For Chicago based five piece The Last Vegas, the year and a half or so since the release of their album ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ has sure been one wild ride, but that’s exactly the way the band like it! Started by brothers Adam and Nathan back in the early 2000’s, the band delivered a few independent album releases which took them from the stages of USA to Europe. Getting the opportunity to support Motley Crue and work with the Crue’s Nikki Sixx for the release of ‘Whatever Gets You Off’ set the scene for what was to come in the months ahead.
Armed with an aresenal of high energy, raw, trashy rambunctious rock ‘n’ roll songs, along with the live show to match, The Last Vegas soon found themselves on stage supporting the likes of AC/DC, New York Dolls, Tesla and Buckcherry, as well as slaying crowds at festivals in Europe. The first single off the album ‘I’m Bad’ , was listed by iTunes as 2009 Rock Single Of The Year, whilst the album from which it came was listed as one of the Top 15 Rock Albums of the year.
Amongst a year of relentless touring, the band is currently in the studio working on the follow up album set for release late 2010/early 2011, bass player Danny Smash reflects on the last 18 months and the bands plans for a worldwide assault in 2011.
Hey Danny, thanks for taking the time to chat with May The Rock Be With You! I believe that you have currently been working on the follow up album to “Whatever Gets You Off”. How is the new album coming along and when can we expect it to be released?
My pleasure. Yeah, we just got into the studio last week. We are working with producer Johnny K (Disturbed, Airbourne, Black Tide, Drowning Pool) who is also a Chicago guy. So it seemed like a good and convenient match up. Things are going well and were hoping to have the album out by the end of this year or early next.
Given that some of the songs on “Whatever Gets You Off” had been on some of your earlier independent releases, do you think this is a fair representation of the The Last Vegas we will hear on your new album?
Yeah everything we are doing now is a definite representation of where we are at. I think this album is going to be a little heavier and grittier than anything else we’ve done. This one is going to come more from the crotch and less from the head. Its still going to be straight ahead, true blue rock n roll.
Can you share with us an insight into the songwriting process within the band, is songwriting a whole of band affair? Are you a band that likes to write whilst out on the road?
It’s a very communal process. We have four songwriters so a lot of ideas get tossed around. Its like throwing chum into a pool of great whites. If it survives us then we feed it to the fans. They’re the ones who sit on top of the musical food chain.
Honestly we really don’t write much on the road. Were too busy partying or recovering from partying. Usually we write at home. Nothing too romantic.
Is the process for writing for the new album in anyway likely to be differen’t from what you have followed in the past?
A little, we have a little more time to put this one together. Usually its a rush job because of time and money. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was rock n roll. So we’ve taken what we’ve learned from previous producers and got a head start before heading into the studio. We have a little more control of this project than the previous one.
Without wanting you to necessarily reveal your secrets, what are the essential ingredients that must be included when you are writing a The Last Vegas song?
Well we’ll try not to give away too much of mum’s secret recipe. Our songs usually have their fair share of girls, guitar solos, substances, big bass drums, piss and vinegar, and a little touch of evil. We’ve all graduated from the Bon Scott rock n roll cooking school.
For “Whatever Get’s You Off”, you had the production services of Nikki Sixx, Marti Fredriksen and DJ Ashba…are any of these likely to feature again on the new album? What were some of the lessons learned from recording that album, that perhaps you have identified for areas of change during the process of recording the new album?
No, I think that was a one time thing. That was a case of the mother birds helping the baby birds out of the nest. They just wanted to put a little extra fire power on our first major release. We learned a lot about cutting out the bullshit. I know a twenty minute bass solo sounds like an instant top ten hit idea, but trust me its not. We also learned that we need to listen to our gut instincts. Our friend and producer Roy Z said it best “if you think you stink“. Producers are very important, however sometimes your initial primitive idea can give you a lot more mileage than a complicated over thought out idea. Your main reason and inspiration for writing a song should not get lost in the shuffle of trying to make your song better or radio friendly.
What are some of the major influences on The Last Vegas, whether it be musical or otherwise…
Being under the influence is probably our biggest influence. We like to have a good time and I think that reflects in our songs and in our shows. We all dig a lot of different bands and styles, but I think we all agree we come from the five piece mold cast by bands like the Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Guns n Roses. Straight up hard ass rock n roll!!!
You have rocked stages big and small, from Sweden to Texas to Italy and all the way through to Chicago, playing with the likes of AC/DC to New York Dolls to Motley Crue to Burn Halo….what get’s you off about playing live and when you walk off a stage, what is a successful gig in your mind?
Playing live is why were in this business. Thats where the party’s at, thats where the girls are at and thats where the good times are had. There’s a high that comes from playing in front of a great audience that’s probably the equivalent of jumping out of an airplane. Watching some kid rock his ass off to your music is the greatest drug in the world. A successful gig is getting a positive reaction out of a crowd that doesn’t have a clue who you are. It’s a very gratifying feeling. The Motley Crue tour was a perfect example of that for us.
How do you find the experience of going from playing small clubs to playing arenas? Which do you prefer?
There’s a lot of positive things to be said about both kinds of venues, but of course we enjoy the arena’s better. Playing or attending an arena show has an aura about it that makes it special. Your sharing a cool moment with a large number of people. Playing arena’s is also a pretty good sign that you’ve acquired some sort of success in the music biz.
In signing you to his Eleven Seven Music, Nikki Sixx is quoted as saying “They’re honest. They’re real. They’re not full of (expletive). They’re a real rock ‘n’ roll band.” Stating the obvious I guess, are Nikki’s comments what you consider to distinguish The Last Vegas from a bunch of the other rock bands out there?
Without sounding trying to sound too egotistical I would have to agree. The phrase rock n roll gets thrown around way too liberally. Im often surprised at what people call “rock” these days. The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is a perfect example of this. I think what we do is real rock n roll because you can hear the blues roots in our music. Sometimes we get lumped in the active rock and new metal categories, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those categories, but its not us. Nikki’s a smart man, he can sniff out the bullshit from a mile away.
It’s 2010 and suddenly over the last few years all the bands that were “cool” back in the 80’s are as “cool” as ever, with nostalgia tours a’plenty and new releases getting heaps of promotion etc, etc. As one of the newer breed of rock bands that have come onto the scene in the last 5 years or so, do you as a band feel any frustration towards the fact that bands such as yourselves aren’t perhaps given the attention you deserve from some areas of the music industry?…you are the future of keeping rock alive after all!
Absolutely. I talk about this subject all the time. I just recently saw two bands who were highly successful in the 70s and 80s in concert. And as much as I absolutely love these bands, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted them to retire. They sound good but there’s no energy. Rock n Roll was started by young people for young people. If the future of rock n roll is to be successful we have to give it back to the young. You can only beat a dead horse so long before even he starts listening to rap and country. The rock side of the music business spends too much time, money, and energy trying to breath life into these dinosaurs. If rock n roll is to move forward and not become a fine arts, acquired taste, bohemian genre like the blues and jazz have become, then we need to invest in some of the newer up and coming bands.
With a new album on the horizon and having already ventured to some countries outside of the USA for some shows, what are the plans at this stage for world wide domination in 2011?
Playing internationally is our main goal for 2011. No offense to my fellow Americans, but the rest of the world is a little more hip when it comes to music appreciation. Pop culture in america is in a bad place right now, and american rock fans know this. That’s not saying were not going to play in America. There are still a lot of great fans here and its always a focus for us, but we are also going to concentrate overseas as well.
From: Chicago, USA
Band Members: Chad Cherry – Vocals, Adam Arling – Guitars, Johnny Wator – Guitars, Nathan Arling – Drums, Danny Smash – Bass
Latest Release: Whatever Gets You Off (2009 – Eleven Seven Records)