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Little Caesar Hits Europe to Promote New Double Live Album, ‘Brutally Honest’

Veteran Band Debuts Tunes at Ultimate Jam Night at Whisky A Go-Go

_-4-3By DONNA BALANCIA

For Little Caesar, Honesty is the best policy.

The new album, Brutally Honest, is a double live CD recorded while on the road in Holland in DIY style.

“It’s real, it sounds good and we’re proud of it,” said Ron Young, frontman for the band, which departs next week for a European tour.

Brutally Honest is the latest album from the legendary Little Caesar and like the band, it’s smooth with some rough edges.

“We didn’t want to put out a fake live kind of record, we’d rather stand there with blemishes, and fortunately there aren’t too many on this record,” said Ron, whose band was a headliner at Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A Go-Go last night.

The group was tasked with following Dee Snider of Twisted Sister who made a surprise appearance.  But like usual, they handled it in bold style and captivated the packed house.

“We enjoy what we do,” Ron said. “We don’t get thrown by a lot.”

Little Caesar has a lot going on. They have a new band member, Alex Kane, a regular at Chuck Wright’s weekly Ultimate Jam Night. Alex rounds out the group, which is comprised of guitarist and co-founder Loren Molinare, bass player Pharoah Barrett and drummer Tom Morris.

The band is ready to hit the road in Europe, where they recorded Brutally Honest, a live, no-frills recording that is charming in its raw presentation. Standout tunes on the new record are “Rum and Coke,” “Chain of Fools,” “In Your Arms,” and “Dirty Water.”  The record is distributed through Unison Music.

“We have some talented people in the group – more than just musically talented,” Ron said. “Our bass player Pharoah is a talented sound engineer, he’s won some Emmy Awards for his work.  When we go on the road, I bring my own mics, that I build myself. Well, we did this one show in Holland, and this engineer there was as weirdo techie as I am, he had a hard drive he ran everything from. So we recorded in Holland, with just a hard drive that all 16 channels ran through. It’s amazing. You used to need a mobile recording truck now you just a need a laptop and a few grand worth of equipment.”

Ron’s views are worldly and at the ripe ol’ age  of 50-something, he says he’s fortunate he can still play music and give back to the fans.  The new album is an example of that.

SEE DEE SNIDER PERFORM ‘WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT,’ ‘HIGHWAY TO HELL’ LIVE HERE

“The music scene in the U.S. is different than in Europe. In Europe, they embrace music, they don’t do the downloads, they have CDs, music is more integrated in the culture, it’s unfortunate that we’ve lost that. Europe traditionally has held on to music, blues-based music and reveled in it native forms of American music are more revered in Europe than here.

original“The music represents social and cultural interactions more over there than here,” Ron said. ” These are friends from towns they go to pubs and shows and this is the reason to stay in each other lives and music is the central hubs.

This “techie nerd” didn’t have plans to be a rock n roll frontman, in fact he had a tendency towards mechanics and science.

“I grew up in Queens went to college on Long Island, at Stonybrook, I was a biology major pre-med and found out there were girls and bars in close proximity,” he said. “That’s when I said, ‘I’ll grow up in a decade.'”

Ron came up in the time of the great rock n roll-punk and new wave time of 1979 to 1982.

“Max’s was just closing down, and CBGB was still going, The Ritz, Danceteria, then the hip hop exploded there. After getting held up at gun point I left New York.  I knew that there’s still a music scene in LA and came here and just went for it. I started working the door at Club Lingerie, started meeting good musicians, and by late 1987 put Little Caesar together.

He’d been in a band with Tom the drummer called Smilin’ Jacks, and they met Loren through an ad in Music Connection.

“We did it as an anti-glam anti-hair metal project.”

The frontman is still very much about the music and not about what he calls the “Look At Me” factor that permeated the metal movement of the 1980s.

“I’m still kind of anti-pomposity and anti-grandiosity music that was trying to impress rather than move people,” he says.

Little Caesar has a new addition with guitarist Kane, who has been a working musician in Hollywood.  Alex has played with Richie Ramone’s band and is a fixture at the popular Ultimate Jam Night at the Whisky A Go Go. Ultimate Jam at the Whisky A Go Go is the kind of positive music event that brings the community together.

_-1 LC 2016 promopic poster“They put a good live diverse palette together with Ultimate Jam Night,” Ron said. “I wish some other clubs in LA would do this. They need to be more selective and I think after 20 years of the pay-to-play we’re loaded up with bands. That doesn’t help build a scene or clientele. When you have really quality music even if it’s diverse, people they appreciate the whole palette.”

Alex joined Little Caesar through a connection with Loren, who works for Blackstar Amplification.  Alex has a sponsorship with the company.

“Alex played in so many bands that we know, he’s so professional and has a good work ethic, he comes from the same vein of appreciating the same music,” Ron said. “He blended right in.”

So what advice does the veteran Little Caesar rocker give the up-and-coming musicians?

“It used to be the musician had this dream of getting to make music for a living so they could do what he or she could get offered a professional distribution deal, but that model is gone,” Ron said.  “What that means is each musician has to be good with Instagram, Photoshop and video and interaction. The whole “creating a whole persona” is over. They want to know what you’re wearing, what you’re eating, and really, you could become overexposed, so it’s a double edged sword.”

As for the future?

“I know we have a great tour ahead, we’ve got some great people to see in Europe and lots of music to make.”

Little Caesar And The Rise of Biker Rock: Interview With Ron Young

Ron Young of Little Caesar - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young of Little Caesar – Photo for California Rocker © 2015 Heather Harris

Photos © Heather Harris; Donna Balancia asks Ron Young, the dynamic frontman for Little Caesar, the important questions.

DB: Your band put on a great show last week at Paladino’s. What are your touring plans for the summer?

RY: We are headed over to Europe mid-June. We start out in Spain for a Motorcycle rally. Then we head to Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and then back through Spain.

DB: Is there a new release we can look forward to?

RY: We are working on new material we will hopefully finish when we return from tour. We will probably release an EP online … actual CDs are a way of the past. It also helps us get new material out faster and directly to our fans. Things have changed!

DB: How are the new guys working out with the band overall?  What talents do they bring?

RY: The new guys, Carey Beare on guitar and Pharoah Barrett on bass are working out great. They are both incredibly talented and have a long touring and recording history.

Ron Young of LIttle Caesar - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young of Little Caesar – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Carey plays with Deanna Carter as well and that country blues sensibility fits us really well. His influences in blues-based rock really helps as well. Pharoah is a killer bass player and singer. I toured with him up in Canada when I did a tour with the Four Horseman years back. 

DB: How did you ever develop your style?

RY: I always loved Blues, R&B, Soul and the the Rock and Roll it influenced. The combination of guys in the band bring  such great elements. Loren is the “punk rock” Keith Richards in the group and brings a great edge to our songs. We emerged in LA during the “hair band” explosion and it really wasn’t any of our “cup o’ tea.” We were gritty dudes riding motorcycles and loved more traditional blues and soul based Rock…which was not the mantra of Pop Metal bands on the Strip in the Eighties. We put the band together to not lose our minds and to pay tribute to the type of Rock we grew up on in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.

DB: What is the significance of Detroit in your history?

Loren Molinare of LIttle Caesar photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Loren Molinare of Little Caesar – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

RY: Loren is from Detroit and was a big part of the scene back there. He was in a seminal Punk/Hard Rock band there that did shows with Bob Seger, the MC5, and the Stooges. Mitch Ryder and his take on RnR was a big influence as well.

DB: Who are some of the bands you used to follow in your the formation days of Little Caesar?

RY: We loved to do shows and listen to bands like Junkyard, Rhino Bucket, Little Kings, Bulldozer etc. They were very honest and gritty bands that side stepped the make up and hairspray like we did. We all played in great joints like Raji’s, The Scream, the Shamrock etc. There was a great communal scene in those days.

DB: Why did you cut your hair?

RY: For me, long hair became a parody. As I grew older it felt like leaving it long was a desperate attempt to cling to my youth. I have silvery curly hair and I would have looked like Santa if I let it stay long. I’m not a big fan of hiding my age behind L’Oreal blue black hair dye. RnR should exude confidence, and when you age and dye your hair it looks obvious and insecure to me. 

Pharoah Barrett - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Little Caesar at Paladino’s – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

I cut my teeth on the great innovators of Blues and Country Rock like Johnny Burnette, Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent.  Short slicked back hair looked very cool to me and was a tribute to the real roots of Rock music….plus, it’s not a pathetic attempt to try to convince our fans that I am still 29 years old. This isn’t 1988 anymore.  Our fans know that too and have evolved in life and fashion….except if you hang out at the Rainbow four nights a week. That place is in a great time warp lol.

DB: How do you come up with song ideas and what inspires your songwriting?

RY: I write all the melodies and lyrics. I will take a guitar riff or chord progression and do my thing over it. Will we openly say things like, “let’s write Bad Co feel type tune, or a “Stonesy” song. We make no claims to be innovators. We have such a love for great Rock that was innovated by earlier bands, if we can capture an essence of some of our idols and hybrize them all together, we figure it will be a song that’s good to listen to.

Little Caesar Set List

Little Caesar Set List from Paladino’s

DB: If you four dream bands for whom you would open who would they be?

RY: Bad Co, AC/DC, The Stones and Skynyrd … Who we did have the great honor and pleasure to open for in ’91 with our buds Junkyard.

DB: How does living in California influence your style and the band?

RY: I hate what the music scene has become in California. “Pay to play” has ruined live music in LA. It’s very hard to do a good show with other good bands that people want to come and see. Now if a band has $500 to get on an opening slot, the promoter takes it and doesn’t care if the bands sound good together or if they have talent. We rarely play in LA because of it … But the weather is great if you want to go see something like that!

DB: I hear that you are an amazing talent also when it comes to fabricating, engineering and creating. How did you ever get involved with making cool things? Did you make the microphone you were holding the other night?

Ron Young of Little Caesar - Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

Ron Young of Little Caesar – Photo © 2015 Donna Balancia

What makes that microphone you had different and/or better than others?

RY: I DO love to fabricate. I build custom cars and bikes, I do custom metal work like gates and architectural pieces and I’m building a custom home as we speak. I did “make” that mic. It’s the next level in an evolution of various designs of my vocal mic. The mic capsule is a Telefunken M80 mounted inside a chromed Shure Beta 56a housing with a Sennheiser ENG wireless block transmitter. It’s a very crisp yet warm mic … similar to a condenser … but with really good rejection … Too nerdy and techy for ya?

James Williamson’s ‘Re-Licked’ Show: ‘Alternative Music’s A-List’ Brings Raw Power to New Project

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Lisa Kekaula with James Williamson at Re-Licked show Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Cheetah Chrome Bring It to Bootleg Show

STORY By DONNA BALANCIA, PHOTOS By HEATHER HARRIS

SILVER LAKE — There was a kitchen drawer at our house that had all sorts of cool things: From screwdrivers to Scotch tape, gumballs to love beads. My dad called it “contained craziness.”

It was like that the other night for James Williamson’s Re-Licked concert at the Bootleg.  Set against a ambient backdrop, the show was a powerful reminder of punk rock’s past, and an exciting sign of the future of the genre.

Accompanied by what could only be called The A-List of Alternative Artists, Williamson amassed a show that was one of the most action-packed we’ve ever seen.  Williamson may have been known as producer and guitarist before, but now he can certainly claim the title of talent scout and promoter.

Calling on his relationships with people like Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart, Jello Biafra, Joe Cardamone, Lisa Kekaula of the Bell Rays, Cheetah Chrome, and Frank Meyer and the Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Williamson took a one-off show and turned it into a screaming social event of great success.

SEE HEATHER HARRIS’ PHOTO ESSAY BELOW

James Williamson with Jello Biafra - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

James Williamson with Jello Biafra – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Band Street Walkin’ Cheetahs and ex-Dead Boys guitarist Chrome lent support as opening acts and joined in the action during the main show, as did “new guys” The Richmond Sluts, who were the young standouts.

The Richmond Sluts’ music and appearance were reminicent of a true 1970s rock n roll band. The charisma, stage presence and white go-go boots of frontman Shea Roberts is really something to appreciate.  Roberts is clearly the new sex symbol of Rock N Roll.

Williamson said he selected Carolyn Wonderland to sing “Open Up And Bleed,” because he was looking for a Janis Joplin-type style for the song.  She breathes new life into a great classic with a feminine touch and vulnerable but commanding stage persona.

Meyer of the popular Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs has a fabulous personality, cool performance style and he did an excellent job running the show, introducing performers and keeping people laughing with his jokes. He gave super energetic renditions of “She Creatures of the Hollywood Hills” and “I’m Sick of You.”

Mosshart’s performance is always something to see — unique and relaxed — her body twisting with each word and wild hair seemingly with a life of its own. She knows how to keep the audience hanging on every motion.

Her crooning “Till The End of the Night” captured the audience as she is both flirtatious and powerful in her delivery. With Malin on “Wild Love,” she shows a gregarious and giving nature in her performance. She clearly enjoys collaborating with established as well as up-and-coming musicians.

Ron Young with James Williamson - Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young with James Williamson – Photo © 2015 Heather Harris

Ron Young of Little Caesar was a breath of fresh air with his hard rock style.  He delivered a solid performance of “Rubber Leg.”  Young’s the kind of guy you want to be in the trenches with, as he is a real team player with a great attitude and cool swagger.

Joe Cardamone of The Icarus Line taunted the audience with “Scene of The Crime” and “Pinpoint Eyes.”  This Los Angeles artist has been working with The Icarus Line and previously fronted Kanker Sores. Kekaula’s wild energy turned “I Got A Right” into a hopping punk revival, soul style.

The opening song was a predictor for the superband performance: Biafra’s “Head On The Curve” was a wild shout out to both Iggy Pop and his Dead Kennedys days — he is still a wild man and compelling to the point where you can’t keep your eyes off him.

For show-enders “Search and Destroy” and “Louie Louie” it was like controlled chaos erupted on stage, and it was calamity on whom to focus the lens.

There was so much action at once it was like a three-ring circus with people running all over the place — Malin whipping his microphone cord around, Cheetah Chrome’s bald pate gleaming, Biafra waving his arms around, and Kekaula relieving her fellow musicians by fanning them wildly.  Yes, with a fan.

Meanwhile, Williamson, who assembled the crazy crew of alternative’s wildly talented, kept his cool, calmly playing his well-recognized guitar in the corner of the stage.

When we asked him, “How did you keep a straight face?” he responded with a cool chuckle and the whole reason for the show: “It was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?”

Yes It Was.   See The Entire Show HERE

 

 

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