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WHERE THERE'S SMOKE THERE'S FIRE -
An Interview with Lynch Mob

Interview by Christopher J. Kelter - December 9, 1999


With their new album "Smoke This" on store shelves, Lynch Mob have taken their sound to the clubs of America.  Lynch Mob's experience on the road has brought them closer together as they strive for a new musical vision.  Their spirit, humor, and love for music were brimming in the interview; the chemistry of George Lynch (guitars), Gabe Rosales (bass), Clancy McCarthy (drums), Kirk Harper (vocals), and Mark Simpson (guitars) was as evident in the interview as it was on stage later that evening.  Read this transcript of the interview were the Mob poked fun at each other, playfully teased the aura surrounding their new style, and generally loosened up. 

Rough Edge: "Smoke This" has the energy and dynamics of a debut record, but it also has the poised confidence of a veteran act - how did the mixture of experience and talent come together in making the record?

Gabe: George was looking for a drummer and the guy that managed the studio knew people in the area and he recommended Clancy who was in a band called Oil.  The two of them brought me in with the singer from my band - the singer from my band didn't work out.  Mark was working on the project before I did. 

Clancy:  It was George, Mark, and me.  (Note: at this point, Clancy goes into jokester mode)  It didn't work out because Mark was an asshole and he left us. 

Gabe: (continuing the jokester mode) Well, Mark supposedly had a tour to do with Flotsam And Jetsam.

Clancy: (still joking) Or at least he claims he was in Flotsam and Jetsam for the last four years. 

Kirk: (defending Mark) Hey, I've seen pictures of Mark with Flotsam And Jetsam in Metal Edge!  

(Mark smiles)

Clancy:  (still joking) Oh, yeah, the long-haired guy!

Rough Edge: What did the band use as inspiration while creating "Smoke This?" Was there a particular band or style you were listening to?

Kirk: The inspiration was called "deadline" - that inspired us to do it really fast.

Gabe: George had a ton of ideas that he had recorded at his house along with a drum machine.  We had to write lyrics; we also changed things up a bit.  When Kirk came in it added a whole new flavor. 

George: Kirk didn't come in until the end of the project.

Gabe:  None of us really knew what the finished product was going to sound like.  We really didn't know what the album was going to sound like until we heard it during the mastering process. 

Clancy:  We literally found out what the band was going to sound like as we were tracking the album.

Kirk: Yeah, Gabe didn't hear the vocals or the finished product until after the whole thing was done!  It was almost like listening to a brand new CD.

Clancy: (looking at Gabe) You were gone for one reason or another right?

Kirk: (looking at Clancy) Well, you were gone for like three weeks, too, right at the very beginning.  You hadn't heard the vocals either - I remember one time you came in, heard a little bit of the new vocals, and you didn't get a chance to hear it until it was finished.

George:  Yeah, he had to go buy it to hear it! (everyone laughs)

Kirk: Clancy bought it at Best Buy the day it came out.  Clancy said, "Wow!"

Rough Edge: "Smoke This" turned out pretty good, all things considered ...

George: We should put a disclaimer with the record.  The record should come with a list of excuses...

Kirk: Yeah, people would then say, "It's really not so bad."  I mean, after we listened to it we heard some flaws...

George: Just picture Kirk sitting in a closet, with a little naked light bulb hanging down, singing into a little recording machine - that's how we did the vocals.

Kirk: I did the vocals in the "outhouse" studio; the rest of the band was in the main house while I was in the guest house!

Rough Edge: The band has pretty much been playing every night for the last six weeks.  The band's sense of humor, which is pretty evident at this point, must be critical on the road - how does the band pass the time on the road, how does the band keep it together?

George: Alcohol. (everyone laughs and then George does his best Ozzy imitation) Demon Alcohol.  Well, how do we keep it together?  We keep our fist fights down to three a day. 

Kirk: Exactly.

George: Seriously, I've never seen so much physical contact on the road.

Rough Edge: That's got to be different for you, George.

George: You mean with all the friction I had in Dokken?  No, we hardly saw each other - only a few tussles in fifteen years.

Clancy:  The physicality on this tour has been when people start diving into a table full of people and start head-butting people.

Gabe: But that's just joking around.

George: I was talking about real animosity in general from the people surrounding us.  The other night our light man was literally being choked by the club owner...

Kirk: Yeah, I'm surprised that didn't escalate into something...

Rough Edge: In Allentown?

Kirk: It was in Lebanon.  Tables were being turned over, six chairs were thrown.  It was tense.

Gabe: We should have put "Let's Get Physical" by Olivia Newton-John on the PA. (everyone laughs)

Rough Edge: Kirk, the general lack of positive messages in music is a bit alarming; however, with "When I Rize" you put forth that the responsibility of self is critical - where did that message come from?

Kirk:  I don't know if I can put it on one particular thing.  I just think that the song hit me a certain way and at the time I was coming up with lyrics it was a situation of trying to capture the band's overall positive attitude, yet still keep the vibe that we are each strong individuals.  I was trying to convey the message that the band is on the rise and that we're on our way up.  I wanted it to be a boost for ourselves, because gosh darnnit, somebody has to tell us that we're cool.

Rough Edge: Gabe, you're the youngest person in Lynch Mob and this has to be a hell of an experience - has it met your expectations?

Gabe: Definitely, it's been great.  Basically, I'm happy to be alive and play music everyday.  I get to wake up each morning and jam with great musicians.  It's all I could ever ask for - it's like a dream. 

Rough Edge: Clancy, we all know that George has always focused on the drummer when devising guitar riffs - what have you brought to George's playing style to make Lynch Mob what it is now?

Clancy:  Well, to a certain extent I was able to bring something out of the original material that George had put to tape which was pretty straight-forward.  With the Lynch Mob I've been able to apply funk and swing more than a normal drummer would.  I put a little bit of funk and soul into it.

Gabe: Clancy affected the rhythms.

Clancy:  Some of the stuff changed drastically from the original tapes, to the record, to the live situation. 

George: Clancy has a funky style, a more modern style - a little more in tune with what drummer  are doing these days.  He's a very articulate drummer.  The patterns are more complex which is different than I'm used to.

Kirk: Isn't it funny that it is the drummers in the last ten years that have become the musical force in music?  Back in the Eighties the bass and drums were playing straight four/four time.  And now with bands like 311 and No Doubt...

George:  The bass players and drummers are the ones shredding...

Kirk: Yeah, the rhythm section has the shredders while the guitar players are laying back in the groove.  It's strange, but cool.  I think Lynch Mob captures the essence of all that. 

George: Everybody in Lynch Mob is shredding.

Rough Edge: Mark ...

Kirk: Simpson!

George: Mark can shred; he doesn't because he's shy.

Mark: I'm a shy shredder.

Kirk: Every single note costs him five dollars.

Gabe: Anything he plays above the fifth fret costs him money.

George: We don't let him play on frets six through twenty-two.

Kirk: That's why you ride that low C all the time?  You pound the hell out of that string!

Rough Edge: I guess I'd never thought I'd see George Lynch playing along side of a second guitarist on stage - what has that meant to you and your development?

Mark: I'm learning a whole new style.  I'm used to just playing heavy "chunka-chunka" riffs all the time.  I'm playing full chords - I have to be accurate.  Accuracy is a big thing in Lynch Mob.

George: You're learning how to play with loops.

Gabe: Exactly.

Kirk: He's lost some of the spotlight, but he's gained a lot more responsibility.

George: It's the same for me.  I've had to learn new rhythm styles than I've done in the past.

Kirk: It's also part of a natural progression.

George: I've changed my tone a little bit - tightened it up a bit.  I had to learn to play in a more narrowly focused manner without covering every harmonic spectrum.

Kirk: Two guitarists have to learn how to lock in with each other when they are playing.

Rough Edge: George, how does the new incarnation of Lynch Mob support your lifelong venture for tone, for soul, and for feel?

George: It's a different slant on what I've done in the past.  I'm thinking of going back to rack gear because Mark's rack gave him a tighter tone.  I've had a certain sound over the years and I'm trying to do something new.  For the next record I'll change some things up a little bit.  Mark's chunkier tone is appealing. 

Kirk: It's all about growth.

George: I used to always be worried about solos - I don't have to be worried about that as much 'cause nowadays you can play just about anything and get away with it.

Kirk: It's about songs.

George: Yeah, the songs are the focus.  We're trying to do amazing departures away from the vocals, but it doesn't have to be a guitar solo.  Still, it has to be something that captures your ear.

Kirk: It could be as simple as getting a guitar sound that's unique.

George: Like the guy in Rage Against The Machine - when he goes for normal guitar solos he leaves you a little bit flat.  But, when he does those things with the toggle switch - that's cool.  Mark's good at doing tricky stuff like that.

Kirk (in a joking tone): Mark isn't a good guitar player, but he can play the hell out of a toggle switch.

George: Well, look at what Hendrix did.  He just made some noises with the guitar and you were left wondering "what did he just do"?  Mark does that a lot - we all try to figure out what he's doing; we say "is that a guitar"?

Kirk (looking at Mark): Yeah, "what the hell was that buzzing sound"?

(Mark chuckles)

George: It's like when Mark takes all those effects and turns all the knobs "off" and it makes him sound like a constipated troll from hell. (everyone laughs)

Rough Edge: I would have to guess that many fans are worried about the longevity of the current line-up?  What does the future hold for Lynch Mob as the band currently exists?

George: I'm not quitting.  I might get fired, though. (everyone laughs)

Clancy: Oh, come on, George...

George: I got fired from my last band.  (more laughter)  Seriously, nothing is ever forever.  I think we are going to see the Lynch Mob in this version for at least one more record.  That's what I'd like to see.

Rough Edge: On the Lynch Mob website it says "Zuloo Is Coming."

Kirk: He is!

Rough Edge: Would anyone care to explain this?  Or is anyone at liberty to explain this?

Kirk: There's this hippie guy who had his own philosophy about life and how to approach things including music.  He lived up in the hills as a hermit and he had all these disciples.  He had people who would study with him and bring him things.  This guy does the new age type of thing in the Middle Eastern transcendental freaky music - apparently he does the most amazing things with sitars and guitars and everything.  The legend of Zuloo is such that he was "The Cat."  Yet, very few people ever saw him or talked to him.

George: He was totally anti-materialistic, anti-promotion.  He didn't want to be famous.

Kirk: He didn't care if anyone knew who he was.

George: He would make Peter Green look like a rock star! (laughter all around)  He is a bit of a subversive.  There's a tape floating around - it's like a legend.  But it appeals to the fact that people are still waiting for a new guitar hero.

Kirk: Nobody has blown your mind since Hendrix.

George: Or Eddie Van Halen.


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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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