|ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS KELLY WHEELER OF SEXTAPES
|ANOTHER SEXTAPE?KELLY WHEELER OF SEXTAPESTALKS TO ROCKWiREDABOUT THE BANDS DEBUT CDAND UNLEASHiNG THEiR SOUNDON AN UNSUSPECTiNG PUBLiCiNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSHLos
Angeles-based metal band SEXTAPES have released their self-titled,
self-produced debut CD with distribution and publicity generated by
their association with the new GUNS AND ROSES (lead singer and
guitarist CHRIS PITMAN is a member of AXL's latest incarnation).
Despite the added exposure, one would think that the shaky reception of
the long - if not eagerly - awaited 'CHINESE DEMOCRACY' would adversely
effect a band like SEXTAPES, but the reaction from enthusiastic
audiences throughout Los Angeles have proven just the opposite.
ROCKWIRED spoke with guitarist KELLY WHEELER over the phone. Here is
how it went.
Do you think it's beneficial or
hazardous that your band is now intertwined with this new GUNS AND
We get a little more publicity because of it but in the
end, the music speaks for itself. We like state the obvious but we
don't try to stretch it out more than that as far as publicity is
Talk about the name of the band. I can imagine
how you guys settled upon it but how did it come about?
I had a bunch of names that I was banging around. Great
music has always been like having great sex for me. It's sort of like
getting the feeling you get when your listening to this intimate thing
from the artists which can almost be like a sex tape. So I thought
SEXTAPES was a great name and figured that we'd go with that. We knew
that the name would get us noticed as well. Obviously it's a
controversial name and in the U.S. it gets us noticed, so it's
Yeah, cause everyone's got a sex tape now.
that they want back.
'Cause that's where the money is. It's
got nothing to do with your dignity.
There you go.
drew you to music in the beginning?
I've been playing piano
since I was seven and I started on guitar when I was a teenager and I
just started going for it. When I landed in L.A. in the early
eighties it was great scene for new music. I was really into that
kind of punk and post-punk sound. I got hooked up with PERRY FARRELL
and his band PSI COM instantly because they were looking for a bass
player. It was PSI COM that introduced me to the whole music world
and when PSI-COM disbanded and PERRY went on to do JANE'S ADDICTION
so I've been around and I love what I do.
Where did you
hail form before coming to L.A.
kind of music spoke to you in the beginning?
When I was
little, it was rock music that I strongly related to. I heard a bunch
of music when I was a kid because my dad is a jazz musician. My
parents were into jazz and folk but when I heard THE BEATLES and JIMI
HENDRIX, it was all over.
So with your dad being a jazz
musician, the piano training stemmed from that.
Yeah. My dad
and my mom wanted us to be musicians so the traditional lessons and
training started there.
What compelled your moved to L.A.
later on down the line? Was it this post-punk scene that was there or
was it other things?
It was a little of both. I moved to San
Francisco first and at that time the San Francisco scene was nowhere
near as lively as L.A. It was quite the opposite actually. There
bands like DEAD KENNEDYS and all of that but L.A. was just blowing
up. I actually had a job offer down in L.A. so I was going to move
there anyway so I started looking around in magazines for bands
looking for musicians and found PSI COM.
Talk about PERRY
FERRELL during these pre-JANE'S ADDICTION days. What was it like
working with him?
It was great. He was amazingly creative back
then. It was cool for me to come down to L.A. and be able to work
with this singer in a small band but you could tell that his talent
was huge. Everything was really exciting about working with that band
and him. Our live shows would blow up because of it. We'd always get
a good draw. You never knew what PERRY was going to do. It was
Obviously PSI-COM didn't last he went his way and
you went yours.
It sort of segued immediately for him into
being JANE'S ADDICTION when he met ERIC. I think at that time, he was
pulling away from PSI-COM and I found out later that he wanted to do
more rock stuff and PSI COM was going in a different direction. We
just went our separate ways at that point.
What are your
thoughts on JANE'S ADDICTION's music now?
I've always loved
their music. I thought it was awesome how PERRY seemed to bring all
of the rock stuff that was being ignored by the post-punk back in the
alternative music scene. He was a visionary in that respect and and I
still think that JANE'S ADDICTION is still valid. Their stuff is
still awesome and I think it's great that ERIC is back with them
after twenty years. I've heard that they are actually thinking about
touring this year.
In L.A. during the eighties, you had
this post-punk scene and you had what is now called the hair metal
One scene was ending and one scene was beginning. The
hair metal scene didn't start until around '86 and '87. The post-punk
scene was at it's peak at around '85 and '85. It was funny because we
used go the street scene to see JANES ADDICTION and GUNS AND ROSES on
the same bill.
Weird! Weird and awesome!
And then Hair Metal just went beyond being
Describe that L.A. Post-punk scene that was
typified by JANES ADDICTION and the like.
It was great . It
really wasn't a business that's for sure. It was more about getting
your band out there live and recording. hat was pretty much what
mattered at the end of the day. The bands all supported each other
and everyone knew each other. It a great scene and there were tons of
clubs that were open to anything. You had the craziest bills that you
could imagine and it just flourished. It was awesome. So that was
before punk went mainstream. It was an interesting time.
a band like SEX TAPES, what got everyone on the same page to want to
I was playing with MARKO the bass player and we were
doing these casual jam sessions and it sort of inspired me to start
putting down some other stuff that I had written at the time and I
started doing a demo myself. Then I played it for MARKO and I played
it for CHRIS and they really liked that stuff. They were stoked and
they really wanted tot do the project. That was really how it came
about. We were playing with a friend of ours who was a great drummer
but it just didn't work out. So we started to look for a new drummer
and CHRIS knew RYAN from another band. We played him the demo as well
and we got together and here we are.
Talk about the band
and what you think each of them brings to the table that makes it all
CHRIS PITMAN is pretty crazy. I've known him for years.
We've actually played in bands before so this is probably one of
three or four projects that we've worked on. CHRIS is extremely
creative and knows a lot about the technical side and the business
side. That's the reason that AXL has him around. He;s great with
producing as well as performing as a vocalist which is a good thing
for us. RYAN BROWN is just a slamming drummer. It's how he makes a living.
He is in such high demand now that it sometimes makes it hard to get
to get together because everybody wants him just as much as we do.
MARKO FOX is an excellent bass player. He's an all-around musician. He
also scores TV and Film and he knows his stuff when it comes to
arrangements. Everybody brings this huge background that each of them
has to the table and it becomes SEXTAPES.
Who all did
the band work with in getting the album produced?
much self produced. MARKO has a connection at the studio that we
recorded at called THE PASS STUDIOS. That is where RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS
recorded and SMASHING PUMPKINS did ZEITGEIST. That was where we
recorded. We got to use that room for drum tracks and guitar tracks.
We brought in a few friends who are engineers but really the album
was self-produced and CHRIS was overseeing all of that. In the end he
did the final mix and that was how it came about. It was a every
Explain how dies turn into songs in this
The music comes from me. That initial demo was a lot of
songs that I had in the past or had currently written. Most of the
songs that the band ended up recording are directly form that
demo. I write the music, CHRIS writes these lyrics and the vocals and
the band gets together and we hash out arrangements.
So I guess
you could say that the core creative team are me and CHRIS.
it ever flow seamlessly or are there moments when there are real
clunkers and you end up banging your heads into the wall?
some of the arrangements did take a while and CHRIS would bang his
head on the wall while he was producing and going 'How are we going
to wrap this up?' Also as we were making the album, CHRIS' tour
schedule was also heavy at that time so that took a little
It seems to me that more and more bands these days
have members that outsource themselves. It didn't seem to be that way
when I was younger.
Yeah back in the day it wasn't like that.
Nowadays, everyone is in five different bands.
Why do you
think that is?
There are so many bands these days. there are
probably millions more than there were. Why that it is I don't know.
Maybe it's got something to do with the population. Everybody loves
to do it and there are all these tools available now where your
average person can do do. There aren't as many monetary limitations
as there were before.
Have you ever felt that this sort of
'multi-tasking' ends up compromising the band or no?
hard one. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's
a plus because you end up having more connections. Everyones life
seems to be getting faster and crazier and that seems doubly so with
musicians. You just have to schedule things around it and
figure things out.
What tracks off of this album stand out
for you at the moment and why?
I've written all of them so
they all stand out for me but the key ones for me are 'MEDICINE MAN'
and 'TRAIN WRECK'. Those are probably two of my favorites. I really
like the way that those two came out. 'MEDCINE MAN' was one of those
songs where we had trouble coming up with the final arrangement
and CHRIS really came through on that one. 'TRAIN WRECK' was the same
way. They are like these great collaborative tunes. They started out
very raw at first but when they were finished they were
Talk about the label that's releasing the
It;'s our own label actually. It's self released. We're
the only band on the label right now, but we actually see this as a
long-term thing where we could sign younger bands and release their
work on that label. It's definitely something we're looking at in the
You've just don a show at the KEY CLUB. Are there
any plans for a tour on the horizon?
Right now, we're just
booking shows around L.A. We're just starting to get that off the
ground right now. There is no tour immediately and some of that has
to do with GUNS AND ROSES' schedule. These future locals shows could
extend int more shows out side of California. So we'll see.
about video for any of the songs
Not right now. We're actually
talking with a few developers right now. The record came out so fast
and distribution happened so fast that we didn't have anything
prepared video-wise so that's something that we are jumping on right
now. Hopefully soon we'll have something soon.
you like a person to come away with after they've heard this album or
seen you live?
Hopefully they'll just dig our songs. We really
poured everything into the songwriting and the production and it
looks like we're getting noticed for that. From what we're able to
see right now is that everybody really loves the songs and hopefully
that is what new listeners can come away with.