Archive for Steve Jones

30 Days Out Interview: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2012 by 30daysout

Michael Des Barres is an authentic rocker. (Photo by Rob Ayling)

If you are truly known by the company you keep, then Michael Des Barres is most certainly the real deal.

He’s a rocker first and foremost, one who counts among his friends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, as well as former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. Surrounding himself with players who share his authenticity and love for music that hits below the belt, Michael Des Barres and his band deliver a potent shot of rock and roll on the new album Carnaby Street.

Des Barres is perhaps best known as the touring singer for The Power Station, a 1980s supergroup with players from Duran Duran and Chic. Des Barres has also played with the 1970s band Detective (featuring ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye) and British rockers Silverhead.

“For me, the best rock is below-the-waist music,” says Des Barres. “Plain and simple, rock and roll is a synonym for fucking. It’s not a synonym for meditation … it has to get your body moving and your fluids flowing.”

He says he reached deep into his soul for the songs on Carnaby Street. The album is a passionate, profound testament to the power of rock and roll, played in the classic style of British rockers Humble Pie, the Pretty Things and that band with Page-Plant.

The mission statement of Carnaby Street is its title track, where Des Barres remembers growing up as “Oscar Wilde in velvet jeans” and discovering rock and roll in a time when “the Union Jack was in the hands of the Who.”

Michael Des Barres playing live, with Paul Ill. (Photo by Heather Harris)

“I went to school with Mitch Mitchell, and he said ‘I’m playing in a band with this black bloke, come ‘round and see us at the Marquee Club,’” recalls Des Barres. “So it’s 1967, I walk into this club and see Jimi Hendrix. It really blew my mind!

“So today, that feeling has never left me. The same music still moves me, and gets me to moving.”

The songs came when Des Barres was experiencing what he calls “some metaphysical changes, without trying to sound too pompous.” On one of his frequent jaunts to Austin, Texas, Des Barres picked up an acoustic guitar and started to write lyrics and poetry that articulated his new outlook on life.

“I had come to the realization that my life has always been about rock and roll,” he says. “That’s always been my great love.”

So he hooked up with Beaumont’s Jesse Dayton, a mainstay of the Austin music scene and a potent rocker in his own right. Together they wrote the songs that populate Carnaby Street.

As a result, the album begins on the streets of swingin’ London but eventually finds its way to the heart of the Lone Star state. “Hot and Sticky” has a down-South sexiness that Des Barres says embodies the humid sensuality of Texas.

“I love Austin and I spend a lot of time there. I have some beautiful friends living there and when the album was in its formative stage I was fortunate to be around those authentic, great Texas musicians who helped inspire me,” Des Barres says.

In fact, we met Michael Des Barres in Austin once – strangely enough, at a Best Buy store. Former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones appeared during SXSW 2009 for an in-store promotion, and Des Barres tagged along with his old friend.

At SXSW 2009: Steve Jones (left), Pamela Des Barres and Michael Des Barres.

With Jonesy on guitar, the appearance spontaneously turned into a punk rock karaoke session. Des Barres took the mic to sing “Anarchy in the U.K.” and the place rocked out. Even Des Barres’ ex-wife Pamela, (in)famous as the greatest rock groupie ever, materialized to dance along.

“I remember that … it was small, intimate and completely improvised, which is how good rock and roll should be played,” says Des Barres.

So, Des Barres carried the rock and roll flame that was stoked in Texas back to his Los Angeles home base. He huddled with his friend Paul Ill, a virtuoso bassist, and assembled a powerful band of rock players to flesh out the songs.

“Five guys in one room, we played one song and that was it: a single, grand brush stroke,” recalls Des Barres. “We immediately realized what we had. We knew we are more into Little Richard than into Lil’ Wayne.”

The band of rock veterans includes Paul Ill (who’s also played with Courtney Love and Christina Aguilera), guitarist Eric Schermerhorn (The The, David Bowie’s Tin Machine, Iggy Pop), keyboardist Jebrin Bruni and drummer David Goodstein (Nil Iara, Jackson Browne, Edgar Winter).

“We get a huge charge in playing music that gets people off,” Des Barres explains. “When we played Coachella, I looked out over an audience of 50,000 people and it seemed like at least half were wearing Led Zeppelin shirts.”

Des Barres’ point is that there is no iconic substitute for the classic rock bands who people once idolized – the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, the Doors. “Don’t get me wrong – I love the Alabama Shakes, and Jack White … they’re tremendous. But it’s all inevitably a pastiche of what’s happened before.”

Rock and roll is Michael Des Barres’ first love.

As he wins over 25-year-old listeners with his aimed-for-the-balls rock sound, Des Barres chuckles at the irony that these listeners believe they are hearing something new. “And it is new to them … hearing ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ by a band that can play it is a true novelty these days.”

So the next step for the Michael Des Barres Band is to get on the road and take the music to the people.

For Des Barres, that will mean putting aside a prolific acting career – over the past 25 years he’s appeared on such TV shows as “Seinfeld,” “Roseanne,” “Rockford Files,” “Northern Exposure” and many more. His best-known recurring character was the evil mastermind Murdoc on “MacGyver.” This fall he will be seen in a guest shot on the USA Network’s “Suits.”

He was so successful as an actor, in fact, that Des Barres got a little bored. “I was hitting my marks, I was pulling out my gun and getting shot – but not dead!” he laughs. “So I could come back in another episode!”

He loves acting, but he maintains his heart is firmly back into rock and roll, his first love. “If I get an acting gig that I like, I will still do it but if it interferes with playing with my band … sorry,” he says. “I’d much rather be in a small club in Kansas City, rather than in front of a camera in Hollywood.”

Michael Des Barres official web site

Carnaby Street web page (U.S. and U.K. sales of the new CD and DVD)

Purchase the album on iTunes

YouTube: “You’re My Pain Killer”

YouTube: “Stay With Me” (live at SXSW 2010)

Video of the Week: Sex Pistols History Lesson

Posted in Lost Classics!, Rock Moment with tags , on December 1, 2010 by 30daysout

On this day in 1976, the Sex Pistols appeared on ITV’s live early evening ‘Today’ show (in place of Queen, who had pulled out following a trip to the dentist by Freddie Mercury).  Taunted by interviewer Bill Grundy who asked the band to say something outrageous, guitarist Steve Jones says: “You dirty bastard … you dirty fucker … what a fucking rotter!”

SXSW Unauthorized Interview: Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by 30daysout


At SXSW in Austin, we caught up with Steve Jones, former guitarist with the Sex Pistols.  He played an odd little gig far from the SXSW action, at a Best Buy store in south Austin.  Because it was out of the way (and out of range for the SXSW shuttles) there were no official badges or wristbands present, just hardcore fans.

Jones is, of course, the self-taught guitarist who stole his equipment from Mick Ronson at a David Bowie gig and with Johnny (Lydon) Rotten, founded one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century.  Since the Pistols crashed and burned in 1978, Jones has played with a number of illuminaries including Bob Dylan, Thin Lizzy, Adam Ant, Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, Megadeth and his band the Neurotic Outsiders.

Since 2004 he has also been a radio personality in L.A., broadcasting his “Jonesy’s Jukebox” from Indie 103.1 until this year, when the station went Spanish.  That’s what we asked Jonesy about first.

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SXSW Report: One Last Look Back

Posted in SXSW with tags , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by 30daysout

Orange Is In under the trees at Guero's

Like we always do, we sort of just gave out around 7 p.m. on Saturday.  And that’s just when SXSW reaches its fever peak.  But ah, it was a good time once again.  Here’s a notebook of some of our favorite moments and observations from the weekend:

Why Didn’t We Think Of This Then?Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, doing a promo for Best Buy’s musical instrument section, initially was at a loss for something entertaining to do.  We should’a asked them to set up Guitar Hero!  How would the ex-Pistol have done with the remake of “Anarchy In The U.K.”?  Well, punk rock karaoke with Jones on guitar turned out to be pretty good entertainment.


It's also kind of rude to photograph musicians from behind!

Rude Assholes:  Everywhere you go at SXSW there’s a line.  There was even a line to wash your hands in the men’s room at Threadgill’s.  But there’s a certain behavior that is particularly infuriating – we’re in line to grab a slice of pizza at Home Slice, and after the two chicks ahead of us we’re next.  Until … the two chicks greet their friends and after a few hugs the visitors are magically part of the line.  So in a span of five seconds, we’ve gone from third in line to ninth.  And no matter what you say, they just ignore you.  Like you are the asshole. 

Best Behavior Award No. 1:  My son was chillin’ at Jo’s Coffee Shop Friday night when a stranger approached him.  “Can I use your cell phone?” he asked.  “I left mine in a cab.”  The guy called his own phone and somehow that helped him retrieve it.  The next day my son received a text: “Thanks for helping me get back my cell phone.”

Randomly Hilarious Quote No. 1:  “Are you sure that’s a dude?”


Other Lives, in the hot sun

Weather Reports: “We’re not used to the heat” from Telekinesis singer/drummer Michael Lerner.  “Make sure you use sunscreen,” from Other Lives cellist Jenny Hsu.  It was a sunny 76 degrees that day.  Come visit Texas in August!

Science Lesson:  Sound drops off the farther away you get from its source.  For every two feet you move away, the sound becomes only one quarter as loud.  If you increase that distance to eight feet, then you will only hear 1/64th as loud.  Unless of course you’re Metallica at Stubb’s BBQ, in which case people can hear perfectly a full city block away.

Best Behavior Award No. 2:  Like every other band playing in Austin, Orange Is In sold CDs and t-shirts at their gig.  But unlike other bands, after the show was over lead singer George Kovacik picked up the unsold CDs and distributed them for free. 

Stupid Question No. 1:  “Who used to be in the Sex Pistols?”

Stupid Question No. 2:  “Are you supposed to be someone famous?”

The Most Amazing Thing I Saw All Weekend:  At the poorly publicized Steve Jones Best Buy store appearance, Michael Des Barres inexplicably showed up too.   Most people had no idea who he is but some guy nevertheless produced a Detective vinyl LP for Des Barres to autograph.

Most Rockin’ Band We Saw: The Hold Steady, hands down.  We also heard many raves about The Mother Hips, too.

MP3: “Run Towards The Warmth Of The Sun” by Orange Is In

MP3: “Coast Of Carolina” by Telekinesis

MP3: “End Of The Year” by Other Lives

MP3: “Mission In Vain” by the Mother Hips