By: Robert Cavuoto
George Lynch is one of the most recognizable names in the world of heavy metal guitar. With a career spanning more than thirty years, George has recorded more than twenty albums, toured the entire globe many times, and is the one of the most recognizable endorsers of the world’s finest guitars and equipment. He now has releases his eleventh solo album in nearly twenty years, Kill All Control.
Kill All Control combines many of Lynch’s varied styles and histories, including a reflection back to earlier days which spawned a follow up to the instrumental Dokken track, “Mr. Scary”, called “Son Of Scary” featuring Fred Coury of Cinderella on drums. Additional guests on the album include a variety of known singers. Will Marten (Earshot), Marc Torien (Bullet Boys), and Keith St. John (Montrose) and of course London LeGrand all joined in on the new album which is an eclectic listening experience. I had a chance to talk to George about his upcoming release, guitars and let him set the record straight on the Dokken reunion that never happened.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me a little bit about your new CD, Kill All Control. Is it a Souls of We project or a George Lynch solo project?
George Lynch: It began as a Souls of We project and in Japan it will be a Souls of We project. Everywhere else in the world, it’s George Lynch solo CD. The reason for that is that record companies want to sell something that people recognize. People recognize George Lynch more than Souls of We. I guess they look at it as a vanity record. I ran into the same problem in 2000 when I put out a Lynch Mob record. It was a totally different style than Lynch Mob, and shouldn’t have been a Lynch Mob but CD but at the 11th hour, the record company insisted that it be called George Lynch or Lynch Mob. Otherwise they didn’t think they could sell it.
Robert: When you’re writing how do you determine where the song best falls into, like “This is Lynch Mob” or “This is Souls of We” or “This George Lynch solo project”?
George Lynch: It’s all about the chemistry and getting together with those people. When I get together with Oni Logan (Lynch Mob), there’s a certain things I know that he does, I know how he sings, what he likes, and what he expects. When I’m playing with Adrian Ost (drums) of Powerman 5000 or I’m playing with London LeGrand that’s a different chemistry. I guess that’s kind of where we work from. We don’t literally have to sit and talk about it. I’m like the Woody Allen character. I adapt to my environment, which is great. I love it. I do stray at times and people have to reign me in.
Robert: How long did it take you to write this new CD?
George Lynch: Adrian, Nic Spec (bass) and I agreed that we were gonna do this whole record in 30 days. We wrote the record in 10 days. Two years later it’s coming out, but we did write it in 10 days – musically. Everything else ended up being singer issues so it took a long time to get it finished. If I had known that, retrospectively, I would have spent more time writing the songs. Not that I have any grave misgivings about the songs, but I would have been a little bit more ‘nip and tuck’, so to speak, if I had a little more time. We did capture a moment.
Robert: I really thought London LeGrand’s voice sounded fantastic on Kill All Control. There are also some great vocal melodies on this CD too.
George Lynch: London was coming from a personally dark place and I think the glass half-full version of that is it’s a beautiful piece of work. He dug down deep and had something to say in relation to what he was going through. Like all great songs, it comes from personal experience and you can hear it. When I first heard it, it affected me profoundly. Even to this day when I listen to it, it affects me because I know him so well. He’s a very good friend of mine and we’ve gone through a lot together. It’s beautiful and I never get tired of it.
Regarding vocal melodies, they are so important with making songs vehicles for the guitar. People try to throw me in that boat of being one of these guys who uses music to propel his instrument; background music for me being a ‘Shredivarius’ or something.
I’m really a song person and I like bands. That’s what I live for and it makes me happy. I like playing with my friends and dealing with the challenges of being in a band and being out on the road and writing songs. I just love embedding myself in a group. My band is my second family.
Robert: On this CD you revisit and reinvent your trademark song “Mr. Scary” and call it “Son of Scary”. Was it difficult to go back and “redo” it?
George Lynch: It wasn’t that difficult; actually it was a lot of fun. I did it on seven-string, so that felt a bit different and basically I changed the riff up a bit. I recorded and arranged it with Fred Curry from Cinderella in his studio. We spent a few days on it.
It’s more of a marketing thing to call it “Son of Scary”. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate both sides of the coin. We are selling a product here which is music. There’s a business side to this, so that was part of my thought process, having it be a derivative of the original song. I knew what I had to do. What’s the point if you’re gonna pour your heart out, work really hard, and nobody’s gonna hear it? I do want people to hear my music.
Robert: The last couple of times I’ve seen you perform, you’ve been wearing fingerless gloves. Is there a secret to why are you wearing them, and if I wear them will I play like you?
George Lynch: [Laughing] It made you think, right? Doesn’t it look cool? I’ll tell you what happened. Years ago I was touring in Canada in the winter. It was freezing so I would wear gloves almost all the time. We did a sound check at this freezing club with no heat in there. I kept my gloves on and I loved it. I said, “This feels good. I think I could play with them on” so I just started wearing them.
This guy sent me some called ‘Shreddies’. He sent me a box of gloves made for guitar players. What’s different about them…I don’t know. It’s kind of a Jake E. Lee thing. This is a great plug for ‘Shreddies’, isn’t it? They better send me another box, dammit!
Robert: You’re always on the cutting edge of equipment. How do you stay current with all the advances while still maintaining your signature sound?
George Lynch: It’s a balancing act. I live and breathe gear. I love it, like most guitar players, especially older guitar players. We appreciate the old stuff as well as the new, cutting-edge, boutique stuff. We’re always out there trying every pedal and every amp and every kind of the guitar.
I live in L.A., so I’m right in the epicenter of all that. Every day I’m down here trying new stuff out and talking to people about what’s out there. I try to find the best of the best and to learn as much about it as I can. I can’t build an amplifier from scratch but I know enough about them. I know how they work and hopefully how to make them better. I work with people who know a lot more than me, so it’s just trial and error.
I do a lot of other things that aren’t – let’s say, Dokken-y or Lynch Mobby. I just bought a ’60s Gibson GA-30, which I found on Craigslist. Just beautiful sounding, but it’s like the suitcase amp you would take with you to the Monday open mic night. It’s Billy Gibbons in a box. I’m designing an amp right now with Dave Freeman and Randall called the Lynchtopia. They’re only going to make 20 of them. Price is no object – flagship monstrosity. We’re just gonna build this thing like the Holy Grail. I’ve learned that I want elements from different amps like the GA-30. I want to build two amps in one. I want a rectifier tube. I want a thinner soundboard, all these kinds of things. Its research and I love it.
Robert: Did you use any of your Mr. Scary models on the new CD?
George Lynch: No. Quite honestly, I never get around to building myself one. They’re all gone when I build them and I usually build them for people who ordered them. There’s one called ‘The Fossil’ that’s made out of 10 million year old fossil bones that I found out in the desert. I scatter wound the pickup and all this stuff. It’s kind of amazing. I hated giving it up. The guy who commissioned it said, “Don’t ship it, take it on the road with you” and I did. I played it and it sounded wonderful. He was in the audience at one of the last shows and after I played a guitar solo with the guitar, I handed it to him in the audience. The audience didn’t know he had bought the guitar, so to them it looked like I just gave my guitar away. That’s how I delivered the guitar. Other than that, I haven’t had a chance to take them on the road or play them on records because they’re gone as soon as they’re built.
Robert: What did you use to record Kill All Control?
George Lynch: Mostly my Tiger and my ESP Telecaster, a very vintage kind of Tele. On one side I used the Tiger or my Super V, something with a little more girth to it. For the other side, there would be the Tele. It’s a little wirier, thinner, spankier. Combine those two and it’s a wonderful sound the way they work together. Good chemistry.
Robert: How hands-on are you in the studio? Obviously you’re writing and developing, but are you actually doing a lot of the engineering or producing?
George Lynch: I am involved in everything, but I’m not an engineer. When I work I have to hire an engineer unless I wanted to spend 10 hours trying to figuring something out that would take a guy who knows what he’s doing 10 minutes. I’ve done it a lot, but I’m not very productive. I’d rather concentrate on the music part of it, creating and performing. I let people do what they do best. I don’t pretend to be a jack-of-all-trades. I’m involved because I care, but am I gonna tell an engineer how to accomplish it? I might tell them what I like. I think a great engineer is the person that is essential to someone like us. Get the sound so you can translate what’s in your head.
And I’m not a producer. What is a producer? I don’t know. [Laughing] In an ideal world, I guess a producer takes a project and manages it, helps mix songs, and seeing the process from beginning to end. In the real world, I’ve experienced all kinds of producers. Some of them, I just sit there and scratch my head and say, “Why are these guys getting paid?”
Robert: Every time I see you at guitar clinics, you always have great road stories. Any plans of putting together a book of all your stories?
George Lynch: It would probably be a good idea, but everybody and their mother’s doing one or is gonna do one. I’ve got six kids and six grandkids and the stories I have to tell, I wouldn’t want them to read.
Robert: I’m not sure if you saw what Don Dokken had just posted about the failed Dokken reunion. Do you ever get tired of comments?
George Lynch: I haven’t seen his post, but yeah, that’s why there isn’t going to be a Dokken reunion. As important as it is for closure and for the fans, to put a happy cap on the ending of the story, it still is outweighed by shamelessness of this character. He embodies everything I hate about this business. I have no respect for him and he can’t be trusted. It all about him. He was always the least creative person but made himself important by tricking people businesswise. Lying in the press saying he wrote everything. He’s been playing smoke and mirrors his whole career. I think that disgusting in any business, not just in the music business. I have to ask myself do I want to play with someone like that?
Robert: I really thought the reunion was going to happen when you went on Eddie Trunk’s That Metal Show. I assumed as most fans, that this was a done deal.
George Lynch: I feel like a fool because I got played again – for the last fucking time! Like an idiot I went along with it but looking back I see what he was really doing. He was blowing wind in his sails by creating the impression that there was reunion pending. That people were going to wake up and pay attention, that his guarantees were going to go up, and people are going to show up to his shows thinking I’m in the band. If we did reunite we would all be working for him. He is a miserable guy and he will stay miserable in his own skin. I wouldn’t want to have 100 million dollars and live in that guy’s brain and skin. He is just a piece of shit, and you can print that.
Robert: Don says that with Dysfunctional….”even though George is credited as the guitarist he did not write any of the songs, the body of the work was written by Jeff, Mick, and myself.” George came in after it was finished and did the solos. Is that true?
George Lynch: That’s a complete lie. He is a pathological liar and you have to remember that.
Robert: I’m not sure Don has a lot of credibility these days, and I think most fans realize that.
George Lynch: When the band was intact, he had to maintain a certain level of professionalism. He had to maintain his voice, his behavior and what he said. He didn’t like that. He is a very lazy person. He doesn’t have a good work ethic and he surrounds himself with himself. He will never be happy. What he will never get, and I told him, it’s not about the money and success, although you want people to hear the music. It’s about giving the fans something they would like and enjoy. It’s not about you, we are just the conduits. It comes through us but it’s not about us.
He doesn’t get it. When musicians start to take themselves too seriously, that’s when it gets ugly in believing all the hype. My heroes are blue collar people that work for a living. Not assholes like him who take credit for shit they don’t do and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter. Have some respect for the people who are paying your bills.
Robert: Will you be touring to support the CD?
George Lynch: Yeah. Lynch Mob is working on a record right now, so we’re going out in July. We’re gonna be playing “Wicked Witch” in the set, which is my way of trying to promote the record. I can’t really take two bands out in the same year, at the same time, so that’s probably how its gonna work. Souls of We is gonna go to Japan because we’re kind of working that market. We toured over there before and it worked. We’re actually trying some dates with Stryper, believe it or not. That’s gonna be kind of like the ‘Saints and Sinners’ tour.
I never saw those guys back in the ’80s. They threw little bibles instead of picks. It was pretty funny. While all that was going on, there was more Sodom and Gomorrah decadence going on backstage than I’ve seen at any other rock shows!