Ron Young Interview
These guys spent part of their summer on the road with Kiss and Slaughter, supporting their debut album on Geffen Records, Little Caesar has been together only three years and already they've made quite a name for themselves in the rock biz.
Lead singer Ron Young took some time off from a very busy schedule to speak with us about Little Caesar.
Q. You played a Bikers Festival recently for 150,000 people.
A. Yeah, actually it was more like 400,000, I found out.
Q. While you look like you could take care of yourself, weren't you afraid of trouble breaking out?
A. No. What's actually pretty funning about that is there's all these motorcycle clubs, the Hells Angels, the Outlaws, the Bandits and all the national clubs, everybody's pretty low key about that kind of stuff. They all pretty much keep to themselves knowing that there's a pretty high profile on the event. They don't really want anything to get out of hand.
Q. Ron, you've said, "We became a band, became friends and made the music we wanted to make and all of a sudden all the people were into it." You make it sound so easy.
A. It actually was. All of us in the band have been out there knocking our heads against the wall for a long, long time, in other bands. You know, you put so much energy into trying to second guess what you think is going to be successful, what you think is going to get you a record deal, and for the first time all of us really didn't put any concerted effort or attempts at pleasing what we think would be successful. It actually all just fell into place. We didn't have to hustle record company's attention at all. It just came very naturally. It was good. The music was primary and all the business stuff was secondary.
Q. There was a time when you left L.A. to play out of town clubs for a couple of months. What triggered that move?
A. We started to play around town and there was a ton of record companies’ attention and really the band hadn't played many shows. We hadn't really found our signature, or sound. Our performance wasn't developed yet. Our song writing wasn't developed. We started to get attention way too soon. We decided to get away from Los Angeles and develop our song writing, develop our live show and get a more accurate response from our fans. Fans from Los Angeles are a little bit jaded 'cause they were weaned on Motley Crue and Poison. It's hard to judge a good crowd response from Los Angeles when you're from here. So, we decided to take it out on the road and get a little bit more of a down to earth response.
Q. One magazine called your look "Street level dirt bag." Are you happy with that description?
A. Yeah, basically we're a bunch of street level dirt bags. (Laughs.) You know people are always gonna look for labels to pigeon hole you in. Going back to putting the band together; we decided basically to put a band together and look the way we look onstage as we do off. Dirt bags? From a humorous standpoint, yes. From an honest standpoint, no. We're actually real nice guys. We definitely look a lot harder than I think we actually are. We call ourselves the bums of rock 'n' roll, sort of the Ralph Kramdens. (Laughs.)
Q. Do you think there'll ever come a time when you'll get tired of the tattoos and want them off?
A. That's a possibility. To be honest, I live my life for the moment, in a sense. I've been having them for 10 years, and I'm still getting more. Who knows, maybe in 20 or 30 years I will regret it.
Q. Ron, you were a messenger, a doorman, and a disc jockey. Did you work for a radio station?
A. No, just local dance and rock clubs.
Q. What kind of music would you spin?
A. Mostly old R and B. I have a pretty extensive old Rhythm and Blues collection. Blues. Hard rock. AC/DC. That kind of stuff. I have a pretty broad taste in music. I generally go home and listen to stuff that you wouldn't really expect a guy who looks and plays in a band like us, to listen to.
Q. You say you have nothing against the bands that have come out of L.A. in the last two years, and in fact you learned something from them. What is it that you learned?
A. Mostly, to just be a little bit more self-assured, and less influenced by the current successful bands.
Q. You are not from L.A. but New York. What brought you to L.A.?
A. Well back around 1980, 1 realized there wasn't much of a rock 'n' roll scene going on in New York. It was mostly dance music. I was in a band that kind of went around the states playing, and I saw that Los Angeles had a real healthy rock 'n' roll scene going on. I was also starting to get tired of this lifestyle in New York City. It was getting a little too oppressive for me. I figured it would be a good move to get out of town, and check out another music scene and what was going on.
Q. Little Casear wrote a song for a segment on “Unsolved Mysteries”. Lee Selwyn, the disc Jockey who was run off the road and killed while riding his bike - has there been any progress on the case?
A. He was run down. He was a buddy of ours. There's been no progress. They never found the guy. Lee Selwyn was a guy we used to ride with just about every night. One night him and a couple of guys went and split off to their part of town and we went to our part of town. We found out the next morning they got into a bit of a tilt with a driver, and the guy was a psycho and basically started chasing 'em down and they all split up. He just stayed on Lee until he rammed him into a telephone pole, forced him into a pole. So, we wrote the song for him and the next thing we found out was that Lee was a very, very popular person in town. A lot of people were very upset with what happened and tried to do what they could to generate as much interest as they could around it, to catch the guy. We played a benefit with Billy Idol, Julian Lennon and a whole bunch of people who were friends with Lee.
Q. You say, "We're not here to impress you, but to move you." How can you do that when there are so many records being released?
A. It's very, very difficult. Right now rock ‘n’ roll and all of music, it's super saturated. The days of the Elvis Presley’s and The Beatles are gone. You have intense media saturation, from the magazines to MTV, to the radio. It's very hard to stand out among all the people competing for a very limited amount of exposure time. It's very difficult to let people know your music might offer something that some other band doesn't. You just have to be that much more aggressive, that much more passionate about what you do.
Q. "You can't change the world with music, but you can make people a little more aware of the world around them." How are groups who use shock lyrics adding to people's awareness of the world around them?
A. It doesn't. See the whole point is, that's a relative thing. Some people might find entertainment in that. Not to name names, there are comedians who work on that. There are actors who work on that. There are musicians that work on that principle of shocking people. Jarring them. Giving them something that they don't hear in day to day life. And, for some reason, people find some sort of attraction about that.
Q. Your success has been while not overnight, close to it. Do you ever sit back and reflect on just how far you've come along?
A. Oh, yeah, almost every day. I don't take it for granted. All of us are real respectful and appreciative of what has happened to us so far. You know, it's funny 'cause I remember going to see Kiss at the Nassau Coliseum in New York City, and then we shared the stage with 'em for about two months. And that stuff just kind of blows me away.
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