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15/04/2007 – Interview with LAAZ ROCKIT

Bay Area Thrash veterans LAAZ ROCKIT (official website) have reunited two years ago. Apparently they've refound the power and energy from the past and decided to go out and please their fans once again and in the meantime gain some new ones. One of their last gigs recently was on the 15th April in Eeklo, Belgium. I was there, as you can read in my little report, and they convinced me of their skills. Since they don't come over every year, I was lucky to ask vocalist Michael Coons some questions. Since I didn't know the band until that very day, I tried to come up with questions that would cover more than just the history of the band.

LAAZ ROCKIT released a DVD, "Live Untold", and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the band. Even if you're a long-time fan or new to the band and their music.

Laaz Rockit logo

It seems like the original line-up got back together two years ago. But after the break-up, did you all stay in touch?

Yes, we did. That's the unique thing about it and that's the big reason why we were able to do this, because we all cared about each other's people, in bands. You know, you break up and it's like one guy who's like "Oh, screw that guy and that guy, ...". But it's hard. It's like a family, but you know you're not always in agreement. But we always stayed friends and that's why it was possible for us to do what we did two years ago and what we're doing tonight and the last couple of days.

After the break-up, well, in the beginning of the '90s, three members left: Phil, Vic and Willy. And then you and Aaron formed GACK. Any reason why you didn't want to continue under LAAZ ROCKIT?

It was just... it was so different. It was different people, it was sort of belaboring the point and you know, some people could say it was a mistake. I think that, personally, that's my best record, just in singing-wise. But we've been through so many people, it was so deluded. It wasn't just about me and Aaron, even though we started the band. You know what I mean?

It's not just about us. It's about Willy, it's about Phil, it's about Vic and now Sky... stuff like that. Once you started replacing members, from the original start, it always gets a little different. It's not really the same. So I didn't feel like we should be.. all of us didn't feel like we should be pursuing that name under just like these people come like "Hey, it's still us." But it was different. That's how I feel about it.

Michael CoonsBut there are no plans to...

..reform GACK?

Yes, but I don't know. Maybe when you have the time...

Yeah, I got lots of free time. Nonono, I was just joking. ;-)

Speaking of free time, what keeps you guys busy nowadays?

I work in.. like television and movies. I've done some soap opera stuff, I've been on "CSI New York". I've also been in ab unch of movies, playing Richard Gere's double for a while too. I did a movie with Tom Hanks. So that's it, I kind fell naturally into that. That's what keeps me busy. I love entertainment and that's why it was a natural sort of fit to fall into, but that's also why I was drawn to do this again, too.

But you're still doing the movie work?

Yes! I've done three commercials this year. We've got another one coming up. It's fun, I like the creative process. I'm not the big time guy or whatever, but I make a living, and I enjoy it. It's cool.

This is perhaps also a reason why there won't be any new albums?


Because of the combination..?

No. Essentially we may do a new album.

You will?

May! We MAY. We'll let you know as soon as we know. We talk about it quite a bit. The other guys, except for the new drummer Sky, they're married, with kids. I've never been married, I don't have any kids - that I know of.

Michael CoonsHahahaha :-) I'm able to pursue what I want to pursue, at times. So I don't have to take care of my family. I'm lucky, in some respects. That's the way it is, because my time contraints aren't as bad, but that would not be a reason. I think a reason would be why we would (!) do it, because we disucssed it and it sounds like fun and it sounds like something we wanna do and we'll see what happens. But it's gonna come together in the next week. You know what I mean? We haven't even started writing.

Is any of the live performances of the past couple of days being recorded?

Everything is always recorded. God knows what people will use. Even if you said "no tape recorders, no video"... It's gotten to the point... I don't care who's recording, but I do if we're working with a company and there's money involved. People are gonna do it what they're gonna do, you've got cameras on cell phones...

Nono, I mean, are YOU now recording the gigs...

For our own personal use. What we'll use it for, I have no idea. If any of it is useful. We'll see how it looks and sounds like. :-)

Going back to the albums: you've made - if I looked it up correctly - 5 studio albums, one live and a DVD last year. When you just take those albums... according to some reviews I read, they're all great and must-haves, but which stand out for you?

Well, the first one, "City's Gonna Burn", just because I was a kid. I was 19. And then "Know Your Enemy" and "Annihilation Principle" were really good, because that's when we finally had found our style. I mean, it was a maturation process, you know, music always is.

"No Stranger To Danger" I don't care for that much, but it doesn't mean [that] it wasn't a part of us, [that] it wasn't a growing period. Interestingly enough, that was our first time over to Europe, was after "No Stranger To Danger". Right after "City's Gonna Burn" it was the second album of which people said "Hey, we'll bring these guys over.". Everything sort of runs its own course, but there's certain songs I like better than others. But they mostly come from "Know Your Enemy" and "Annihilation", for the original LAAZ ROCKIT line-up.

But I really do like the GACK record. I think it's a good sounding record. I got to spend more time on vocals, we had a bit more money then, etc.. It's a shame, because it's one of those records that - for me, personally - like "Lost In Time", because it never really... The band has broken up before the album came out, though the record company didn't know that. But those ones stand out for me.

Speaking of "City's Gonna Burn": this one is the first in the series of re-releases via Old School Metal. How much were you/was the band involved in these re-releases, in the choice of bonus tracks, the remastering and stuff?

They don't talk to me much. No, I'm just kidding. :-) The one thing I'm glad they got right this time, and this one's kind of interesting... Because to tell you the honest truth, I haven't even listened to it, the new re-release. I don't listen to myself a ton. But it is out, it's remastered, apparently it sounds really good. But they got the back photo right. That was supposed to be...

..on the original?

...on the original record. And the record company at that time switched them up on us. They just did that. We've been pissed off ever since! *laughter* That was one thing I thought was cool. That was a photo that we all really liked and even though that was shit 23 years ago, it's cool to actually see it. There's some vindication.

You don't have an idea when the next albums will come out, then?

"No Stranger To Danger", I believe, comes out in May.

I thought "City's Gonna Burn" comes out in May? That was the first one that was confirmed.

It hasn't come out yet?

Michael Coons and Aaron JellumCertainly not here, no.

Oh, ok. Then I guess it's coming out here in May. You may be a little bit behind. We had some copies, they sold 'em the first two shows and they're all gone.

I read on - which is one of my biggest sources for news and stuff - that "City's Gonna Burn" was gonna come out in May, the 18th I think.

I had advance copies for us to sell in Europe. I was under the impression it was already out, but eh.. well, I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? :-) So apparently I don't know the schedule.

The idea of re-releasing the old albums, did this come from the band itself or was it requested by fans or ...?

Yeah, I think it was requested by people mostly, because there wasn't enough of the original stuff and people getting sorta tired of the eBay bidding and all that kinda stuff. It wasn't a humongous cost to do it. There are people that are your age, people that are my age and it's amazing that they still feel that there is relevance to this music and to this band, you know, and why not provide them with a product? That's not to... for any other reason than what it is. Why are you gonna say 'no' to something like that when people can get the product and sort of relive that period on their own rather than just having to hear about it.

One personal question: you're a smoker and that's bad for the vocal chords. Do you or did you have a way to maintain your voice, keep it in shape?

Well, I work out a lot and that helps. I'm in decent shape for a guy who's 42 years old. I try to keep it to a pack a day. I don't smoke like tons of people. I shouldn't do that, but I don't drink and I don't do drugs, the vices that were part of your youth. So that's a last one I have to quit. I'm sure to fix some things, but at this point I don't think I was ever Freddie Mercury to begin with. I do have a decent voice and I always try to deliver on stage. It's funny you left that question for last. :-)


Are you from the Anti-Smoking Metal Patrol? :-)

I have something against smoking itself.

That's perfectly viable.

I mean, people can smoke all they want, but keep it distant. You got this little law here in Belgium: in pubs and stuff, there's a restriction for smokers.

In California you can't do it.

But a lot of people and pub owners say "Pfff, let the customer decide." The thing with smokers, it's like.. well, with a beer you don't hurt anyone. You're only hurting yourself. When you smoke, it goes in every direction, so that's just my main problem with it.

(silence)... Well, good luck to you on that. ;-) (sarcastic mode)

*laughter* But we were outside back then, so that's no problem. I'm through with all my questions. Thank you very much..

Alright, Tim. Not a problem. Thank you and you had some nice, thoughtful questions.

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