Notes: “Passion And Warfare”This album was summed up pretty well in Guitar Player magazine as “the mother load.” It took many years to make, considering that I started before even joining David Lee Roth.
Sketches and concepts for the overview started as early as 1982. As fate would have it, I was touring with Alcatrazz and we were doing this gig at the Country Club in Reseda, California. We were signed to Capitol Records at the time. Most of the record company was at the gig and after the show the President of the label, Don Grearson, asked me if I would like to make a solo record for Capitol. I was thrilled at the idea of having a label push my record and I started to work on it, but shortly after that I joined the David Lee Roth band and the solo record was put on hold.
After many delays, I would sneak a few hours in here and there on the recording but I was losing focus so I shelved it and concentrated on the Roth band.
I went back to Capitol Records to inform them of the additional delay but by then their entire staff had changed and the President of Capitol was now Joe Smith. He seemed very enthusiastic about getting a record from me but also understood the DLR situation. He rewrote the deal for a substantially better offer.
The concepts were bubbling over and driving me crazy. I enjoyed the music I was doing with Dave but he and I started moving in different directions and I felt like there was a larger, other world of music to explore. I was reaching into that secret part of the brain that we all go to for inspiration, and was curious as to if I could make those visions an audible reality.
After parting ways with Roth, I was determined to finish this record. The record was finished between completing the guitar parts for the Whitesnake record and doing the Whitesnake tour.
I called Capitol Records to tell them I was ready to turn in the record and finally get paid but the entire staff had turned around again and now Joe Smith was no longer the President. The A&R guy assigned to me was Simon Potts. A&R stands for, among other things, Artist Relations. The A&R person is usually the liaison between the artist and the label, the one that works with the artist giving creative and and emotional support.
By the way, it’s really quite amusing how people are always moving from one company to the another so swiftly in the record industry. Coming and going, going and coming, fired and hired and always expected to do a better job than the previous person.
I was introduced to Simon Potts over the phone. He not only didn’t know I was signed to the label, but he didn’t even know who I was. He requested I send him a tape. Now, you could literally almost see Capitol Records from my house so I sent Pam (my sister and secretary at the time) over with a cassette and she put it right on their desk. We called and they said they lost the tape or never received it, so we sent another.
Later we got a call from Business Affairs who said not only do they want to change the deal and give me only half of what the contract advance should have been, but they were just going to put this record out and not promote it.
Now, you can’t blame a record company for a situation like this. In order to make it all work you have to have someone at the label that really gets what you’re all about, and truly cares for and believes in your music. The tape I sent over was drastically different then the music that was popular at the time. But if they do like it, they will do everything to make it work. In this situation I was going in as a stranger to people who were not particularly fond of instrumental music.
I was very confident in this record and even though their offer was only half of my original deal, it was still a good chunk of change, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I was a sensitive artist that felt like he had an important piece of work, even though the rest of the world would probably not care for it. I requested a release from the label and they let me go.
Cliff Cultreri (who took Flex-Able and sold it years before) informed me that Relativity Records would love to release it. Relativity at the time was a very small independent label, but Cliff, more then anyone else I knew at any label, was and still is a music lover. He loves the guitar, plays the guitar and loved my record. Before that it was shopped around for a deal but there was no interest.
So I knew Cliff would do his best with this piece of my heart and we signed a deal and they sold close to a million and a half units.
I guess in every person’s career they have an inspired concept and all the pieces of Karma come together to produce something that is a milestone in their creative consciousness. When I sat down to make this record, I stripped myself naked of all outside expectations, all hang-ups and fears of what might happen. I made a record that I wanted to be a statement of my most inner feelings, a blueprint of my personality. When I wrote or recorded any of the pieces, I wanted to be in the moment. It’s hard to explain and I’m asked about it all the time.
This objective point of view helped to loosen inhibitions when it came time to musically animate what I found when I hammered my way into my consciousness. Whether it was lust (“The Animal”), joy (“Answers”), tenderness (“Sisters”), anger (“Greasy Kid’s Stuff”), comic relief (“The Audience is Listening”), complexity (“Love Secrets”), or deep spiritual longing (“For The Love Of God’), I wanted to make the most naked, honest and extreme personal musical statement possible.
I had always kept journals, and built the songs around some of the events in these writings. One such event was this other-worldly state of mind I occasionally experienced as a very young child. Lying in a half sleep state, my perception would become very clear. That seems to be the best way to explain it. Sort of a super state of consciousness where everything was as clear as… well, like they say, there are no words.
My ears would be filled with this ringing sound but not quite like a bell. It was more of a toning and it would draw me into it. The closer I let it pull me, the more resonant it became. I was frightened and never let it actually pull me in all the way because the closer I got, the more open my consciousness became and it was somewhat frightening. I was uneasy and unwilling to let myself go. There were visions too but… never mind.
I started to write a book that detailed these other worldly adventures, but other career obligations at that point prevented the completion of the book. Parts were rehashed and turned into a script called Fire Coma and later Fire Garden.
I believe these experiences of heightened awareness come about when the mind is at ease and not motoring from one thing to another. When you’re in that in-between stage, not quite awake but the consciousness has not quite dropped down to the sleep state yet and becomes aware of it’s surroundings.
Meditation, in many circles, is the exercise of bringing the mind and body to that very still place. Then the inner worlds open up. It’s easy to become a famous guitar player but it’s virtually impossible to still and control the mind (I did say virtually).
Later on in life I would occasionally have experiences that were somewhat similar to the earlier ones. At first they would seem like very lucid dreams of grandeur and magnificence. There was always music involved but not like the music that we hear with our physical ears. Much more intense, colorful, furious yet mellifluously enchanting. The problem here is that I’m trying to explain something that I don’t have the verbal skills to convey, and even if I did there’s no way to explain such a personal experience.
Ready for this? One of these lucid dream occasions happened when I was about 16 years old. I was playing the guitar while recklessly rocketing through colors and space at a brutal speed. My face was being violently shaken from the rushing wind as tears of sheer joy flowed from my eyes. It was an uncompromised state of euphoria.
There was what sounded like a 1000 piece orchestra of unknown instrumentation, all out of tune but divinely perfect, audibly racing with me. Every note or sound that I played on the guitar would be engulfed by this celestial orchestra and re-harmonized hundreds of different ways creating these cascading kaleidoscopes of indescribable sounds and colors.
It was enormously loud but was coming from within. I wasn’t using my physical senses like sight, hearing or feeling. These sensations were being experienced with a different set of sensual tools that were similar than the physical ones, but magnified to a great degree and multi dimensional too (ugh, this is hard to try to explain).
The sound was all around. Inside, outside, upside-down etc. There was no pain or discomfort, no direction or real volume in the conventional way we know it. It was just untainted brilliant, euphoric intensity.
It all came to a crash landing when I hit the bed and awoke with the remnants of this galactic philharmonic still reverberating in my head. I woke up uncontrollably weeping and depressed that it was “only just a dream” ???
I’ve heard others try to describe the same state of mind. The greatest music ever sounded on this earthly plane is a pathetic, feeble shadow of the purity and magnitude of the music within, but I am not an authority on this, although I believe that authorities on the subject do exist. I am not in control of these incredible states of consciousness and can not summon them at will, although I try all the time. They come when they want and go as they please. Experimenting in these realms without the guidance of someone who is experienced can be extremely dangerous to one’s spiritual health.
I believe (and so do many others) that there are those who are in control of these elements and can enter or exit these states of mind at will because they are masters of their mind, but they don’t bother with these mental seductions because even these lofty spheres of awareness are the lower planes of even higher dimensions where these great masters make their conscious abode.
Besides meditation, I take cognizant steps in the direction of this emotional abyss when I’m performing live. Sometimes, when performing, I’m tenderly battered about and brutally caressed by these frightening yet engaging energies. Occasionally the audience even seems to experience them with me.
In a gallant attempt to bring audible reality to this life-altering experience, I constructed the song “Love Secrets.” It’s the best I could do to make real the sound and ferocity of these ethereal episodes. It’s not even close to the real things though. Worlds, no… universes, no… dimensions away from the real thing.
In an attempt to amalgamate all of these thoughts and experiences into a title for the record, I sat down and wrote the words Passion and Warfare.