Greg Steele Interview
It was back in July 1987 when an L.A. group called Faster Pussycat released their debut album. A lot has happened to the group since then. They’ve toured with Guns n Roses, Ace Frehley, Alice Cooper, Y & T and David Lee Roth. Faster Pussycat has literally taken their act around the world.
But. they're back! With a new album. Wake Me When It's Over (Elektra Asylum Records) and a new tour, with Motley Crue. Faster Pussycat just returned to the U.S. following a sold-out European tour and sales of their latest album have topped the quarter million mark.
Guitarist Greg Steele took some time off of his grueling schedule to talk with us about his group's success.
Q. It took a year for Faster Pussycat to find producer John Jansen. How much of a role does a record company play in finding a producer for their act? Do you need their approval? How did that work?
A. I mean, you definitely need their approval. They're the ones footing the bill for it. They had a lot of producers that they had contacted, and half of them we didn't want to use ourselves. Our A and R guy is always trying to get somebody, find somebody to produce the album. A lot of people we met with, either we liked them and they didn't like us, or vice-versa. You really gotta be able to work side by side with somebody on an album. If you care about the music a lot like we do, we want someone we know we're comfortable with. We finally hooked up with John and met with him a couple of times, and he was really cool. He worked with us for about a month and then we just went in and did the album which took about three (months). We got along and we still get along. So, I'm sure we'll be using him on the next one too.
Q. Weren't you just a little afraid that after a year's absence from the spotlight, the public would forget about Faster Pussycat?
A. Well, it always happens, but I like it that way. If the songs are strong enough, they're gonna connect with it anyway. That's the way I feel. Even after this album, however it does, I don't wanna go in and do a third album right away. I want to take the time to really develop something new. The first two albums don't sound the same. And, the second and third aren't going to sound the same. It just takes time for your influences, and what you've been doing for the last year or two to settle in so you can start writing stuff that's different. We're playing the same songs every night, so we're in that mode, that style, night after night. The year was a time for us to experiment with a lot of stuff, and got to write a lot of songs. We had over 50 songs to dwindle down.
Q. Who's doing all the writing?
A. Mainly me, Taime and Brent, the other guitar player.
Q. Were you able to write on the road?
A. Some of 'em. There's a song on the album called 'Arizona Indian' though that I do on piano that I had written six years ago, before I was even in the band. Between finishing the first album and having it released we had written 34 songs that we ended up using on the album. So. we had maybe 10 at the time. You just keep writing.
Q. Is that something you can turn on and turn off, or do you have to be in the right mood?
A. You have to be in the right mood definitely. Having three guys write helps a lot.
Q. Opening for Motley Crue must be the toughest gig going.
A. You know what? It's the easiest one we've ever done.
Q. So the audience is there to see both groups.
A. They've been there from the first note we've hit. The crowd is there from the get-go. Most of the towns we're playing we're getting radio airplay in now. and a lot of the towns we're playing, we've played in before. It's a compatible bill between the two. So, we haven't had any problems yet. I mean none.
Q. Greg, you gotta clear something up for me. If you're a hard rock band and you want a record deal, you have to move to L.A. and perform in the "pay to play" club circuit. And, if you can't make it in L.A., then you can just forget about making it, period. Is that the way this whole business operates?
A. No, because there's a band like Blackcrows out of Atlanta that are signed that are really good. There's bands like Faith No More out of San Francisco that are really good. I mean it helps to be in a record label's own backyard, but it's not the only way to do it. There's a lot of bands that get signed from everywhere. We lucked out in that we were playing in L.A. and there's a buzz going about the band 'live.' Your record company people always have their ear to the ground or are listening for something new. So, it's easier for them to come down to the Roxy one night, then having to fly out to Atlanta or somewhere. It's just easier, but it's not the only way. There are clubs you can play that you don't have to pay to do it. But, now, the way the promoters are doing it, a lot of 'em you do nave to pay. See, I lived in San Francisco before I moved to L.A. and that's the way it was up there. There's only 2 promoters out of maybe 20 that are making you 'pay to play.' We just never did shows with those promoters. We just did other clubs. You just gotta go out there and get your name out somehow, whatever way you have to do it.
Q. Taime had a job as alight man and you were working in a clothing store?
A. No. He was working in a clothing store and doing lights at a club called The Troubador. And I just walked in there one day and met him, and then we hit it off, and just started playing together. But, I never really had a job in L.A. actually. (Laughs)
Q. Did you ever have any behind-the-scenes experience in the business of rock 'n' roll?
A. Not really No. I've always been in bands since I was about 15.
Q. What I was leading up to, is what gave Faster Pussycat the edge over other groups? How'd you learn the business?
A. We learned day to day how it works. The thing about our band is we're not stupid, we're smart people. We know what's going on. We're aware of what's going on. And the same with our management and our record company. They don't cover up anything. We went out and played and we lucked out. We got a buzz going on about the band, and took off from there. We rehearsed a lot, and we played a lot of shows. That's the only way to do it. There's no other way around it, especially for a hard rock group. You really have to get out there and prove yourself live,' because there's techno-pop bands out there that could make albums, but not necessarily tour, but when it comes to a hard rock group, you gotta be able to deliver 'live,' and we're a 'live' band, so that's when we lucked out. Some bands just can't cut it 'live,' from records to the 'live' performances.
Q. You have no involvement with The Cat House do you?
A. No. Taime used to run it. He doesn't do it anymore, thing about that club, that a lot of people don't understand it was one night a week. And all they did was rent out the place. They rented out a club for one night, for Tuesday nights. There's a lot of clubs like that now in L.A.
Q. In one interview you were quoted as saying "Faster Pussycat is not some cliché metal band." What is cliché metal and who fits into that category?
A. I don't want to bag on anybody's trip. The thing about our band is we play from the heart more than anything, t we groove. Those are two things we feel are important to music. A lot of bands just come out and sound like every other band on the radio. We've never been a band that cared for radio airplay. If it happened great, if it didn't w still doing the same thing that bands we idolized did. Were putting out albums and touring.
Official Website: FasterPussycat.com
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