RICHIE KOTZEN ON THE WINERY DOGS’ FIRST ALBUM: “NO ONE’S IDENTITY HAS BEEN LOST IN THIS RECORD”
OMN: Were you a little apprehensive about signing on for another band situation when you’re been a solo artist for a while now?
RK: No at all. I’m not giving anything up—I’m still going to make solo records, tour around the world and do what I’ve always done. Whether I was in The Winery Dogs or another band it wouldn’t matter. One thing that is important to note is that the timing for this was perfect for me. I had just finished the album cycle for my last record 24 Hours I did a lot of touring behind that album. I wound up doing three runs across Europe for that album then I headed to South America. There was a lot going on. I was just about to get to work on the follow up record when I got the call from Mike. I liked what this was about and so we decided to form this band—under no circumstances am I giving anything up.
OMN: This record has huge lead vocals and background vocals. You just obviously gelled extremely well as musicians but this is a heavy vocal record. Was that done by design or was that how things turned out?
RK: I think that has to do with my approach to writing music. I write from the perspective of the singer. If I didn’t sing I think I’d be thinking in other terms—all the music that I’ve written in the many years that I been doing this have been written around the vocal then the drums. That’s not to say that I don’t write a song from the guitar side but at the end of the day those things are interchangeable. I’ll give you an example for instance the song I’m No Angel which has a signature guitar riff—you take the riff away and you just play the chorus it’s still the same song. The riff wouldn’t be there but you’d still identify the song. In the end it comes down to the melody and the vocal.
OMN: I love the fact that the emphasis isn’t on ‘shredding’ on this record. I know that would have been easily possible but too obvious.
RK: That’s the interesting this about this band. Personally I have zero interest in making a ‘shredding’ record. I exhausted that avenue in my first year of recording. After I recorded my first record I said to myself “Okay there’s absolutely no reason to continue on in this direction. It was cool, but became uninteresting really quick. I think what really makes this band so unique is that we didn’t abandon anything which we built our foundation on.
You have a record where I’m singing and doing what I love. You take a song like Regret which is more r&b based–I love that. Then there’s a song like Not Hopeless where you can hear Billy and I shredding along together—the crazy stuff which we’re known for. It’s everything in moderation. If someone is always screaming at you after awhile you just won’t listen to them. I think you have to have those dynamics in music.
OMN: There’s an array of influences on this record; jazz, hard rock, r&b, blues and progressive among others. The Winery Dogs’ audience could be very eclectic as well.
RK: Yeah, one of the things that I like to point out is that no one’s identity has been lost in this record. If you listen to this record and you know what Billy Sheehan does you’ll listen to the record and say “That’s Billy Sheehan on bass.” There things on this record that are outside of the realm of what Billy would normally do and the same thing goes for Mike and I. I think that’s very interesting to note. I think if it would have been anything other than that I don’t think any of us would have done it. At the end of the day this was a collaboration that worked for us on many levels.
Read the entire interview at the Oregon Music News.