KXM – “…it was done out of love and for all the right reasons”
If you ever think about who is a workaholic, the name George Lynch doesn’t necessarily spring to mind. It may be that when you’re wading through your record collection and pass through the “D” section you remember some of the good times with Dokken. Do you remember, for example, the first time you listened to the whole Tooth and Nail album, and falling for the charms and hooks of Just Got Lucky, Into the Fire and Alone Again? That specific example was back in 1984, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.
From the 1983 debut studio outing called Breaking the Chains and the consecutive four studio albums culminating in Shadowlife from 1997, George Lynch with his conviction and passion tackled rhythm and lead guitars at various stages along the way gaining respect and experience. Lynch was multi-tasking before finally calling it a day within the ranks of the mighty Dokken as he delved deeper into his work ethic and created Lynch Mob, who unleashed the very well received debut Wicked Sensation in 1990 featuring Oni Logan on lead vocals. Logan subsequently fronted Lynch Mob handling lead vocal duties on two other albums and can be heard singing on the 2006 album Soundtrack of a Soul by Liberty N’Justice, whilst gaining a good reception as the singer with Dio Disciples during their recent live appearances.
Lynch Mob provided Lynch with a forum to evolve and the line-up changes were no hindrance either. On the self-titled second album by this formidable music-making machine, stepping up to the microphone with a confident swagger were the talents of Robert Mason. These days his voice can be heard riding the groove of Cherry Pie eating, California-based rockers Warrant, but also gained a lot of positive acclaim for singing on the Cry of Love album Brother.
If you were to explore Lynch’s impressive back catalog, it becomes apparent very quickly that he doesn’t mind trying new things and working with different personnel. Lynch explains, “I was kind of raised to believe that work is love.” After a thoughtful soft laugh, Lynch continues. “My whole family’s like that. You know, product of the sixties and the early seventies, and the family environment had a tremendous work ethic and I look at that as a good thing and pride myself in it. But there’s definitely a down side to that. Did I suffer? You know, my family life to a certain extent because work is my life and my work is what I love, because it’s not just work, I’m not punching the clock – I’m doing something I exist on this planet to do.”
Lynch moves up a gear as he finds the best words to express what he’s thinking. “I’m passionate about it, so I’m very fortunate that I have that passion ‘cos not a lot of people exist with passion in their lives, so I’m one of the lucky ones. I don’t take credit for it, it just kind of channels through me but at the same time I have an obligation to do the work, to flesh out all of these aspirations. It doesn’t happen just by thinking about it. There’s a lot of work involved, and a lot of that work is not necessarily music related a lot of times.”
The reason Lynch is talking to Screamer Magazine is to enlighten fans and potential fans to the merits of his latest collaboration. This new venture is a three-piece who all have backgrounds in established and in many respects, high-profile outfits which combining their talents are turning heads of the legions of rock fans around the globe. Tagged as another ‘super-group’, the trio of passionate rockers go by the name of KXM. With a line-up consisting of dUg Pinnick (King’s X) on bass and vocals, forming an alliance with drummer Ray Luzier from Korn, it would seem Lynch is about to embark on another music-related adventure as their self-titled debut album is due to land imminently!
For those of you who think this is a first time that any of these members have played together, you’d be wrong. In 2012, an entity going by the name of T&N released Slave to the Empire which featured Lynch getting to record the Dokken classic title track Tooth and Nail with Pinnick on vocals. “It was the first time we’ve ever collaborated on anything, and it had been way too long in coming; but since Out of the Silent Planet I dreamed of working with this guy. Never actually thought it would happen, but I was always open to it and anytime I’d run into him I’d let him know that.” Lynch then adds to this flow of consciousness, “You know the problem I have sometimes is that people have this preconceived notion of what I’m about, they kind of just think Dokken, and that was many lifetimes ago. I do lots of other things and have evolved beyond that. Really, my roots lie in blues music and R&B music and gospel music quite honestly. I played in a gospel band when I was very young in a kind of very fundamentalist, holy roller, like for mostly, played for mostly black audiences and things like that; very charismatic. I was always loved that and you know, roots music is something that I grew up with and so has dUg. dUg played in gospel music situations in the church and stuff when he was young, and that stays with you for your life, and blues of course as well, and R&B.”
“I just felt this affinity and connection to him just listening to his music and knowing that if we ever had the opportunity to do something together, it would be a very good fit I felt chemically. Would be a nice, interesting, creative adventurous match up and it was.” Lynch tucks this thought on the end regarding the results of working with Pinnick and delivering the words with a tone of contentment and a satisfied smile.
Briefly taking a detour from KXM, the conversation steered in the direction of his association with Dokken. “Sold millions of records with Dokken, that’s how people get their impression of what I’m about. As with most musicians you know, an artist, we’re all a little deeper, not superficial and on the surface for what we’re known for. It’s not to say that I’m a pure blues artist – I mean I can do that, and I love doing that, but I’ve never really done a record or been in a band that does that. My style is a hybrid of a lot of different things that I’ve been exposed to throughout my life, and it’s constantly changing.”
He then takes the opportunity to elaborate. “I think that’s the beauty of having all these projects like KXM, The Infidels and Shadow Train, and Lynch Mob and the Michael Sweet project, and other things that I do. I have the liberty because I have some notoriety, people know who I am and I can actually call guys up and we can do stuff together because I have a track record. I’m able to branch out and do things that are very adventurous and gratifying and challenging you know, instead of being in Dokken all of my life.”
KXM involves three very busy and creative individuals including Lynch, and he’s quick to remind those who listen how much is invested into such collaboration. “For KXM to get together and actually create something requires a lot of work. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just ‘hey let’s get together and show up in a room and play together.’ A lot more complicated than that. Making records is complicated and logistics are complicated; financing is complicated; record deals are complicated and all the things that go along with what we do and things connected to it business-wise and logistically or work even, and the work of actually creating the music.”
After inhaling a new breath from the air around him, Lynch continued. “For instance, the KXM record was written and recorded with no pre-production and no writing, preliminary writing in a 10 day period; with a band that had never played together before. We were not a band; we were friends that had just decided to go meet somewhere at a studio, and live together for a week and a half and create all that from scratch –we basically created a song and recorded a song a day!”
When asked whether there were any loose ends of creativity that had not been tied up, or used in the final result which is the KXM self-titled debut album, Lynch replied “Hard-drive is full of it! The hard-drive is full of it!” After another one of his soft chuckles, he then takes this reply further. “There are reams of things that did not get used, ‘cos we just did not have the time. We could have done two records if we’d had the time, but there’s actually a bonus track on the Japanese record that’s a 12th song we wrote very last-minute; we just got back together very quickly and wrote something else in half a day and it’s actually really cool ‘cos it was done so quickly.”
His momentum and energy regarding this subject matter carries on. “Actually I wish it was on the European and American release, I was listening to Dogman on the way up to the studio. We need something like that, kind of meat and potatoes right in the middle, cool riff; and we got in to the studio and we arrived, I plugged in; I had this idea in my head and we went for it and it was great. That’s called Big Rocks and it’s on only the Japanese version of the record.”
Lynch is caught up in the moment and remembers another song. “Tranquilize which you probably haven’t heard yet, there’s no vocals, it’s an instrumental. It’s just a jam! We just jammed something for like 20 minutes, 15 minutes; we did it a couple of times and we just left it on the drive, we didn’t think it was even going to be a song – we were just having fun! Then we brought it back and we thought that was really cool, let me work on it. I added some guitars to it and made it a kind of Jeff Beck rock/funk thing, it’s really awesome!”
With track titles like Rescue Me, Faith is a Room and Do it Now, there seems to be a certain vibe that’s been captured with these sessions. There are hints and teasers on varying popular websites where the listener can get a feel for the music that’s due to land in the shape of KXM. The production values sound dry and contemporary and suitable for a modern rock release. The guitars are prominent and sound sharp while the drums have a potency and insatiable eagerness to guide the pace. Pinnick is in good vocal form showcasing his familiar style. KXM sounds large and fresh, and the pride Lynch exhibits during the conversation is understandable when you wrap your ears around what’s on offer. If you were to take a look at the track listing on this album, there are 13 tracks including the rock/funk jam called Tranquilize and a radio edit of Rescue Me.
Lynch acknowledges their fourth member Chris Collier who co-produced KXM with the band. He explained that he’s an excellent drummer and brings awareness to different sounds and is an all-round multi-instrumentalist who happens to be a great mixing engineer and understands how Lynch likes to work. “For instance there’s a solo on a song called I’ll Be OK and it’s completely live. That’s what he asked me to do.” Lynch sets the scene by explaining what Collier wanted Lynch to do within the confines of the studio, asking him to play along to what he could hear in his headphones. “I warmed up and did two passes, and I did a very extended solo. I listened back to it and he goes ‘That’s it! You’re done, that was great!’ I’m like, really? I was just warming up! And if anything I thought I would fix it, but no, you’re not fixing anything. There’s some loose spots in it but it’s got a thing about it.” The list of skills that Collier brings to the table continues as Lynch, sounding relaxed, shares the nickname they give him. “We’re very fortunate to have him involved, that’s why we call him the ‘Wizard’. He isn’t an actual wizard, he doesn’t have a pointy hat and a wand and a beard, but someday we’ll dress him up like that.”
There are moments of pure virtuosity on show which comes with the territory of a release by a ‘super-group’, and Lynch goes in to more depth about the approach to the sessions. “Basically what we did was we just visualized what we wanted to write and what we wanted to be. What I thought like every time we write a song, think about when you were a kid and you went to an arena to see some band and you were so excited, and some band you loved and they’re just powerful, and they were going to come out and blow your mind; and the lights are dimmed and that anticipation and apprehension and you see the guys screwing around the stage, then they come out and it’s dark, there’s dry ice on the stage, and it’s Deep Purple or whoever and there’s this awesome riff. Let’s write that song! But do it 12 times!”
His enthusiasm and excitement are evident throughout the recollections and the content Lynch shares. “There are so many elements of our own personal musical influences that go into this; we have a very unique sound which is what surprised me about what we created being together. It’s very unique; I’ve got to say that. That’s why it’s so hard to describe, because you can’t say it sounds like it’s Lynch Mob meets Korn meets King’s X. It’s kind of its own thing. I don’t know what you call that?” Lynch chuckles as he tries to grab hold of the words that can convey his latest collaboration’s sound and style.
On whether that was one of the highlights that he’s taken away from the process, Lynch responds. “The highlight for me is the friendship and the beautiful feeling of working with dUg and Ray. Not just the musical level but just hanging out and being friends, and at the same time creating something we think is significant, and like maybe even historically important music in our lifetimes, to justify our existence.” With almost a wink and a nudge, Lynch continues. “And enjoy doing it with good people, where it isn’t created in a laboratory or by a management company or a record label, it was done out of love and for all the right reasons. With no ego at all! It was just, let’s split everything down the middle, and let’s just go for it.”
When the subject of playing live in order to promote this audio beast of an album arises, Lynch explained there were plans to try some things, but he summarized by saying that the plans were still up in the air at that point and nothing had been confirmed yet. “Yeah, we definitely have to take this out live ‘cos we’re all jonesing to play it live. It’s very unrewarding to do a record and not play it live, that’s the pay-off you know?”
“Two sides of the same coin. You’ve got to have both, it’s incomplete without both.” That is how Lynch responds when asked whether he prefers working in the studio or playing material live on stage. “They’re totally different experiences, at least the way I typically record, although we’re working towards the last few years of having the recording experience be a little closer to the live experience where we all sit in the same room and play together; which is the way I’ve done the last few records I’ve done with Chris.”
Lynch gets in to the groove of discussing some recent live shows he played with Lynch Mob, giving examples of one particular show in Seattle. The band went beyond a point of caring that the songs were being jammed in new ways as they explored new musical terrain. He gives an example of how they learned a song on the way to a venue in California, practiced briefly in the kitchen of the club just before going on stage. In this instance the song was an old Dokken track called Lost Behind the Wall, originally recorded for the 1987 studio album Back for the Attack. Lynch with a sense of vitality explains how the song went over great as the audience loved it.
KXM contain the attitude that Lynch is constantly sharing throughout his thoughts and opinions, which is that they’re human beings who want to share their music in a pure and unadulterated way. If there are mistakes, then so be it. It is the essence of expression; capturing the chemistry and dynamics with the presence of a mood and a raw emotive outburst which epitomizes the mind and the heart in that split second. Some might see it as a dangerous approach or playing music on the edge of what is feasible, whilst others will embrace the magic that is being shared in that moment and applaud the daring bravado and courage on display.
However you wish to philosophize the beating heart of a musician constantly striving to create that infamous performance, one thing is certain; KXM are another dimension to the creative output from Lynch and aren’t necessarily just another ‘super-group’. They’re more like a group of friends who are discovering what they can create together with their unique form of united chemistry, as opposed to being recognized as members of other bands and contributing to what is expected. KXM is more than just three letters or three individuals. It is the combined result of over 32 years worth of recording! Surely, that’s got to be worth a listen?!