December 18, 2017 Interview – George Lynch
Fame and fortunate are great, but as a musician, nothing is more redeeming than creative growth. One of ’80s Hard Rock’s most renowned guitarists, George Lynch, to this day strives to expand his abilities, write the perfect song, and create the most killer riff. Showing no sign of fatigue, he continues to work hard with Lynch Mob and KXM, among other projects. In fact, 2017 alone has seen the release of Lynch Mob’s The Brotherhood and Lynch’s second collaborative album with Stryper’s Michael Sweet, Unified. So what is the key to it all for Lynch? Simple, it is the passion for music. Recently we caught up with the guitarist to talk the years gone by, his latest albums, touring, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Entering the Rock-n-Roll world nearly four decades ago you have built a name as a leading guitar force with Dokken and Lynch Mob, among other projects. First tell us, what has this incredible ride been like for you?
George Lynch – Well, it’s been somewhat volatile, challenging, but when looking back on it, in hindsight, things seem smoother than they probably actually were. (Laughs) It was an adventure and it continues to be; it’s really an adventure in the truest sense because the bottom can fall out any minute. Tastes can change, who knows what can happen. It just requires you – and I am not just saying myself, I am speaking for everybody – musicians of this era, to be very nimble and flexible; to be able to dodge this or that way and react. I think that’s what makes life interesting, I like the challenge.
In hindsight, I really wouldn’t want things that just had gone smooth. In other words: get into Dokken, getting a big record deal, and be famous for the rest of your life like Bon Jovi and that’s it. Just keep playing the same song, you’re super rich, and maybe your biggest challenge is you couldn’t get into that five-star hotel and have to check into the other five-star hotel. (Laughs). I’m very grateful for the fact that I’ve been able to sustain myself and my family, like you said, four to five decades playing music!
CrypticRock.com – It definitely is an adventure like anything in life. You were a key force in Dokken for many years and your guitar sound helped launch the band into superstardom. How would you describe your time in Dokken?
George Lynch – Well, it had challenges which were very well known, personality challenges. Which is very unfortunate because when I look at my situation in the past in Dokken, and there other situations where there were personality conflicts, that ruined an otherwise wonderful situation. I look at some of these newer bands that are having the same problems, these people with phenomenal success, and yet, there’s no difference from the ’80s or ’70s bands with too much fame and too much money too quickly. All of a sudden you start believing your own hype, then there are personality conflicts and you just destroy this wonderful thing you’ve built.
The same with Dokken: we had tremendous amount of wind at our back and we could’ve been set for life; we were given this incredible gift of having notoriety and record sales, all the things we worked and dreamed of. We essentially threw it away over an ego fit and greed; greed is usually a big part of it too. We’re not expressing our better angels and I think it’s just endemic of the human condition; the worst and the best of us kind of live together at the same time. It’s fascinating to look at from a distance but when you’re in the middle of it, it can be wonderful and terrible at the same time. I had my best times in my life in Dokken and my worst.
CrypticRock.com – As you said, it is the age old problem with humanity, personal conflict. In 1990, you had initially left Dokken and soon formed Lynch Mob. Lynch Mob would go onto great success as well. The band has had breaks through, but has been very active for almost ten years now. What inspired you to bring Lynch Mob back for good?
George Lynch – Well, when I put Lynch Mob together in 1989, I wanted to put my dream band together. I had my pick of the litter: I had people beating down my door, just about anybody in the band. The idea was – there was not going to be any excuses with this band. With Dokken, if I made my perfect band, I wouldn’t have picked Don for my lead singer. He came from Blues, Roots and R&B music. I come from Hard Rock and ’60s Rock, which is all derivative of Blues and R&B obviously. Don wasn’t really the singer for the music I was hearing in my head. I’m not saying it isn’t good music, it’s just not my cup of tea.
I think what happened actually, with Dokken, is because of that; we had a very strange but successful chemistry. I brought what I described to you to the table, and Don brought what he did to the table, which is the antithesis of what I did. That’s what created this chemistry, which people recognized and appreciated. With Lynch Mob, there wasn’t any of that. With Lynch Mob, I did what I went with, what I felt I wanted with no apologies. We get a very bluesy, kind of Paul Rodgers’ style singer who comes from an Aretha Franklin Blues/R&B/Gospel camp. That’s what I wanted to hear. So, we created this little greasier, dirtier, harder-edged thing. That’s always what I wanted: that’s my core musical impulse, it is where gravity draws me; that’s my foundation and I’ve always tried to keep that solid as a foundational core band. When I do other projects, those are all in addition to it. They are sort of outside the periphery of, those are guesthouses and tool sheds.
CrypticRock.com – Yes and Lynch Mob is really a mirror of your style as well as influence. Lynch Mob have toured consistently for some time now and dished out a lot of new music in recent years. You recently released The Brotherhood. What was the writing and recording process behind this new record?
George Lynch – It was a concerted band effort, two year project. It wasn’t intended to be a two year project initially. These days, we try to get in and get out to work economically, work smarter, and work more efficiently. The Brotherhood record kind of had a mind of its own. The bottom line, we cannot really progress if we don’t feel something is part of the evolutionary process of our vision as musicians. About a year into the record, we were all on tour and listening to the record where it was at. Our heads were sort of cast down, thinking we were gonna be celebrating and patting ourselves on the back of how great we were, and it was not that.
We were all kind of bummed listening to it, thinking “This isn’t cutting it; we can’t do this, we can’t release this.” We had to make the decision to rededicate ourselves to making, to rework on the record. It took time to do but it was worth it, we made the right decision. We could’ve just thrown it out there and said, “Take the money, it’s just a Lynch Mob record; nobody cares, nobody wants to hear anything but Wicked Sensation anyway.” (Laughs) I never want to resign ourselves to that: we wanted to make a record that matters, somewhat historically significant, and I think we’ve accomplished that with maybe eighty-five percent of it.
CrypticRock.com – It is a solid collection of tracks. The vocals and your guitar work really blend quite well together. What is like with this Lynch Mob lineup?
George Lynch – This is like family. My band’s always been my second family; they’ve always been my friends. I value that relationship a lot, so it goes much deeper than just some guys you’re playing with this year. It’s not like that. I just try to keep it together, like being what it is which is pretty hard too. Against all odds, we’ve been able to keep it together for a few years now. Also, Jimmy and Sean have been in previous incarnations of the band, in the ’90s through the 2000s. Actually, Oni, Sean, Jimmy, and myself were in previous incarnations of this band. We’ve been around a while.
Honestly, this is the most long-lived version of the band since 1989. Once we passed that mark, I thought, “Well, you know what, let’s work hard to set this one in stone and hope for the best. Let’s work hard and hope this stays together.” You never know, some huge band comes along and wants to snatch someone out of your band, which can happen. The weird thing about Lynch Mob is, I think we’re an underappreciated act and I’m not just saying it because it’s objectively true. We believe in ourselves and we think we need to get out to more people to play live so they can hear the music that we make and the performances we bring.
Having said that, we’re fairly recognized by other bands as a contender. Just on a professional level, between ourselves, we all know each other. As individuals, we’re ripe for picking because the band is not on the level of the bigger bands; we’re not Metallica, we’re not Van Halen, we’re not an attractable, hugely successful monolithic Rock machine. We are down the rungs on the ladder, so it’s easy to steal members out of our band is what I’m trying to get at; these guys are all high caliber and people want them. That’s one of our biggest challenges: to keep the band intact from these other bigger groups that would like to pick us off.
CrypticRock.com – You have done a good job keeping it together. The Brotherhood is a solid record and it will be exciting to see what people think once they discover it. You are quite a busy guy, in fact, you seem to release new material regularly. You have collaborated with a variety of people over the years, including Michael Sweet and KXM. In 2017 alone, you have Lynch Mob’s The Brotherhood as well as Sweet & Lynch’s Unified. How do you manage to find the time for all this work?
George Lynch – Well, I feel like in the couple or a few years, I’m in a race with time. I’m going to be 63 and my chops are there, my writing skills and compositional skills are evolving; they are changing in a good way. With Dokken, I still had the world’s greatest solo rattling around in my head, the same one that has been rattling around since my teens. I’ve still never hit that mark and I’m still striving to hit it. Each record I do – I like the record, the songs are great, the solos are cool – but it’s not that insane thing I hear in my head; I have never been able to capture that. Until I do, I’m going to keep trying: it’ll be great to finally memorialize that.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to to see that you are still hungry and still striving to reach goals; that is really inspiring to hear that.
George Lynch – Fame and fortune’s a double-edged sword, of course, without saying. You don’t want to get fat and lazy and lose the edge, so I appreciate that I have an edge; but it’s really not the fame and fortune part I’m looking for, it’s more acceptance and recognition. Not for me but for the music: for the music to be recognized for what it is. I think that is what music does for us as people: it does a very important thing, obviously, for us culturally, psychically, and we’re helping make that. A lot of it’s running under the radar and it’s our job to get it more recognized by touring more, by promoting it more, and getting the word out.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely! Speaking of Sweet & Lynch’s Unified, for those who have not picked it up yet, what can they expect from the album?
George Lynch – We pretty much stuck to the same formula as the first record: that’s the formula and there’s no reason to change it. It’s ’80s derived but more modern; it’s fast, heavy, and there’s ballads. It is your typical kind of ’80s melodic Rock thing and I think we hit the mark. The thing that sets it apart from any other endeavor like that that I’ve heard is, like Dokken, it has different things than your typical ’80s attempt. It’s a little more of your harder edge, it’s a little bit greaser and it’s a little more genuine. There’s some things in there that are surprises that you will say, I wouldn’t have expected that.
You don’t have to be just looking for that kind of music to appreciate it; you might like other kinds of music and still dig it. It’s got a wide variety of songs on there, but the main thing is my hard guitar and my riffs with Michael’s great, melodic vocals.
CrypticRock.com – Yes and it really a strong album, as well. You are touring now into 2018 and, through it all, you keep yourself in tremendous shape. Over many years of rigorous touring, what is your key to keeping healthy?
George Lynch – Cocaine, beer, and cigarettes. No. I became a workout freak for ten years or more. Now I just try to keep a balance in my life: I try to eat right, try to work out but I don’t go crazy, I don’t deny myself a little luxury now and then. I’m not a bootcamp freak: I’m not in the gym seven days a week, I’m not weighing my food, and I’m not eating like a real controlled diet or anything. I try to create a balance between enjoying my life, still being sensible and being healthy. I feel like that’s probably a good balance at this point in my life.
CrypticRock.com – No question. Being on the road can be exhausting: being away home, away from your family; it can be draining on the mind and the body.
George Lynch – You’re right. We were talking about that recently. We spend a lot of our time either lying in bed at a hotel or sitting in a seat in a plane, or sitting in a vehicle driving from one town to the other or from the airport to the hotel. That’s basically what we’re doing and that’s not good for you. Then eating crappy food, because half the time that’s all you get. It’s just pretty tough and then you’re on a schedule. You don’t really get any real time to go find a gym or anywhere like that, so you do push-ups in your room. What I wind up doing is I make up for that at home; I have my schedule set at home. It is tough, especially when you’re getting a little older: I am 63 and I’ve got to be watching my whole lifestyle and being very careful. I’ve stopped smoking, tried to minimize the drinking, and try eating right but it’s not always possible.
CrypticRock.com – Keeping a balance is what it is all about. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. Since CrypticRock covers Horror/Sci-Fi films, if you are a fan, what are some of your favorites?
George Lynch – Well, I used to be a Horror fan. I don’t have a huge opinion or knowledge about the genre, but back in the day I was a fan of the Evil Dead movies. I’d probably say I’m more of a Sci-Fi fan than a Horror movie fan. For Sci-Fi books there was Foundation and that led to Dune. I would say my Horror movie leanings these days are pretty much limited. I’m pretty excited about It. That’s about it. It’s gotta be making life difficult for legitimate clowns though, right?