Bursting out of L.A. in 1990 with the classic ‘Blackout In The Red Room’, Jizzy Pearl and Love/Hate made an instant and lasting impression. Almost thirty years later, and now solo, Jizzy is back with ‘All You Need Is Soul’, which features former L/H guitarist Darren Householder. With the new album garnering some of the best reviews of his career, and a full U.K. tour about to kick off, it’s time to rumble all over again. We sat down with Jizzy for a chat about the disc, the tour, and the pros and cons of the million-dollar record deal. High for an eye; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Jizzy, how are you today?
I’m going to England in a few days, so I’m just kind of doing a hundred million things; packing, calling promoters, calling clubs; there’s a hundred little things I’ve got to do as tour manager, banker, manager, agent, driver, travel agent and guidance counselor.
Touring is very much a hands on job for you then?
Well, if I could find an awesome agent that would be great. Maybe I will in the next couple of months. That would be awesome to have someone else do some of the heavy lifting, but right now, it’s just me and the dog.
On top of all that you’ve interviews to do; do you get sick of answering questions about the Hollywood sign stunt?
The Hollywood sign is something that sticks in people’s minds because it was such an iconic moment. That’s fine, I don’t mind that, but you’re itching to talk about the new record that you’re all excited about.
That infamous incident opens up the video for new single ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’.
The guy that did the video was a kid named Mason Wright who lives here in Las Vegas, and we were just having a conversation and I brought up that YouTube moment and he freaked out. He couldn’t even believe that I did that, so he wanted to include a couple of cuts.
It’s a nice way to tie the past to the present, especially given the title of the song.
Well, I think everybody can relate to that phrase at some point in their lives; relationships or bands, you know what I mean?
The song is lifted from new album ‘All You Need Is Soul’; you must be excited to get it released.
What’s exciting is, when I said that this is the best thing I’ve done since ‘Blackout In The Red Room’, the bar is raised pretty high for that record. It was almost thirty years ago, so it’s nice to be able to make something as good as that after all this time has gone by.
There’s a real genuine enthusiasm jumping out of the speakers on this disc.
Well, I hope so. You do the best you can; you put out records, and you hope people dig them. But I’ve put out enough records over the years to recognise something that is a cut above the other releases that I’ve made. You know, the other releases are good, they’ve got their great songs, but this is sort of a nice solid collection of songs, and a good, cool vibe.
Would you credit that to the fact that you’re working with Darren Householder again, or is the time just right for it?
Well, the collection of songs is killer, but yeah, I could bring in a song written on my little GarageBand, and Darren just makes it better. The same with Dave Moreno on drums; I mean, he’s just a great drummer. So they take something that you give them, and essentially make it way better, and so it is nice to have those guys on board, for sure.
The sound of ‘All You Need Is Soul’ isn’t that far removed from Love/Hate’s ‘Let’s Rumble’, which is ironic given that it’s the last album you made with Darren on guitar.
Yeah, I suppose. I mean, if you know that record and you listen to my new record, obviously, Darren hasn’t skipped a beat in all this time. And that’s to his credit; I mean, he really shines on this record.
Darren’s licks are instantly identifiable; you’d know it was the same guy on the two albums.
Yeah, I mean, he’s just one of those players. The way he plays solos isn’t like a lot of people. They’re definitely very distinct, and like I said, he did a great job. We got great guitar tones, and there’s a cleanliness to the guitar. I really went for this mix that was kind of old school Led Zeppelin, in the sense that all the guitars are clean, they’re not really processed too much, and the vocals aren’t really buried in a bunch of delay and reverb, and the drums are very clean. That was my intention; I wanted to make a record that had that, where you could hear everything and it wasn’t kind of buried in a bunch of muck.
You mentioned Led Zeppelin, and you do seem to be channelling Robert Plant on ‘When The Devil Comes’.
Well, if you took Robert Plant, Ronnie Dio and Roger Daltrey from The Who and you put them in a Cuisinart, that’s kind of where my influences come from. But yeah, I’ve got no problem channelling my inner Robert Plant, I’ve got no problem with that at all.
‘When The Devil Comes’ is something of an epic, and the centrepiece to the album.
It is. The song originally started when I was trying to write for television. Everybody has their own little pro tools rig or recording rig in their house now, I mean, that’s just the way it is, and there was a small period of time where; “Hey, ‘Duck Dynasty’ is looking for music, or ‘Deadliest Catch’” – all these cable shows, they’re all looking for music, and so I wrote this western-themed song on acoustic guitar; the verses and choruses of ‘When The Devil Comes’. It’s pretty lyrically straightforward; you can picture Clint Eastwood, old style western. When it came time to do the record, I sort of Zepped it up, and I made it into an electric guitar song, and kind of threw that little bit of ‘Physical Graffiti’ into it. It’s nice to be able to stretch out and write a six-and-a-half-minute song. It’s one of my favourite songs on the record for sure.
One of the more surprising tracks on the album is the acoustic ‘You Don’t Know What It’s Like’, which is almost country-esque.
It’s kind of a little bit of Rolling Stones ‘Some Girls’, and a little bit of a take on the groupie scene, where the girl is willing to put up with a lot of shit just to be the girlfriend of a rocker. It’s written about someone who shall remain nameless. I’m married now, so I’m off the circuit, which is probably a good thing. But it’s tongue in cheek. A lot of the record, a lot of the lyrics are tongue in cheek, and there’s some sarcasm in there for sure.
The album comes with some very striking cover art.
The guy who did the art was a guy named Stan Decker, a Frontiers guy, and apparently a huge Love/Hate fan. I have a tattoo of the stick man, the guy who’s in the centre, and I gave it to him and I said; “What can you do with this? Let’s do something with this motif” And he dug the old Skid [Rose] art from ‘Blackout’ and ‘Wasted’ and stuff like that, and he did that whole thing. It’s one of the coolest art covers I’ve ever had.
You’re about to hit the U.K. and Ireland for a series of dates.
I go where the love is, and I’ve had an ongoing almost thirty-year relationship with the U.K. that is pretty amazing. So yeah, of course, it’s a blessing to be able to come back every year and tour and play festivals, and have people dig your music still, after all this time. That’s why I’m pretty excited that this record’s coming out, because I think people that dug the old school Love/Hate records are really going to dig this new one and get behind it.
As well as the extensive list of electric dates [see below], you’ve just added in some acoustic shows.
It’s something that I’ve wanted to explore. I did one show last year, an acoustic thing where I told stories; you know, the Hollywood sign story, and other sort of alcohol-related shenanigans form the past involving rock stars and fisticuffs, and it went over so well that I thought I would just add it, a couple more shows. It might be something that I do periodically from time to time.
You’re doing a special show at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles on 22nd June with Darren and Love/Hate drummer Joey Gold.
Joey and I have stayed friends throughout most of the thing. I don’t really talk to the other guys anymore. I booked the show and I asked him if he wanted to come up and play a few songs, and that sort of turned into him coming up and playing the show, and he’s going to play a show in Vegas too, so it’ll be pretty cool.
What sort of set list can fans expect this time around?
Obviously, the majority of the material always leans towards the first two Love/Hate records. Those are the ones that people want to hear, and I get it. You know, Foreigner bitching about singing ‘Feels Like The First Time’ for the millionth time; it is what it is; people want to hear that music, and I am proud to deliver it. But there’ll be obviously the new songs added in as well.
‘Blackout In The Red Room’ is a perfect two-and-a-half minutes; why do you think that song still endures?
Why is ‘Highway To Hell’ such an iconic song? Sometimes the secret is the simplicity. People know that song, and it’s funny because people that have wanted to play with me, they think that all my songs are like ‘Blackout In The Red Room’, they think if they can play that one, then they can play all of them. Then I throw ‘Mary Jane’ or ‘Tumbleweed’ at them, and they jump out a window!
Finally, it’s been twenty-five years since ‘Let’s Rumble’; have you got any beer money these days?
You know, I do. I do okay. When I first started, when I was living in the old building in downtown L.A. with the Love/Hate guys, we didn’t have a lot of money and we were struggling, but we were hungry and we wanted the record deal; that was our goal and our mission. But there were other lofts down the street from us with other people who were artists – actual painters – and I would go over there occasionally to go mooch weed off of them, and they would have this big tall thing with all their paintings on them, and I don’t know, I suppose some of them were good, but the point I’m making is they were living the life of an artist. When I talked to them, they didn’t think that they were going to be millionaires, they were happy enough living the life of an artist, and they did live the life of an artist; they paid their bills and they lived their lives and they had the freedom to do art, and to be free to do what they wanted to do without the 9-5 job. So they were really living the life that I am living now. I get to do what I want to do; I have the freedom to do art, to write songs, or to go on tour whenever I want, or if someone calls me to do a gig and they fly me somewhere, I can go do that, and that is the biggest definition of success that I can think of.
So you no longer need the major record deals or the life that goes with that?
Well, those days are gone, like the idea of record royalties are gone, and you’ve got to suck it up and realise that that avenue of income that guys like me used to get - those cheques - they’re not going to come anymore. You can either gnash your teeth and be butt hurt about it, or you can just go out and do new music. I’ve had the million-dollar record deals, but it comes with a price tag; there’s this sort of Faustian bargain involved that when you sign with those big deals. Yeah, you get (back then) the MTV and the bus and this and that, but they own you, and you’ll never get out of debt.
People tend to forget that side of things.
I remember back when I joined L.A. Guns in 1998, I think, I was on tour and I met Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick, and we were just talking, and he said to me; “You know what, I’ve finally paid off CBS”. And he had been on CBS Records since the seventies and all through the eighties and ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Budokan’ and all those records, and it just shows you that that’s where he was; he finally after twenty years had paid off his debt to them, and that’s just crazy.
You’re better off in the current climate where you can just do it almost autonomously?
Well, in my case, I just walked away from the debt; like Peter Pan, I just flew away! Yeah; “Goodbye $2,000,000!”
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Jizzy Pearl's 'All You Need Is Soul' is released on 11th May 2018 via Frontiers Records. Click HERE to order.