Prior to the July 27 performance in Henderson, Nevada by the Steve Riley-anchored version of L.A. GUNS, bassist Kelly Nickels spoke with Sally Steele of Vegas Rocks! magazine. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how he came to rejoin forces with Riley:
Kelly: “Steve was asked by the guys who run M3 [Rock Festival] to come and play because the other version of the band didn’t want to come play it. I don’t know why, so Steve put a band together [with] some alumni. There’s been so many people in and out throughout the years, so you can find half a dozen that will work, probably. [Laughs] He called me since I was kind of there from the beginning. It was, like, perfect timing in my life to come back out and now play again. It was, like, really an amazing gift to come out and do this again. It was such a gift the first time, and to be able to do it again, we’re really excited. We just want to play and have fun and play some music… It’s a lucky thing to be able to do, and to do it again, I’m real happy to do it.”
On the band’s future plans:
Kelly: “We hope it’s going to be a permanent thing. M3 went really well; we all get along; and we’re just playing some music. I’m down for it. I have the time now, and I’d like to get back out and play. Everybody’s really into it, so we hope we get more. We’ve got new management. They came to us and offered us a place there, so that’s cool, and they have some other artists, so hopefully we can put something together before the end of the year [for] next year… If people didn’t say nice things [and] welcome us back, I wouldn’t do it. But people do say nice things — they want to come see us, so we’re going to do the best we can.”
On the ongoing drama that surrounds the band:
Kelly: “There’s two versions. It’s a rock n’ roll soap opera. What can I do? It’s 30-something years in the making, and everybody’s got different feelings about it and everything. But we just want to play and have some fun. Why shouldn’t I be able to play? Should I just stay home and rot? People are so serious, man. Didn’t everybody ever tell you, ‘It’s only rock n’ roll?’ Don’t be so serious. Just go have a good time. We don’t care – everybody’s welcome.”
On whether he’s spoken recently to Phil Lewis or Tracii Guns:
Kelly: “No. [Laughs]… We’re trying to talk about just our part of what’s going on. We don’t want to get involved in a war of words. I ain’t got the time for that. We’re just trying to be cool. We redid the logo, so it separated us a little bit from them and tried to give us our own identity of it. Steve‘s been in the band a long time. He’s the only guy who never quit. We’ve got as much right to play these songs as well, and always just wish them luck. I got no problem with them doing their thing. Let people live, as my friends say.”
On what he would say to Lewis or Guns if given the opportunity:
Kelly: “I would say, ‘Hey, fellas, have a nice day, man. Love ya, miss ya. Take care of yourselves out there. Peace, man. Namaste.'”
Nickels — who appeared on the first four albums by L.A. GUNS — joined forces with Riley, vocalist Kurt Frohlich and guitarist Scott Griffin to play at M3 as L.A. GUNS, a name which is jointly owned by Riley and the band’s founding guitarist, Tracii Guns. The event marked the first-ever L.A. GUNS performance that did not feature either Guns or longtime vocalist Phil Lewis.
Riley is the longest-tenured member of L.A. GUNS, a group he joined shortly before the release of their 1988 self-titled debut. (While he is pictured on the album, he did not actually perform on it.) Although the band has famously featured more than 50 members in its ranks through the years, with the exception of a two-year period in the early 1990s, Riley was the sole constant from 1987 until the end of 2016, when the group that he and Lewis managed to keep alive for nearly 15 years without Guns (who quit the band in 2002, on the eve of the release of their acclaimed album “Waking The Dead”) dissolved. Since then, Lewis and Guns — who, after years of acrimony, buried the hatchet in 2016 — have forged ahead as L.A. GUNS while Riley focused on other projects.
The Guns–Lewis version of L.A. GUNS released a new album, “The Devil You Know”, on March 29 via Frontiers Music Srl.