s were something!! Really every event is like a coin with two sides. I can sit here and critique certain times in my career but if it hadn’t been for those events something else would not have happened. In the final analysis I feel fortunate that I have supported my family as a working musician all of my adult life. I’ve had ups and downs of course but I’m very grateful for that. Hell my heroes are the guys that work in the mines and die of black lung disease trying to support their families and don’t ever get recognized. I get recognized all over the world for playing guitar. I often think about that and as hard as I work at my craft I’m still just playing guitar. I make a reasonably good living doing something that is kind of gay if you think about it!! No regrets. Dokken was not my dream band. But we sold millions of records and played in front of millions of people so what’s wrong with that?
For more on George Lynch and Kill All Control, visit his official website
Listen to the song “Wicked Witch” from Kill All Control here
* Live photo of George Lynch used courtesy of photographer Kevin Baltes