Intervju med rockfotografen Neil Zlozower!
(Neil och Slash)
Om inte Zloz har fotograferat det så har det antagligen aldrig hänt.
Neil Zlozower har varit en legend längre än de flesta av er levt och har plåtat alla band värda att nämnas. Hans bilder var ständigt med i 80-talstidningar som Hit Parader, Faces, Metal Edge och Kerrang och han var en stor del av LA-scenen med band som Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Poison, Guns N´Roses mfl.
Nedan följer en väldigt lång intervju med Zloz som jag gjorde strax efter nyår och vi kom bl a att prata om hans möten med tidigare nämnda band samt hela hans karriär som tog sin början på 70-talet och som fortfarande är fullt aktiv. Dessutom frågan om vilket som var det galnaste bandet? Ja, inte var det Mötley Crüe i alla fall.
Han har tidigare bl a gett ut två riktigt snygga och fullmatade fotoböcker med Van Halen och Mötley Crüe.
How did you get into photography from the beginning?
Neil Zlozower: Well, when I was a little young punk kid, me and my friends were Rolling Stones fanatics and just like any other fan we used to put pictures of our idols on the walls. We used to go up to this record store in Hollywood called Lewins Record Paradise. We used to go up there and we couldn´t afford the imported albums they sold, which is pretty rare for record shops in America, but we could afford to buy the 8X10 glossies that they sold of Mick and Keith and Brian Jones. Those were a dollar each, so we´d be like little kids in a candy factory; “Ah, look at this one of Mick! Look at this one of Brian!”. We´d buy one or two 8X10´s and take them back and put them on our walls at home. One day I was working at my dad´s liqueur store, making 50 cents an hour and I was bringing home five dollars at the end of the day. One day this guy came in and had some camera which looked pretty fancy to me. I didn´t know what the fuck it was! “Dad, can I buy this camera, it looks pretty cool?”. So I bought the camera for 75 bucks. I basically didn´t know what it was, didn´t know how to use it, didn´t know anything about it. I don´t even think I shot any film with it and then my dad took me to a pawn shop and I bought my first single lens reflex camera, A Pentax HV3. Back then I was already going to concerts, so I would take my camera to concerts which you could do back then and they didn´t have these big bouncers. The first concert that I consider my beginning was The Rolling Stones at The Forum in 1969, when tickets were 6.50, 5.50 and 4.00 dollars. So I started doing that and I took it to a Who show and a Ten Years After show, took it to some Led Zeppelin shows. Basically I did it because I wanted to shoot my idols, come home and hang their pictures on my wall. I ended up selling photos to the record shop that was across the street from my high school. We were selling 8X10 prints for a dollar and I´d get 60 cents and the owner would get 40 cents and at the end of the month I´d have about 35 bucks and back then vinyl was about 3 dollars and 20 cents a record, so at the end of the month I had enough to buy about ten or eleven records, so I was a happy kid back then.
Did you ever take classes?
NZ: Well, I took a class in high school, a photography class just to fulfill my… I think it was practical art or something, but the thing is, I remember still how I turned in four prints at the end of the semester, that I thought were pretty brilliant. They weren´t rock and roll prints, it was old people walking down the street or beach shots or whatever, but other people would turn in 40 or 50 prints that were blurry, out of focus, terrible composition, but they got A´s in the class and I think I got a C. It wasn´t how good you were, but how many prints you took. That´s basically the only class I ever took. I´m pretty much self taught. My feelings are, if you wanna do something well enough, you can learn it on your own other than being a doctor or a lawyer or whatever, but I restore cars and motorcycles for a hobby and I basically learned how to work on all my machinery myself and I think I´m a pretty good… I won´t say cook, but I learned everything I do in the kitchen by myself and photography I learned to do by myself and so on. If you wanna learn something bad enough and you really have the will power to do it and the desire and the motivation, I don´t really think school can help you.
What were the first band photos that you got published?
NZ: Well, the first thing that I remember was in about 1971 or 72, me and my partner that I was shooting photos with, Todd Gray, we got hired by Capitol Records to shoot a Cannonball Adderley album cover. It was a live shoot at The Troubadour and I think it was called “The Black Messiah”, if I´m not mistaken and we got hired by the art director at Capitol Records and they paid us back then, like 500 bucks and in ´71 I was about 17 or 18 years old. Me and my partner split it and got 250 bucks each. I was living at home with my parents and he was living at home with his parents and blah blah blah… that was a lot of money back then.
Cool! What was the first magazine cover?
NZ: You know, I don´t really remember. I couldn´t really tell you what my first magazine cover was. I sort of like to think it was a Creem magazine Jimmy Page, but I actually think I had quite a few before that. I can´t really remember.
When was the first time you met Mötley Crüe?
NZ: I think it was probably late ´82 or very early ´83. It was way before “Shout at the devil” came out and I met them in a recording studio. I used to shoot photos in the 70´s with photographer Barry Levine. Me and Barry were friends for ages and we´re still friends, I just had lunch with him about three or four weeks ago. He called me up one day, “Neil, I´m working with this band Mötley Crüe and I´m just wondering if you wanna meet them and do some work with them?”. At the time they weren´t really big and they were still pretty small in everything, but part of being a photographer is you´ve gotta sort of in your mind say “Wow, this band´s good! I think they´re gonna be really huge!” and you gotta catch them on the bottom floor. If you wait till they´re big, all the other parasite, maggot, leach photographers come out and they want to work with them too. You gotta get the band when they´re nobody and that´s pretty much what I did with Ted Nugent and that´s what I did with Aerosmith and I did it with Van Halen and then Guns N´Roses, Ratt and Poison, you know. That´s part of the beauty, being able o tell that “This band´s good and they´re gonna go somewhere!”.
Did you ever go to the so called Mötley house?
NZ: Not really, because that was when they were living on Clark Street, I think a few houses up from the Whisky A Go Go. Just like I told you, being a photographer, you sort of gotta call the band, but you don´t want to start working with the bands too early, because if you get them too early, you either have member changes or… like Pantera. They used to be a glam band with poofed up hair and everything. It wasn´t till they got into their nitch of being hardcore Pantera, that they really took off, so I didn´t work with Mötley in their very early days. The first time I really ever shot them was when they opened up a couple of shows for KISS. I had already met them through Barry Levine, but “Shout at the devil” still was not released at that point. They opened up a couple of shows for KISS, one at the Universal Amphitheater and the next one at Irvine Meadows. It´s funny, I remember I was backstage hanging with the band and I remember Nikki came up to me and he goes “Hey Zloz, this is our last show with KISS, so when we leave the stage I think I´m gonna go – Hey, we´d like to thank our grandmother and grandfather´s favorite band KISS, for letting us be on the bill!” and I was like “You know Sixx, I don´t think that´s too good of an idea!”. He didn´t end up doing it, but it was pretty funny though.
What was the most decadent crazy thing you saw those guys do? I mean, did you shoot stuff that you were later told not to use?
NZ: You know, I´ve never shot anything by anybody who´s never told me “No, you can´t use it!”. You gotta understand, I´m sort of a crazy motherfucker myself, so the thing is, usually when they´re doing their quote unquote crazy wild antics, I´m doing it with them! When I´m done working, I´m done working! I wanna fucking play, I don´t wanna work!”. That´s pretty much my thing right there. But no one’s ever told me… you know, I saw a lot of shit that was pretty wild and whacky that most people would only dream of being involved in and I also participated in a lot of that, but no one ever said “You can´t do this, you can´t do that!”.
I talked to Ross Halfin just a few days ago he said that Mötley Crüe were the ones that really didn´t care. They just did whatever they did and that was it.
NZ: Good friend of mine. Yeah, that´s probably true to some degree, but honestly, everybody likes to think there´s the bad boys of rock and roll, Guns N´Roses or Mötley, but honestly, the things that I witnessed with Van Halen were the most human debauchery as far as things they did with girls. I went on tour with Poison, I went on tour with Bon Jovi, I went on tour with Guns N´Roses, I went on tour with Ratt and I went on tour with Mötley and a billion other bands, but to me the antics with Van Halen, nothing really ever compares to that.
Who was the main instigator? Was it David Lee Roth?
NZ: Well, they all had different personalities. Michael was married and his still married to the same girl. She´s fantastic and I love her, so Michael he liked to drink Jack Daniels and he never really got involved in too much of the debauchery that was going on. Eddie was pretty mellow. He did the shows… he´s one of the greatest guitar players that ever lived, but I´d say Alex to be honest. Did you ever see those films where they throw pieces of meat to the shark and you get about 50 sharks that just fucking lose their mind and go ballistic, that´s how Alex was if he saw like a naked girl or whatever! He just would lose his fucking mind. He reminded me of those sharks and the shark eating frenzy. It turns out that me and Alex probably hung the most out of any of them. Usually after the shows, Dave had three of four girls and he would just take them up and do whatever he did, but me and Alex hung and I have tons and tons of photos of different adventures we had. I´m sure that the Mötley guys did it, but I never really saw it. Nikki was one of my closest friends in the world in ´83 and ´84! Me, him and Robbin Crosby went to Martinique on our trip to the Caribbean and we caused quite a bit of drama on that trip, to say the least, but I just never witnessed the same type of antics that I witnessed on tour with Van Halen.
Cool! When was the first time you met Ratt and that first ep cover with Tawny Kitaen´s legs and the rats? Who came up with that?
NZ: They came up with that idea. I was working with Van Halen and Robbin Crosby used to go out with Tawny Kitaen, but by this time Tawny had already moved up the ladder to Pete Angelus, but Robbin was still friends with Tawny and he would always be at all the Van Halen shows and all that shit. This big guy, and they used to call him King; “Hey Zloz, here´s a tape of our band!” and everytime I would see him he was like “Hey Zloz, did you check out that tape I gave you?” and I was like “Dude, nah I´m sorry!”. This went on for about ten times. “Dude, give me the tape and I promise you I will listen to it!”. So he gave me the tape and I go home and put it on and within the first ten seconds, the first song “Sweet cheater”… “Oh my God, these guys are good! I like these guys!”. The first ep was about as rough and raw as it gets. You know, “Walking the dog”, “Back for more”, “Sweet cheater” and all that stuff. I called him and went “Hey Robbin, you guys are good and I wish I´d listened to it a long time ago! I wanna work with you guys!”. We brought the band in for that first photo shoot and we did it at my studio and they got the rats from a place called “Rent a rat”. I don´t know if you´ve seen any of my “Zloz hours”? We did Bobby and we also did Stephen, but it´s not up there yet. Bobby said they started with four rats and I thought we had six, seven, eight or nine rats. He said when we finished the shoot, there was one more rat then there was in the beginning.
Since you were close with Robbin Crosby, when did it start to go off the deep end, so to speak?
NZ: He was a good friend of mine and I know he always used to like dabbling in heroine and that was never one of my favorite drug at all. I think the very first time I ever snorted heroine was up at Nikki´s house with him and Robbin. They were doing it and I did a little, but it didn´t do much for me. He´d always have it under control, but I worked with them through all those records and I didn´t really… I don´t know, I guess it was right around the time with Contraband with Bobby, Tracii Guns, Michael Schenker… maybe it was around that time we started just not talking that much, I can´t remember really. I mean, he got married and once you get married you don´t hang with your quote unquote guy friends that much anymore. I didn´t see him for a while and then I started hearing some stories. One day he called me up and needed some money for something. It´s funny because I didn´t have any money that day in my wallet. He called me up and he was at the front door of my condominium where I was living; “Hey Zloz, it´s King!” and I went “Hey, what´s up?”. He goes “Hey, I´m at your place, let me in!”. I go “Well, I´m not there bro, I´m at the studio.”. He showed up and he was barefoot and he had all these sores all over his feet and stuff like that. He looked pretty beat. “Hey dude, I need to borrow some money! I´ve got this girl and she´s throwing all my shit in my swimming pool. I gotta get her out of there.”. I knew he needed money for drugs, but I didn´t have any though. Finally… he wouldn´t leave so I ended up going down to the money machine and I loaned him a 100 bucks and then he split. He didn´t look very healthy.
Yeah, that´s strange. What would you say is the biggest difference working as a photographer today compared to the 70´s and 80´s? When I talked to Ross Halfin he said it was a lot easier back in the day because you could do whatever you wanted to do.
NZ: Back in the 70´s, if you had a Led Zeppelin photo pass you shot the whole show and there wasn´t ten different passes. I remember just walking into the band´s dressing room. There wasn´t like a laminate back then. You had a backstage badge and you walked right into the band´s dressing room. Back in the 80´s everybody wanted to be a rock star, so they were happy to do photos and then grunge came in and it wasn´t cool to be a rock star anymore. Basically now, no one cares! All the people at the record companies are total fucking morons! They don´t know anything and they´re incapable of basically even holding a job, if you ask me. The magazines don´t care about the quality of the photos. Everybody´s going to these piece of shit agencies like Getty and Wire Images and they do these deals where they pay like a 1000 dollars a month and you can use as many photos that you want and then the photographers are getting 20 cents here and 40 cents there. It´s just ridiculous! Most of the work I do, is advertising work for companies like Pearl drums, Vater drumsticks, Sabian cymbals, Fender guitars and Gibson guitars. Things like that. I don´t shoot that many rock bands anymore because there´s no places to sell photos anymore! No one really seems to care and now with digital, you know back in the old days, people would hire me and Ross because they were conscious about expenses. Me and Ross used to use cameras called MMIA RC 67´s(?) and you get ten shots on a roll. Every roll of film cost about eight or nine dollars to buy and the you get one frame snip before you get the other nine shots processed, so to get it snip would be five or six bucks and to get the rest of the roll would be five or six bucks. Every roll of film and processing for ten shots would be about 20-25 dollars, which we would bill back to the client. If you shot ten rolls, that´s an extra 250 dollars plus the Polaroid you charged them back. Now with digital, you put in a 16 gigabyte card into your camera and you could shoot a 1000 frames and now days these magazines and shit are hiring Joe Schmoo with a digital camera and they´re letting him shoot a 1000 frames and the thing is, if they shoot a 1000 frames, they gotta get one or two decent ones and if they´re only decent, they can fix them in Photoshop! It´s like, if I call up 500 different girls, I´ve got a better chance of boning one then if I call up three girls! The same thing with these new idiot photographers, they don´t even know what they´re doing with their digital cameras. I mean, almost anybody can shoot a good photo with a digital camera and if it´s not, they can fix whatever´s not good a little later on in Photoshop, you know.
You´ve got any plans for a new book?
NZ: Yeah! I´m working on it now. It´s gonna be an Eddie Van Halen book, that Eddie´s working on with me.
NZ: Yeah, we´re working on it and it should be out around August or September this year. It´ll be Eddie in his heyday from ´78 to ´84. I mean, I wasn´t a big fan of Van Halen with Sammy Hagar and I wasn´t a big fan with Gary Cherone. To me, the David Lee Roth years are the best!
Looking forward to that! Do you have any idea of what those guys are doing? There´s rumors of an album and a tour?
NZ: Supposedly. People say they´re gonna go on tour. As a matter of fact, I don´t remember if I heard that they were announcing shows. I don´t know! People sat that they´re making a new album. They don´t really call me. I haven´t heard from Dave since he got back into the band. I thought Dave was one of my best friends or whatever, but I guess I thought wrong. Once he got back in the band I never heard from him again!
What about Zloz TV? Who came up with that idea?
NZ: I had this guy that I´ve known for quite a long time and he came to my studio and went “Hey man let´s do a reality show! Hey man let´s do this…!” and I was like “Dude, come down and relax, man! Dude, I don´t need a reality show! Do I need some camera in my face when I´m shooting sessions and yelling and screaming at people on the phone and when I´m boning chicks or whatever I´m doing! I don´t need some fucking camera in my face 24 hours a day!”. Just to shut him up I´m like “Look Chuck, do me a favor! Write down some ideas and give them to me! If it gets my dick hard, then maybe we can talk about it!”. The he said “Can I bring in my camera guy?” and I´m like “Yeah, I´ll talk to your camera guy.”. As you can see, I´m sort of an animated character and I obviously know pretty much everybody in the music industry, so I said “Ok, this could be interesting! Let´s give it a go!”. We´ve actually filmed quite a few, on top of the ones that are already up there. Well, let´s go back a second! When the guy told me about it he said “Neil, I´ve got connections at MTV, VH1 and we´ve got connections at FoX and SPIKE TV!” and I´m like “Ok, cool! Maybe we can sell this thing and make some money, because there´s another show on VH1 that I think is the worst most fucking boring talk show in the world! I won´t even watch it, I mean the guy´s supposedly very knowledgeable, but I think the guy is one of the most boring people I´ve ever seen on tv. Then I started thinking, I wanna use bad language, I wanna talk about scantily clad girls and boning chicks and maybe about drugs and drug usage or whatever, so I go “We can´t have this on regular channel 11 FoX or VH1!”. You know what, if I can give some of my fans that and gain a little knowledge that they didn´t have before. Someone could watch my show and be entertained for 15 or 20 minutes and walk away and go “You know, that was really interesting! It was cool seeing Neil talk to Wendy Dio or my friend Tori from Red Monkey.”. We´ve had Stephen Pearcy, Steve Vai, we´ve done Slash with a guy named Marc Canter whose parents own probably the most famous deli I LA. So I met Slash with Marc Canter and we´ve done Zakk Wylde and Duff and Gilby Clarke. We had this Asian adult actress on called Kianna Dior on there. We had Bruce Kulick, we had Tommy Thayer, we had Billy Sheehan and those aren´t even up yet.
Cool! You´re keeping yourself busy!
NZ: Yeah, well we stopped right now because everybody on my crew started fighting and shit like that. We´re talking about possibly starting up again in February. You know, Paul Stanley said he would do it and a friend of mine is this famous baseball pitcher, Randy Johnson, who is now an avid wannabe rock photographer. You know what, we had Chad Smith and Michael Anthony and that was just off the wall funnier than shit. My main purpose is not to make any money or anything, it´s just a little fun thing and my co-host, she´s like my best friend. Everybody seems to be enjoying it and I´ve gotten a lot of positive comments and stuff like “Neil, can´t you shut up, you talk too much!”. It´s not like an interview! That is exactly what I´m not trying to do. It´s me talking with my friends. My crew was like “Get Travis Barker!” and I´m like “Look, as much as I know Travis Barker, I don´t know what to talk to him about! I´m not a big Blink 182 fan. Travis is an amazing drummer and I´ve shot him about six or eight times, but I don´t really know what to talk to Travis about. People that are on there are people that I know pretty well and can sit down and talk to like I´m talking to you right now.
Nice! I´m just gonna finish off her with a couple of bands and you say whatever comes to mind!
NZ: You know, I loved working with Poison and I think the very first Poison album is their best record they´ve had. A lot of people mock Poison and make fun and they´ve obviously had their high point and they hit their lows in the grunge years, but it seems like they´re back. I don´t know if the band still exist. Bret Michaels is such a big celebrity now and doing all his solo stuff. I don´t know if Bobby, Rikki and CC are still in Poison, but I have a lot of great memories working with them. I love Rikki! He´s a fellow English motorcycle fanatic. Great band and their first album I thought was fantastic.
NZ: My favorite Y&T album is the one they did with Jimmy DeGrasso. I was never a big Y&T fan. I will say, they had this one video where they´re walking down Venice Beach and Oh my God I hated that! What were they thinking when they made that video? Dave Menikett is wearing these short pants and they´re like ten sizes too small for him. I was never a big Y&T fan but I did like that album with Jimmy DeGrasso.
NZ: I´ve known those guys… Kevin DuBrow and Randy Rhoads was in the original version and that didn´t do much. I remember I went on tour with them. The “Metal health” album was a great album! Kevin was a great front man and Carlos a great guitar player, Frankie and Rudy all great musicians and that album up to that point was the biggest selling rock album since Peter Frampton´s “Frampton comes alive”. I don´t think they ever duplicated the success that album had, but they were fun. They used to sell out the Forum and they were a big attraction back in 1983-84.
Did you ever shoot Black N´Blue?
NZ: Loved Black N´Blue! Probably my favorite on the road experience was going on tour with Black N´Blue for their “In heat” album. I latched on to them right around the “Without love” album and then “Nasty nasty” came out and I actually did the album cover for that one and the “In heat” came out. You know, I´ve been on Lear jets and stayed at Four Seasons hotels and all that shit, but one of my most fun tours was going out with Black N´Blue in this shithole of Texas and I love Texas, but we were in little shit places. We were travelling in this little nine seater minivan and we were all sharing the same Penthouse magazines, looking at chicks tits and cutting the cheese. That was probably one of my most fun tours I´ve ever done in my life. I love Black N´Blue! It´s too bad that Geffen Records basically signed all these bands and didn´t do much with any of them. I think “In heat” had some amazing songs and “Nasty nasty” was great too. I love that! I´ve never been a big KISS fan, but I think KISS with Tommy Thayer playing guitar… as a matter of fact, just last week I was at home listening to “Modern day Delilah”, which I think is an amazing KISS song! That´s a great song!
It is! Guns N´Roses then? When did you meet those guys? Was that prior to “Appetite for destruction”?
NZ: I met them because this girl I knew, a chick from Belgium and she was like a writer back then. Somehow she hooked up with Guns N´Roses at an early point and they were touring around Hollywood and I think I was boning this little chick named Carrie, that Steven Adler was boning at the same time. She was like “Yeah, I´m going out with the drummer from Guns N´Roses!”. I knew they were the bad boys of rock and roll and it´s funny because I met Slash tree years earlier when he came to my house with Marc Canter the very first time. He came to my front door and Marc came in, “Hey Neil, this is my friend Slash!” and Slash came in and he looked like he´d just crawled out of the guttery and he had the top hat and his hair was totally in his eyes and pimples all over his face. I looked at Marc and went “Why are you bringing this fucking piece of trash into my house?”. The first time I shot Guns N´Roses in my studio, Slash walked in and “Hey, remember me, I met you with Marc Canter?” and I went “Yeah, you´re the guy who came in and tried to rip me off of some rock magazines!”. “Appetite for destruction” to me, is one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all times. To me, like I said, rock and roll in the 80´s was like Before Guns and After Guns. After Guns all the bands, Mötley, Poison and every band you could think of, their hair started getting smaller and smaller and instead of going to all the clothing designers and having all these stupid stage clothes, everybody just started getting a bit more rougher and raunchier. Guns N´Roses to me, singlehandedly changed the whole face of rock and roll music. I mean, Metallica changed it too, but that wasn´t really my cup of tea. Metallica was a little harder and a little rougher, but I wouldn´t call Metallica rock and roll. But Guns pretty much changed it. To me “Appetite´s” rock and roll is hard and nasty.
Do you think Axl Rose is crazy?
NZ: You know what, I never had any problems with Axl myself at all! He always treated me with respect and he was really nice. The only problem I had with Axl was one day we were supposed to do a photo shoot with the whole band and everybody showed up but Axl! Id the drummer wasn´t there was one thing, but the lead singer you sort of need for a group shot. What´s good with a group shot without the singer? But Axl did personally on the phone about two or three days later and he was like “Hey Neil, it´s Axl! Look, I´m really sorry for not showing up for the photo shoot the other day, but if I showed up to that photo shoot, everybody´s life in that room would´ve been miserable, but I´m gonna make it up to you!”. So we did do another shoot later with the whole band and Axl and I had a cover of Rolling Stone magazine with that shoot, 20 years later, not then, and I had a cover of Spin Magazine with some solo shots of Axl and to this day I´m still selling those photos.
Alright! You mentioned Metallica. Did you ever work with Metallica?
NZ: I never shot them off stage, but I do have a funny story. I was up in Brooklyn shooting my friends band which was Lääz Rockit. This is probably like ´85 or ´86 and I remember they were just starting to make a name for themselves. They weren´t humongous and I was up there. My friend with Lääz Rockit, they were all friends with James and Kirk and Lars. I knew that and I guess it was Elektra Records that needed shots of them and I told Elektra I was going up to Berkeley, San Francisco and they were like “Oh Neil, we´d love for you to do some shots of Metallica!”, so my friends in Lääz Rockit took me up to meet them; “Hey, this is Neil Zlozower and he´s like a big famous photographer!”. They didn´t even look at me, they just kept on watching tv. They didn´t even look and say “How are you doing?”. I was like “Hey guys, how are you doing?”, they just kept on watching tv. “Hey, the people at Elektra really want me to do a photo shoot with you!” and their reply was “We only shoot with Ross Halfin!” and that was pretty much it. They pretty much dissed me, ignored me, wanted nothing to do at all with me. It was fine, because at that point they were really nobody. At least in my mind I didn´t know, but that wasn´t really my genre of music. I wasn´t really into Megadeth back then, even though I did a lot of work with them, probably not at that point but soon after I did tons of work with Megadeth. That was a little bit different music for me. As I said, Guns N´Roses was pretty hard shit, but it was nasty and you could understand the lyrics and relate to them, but bands like Megadeth and Metallica had sort of different lyrics and they were just a little bit different type of beast. Maybe it was over my head, I don´t know, but to this day I don´t think I own one Metallica record and I don´t think I own one Megadeth record! It´s just not my cup of tea! Different strokes for different folks!
I saw that you had a picture of Alice in Chains on your site as well. What´s your memory of Layne Staley?
NZ: You know, it´s funny, my friend Peter Fletcher used to work at CBS and I had this one chick whose name was Kim Kayman and she was sort of a grunge chick. She liked me and I liked her and she would tell me of allthe bands back then; “Neil, you gotta shoot Stone Temple Pilots! Neil, you gotta do Alice in Chains! Neil, you gotta do Soundgarden!” and I listened to her and I did these bands. The first time I set up my Alice in Chains shoot, my friend brought them into my studio and it was in the night time and it was about ´91. They were nobody still at this point. This chick was really good at getting me these bands before anybody knew who they were. It was sort of like when I shot Guns N´Roses in ´87, they came in and I was used to people listening to me, so I was like “Ok guys, look in the lens and give me some attitude!”, but when Guns came in, I tried that with them and they were on the backdrop and they were all smoking and laughing and giggling and looking at each other. I was like “Guys, guys look! I´m trying to make you look cool! We gotta work together!” and they finally listened to me and I sort of did it a little their way and a little my way and they loved what I did and I continued to work with Guns for another three years till ´89, but with Alice in Chains, they got down on the backdrop or whatever and I went “Ok guys, look in the lens!” and they just sort of totally ignored me. They were laughing and giggling and really didn´t pay any attention at all to me, whereas Guns paid some attention to me but still kept on doing what they wanted to do, but they still listened to me. Finally I went to my friend Peter and I´m like “Peter look, I´m here to work! I don´t know if these guys are giggling like little girls or whatever, if they don´t want to listen to me and they don´t want to work, I don´t need to be here at night time! I´d rather go home and watch tv and have dinner. Either we´re gonna work or they can leave, one or the other!”. So they listened to me and saw what I was doing and then they gave me a 100 percent of total attention and I guess they liked the photos, because I did quite a bit of work with Alice in Chains up till about 1993 and by then they were a pretty big band, if I remember correctly. I mean, I started with them in ´91 and I remember when they were opening up for the “Clash of the titans” tour, which was Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax and they were just killing it every night. Layne´s voice was great and Jerry was great and the whole band was great. I used to hang with them and I´d be in their dressing room and I remember them telling me “Man, we don´t even have any photos in the tour book for this thing!”. They were a little bummed out because here they were and they were killing it every night and they got no recognition, but it wasn´t long after that they became a really humongous band. Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer maybe hit a little low point right around there and bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Nirvana could do no wrong.
Great bands! Thank you so much Neil! I´ve been longing to do this since I started seeing your pictures in Faces and Hit Parader and those magazines back in the 80´s.
NZ: How old are you?
I´m turning 40 in a couple of weeks, so I was a teenager back in the mid 80´s and I was totally into that whole LA scene with the Crüe and Ratt and all that.
NZ: yeah, that was a fun thing because bands back then all wanted to be rock stars! I tried to make it so when you were flipping through Shit Parader or Metal Edge which I call Metal Shit, you´d be flipping through and you got to a Zloz photo and if you were a chick you´d go “Oh, look it´s Stephen Pearcy! I wanna fuck him! Look at Jon Bon Jovi, I wanna fuck him!”. That was my goal, to give them that rock star look. But back then there was like 40 or 50 American rock magazines. If you did a Mötley shoot or a Bon Jovi shoot, you´d sell that shoot to all those 50 magazines. The dough was rolling in! I mean, that was the Reagan years as Americans would call it and the money was plentiful and everybody was making a lot of money and then grunge came in and it wasn´t cool to be a rock star anymore and all the magazines went bankrupt. Faces, Metal Licks, Rock Shots, Metal Mania and Pilot and all those just went down after that.
NZ: Yeah, I guess so! You said you were in Sweden?
I´m in Stockholm and got this site which been around for ten years in different versions. I usually put up the interviews in English because I´m so lazy and won´t translate. Been doing it for fun for ten years and been interviewing people like Rob Halford to, well everyone.
NZ: I love Rob! He´s such a gentleman and fucking amazing! Do you know my friends from Drain?
Well, I´ve seen them and I actually think I saw Martina backstage at the Disturbed show a few weeks ago.
NZ: Oh Martina! I used to have the hots for her. It´s funny! She´s a friend of mine and my friend who worked for Fernandes guitars and now he works for Jimmy Dunlop, he brought her to the studio right when she first got to America and she was so fucking hot and then I had the hots for her forever. It´s funny, I was managing this band and she came to the show one night and she was looking at me and I was looking at her and she goes “Neil, I´ve got to admit something. Remember that time when Scott brought me over to your studio? I really liked you and I used to have a big crush on you!” and I go “Well Martina, I used to have a crush on you! You know what, let´s go and fucking bone each other!” and she was like “Oh Neil, I know you to well now! I can´t do that anymore.”. So, anyways. She was really cute and then a couple of years later, I don´t know what she did, but her butt got so big, but then she lost all that weight and she looked great last time I talked to her. She´s a friend of mine and Anna, the bass player, she´s a friend of mine too. I think she may have moved back to Sweden also, if I´m not mistaken. Her husband is named Chris and he used to play with Vanilla Ice or someone else like that and he´s a nice guy too. Do you know a friend of mine, Michael Joahnsson?
I know of him, yeah! I´ve been trying to get hold of him. He´s always featured in a magazine here called Sweden Rock Magazine and there´s always a spread with his photos from the 80´s and he´s telling some story of Yngwie Malmsteen or Bon Jovi or something.
NZ: Yeah, we used to hang in the old days. He used to come to America, but I haven´t seen him for years. He´s a nice guy!
Thinking of Martina and Drain, do you know Athena, Tommy Lee´s sister?
NZ: Yeah, of course I know her! She was married to James Kottak, but I don´t think they´re married anymore.
I know! I´ve got her on Facebook and there´s been all these weird updates. I don´t know! I met her a couple of years ago and she was one of the coolest and funniest girls I´ve ever met. She brought us up on stage and got us beer and I interviewed her later on. Just a cool cool girl!
NZ: Yeah! One day in 1983, I was at a Mötley Crüe gig and Tommy saw me and he threw his drumstick at me. I thought it was funny, but it hit the stage and bounced off the stage and it hit me in the head! I didn´t think anything of it. I looked at Tommy and just sort of flipped him the finger with a smile “Good shot motherfucker! Fuck you!”. Then I go backstage and Athena was back there. I mean, she must´ve been… Tommy was 21 or 22. I was at Tommy´s 21:st birthday party and I remember I drank so much that on my way home, I was in my car and had to take a piss so bad I didn´t even pull off the freeway. I pulled to the shoulder of the freeway, opened the passenger door because I didn´t wanna open my door because I thought that maybe a car would come by and just rip it off and I remember pissing right on the side of the freeway. I remember Athena comes backstage and she goes “Neil, you´re bleeding!” and I go “What?”, “Yeah, you´ve got a cut on your head and you´ve got blood all over your head!” and I go “Yeah, it´s from your dumb fucking brother! He threw his drumstick at me!”.
I think she played here in Europe with a Swedish band called Blowsight and it´s one of the Drain girls´band.
NZ: Oh, I wonder which one, because one of the Drain girls is married to Toni Iommi! And there´s Flavia, the guitar player.
I know! Yeah, that´s the one in Blowsight!
NZ: Alright, that´s cool! I´ve always liked those girls! I´m not a big fan of girl bands other than The Donnas! I love The Donnas! I think they´re amazing! My favorite album is “Spend the night”. It´s phenomenal and then the next one I didn´t really like as much when it came out even though I listen to it now, but the last one is really good to. Alison is an amazing guitar player!
She is! Thank you so much Neil! It´s been a pleasure talking to you.
NZ: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and interview me! If you need anything else, give me a holler brother!
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