London may well be one of L.A.'s most famous and enduring groups. From the ranks of London such players as Nikki Sixx of Motley Crüe and Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. have emerged. London had just released their album "Non Stop Rock" on Mike Varney's Shrapnel Records in 1986, when London guitarist Lizzie Grey spoke to me.
Q - London is almost an institution in Los Angeles. Why hasn't the group landed a major record deal?
A - I started London with Nikki Sixx in 1978. As to why London hasn't inked a deal with a major, you would have to ask the majors because God knows we have been assaulting them with product for years. I have always believed that when it's the right time and the product is right, that's when the deal comes. Ask Blackie. He struggled longer than I have in L.A. before putting together W.A.S.P.
Q - The whole L.A. Metal scene really exploded between 1982 and 1983. Is there any bitterness about London not being picked up by a major during those years?
A - It's rather ironic, but during the period you mentioned, London was not together. I was doing some Pop projects, one with Leslie Knaver, vocalist now for Precious Metal, that just didn't pan out. I decided to reform London in '84 after being prompted by many die-hard fans that just loved the music. I see the present London as being on a spearhead of a new renaissance of Hard Rock that will push into the '90s.
Q - If you had to categorize London's music, what category would you put it into?
A - It is so hard to categorize music when you are the musicians performing it. However, I would call London's music Hard Rock to Metal with a twist of Pop, a la Mott and Sweet.
Q - You're part of an L.A. group named London. Why is that?
A - London represents more of a concept than just the name of a city. We have always been influenced by British Rock from Sweet to Judas Priest. We feel that London is as good a name as any. Besides, what's Berlin got to do with that group?
Q - Have either Nikki Sixx or Blackie Lawless offered to help London in any way?
A - I guess I'm a hard head, but I would prefer to make in on my own merits rather than to coat tail on someone else's success. However, when the London project reaches the point of being considered as openers for a major tour, I would love to play with either of my old comrades. It's not a big ego war like many people would like to believe. It is however survival of the fittest.
Q - You say your particular brand of Theatrical Rock hasn't been seen since the best days of Alice Cooper. W.A.S.P. and Iron Maiden have incredible stage shows. How are you going to top that?
A - We think that Alice Cooper was a bad example for what London is trying to achieve in the way of stage theatrics. However, he had been a major influence on the group. We are looking at more of an early Tubes meets modern Heavy Rock by incorporating wild and elaborate staging, such as our giant six foot radio drum riser which incorporates 'live' silhouetted Go-Go dancers inside! As far as trying to top anyone or anything, we are only trying to entertain.
Q - What do you feel is special about London?
A - As we are a Hard Rock band, we do not deny that there are many similarities between us and other Hard Rock bands. We try to offer a creative, well thought out and entertaining package. One thing though that is truly unique about London is that we have the only real 'live' walking, talking werewolf, Nadir D. Priest, for a vocalist. You'll note the tune on our album, "Werewolves In London".
Q - Where did Mike Varney catch your act? How can having a Shrapnel recording contract really help your career?
A - We met Mike Varney at the NAMM show last year (1985). He said he heard a lot about the group and was also curious why we had never done an LP. He had heard a bit about the group from Blackie Lawless whose first album he produced. He said that he would love to do a London album and at the time it seemed like the thing to do. So many bands sit around waiting for some magic deal to fall out of the sky and it never happens. They get frustrated and give up. After seeing what Nikki accomplished by just getting product in front of the public with the first Motley release on Leather Records, I decided that I would do it the hard way. As Mike Varney puts it, it's the a la cart menu. Shrapnel's release has helped us immensely. With the album selling well, we are finally being seriously looked at by the majors. The only difference between an "indie" and a "major" is that the majors have the money to properly promote an LP and provide adequate distribution. With an indie you have to do a lot of work yourself, but if you are really serious about what you are doing, it's worth it.
Q - What are the sales figures on the album?
A - Low ball figures are 10,000. Optimistic figures are 15,000. We prefer the 15,000 figure!
Q - You've got an upcoming tour of Europe and Japan planned?
A - We are currently working with a promoter who is putting together a summer tour of Japan for several large, local L.A. bands and are looking forward to promoting the album with a 'live' show there. We have been selling well there, number 6 in Burn! magazine. Europe is still a little bit more up in the air, but we have spoken with several contacts who are interested in getting the band there. Roadrunner, our label in Europe, has promised tour support. We have several up-coming shows on the West Coast and Mid-West. Jimmy Bain, bassist for Ronnie James Dio, performed on stage with us at our recent Roxy Theatre performance. Jimmy will probably be producing our next album. The new Van Halen band was partying backstage!