Steven Sweet Interview

Fads and trends come and go in the music business.

Some bands are strong enough to weather them out-----some are not.

“Warrant” is one such band that’s weathered them out.

They burst onto the national scene in 1989 and have been touring and recording ever since.

Their world-wide album sales are fast approaching the 10 million mark with hits that “Cherry Pie”, “Heaven”, “Down Boys”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “I Saw Red”, and “Sometimes She Cries”.

The group has played close to 150 shows in the last 22 months with no sign of letting up in the foreseeable future.

With 4 out of 5 of the original guys out on the road, and a new CD release titled “Born Again”, Warrant’s drummer Steven Sweet talked with us about the group.

Q – Is Hard Rock on the rise again? Is Hard Rock making a comeback, if that’s the proper term to use here?
A – I get the general feeling that Hard Rock in terms of it being an outlet for people who need a break from the daily grind which is sort of the form that Warrant took back in the late 80’s, early 90’s and so many other bands that were all about the release and relief of your daily business and seeking that through music. Then when Grunge came about it was sort of the opposite. It was about really embracing and getting in touch with the anger and the troubles and problems of daily life and expressing that through music which is definitely very cool. You need to have contrast. But, I think it is sort of swinging back the other way now. I’ve seen it with my recent work in the last few years with Warrant. The fan base is stronger than ever for this type of music being commercially viable and not taking yourself too seriously.

Q – What do you think accounts for this latest interest in Hard Rock?
A – Its all thanks to their parents and that’s a fact. I see that. Prime example is last weekend we did a show in a town called Winnemucca, Nevada. It’s primarily a small town that makes most of its money off these smaller casinos. It was host to a Biker Fest for a couple of days. We were the featured attraction on the last night of the festival. It was primarily made up of people who were fans of the band back when we first came out who’ve then grown up and they have their families now. Their children are influenced by what their parents feed them so to speak. And-----they’re really into it. It’s really remarkable when kids come out, these little kids who’ve never been to a concert before. They’re so excited to meet you and see you and experience a concert for the first time-----and they know the music. That’s all due to the parents. A generational thing. My wife who’s 11 years younger than I am is a huge Led Zeppelin fan and there’s no way she could’ve possibly been into a band that was in it’s hey-day the year she was born, other than the fact that she listened to things. It seems like it skipped a generation or two.

Q – Did Warrant disband and then get back together or have you been working all this time and we just never heard about you?
A – The band Warrant has been going and going like the Energizer Bunny for the last 20 plus years. By that I mean, I was involved in the band’s inception and going through getting signed out of the Los Angeles scene, and during the first 3 albums. Then I took a 10 year hiatus. But, in that interim the band Warrant had still continued to play shows here and there, certainly not the big arena and outdoor amphitheatre shows that we did till now. They had many different member changes. I was Drummer Number Ten, (laughs), if that gives you an indication of the changes the band went through, but, the band under the name Warrant and playing the same songs has continued to play year after year. The thing that is different and that I think is refreshing for the fans who have stuck by the band all these years and did know the band was around and playing is that it’s the first time in practically 10 years it’s been 4 out of 5 original members doing the music and playing it the way it was originally intended to be heard, the way we recorded it in the studio originally and getting the sound of the band back out there that had sort of morphed over the years in between when it wasn’t made up of the founding members, so to speak.

Q – Why are only 4 out of the 5 original members involved in the current band line-up? What’s the 5 th band member doing?
A – The lead singer Jani Lane through many years of personal struggles with what his direction was to be in music sort of worked himself out of the project. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing. I personally took 10 years off because there were conflicts that were irreconcilable at the time that didn’t make it fun anymore to be in the band. Without being too descriptive out of it, it was certainly a thing where it’s true when people say people are changed by success. Their attitudes change over the years, and to be a business partner with someone… go your separate ways. As far as the band Warrant goes I think the people that are coming to see the band these days with the change of a lead singer, it can sometimes be the scariest thing in the world for a band to switch lead singers, but other times it can be one of the biggest blessings. For this band, creatively and realistically and for putting on a good show consistently, it might’ve been the best thing in the world.

Q – There have been critics in the past who referred to bands such as “Warrant” as “Hair bands”. How important was it for a musician to have hair, lots of hair when you were putting “Warrant” together?
A – (Laughs). I think it was really important. You didn’t see too many bands with bald guys running around and people thinkin’ it was cool, especially young guys that chose to make themselves bald. (Laughs). For us it was always first and foremost about the music and putting on a good show and being exciting to watch and listen to. As kids at that time we were all about having long hair and rebelling and trying to look cool. That was kind of the thing.

Q – And how important is hair today?
A – It’s still nice to have it. I’m still lucky to have hair, but, I certainly not want to have long hair any more. As you get older, it’s just one of those things where it becomes a hassle. I for one don’t consider my hair to be a badge or make a statement in any way as much as I did when I was younger.

Q – You filmed a ‘live’ DVD of your performance, correct?
A – Yeah, we tracked with the new record that’s to be released; we tracked each song to video. We sort of farmed out some of the editing duties and did some ourselves, but we came up with something interesting. An extra treat for people who buy the record. I’m not sure how we’re going to market the DVD, but, we are doing it all ourselves, as we initially did with the album.

Q – Again, the video shows you performing ‘live’?
A – Yeah.

Q – Will that add or take away from your personal appearances?
A – I can’t possibly see how it would take away. It’s something extra for people to have. It certainly doesn’t take the place of getting out and experiencing a ‘live’ show.

Q – Where do you want to take the current line-up of this band?
A – Well, I don’t think any of us have aspirations of a repeat performance of what we did before. As you get older, you find what a blessing it is to do something you love and to be able to live off of it. The level of luxury lifestyle isn’t an issue. It’s just, are you happy in what you do. I think this time around and at this point in our lives we kind of found that to be the happy place and just to be able to continue to do this. It would be nice to have a hit record. It would be nice to be recognized for your efforts by the masses, but, as long as we have our fans behind us we’ll be able to continue to do what we do.

Q – Earlier in the interview you said you took 10 years off from this band?
A – Yes.

Q – What did you do in that 10 year period?
A – I worked other jobs. I was a purchasing agent for a large co. in Hollywood that bought and sold media songs, like recordable CD’s and audio tapes for studios, audio studios and also television studios. But, in the interim I’ve always continued to play drums and to sing and to write my own material on the side. It seemed like a place in my life where I really needed a break from traveling with the band and being in a band situation. Being in a band is like being married to however many people are in the band. It’s not an easy relationship to keep afloat and to work through certain situations with. I needed some time off. I did a lot of soul searching and in the meantime had a beautiful 8 year old daughter. I recently got married. Living life. Being a normal person. It puts great perspective on the times when you look back and go yeah, I was really blessed to have what I had back then when I was in the band and things were flourishing. I’m also very blessed now to be able to do it again with a different insight into it.

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