GEORGE LYNCH Talks About New Solo Album, Dokken, and the “Dump the Chump” Project
Classic Rock Revisited’s Jeb Wright had a conversation with guitarist George Lynch regarding Lynch’s new solo album, Dokken, and his project called “Dump The Chump”. They also discussed Lynch’s trying out for Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band.
Check out their conversation below:
Jeb: The album coming out is called “Kill All Control“. It is officially a George Lynch solo album. As I understand it, this was not going to be the case. It was to be a Souls of We album?
George: It was a follow up to “Let the Truth Be Known” but we had some complications in the singer department and our record that was to take five weeks to finish ended up taking two years.
We have four singers on it, which really turned out to be a happy accident. I have no regrets; we made it work. People seem to really dig the record so; somehow, it all seems to have worked out.
Jeb: You play in many styles on the CD. Was that why you used different singers? Could London LeGrand just not pull off what you needed?
George: It wasn’t that. London was in a strange personal space at the time. It was a weird collision of personal events and the fact that we were trying to get the record done. I think London proved he is entirely capable when he came back in the 11th hour and sang “Wicked Witch,” which we made the first single.
Jeb: Did you have people on the list that you were hoping to work with or did it just work out that way?
George: It was all just an unpredictable sequence of events. I just tried to go with the flow. Whatever plan we tried to make fell apart. We made plans and things would happen that no one could have anticipated and we had to start over. That happened over and over again with this album. It was a series of events that no one could have predicted would ever happen. We took all kinds of crazy left and right turns but, at the end of the day, we put everything together in a nice, cohesive way. It was a happy ending to a very convoluted and long process.
Jeb: We have to talk about the song “Son of Scary.” Where did this come?
George: I have always thought about doing something completely new instrumentally, or an instrumental record, which I have never got around too.
The idea to do “Son of Scary” came from a few years ago when Guitar Hero called me and wanted to buy “Mr. Scary” and put it on Guitar Hero. I thought it was an honor that they would do that and I really wanted to see it happen. The thing is, that back in the Dokken days, I was a big proponent of splitting everything up equally. I wrote the song, but I split the credits up equally. I didn’t realize that would give away control of the song as everyone owns it equally. Back in the day, when you’re coming up, you come from nothing and you have nothing, so if somebody wanted to use one of our songs and give us money then, of course, we would have all agreed to that. All these years later, there was one person in the band that, out of spite, wanted to block it, legally, even though they would have gotten a quarter of the money. Guitar Hero got scared away. The only thing left to do was to write another tune, so I got with Fred Coury and went to his studio and recorded “Son of Scary.” The ironic thing is that by the time we got around to doing it, Guitar Hero was out of business.
Jeb: When you solo, do you map out the fretboard and decide what to do or is it just all improvisation?
George: I have only done one solo in my life that was premeditated and totally worked out and that was “Tooth and Nail.” I usually just do it by the seat of my pants. I go in the studio and they cue up the track and I start playing. I always tell the engineer to record the first thing I do. They always think you are just warming up and that you’re not quite ready and they will just let you run through the whole song. Usually, my first pass is the best pass. Invariably, I am sweating and I just poured my heart and soul into the solo and I say, “Did you get that?” And he goes, “We weren’t even rolling tape.” Then you spend the next two hours trying to get back to that first inspiration. I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me.
I never really chase stuff. When we play from inspiration only then the first thing is usually magical, and when you try to recreate that then it gets really frustrating.
Jeb: From a layman’s perspective your playing sounds charted out because it is so complex. It is very impressive that you can do that off the cuff.
George: The stuff in the ‘80’s was composed in the studio with the punch in. I never played it back to front in the studio. I wouldn’t know what I was doing at first. I would play the solo and then go, “I like the beginning and the ending but I need to work on that section in the middle.” You then plot it out. So, I guess I do plot it out in a way, but I do it all when I am in the studio. I use the studio as a compositional tool. When it is all where I want it then I have to execute it and play it all the way through. I used to do all of my solos like that back in the Dokken days.
In the ’90’s and currently, I just play things a little more off the seat of my pants. If I have to fix a few things then I do but I just blow through the whole thing in one pass.
Jeb: You are getting ready to do some dates with Lynch Mob. Are you going to play any of these new tunes?
George: We are considering doing at least one song. We, as a band, have to talk about that. The record comes out on the 19th of July and we have dates from the end of July to the end of August.
Jeb: You were on “That Metal Show” on VH1 Classic with Don Dokken and everyone thought a reunion of the original band was going to happen. I have to tell you that I never thought it would happen. Now, it appears I was correct as it does not look like it will happen.
George: You were right. You and Don knew it all along; the rest of us were a bunch of tools.
Jeb: I just didn’t think that Don would share the spotlight with George Lynch.
George: He would not share the spotlight or the money. The real bottom line is the money. He wouldn’t become a quarter partner instead of owning the whole thing. That is really it in a nutshell, the rest is just noise. Anything else that anybody tells you is bullshit because that is what it is all about.
Jeb: Are you okay with that?
George: I would have liked it to happen. I would have liked to play with my old friends, Mick [Brown] and Jeff [Pilson] and I would have liked to play with Don, if he would just kind of tone it down a little bit. I found out the hard way that that is never going to happen.
Not to feel sad for him, because he has created this himself, out of selfishness, but he will never really know the joy of playing with his friends and building something and going through hardships together. He won’t know writing songs out of nothing and making records that you can be proud of and that people appreciate. He won’t know about enjoying time with his friends and sharing all of that, whether it is on the road, in the studio or just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company.
A band is like your second family and it is really a beautiful thing. Don will never know that as he isolates himself and makes himself above other people in his own mind. It is a lonely place to be.
I have been hit with that sort of thing a lot from my managers. They feel very strongly that it is silly of me to divvy up things with the band because it makes it complicated and they have to worry about three other people. They say that I should just be a solo artist because my name is just as strong as the band’s name, if not stronger. I just think that is a lonely place to be as I wouldn’t want to just play with a bunch of hired guns. I want to play with my buddies and work really hard and all share in the reward for the sacrifice. I think that is kind of the whole point of playing in a band. I always wanted to play in a band with my friends.
Jeb: As you were describing the Dokken situation I could not help but think that you were describing the exact opposite of what you do.
George: The only reason this album is called “George Lynch” is because London left and we ended up having four singers so it wasn’t a Souls of We record anymore; we couldn’t call it that. It is called “George Lynch” but as you see by the pictures on the CD it is a band. We couldn’t market it that way because it wasn’t a fair representation of what the album was going to be. Plus, you get the pressure from the labels. How are they going to market it? Souls of We doesn’t mean a whole lot to the labels but my name does. They have a product that they have to sell so you have to play ball and be practical. It can be tough.
I had this same type of problem with a record I did back in ’99 called “Smoke This“. It really had nothing to do with the Lynch Mob but in the 11th hour they flipped on me and basically had me by the balls. They insisted that we call the album Lynch Mob because they said radio would answer the phone when they said “Lynch Mob” but they said they wouldn’t answer the phone if it was called “Lynch Biscuit” or whatever we were going to call it. You see this all the time. Tom Morello will come out and do a new project and nobody cares. Tom is from Rage Against the Machine, how can you not get that? It really shows the power of a brand name. If Coke changed their name then that would not be very smart.
Jeb: You mentioned earlier that you have never done a solo, instrumental album. Will we ever really get that?
George: It is on my radar from some point next year. It will probably not be early next year because I have a lot of other things in the pipeline. I’ve got a record I recorded all the music to with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown. We are calling it “Tooth and Nail“, that’s Dokken without Don. The record is called “Dump the Chump.”
Jeb: No way!
George: Yeah. Don used to show up for rehearsals about half the time so it would just be the three of us with Jeff singing and we loved it.
When the Dokken reunion was not going to happen we just said, “Why don’t we just do this? This is way cooler.” Many years later, we are doing it and it is just for fun. It is half new material and it is half old Dokken material. We will finish that up around the end of the year because Jeff is busy with Foreigner and I am busy with several things.
Jeb: Last one: Did you really try out for Ozzy’s band when Randy Rhoads tried out?
George: I was up for it three times, seriously up for it. I was one of a couple of guys being considered.
The most serious was when they flew me to Scotland and I toured with the band for a little bit. I rehearsed with them in Texas and then we came back to LA. They had one more person that they wanted to look at, as a formality, and that was Jake E. Lee. They ended up going for him and not me.
Jeb: I like the albums Jake was on but I would love to have heard you jam with them.
George: It was a great choice. They didn’t base it on playing because he didn’t play very well; I have talked to him about this many times. It was really based on his looks. He had hair down to his ass and he wore leathers. He looked amazing and he moved amazing and that is what they wanted.
Tommy Aldridge and I have talked about this because he was against having me in the band, which was a very critical component of their decision. Tommy said that I was really my own guy and that I wasn’t the kind of guy who fit in well playing other people’s stuff, which is very true. I am not a good guy to sit around and play around the campfire because I don’t know any other songs. I just kind of write my own stuff and do my own thing.
I didn’t have a pot to piss in and I was living in a little apartment with my two kids and my wife. I was driving a delivery truck and was a Teamster. I delivered booze in a really bad part of town.
I quit my job to go do Ozzy and they weren’t paying me a nickel. They said it was all good and that I was in. What they ended up offering me was $200 a week, which was about two and a half times less than what I was making. It was really sad.
They didn’t sit down with me or anything. Ozzy was in a back room somewhere just kind of moping to himself. He turned around and said, “Oh, by the way, we won’t be needing you anymore. We found somebody else. Goodbye and good luck.” My heart just sank. I walked outside and shed a tear and my wife told me that it would be alright.
We came back home and found an eviction notice on our apartment door. We ended up having to move in with her folks and I found another job with a company doing the same thing. Then along came Dokken and the rest is history.
Read George Lynch’s entire interview with Classic Rock Revisited by clicking here.