George Lynch’s captivating playing style and rock ‘n’ roll attitude have established himself as one of the music electrifying guitar players in the music business. This guitar legend rose to prominence back in the 80s as lead shredder for Dokken. His story did end there as Lynch remained determined to continue to mold his blossoming career by working outside the box. His latest musical project is no exception to that rule. This September, Lynch Mob returns with a powerful new album, “The Brotherhood,” via Rat Pak Records.
Produced by Chris “The Wizard” Collier (Lynch Mob; Flotsam And Jetsam; Prong; KXM), “The Brotherhood” features eleven brand new hard rock tracks from Lynch Mob, which are sure to resonate with long time fans of the band, as well as those longing for that good ol’ hard rock sound and feel. “The Brotherhood” once again highlights the unique pairing of Oni Logan and George Lynch, and along with Sean McNabb (bass) and Jimmy D’Anda (drums), the band has created a solid offering from start to finish. From the heavy guitar riffs of the opening track “Main Offender” to the melodic album finale “Miles Away”, Lynch Mob have once again proven they remain on top of their game and unafraid to explore undiscovered musical territory!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with the legendary George Lynch to discuss finding his creative voice as a young player, breathing life into Lynch Mob’s “The Brotherhood,” and the challenges artists face in the ever-tumultuous music industry.
What went into finding your creative voice as a young musician?
As silly as it might sound, it all started with playing along to records. That was the thing that helped me learn and develop my own style. In playing along, I was trying to emulate guys like Hendrix, Clapton and so forth. I wasn’t really learning what they were doing note for note but I was mimicking what they were doing and, by osmosis, absorbing the character of where they were coming from. I was trying to anticipate it through playing along versus learning it note for note. In doing that, it sort of made it my own thing. I did that forever with Hendrix, Cream, Beck and all these guys who were around when I was growing up as a guitar player. I just assumed all of this stuff but without playing it note for note and did it my own way. Through that process, I unconsciously synthesized all of these different influences into my style and started developing my own chops that were born out of the things that I learned. That’s the way I believe my style developed.
You look very comfortable on stage but I imagine that wasn’t always the case. When do you feel you came into your own as a performer?
I probably got to a point of pretty consistent self-confidence in who I was as a player and my abilities sometime in the 90s. I think in the 80s I was still very unsure and still kind of finding my way. I was much less consistent back then. It’s like anything else and it’s a learning process. I didn’t come quickly for me!
Here you are all these years later and your passion for music is alive and well. What keeps your creative fire stoked?
There are a couple of things. The first is not being rich, so it’s out on necessity. I’m sort of half-kidding but, more importantly, it’s just what I do. I feel compelled to do it. All of my life I have felt compelled to create music and I just picked up the guitar as the vehicle to do that. I guess it comes down to chasing the dragon or the idea that has been circulating in my head forever, which is to write that one song. It’s that one song, the greatest song in the world, that has been rattling around in my head but I’m never quite able to reach out and grasp. That holds true for the greatest guitar solo that I imagine but is also just out of reach! [laughs]
What does rock ‘n’ roll mean to you after all these years in the game?
For me, my perception of the state of rock ‘n’ roll is that it’s come full circle. In the beginning, meaning in the mid-to-late 60s and even the early 70s, it was an evolving thing. It was a mystery. It was like a wilderness of ideas and then it started to coalesce in the 70s through art rock, commercial rock, and other tangents. It began to coalesce, solidify and calcify. For me, it’s just been kind of blown apart and is like “Pick and choose anything you want.” So, again, it’s sort of a mystery as to where it’s going. I think we are in an amorphous, transitory, fluid state, at least from my perception. I think that is disconcerting but, at the same time, very liberating because it allows you a lot of freedom, which is why I do so many projects.
You certainly have a lot of irons in the fire. Lynch Mob has a brand-new album, “The Brotherhood,” on the way. How did the ball get rolling there?
Lynch Mob is my core band and the band I predominately tour with. I do a lot of projects outside of it, obviously, but I consider this my family and the foundation of my musical experience. The band has been the same guys for going on five years and we have a previous history beyond that with not only Oni [Logan], but with Jimmy [D’Anda] and Sean [McNabb]. We were in and out of Lynch Mob together in previous years in the 1990s and early 2000s. Collectively, we have a lot more time together as Lynch Mob as any other incarnation of the band. We keep growing and evolving as a brotherhood. “The Brotherhood” fits it so apt in the sense that it defines and describes the band so well, and how we feel about each other and the experience of being in this group. This record came as the result of a backlash of the last record, “Rebel,” which was also a great record. This time around, we decided we were going to approach this one differently. We wanted to do it as a band, in a room and with all of us writing together, which is what we did. The “Rebel” record was basically just Oni, myself and an engineer, writing in the confines of a studio. That’s not a bad way to work either but we thought this time around, we would make it more of a collective, communal band effort. I think that obviously paid off but the problem with that way of writing is that it can get messier. If you are locked in a laboratory situation with fewer people, there is less that can go wrong because you are in more of a controlled environment. In a situation with a full band where you are coming up with ideas live, it’s messier and a lot more complicated. It definitely took more time. There was a low point actually in the process. I remember we were on tour and we were listening to all of the stuff we had written with our rough demos. We were stuck on some 5-hour drive and listened to this thing back to front. No one said anything and we were all just bumming! [laughs] We rolled up our sleeves and went back to work and rebuilt the record!
You mentioned the recording process for this album being very organic. Did you have a particular vision for the record before entering into the process?
Well, we always have “Wicked Sensation” in the back of our mind as a benchmark but we are never going to recreate that record or beat it. It’s kind of it’s own thing. We had a 1/2 a million-dollar budget and a year and a half to make that record with 2 producers and 9 studios or whatever it was. There was no limit to the resources. That was a different day and a different animal. These days we run a lot leaner and meaner. We try to do things quicker, work smarter and more efficiently when it comes to time and money. I’m very proud that we are able to do that. We usually start with “Wicked Sensation” as a benchmark and go from there. Like I said, “Wicked” was done a long time ago and we were different people in a different world. We’re not going to recreate that record and we couldn’t if we wanted to; it would be silly. I think it’s undeniable that the basic chemistry that ran through that record is still alive and well in the interaction between Oni and myself. It just happens because of who we are.
“The Brotherhood” is chocked full of killer material. Which songs came easy and which were harder to nail down?
This record was a bit of a challenge but in a good, healthy way. We really had to roll up our sleeves, as I said earlier, and work on stuff and re-work stuff. We had to wrestle with it. It was like wrestling with an alligator to get it in the box! [laughs] I would say that the first two videos, “Main Offender” and “Mr. Jekyll and Hyde,” which are the first two singles, are very strong. Maybe that is the fact that we just did videos for them, so they are in the forefront of my mind. We are thinking of doing a third video for another song, which I think is absolutely beautiful. The song is called “Miles Away.” It’s somewhat Pink Floyd-ish. No apologies there! We are obviously biting that a little bit. The song came out of an idea that we had when we were on the road for a period of time and we kept reworking this idea at sound check. We would keep bringing it up and became enamored with this idea. It was only one part and it would keep going around and around. We didn’t even have a second part for it but Oni fell right in and started coming up with these lines for it that were beautiful. It had a dynamic to it that was wonderful and it would pick you up, carry you and drop you back down with this sweeping crescendo and over the top thing at the end. It was very emotional and powerful. It’s such a beautiful song and we started doing it live, even though it wasn’t recorded and wasn’t officially a song. It was just a jam essentially and it was different every night. I loved doing that and all the guys dug it, so it eventually turned into a song. That song to me, “Miles Away,” was a profoundness because it has that history. It developed so organically out of the band being on the road. People actually heard the song before it was ever a song! [laughs] People who buy the record, who knows, maybe they were at one of those shows and will remember it! It’s changed a little bit by me adding a part but it’s a really beautiful tune. So yeah, we might do a video for that and it sticks out in my head. “Dr. Jekyll and Hyde,” I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, but I really enjoyed that song because it also came out of that same kind of thing. It was the product of being on the road and coming up with some ideas. Then we finished developing it in the studio. I also have to say that “Main Offender” is mostly Jimmy D’Anda. It’s a song that he fostered and brought to the band, which is sort of unique for me because I’m used to doing all the music stuff myself with input from everybody else. We all chimed in on it and added some parts, but that is his baby! I think that was very healthy for us because we got some music on the record that came from a completely fresh perspective. I mean, you don’t want me coming up with everything! [laughs] It’s like incest and you end up with a weak gene pool! You want to have as much input from as many locations as possible. We want all of these different influences. We are like a mutt! I have to give Jimmy props for that one! Some of my least favorite stuff on the record, not that I truly dislike anything on the record, is some of the lighter stuff that is a little more tongue-in-cheek and kind of “Good time rock ‘n’ roll-y.” I don’t know, personally, I like the darker stuff. Songs like “I’ll Take Miami” and stuff like that seems like they would be more at home in the 80s or early 90s, so it’s more of a throwback to that era. I guess there are people who will dig it but, personally, it’s not my thing.
As you said, you have a lot of projects happening at any given time. Be it Lynch Mob or one of your other creative outlets, what are the keys to successful collaborations?
Well, there are a lot of ways to define success. I mean, I’ve always thought throughout the years that Dokken was one of the least interesting musical endeavors I’ve ever been involved with in some ways, although I have more appreciation for it now than I did maybe at the time. That had the most success and resonated with the most amount of people of any project I’ve ever been involved in. [laughs] That’s my take on things. From a personal standpoint, you really know right away if you are getting off on something or not. I know when I write a part and I give it to Oni that he is going to do his thing by writing his magic poetry, awesome dark lyrics, very unique melodies and adding his trademark voice. His is one of the greatest voices in the history of rock. I think he is right up there with Paul Rodgers and the rest of them. When Oni is firing on all cylinders and does his thing on top of what I do, it’s undeniable. Whether or not it sells the record or whether or not people appreciate it or hear it is another thing but, on a personal level, I’m saying, “That’s what I hear in my head!” Dokken is never what I heard in my head, ya know! [laughs] When you have commercial success, that could trump everything else, ya know! I hate to use the word trumped! [laughs]
Yeah, it could bring a lot of unwanted attention your way these days! [laughs]
We have all seen the record industry change exponentially throughout the years and is very challenging sea for artists to navigate. What does it take to keep a project like Lynch Mob on the rails and thriving?
You’re right, it is challenging, a bit. Lynch Mob is a viable band. We are viable economically. We’re not a huge band like Poison, The Scorpions or Van Halen but we are able to provide ourselves with an income which justifies us moving forward continually. That’s OK and we are all good with that! We try to be honest about where we are coming from and we’re not pretending to be big rock stars with all the accouterments. We appreciate the limelight and the exposure of our music to the people because we like to feel our music is important. It’s not even our music. The music we are involved in making is something that has to be done for a certain segment of the population. In a world of 7 1/2 billion people, there has got to be X amount of people who are yearning for this kind of music. I don’t feel like I need to be a salesman and try to shove something down someone’s throat that they are reluctant to want to listen to. I feel that if enough people realize this existed, they would gravitate towards it. That is why we continue to work, tour and put out records because we feel, at some point, it will justify itself if we do good work.
Where do you see yourself headed in the future musically? Are you already charting a course for a future record with Lynch Mob?
Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, this one is just coming out and it was a long road getting this one done. I do have quite a few records from other projects coming out. They are in various stages of completion and a lot of them are done. For instance, the next one coming out is the Sweet & Lynch album. Right after that, we have the Ultra Phonics record with Corey Glover [of Living Colour], which is sort of a continuation of a project within a project. That’s a great record and it’s coming out early next year! I also have the Dokken live album and DVD coming out. It’s got a couple new studio tracks on it that we wrote. It’s the first new Dokken songs we have written since 1994. That’s kind of a big deal! Lynch Mob does have a live album and live DVD coming out next year as well. Then I have a project called The Banishment with Tommy Victor, which is an industrial project. Then…sorry to lay this all on you at once… [laughs] but then I have another project with the guys from Dokken with the singer from Warrant, Robert Mason, who used to be in Lynch Mob. That’s called Super Stroke and that’s coming out next year as well!
I have to say that I love that about you, George. You keep it eclectic!
Yeah, I do! [laughs]
What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?
For fledgling musicians, there is always that advice of “Stick to your dreams.” I think in reality, everything is grey area and everything is about balance. I know this is common sense stuff but you do need to stick to your dreams but you also need to be practical. You need to diversify. I wouldn’t have survived this long in this business and be able to support and raise a family of 7 kids without diversifying and being flexible! As you get older, you tend to become less flexible both physically and mentally. With that said, you need to force yourself into areas that are uncomfortable for you. For me, that meant taking up building my own guitars and starting my own guitar company and delving into other projects. I don’t just record my songs, my records and go on tour. I’m heavily involved with my endorsers and designing, developing and marketing different kinds of equipment like pickups for guitars, amplifiers and so forth. That’s another income stream as well. There are lot of other things that you can do within the realm of music other than just striving to be a rock star! In short, diversity is the key.
Thanks for your time today, George! I appreciate it!
Thank you, Jason. Take care!