Devil City Angels
An interview with guitarist Tracii Guns
by Tina Ayres
Devil City Angels
Tracii Guns is best known as the guitarist for the metal group L.A. Guns. He was also an original member of Guns N’ Roses as well as a member of supergroups Brides of Destruction and Contraband. He is currently touring with Devil City Angels alongside drummer Rikki Rockett (Poison), Eric Brittingham (Cinderella), and Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill).
Maximum Ink: What were you like as a child? What would you say are some of your most fond memories from that time?
Tracii Guns: I was a typical late 60’s kid. My parents were way too young but, they were hip. I spent a lot of time with my cousin Lannie who was 5 years older than me. We were adventure seekers and music lovers. He passed away when I was 17 and it was awful. My mom loved to travel so we went on lots of mini vacations and camping trips. By the time I was 7 I had been to France and Mexico and had been to sleep over camp. I was ready for the commune, traveling circus kind of lifestyle at that point.
MI: When did you first discover music? Do you happen to remember what your first favorite song was?
TG: Mostly my mom and AM radio. I liked The Rapper by the Jaggerz and Bang A Gong by T Rex.As far back as I can remember I’ve loved rock n roll.
MI: Who were some of your first musical influences?
TG: The only real musical influence when I started playing was Led Zeppelin. They were mysterious and spooky and I was very attracted to the textures.
MI: When did you know you wanted to be a guitarist?
TG: The first time I heard Whole Lotta Love. I heard the Theramin in the psychedelic section of the song and my mom told me it was electric guitar and that the guy playing it was Jimmy Page. A little while later she showed me a photo of him on the cover of Creem magazine wearing the Black Dragon suit and I was hypnotized by that sound and image ever since. I was 5 years old at that point.
MI: What was running through your mind when you got your very first one?
TG: I was thinking I could turn cocoons into butterflies and make magic happen. It had nothing to do with becoming a guitar player or a common musician. I just wanted to make big scary sound.
MI: Do you have a dream model you’d most love to own?
TG: I would love a fully functional 1952 Les Paul but, that’s a tall order
MI: What do you love most about being a guitarist?
TG: The ability to communicate my emotions to people.
MI: What equipment do you use when touring? Is there any one thing you couldn’t do without besides the obvious?
TG: I use an assortment of Budda Amplifiers. I also use Peavey Blues Classics sometimes with the single 15” speaker in them. They are very good sounding amplifiers. I prefer the sound of Combo amps and 2x12 cabinets. My sound has a lot more body to it these days than it did when I was younger. I also use a Blankenship Variplex 50 through a Budda 2x12 cab. I have my own Signature guitar with Dean guitars simply called the NASHVEGAS. Basically the sound and shape of a 51 no caster with an extra fret and a Floyd Rose tremolo. I also use a custom made Dean avalanche with two hot humbuckers and a Floyd along with Two Dean Thouroughbreds which are an amazing classic guitar. And last is my 73 Ibanez Doubleneck ( nearly identical to the Gibson EDS1275 ) it’s the best playing and sounding double I have ever owned and was acquired from Ricky Mahler from the band Circus Of Power. Pedals come and go in my live setup. Generally A Wah,Delay,Treble Boost,Distortion and something that makes the sound wobble a bit every now and then.
MI: What do you love most about touring? What do you hate most?
TG: Touring is honestly an escape from reality where every day is a new adventure and I get to experiment every night I play. It’s clearly an addiction. I miss my boy Jagger who is about to turn 6 years old. He is the joy and love of my life.
MI: Having worked with such a wide variety of musicians over the course of your career have you encountered a lot of over inflated egos in the business? Why do you think some people develop that along the way? Do you think it is best to just shrug that sort of thing off and go about your work?
TG: Uhm, no one has an ego as large as mine(laughs). Ego is the fuel that makes the flame burn bright. I think you mean have I encountered a lot of Narcissistic people in the business and the answer is absolutely yes! Some on the music/performance side and some on the business side. It usually just means they think they are entitled to something they don’t actually deserve and didn’t work hard enough for so they let ya know how great they think they are without realizing they are just another bump on the earth and that none of this matters in the end any way(smiles).
MI: What advice would you offer others just starting out who wish to learn guitar?
TG: Do it because you love it and practice a lot. Practice!
MI: Why do you think music has always been so well loved throughout time?
TG: Music is what the emotions sound like.
MI: What is it like to work with the guys in Devil City Angels? What projects do you have in the works next?
TG: They are very humble nice people that just want to create and be recognized for the immense talents they own. It’s very easy to be this band. Ya never know what’s next and that’s what makes my lifestyle exciting to me.
MI: Are there any particular moments throughout your career that stand out most in your mind?
TG: All of the moments good or bad are deeply imbedded in me and my memory of it all is incredible.
MI: Any stories you are at liberty to share with our readers?
TG: Without a specific area of storytelling nothing jumps out, basically Sex and Rock n Roll happen but, every human has their own story which is interesting to mostly themselves(smiles).
MI: How do you think you as an individual have changed most since you first started your career?
TG: I am much more enlightened in general as a human then I was even a year ago. The quest for truth and knowledge is very important to me and I am a father now which is a beautiful change.
MI: Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn?
TG: I am a huge Enya fan.
MI: What was the best advice anyone has ever gave you?
TG: Alan Kovac told me that the music audience isn’t as cool as I think I am so, shut up and write a song that people will like!
MI: What are your thoughts on death and what happens after? How would you like to be remembered when your time does come?
TG: As far as what I have been able to put together using my own brain without someone else’s influence is that when you die whatever electrical energy you have been borrowing your whole life gets expelled and joins the rest of the electrical energy within the earth’s atmosphere. Your body decays and becomes soil. My afterlife I hope is that my creations touched people in a positive way and that I was maybe able to add something to the vocabulary of Rock N Roll music and that maybe someone picked up a guitar and wanted to play because something I played inspired them to do so. But most importantly I want my son to always remember until he dies how much I love him(smiles).
MI: Anything you’d like to say in closing?
TG: Stop reading this interview and go do something that makes you happy !
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