10 Q’s with MITCH PERRY
Check out Mitch Perry’s new album at –
Quality melodic hard rock!
1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)
A. I have been pretty busy. As you know, there is the new release on Z records, ‘The Mitch Perry Projects’. In addition to that, I am hard at work on a new solo album as we speak. I am recording it with producer David Holman (Bush, Adema, No Doubt) and it should sound awesome. I am also playing on this album he’s producing for a new artist who is just amazing. Her name is Summer Rose and I think she is going to be huge. It’s really a special, special record and I’m also going to go out on tour with her, as they asked me to be musical director and get her band ready for the road. I will also be leaving in December for a USO tour that will include performing some of the material from my new CD. The band going with me on that is just incredible. The drummer, Lenny Roberto, is one of the best I’ve ever played with; his feel is just scary good. Dan McMay is on bass, and his talent is a large part of why Summers’ CD is as good as it is, as he wrote and played (guitar and keyboards as well) on a majority of it. Marshall Thompson is the keyboard player, and there is nothing he can’t play, but he always seems to play the right thing, which is so rare in a player as capable as he is. The band is incredibly tight as we have this weekly gig (with Paul Shortino’s son Paul Jr. singing) at the beach where I live, so it keeps us in shape. In addition to this the live War & Peace record I did with Jeff Pilson should be out sometime soon. If you throw in the various other sessions that I do into the mix you can see my plate is pretty full.
2. Could you take us through the songs and how they came bout on your new album please?
A. This CD is really a compilation of tracks from two different bands that I had put together in the early nineties. It starts off with two songs recorded in 1991 by the band Badd Boyz. ‘Straight To My Heart’ is a song that was written by Paul before I got together with him, but was changed considerably after I showed up. ‘No Time For Crying’ was inspired by a Dan Reed song that I liked, but the track didn’t turn out the way I had envisioned. Then comes a 7% Solution song called ‘Never Mind The Change’ that has a neat solo section that was borrowed from Procol Harums’ song ‘Conquistador’. Then comes my favorite Badd Boyz track, ‘Hear Your Heartbreak’. It’s a Def Leppard style ballad, and the guitar parts during the verses definitely have a Schenker influence. Apart from being a little heavy on the reverb the track sounds pretty good. Next up is the first song that 7% Solution recorded, ‘Witch Doctor’. It’s got a neat middle section that was meant to be a metal version of the disco song ‘Jungle Boogie’. Then comes ‘Leave It To The Law’ which was definitely the best sounding track from the Badd Boyz sessions purely because we didn’t bury the song in reverb like we did the others. The rest of the CD is from 7% Solution starting with ‘Believing In A Lie’. This track I am still proud of to this day, and was the first collaboration between Ralph Saenz and I. ‘Let It Ride’ is actually a rough mix of a song played live in the studio that was never finished and came to the CD straight off an old cassette tape. When I found the tape and heard how good the song sounded, I couldn’t figure out why we never finished the song in the studio, but since it holds up so well maybe all we would have done is screw it up! Then comes ‘Money’ which I always felt was a nineties version of ‘The Crunge’ by Led Zeppelin, and has a pretty neat solo too. Then we finish up with ’45 Reasons’ a song that sounds exactly like what it was meant to be, which is extremely radio friendly, but since it is now all these years later I guess we’ll never know how friendly for sure.
3. MSG – How did you get the gig with MSG? What was it like working with Michael Schenker and any good tour stories to tell?
A. I first met Michael at the Record Plant when I was recording ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ with Heaven in 1985. At that time Leber Krebs managed us both and when Michael was in New York City they sent him down to the studio to hang out with us, thinking that we would keep him out of trouble. Suffice to say, putting Michael within two blocks of Times Square (where the Record Plant was located) was not a great idea (if you needed a date for the evening or inspiration for that date that’s where you’d go for both) and Michael proceeded to get involved in one of those good tour stories to tell that can’t be told here! Anyway, two years later I was in L.A. hanging out with Pete Way at the Oakwood Apts. swimming pool. Michael was also staying there while he was recording ‘Perfect Timing’ and when he sees me he remembers that I played keyboards on ‘Heaven’s Door’, so he walks over and asks if I would be interested in joining MSG. I told him I didn’t think I’d be happy just playing rhythm guitar and he says my style of playing is different enough from his that he thinks we could both take solos. Then he asks if my guitar is around. I say yes, and he asks me if I want to come down to the studio with him. I got out of the pool, dried off, and wound up playing the solo on ‘Gimme Your Love’. It was a great gig to have at that time as we toured with Whitesnake, Def Leppard, and Rush during the height of their popularity and Michael and I always seemed to get along, so it was always a lot of fun. And yeah, there are a lot of good tour stories that I could tell, but since Michael and I still get along we might as well keep it that way.
4. What have been the most memorable gigs and why?
A. All of my recent ones. Why? I quit drinking! Seriously though, it’s hard to pick one above the others, but headlining Budokan with MSG, playing the Montreaux Jazz Festival with Edgar Winter on the same bill with B.B. King, playing in front of 110,000 people at the Australian G.P. with Cher, or the 1988 European tour with Def Leppard, or playing Wembley on New Years Eve with Whitesnake come to mind immediately. I’ve also had as much fun playing to 50 people at my local bar with the band I have now because they are all such great musicians, and some of what happens when we play together is that good.
5. You have worked in Cher’s band and other pop artists. How easy/hard is it to adapt your style to music that is not necessarily guitar orientated?
A. It is easy when you think about what you are getting paid to play what you’re playing. It becomes more difficult when you have to listen to what you’re getting paid to play.
6. You have guested with many bands including Faster Pussycat, Aerosmith and Keel. Which have been the most enjoyable and why? Any other band/artist you’d love to work with in the future?
A. One of the best records I ever played on was Frankie Miller’s ‘Dancing In The Rain’. Simon Kirke from Bad Company played on that, and it was a real thrill to hear that record played back for the first time, because it sounded so good. Getting to record with people like Graham Nash and Edgar Winter is the best music school you will ever get to go to. And this new CD with Summer Rose has turned out to be one of the most exciting things I’ve played on, period. I have been really fortunate to have worked with so many great musicians as I have so far, so I’ll be happy just to see what the future brings.
7. How has your guitar playing developed down the years and who inspired you to start playing the guitar?
A. It’s funny, because someone just gave me a live video of Talas playing in 1983, and I was surprised by what I heard. Even though I sounded competent almost to the same playing level as I am at now, I know how much my musicianship has improved between then and now. And it’s a huge difference. Now that I know how much I didn’t know back then, I can’t believe that I ever thought I knew as much as I did! My favorite guitarist when I started was Jimmy Page, but ever since I first heard him, Gary Moore has been my favorite, and you can never forget about Jeff Beck.
8. Where do you get your songwriting ideas from and who musically is an influence on you?
A. This sounds like I am avoiding an answer, but the best songs just come to you, like they are gifts from above. Any time I sit down and consciously try to write a song, that’s what it sounds like I did. The ones that come easy to me just usually sound the best. I wish I could explain it better, but there it is. I listen to a variety of different music in the hope that it will keep inspiring new musical ideas, and I like it that way because it is a lot more interesting when the ideas are fresh.
9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A. I grew up around racecars because that’s what my father did, and I won a scolarship to race myself from the Jim Russell racing school in 1993 and have been involved with racing since then. I started instructing at Skip Barber Racing in 2000 and continue to instruct at The Racing Experience (a Nascar style school where we use real stock cars and our students can lap at 165 mph their first day, and I am in the car with them when they do this!) when my schedule allows today. That takes up about all the spare time I have.
10. Message to your fans…
A. Keep rocking and I hope you enjoy all the new stuff I am going to be up to in the near future. Don’t forget to check out my website at mitchperry.com!