Sweet Savage was one of the best hard rock bands of the 80s that should have or could have made it big but the reality had other plans for them. Nevertheless, their live shows were legendary and lots of people still talk about them. DDR Music has inked a deal with the band’s frontman Joey Jones and we got the chance to talk with him for all things Sweet Savage and not only…So, grab a beer and enjoy this ride down to memory lane! (Sincere thanks to Erin from DDR Music and Joey for taking the time). Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: Joey, greetings from Greece! First of all let me tell you that it’s great to be talking to you as I am a huge fan of the glam rock scene for so many decades and Sweet Savage is one of the legendary underground bands. How did the deal with The DDR Music Group come up?
Joey Jones: Hello to all of the Greek glam rock fans! I was contacted by one of Lance from DDR’s assistants. I looked up the record company and was very excited to be involved. We are now on our fourth release together. I have a lot more music to share, and hopefully there will be more Joey C. Jones releases by the DDR Music Group.
Rockpages.gr: Η νέα έκδοση του EP περιλαμβάνει αρκετό bonus υλικό. Τι έχεις να μας πει για αυτά τα «νέα» τραγούδια;
Rockpages.gr: The new edition includes additional studio and live tracks. What can you tell us about this “new” stuff?
Joey Jones: I am very excited about the track “The Night is Calling.” That track was recorded at the Ponderosa Studio, which at the time was owned by Tito and Michael Jackson. Sweet Savage was one of very few artists to record there. The song was demo’ed for the movie “Critters 2.” It was a rough demo, but the DDR Music Group has done some remastering and it sounds really good. The other live songs were recorded at some very famous venues, such as a venue called Cardi’s in Houston. Sweet Savage holds the record for the most sell-outs in that venue. Other acts that played there were U2, Pat Benatar, Motorhead, Hall and Oates, and these are just a few names from an incredible list of icons.
Rockpages.gr: On the EP you covered the classic “Fox On The Run” by Sweet. Was it the only option or were there any other songs on the table before you hit the studio?
Joey Jones: “Fox on the Run” was my idea. The producer of the EP, Dana Strum, changed the key of the song. I wasn’t thrilled about my vocal performance – I was young. But I am such a fan of the band Sweet that I was thrilled to record the track,.
Rockpages.gr: In my mind, Sweet Savage was one of the forerunners of the whole glam scene in L.A. as you were there almost from the very beginning. Yet, you never made it big despite the obvious talent. In retrospective, what was the reason for it?
Joey Jones: Sweet Savage was offered a record deal in 1986 by Enigma Records. We passed on the record deal because it was not a front-loaded deal. A few months later, Poison signed the exact same deal that Sweet Savage turned down. Sweet Savage made some bad decisions that also included Atlantic Records and others. But I have no regrets and I love my brothers in Sweet Savage with all my heart.
Rockpages.gr: You were managed by Riki Rachtman. Were you happy with him?
Joey Jones: Riki Rachtman was the ultimate pavement pounder. He worked around the clock. Sweet Savage signed the management deal based on Riki. Soon after we signed the deal, Riki and his partner Edward Montez parted ways. If Riki would have stayed on, I am 100% certain that bigger things would have happened for Sweet Savage.
Rockpages.gr: Dana Strum was also an integral part of the recording team as he produced the EP. Did you approach him or was it the other way round? How did you get to meet him? I guess everybody knew everybody back then…
Joey Jones: Dana Strum saw Sweet Savage perform at the Whisky, and he is the one who put the deal together. We recorded the EP at Baby-O Studios in Hollywood. Baby-O is also known as Van Halen headquarters. The parties were amazing. Naked girls everywhere while we were trying to record. It was well worth it. I want to thank Dana for that wonderful experience.
Rockpages.gr: By the way, what did you think of Vinnie Vincent Invasion?
Joey Jones: Robert Fleischman has an incredible voice. That was my favorite part of the Vinnie Vincent record. I am very happy to say that I helped my friend Bobby Rock get the gig as Vinnie’s live drummer. Bobby said some wonderful things about me in his book. He is a great guy.
Rockpages.gr: Sunset Strip and the so called “Hair Metal” movement has a legendary status especially in Europe due to the fact that we only experienced it via MTV and of course the records. What was a typical day for you back in 1985?
Joey Jones: When Sweet Savage was living in Hollywood, my days usually began around 4:00 P.M. Before I moved to Laurel Canyon, I was living in Huntington Beach, so I would do a lot of skateboarding and surfing. Sweet Savage had the advantage of owning our own truck, P.A., and light show. We would often leave Los Angeles and do shows in several other states, because in those days, you could only do one show a month in Hollywood. So every few months we would hit the road, coast to coast.
Rockpages.gr: Lots of people don’t know that you were involved in a short-lived project with CC Deville, Jimmy Bain and Carmine Appice. I guess it must have been mind-blowing to be playing with the drummer of Rod Stewart as I know you are a big fan…right?
Joey Jones: I was a huge Rod Stewart fan. I also love Vanilla Fudge. Carmine is definitely one of the best ever, and I’m very proud to have my name associated with his. Jimmy Bain, as everyone knows, was in Dio and Rainbow. He was an amazing bass player. I was thrilled when CC, Carmine, and Jimmy learned some of my songs. We sounded good. If that lineup could’ve stayed together, we would’ve surprised a lot of people. Carmine and I wrote a song together – it was Carmine, me, and my acoustic guitar. It was recorded on a little cassette recorder, and over the years, I lost that.
Rockpages.gr: Apart from those songs that we find on the DDR Music Group reissue are there any unreleased Sweet Savage stuff in your archives?
Joey Jones: Yes – there are a few left. I am currently working on some incredible Sweet Savage live video footage. This footage includes videos from Hollywood, Texas, Ohio, and other states. These videos contain never-heard Sweet Savage original material.
Rockpages.gr: You got to know and hang out with some of the most emblematic figures of the hard rock scene of the 80s. Would you like to tell us a few things about Brett Michaels, the late Jani Lane, CC Deville and Nikki Sixx/Tommy Lee?
Joey Jones: Jani and I were very close. When I was living in Laurel Canyon in 1987, Jani would often come over and we would jam acoustic songs together. We actually wrote a few songs together. Of course, over the years, I have lost the demo tapes. He was incredibly underrated. I always got along well with Bret and all the Poison guys. One of my favorite guitarists ever is Mark St. John; Mark used to drive from Anaheim to my house in Laurel Canyon, pick me up, take me to his house in Anaheim, and we would work on song ideas together. One of the songs that Mark and I wrote together is “Comin’ On to Me.” That song is on the DDR Music Group release “Best of Joey C. Jones Vol. 1.” I also spent some time with Rob Halford. He sat in with Sweet Savage during one of our live shows, and we performed “Breakin’ the Law,” “Living After Midnight” and “Desert Plains.” It was a true honor to be onstage with the Metal God. As far as the Motley guys go, I was at the 1987 release party for “Girls Girls Girls” at the Body Shop in Hollywood. In 1986, I helped John Corabi’s band Angora get their first booking in Hollywood opening for Sweet Savage at the Whisky.
Rockpages.gr: Joey, thank you for taking the time…it was an honor!
Joey Jones: You’re very welcome. I can honestly say that performance-wise, Sweet Savage was hands-down the best live band of that era. I would like to thank legendary UK music journalist Kelv Hellrazer for helping promote Sweet Savage in Europe. No one did it better than him – I miss him every day. I hope that glam rock fans in Greece will check out the four full releases that I have with DDR Music Group. I am currently involved in a music documentary film featuring several icons of the glam rock scene, and my interview contains a lot of Sweet Savage information. Thank you for contacting me. I look forward to a second interview with you. Rock on Greece!