When most people discuss potential supergroups, the last combination of artists they toss around are Michael Sweet of Stryper and George Lynch of Lynch Mob, Shadow Train and Dokken.
Yet these two masters of shred have joined forces for Only to Rise, the debut album from their new project, Sweet & Lynch, that will be released January 27.
Joining the Sweet & Lynch adventure are bassist James Lomenzo [Megadeth, White Lion] and drummer Brian Tichy [Whitesnake, Foreigner, Ozzy Osbourne].
From the opening notes of the “The Wish” to songs like “Dying Rose,” “Love Stays” and “September,” it’s evident the blend of Sweet’s unmistakable voice and Lynch’s signature guitar tone has yielded exceptional results.
I recently caught up with Lynch to find out more about Only to Rise and get an update on the new Lynch Mob record, Sun Red Sun, and his Shadow Nation documentary and Shadow Train band projects. Lynch also puts to rest any rumors of a Dokken reunion.
GUITAR WORLD: How did the collaboration with Michael Sweet begin?
Lynch Mob and Stryper share an agent, and we’ve done a few tours together. During a few of those dates here and there, Michael and I would hang out and casually start talking about the idea of working together. We enjoyed each other’s company and had mutual respect for each other musically and as people. It was a good fit. So when the opportunity from Frontiers Records came along to do this record, it was an easy decision. Just a handshake and off to the races!
Born out of the jam sessions of drummer Ray Luzier (Korn), bassist dUg Pinnick (King’s X) and guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob), KXM’s self-titled album is an inspired collection of song and musicality that stretches the limits of traditional power trios.
Taking its name from the combination of each member’s ‘day jobs’, KXM delivers a very deep, thought provoking debut. Songs like “Stars”, “Rescue Me” and “I’ll Be Ok” showcase elements from each’s respective bands, but the album is more than worthy to stand on its own. For a project that was neither pre-determined or planned, there’s a lot of unique interaction going on within the confines of KXM. It’s the trio’s strong musicianship and creative personalities that’s produced such an inspired, eclectic album.
In addition to KXM, guitarist George Lynch is working on several other projects, including a second Dokken-esque album with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown and another super-group project with Michael Sweet (Stryper), James Lomenzo (Megadeth, White Lion) and Brian Tichy (S.U.N, Whitesnake). He’s also in the finishing stages of editing the “Shadow Nation” documentary. A film which illuminates the cost of destruction of the Native American community; to both the indigenous population as well as to their European conquerors.
I spoke with Lynch about KXM and also got an update on some of his other projects.
How did the KXM project come about?
Initially, the three of us were together at Ray’s house for a birthday party and wound up hanging out in the studio. That was when one of us brought up the idea of maybe throwing some stuff down. And it wasn’t like we all just went home the next day and didn’t think about it again. We kept following up and enthusiastically pursued it. The interesting thing is that we didn’t do any pre-production or write any songs going in. We just found this eight-day window of opportunity where we all trucked our gear up to this place in the mountains. We all hung out there and just started writing. It was that simple.
How would you describe the sound of this album?
One of the good things about this record is that it has a unique sound and formula to it, and that’s a product of the chemistry of the three of us. We had no preconceived idea of what we were going to write. Maybe I would come up was a riff that was a little “Lynch Mobby”. Then Ray would come in with a beat that was more syncopated, tribal and complex. Then dUg would come in and do things that were very unique and unexpected, which I loved.
What was the process for writing lyrics?
dUg wrote most of the lyrics. He and I got together for a few days at my studio. We really got to know each other and had a lot of long talks and I really enjoyed that. Some of the subject matter from our conversations late into the night translated into the lyrics. dUg’s lyrics are very personal, but those are the kind that really resonate with people more than anything else. You’re telling the story or describing the emotion. It’s direct, meaningful and cathartic.
What do you enjoy most about these collaborative projects?
I enjoy playing different kinds of music and building something up from nothing and turning it into something tangible. Also, most of the people I play with I love musically and as people. I like to say that my bands are like my second family. They’re people you care about, respect and create with. Even if it’s just a brief relationship on a project or for something that’s more longstanding.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Dokken Tooth and Nail album. What are your thoughts when you think back to those days?
That album was the turning point for Dokken. We had already done one record [Breaking The Chains] and had learned a lot, but were really determined to let people know that we mattered. Tooth and Nail was our real shot to prove that we had what it took to be where we thought we should be. We had a lot of energy and a lot to prove and were also starting to mature in our songwriting and tightening up as a band. All of that really peaked with the Under Lock And Key album, but I think what people love about Tooth and Nail is that it really captured the band when it was very hungry.
What’s the status of the second T&N album?
We’ve got six Dokken re-records finished but are going to change things up a bit. We’ve been talking about it and there are two things that could happen. First, we’ll change the name of the project and instead of using multiple singers, we’ll stick with two dedicated ones: [Jeff] Pilson and possibly Michael Sweet. Michael has such an angelic voice and a great sense of melody and hooks. It’s an obvious, wonderful replacement for the Dokken-esque sound that we’re known for. But then there’s a very slight chance that it could actually become a Dokken record, if a miracle happens and Don decides to play ball and play fair.
What can you tell me about your other collaboration with Michael Sweet, Brian Tichy and James Lomenzo?
It should be out sometime this Summer. Anyone who loves the older Dokken stuff and Michael Sweet is going to love this record. It sounds like the Dokken record we should have done after our last big one (Back For The Attack).
Do you have an update on the Shadow Nation Film and Shadow Train band project?
We’ve been working really hard on finishing up the editing. It’s a complicated process that takes a lot of man hours but we’re very close to finishing and then it will move on to post (production). After that, we’ll have the business of distributing it, getting it out to people and into film festivals. What I’m excited about too (beyond the film) is the record. Initially, we recorded a one CD record a few years ago that has a 70′s vibe to it. Then we went back in the studio a few more times and decided to go in a whole different direction. We went heavier and more in your face. Afterwards, we realized that we had really evolved as a band and with our writing and decided to put it out as a double CD. So, there will be a volume one and two with 19 songs that will be the companion to the film/DVD. It’s a very eclectic soundtrack.
What other projects are you working on?
Right at the moment, I’m working with Mandy Lion and an engineer and a programmer who came out of the Rob Zombie & Nine Inch Nails camps. We’ve finished seven songs a few weeks ago and have another big session where we’ll finish up the writing and recording of the basics for the rest of the record. I’m also working on another project called The Infidels with Sal and Pancho, the rhythm section from War. They’re monster funk/rock players who are just great. It’s a fun bunch of heavy, jammy funk songs with a Hendrix “Band Of Gypsys” kind of vibe.
Will Lynch Mob be touring this year?
We have some dates coming up in April and then we’ll be going to Europe this summer for some of the big festivals. We also have some plans for the States once we get back.
Has there been one moment over the course of your career that you consider most memorable?
There’s been a lot of beautiful moments and smaller ones that were just as gratifying. There was the Loud Park gig that Lynch Mob did last October in front of 25,000 people where we tore it up. That was beautiful. But then it could just be in a little club packed with 300 people. Where it’s all hot and sweaty and you just come out and blow the doors off. Or it could be as simple as a solo in the studio that you just nail. There are a lot of those kind of moments that stand out. There really isn’t just one.
For more on KXM, check out the band’s official site by Clicking Here
After tracking songs for what was once to become a new Lynch Mob album, drummer Brian Tichy proposed the idea of bringing together George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown (the “Big Three” of Dokken) for a project similar to what Heaven & Hell was to Black Sabbath.
The result is T&N, and a new album, Slave to the Empire.
The album is packed with melodic, thought-provoking music that captures the spirit and magic of the classic metal genre. Featuring seven original songs (with Pilson on vocals) as well as five re-recorded Dokken classics with vocal performances by Tim “Ripper” Owens, Doug Pinnick (Kings X), Sebastian Bach and Robert Mason (Warrant), Slave to the Empire also adds to the mix the hard-hitting, multi-talented drumming of Brian Tichy.
A second album of new material and classic Dokken songs is slated for next year that will also coincide with a tour.
I spoke with Lynch to get his thoughts on Slave to the Empire as well as his other passion: the documentary Shadow Train.
goJimmygo (gJg): What’s the genesis of the T&N project?
George Lynch (GL): Initially, Jeff [Pilson] and I were writing for what we thought would be the new Lynch Mob record, but it turned out not to be a “Lynch Mob” kind of album. Instead, we decided to turn lemons into lemonade and do our own record. One of things we wanted to do was make a concerted effort to make the connection between our Dokken legacy and our newer writing efforts by combining classic Dokken songs alongside our newer compositions.
gJg: Was there ever thought given to an all original Dokken reunion?
GL: There’s always been talk of it, but it went nowhere, obviously.
gJg: What was it like revisiting the Dokken material again?
GL: It was a little surreal recording those songs again with the same guys. It was also a lot of fun. We were so comfortable with the material, having all been playing it on and off for years. We felt that we could liven the music up and bring new life to it.
gJg: How do you come up with your riffs?
GL: I can’t really say how it works. I think that after listening to all of the music I grew up with, a creative synthesis occurs and something just flows through me. As long as I’ve got a good sound, I just plug-in and with the magic of the studio, inspiration hits. It’s an adventure. The thing is, you never know what’s going to happen when you plug-in and get together with a group of guys and start creating.
gJg: Does Slave to the Empire have a message?
GL: Absolutely. The whole record’s a message. On the surface, people might say that it’s a political one, but I prefer to call it an exploration into truth and human nature. That’s really the job of the arts and music specifically; to convey a message beyond what the music might imply. Historically, that’s how it was done in the past, especially during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Rock and roll music was a catalyst and vehicle for change and we felt the need to take up that torch and continue to do that as best we can.
gJg: Are there plans to tour with T&N?
GL: We’re not going to tour together as a band most likely until next fall, upon the release of the second record. The next record is about half done. All of the Dokken material has been recorded. We just have to finish writing the new original material.
gJg: What Dokken songs can fans expect on the next album?
GL: Songs like “When Heaven Comes Down,” “Til The Livin’ End” and “Just Got Lucky.” “Just Got Lucky” actually ended up being insane. The latest plan is to have Sass Jordan, a wonderful Canadian female vocalist, singing it. She has a very soulful and gritty voice. It’s just beautiful. A wonderful rendition of the song.
gJg: Have you ever considered writing a book about your life and experiences?
GL: I’m not really a big fan of the rock biography. I think they’re more self-indulgent and full of a lot of self-congratulatory stuff. Throwing a bunch of people under the bus and throwing a lot of dirt out there. I’m more consumed with the work at hand and moving on. Affecting change through music. The music actually serves the same purpose as the book. I get to tell stories in the context of the song.
gJg: What other projects are you working on?
GL: Right now, I’m working on a record with the drummer from Korn [Ray Luzier] and the singer from Kings X [Doug Pinnick]. A still-unnamed project, but we’ve started writing and will be working on that through the middle of December.
The other thing that consumes most of my time is my movie project (and band) called Shadow Train. We’re doing a lot of filming, playing and working on a soundtrack/record. The film deals with a lot of political and human nature issues and history. I’m working with a lot of really great people, including Mark McLaughlin (a producer from PBS and The Documentary Channel) and Vincent Nicastro, who made another Native American themed documentary called The Blue-Eyed Indian. There are a lot of guests on it: street poets, political thinkers and speakers. People from the native community including medicine men and shamans. It’s a powerful, nerve hitting film. We’re all driven by passion.
gJg: Is there a tentative release date for the film?
GL: We’re hoping fall 2013, but that might be wishful thinking. Making a film is much more difficult than making a record, which is difficult enough. [laughs]
gJg: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Dokken hit “Dream Warriors” from Nightmare on Elm Street. How did that song come about?
GL: It’s kind of interesting that you ask me about that because I was actually just over Jeff’s last week doing some T&N photo shoots and interviews for Japan. We were in his studio and he had the original recording machine that we used to track that song. It was an old Akai Beta Recorder; an obsolete machine that’s just a monster. Jeff still has it. It was interesting to see that again because I do remember the process of writing and recording that song and it took me back.
We were commissioned to write the song specifically for the film. Jeff and I were familiar with the first movie and already had an idea of what we were writing. We knew the name of the song and the premise and concept of the movie. We just fed off of that.
It’s a beautiful moment whenever Jeff, Mick and I get together.
After tracking songs for what was once to become a new Lynch Mob album, it was drummer Brian Tichy who proposed the idea of bringing together George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown (The “Big 3″ of Dokken) for a project similar to what Heaven & Hell was to Black Sabbath. The result is T&N and a brand new album, Slave to the Empire.
The new album is both melodic and thought provoking music with a purpose. The message being, you don’t have to be a slave to the empire. Featuring seven original songs (with Pilson on vocals) as well as five re-recorded Dokken classics with vocal performances by Tim“Ripper” Owens, Doug Pinnick (Kings X), Sebastian Bach, and Robert Mason (Warrant). Slave To The Empire also adds to the mix the hard hitting, multi-talented drumming of Tichy as well.
A second album of new material and classic remakes of Dokken material is slated for next year that will also coincide with a tour.
I spoke with George Lynch to get his thoughts on Slave to The Empire as well as his other passion: the documentary “Shadow Train”.