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
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
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
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…..you 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
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
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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