“Guitar god…that doesn’t carry the weight that it used to. I take it with a huge grain of salt.” ~George Lynch
There were many teenagers who stood alone in their rooms with posters of their metal heroes plastered to their walls. Their bedrooms became large concert halls and it was time to hit the stage. As the pops and cracks of the vinyl began to resonating from the speakers, many of us picked up a tennis racket and began to emulate our favorite guitar heroes. George Lynch was definitely one of those guys who inspired a legion of loyal worshippers.
George Lynch was (and still is) the total package and the guy we all wanted (and still want) to be: he had the hair, the clothes, the attitude and most of all – the guy was a beast on the guitar! He rose to fame in Dokken who were constantly on MTV in the 1980s. There were internal conflicts in Dokken and the band parted ways with George pursuing other projects. He did reunite with the band in 1994 and recorded a studio album entitled Dysfunctional, but the reunion was short lived. George parted ways with Dokken again in 1997; focusing on his solo career with Lynch Mob and it seemed that a Dokken reunion would never happen again.
Fans of 80s metal have had a full-blown Dokken reunion on their wish lists for years now and in 2010, it seemed as if it just might happen. The internet was ablaze with rumors, but hope fizzled out quickly. Fast forward to 2012 and Lynch Mob were in the middle of recording a new album when lead singer Oni Logan just “wasn’t feeling” the new material that was being recorded, so it was shelved. Lynch Mob drummer Brian Tichy suggested that Lynch record some new material with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown, his former band mates from Dokken. Therein lies the very beginnings of the magical ingredients that ultimately ended up as T & N, with none other than “the big three of Dokken” (George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown). There can be no dispute that a recipe for success was in the works as soon as these masters got together, which is proven in their debut album Slave To The Empire.
Lynch retells Tichy’s intuitive, creative nature by saying, “Brian’s always coming up with these great ideas. I love to get together with him and have these giant brain storming sessions. His ideas are awesome! He’s the one who came up with the name Tooth and Nail, which later got shortened to T & N. I think he needs to start a ‘rock and roll idea company’ and just sit around all day and brainstorm.” Jeff Pilson was already in the Lynch camp as he helped write some of the shelved material for the new album. Drummer Mick Brown came in and the chemistry was off the charts from day one.
On being back together with his old band mates and the feeling in the studio, George said, “The three of us haven’t recorded anything together since around 1996-97 when we did Dokken’s Shadow Life. Jeff and I have worked together here and there. We’re neighbors and we see each other all the time. As far as Mick goes, he has played drums in Lynch Mob. Once you got the three of us together there’s just no denying the special chemistry that’s there between us.”
That chemistry was the catalyst as they began work on a new studio album, Slave To The Empire. Along with brand new material, the guys decided to revisit old Dokken classics, re-record them and to bring in guest vocalists for the new versions.
Lynch elaborated, “We had a short list and a long list of who we wanted. Glenn Hughes was one who did not work out and we had some that surprised us. We all thought that having Sebastian (Bach) come in and sing would never happen, but to our surprise, it happened. It’s funny because the bigger superstar that you are, the easier it is to get who you want to sing on your album. The artists just seem to gravitate towards it out of respect for the music. When I did my album Sacred Groove back in 1992-93, I had a lot of great singers who wanted to work on it. I mean, there were Phil Anselmo, Rob Halford, and Layne Staley and for different reasons, things happened and guys just started to fall off.”
Lynch’s former Lynch Mob band mate and current Warrant lead singer Robert Mason, was brought in to lay down his vocals for “It’s Not Love” and King’s X singer Doug Pinnick covered “Tooth and Nail.” The big buzz created online was having one of the most recognizable voices of the 80s cover the power ballad “Alone Again.” Sebastian Bach of Skid Row fame definitely did the song justice and then some. There’s already a second T & N album in the works that will feature more re-recordings of Dokken classics and more guest vocalists.
Sharing a little bit of what’s to come, Lynch said, “We just re-recorded “Just Got Lucky” and it sounds amazing. We’re doing something a little different on the vocals this time because we brought in Sass Jordan to sing it. It’s totally different because it has this rock/country element to it. Sass has this grittiness to her voice. It almost has this (Janis) Joplin feel to it. I think that one is going to blow a lot of people away.”
With all this talk of re-recording Dokken classics, was Don (Dokken) ever considered to lay down vocals for any of them? Lynch replied,“Mick was the person who suggested that we call Don and see if he wanted to come in and do something. Don actually came into the studio with us and worked on a few things. Then, he went away and just never called back.” That may be as close as we come to a full Dokken reunion. George summed up the disappointing results saying, “Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. You have to work with people who want to work with you. It’s a shame that not all movies have a happy ending. You should want to do this for all the right reasons.”
Speaking of right reasons, many guitarists were inspired to pick up the instrument thanks to Lynch. He’s considered a guitar god by many, but it’s a label that he shies away from. “Guitar god just doesn’t carry the weight that it used to. I take it with a huge grain of salt. To me, the true guitar gods were Hendrix, (Jeff) Beck, (Jimmy) Page and (Eric) Clapton. Then, a little further along came Eddie Van Halen. People are entitled to appreciate anyone, but when you start to make it into a list or contest, then it’s ridiculous.”
Lynch got a bit introspective regarding music and it’s place in defining a period of time, saying, “People should look at the big picture and not just one aspect of it. In the 60s, music was a reflection of the times. Artists such as Joan Baez and Crosby, Stills and Nash sang about the times. That’s something that’s missing today. I mean, there are a few bands who do reflect what’s going on in the world. Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down are great examples; they speak about important things. The problem is that the message is sometimes overlooked or ignored.”
Lynch replied, “Sure, I would love to, but it all depends on if we are headlining or opening. As an opener, we would only get about 30-40 minutes, so the set list is tight. If we headline somewhere like the House of Blues and get a longer set, then why not?”
It seems that Lynch’s message is not all metal and shredding solos, as he has his hands in several other projects including filming a documentary entitled Shadowtrain: Under A Crooked Sky, which is seen through the eyes of a Native American. George passionately said, “I had a vision one night of a man walking along the horizon and he approaches a man in a bedroll covered in the American flag. He then flashed through 500 years of Native American oppression. He could get his revenge, but he chooses to walk away. It’s about humans and politics and much more. If anyone’s interested, they can check out the trailer about it.”
Fans are also encouraged to send in donations for the project if at all possible. “It’s an ambitious undertaking trying to create a vision that you have. If anyone sends in a donation, we make sure to send them something back to say thanks. I’ve actually autographed one of my guitars and mailed it to someone because of their very generous donation. There’s no time frame for when the movie will be done, but we are hoping for a fall 2013 release.”
George Lynch is definitely not a one trick pony. In between the documentary, his band Lynch Mob and the new T & N, he is also working on a project with Doug Pinnick of Kings X and Ray Luzier of Korn. They’re writing together until the end of the year and will start recording early next year. Lynch jokingly referred to the band as KornXMob. He also has his own custom guitar line, appropriately named Mr. Scary Guitars, that are designed, carved and crafted by Lynch himself. They are true works or art, which must be seen to be believed at MrScaryGuitars.com.
Although the flame on the full reunion candle may have been snuffed out, the big three from Dokken will be taking T & N out on the road next year. They are looking to hit the road after the release of their second album which is about half way completed.
George has quite a lot going on this year and that will just transition into an even bigger and better 2013. A killer new T & N album and a second on the horizon, plus the plan to take it on the road have fans anxious. All of this new material makes it a great time to be a fan of Lynch. He is such a versatile talent that he’s always has us wondering what he will be up to next…and we can’t wait.
~ Johnny Price, Journalist – RockRevolt™Magazine