A raunchy creation propagated from the Sunset Strip’s infamous ’80s metal scene, L.A. Guns is an old-salt act with nearly 30 years of rock action under its studded belt. Aesthetically, the group is part glam and part punk—black hair, aviators, tattoos and motorcycle jackets laden with skull and pistol imagery have long lent an air of playful toughness. Aurally, the group is quintessential hair metal—rock and roll songs that deal with girls and hell-raising punctuated by killer shredding.
Responsible for this profound guitar work is maestro Tracii Guns. (That surname is not only the band’s namesake, but also that of Guns N’ Roses—he was in that band’s first incarnation.) It should also be noted that there are currently two L.A. Guns. The one we’re not talking about here is led by vocalist Phil Lewis ... the guy with the roses in “The Ballad of Jayne” video. In the midst of embarking on a tour with his L.A. Guns, Guns allowed the Alibi to pick his brain via email.
What first drew you to playing music?
I was completely blown away by the middle section of “Whole Lotta Love” [by Led Zeppelin] and my mother explained to me that it was guitar. That was the beginning for me at 6 years old.
How has your playing evolved over the years?
It goes through cycles where I play the same for a year, and then something else musically catches my attention and I will incorporate the new things into what I have already been doing. So, my playing changes from year to year.
Tracii Guns Signature Dean guitar.
Is the band as debauched as its image portrays?
At times there has been some serious debauchery situations—less these days, but it is ever-present.
What's something that would surprise people about L.A. Guns?
That the band members actually like each other.
Any tattoos you regret?
The ones I don't have yet.
Any wisdom you've gleaned from playing rock and roll for multiple decades?
Do exactly what you want to do musically. It’s your music, not some asshole producer or A & R guy’s music!
What do you think about rock and roll nowadays?
It’s perfect—it’s back to the bars and clubs where rock n’ roll’s energy belongs.
If you could change one thing about it, what would it be?
I wish Johnny Thunders was still here.