Intervju med Whitfield Crane i Ugly Kid Joe.
Whitfield Crane är ute på vägarna igen med sitt gamla band Ugly Kid Joe. De stannade till i Stockholm tillsammans med Skid Row och jag fick en liten pratstund med den lätt intensive sångaren.
Han tog emot i turnébussen och vi satte oss ned i relativt bekväma stolar. Jag berättade att vi mötts förut för en radiointervju, men vi kunde inte riktigt komma fram till vilket år det var. Han var då i huvudstaden tillsammans med Logan Mader och deras projekt Medication. Ett band betydligt mer intressant än UKJ.
Samtalet i bussen kom bland annat att handla om luftgitarr med tennisracket, att inte läsa böcker och om hans stora dröm.
The band Medication, what happened? I really liked the EP and the album..
Whitfield: I think the EP´s got the thing. It´s got Roy Mayorga on it. It´s cool.
Didn´t it work out?
Whitfield: Well, it worked out in the sense that we made music, so that´s cool.
Whitfield: I just wanna sing songs. Whatever. Whatever shows itself, I´ll go do it. I mean, I´m a singer, a rock singer. I wanna sings songs and evolve through music and I wanna sing stylistically. When I did Life of Agony in ´98, I found a whole new register mirroring Keith Caputo´s vocals. I wondered if I had that in me and there it was. It was pretty much Danzig based, as is a lot of stuff. I just wanna sing songs. I did Another Animal and my friend Lee Richards, who´s in that band, helped me learn how to do blues runs. I´m interested in tone. Words are limiting, but I basically wanna experience life through music and sing songs. Stylistically Medication was that and that´s what I did at that time and I met all of those guys at Ozzfest in ´98. It showed itself and we went to Hollywood and made a record. I don´t think I ever had a specific “I want this!”. I wanna be creative.
Was there more stuff recorded or was the EP and the album it?
Whitfield: Pretty much. Blunt, the primary riff merchant, has all kinds of riffs. We sat there in Hollywood and made songs. I for one, really enjoy the EP, because there was something special about that one. Roy Mayorga has a swing to his drumming that is his thing. Josh Freese actually played on the “Prince Valium” record, which is cool. Josh has the chops, but Roy has the swing, which I believe was a really important component for that band. It is what it is.
You´ve been through ups and downs in the business. What would today´s Whitfield tell a young and up and coming Whitfield?
Whitfield: Keep doing what you´re doing! Be yourself and experience life! Commit to the chips in the middle, whatever you´re gonna do. Do the thing!
Whitfield: I don´t really think of it all like that. In ´91-´92 you could sell a million records and there was MTV. We were lucky to be on MTV and we got to go around the world and tour soccer stadiums and sell out clubs around the world. It´s amazing to have been part of that time signature. Hooray for us, right? That´s not now. I´m excited to sing and I love to sing and that´s what I do. You start there and if I´m lucky, I can sing cool songs, new songs, old songs. Be in a cool band and be surrounded by cool people. Life´s too short is what it really comes down to. So yeah, the business has changed, sure. You can release music through the computer with a button and that´s fascinating. No one´s buying music, they´re stealing it and that´s interesting. But why do you make music in the first place? I love it. When I got into it, we sold like six million records. I didn´t get into it for the cash. That wasn´t my primary thing. I travel very light anyway.
But you still have to make a living off of it.
Whitfield: You do, but still that´s not my quest. Here´s the thing. Everything´s moving very fast in a technological sense and I barely understand anything. What do I understand? I love music, I love singing it and I think the music we´re (UKJ) making right now is bad ass and I´m excited about it. It´s working. We´ve been touring for 17 months and what do I do within this circle? Well, I wanna surround myself with great people. Done deal. And I wanna have cool experiences and a byproduct of that will be money. You make sure you insulate yourself and make sure you´re not gonna get ripped off. We´ve been ripped off and it´s not an original story and that´s ok. I don´t even mind it. Good, we did that and let´s not do it again. About the music? We´re not gonna make a shitload of money off of it, but that´s not my quest. My quest is to not get ripped off. You´re gonna get ripped off a little bit and that´s fine, but don´t put yourself in the same situation again. That´s important if you wanna evolve. It´s an evolutionary process. The main thing about it, is to separate it. Like in ´92 when I got inside the hypocrisy of the music business, I couldn´t separate church and state, oil and water and it was weird, politically for my soul and brain. It was disgusting! Now I can separate it and I enjoy going inside through the business matrix and being creative and surrounding me with people that know shit that I don´t. I´m not scared to say I don´t know anything and that´s either liberating or shackling and to me it´s liberating, because you can find someone that digs what you´re doing and it doesn´t really take that many people to get this done. You can be excited about your craft and you can be grateful that you get to do it and you can hopefully make some great art, in this case songs. Maybe it will fly and that´s what you do. Me, I´m about conclusion, so if you put yourself in a situation that could work out and it doesn´t, at least that´s a conclusion and then you can get back on the fucking merry go round and try again.
Any plans on a solo record?
Whitfield: Oh yeah, I have it done. It´s with Lee Richards from Another Animal. Lee is like a vocal master. He comes from the tapestry like the Beach Boys and he´s a songs smith. Lee and I have a project done, in the can. I´m gonna make music, lots of music. The resurgence of Ugly Kid Joe is really cool. We didn´t know if it was gonna work and let me tell you, it´s working and we´re blown away and grateful and stoked and it opens up other doors. The project is singer/songwriter stuff and it´s fucking amazing! We´ve got Myles Kennedy singing on one of the songs and that´s fantastic! Here´s what it is, it´s awesome! (laughs) You know the good 70´s feel when rock was great? It´s that.
When is it coming out?
Whitfield: I don´t know. The important part is the music and I concentrate on that first. I have it, ready to go, but I´m not going to find some dysfunctional label. There´s not that many people who should be involved. It´s a couple of people who believe and that get it and go “Fuck yeah!”. It´s all there and to be open for that to appear. I think that´s the move. I don´t have an answer for when, but soon. And then making another record with Ugly Kid Joe and getting that done and keep on pushing. All this ends up with, is me singing live. That´s what I wanna do and I´ve had many years where I didn´t have a mic or band or stage. I thought it was over and now it´s not. It´s like “Holy shit, how cool!”. Life´s good!
Do you remember the first time you stood on stage? Did you have that feeling, that this was what you wanted to do?
Whitfield: Well, I remember sitting in my mother´s house in Palo Alto, California with my Donnay tennis racket, being in every band in the mirror. I´m a guitar player in my soul. It just took too much concentration to do that, so I became a singer. If you could see me on the air guitar… my mom would open the door and see my drenched, cranking Judas Priest or Black Sabbath. I was soaked for hours and not even on drugs yet. Music touches you. We toured with Motörhead and Ozzy in ´92 and Lemmy was very kind to me. Some Hollywood years later, I went to Lemmy´s house because I think he knows everything and I said “Hey man, what is this?” and he looked at me with a great look and he goes “You´re born into it.”. I was like “Really?” and he said “Oh yes.”. That´s so cool and to answer your question about first getting on stage, I was born into it. I was in the bands. I didn´t know how to play the guitar, but I was playing as good as anybody else was playing. I was shredding.
What´s the plan for the next Ugly Kid Joe album? Another EP?
Whitfield: No, it won´t be an EP. It´ll be a full length. Now, what does full length mean to you? My dream is an eight song record. AC/DC, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd… all that shit was eight songs. I like eight, it´s my favorite number.
Whitfield: Well, then again, look at vinyl! I don´t know anything, but as far as hard copy sales, they´re gone. CD´s and vinyl are actually neck and neck in that particular demographic. Not to say millions are being sold. Did you see our vinyl with the AC/DC cover? I mean, it´s dying, but there it is. Vinyl is sexual. It has foreplay. The way you touch it and look at it and the art is in your hand. The size, putting it on, the crackle… it´s sexy. (laughs)
Any plans on writing something? Everybody´s doing books these days.
Whitfield: I would need a ghost writer. I don´t have plans for that. When I talk philosophy with people, they go “You should write something!”. I hear it a lot, but my mom´s like “Nah.”. People go “You need to write this shit down!” when I talk to them and I´m like in mid insanity. I don´t have plans, but I´m not against the concept and I need somebody to babysit me through it.
You just seem like a guy that has a million stories to tell.
Whitfield: Many, many stories. (laughs) But you have to ring the right bell for them to come out. I´ve got some stories.
Did you go to college or university?
Whitfield: No, but my family are all academics, like Stanford University. I went to high school and junior high with Klaus. I think we both went down to Santa Barbara or I went before he did and then we went to City College, or we pretended to go. To answer your question, did you go to university? No, but Klaus made false grades to garner cash from our families and then we never went.
Do you read a lot?
Whitfield: Not at all.
Ha! You seem like a reader. One who dives into books.
Whitfield: I dive into life and I listen. You´re the second person who´s said that to me. Snake (Sabo) looked at me yesterday and went, “So you read?” and I was like “No.” and he did the exact face you did and then he goes, “Wow. Really?”. I´ve maybe read ten books in my life, but they´re cool books like “The alchemist” and “The giving tree”.
Interesting since you come from an academic family.
Whitfield: Brilliant minds, yeah. I´m the black sheep. My mom is excited that I´ve found an outlet, because it wasn´t looking good. A lot of people like me are in jail. School was never a big turn on for me. Probably because I have some learning disabilities, but also because it didn´t call me. I was in my room with my tennis racket, sweating and playing Judas Priest riffs. That called me. Screaming. I was a good athlete though. School was never my thing, but who knows, maybe one day I´ll go, but not yet. I like dirt and imagination. Everybody has some magnificent about them and those specialties may not fit in a particular curriculum. There´s something great in everyone and to find what that is, is the main thing.
Are there any artist you´d like to work with?
Whitfield: AC/DC! All I want is an AC/DC tour. I will do anything. Basically I want them to say, “Whit Crane, we want you to come sing soundchecks daily!” and I would sing old Bon Scott songs and then I´d be happy.