Today, the debut album by the Gypsy Pistoleros Wild Beautiful Damned hits stores. It's a unique mix of flamenco, sleaze and classic rock. I promise, you've never heard anything quite like the Gypsy Pistoleros. To coincide with today's release, I spoke with Lee Pistolero, lead singer of this very motley crew.
BBG: We should just start at the beginning. Tell me a little about your band, the Gypsy Pistoleros.
Lee: Well, I used to be in a band called White Trash, and we would play around the UK in the 80s. Then I moved to L.A. and we supported the Ramones, Dio, Black Sabbath, and quite a few bands. On tour, that was the first time I came across flamenco, from then on we started incorporating a couple of tracks to the set…and it worked, strangely enough. We were half English, half Spanish at that time, and crowds, they didn’t quite understand. They were like, “No, you can’t do that, it’s sacrilege!” But we did it anyway. That’s the first time we went out, oh God, it was 1993, with the Ramones on one of their last tours of Spain. We played three tracks then. So it was sort of like, I’d had enough and after the 1996 tour, I just sort of gave up music and we’ve been back for about a year and half. I said I would come back and do this but I didn’t want to be a traditional rock band, so we came back with totally, mostly flamenco based stuff. It kind of amazes people wherever we’ve gone. This last tour with L.A. Guns was the best, the furthest we’ve taken [the act] out of Spain and the U.K. really. It’s working really well.
BBG: Tell me what it was like to tour with L.A. Guns and Joe Leste of Bang Tango.
Lee: Oh! Joe Leste, total legend! Mad as a hatter. Tracii Guns is a total gent, a great guy we got on very well with them. We looked like we were all in a band together, a mini bus split so we got to know each other quite well. Jeremy Guns is brilliant, a good chap, we had fun with Bang Tango, Love/Hate. We got on like a little family.
BBG: So, with White Trash you were in L.A. was that the Sunset Strip scene and is that where your band’s glam elements come from?
Lee: We were sort of the London equivalent of L.A. Guns actually. We were over in London and all we did was support bands like that. When we were a band – we were a real mess in those days. It was enough for us just to get in free everywhere, it really wasn’t about writing and performing songs. We used to get really trashed (laughs). Music was secondary in those days. I came over [to the U.S.] and there were a few bands, I sort of fiddle with them, hang around. I used to see Janice Dickinson – Bruce Dickinson’s ex-wife, and we came over and stayed with Phil [Lewis of L.A. Guns]. It’s very strange, my odd connection with L.A. Guns. When we toured with Tracii [of L.A. Guns] we had our reservations about it. You know, I know Phil and that is the version of the band we were familiar with. Tracii is great. They do a great job. The package went really well all throughout Europe, so it’s like great. Now I’m just trying to recover. I still wake up thinking I’m still in a van.
BBG: So you list Motley Crue as one of your influences. Do you hope to tour with them?
Lee: I’ve seen Motley Crue on a few occasions. That would be the ultimate goal. Hanoi Rocks would also be great for us. We’re looking into that…there’s some talk of that…maybe.
BBG: You say Hanoi Rocks because they have a new album, Fashion?
Lee: Indeed, and they are about to start a European tour.
BBG: You want on that tour?
Lee: Oh yes.
BBG: You mention Rocklahoma on your website. Are you playing that festival?
Lee: Yes! It’s a massive, massive…big show. Artists nationwide. Bang Tango, L.A. Guns, all those.
BBG: Oh, I know. I’m going to Rocklahoma!
Lee: We’ve been invited by Tracii. They told us we couldn’t play because we’re a new band, with no connection to the 80s. So Tracii has invited us to do ten minutes during their set. We’ll just get up on stage and Jeremy and Tracii will stay on as well. We’ll be part of the L.A. Guns set, and we’ll do a least two songs.
BBG: We’re talking 50, 000 people each day. That’s massive exposure.
Lee: I think we’ll be the only U.K. band on. And one of the few new bands as well.
BBG: Tell me about your new album, Wild, Beautiful, Damned.
Lee: It’s a record by Joe Gibb, who is a genius. A crack eccentric he is. He would have been, well—he was on his way to becoming one of the top producers worldwide. I think he just finished up with Madonna and he got sick of it. He moved out to Wales of all places, and started bands he wanted to produce. I think he came out with Funeral for a Friend before us. Somehow, he’d heard of us through the grapevine. He was just really into the stuff we were doing. He liked flamenco rock. So we did the whole album with him, and he’s very cool. Do you have the album?
BBG: Oh yes, it’s very good. Very interesting.
Lee: Oh, yes. Well there’s load going on for us. It’s mad. There’s major interest in us right now as well. It’s going to come out on June the 4. We would like to be signed to the majors. There’s some money being talked about.
Lee: Of course, we’ll sign to a major!
BBG: Your current label, Evil Boy, is Indie. How did you hook up with them?
Lee: They are decidedly Indie, and they gave us carte blanche to do whatever we wanted. They had no say over it, told us to just do it. They covered all of that. So this album comes out no matter what anyway, even if we sign to a major, it’d be great. They are cool [Evil Boy] they market us in their own way. I think, the interest from the majors, I am not sure of the licensing. Actually, I am on the trashy compilation as well.
BBG: Tell me about that.
Lee: Well, let’s see 69 Eyes, Vains of Jenna, a lot of other –well, with this band, we’re marketed as a glam band – which we are not totally. We can cross genres, which is great. That’s the joy of being in a band that you can’t really pigeon hole. We sort of cross those barriers. That’s what I’ve always wanted. In the first place it was really difficult because people would say “What are you?” We are very rock n’ roll based, but, we can go out with a wide variety. I mean, we’re playing with Thin Lizzy, which will be great. That will be the album launch. So I mean, the first gigs we did as this band were supporting Dogs D’ Amour so it’s nice. We’re based in the U.K., but everyone thinks we’re Spanish which is weird.
BBG: You say you spew Spanglish insults from the stage?
Lee: Oh yes, everyone is always totally confused. We spoke half Spanish at the U.K. gigs and there still people over here that still think we’re Spanish. My Spanish is street Spanish…and it comes across weird with my country English accent as well.
BBG: Tell me about your stage shows.
Lee: Oh, God. We do everything. We really go for it…the good thing about us is, we have fun. Those Metal and Thrash bands just stand there and try to look hard as hell. That’s been done, man. We just have a laugh. What we like about the glam scene is they dress up, they have a laugh, it’s fun and it should be. Think about the grunge acts, they all dressed like the roadies and in the end that became the norm. I like people having a good time. That’s what glam used to mean. That’s what British glam meant with the Sweet and Slade. It would be nice to get back to that.