Tracii Guns Talks Revitalized L.A. Guns and Their New Album, 'The Devil You Know'

[from left] Ace Von Johnson, Shane Fitzgibbon, Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns and Johnny Martin (Image credit: Jason Chrsitopher)

“Phil’s voice and my guitar is the true sound of L.A. Guns,” says band co-founder and namesake Tracii Guns. For years, Guns and Phil Lewis maintained their own unique versions of the band, touring and releasing numerous albums. While both incarnations produced some great music, what fans really thirsted for was the reunion of the two main men. Fulfilling this wish by reuniting in 2017, they exceeded all expectations with The Missing Peace, an album that’s easily comparable to the band’s early classics. A live album was released last year — and 2019 brings us The Devil You Know, a second studio offering from the newly revitalized outfit.

“Phil and I really like to work hard, to be productive,” Guns tells us. “My house is like a studio, so whenever I get an idea I’ll lay it down, and the best ideas go to Phil to put his lyrics and vocal line on top. It’s a really efficient process. I think we’ve both been really inspired by the response from the fans. I didn’t realize we had so many fans! The increased interest in the band is really exciting.”

L.A. Guns have always had a special chemistry — the desperation-tinged vocals of Lewis set against Guns’ killer riffs. Both are still at the very top of their game, and the music they’re making is the most vital that Guns or Lewis have produced for many years.

“I think you take everything you’ve learned; every time you work on something, it should be better than the last. I’d be horrified if I put out an album that I didn’t think was better than the previous one,” Guns says.

For bands that knew major success back in the heyday of the music industry, it can be sobering to see how little money and support is available from record labels these days. As a result, new ways to adapt and survive have to be found; it’s survival of the fittest.

“I think we’re probably doing as well financially as we were back in the early years of our success. We’ve got a name and a great back catalog. We’re too big to support a certain level of band, but we’re not filling stadiums. We have the same amount of income, but we pay about 90 percent fewer people. Experience teaches you how to make it work; there’s no shortage of opportunities for the band. We try to take on as much as we can. We’re both committed to L.A. Guns.”

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Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.