WARRANT


Left to Right: Joey Allen, Jerry Dixon, Erik Turner
Photo: Lisa Sharken

Formed in Los Angeles in the mid '80s, Warrant soared to fame as one of the most popular metal bands of the decade. Featuring guitarists Erik Turner, Joey Allen and bassist Jerry Dixon, the group released Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich in 1989, and by the middle of that year, it had climbed into the Top Ten, launching the hit singles “Down Boys,” “Sometimes She Cries,” and “Heaven,” which reached number two. Released in the summer of 1990, Cherry Pie was an even bigger success, climbing into the Top Ten and featuring the Top Ten hits “I Saw Red” and “Cherry Pie.” Warrant continued to record and tour throughout the ‘90s.

Fast forward to 2004. Warrant's original core lineup has reunited and is hitting the road on a heavy tour schedule, as well as writing songs for a new CD. We caught up with Warrant on a day off to talk shop.


Left to Right: Jerry Dixon, Jaime St. James, Joey Allen
Photo: Lisa Sharken

 

Who were your main influences as guitar players?

Joey Allen: My influences were basically late '70s/early '80s players like Ed Van Halen, Gary Moore, Randy Rhoads. It was that trio of guys with a little bit of European rock influence inthere, as well as a little bit from the Thin Lizzy guys, although I got into them later on.

Erik Turner: The first two records that I gotwere Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare and Aerosmith’s first album with “Dream On.” I really got into the Aerosmith record and became a huge fan. Joe Perry looks great and plays great, and it was something to aspire to when I was a kid. So that’s where it all started, and from there, I just became a music freak. I bought records by everybody from Queen to Led Zeppelin and Kiss. But I’d say out of all the bands, if I had to pick three as influences, it would definitely be Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin. Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Angus and Malcolm Young, and Jimmy Page are phenomenal guitar players. I was really a big fan of all kinds of bands though. I got into the whole British metal invasion when I was about 16 or 17 years old, and I learned every Iron Maiden song on the first four records. I was also in a Maiden tribute band for a while called Tyrant. It was really funny because all we played were Iron Maiden songs, but we also played one Scorpions song. We just loved the Scorpions so much that we threw one in for the hell of it! Then when I got in my own band, Warrant, I stopped buying records, although I still listened to everything going on. That was about '87, and we were so busy working on our own songs and live show, recording and trying to get a record deal, and just trying to survive in Los Angeles.

In what ways do you each differ in style and tone?

ET: Joey is more of a technical player than me. I never really took a lot of lessons or studied. I just learned by jamming with different people, picking up stuff off records, or watching people play live. Joey is a true lead guitarist and I’m a rhythm guitarist at heart who plays a little bit of lead. So there are two different ways to how we approach a song. That’s basically the way that we complement each other, so that you don’t have two lead guitar players vying for the spotlight. I’m really comfortable just getting into the whole rhythm section thing and locking in with Jerry. As far as tone goes, I think my live tone has just a little more bottom end on it. It’s a littlerounder and warmer. Joey’s style of lead guitar playing has a lot of harmonics and squeals, so he has a bit more bite on his tone than I do. Obviously, he sets his amp up different, his hands are different, and the way he attacks the guitar is different. I think every guitar player has their own sound in their hands.

Were there any particular players that had influenced your choices in guitars?

JA: Of course, when Ed Van Halen came out, everybody wanted to get a Strat-type guitar with a tremolo bar on it. When those first Floyd Rose tremolos came out — the ones without the fine tuners — I actually got one. It cost me $350 and I had it put on an old Strat body. So I guess my inspiration as far as the type of guitar I like and going for the Strat body would have been Ed Van Halen.

ET: My parents had gotten me an acoustic guitar when I was eight years old and they signed me up for lessons. I really hated it, and I wouldn’t practice or play it. Then by the time I was 13 years old, I was begging and pleading with my parents for a guitar, but they said no because they’d already tried that. I explained that it was different this time because it was an electric guitar I wanted, and I wanted it so bad! It took me two years and I finally got my first electric on my 15th birthday. The guitar I really wanted — which I didn’t get — was the Gibson Marauder, and the only reason I wanted it was because Paul Stanley was playing one. But I ended up getting a Hondo Les Paul II and a little combo amp. From there, I started buying and trading guitars with my friends, and I had a lot of bitchin’ guitars that I wish I still had. I still have a cream ’64 Fender Jaguar that I bought when I was in high school. I once took the neck off and it was actually made 13 days after I was born. But so many guitars just went through my hands that I either traded or sold — everything from a Fender Coronado to Les Paul Juniors, SGs, Explorers, and Strats. I wish I had half of them now! I did hang on to a ’79 Gibson V. That was my baby and that’s what I was playing for a long time. Later, Joey was gracious enough to give me his black Jackson Randy Rhoads. It was an early one and I still have it.

Joey, what type of guitars were you playing in the early days with Warrant?

JA: When I first joined Warrant, I worked at Jackson and I played a Jackson Strat — not a Dinky or a Soloist. It was a Strat with a bolton maple neck.

When was the first time you played a G&L guitar?

JA: In ’93, around 11 years ago.

ET: Well actually, Joey used to work there, and he had a G&L guitar of his own. I think it was a tobacco sunburst ASAT. I played that a few years back when we were getting together and writing some songs. So that was the first one I had tried out.

What characteristics do you find to be most appealing about G&L guitars?

JA: They are 110 percent made in America, and the people that make them know how to make guitars. Way back in '86, I worked for guitar manufacturers like Jackson and B.C. Rich, and those were both American guitar makers. I know how guitars are made. When I went to G&L, it was just the cream of the crop. Some of the people that I knew from Jackson had gone over to G&L. When I rejoined Warrant in January and it came time for us to make the decision on what guitars we were going to go with, I told the guys that I wanted to go with G&L because I knew the quality was there. I know that out of the box, those guitars are the finest made American guitars today. Honestly, they are the finest American guitars that I’ve ever played. The other guys didn’t know G&L like I do, but they trust my opinion when it comes to guitars. You can never make somebody like something, and both Erik and Jerry are stoked. Since the day they got their G&Ls, neither of them has played any other guitar live — not even for a song.

ET: For those of you who didn’t know, Joey had been out of the band for ten years, but we’ve been friends since high school and always stayed in touch. A few years ago, even though we weren’t in a band together, we were writing songs together and hanging out. When he got back into Warrant, he reminded us that G&L makes great guitars and suggested we try them out. So that’s what we did. We went over to the factory and played some guitars. Jerry and I both agreed that they were pretty amazing. They played great and sounded great, and so that’s how we got involved. Now that’s all we play.

What have been some highlights of the current tour?

JA: We’ve done all sorts of venues from playing in tiny clubs with 300 people all the way up to playing in front of 48,000 people, and the crowds have been really receptive to having the four main backline members back in the band, and they’ve also really been friendly to our new singer, which is great. So it’s the live shows that are the highlights — every one of them. Sure, there have been good ones and bad ones, but you take something away from each one that helps you as a musician and helps you improve your live show.

What advice can you offer to other guitarists who are trying to improve their skills?

ET: When I first started playing and first wanted to be in a band, I was just a freak about music. That’s all I cared about. I was always practicing and jamming, and just completely into it. My whole life was just consumed by my band, my music, and playing guitar. I was really driven and my number one priority for those years was making it in a band. As far as giving other people advice, I think that if you’re not doing it 110 percent, then you’re not going to get the results. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Find out what your true passion is, then concentrate on that and don’t let anybody or anything get in your way.

JA: Don’t close your mind off to one certain kind of music. Keep it open and don’t wear “musical blinders.” All music is good. Even crappy music is appreciated by somebody! I’ve listened to everybody from Robert Johnson through to all of the guitar players in some of the newer bands today like Papa Roach, Hoobastank, and Incubus. There are just a ton of good players out there and you can never stop learning, ever. Keep listening and working at it, and just be dedicated to doing what you love.

Erik, what have you been listening to recently?

ET: The last record that I got and couldn’t take out of my CD player for a while was the new Jet record. It’s awesome. I really enjoy that. I was also listening to the last Marilyn Manson record. That’s a great record. I like some of the new bands, too, like New Found Glory. Actually, there are a lot of good bands out there, but I just don’t buy a lot of records now, although I do still listen to the radio and occasionally come across some records that I really like.

Tell us about Warrant’s upcoming releases.

JA: Right now we’re writing songs for a new CD and we’re going to shop for a deal or put it out on our own. All of us have ProTools studios in our homes, so that’s basically how we’re doing everything and we’ve already got about seven or eight songs recorded. We’re hoping to have the new CD released in early 2005. We’re also currently filming shows on this tour and during some of our rehearsals for a DVD that will kind of chronicle the reformation of the band from January 2004 through this current summer tour, and whenever it ends this fall. In addition, we have a seven to eleven camera pro-shot video of the 1991 Cherry Pie tour from Lafayette, Louisiana that we’re going to release. So those three things will be coming out in the near future. But for now, the name of the game is touring, and we hope to see you out on the road soon!

For more information on Warrant, visit www.warrantweb.net

Below: Erik Turner
Photo: Lisa Sharken