I was very happy that I had the chance the other day to talk to Klaus Eichstadt, guitarist from the famous US band Ugly Kid Joe. Klaus talked about the coming release of the "Stairways to hell" EP and the coming tour activities with Skid Row.
Markus' Heavy Music Blog: Hej Klaus, good to have you on the phone. How are you?
Klaus Eichstadt: I’m fine, thanks. How are you?
MHMB: I’m good too. I heard that your German is actually pretty good. Is that correct?
Klaus: Yes “I can speak some German, not that good but pretty OK" (Klaus said this in almost perfect German).
MHMB: That sounds even better than my Dutch. Excellent. Do you have any German roots? The name gives already the impression that it is like that.
Klaus: Yes, I have. My father is actually from Kiel in Germany and I lived there for two years. But that was a long time ago.
MHMB: OK. Than it was probably a feeling of coming home, when you guys played Wacken this year.
Klaus: Yes, it felt a little bit like that.
MHMB: Before we talk about the new EP “Stairway the hell” I just want to look a little bit back in time. Ugly Kid Joe had a huge success in the ninties with hits like “Cats in the cradle”, you were touring with Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne and some other big guys. How was it when you stopped and stepped out of the spotlight?
Klaus: We can say that it was a mutural agreement when we disbanded. We all also had other things up and running like Dave for example is a well known producer, Shannon is the drummer of Godsmack and so on. But we always stayed friends over all that time.
MHMB: What was the reason that you guys stopped?
Klaus: I personally was just a kind of over it. Ich hatte keinen Bock mehr. I also have to say that we had seven pretty intense years and we all wanted to stop the thing before things would become pretty bad.
MHMB: You guys have seen everything in those years. From very small clubs up to the big arenas.
Klaus: Oh yes. It was just crazy. We played in front of 8 people in Portland/Oregon and six month later we opened for Ozzy Osbourne in a completely sold out arena. So it was totally crazy. We went to Asia, we played in Brasil and of course all over Europe. It was just a great time.
MHMB: Actually Ugly Kid Joe was the perfect soundtrack for the baseball games of our local team in Germany when we had games at home.
Klaus: Oh, didn't know that. That's cool.
MHMB: Looking now more into the present. What was than the starting point to reunite after all these years.
Klaus: It started 3 years ago when Dave was producing a new Godsmack record. And since Shannon is the drummer of Godsmack they talked about how it would be to bring Ugly Kid Joe back to life. So they called us and since Dave has his own studio he asked us what we think about recording some new tracks. We said of course "yes, let's do it". It sounded like super fun. So we did some rehearsal in L.A. and recorded about 10 raw ideas for the songs. We also did the drums in California and than we finished it a few month later in Louisiana in Dave's studio. Dave mixed than the songs and we have chosen the ones we liked most to get them on the EP.
MHMB: That was a really good idea, since there is a lot of good stuff on the EP. It maybe sounds a little bit more mature than in the early days, but each song is still very much Ugly Kid Joe. And you still kept the fun in it - I just think about "Another beer". Who came up with that idea?
Klaus: Yes, true. It's a love song about a beer. That's all we need.
MHMB: I guess this is connected to the German roots :-)
Klaus: Oh yes, definitely ;-) No problem 'bout that.
MHMB: Talking about the songs on the EP. Are those new written songs or do they come from former session?
Klaus: It's actually both. Some of the songs are really old material like e.g. "You make me sick" which I have written shortly before we broke up. On the other hand there are songs like "Devil's paradise" which is pretty new. Even though the riff is older all the bridges for example are new written, like actually all the bridges on the EP. Talking about "Another beer", I have written that songs 6 years ago by just playing around with the acoustic guitar.
MHMB: You have added now three acoustic songs for the new release. I guess also those were new recorded.
Klaus: Yes indeed, they are. We just went into the studio quickly and it was mainly Whit, Dave and Cordell put together those bonus tracks, which is pretty cool.
MHMB: And I think it's interesting to listen to those songs since they give the songs a totally new atmosphere
Klaus: Oh yes. I mean that was the whole idea - to do a different version of those songs.
MHMB: When I heard the name of the EP "Stairway to hell" of course I was immediately reminded to "Stairway to heaven" from Led Zeppelin. Is that this twinkle in eye thing which is so typical for Ugly Kid Joe?
Klaus: Yeah, we were sitting together and were thinking about how to name the record. So we said, let's do something which we always did, let's do a 'scissoring' title. So we mixed "Stairway to heaven" with "Highway to hell". "Stairway to hell" sounded actually pretty good, so that's how the EP got it's name.
MHMB: Is it than also AC/DC and Led Zeppelin which influenced you a lot?
Klaus: Definitely all of us love those bands. They are just awsome and had a big impact on all us, esp.AC/DC.
MHMB: I also had the feeling that some songs have some funk elements which reminds me to bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Is that correct?
Klaus: They had a huge influence. Eventhough I was grown up with hardrock and heavy metal like Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Judas Priest I went at a certain moment of my life to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert and said "wow". This was something I haven't seen before. This is a totally other scene and it's not the same energy like in a metal concert, but it was just a crazy freaky crossover show. And they have that typical bass based sound with Flea as a great bass player. So with a few songs here and there we were focussing in that sense on the bass and Cordell can also do that stuff in his bass play.
MHMB: How was it with the first release of the EP. It was a kind of strange start, since it was available online, than it became a hard disc and so on. And I think that not many people in Europe noticed the "Stairways to hell" EP. So how did this happen?
Klaus: The originally idea was to release the EP on iTunes for ourselfs. So we did that and we were on tour in Europe when we were approached suddenly all of a suddenly by a record company in the US and they wanted to release our record and distribute it. So we said of course "Yes" to it and the EP we made was first supposed to be only for the US. But than, just a few month ago whit was talking back and forward with a friend in Europe from a label there and they wanted to release the EP for the European market. At the same time we got the chance to do the Download festival and use it as an add-on for the European version.
MHMB: So we can conclude that Ugly Kid Joe is definitely back in business.
Klaus: Yes, indeed. And we have also already planned a tour in autumn, when we play quite some shows in Europe together with Skid Row.
MHMB: What can we expect from the shows? Is the setlist already known?
Klaus: We will have a good mix between old stuff and new stuff and some stuff from in between. We will also working ona few new songs and do a few covers here and there.
MHMB: Is it actually a co-headliner tour of you guys and Skid Row?
Klaus: Oh yes. Eventhough we are playing first it is a co-headliner show where both bands get the same playing time on stage. We are both playing full sets and we have enough time to play plenty of songs.
MHMB: Taking about live concerts. You played Woodstock in Poland this year in front of hundred thousands of visitors. How was that experience?
Klaus: It is really hundreds of thousand people there and I have to say that it was great. It was fantastic. It was a great atmosphere and the crowd was fantastic, we had an awesome stage when it comes to sound-systems and it was very well organised. It's huge and I think it is one of the biggest festivals in Europe. It was pretty cool.
MHMB: How is it actually about new material. Are you guys writing on new songs?
Klaus: Yes, we are always trying out thing and gathering ideas. I think that we have already some stuff, but now let's first play the tour and than let's see to where this all leads to.
MHMB: Talking about playing live. What are countries where Ugly Kid Joe hasn't played yet but wants to play live?
Klaus: Since we have played last year in a lot of new countries like Turkey, Serbia and Israel we definitely want to play in Buenos Aires, Argentina. So far we only made it down to Brazil, but Argentina is for sure a country we would like to play. The crowd there is totally crazy and wild. When I have seen the latest DVD from AC/DC I have to say that this is probably the craziest crowd I have seen.
MHMB: I have a last question. Where does the name Ugly Kid Joe comes from?
Klaus: Actually it was by coinsident. We haven't really had a name for the band when we were supposed to be the opener for a band called Pretty Boy Floyd. And then we thought how cool it could be if Ugly Kid Joe opens for Pretty Boy Floyd. We all liked the idea and thought tous the name for this particular show. Than the show has been cancelled but we kept the name.
MHMB: Klaus, thanks for having the chance to talk to you. I'm looking forward to see you guys in Amsterdam.
Klaus: Thanks for having me.