’80s rockers return to McGuffy’s House of Rock
By Allyson B. Crawford
Photo: ’80s glam metal mainstays L.A. Guns will perform at McGuffy’s House of Rock on Friday, Aug. 2
For diehard fans of ’80s metal, the story of L.A. Guns is both complicated and frustrating. Strong album releases, popular videos on MTV and the big hair craze of the late ’80s helped L.A. Guns gain fame. Internal band clashes, lineup changes and the eventual popularity of grunge helped shove them back underground. While it’s true that L.A. Guns never reached the level of fame like contemporaries Mötley Crüe, Poison or even Dokken, the band has retained a mighty following. Hardcore fans travel the globe to catch their concerts. The band is nearly always touring. In fact, L.A. Guns will play at McGuffy’s House of Rock on Friday, Aug. 2 – a venue the band has played before.
For the longest time, seeing L.A. Guns on a marquee meant immediate confusion. “Which version?” was always the first question out of a true fan’s mouth. This question always meant two things: one, the person asking definitely knew their ’80s metal. And two, there would be a strong opinion about whichever version was booked for that particular gig. You see, for years, there were two touring versions of L.A. Guns making the rounds on the ’80s metal circuit. One, fronted by Phil Lewis and considered the definitive voice of the band. He’s the singer with the British accent crooning on all those hits you remember from your high school days, especially “The Ballad of Jayne.” The other version is lead by guitarist Tracii Guns – the “Guns” in both Guns n’ Roses and, naturally, L.A. Guns. (For those wondering, Slash replaced Tracii in Guns n’ Roses).
These days, Tracii Guns has packed up his touring version of L.A. Guns and is now recording and booking gigs under the name The Tracii Guns League of Gentleman. This means that now, when you hear L.A. Guns is coming to your town, it’s definitely the Phil Lewis version. Phil’s version also features drummer Steve Riley, also of the “classic” lineup. Bassist Scott Griffin has been in the band for a few years and Michael Grant, formerly of the neo-glam band Endeverafter, has just joined the ranks on guitar.
“We put on a really good show,” Griffin told Dayton City Paper without hesitation. “We still care about things and take it seriously. I’ve only been in the band seven years but two of the guys – Phil and Steve – have been there since the beginning. They still give it 100 percent. Others mail it in and they don’t. I give them all the credit in the world. I hope I can go that long. Everyone in the band has either quit or been fired at one time and has come back. We just won’t quit.”
Won’t quit indeed. L.A. Guns released the album Hollywood Forever in 2012, largely praised among fans of ’80s metal and criminally ignored by just about everyone else. For Griffin and the rest of L.A. Guns, continuing to perform is what having a music career is all about. It’s an economy of scale issue: just because you’re not the biggest doesn’t mean you can’t be the best – or at least have the most fun.
“I’m not one of those people who is like ‘Okay, you had your day, let it rest,’” Griffin continued. “You don’t have to be the Rolling Stones to have a career. It’s a huge world out there, and when you tour you realize how big it is. There’s always these little crevices, and we’ll end up in a Dayton, Ohio or somewhere in Italy … and there will be a city that we can pack a big club. We’ll play a festival with Alice Cooper with 25,000 or 50,000 people, and the next day … we’re at a show with 100 people. There’s something about playing a show when the crowd is really on your side and they love being there. I feel so fortunate I’ve stuck with this for so long.”
L.A. Guns will spend the remainder of the summer and early fall touring around America and hitting up a couple of larger festivals along the way, including the ’80s In The Park festival set for Melbourne, Fla. on Sept. 29. That gig will put them right up against other big ’80s metal acts like Warrant and Slaughter. The band will wrap up this current run of shows, fittingly, at the Whisky A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, right where it all began for the band three decades ago.
L.A. Guns will perform on Friday Aug. 2 at McGuffy’s House of Rock, 5418 Burkhardt Road. Opening the evening will be Beauty From Ashes, The Jackalopes and SuperKreep. Tickets are $18 and are available for purchase online and at the door. The show is ages 18+. Doors at 7 p.m. For more information, visit laguns.net.
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country.
Reach Allyson at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com