HOOKERS & BLOW originally formed in 2003 as an excuse to drink for free in Hollywood by long-time GUNS N’ ROSES keyboardist Dizzy Reed and QUIET RIOT guitarist Alex Grossi. In that time, the band have developed a legendary status on the famed Hollywood Strip, with some of the biggest names in rock joining them on stage! Now they are finally set to unleash their legacy for all to hear. Over the past fifteen years, HOOKERS & BLOW’s members have included Todd Kerns (Slash), Chip Z’ Nuff (Enuff Z’ Nuff), Mike Dupke (WASP), Scott Griffin (LA Guns) as well as comedian Don Jamieson of VH1’s “THAT METAL SHOW” among others.
In early 2019 the band entered the studio to begin work on a cover record that, much like the bands itself, has taken on a life of its own. It is now considered as one of the most highly anticipated records of 2021. After teasing their fan base by releasing five singles in the lead up, HOOKERS & BLOW have released their self-titled debut covers album digitally, with CD & Vinyl out now via Golden Robot Records. Alexi Grossi speaks to Hi Fi Way about the album.
Congratulations on the album. I guess after all the challenges of the last sort of twelve to eighteen months must be really satisfying to finally have it out there?
Yeah. It’s great to have it out there for sure. We are really excited about it.
Was it a tough decision picking which songs to put on the album that best represents the band?
No, not really, we all had the same vision and we just spit balled and threw a bunch of names out there. I think we had twenty songs total and whittled it down to twelve or whatever it’s on the record. So it came together pretty fast initially and then we took our time really fine tuning everything.
With a lot of those songs that were left over, do you think they might make the next album or, when it gets to that time do you start fresh?
Oh, no, we’ll probably start fresh. Yeah maybe one or two, but we’ll see.
The bio says the album is not just a collection of recorded covers. Is that a hard thing trying to get that across to fans that the band has put their heart and soul in to these songs and really do mean a lot to the band?
Not really, everyone’s been really receptive of it. We definitely made it a conscious effort to make sure whatever we put out sounded really good sonically and it wasn’t a quick cash grab or anything like that. It was meant not to make money or anything, just have some fun and we believe it’s a great product. It’s like a time capsule of the band you know.
How did you all find each other to get the band together?
Well, I’m at Disney in 2002, 2003, and I was playing with a band called Beautiful Creatures and Dizzy came into the studio to record on a couple of tracks of ours and we became friends and I said, “Hey, we should do some covers together.” And then he goes, “Yeah, can we call it Hookers and Blow.” I said, “Yes, we can.” He had a logo design and next thing you know, we showed them Hookers and Blow and people showed up. So it got bigger and bigger and here we are eighteen years later talking about a record. It’s crazy!
Are any of those covers, were there any of them harder to pull off than some?
No, not really. I mean, everyone played for the song and they added their own little stamp to it. I mean, we definitely did songs the way we do them and not try to do an exact replica of them, kind of put our own spin on them. So not really, no.
How was the whole recording process? It was it a whole lot of fun to be able to go in there and just play these songs and whatever happens?
Yeah, so we started the record in the spring of 2019, and I’m just doing all the drums, bass, and rhythm guitars, basically kind of live. Then added the overdubs over the next couple of years. Obviously when a pandemic hit kind of slowed the process down, but we were able to get finished and out this year here. So we’re happy about that, it definitely happened organically too. Whenever we had time, we worked on it, we would let it sit and then we’d revisit it and change a few things. We took our time with it and I’m really happy with what we came up with.
Was there ever a decision or a discussion about whether at some point you would actually look at pulling together some of your own songs?
I don’t see a lot of demand for that and I don’t know what it would sound like. I mean, Dizzy’s got his solo records that kind of define him and I do my thing with Quiet Riot. This is kind of like a break from being super creative and it’s a different way of being creative as far as putting your own spin on classic songs. It’s a nice different kind of outlet. So you can be creative in different ways. When you’re taking covers and putting your own spin on them, it’s almost just as creative writing your own songs sometimes. We’re definitely cool with the way things are. I don’t really see original material, but you never know, never say never.
Was it great to be able to partner with a label like Golden Robot, who gave you the freedom and the latitude to create the album you wanted?
Yeah. They definitely gave us complete creative control, which was nice. Cause like I said in a interview I just did, “If you tell us what to do, we’re going to do the opposite ten times, because that’s just how we are.” So it’s nice to just let us run free and not stand over our shoulders trying to approve everything. So that was definitely cool.
Do you think there’ll be another album sooner rather than later?
We’re talking about it. It’ll probably take another couple of years, but I’m sure we will.
How much has the pandemic really slowed things down for the band?
You know, in all honesty, it hasn’t been totally frustrating because it has evened the playing field, because everyone is in the same boat. It’s not like it singled out any one demographic or industry, so we’re all in it together. It’s not really frustrating. It’s more, just got to get through it and, it’s definitely affected different people in different ways. It’s good that there’s signs there that the music industry is starting to come back slowly.
Do you feel optimistic about touring overseas and maybe even Australia?
Yeah, Australia is definitely on our short list because the label is down there. As soon as we all can, we definitely will. We’re talking about it right now. I actually talked to an agent well before the pandemic. I spoke to them before it got really bad and there’s talk for next year to go down there for sure.
How’s things going with the new Quiet Riot album?
It’s really coming along. We’re working on it in between shows. Right now we’re touring a lot, but there’s definitely a lot of cool stuff on the horizon for that. So stay tuned for sure.
Interview By Rob Lyon