Interviewed by Adrian Hextall (Writer/Contributor/Journalist) Myglobalmind Webzine
Has it really been 25 years?
In 1990 Columbia records released the debut album by Love/Hate ‘Blackout in the Red Room‘ and although singer Jizzy Pearl has stayed busy touring and making albums with such platinum artists as L.A. Guns, RATT and most recently Quiet Riot – ‘Blackout in the Red Room‘ was the starting point, the beginning, the bar to which all else has been measured.
Now it’s 2015 and once again Jizzy Pearl returns to the UK for 5 exclusive concerts, this time celebrating 25 years of Love/Hate music by playing the ‘Blackout in the Red Room’ album in its entirety, with other Love/Hate fan favourites, along with a select group of top notch musicians.
In advance of the tour, Adrian Hextall spoke to Jizzy to get an update on life and the 25 years since that seminal release.
MGM: Let’s start with your upcoming tour over here if you don’t mind. It’s always nice to be able to talk about the UK side first for me because we are looking forward to getting you back in a couple of months. I understand you’re pretty much funding the whole thing yourself?
JP: Well I always fund the whole thing myself, I mean I am the product manager if you will. (laughs). There is no more tour support just like there is no more record labels, you know what I mean, it all goes hand in hand.
MGM: Is that a tough thing to manage these days?
JP: Well there’s a couple of things going on. Basically a lot of bands from the US just simply can’t make it over to the UK or Europe for that matter for financial reasons. Either they were never that popular or no one’s interested or it’s too much money. I try and go over every year. I’ve tried for the last… forever…. to go over every year because it’s the only way to keep the fire burning, you know what I mean? Sometimes you make a little bit of money and sometimes you lose a lot of money but sometimes its a paid vacation. I always say this in all the interviews that the UK fans have been very loyal to me so I always try and pay them that respect by trying to shuffle my withered ass over there once a year. (laughter).
MGM: Hardly the way we see you, I’m sure. It’s still something as you say, where the UK fanbase is always keen to see you come and play. You’ve got the 25th anniversary of what’s still one of your best regarded albums out there, both critically and commercially I would imagine. There’s a lot of excitement about seeing you come back to perform it.
JP: Isn’t that crazy? 25 years – when you stop and examine it, first off, it makes you feel old but then when you look at it from the glass half full point of view, you think wow, 25 years has passed and this record still has prestige and people still want to hear it and to me, it’s a really positive thing.
MGM: I presume in terms of, you talked jokingly about “your withered old ass coming back over here” but when you look at say the earlier videos of you and the original band were together on, I was watching ‘Spinning Wheel’ last night because one of my friends is a massive pole enthusiast and there’s your pole dancer in the middle…
JP: Oh god…
MGM:…but you guys, naked from the waist up, pretty ripped, you know I am assuming that exercise regime isn’t there anymore, it’s got to be too difficult?
JP: I can’t speak for the other fat and bald guys (laughs) but I basically look the same as I did twenty years ago except I’ve got more tattoos. For me, it’s a constant war with advancing old age, you know what I mean? Once you start letting yourself go, it’s just a cumulative effect. I still run every day, still rehearse every day and I try to keep my shit together. Its all you have at the end of the day is your chops and I think a lot of guys have let themselves go and that’s up to them, that’s what they want to do but for me personally I don’t know, those YouTube’s, I want my YouTube’s to look sparkling.
MGM: I was going to say, you’ve already been immortalized by YouTube and MTV with a certain image and of course even 25 years on, your core fan base they want you to look the same don’t they? There’s no escaping that I suppose?
JP: Well they want you to look the same and in addition they want you to sound the same. That’s where it gets more dicey where you have to hit those notes that you hit 25 years ago. Let’s face it, I mean Brian Johnson, bless his heart, he’s in his 60’s and the enormous amount of work that it takes to have to sing ‘Shoot to Thrill’ or ‘Back in Black’ its brutal so its something the fans expect and its something they want and its something I feel they deserve. They are paying their good money and they want to hear the record the way they remember it and that’s very important.
MGM: Its good to know and I am sure it will be received extremely well. Just in terms of the tour, who are you coming over with because I recall reading a piece on the press release saying a talented bunch of musicians but not from the original band. It’s just you nowadays plus a group of world class musicians coming to play with you?
JP: They would have to be quality musicians. It’s not like I am coming over there and doing Def Leppard covers (laughs).
MGM: Very true.
JP: Actually this is the first time I am doing this and a lot of my friends do it all the time. Ripper Owens and recently Joe Lynn Turner, they get a band that already lives there and get them to learn all the songs and you go over there and rehearse with them and so basically, to answer your question, I found a Scottish band from Edinburgh called The King Lot and they are going to be not only playing their own music but they are going to be playing my music as well.
MGM: So are they going to act in their own rights as your support then.
JP: I have to keep a tight leash if that’s on them, if that’s what you mean – only kidding. (laughs). You know we’ve been doing the Skype thing, we’ve been doing the rehearsal thing and I am going to go over there a few days before and rehearse with them and they’re really good. They have to be to be able to play these songs. The bass player, they have to play ‘Why Do You Think They Call It Dope’ or any of those difficult songs so I mean they have to be really good. The nonsense that happened a year or two ago with ex members crawling out from under their respective rocks to hurl abuse about me, somehow stealing, or taking away from other people, I just didn’t want to deal with it. Its just ridiculous, man. I copyrighted the name a long time ago because no one else wanted it. Everyone else retired. Twenty years ago, it’s been almost twenty years since the original band broke up. Its was 1997 and that’s a long time for something to have run its course and for met to still try and resuscitate it, I mean I tried a few times to get the originals back together for some selective shows and it works on a local level because everyone has that weekend order thing where everyone shows up but I tried to tour in 2007 with a couple of the guys and it was so self destructive, I mean we basically almost went home after two shows because of the fighting and it wasn’t even new stuff we were fighting about, it was all those weird old arguments that I remember from 1988, it was just really bad and it doesn’t work. You can’t be the same people that you were twenty five years ago, you just can’t. You’ve got wives and kids, you’ve changed and you are not the same people. Musically you’re not the same. I’m the only guy that still does it so I decided what the hell. People in the UK especially identified me with that music and they know what they are going to get. They know that I am not going to jip them, I am not going to show up with some drunk ass band that can’t play and they are going to hear the music and especially this time around, they’re going to hear the Blackout record played front to back and its going to be good.
MGM: It’s something I am certainly looking forward to hearing. It’s going to be a good night definitely. Now can I just take your mind back to 1991 because I saw you play at the Docklands Arena with Skid Row and LA Guns as well. I was in the audience that night and it was a wonderful lineup to see the three bands like that on stage and I wondered, was that the starting point of when you got to know Tracii Guns? Because of course you did ‘Shrinking Violet’ with him as lead singer of LA Guns at one point as well. Was that where that relationship really kicked off on that tour?
JP: Well we knew each other in that small community of LA bands. So I could say that I knew him and we were acquaintances but we weren’t buddies, we didn’t hang out. That really happened way after the band had broken up and I think it was 1998 when I joined LA Guns and we did that record. That was when we really started to hang out and write songs together and when you write songs with people, that’s a big step and knowing one another on a more personal level. I was in that band two times – first time was 1998 and ’99 and then the second time was for a couple of years after I quit Ratt.
MGM: That was quite a lengthy time in your career wasn’t it? Was it six years or so you fronted Ratt?
JP: It was good for a while but sometimes when you just hear too many times, for example, the Skid Row, anybody who sings for Skid Row has to hear about Sebastian every twenty minutes. I am sure it gets pretty fucking annoying after a while but you do your gig and you do the best you can and when people heckle as they sometimes do, you suck it up but certain people in Ratt wanted Percy back because they wanted their stature back, they wanted to be headlining and playing bigger places and so I understood that and I wasn’t mad about it and I just stepped aside, knowing those guys can’t keep it together either for a few years before personal issues make them explode which obviously happened. That’s how it is, there wasn’t any animosity and I enjoyed being in Ratt. Warren is an amazing guitar player and one of the nicest guys that you could ever meet and it was fun for a while and I enjoyed it.
MGM: You’ve come up to date as well. I mean aside from what you are doing with the Love/Hate material, you had a very critically well received album with Quiet Riot only 12 or 18 months ago, didn’t you which was their Ten release?
JP: Yes and your next question would be?
MGM: Just your views on that because you have managed to front very big named bands from that same era and you are well respected in that musical sphere and working with them has resulted in a good album so will you be doing anything more with Quiet Riot?
JP: I don’t know. The climate for making new music has changed as you know, you know what I mean? I made my last solo record ‘Crucified‘ which I think was in 2013 and I financed the whole thing myself. I didn’t have a label and I sunk my own money into it and its a bit of a rude awakening when you realise that other than your fans that dig you and want to hear it really bad, the rest of the world doesn’t give a fuck and steals it and that’s just the way it is. I’m not going to get on my soapbox and try and turn back the hot tub time machine back to when people bought records all the time because there was no internet. It’s just the way it is. But putting that into perspective, if Frontier Records wants to give us a bunch of money or give me a bunch of money to make a record, I would be totally happy. I write songs all the time, I have a bunch of songs unrecorded but to sink thousands of dollars of my own money into a project, it annoys you when people email you and telling you your record sucks and they stole it and it sucks. It’s annoying.
MGM: I can imagine. Have you considered things like these kickstarter campaigns or even the pledge music side of things which does see a lot of albums being released where we know the fans have an interest and they care enough to want to buy it so at least its part funded and you’re not worried about investing your own funds all the time?
JP: I know about it, I’m aware of it but I have a philosophical problem with what I would term begging for, I feel like it diminishes who you are as a musician, I mean, when you look at a lot of these kickstarter campaigns, I mean when Daddy needs a new lawnmower, or you know the stripper needs a new pair of boots or something like that. It’s this sense of entitlement that no one needs to own up to what they want to do or what things like that. It’s just my personal problem. I know certain people have done quite well, I know Ginger being one of them. I guess it was really good with his thing.
MGM: Yeah I was going to say he was going to be my example of where its worked, I mean he has done four major pledge campaigns now of which I have sunk far more money into than I would admit to my wife, into (laughs) to get the limited version of the release, the extra track, the access to whatever he is doing. I absolutely love it because the updates you get from the studio, the pre release access to some of the demos on the track does actually mean that you feel you are part of the whole process, it feels quite nice.
JP: I wouldn’t say I would never do it its just my, I have a visceral reaction to putting my hand out to people. That’s all, that’s all. Everyone thinks musicians are rich and it’s somewhat disappointing when they find out they are just working Joe’s just like the rest of us do you know what I mean? I don’t know any millionaire musicians, most of the guys I know, you know, hustle gigs and work their asses off and sometimes you eat cake and sometimes you eat dirt. Its just sometimes, its just the way it is. I am blessed that I have been able to sustain myself since the whole Love/Hate hurrah to keep working and to be proud of what I am doing on record and on stage and I am blessed that I’ve been able to do that.
MGM: And you talk about your previous release, the last one you mentioned, ‘Crucified’. Can you tell me a little bit about the artwork on there because to me, looking at that, I can see Robert Altman, I can see The Walking Dead, there’s a lot of similarities there but it’s much more the classic zombie comic that we’ve come to know over the last few years. Is there any connection there or is it just pure chance I am seeing?
JP: Well it’s pretty much pure chance (laughs). A fan did a mock up of me hanging on the Hollywood sign and sent it to me, this was years ago, and I thought, the picture was really cool but I never thought about doing anything with it, it was just fans send you stuff sometimes as a tribute and he sent me that picture so when it came time to do a new record, I asked him if I could use it for the cover and he was of course flattered and he said yes but I mean its an amazing drawing, it really is. In retrospect, some people thought it was Death Metal or something but that was just ridiculous. It was just a badass cover.
MGM: Yeah its badass, it’s an excellent piece of artwork. Its one of those things I would like to see blown up sitting in a frame on a wall somewhere. The detail is fantastic.
JP: Well, it is blown up and sitting on my wall (laughs).
MGM: Rightly so. Well there’s my excuse to come to the West Coast and I’ll come knock on your door some day. In terms of other sidelines that you’ve got, whilst the music, obviously, has managed to keep you busy over the last twenty five years, as well you’ve dipped your toe in the water, not only as a producer on one of your solo albums but also as a writer. The three books you have released to date all seem I can only describe as pretty dark. Where was your head at when you were writing those?
JP: Hard to say. Obviously the first book was written when I was still, believe it or not, still living in the old Love/ Hate loft downtown in LA. Everyone else had gone off to greener or browner pastures with wives and the kids and stuff and I was sort of the Charlton Heston in the Omega Man, you know that movie (laughs). I was sitting in my walled in castle, surrounded by bums and hobos and transvestites and prostitutes and criminals and I was still, I didn’t want to give up, I didn’t want to join the rat race so it was funny because how it started, I was living at our rehearsal studio and I just started writing on the walls, it was funny, I figured that if Ramses II had been buried and his walls were all covered in hieroglyphics and glorifying his life, I would do the same so I just took a sharpie and I wrote long passages all over the walls and ended up I wasn’t dead and buried in my Tutankhamun or whatever but that was how the writing started as sort of a desperate attempt to sustain my soul during all the dark times and poverty and my band breaking up and all that stuff because Love/Hate, when that band broke up, I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to do. I had lived with those guys for fifteen years almost and all of a sudden, it was over and they decided to walk away and I was the only one left. What do you do? You get your pad of paper and you start writing and so, justifiably that first book is fucked up and dark and I found I had a knack for doing that so the second book became stranger still and then the third book, I had finally gotten the hang of being a fictional writer, being a fictional writer, of being able to write a long, good short story and that third book is probably the best written I want to say but still dark as hell, still dark, gallows humour stuff like that. That’s what interests me, you know what I mean? I don’t watch Dancing With the Stars, I’m not entertained by inane nonsense. I like Bukowski, I like writers that are deep and have more of a message than what I see on tv which is basically Dr Seuss (laughs).
MGM: The last one was ‘Unhappy Endings’ wasn’t it? Obviously that has a natural ring to it in terms of you being able to wrap it up as a trilogy of books and be done. Is there a desire to do anything more because it’s coming up to ten years since you wrote the last one?
JP: I know, I know I’ve been very busy Adrian (laughs). You really have to, if you want to write, I mean really write, you have to set months aside of your life to dig in deep and sort of cloister yourself away and to whatever, to allow the muse and the gods to help you put it on paper and stuff so lately I’ve been working my ass off so much, touring and writing and recording and stuff like that, that’s where all of my energy has gone lately. Writing stories is fun and its really awesome and in my bookcase in my house, I can look at my books and say ‘wow that’s quite an achievement’ to have done all that so who knows.
MGM: But at the time we have now, the key thing is the music and the upcoming tour as well. Are you taking it anywhere else apart from the UK or is that it till the end of the year or is it early next year where you go somewhere else?
JP: I was offered other shows in Scandinavia and Germany and what not but so much can go wrong when you are the treasurer and financial backer of a tour company. Last year, in 2014, I bought with me from Vegas, a bunch of my friends and it was awesome. We had a great time and our last show was Hard Rock Hell in North Wales and coming to Heathrow to go home, we got stuck, there was a lorry accident, we were stuck on the M1 for three and a half hours and it just fucked me. Financially speaking I had to change everyone’s ticket right then and it just wiped me out. I am just saying that stuff can happen, You can show up to a gig in Europe and club promoter says ‘I don’t have any money to pay you’. It happens all the time, it isn’t quite so easy and when you’re from the US and you go to Europe, I got fucked in 2009 by a promoter in the UK that was my buddy. He just fucked me for thousands of pounds. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to take him to the highest court in the land? When you come out to Europe and stuff like that, you are going on a wing and a prayer that everything is going to go according to plan and you’re going to get paid and nothing is going to fuck it up. I feel more comfortable staying on my little island (laughs) with all my friends and all the promoters I know and have done business with. I don’t want any surprises.
MGM: And by keeping it tight and a little bit smaller, at least you’ve got greater control over events I suppose?
JP: It’s rough out there. I don’t want to start crying in a pillow or anything like that but sometimes the best intentions, you get fucked and its not a good thing. I mean go to the UK, work with promoters that you know, for example my friend in Edinburgh, Scotland I’ve known for years and I know he’s not going to fuck me. We’re buddies. I would rather have a relationship with people over the years of touring and its a far better thing.
MGM: I am really looking forward to seeing your show in November and thank you for your time today.
JP: Thank you and I will see you in a couple of months.