Interview With Warrant’s Robert Mason

Interview With Warrant's Robert Mason

XS ROCK: Hey Robert! It’s a pleasure to talk with you. I’ve been a fan for many years. I want to talk about the new Warrant album in a moment, but first, let’s go back to the beginning for a minute. Tell me about your first major label appearance.
Robert: I was signed to a record deal in the late 80’s early 90’s to Epic/Sony. That ended up being one of those things that fell to the wayside. The President of A & R that signed you changes jobs and you get shelved. And then in 1991 I joined Lynch Mob. I did an album and a tour and almost another album with them. We supported Warrant in arenas and that’s where I became friends with the band. Isn’t life funny. And then, I was Ozzy’s background vocalist for ’95-’96 for a whole year on the road, under the radar, behind the curtain. No one knew about it. I left Ozzy prematurely, to do a record with Cry Of Love called Diamonds and Debris. I’m fiercely proud of the Cry Of Love record. But, it came out at kind of a weird time and Columbia Records just didn’t know where to put us.

XS ROCK: So you mentioned Lynch Mob. Tell me what it was like to work with George Lynch? You hear some people say that he’s really difficult to work with, but on the other hand, he’s done a lot of projects with a lot of people.
Robert: He’s an eccentric guy, but he has that artist mentality and I think he gets lost in the art and overlooks some of the social graces sometimes. I think he’ll even admit that. He’s a really intelligent guy with a great sense of humor. He can be as sarcastic and cynical as anybody but I respect that. We all have our moments. He’s older than I am. When I joined Lynch Mob, George and Mick (Brown) were the older guys from Dokken and we, Anthony Esposito and myself, were the kids from New York coming in to like, leave our first big star on the record industry. Yeah, did we bonk heads? Oh, hell yeah! We both did. But he and I just spoke two weeks ago and were joking around about joke band names. We were  joking about how all of the good band names are taken. But I think creative people are like that sometimes. I mean, I’m not making excuses for bad behavior, he’s made some and I’m made some….what are you going to do.

XS ROCK: I’ve heard a lot of people say George is difficult and others say Don Dokken is the difficult one.
Robert: Oh, it’s both of them.

XS ROCK: So, obviously, Oni Logan, the original vocalist for Lynch Mob is back in the band. But, would you ever consider working with George Lynch again on one of his many side projects?
Robert: You know, We’re both incredibly busy. He does a lot of work and so do I. You know, it’s not out of the question. If the right thing came along and we were both really excited to do it, for the right reasons. It’s been vaguely talked about, that’s about all I’ll say. But there isn’t anything negative about us working together again. If the right thing at the right time came about, I’m open to it. And I know he is as well. We’ve had that talk.

XS ROCK: I was also a big fan of your band “Big Cock” which was a cool band you did for a while.
Robert: That was a fun thing that Dave Henzerling (A.K.A. David Michael-Philips Of King Kobra), John Covington, John Colby and I,  where we wrote a bunch of really funny songs that rocked and made a record. We did that three summers in a row.

XS ROCK: I got it. I got what you guys were doing. Similar to Steel Panther, it was immature and funny, but still was great rock music.
Robert: Well, you were exactly our demographic. You understood it. Not everyone got it. I had people contact me and say you’ll never have a big song on the radio with a name like “Big Cock”. I’m like, “You don’t get it”. I mean, if you have a song on your first record called “Bad Motherfucker” you’re probably not looking for AOR airplay. Our joke was that we were into single entendre. If you’re smart enough to get that joke, then you’re one of our fans. Dave Henzerling just texted me just the other day and said I haven’t listened to this in about six months or a year and it’s still funny. It’s like the first party that you have at your house when your parents aren’t around and all of your friends are there and you’re just drinking, having fun and God knows what else. It was free reign to just be as tongue and cheek and silly. But musically, we really did care about how it sounded. Honestly, there were times when I would listen to those songs, like when I was on an airplane and just sat there chuckling to myself because I hadn’t heard them in a while. The person sitting next to me must have thought I was mental. There’s a DJ in a local club in Scottsdale Arizona, and he knows me. If I come in he’ll put on the song “Scottsdale Girls”. It’s a song where we make fun of a lot of pop bands from the 70’s and The Beach Boys and at the same time say some pretty rude things about, well Scottsdale girls. And I’ll look around the room and people are just rocking out to it and I’m going…Yessss! Life is great. (Laughs)

XS ROCK: So what’s the strangest request that you’ve ever had from a fan?
Robert: Sign my baby! And I sharpied his little onesy! I did that shit. The best line was his mom saying “It’s his first concert”. I’m like really? He wasn’t at the Lamb Of God concert eight months ago? He’s a frickin’ new born! Of course it’s his first damn concert. And you know I went to the forehead with the marker first, just scare the shit out of the mom. I was totally, like “Yeah, whip the little fellow out, let me sign your baby!” I wonder if she took him to the tattoo shop after that. ha ha ha

XS ROCK: So let’s talk about the new Warrant album. I just heard it and it’s a really great record.
Robert: Louder Harder Faster! Something dumb to say between songs and I was cocky enough to say “Oh, I’m going to write a song called that and it’s going to be the title track of the record”

Warrant Drop New Song "Devil Dancer"XS ROCK: So are you writing most of the lyrics for Warrant now?
Robert: Jerry Dixon and I come up with the lion’s share of stuff. He comes up with some great ideas. Sometimes he’ll come up with just a title. Like two words and maybe a pre-verse where it tells a little bit of a story, but is somewhat dis-jointed, but he knows he can go Yo! Mason,,,,I got this, what do you like, what do you hate and I’ll filter it through my brain and go “Okay, I was on a plane the other day and wrote a bunch of lyrics and we king of meld those together. Sometimes I take the lines that he’s written verbatim and other times it’s like the spirit of the idea that he had. The thing is we’re both thick-skinned enough to be able to twist each other’s ideas around and go, okay, actually that’s better. We have this thing where he’ll come up with something and leave a few lines open and then I’ll come up with that part and He’ll say “Dude! That’s exactly what I was going to say” We do the Lennon, McCartney thing. We’ll split it 50/50 and boom, here we go let’s write a rock song. That’s how it usually comes together. I play a few instruments, but I’m a hack. My band plays the way they play. It wouldn’t sound like Warrant unless it’s those four guys. So everybody does their part and puts their stamp om whatever we do.

XS ROCK: So what are your favorite tracks on the new album?
Robert: Uhh… All the ones that I wrote! (laughs) I really have a soft spot for the piano ballad, “You In My Life”. I wrote that from an idea that I had in my head one morning with my first cup of coffee. I went to the studio and banged that out in about half an hour with my good friend Joe West, who’s a producer and songwriter in Nashville. “Only Broken Heart” sounded Thin Lizzy-ish but I meant for it to be that way. It was meant to be a faithful tribute to them. There a few of them that I really like a lot. I don’t know. Objectivity is the worst. “Faded” is cool. I love the verse in that one. The verses to that song just kind of fell out of me in….I’m not kidding….in like five minutes. This album is a little more vintage feeling and open. I wanted it to be, songwriting wise anyway, like the heaviness of Dog Eat Dog and the big choruses and gang vocals of Cherry Pie. But, yet more like the years ’78-79. You know, not the 80’s or 90’s or new millennium sound either. I’m truly happy with it. Dog Eat Dog is a much under-appreciated album. I got to hear those songs every night after opening for Warrant in Lynch Mob. Live we do “Hole In My Wall”, “Machine Gun”. We do a bunch of those songs.

XS ROCK: Is there anything from the Jani Lane era of Warrant that you struggle with or don’t like to perform as much as the others?
Robert: That’s a really good questions and I’ll be dead honest about it. You’re making me be way too candid…but, It’s like my Oprah moment…I promised myself that I wasn’t going to cry. You know, Mr. Rainmaker is one of those songs where it’s really well recorded, and I like doing it live, but if you try to sing it live the way the record is, there’s almost no place between the words to breathe. There are moments when you take a little liberty in the way that a song is sung in order to make it work live. I did it for the first time on stage and I’m sprinting around the stage and I came backstage after the show and Joey Allen is like “Hey, are you alright there bud?” Dude! That songs is fucking hard to sing when you’re sprinting from side to side. So he was joking with me…”Relax little fighter, just take it easy”. I love the way those songs were written and I was a fan before we became friends and we became friends in ’91.  Thankfully that stuff falls within my range and I can do my damnedest to try to make it sound good. It’s challenging stuff, I will admit. It’s not like a walk in the park with singing some of those songs, but I’m glad that I’m able to do it.

XS ROCK: So have you ever had a fan that was completely oblivious to things and thought you were Jani Lane?
Robert: Maybe one drunk guy at a festival once. Look man, I don’t hate on that. If the last time you saw Warrant was in the 80’s or 90’s and you come out and don’t know the difference or can’t tell the difference…I’m not bothered by that.

XS ROCK: Robert, thanks for the great interview. I really appreciate it.
Robert: Hey Bobby, Thanks again, man.

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