Recently, Lizzie Grey and Timothy Jay of Spiders and Snakes released their latest album titled 'Hollywood Ghosts'. The album is cool and has a very retro 70's glam feel to it. The band at this point seem to be revitalized and ready to go after it. I had a chance to chat with Lizzie about the new album and some of his past projects as well. I really learned quite a bit that I didn't know and really found an appreciation for Lizzie's role in the Hollywood scene of years gone by. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Heavy Metal Resource: Hi Lizzie, thanks for hooking up with me to do this interview. For those who weren't aware, Spiders and Snakes have just released an album title 'Hollywood Ghosts'. We really though it was cool at the Heavy Metal Resource and was wondering how you approached the songwriting on this album and it's retro feel?
Lizzie Grey: I'm really glad you like the album. It's probably the most honest album Spiders & Snakes has ever recorded. What I mean by that is
that there was no pre-conceived marketing strategy or sales expectations involved in its creation. It's straight from the heart. Face it. We're all salesmen in this business. We sell ourselves as rock stars and our music as the mantra of teen angst. Whoever strikes that chord the loudest wins the Grammy. Sometimes the quest for record sales gets in the way of finding that chord, and leaves rock artists as little more than a parody
of themselves. I'd say that rings true for just about every major label artist out there, especially the ones who've been around for a while and are
continually trying to re-invent themselves in order to mimic whatever's selling. Spiders & Snakes, as independent artists, have had to consider the
sales success of our albums, too, but not to the overwhelming degree of the majors. Having released over a dozen independent albums in my career, I've always taken pride in walking the difficult middle ground between creating valid art and being able to sell a reasonable amount of records, at least enough to merit the recording of the next one! With "Hollywood Ghosts," Tim and I decided that we would go the final step and break all the rules, simply making a record of music that was our essence, that was what we're really all about - a tribute to ourselves, as it were. As double-decade veterans of the Hollywood rock scene, we ARE Hollywood ghosts, and I guess we're pretty okay with that! The retro feel isn't contrived. It simply is.
HMR: Do you know yet what the overall reaction has been to the album?
Lizzie: Interesting question. Actually, there is no "overall" reaction. It's not that simple. Critical reviews of "Hollywood Ghosts" have run the
gamut from accolades to it's utter brilliance as neo-classic glitter rock, to a complete and utter lack of understanding of just what the heck this kind of music is! In other words, where "Hollywood Ghosts" is concerned, you either get it, or you don't. The truth is, that even when glitter rock was in its heyday in 1974, it was generally underground music. Europe seems to embrace it much more than the U.S.A. Our fans, however, are worldwide and they just can't seem to get enough of what it is that we do, no matter where they're from.
HMR: Yeah, I think I agree with that assessment of the fan reaction to the album. Makes sense. You worked with some guests as well as Tim on the album. Do you have a more permanent band or so to speak and who is playing with you at the moment?
Lizzie: As for a live band, Tim and I seem to have gotten our bluff called on this record. We had no real plans of putting a full-electric band
together to tour "Hollywood Ghosts," but the response worldwide has been phenomenal. We had hoped to just continue doing live S&S shows as an acoustic duo, which we've been having a lot of fun with for the past year or so. We've even done some Las Vegas casino lounge gigs, throwing some comedy into the mix! We fit right-in in Sin City, alongside Elvis! Right now, we're in rehearsal back in L.A. with our old comrade Doug E. Sexx on rhythm guitar. He appeared on the "London Daze"album with us. As you know, replacing our fallen friend, bassist Leigh Lawson who passed away in 2000, has been a difficult task. He was a brilliant player with an amazing stage persona. We've been lucky to have recently found someone, who we'll keep a secret for just a little bit longer until we officially announce our upcoming UK and Japan tours.
HMR: We definitely want to know when the time is right! The album came with a second disc in the form of a DVD. It was a cool addition that really hits home with the fans. Will all copies have this added to it or was it just with the initial release?
Lizzie: The reaction to our Spiders & Snakes reality TV "home movies," interviews, as well as full-production videos "Nuke the Sun," "Lost for
Words," and "Elvis's TV" that appear on the DVD have been awesome. We're giving our fans, old and new, a decade-long time capsule of Spiders & Snakes in the Hollywood underground. For some it will be pure nostalgia, for others a unique bit of insight into what Spiders & Snakes is all
about. We intend to continue to include the DVD in the packaging. It's a great bargain for our fans, giving them more than their money's worth.
HMR: It really is a cool addition and has some great live footage. Another interesting thing is the song 'Angelyne', which is written about someone whom I believe to be fairly well known on the west coast. Talk a bit about this song and the reason it was written.
Lizzie: Angelyne, the celebrity, is another Hollywood ghost, just like Spiders & Snakes. She's been gracing billboards on the Sunset Strip for the
past couple of decades, but I'll still be darned if even I know what it is that she really does! On her website, it says that she "does Angelyne." I
guess that's good enough for me. She deserves a tribute song, and who better to write and record one for her than Lizzie Grey, another legend of
the Sunset Strip? I guess I see a lot of my own endless quest for superstardom in her, and it's uniquely inspirational. The song is classic glitter rock all the way. So is Angelyne.
HMR: For those not aware, there were some pretty cool guests who appeared on the album. Give us an idea of who they were and what they contributed to the music.
Lizzie: Angelo Moore from Fishbone played sax on "Girl Can't Help It" and "Bill's Cigar" and Matt Cross of N.Y.C. played bass on "Spiders & Snakes", "Freeway", and "Someday." They're both awesome artists, who definitely put the icing on the cake of this recording. We're hoping to drag Angelo onstage with us for a song or two at our upcoming full-electric show at the Key Club, June 22. Cleopatra Records is putting on the show to film as part of their "Hollywood Rocks" book and upcoming DVD release. It should be a lot of fun, with plenty of Hollywood ghosts from the '80s Sunset Strip scene sharing the bill with us.
HMR: We'll definitely be looking forward to that compilation. Many people really miss that era and this kind of thing brings the memories back to life. Speaking of memories, anyone who listen's to the track 'Get Outta Here is gonna notice a familiar sound in the terms of the band Slade. I thought this song sounded alot like some of their music and they way they approach their songwriting. Was this intentional or did it just happen?
Lizzie: The song is what it is - a working-class bar anthem. Almost everyone hates their day gig at one time or another, and that's what "Gett
Outta Here" is all about. Slade has certainly been a huge influence on my songwriting since the '70s, but the song wasn't written with the intention
of sounding like them. It just happened. If it sounds like Slade, then even better, as far as I'm concerned.
HMR: As far as touring plans go, where will you be going if you know at this point and what is the timeline?
Lizzie: As I mentioned earlier, the UK and Japan are starting to come together right now. Don't have an exact timeline or dates for you yet. Should be early summer. After that, Spiders & Snakes is looking forward to hitting the highway in the good ol' U.S.A.
HMR: It will be great to see you back on the road! Wanted to ask you a bit about some of your earlier career as in London. I absolutely loved 'Don't Cry Wolf'. Who owns the rights to this early stuff and is there a chance we may get this on disc in the future?
Lizzie: "Don't Cry Wolf" came out on independent MetalHead records, which is long-defunct. I've gotten tons of correspondence from fans about where to pick it up, and don't have an answer for them. I've heard that there's some label in the UK that's re-released it, but haven't confirmed that. I hope it does get re-released. It would be nice to finally get paid for that one! Things were pretty crazy back then with that version of London.
HMR: On the new album bonus dvd you had some cool footage of Spiders and Snakes, do you have any of this type of footage laying around with some of your earlier bands such as London?
Lizzie: I've seen footage of a classic London concert that was taped at the Starwood back in 1979. That was the line-up that included vocalist Nigel Benjamin from Mott and Nikki Sixx. I think Nikki may actually have that. As for me, I keep more of my memories in my head than in archives, which is frequently upsetting to nostalgic fans.
HMR: That really would be amazing to see after so many years too. Here is something I wanted to touch on for the sake of nostalgia. The band was known a bit for being a jumping off point for certain famous musicians including yourself. Name a few of the members you feel made a big impact on the band and do you stay in touch with any of them today?
Lizzie: It all started with Blackie Lawless. We were doing a version of his infamous band Sister back in 1977. That's how I met Nikki Sixx. He
answered an ad for a bass player in the L.A. Recycler. After Blackie fired Nikki from Sister in 1978, I quit Sister and started London with Nikki. That band really took off when we got Nigel Benjamin from Mott as lead vocalist. We were carrying on the glitter tradition in Hollywood, that had been the mainstay at infamous hangouts like Rodney's English Disco and the Whiskey A-Go-Go, and the fans loved it. When Nigel and Nikki had a falling out in 1979, Nigel left the band. It was the beginning of the end for the glitter version of London. Thereafter, I would throughout the '80s revive the London moniker now and again and members would include: Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler, and Fred Coury, to name a few. I see many of these people now and again at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, and contact Nikki now and again by e-mail. We're all Hollywood war dogs, and our best relationships are over a Jack and coke!
HMR: One last thing with the new album. Listening to it, I think it's kind of obvious who some of your influences may be, but for the readers, fill us in.
Lizzie: Sweet, early Bowie, T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Slade, New York Dolls, Roxy Music. You know. All the good stuff!
HMR: I definitely had a feeling on those! What kind of stuff do you listen to today in today's market? Do you feel there is much hope for the current scene?
Lizzie: As far as the radio, mine stays pretty much tuned to classic rock. I have no intention of re-inventing Lizzie Grey at this point in my career,
and I know my fans wouldn't want me to. As far as hope for the scene? Oh yeah. Everything goes in cycles. If you keep doing what you do for long enough...it's bound to become cutting edge again!
HMR: That's what I keep telling everybody! Hang on, it'll come back. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or anything you would like to cover that I may have missed?
Lizzie: To all the Spiders & Snakes and Lizzie Grey fans out there, from15 to 50, thanks for your endless belief and support. "Hollywood Ghosts" is
about real rock and roll that never dies. We'll never let you down, because it's you who make us who we are. We are your dreams. Best to all!
HMR: Well said! Thanks again!