“Get Off Your Ass” is the first official studio LP from the revamped quartet, featuring original/founding members guitarist Steve Lynch and bassist Randy Rand, alongside new vocalist/rhythm guitarist Simon Daniels (Jailhouse), and drummer Marc Wieland. The first single “Get Off Your Ass”, reached the Top 10 on the Mediabase Classic Rock charts.
The band made an appearance on the 2018 Monsters of Rock Cruise, and continues to tour through 2018 supporting “Get Off Your Ass” with announced shows with Night Ranger, Skid Row, Kix, Slaughter, and more.
Music Madness caught up with guitar legend and one of Autograph’s original members Steve Lynch to talk about what’s new with the band and what happened in the 80s.
Music Madness: Congrats on the album, “Get Off Your Ass” and the new video for the single, “Every Generation”.
Steve Lynch: Thank you, and the first single was, “Get off Your Ass,” the title of the album, and we did a video on that one as well.
Music Madness: Sounds like you guys have been busy.
Steve Lynch: Oh yeah, very busy, and I’m headed out tomorrow. In fact, we’re heading up into your old territory, we’re heading up into New Bedford, Massachusetts and then we go down to Penn’s Peak, Pennsylvania.
Music Madness: Nice. Speaking of touring, there seems to be a steady resurgence of bands from the late 70s and 80s on the road again, but they are not the original bands anymore. Is it difficult to step away from a band like Autograph for all these years and then step back into it with new members? You’ve got you and Randy, and then a couple of new guys. Has it been a difficult transition?
Steve Lynch: No, not at all, actually. Because the band was apart for, God, 23 years, and we asked the original singer (Steve Plunkett) in the beginning if he wanted to do it, and he said, “No.” He said his voice wouldn’t do it anymore, and he’s doing a lot of stuff for movies and television now, writing stuff, and so, he’s content doing that. He wished us well, and we wish him well, so that’s when we started looking for a singer and it was actually Larry Morand that turned us on to Simon. Larry does the Monsters of Rock Cruise, which we just did this past February, and he said, “Hey check out this guy (Simon Daniels) from Jailhouse.” He gave us his contact information, and we looked at some of his videos on YouTube and then I flew down to LA and we auditioned him and it was Keni Richards as the original drummer, it was Randy Rand, Simon, and I.
Simon worked out just fantastic, but unfortunately, Keni was still battling his demons and we had to proceed in a different direction. So, Simon had this friend of his that he met in LA, Mark, our drummer, he’s from Switzerland. Now we have a singer from Brazil, we have a drummer (Marc Wieland) from Switzerland, and everything clicked. There it was I mean it was just amazing how everything fit so well together and so, that’s been it so far.
But the transition of having new musicians, it was kind of like a new band. Randy and I always fit together like a glove; we have no problems working together. We’re great friends, so just adding those two guys was just a big bonus for us. And it worked out very well. We create well together, we get along well on road together, and it’s a very good working opportunity.
Music Madness: Now that the band is global, it gives you some new territory to conquer.
Steve Lynch: Yes, absolutely and we just got a big write-up in Germany that came out today about the new video. They love it, and in England and Japan as well. Just all over the place, so it’s starting to happen. There is definitely a lot going on.
Music Madness: Outstanding. Listening to the new music, I noticed the sound was a little heavier than with previous Autograph music. It could be me…
Steve Lynch: No, it’s not you. We’re not using keyboards anymore and we’re tuned down a whole step. So we’re a D standard tuning now, and yeah, the guitars are a little bit edgier, and everything about it. It still has the melodic sense to it, but it’s just heavier. It has more drive to it.
Music Madness: Does it all seem different now? The music? The business of music?
Steve Lynch: Oh yeah. First of all, everybody’s older. That’s obvious. But you know there’s a maturity to it now I really enjoy. Everybody’s good friends. Back in the 80s, we got along all great together, all the LA bands, all the bands were playing on Sunset Strip. We all knew each other before anybody got famous, because everybody was coming out of LA in the early to mid-80s. We were the exception; also, coming out in 83 and got our deal in 84. There’s a real cool comradery that happens between all the musicians from that time era as if they’re going, “Hey, we’re still alive, we’re still kicking it. You know, we’re still playing great and getting out there and doing it.” It’s a really cool feeling to be a part of that whole thing.
What I’ve noticed though is that, as far as the industry itself, a lot of people don’t have managers. I’m basically the tour manager, the business manager, and the general manager, and so everything has to go through me and I’m the one that sets up everything. I’ve noticed a lot of bands are doing that, like Great White is doing that, and several other bands that we do a lot of shows with. You know, the musicians are smarter now, and they look at as, “Why give 15% to a manager when we can do this stuff ourselves? We’ve been in the business longer than most managers have.”
Music Madness: True, okay.
Steve Lynch: So, it’s bit different and same thing with the record companies. The record companies don’t want to delve a lot of money into you, unless it’s like a pop or country act anymore. I mean, no money gets put into rock-and-roll anymore, unfortunately. But, they do put enough in where you get the right kind of promotion and everything, but the more money that they actually put in, that’s just more money you have to pay back, anyway. A lot of people don’t realize the record companies just put their money out there to promote you and get the albums out there, but you have to pay that back. That’s not the record company doing that. I mean, with “Sign in, Please,” the first Autograph album, we were passed gold heading toward platinum before we saw any money. That’s how much we had to pay back for the videos for MTV and everything.
Music Madness: That ended up going double platinum, correct.
Steve Lynch: You know eventually it did go double platinum. The total breakdown for all three albums that were on RCA, it sold like 5.3 million world-wide, so I’m not sure exactly how that all breaks down, but I’ve heard it was given more than that, it was closer to seven or eight but it’s hard to tell because there’s nobody keeping track of that stuff now.
Music Madness: Those are some incredible numbers.
Steve Lynch: Yeah, they are. They’re good numbers. I know that worldwide we did sell about 5.3, though.
Music Madness: “Turn Up the Radio,” was a huge hit; does it ever get old talking about it? Playing it?
Steve Lynch: No, because that song was the one that put us on the map, and why should we be upset about people asking us about that. I still enjoy answering questions too, though, it’s still a joy playing the song and watching the audience response and everything. So no, nothing ever gets old. You got to put your appreciation where it belongs.
Music Madness: It’s great that we still hear it on the radio. Actually, it was the first song that came on when I got in the car the other morning.
Steve Lynch: Very cool. The thing is, RCA, didn’t like the song and they didn’t want us to put it on the album, they wanted the first release to be “Send Her to Me.” I mean, how things would have been so much different. It’s hard to tell how well that song would have done, but we said, “No, no. This one’s called ‘Turn Up the Radio.’ Radio stations are going to love it.” We went in for two eight-hour days into the studio just to say the call letters to all the stations, “Hey this is Autograph, saying ‘Turn it Up.'” We did all of the call letters for all of the United States and Canada. And so, they went nuts over it because we were mentioning the name of the station, and saying, “Turn it up.” So they used that, they bled that, so it ended up being one of the most played songs. Number 93 in the top 100 of rock-and-roll songs of all time, and to get into that top 100 is saying a lot.
Music Madness: The 80s was a feel good decade of partying. Everyone was out having a good time; however, we could go without some of those outfits, sorry man, I know you guys loved them.
Steve Lynch: And I don’t think there will be. That’s why the 80s bands are still selling out shows and doing really well with touring together and different packages with different bands, and it just goes over really well because people want to see these bands again. A lot of the people that were fans back then, they’re parents and their grandparents now, and they want to relive that time era.
I’m sorry I wore some of those outfits, too. Not nearly as bad as some of them, but I did wear some things that I was really against wearing.
Music Madness: At the end of the day the whole idea was to enjoy yourself, it was a different time, a different period.
Steve Lynch: Yep, yep. Absolutely, it was all about having fun, that’s right. So, to be able to relive that and watch people out there sing along with our songs and everything, it’s just a really cool thing.
Music Madness: What kind of feedback have you received from the existing fan base?
Steve Lynch: Oh, people love the band; they love the energy of how we are now. We’re more energetic on stage than we were back in the 80s, and I think that the heaviness of the music is part of that, and just the fact we have fresh blood in there with the new drummer and the new singer, and we’re just totally into it. Audience reaction is always really, really good. I mean, you go out there and you think, “Most people only know us for ‘Turn Up the Radio,'” but then you see them sing along with all of our older songs and a lot of them are singing along with our newer songs on the album, too. So it’s really cool that they’re picking up on that and they’re coming out to see us, and we have really good sales and everything.
Music Madness: Maybe you could rerelease “Turn Up The Radio”. Have you guys done a heavier version or a live version of it yet?
Steve Lynch: Yeah, we did a live version. That was recorded in Nottingham, England.
Music Madness: Right on. Have you thought about releasing it on vinyl, go old school with it?
Steve Lynch: Oh yeah, we have the get on vinyl, and the vinyl itself is like this aqua blue, it’s really electric and looks really cool. People just want to buy it just to look at the album itself. So it’s a cool thing.
Music Madness: Let’s talk about that guitar playing of yours. It’s a signature eight-finger technique that you call the Hammer-on.
Steve Lynch: Yep, that’s what I called it back then because there was no such thing as tapping, and I don’t tap. I hit it really hard. I still call it Hammer-on, you know, because there’s no tapping about it. I’m really aggressive with it. But I got started with it back in the early 70s when I saw Harvey Mandel doing it. He was the guitar player for John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. He was off doing his own tour, I saw him doing it, and I thought, “Oh, that’s really cool. I got to try some of that.” So I started doing it back then, just a little bit here and there, and there was this guy, Steven Buffington, local guitar player out of Seattle, really good guitarist, like Jeff Beck style, and he was doing it and he showed me a couple of things, so I kind of took it a little bit further.
This guy, Emmett Chapman invented the stick, he did in clinic at the Guitar Institute of Technology and he mentioned that he had taken the guitar so far that he had to come up with another instrument to accompany him. After the clinic, I asked him to show me something on guitar, and he said, “Let me see your guitar.” What he did was he, he went into this slow pentatonic with both hands and I just went, “Wow.” That’s it. Because he just went … And I just went, “That sounds so different and so cool.” So what I did, from that point on, luckily it was at the beginning of the whole school year. I started writing down all the scales, all the chords, all the triads, all the arpeggios, I did it with two hands, and I wrote it down that way. I drew this little diagram of a guitar fingerboard with 24 frets on it, and I wrote everything down that I was figuring out on it, so I wouldn’t forget it.
Well then, at the end of the year, at the graduation ceremony, I did a couple of songs where I didn’t even use a pick at all. The audience was the staff, the teachers, the owners of the school, and Howard Roberts who wrote the curriculum and everything. They were floored. They were standing up cheering and everything, and I went, “Wow. This is getting a good reaction.” So, anyway, Tommy Tedesco, who is also a writer on the staff there, and a teacher there, and Howard Roberts, who actually was part owner of the school and wrote the curriculum, they asked me afterwards if I’d be interested in writing a book. And I said, “I have enough for at least three books. It’s all written down already.” And I did, I actually could have written probably five books right at that point, but they just said, “Take some of your favorite parts from it.” I started out real easy and just described how the technique is actually played.
It wasn’t even called a cassette; it was just on one of those floppy disk records, because the first book was released in 1979. They took me to their publisher, the guy who owned the company absolutely loved it, and within 10 minutes, I had a publishing deal. I was like, “Wow. That was really cool.” And so, then I started to do a bunch of studio stuff around LA, and because I got known for that technique, of course at the same time, the first Van Halen album came out, I think the first album had, “Eruption,” on it. It was cool that somebody else was doing it, too, but I didn’t agree that Eddie (Van Halen) said he kind of invented that technique, which was not true. There were guys like Johnny Smith back in the 1930s that were doing it with different chord stuff, playing jazz. It’s been around a long time.
Music Madness: And not only does it sound amazing, it looks cool as hell when you’re on the stage in front of an audience doing it.
Steve Lynch: Yeah, I never got to look at it from that perspective. Unless it was somebody filming me or something, you know, but I was just like well, this is kind of, what I do. It was just not a big deal to me because I’d been doing it for so long.
Music Madness: How do people check out those guitar skills of yours?
Steve Lynch: People can check out solos and kind of reminisce with that stuff, I have a YouTube channel, if you put in YouTube.com/LynchLicks, and you can watch a bunch of videos that I posted doing my solos. My solo record, which was called “Network 23,” and also different songs on the RCA albums, and another album that we did called, “Missing Pieces.”
Music Madness: So what happened with Autograph as the 80s were winding down? It seemed like everything changed quickly.
Steve Lynch: Right, no it all happened within probably within six months. It was very strange because we watched it just come on so strong and the last one to kind of make it under the radar, even though they had a raw sound themselves was Guns N’ Roses. Otherwise, they would have been pegged as a late 80s band coming out but they made it under the radar and they got out there, and good for them because they timed it perfectly.
After the three-album deal with RCA, we were going to do a three-album deal with Epic Records, but then the whole rock scene ended. We were going to sign with them in 1989, but it was just then everybody changed and they weren’t signing anyone, and then the 80s were over. Grunge killed it. It just broke a lot people’s hearts. Not only the fans, but also the musicians playing it, as well because all the record labels, they just didn’t want to have anything to do with 80s stuff anymore. It just changed that quickly overnight.
Music Madness: You have had the opportunity to tour and played with some amazing musicians over the years. Do you have a most memorable tour that you participated in back in the 80s?
Steve Lynch: Oh God, let’s see, we toured with Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith. We did some shows with ZZ Top, The Scorpions; we toured with Bryan Adams, Oh God. Heart, Ronnie James Dio, but I think my favorite really was the Mötley Crüe Theatre of Pain tour because that was just and it was a Theatre of Pain. It was way over the top, but it was fun and there’s like six months of that tour that I vaguely remember, but I know I was having fun. After that tour, I just went, “Okay, that’s it.” I just quit drinking for five years, I just went, “Okay, I can’t do that anymore.” So that was 1987.
Music Madness: Favorite track to play other than the obvious hits?
Steve Lynch: Yeah, there’s a song called “All I’m Gonna Take,” it’s the last song on our first album, “Sign in Please.” And I loved that song; it’s a little bit more serious. It’s about not taking anything from your boss or the government or anything like that. So it’s like saying, “This is it. This is all I’m going to take from any of these people.”
Music Madness: Tell everyone where they can check you guys out.
Steve Lynch: I would like to say that everybody can check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our official site is Autographband.com. You can always check out the tours, see if we’re touring near you, and you can go to EMP label group, Google that and go to it, and you can see our record and you can view our videos on YouTube. The first one that we released from this new album is called “Get off Your Ass,” which is also the title of the album, and then the second one we just released last Friday is called, “Every Generation,” and I think they’ll really like them. It’s a different side of Autograph, and a new personnel and everything and I think that everybody will really enjoy it.
Music Madness: Thank you for your time and best of luck on the tour.
Steve Lynch: Thank you Steve, appreciate it.
Interview by Steve Carlos