Music Incider interviews Lonn Friend -
Music Incider Magazine
Lonn Friend, music journalist, author, and former editor of RIP Magazine, talks about his life as a music journalist, as told in his new book: "Life on Planet Rock: From Guns N' Roses to Nirvana, a Backstage Journey through Rock's Most Debauched Decade." Don't skip this interview with Barb Fara. Only she and his mom can call him Lonnie.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Lonn Friend promoting his phenomenal book. Read it!
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
MI Hey, Lonnie. How are ya?
LF Hello, Barb.
MI Hello, Lonnie. This is an experience of a lifetime. Are you ready to have your brains kicked, my little Leo.
LF My mother calls me Lonnie.
MI Aw, isn't that sweet.
LF And, my mom's name is Barb, so I guess it's ok.
MI It's ok for me to call you Lonnie, or would you rather Lon?
LF No. You live in Atlanta?
MI I live in Atlanta. I'm originally from New York.
LF Oh, I can tell that.
MI You can tell that?
LF You have that smokey, Downtown Manhattan voice.
MI Yeah, I'm from Yonkers.
MI I got bad fucking bronchitis and I'm sitting here fucking smoking like a smokestack.
LF I can feel the smoke.
MI You can?
LF I can feel the smoke.
MI You can feel the smoke.
LF I have an old friend in Atlanta. She's a notorious lady, Dolores French.
MI What about Dolores French?
LF She's an old friend of mine.
MI Really? What is she notorious for?
LF She's like the first person I interviewed when I got to Hustler. 1982. She's a madame. One of the most famous in the world.
LF She's been in Atlanta her whole, her whole life.
MI I've only been in Atlanta for 5 years, but I ain't a madame, honey. But, the biggest thing is this; how did you get into the business?
LF Well, it's that strange serendipitous part of my life where I really have no script for what I'm doing, ever. Starting in college, changing my major, going to UCLA, being in the punk and new wave movement, meeting Talking Heads, getting a job selling t-shirts for Todd Rundgren 'cause I happened to be standing in front of the Roxy after 14 straight performances.
MI Oh, fuck.
LF It's in this chapter, called the "That 70s Chapter."
And, so I guess my career started professionally when I got a job at Gambling Times magazine in 1981, and there was an editor there (I was a publisher's assistant.) There was an editor there who tipped me to a job opening. No, no, no. No, what happened, my friend Nancy from UCLA who as work at the Daily Bruin. she told me that her boyfriend had an opening for a job at Flynt. And, I went through the interview process, and I detail it out in the book, because I had no idea what it is to be an editor.
LF I got out of school with a sociology degree. What are you gonna do with that? It's not like the Asians with the hi-tech degrees with a job waiting for them. I'm a Jew with a sociology degree, not exactly having the jobs lined up for me. I'm not even a professional writer yet. I'm just messing around, going to concerts. That's what I did and hanging around L.A. where I was born and raised. And, I got the job at Flynt, and you could say 1982 was the beginning of my journey. 'Cause, finding myself as a writer, interviewer, journalist of some type. I guess you could call me the reluctant journalist because I didn't consider myself.
MI I gotta give you one thing. You're a better writer than Chuck Klosterman.
LF Well, I wish I had his book advances right now.
MI Yeah, but he doesn't write like you. You write down into it. He just floats around in his books.
LF I know. I've been reading his latest one. I didn't read his metal book ("Fargo Rock City"). I'd like to give him a copy of mine, because I think he would enjoy it.
MI I've got all 4 of his books. I've read his latest one. I thought it was great, I'm getting ready to read "Fargo Rock City," which everybody was raving to me about. And, I've got "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs." And I'm going to be reading that one next. Ok, here's my big one for ya. Why in the God damn world did you have Lars Ulrich write the forward to that book?
LF Relationship. Who can I ask who won't blow me up, who has been out of the scene for awhile, who do I have great history with, who I've had peaks and valleys with, who let me in deep to his band as they were becoming the biggest band in the world, and who I think knows me. Not just knows what I did as the editor of a magazine and a personality on radio or TV, but who might know me, my DNA, like on the inside. So, I had a short list – Steven Tyler, Richie Sambora. I had a few names, and I said, "I'm gonna call Lars first."
LF Because when I got my deal with Morgan Road, it was a new imprint of Random House, and Amy Hertz, the publisher – I was the first music book. She'd been taking care of the Dalai Lama since the "Art of Happiness."
LF And I thought there's a lot of synchronicity in her signing me, so I could go a little deeper about the cosmos and not just write a tome about the metal years. But to sell the book, she guided me into a memoir that focused on this period which was a very loud and hectic period in rock music, in which I was in the absolute eye of the hurricane. I had the keys to the kingdom. And there was no - Guns 'N Roses, Metallica – there was no two bigger bands in the world at that time. And, they were my groups. They were RIP bands. We had access that nobody else could touch, so you can't ask Slash. You could've asked Slash, but he may not have been as articulate.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Slash, Steven Adler, Lars Ulrich (Metallica, drummer), Sebastian Bach, and Axl Rose.
MI What is going on with Velvet Revolver?
LF This is a group that has 6 managers, and they're all in their own drama. I saw them a year ago. Their show was great. But there's still that kind of Guns 'N Roses drama around them. It's nothing that's simple. It's not like you walk into a band like REO Speedwagon where everybody for 35 years they're just like family. Band members come and go, but there's no drama there. There's always something surrounding that and I think it's because it started with GNR. And, everything about GNR in the beginning was incendiary, was, was, it all revolved around Axl's personality. The other characters in the play were in themselves chaotic and bizarre and wonderful. But, that's why GNR couldn't last longer than it did, so you have this moment in time when here come these 5 guys together, and they could all implode at any given moment, yet they come together at this moment in time.
MI Well, what do you think about Axl starting up Guns 'N Roses again?
LF Well, I do probably 3 interviews a week, mostly websites, and I get asked this like I know what's going on.
MI Oh, yeah, and you and me are going to become good buddies, big boy.
LF But, I haven't physically seen him in 10 years. I get my notes about his whereabouts, what he's doing through either Del James, who still emails me, or Sebastian Bach, who's spending inordinate amounts of time with Axl like he did back in the day, like when I put the two of them together on stage for that RIP party in 1990 when they jammed, and Sebastian got to sing "Crazy," and Axl sang "Piece of Me," and that bootleg has been out there 16 years. But, those guys Sebastian, Axl was his biggest hero and biggest influence in the most decadent time. And, now, being able to go to Europe, and be with him out there, they've done a lot of hanging together. When I saw Sebastian at the Supergroup (VH-1) screenings, Scott Ian and I were putting together these weekly screenings together of the show at The House of Blues to watch the show, and he showed up one night to watch the show, which was bizarre in itself.
MI Yeah, the show is bizarre. I've been watching it.
LF Supergroup is the VH-1 show.
MI They're doing re-runs of it.
LF They are?
MI Yes, they started them this week. They're going on tonight 8 PM, East Coast time.
LF I was in Vegas when they made it, so I went down to the House, and I spent a whole evening there, and most of my stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. Sebastian says to me, 'Dude, Axl and I were talking about you in Europe. Look at these boots he got me in Italy,' and he shows me the boots. (laughing). Still, they're going through perennial arrested development. I adore him, because I know the devil and the angel are working inside of him. The thing about Axl is, is he is the most impossible character to define, possibly in modern rock history. He has been making a record more than a decade, which is more urban legend than making a record. I've met, literally a dozen producers that have in one shape or form been in and out of that studio in the past 10 years. Some that would blow your mind. I have no doubt that T-Bone Burnett was down there. Oh, no, no. I saw T-Bone when they honored Chris Christopherson at the Rock Lounge. I do all the interviews for their archives. Yesterday, I interviewed Miles Davis' sister and son, and George Duke, and Lenny White and Berdine White. It was so much fun. It was so cool, I almost couldn't stand still.
MI I could imagine.
LF But, he's uh, T-Bone goes to me, 'I walked into that studio once and we just sat around for 10 hours waiting for Axl and he never showed up. It was the weirdest thing.'
(Laughing.) Now maybe that took T-Bone to tell me that story, because so many producers said 'We waited for Axl, but he never shows up.' He's showin' up for shows and apparently, kickin' ass, but it's how you interpret it as a fan. You so desperately want to see this man do his magic again, and you want to hear the songs again, but after the first few tracks, maybe you're feeling a bit deflated because the other characters in the play you fell in love with back in '87 and '88, they're not there. It's not like seeing Aerosmith where you're seeing that band you saw 25 years ago. Where, even the Stones, they're still keeping Ronnie and Charlie, but this is really Axl and a band who he's put together who are serious players who are interpreting GNR. He's the one expressing GNR; the rest of them are doing their interpretations, and I don't know how much freedom of movement they have to interpret because he wants them to kick ass and he also wants it to sound like it sounded when they first went on those, went on tour.
MI It's true.
LF I haven't seen it, so I'm speakin' out of my ass.
MI I know, I've been wondering where the hell did Velvet go, because (interrupting)
LF Velvet Revolver is supposedly – I mean, I don't know what's happening with them, but I know that, uhm, that Weiland, here's the great line Slash said to me New Year's Eve, 2005.
MI What happened?
LF They're b ack, sitting in the dressing room. I've brought my daughter to the show. And, a picture from the dressing room is in the book of Megan sitting with Slash on her uncle's lap, sitting on the sofa. He hadn't seen her since she was 3 years old. So, I said "Megan, got anything you want to ask Slash?", and Megansays 'So, what's up with Axl?"
MI Oh, shit (laughing).
LF I said, "Megan, you sound just like your dad. To be honest, he wanted to producer the Velvet Revolver record for like a minute, then it didn't happen."
LF Then she says, 'What about Weiland? What's the difference? He's kinda crazy.'
LF And, Slash says, 'Well, the difference between Weiland and Axl is, Weiland shows up. (laughing).
MI Oh, shit (laughing).
LF And, so I guess, outta the mouths of babe comes the question, and out of the mouth of uncle comes the truth.
MI Right, exactly, exactly.
LF The reason Slash comes off as more of a friend in the book is because he's one of those guys who bothered to strip away my title and got to know me as a person.
LF … who I was. I analyzed that throughout the book. Am I a Friend, is my last name really defining who I am, or are people kissing my ass and giving me access because I fell into this gig and doing sort of a yeoman job putting together what I felt was the best rock magazine of the time, because no one else looked at the genre the way it deserved to be covered.
MI No, no, right. You're right. I agree with you on that.
LF That's what I'm starting to feel too. It's the fact that I've been on myspace 8 months, and I get messages, long diatribes, confessions from people in their 30s and 40s reading the magazine, and I have no idea what an impact that magazine had on them.
MI Of course you did.
LF I was just livin' it, doin' it. I was very present. I lost myself for awhile. It's obvious the book is truthful, the valleys are there. I could not have written this while I was living it because it would've been so one sided, it would've been more like the dirt more than anything else. When you've had your fall, and you went to work for Clive Davis, and you came out and been trying to find your way back ever since, and then, then you have this rich perspective that allows you to see what made you get off the path, or maybe you got lost. That whole chameleon thing came out while I was writing, the revision after the first big manuscript. You know, Amy put me through these grueling revisions to dig deeper, deeper. That's when I wrote the 70s chapter, that's when I wrote the Arista chapter. Because I was like, this is more than a written magazine chronicle.
LF You know, where did you come from, how is it that you landed in this role?
LF And there he is, Lonn, the chameleon, shifting his weight through different people and gigs, and genres, cultures, time and space. And, it's just weird, I'm kinda like this person that finds himself in amazing places. And, in Durham is where the universe gave me the gift to write. I'm supposed to tell stories. I'm supposed to bring the fans closer to their heroes.
LF I get off of that track, that's when I go through my suffering. Sidebar: Yesterday, I'm sitting there with 5 legends of jazz. Legends, and I've got 15 minutes so what I said, each of you tell me a story about Miles, and that was a gift. And, everyone was – for days - riding down Pacific Coast Highway, because Miles wanted to go to Fred Spiegels at noon, and his hair blowing in the Testerossa at 110 miles per hour. (laughing). To many at age 19, Miles calls his mom's apartment, "Who's this."
LF "Ma, it's me"
LF "There's some guy who says his name is Miles something."
LF Everyone of these guys had to tell a George Duke story at his earliest sessions, earliest days. That's it man, that's it, man. That's storytelling. What I said at the end was, "Guys, you know, the yogi says: 'We're nothing more than the memory we leave behind.'"
MI (Interrupting) That's true.
LF Very deep: a man alive. Yesterday was the 15thanniversary of Mile's death. He was in the room. If these moments are given to me for a reason, I want to bring people into the room. I want to bring them into that stadium with Bon Jovi in Munich where the rain starts falling during "Livin' on a Prayer" where I'm sitting in the pit in a pair of bathing, in bathing trunks, and a hat, 70,000 people are being just lifted to heaven by the song.
LF I also want to bring them into the room when Jon Bon Jovi gives me $1,000.
MI To do QVC. (laughs).
LF You gotta feel that too.
MI Well, did Bon Jovi give you the $1,000 for doing QVC?
LF I got $500 from QVC; I got $500 from Jon Bon Jovi.
MI Oh, shit.
LF Yeah, that's it. Never again is this me doing the – I'm into self-analysis now, to pathological degree. The last few years of my life have been so challenging – going to Vegas, writing the book while going through my separation and divorce. Believe me, you write a book in pain, you get a lot of pain in those words. When I separated myself to really talk about those crazy, chaotic moments, like being on that bus with Jimmy Paige and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
LF Telling the Joe Perry stories. Like, I'm getting some balance. Take me away to me is what rock 'n roll does. You go to a concert, you're being separated from real life. It takes you to a new place.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Steven Tyler and Lonn Friend.
MI So, Tyler has the tapes.
LF Of what?
MI Chuck Berry.
LF No, I'm the one who told the story. I saw the tape once. I saw the tape in, because I was at Hustler. The way I described it in the chapter is it Allen Maxanal and I looked at this video tape of some of these guys from, uh, Missouri, who had uh, gotten, found 'em, they said, but who knows where they got 'em, but they were Chuck Berry. They were the sex tapes that years later went to sale on the Internet.
But we watched it, and I only saw this once, and it is scatological and nuts because this is Chuck Berry. But it is, because this has been written about in a couple other books of people who have seen it. But what makes my |POV so nuts is that I'm telling the story to Jimmy Paige, Steven Tyler, and Joe Perry. And they had never heard this before, and that is what is so twisted. Jimmy Paige, he probably grew up listening to Chuck Berry.
MI They probably all did.
LF Look at this. The stories. I can't forget Perry turning to me on the bus, and going, "You work for Larry Flynt, don't you have a story?" Because all I've been doing for 4 hours is listening to these people talk, I have nothing to say.
MI Oh, my.
LF What can you say when you're sittin' in a room like that?
MI Oh, my God.
LF Fly on the wall. That's where the fly doesn't even buzz. The fly just sits there quietly and, and, and meditates on the moment.
MI Exactly. Metallica. I love Metallica. I really love Metallica and Megadeth. Which one do you think is more important?
LF In what way do you mean?
MI To the music industry. In what way are they different?
Dave Mustaine, founding father of Megadeth and Metallica.
LF I don't know. To me, Dave Mustaine represents like a survivor. More than. Metallica's a band, they lost Cliff Burton and they continued, they became the biggest, they became the biggest rock band in the world.
LF What Dave Mustaine was, was part of the beginning of that, then he lost that because he got kicked out. So, he not only survive that, he had to survive heroin addiction, then he had to survive just in recent years – the injuries to his arm have cost him. And so what he is to me, and I'm close to him, close enough to Dave to know that he's a spiritual guy. He's gone from being a Christian to a Jew, to a sensei. He's ecumenical in that I think the survival comes from going within himself and finding a higher place.
MI Do you think there is a still really hard feelings between Lars and Mustaine?
LF I thought that existed until I saw "Some Kind of Monster" and I watched the documentary, and one of the bravest parts of the documentary is when Dave is just telling Lars off pretty much and what he did to him, and Lars listening to him. And I think that was a pretty healing moment. I mean, I'm pretty sure when…I'm pretty sure David and Lars got to each other when they played San Francisco recently. Uh, that that bridge, is mended.
MI It's mended. It's startin' to heal.
MI And, it's a good thing.
LF How do you survive unless you forgive, carrying your shit like a brick on your shoulders. Artists are more prone to that because they hold their stuff for their art. They access that stuff for their art. They access pain; they access the loss. This is why, to me, Bob Dylan can still write music 40 years down the road. Music that means something. And, writers. You know, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote one of the greatest, angriest, most powerful novels of his career at what, age 80?
LF Just pissed off at what humanity did to itself. Hunter S. Thompson got so pissed off he wrote the editorial in Rolling Stone, saying, pretty much – Bush has brought us to Armageddon, and then, and then he fucking killed himself.
LF Sometimes, hey you know. Cobain didn't even want to deal with it at all.
MI Now, do you believe Cobain was murdered ? Or, do you think he committed suicide?
LF Well, I don', I don't…I can't speculate on that. I saw the documentary. I thought it was interesting what the British filmmakers (did with that).
MI Mmhm. More on Courtney
LF I just had to recount that lunch in the book.
LF It's more me not being the chameleon with Kurt. I just with myself…
MI Laid back.
LF With Kurt, we dug each other. Dave now is one of my favorite guys. I hung out with him at the VH-1 Honors Awards show a month ago. I gave him the book before it came out. He loves life. He doesn't hold onto stuff. He just had a baby, and he's so good that his songwriting is great. To me, the Foofighters haven't made a bad record.
MI No, they haven't.
LF He saw the death of Cobain as a chance to step up and appreciate life.
LF And, that's what he's been doing. That's why they have so many messages to their songs: "Times Like These" "Learning to Fly." Even he thinks about spirit soaring, rising up.
LF Rockin. And, Kurt taught him how do you know the light if you've never seen the shadows? He taught him how dark it gets. If it gets that dark, you only have one direction to go.
MI Yeah, yeah. That is sad. So, how did you get Ian Astbury to do the Doors?
LF Well, Ian and I have known each other since The Cult, and he was one of the trio that came to my house on my birthday – Ian, Axl and Sebastian. They showed up at my birthday for the Guns 'N Roses. And, I always, I just always liked Ian because he had this sort of serious shamanistic way about him.
Photo Courtesy: Myspace.com/jeffpilson.
Jeff Pilson, founding father of KNAC.com radio
LF But we reconnected when I did KNAC.com I really discovered how he had gone on a journey too. He took the trip to Tibet because he had a near death experience. And, it was so odd, another one of those like why me – I'm on the bus with him at Aerosmith show and this is the day before George Harrison died. And The Cult, new Cult, signed with Lava Records. It was a comeback record, and it bombed.
MI I remember that.
LF And, then a few months later, I send an email: "Is it true that you're gonna sing with The Doors?" He writes me back: "True, I'm terrified." He idolized Jim Morrison. I saw him at that gig, and that's another thing. I don't think I'm working. I don't know what I'm doing when falling apart, there's this show 60 miles away in Ontario at a motorspeedway, and I needed to be there, just like I had to go to London to see the Sioux for a club date.
LF I gotta go, I don't care.
MI How you gonna get there, but you're gonna get there.
LF I gotta be there, being there kinda thing. So, I go there, and I see the very first performance of Ian playing with The Doors, and it was just something. And, I put that chapter in there because I think it needed to be said. It was really for Ian that I wrote that chapter, that he could reinvent himself in an entirely different context.
MI Oh, my God, I saw him down here at Music Midtown; at the last Music Midtown. And, you know what Music Midtown is down here, don't you?
LF What's that?
MI Music Midtown used to be the biggest thing going for like 10 years, and they would have all these acts come in. And then they would have a stage for local bands. And the last major bands that were there was the Offspring, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters and The Doors. I did not get approved for Midtown that year, I don't know why. I went. I wanted to see The Doors. I'm a massive Morrison fan, right.
MI I'm looking at Ian Astbury, he's trying so hard. He's trying. They made him look like Jim so much, and meanwhile behind Ian Astbury, while he's doing L.A. Woman, they have Jim on video tape going. And, I'm like, if you're trying to bring The Doors back, why not let Jim lay in rest?
MI And I'm thinking, did they do plastic surgery on him?
LF No, that's the way it was; that interpretation of how it was presented. It was far more organic than that. Ian couldn't cut his hair. After he finally cut his long locks from the 80s. That's how he looked. He looked that way. When he started singing those songs, he was channeling more than anything else. You know, I'm that guy who believes that people pretty much are authentic.
LF It's when I went into work for Arista that I realized how big a lie was going on inside the business. It wasn't really about the artists, it was about the bottom line. That, that's why I failed in that gig. It didn't rest, it wasn't consistent with who I was.
LF So, I do. I mean, that's why I wrote that chapter with such romantic…
MI (Interrupting) And you did.
LF Because I'm a huge Doors fan. I mean I have the first Doors album on vinyl. I bought it from the Columbia Record Club when it came out. I didn't get to see The Doors. And, I, the first rock book I ever read was Danny Sugarman's book. And, I met Danny several times, and the fact that that's the last time I saw him alive, I got to bring in that moment when he says, "Yeah, I'm fighting the cancer"… It humanizes the whole experience. Then he believes in Ian.
LF And, that was enough to legitimize it for me. And, uh, Robby believed in Ian and uh, what's his name. Ronnie Van Zant?
MI I read the whole book. I loved the book.
LF It's gonna be reviewed Sunday in The New York Times.
MI Is it?
LF Yeah, we've been waiting for the national press.
MI Oh, wait, you wait till I get done wit ya. Ok, you just wait till I get done wit ya.
MI So, what was the deal with Clive Davis and Arista?
LF Well, that is uhm, another one of those ok, so we're doing this movie soundtrack Airheads. I get paid $50,000 for putting together the movie soundtrack. Wow, there must be a lot of money in this, because Larry Flynt's paying me $70,000 after 12 years with the company. Big money, I'll do this. So, I used relationships. I met people. Steve Buscemi and I was hanging out on the lot. It was easy. The lawyers made it a little difficult. But, I was just hooking people up. You know, Lemme with Ice-T and we did that great Born to Raise Hell soundtrack. And, White Zombie. So, these suits show up, and one of them is Roy Lott, who's the GM of Arista, and he comes up to me after a meeting, we're discussing the music, and he says to me, "You're doing a good job."
Did you ever thinking about being an "A"and "R" guy?" I don't remember if it was him, or Eric Greenspan, my lawyer who called me and said,'have you ever thought of it?'
The way I articulated it in the book was saying my lawyer Eric called and said, "They need a rock guy." That started the whole Lonn Friend transition. Well, we're living in a 1,200 square-foot house in Culver City, and it's not a great neighborhood, and I don't know about I probably could stay on this path and RIP will be ok, but I see RIP as transforming with the culture. I see the whole metal seen disappearing. I was in the middle of the grunge. That Pearl Jam chapter is about being at the crossroads.
MI At the crossroads.
LF It was huge, and there I am, and my magazine starts to cover the scene. But, MTV is abandoning the whole genre. We really became the most important hard rock magazine. So, that, we're getting eliminated. Things were shifting. I didn't know if these bands were gonna be as voracious as the Motley Crue band. But I'm still doing my gig.
LF And then it comes. Well, they want you. And then I said, "ok, who." So I described the process because I started to see what the inside of it, when they want you, they put the big deal, bloody deal in front of you.
LF And, I sold. It's like Clive, this is the devil. It's more like he symbolizes my sell-out, my weakness, to not stay on my path as a writer, to change my path for the buck, for the gold. So, he represents the golden cow. A lot of my fans write to me, "You didn't sell out. You saw you could do something and you've always been a risk-taker, and you thought you could sign great bands, and you went into the record business for that." They kind of admire that I described the whole process so they could see what being the 90% who fail.
LF And, then what was most significant was Eileen De Bogman from Long Island the week I got there. Which was nuts. I heard Clive never allowed a signing like that, ever. But he supported me, but it was almost because of the radio nature of the company and the way the people, individuals changed. There was no way the De Bogman's could succeed. And they weren't given the 5 albums to develop, time to develop.
LF And, then when they didn't, I lost my cache. That's why he wouldn't let me sign Eels. I failed on the first signing.
MI Oh, shit.
LF And so, but I believed in what I was doing. I kinda went out of my heart after the Eels and uhm, I just waved my checkered flag. And that's why the last paragraph is really uhm, it speaks a lot of truth. Greenspan calls me and says, "You know you better start looking for a new job. The music business is about putting round pegs in round holes, and you're a square peg.
MI I've been in the business about 7 years. I do all my own writing, all my own interviews, all my own photography, but I've noticed within the past 6-7 years, every 2-3 years the rugs get shaked. People are just bouncing, bouncing, and bouncing.
LF Digital music and file sharing, and artists taking back their art has completely changed the landscape. The record business is over in its old archetype.
LF The paradigm has shifted. How are they gonna profit? That's what they're working on in the new model. You just can't have this anymore. There's no big deals to be made. They're not spending promotion money the way they did, unless it's disposable crap, that's when they will still spend, because people will buy – in the moment – anything.
LF That's why the Kiss-FMs of the world that's being sold on the radio
LF It's not real hip-hop. They're not even musical. But it feels good to the kids. They play the same song 15 times a day. That's top 40 now.
LF And it's sad. Not rock and roll. It's healthy. And what's good about rock and roll is that you now have to have your chops on the road. You need to be the Stones, Journey or Pearl Jam. You have to have a classic rock approach to touring.
LF You can't go out there playing your one hit, or expecting to fill arenas. If you're gonna have a career, you're gonna go there, and bring that band right up to next to you and they have to watch you sweat and deliver, not like you're up there going through the motions and mailing it in. You're gonna have to kick ass. The reason why careers are built in rock and roll is because you saw that show, you walked out of there, you were vibrating, and all you could think of was the next time.
MI The next time you see 'em.
LF Yup, and if that next time is a year, 2 or 5 years, you're gonna be there.
MI Well, I'll tell ya one band to look out for, Artimus Pyledriver.
LF Cool name.
MI Oh, yeah, they are hot. They just got signed by DRT and their hit out right now is Swamp Devil. And, if they come out there. I know they're coming back to Atlanta with Ministry November 5th at the Masquerade here. But, they come out there, you've got to catch them.>>
LF Ok, so send me an email/note, and remind me. I'm starting to listen. I've spent so much time writing, going back to my roots, archives, going back to the bands that the new music I get it when people bring it to me. So, I've been listening to new metal recently that I hadn't. This band Dragon Force. Mike Gidder sent it to me from Roadrunner Records. Gidder was one of my best freelancers in my RIP days, and he sent it to me. He sent me the package. These guys have serious chops. British invasion
LF They're amazing. They're relentless. It's sorta Jack Black with the up there intro with this band. It's almost fairytale, bigger than life metal.
MI Because I know that I'm uh, I'm covering KMFDM
on October 14th, again at the Masquerade. I love KMFDM. They're fantastic. They're outrageous. I mean, I'm looking at the music scene, and here comes Ozzfest, and AtlantaAtlanta anymore.
LF I went the last time I went to Ozzfest, I hopped on Pantera's bus in Miami on July 3, 2000, and I rode with Phil (Anselmo), and Rex (Rocker) for 9 hours to Atlanta, and spent Fourth of July with Pantera. And, I don't know if it's been there since. Atlanta is one of the biggest stop-overs. Ozzfest doesn't come to Atlanta anymore.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Ozzy and Lonn.
MI No, the last time I saw Ozzfest was here about 2 years ago.
LF But, I haven't seen Ozzfest since then, since 2000.
MI Right. Last time I did an Ozzfest, Jason Newsted was there. Yeah, yeah, but also he played with the Voivod. There, that was the last time Ozzfest came through. What the hell's up Sharon's ass? Why is it she doesn't let it come to Atlanta anymore. (Laughing.) I just don't get it.
Photographer: Barbara Fara.
Jason Newsted, Voivod.
Photographer: Barbara Fara.
The late Piggy d'Amour. RIP, Piggy.
LF How'd you get into the business?
MI I started with me – I also do psychic readings, believe it or not. Ok, go ahead. My tape player is old. (Flip tape)
LF I like to do it old school.
MI Yeah, you have to. That's how I look at it.
LF I read Rick Levine every morning lately. I'll go through my horoscopes for years and then I'll stop reading them for a year or two. But, then if they reappear again, then they must be there for a reason.
MI It's like I get my daily fortune cookie on my T-Mobile phone.
LF Yeah, so Levine's showing up
MI Now, that Levine.
LF It's the tarot
MI Is that the Levine with MSO?
LF No, that's Michael Levine who co-founded it with Mitch Schneider. This is a guy named Rick Levine who does horoscopes on the Internet.
MI Ok, oh, no, no, no. I was gonna ask you about Michael Levine, but go ahead.
So I start out and the first show, I meet Dan Foreman from Susan Blond, Inc. And my first show was Aerosmith.
LF What year was that?
MI Six years ago. It was in Atlanta. And, I was going after Springsteen, and Surefire wouldn't give me Springsteen because I'm not a hardcopy, and I'd just gotten done with Petty. And, I'm like, "What the fuck are you keeping him up on the Cadillac ranch?" And, uh, him being her puppet, I don't know what the game is, no one can fucking touch Springsteen. So, when I was offered Aerosmith, I jumped on it automatically. I covered the show, the shoot, I did everything with it. I would love to get an interview with Tyler, and I don't think that'll happen.
LF That's Mitch.
MI That's Mitch. I go for Megadeth and I'm getting all these press packs for MSO, and I'm about to cover Jingle Jam down here, and Velvet was headliner. I get all the way up to Gwinnett Center up here, and I'm looking at these two prime tickets. Now, I have this habit of always birnging a copy of the letter with me. This time my printer wasn't working. Me and the PR up there are fighting over this shit. 99x tells me "You got great tickets. One of the bands doesn't want you up there." I tell them to shove it up their ass, it's Mitch Schneider. It's Mitch fucking Schneider.
LF Just to counsel you. I'm 50 and I've been in this business for 22 years. You don't wanna – you wanna be yourself, but you wanna hold those icons in the business close enough – you don't have to kiss 'em, but close enough to kiss 'em on the cheek.
LF I have an amazing relationship with Mitch.
MI And maybe you could fix it for me.
LF I need to know what. I could help fix it, but I need to know what pissed him off.
MI I don't know. All I know is that he approved me for Tom Petty. The first time I go all the way to Gwinnett Arena, there's tickets, but no photo pass. I wrote Mitch a sweet letter, gave him the background, I turned around told him I want Music Incider to be as big as you are. He automatically gives me tickets, but no photo pass. That was the first time. The second time was with Velvet Revolver.
LF Well, shit happens. Let it go. Put it behind you. And, write something really fantastic, and say "Lonn Friend suggests I send it to you, he thinks the world of you." Use me as the bridge, because that's what people do. I don't have a lot of enemies.
LF Because I've been good to rock and roll, and I've been good to these artists.
Photography: Barbara Fara, Musicincider.com.
Danzig at his best!
MI Right, what I'm doing with my site, I'm throwing in big boys like Aerosmith. I'm throwing Tyler in, Petty in I'm throwing in Danzig. I'm throwing in all these fucking bands, and meanwhile I'm helping the little struggling bands like Artimus Pyledriver. Masterdon. Masterdon just got signed to Warner Brothers Records.
LF Masterdon? I thought I heard Masterdon.
MI Great album. I mean, Warner changed Masterdon's total look. If you saw Masterdon before Warner got a hold of them, you would not
LF I think Nick John is in management.
MI You got another band, named State of Man, just made Billboard. Oh, my God, the new Sevendust, they're better than Sevendust.
LF And it's Music Incider?
MI Music Incider with a "C"
LF Music Incider with a "C"?
MI Yeah. "dot.com". When I first went to it, it was Big Daddy Porn, and then a band called Ground wanted to sell me the logo and the registration for $500 and I said no, I'm keeping it with the "C".
LF So, you're doing your own thing. It's an online magazine.
MI Right, but I want to go hardcopy.
LF Newsletter. And how many people are coming in?
MI I'm getting over 30,000 hits a month, plus.
LF Do you have a mailing list?
MI I do have a mailing list.
LF Well, what I would say to you, Barb, is keep the love of rock and roll, which is cool, because you gotta be in this business. You're a little fish in a big pond.
LF I can feel that. You know, treat people with grace. Either, 1. Shit fell through the cracks, or 2. is wasn't meant to be in that moment. Find something else. Don't speak ill of those that you don't know personally. Because, that karma will come back to you.
MI It will come back to you. It will come back to you. So, what do you think about the metal we have today, with the death growlers and the email bands?
LF I can't listen to a whole lot of that stuff. For me, personally, when I was running the magazine, I did it for the fans. We had a whole death metal section, Cannibal Corpse. And now you have the new growlers: Lamb of God.
MI What do you think of it?
LF I don't listen to it enough to embrace it, but I know there's a huge movement toward it and it has a big fan base. I think I went to see, who was it – Shadow's Fall?
MI Right, I worked on Shadow's Fall.
LF I appreciate what they're doing. They're working hard, building their fan base. I'm not savvy enough on it to even speak about it, so I don't speak about it. If I was running a magazine, I'd have more insight. But I'm not, so it's not on my playlist. I don't even offer opinions anymore, because I'm not into – it doesn't serve me. So, I'll give you the comment I gave you, God bless em. And, as long as they're out there playing their truth, and singing, passing lyrics on that cause children and fans to murder somebody, I'm a peace and love guy. That's what's so ironic about my RIP years, I'm a peace and loving Beatles kind of hippie.
LF So, therein lies the conundrum of the energies that go on inside me.
Photo Credit: USA Today.
MI So, you fixed Rick Rubin up with a porn actress. Which video did you send him?
LF I used to get Rick his porn. And Glenn. I didn't fix them up. He was dating a porn actress when I met him.
Pearl Jam with Eddie Vedder.
MI He was. Do you know how Gilby Clarke came to replace Izzy Stradlin in Guns 'N Roses?
LF I don't know the specifics. I know when Izzy left, Gilby was in a band called Killed for Thrills and I guess Slash was aware of them locally. They were playing around L.A.Eddie got in the band. Jack Irons from the Chili Peppers knew this guy Eddie Vedder and he told Stone and Jeff about him. Those kinds of bands, when band members change, it's very much an inside thing. It's very much like Pearl Jam's drummers have changed, or even how.
Photographer: Mark Seliger.
Red Hot Chili Peppers.
MI You know, I always wonder why, what made Eddie Vedder get off the road for awhile.
LF Well, I don't know.
MI I heard there were rumors he jumped a damn into a pit right after Cobain's death.
LF I don't know. It's possible. I love that band.
MI Yeah, there's something about them.
LF They take you to a higher place.
MI Yeah, Eddie Vedder reminds me of Morrison a lot.
LF Oh, yeah. Especially early on. But, now he's lighting up a cigarette and having a glass of wine on stage. He's really like Jim again. His hair's longer.
LF He's just beautiful. He's so brave too. Because, he'll speak his mind. He'll bring Tim Robbins on stage to sing an anti-Bush song. That's great. He did that in L.A.
MI That's why you gotta see Artemis. You'd fall in love with them. I'm telling you, Lonn.
LF Well, I'm going to my computer. We've talked for almost an hour.
Photo Credit: Cinemania.
Althea Flynt, 1980.
Larry Flynt and his adoring Althea, the love of his life.
MI I've just got one more question for ya. Tell me how you met Larry and Althea. And tell me how you get RIP off the ground.
LF Ok, well, that's early on in the book.
MI I know.
LF I got the job there, and then Althea was wandering the hallways, when I had a Motley Crue record on and she listened to it and stuck her head in and said, "Motley Crue, I love the group." And I was the $17,000-a-year editor who just got hired and everyone on the floor, was just like, "What's Althea doing in that office?" And, we started rapping. She introduced me to Larry. She told me Larry was cool.
MI I would love to get an interview with Larry. I really, really would.
LF Well, if they come to Atlanta and open a store – a Hustler store.
MI There's a guy down here now who's using the Larry Flynt ruling form the Supreme Court for a love shack, and they're building it in the middle of a mall – a family area – and they've got all this head shit, porn, and he goes, "I'm gonna do what Flynt did." Flynt did it for publication rights, not for building rights.
LF I got him a copy of my book.
MI Ok. What would be a message to your friends, darling?
LF A message to my friends would be listen to the rock and roll that moves your soul. And, be kind.
MI Be kind.
LF Because the world is in a big, fucking mess. The world is in a big fucking mess, and the only way to get out of it is to come together. That's a Youngblood saying from 1916.
MI What's going on with The New York Dolls at Roadrunner Records?
LF I don't know. I love The New York Dolls, and I went to the grand-opening of the Blue Man Group at the Venetian, and they played the after party and that was fun.
LF I also know what it's like to have a personality crisis, and that's the last line.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Lonn Friend and Kiefer Sutherland.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Photo Courtesy: Lonn Friend.
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Lonn.