Guitarist George Lynch, known for his time in the band Dokken speaks to Mayhem Music Magazine about being a solo artist as well as the new projects he is working on and becoming a documentary filmmaker with Shadow Train


Mayhem Music Magazine:  With you having the foundation of your own band, Lynch Mob, what made you re-team with Jeff (Pilson) and Mick (Brown) at this point in your life?

George Lynch:  Well, the one just musical entity might in universe has been Dokken, so playing with Jeff and Mick is always a no brainer and it’s going to make the most noise of anything I do out there most likely. And also, Jeff and Mick are lifelong friends. We’re all friends. So, when you do the amount of work that we’ve done and have the kind of history we have over that many years that’s not something that goes away and we always want to play together. We just have to have a reason to and we found a reason.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I’ve been listening to the tracks on Slave to the Empire and they’re incredible. As far as the writing process, how did that come about?

George Lynch:  So, the story goes is that Brian Tichy who plays on the new music was out on the road with us with Lynch Mob and he’s been in the band a couple of times and Brian’s also a friend of Jeff and I and he’s been in Foreigner as well and he lives right down the street. And in the course of being on the road guys are always talking and we’re riffing and we’re connecting ideas while we’re traveling and stuff and Brian, I mean, he’s worse than me. He’s got ideas on top of ideas, so it’s funny, and it was his idea to come up with something without Don (Dokken) and have it called Tooth and Nail and do some Dokken covers, re-do them, and then do some originals. It was his concept and we went with it. Jeff and I already had some songs anyway because, as I said, we live close to each other and in our down time we had gotten together and thought “Let’s work together on something.” I thought “Well, let’s write some Lynch Mob stuff” because Lynch Mob had a record coming out. I go “Let’s write a few things instrumentally and then give them  to Oni (Logan) and he can put the words and lyrics to them and melodies and so forth.” And that’s what we did with the intention of it being Lynch Mob music, and the band declined the music and I felt rightly so. It wasn’t really Lynch Mob material, and so we just put it on the backburner. So when Brian came up with this idea which we started sort of fleshing out and the idea started to evolve and we started talking about and I thought “Well, we’ve already got a start on it because we’ve got these songs” and there you go.

So we finished up with the writing with that. That took about a year and obviously brought in Mick and we decided on the cover songs and tracked those, the Dokken songs, the Dokken re-dos and then we had to pick our singers, which we did, and work on the logistics of that. We had them come in or send in the tracks, do it in their studios and put it all together and then sent it out to get it mixed and that’s basically it. That’s the story in a nutshell.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  The time I saw Lynch Mob in Seattle, you had Brian on drums. What made you decide to continue working with him at this project since you had Mick back?

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George Lynch:  Well, we felt because it was Brian’s idea, for two reasons, you know, the idea started with Brian so we felt a certain allegiance to him, in other words, offer him to be involved and if he wanted to be involved, which he did. And then secondly, Jeff and I love playing with Brian and Jeff and I and Brian, musically, instrumentally, is pretty powerful because Brian’s an insane drummer and also a lot of other things. He’s a really good guitar player, songwriter, singer and engineer, as Jeff is, so those two guys, they bring a lot to the table.  I just walk in and play guitar and write songs. So, he’s kind of a powerhouse musically, creatively, so we thought that was a plus.

So all those things just kind of lined up and it made sense and then with us bringing Mick in to do the stuff that he’s comfortable with. Mick didn’t really have the time to invest in doing original music because he was out with Ted Nugent, so it made sense for that record. The next record, we’re not going to use Brian. The next record, I think, is going to be just Jeff, Mick and I.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  As far as going back to the Dokken tracks, how did you pick the specific singers you did? Did you have them in mind or they just kind of worked themselves into the studio with you?

George Lynch:  We had our short list. Everybody thought it was a great idea. Everybody sounded like they wanted to be involved, but sometimes these things just don’t work out. People are all busy, they’re on the road, they’re doing other records, they’re contractually obligated where the label won’t release them or the band won’t let them do something outside of their band that they’re in, so there’s always those issues. So we got our short list and started letting the individual singers take what they thought they would be strongest on, and we got down to the last one or two songs, of course, we had very limited options, so it was a little tricky. Doug Pinnick was the trickiest because Doug is a very soulful singer obviously and a lot of the Dokken stuff, most of the Dokken stuff is not soulful so that was a little tricky. So thank God we did “Tooth and Nail” because he killed it. I mean that’s my favorite vocal track.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Well, I mean, the work he does with King’s X on its own stands, he’s got such a great voice.

George Lynch:  Tell me about it. Well, that leads to another thing, which I don’t want to jump into another subject necessarily like this one. I’ll just mention it, that we are now playing together,Doug and I.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  So this is a project outside of T&N and Lynch Mob?

George Lynch:  Yeah, it’s called KXM, and what it stands for is the K stands for Korn, the X is for King’s X and the M is for Mob. So it’s Ray Luzier, the drummer from Korn and it’s Doug Pinnick, obviously from King’s X, and myself from Lynch Mob, so we call it KXM. We just finished up the basics for the album two days ago and we’re on to guitar solos and vocals now and we’ll see where it leads.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Is there a possibility that you guys might hit the road or is this going to be studio-only?

George Lynch:  Well, in all my projects that is the $100,000 question. When you play with somebody like Jeff who’s in Foreigner or Ray Luzier who’s in Korn, your touring schedule, if there will ever be any, is really dictated by that band’s scheduling. Ray can’t call up Korn and say “Hey, by the way guys, I can’t tour this summer because I’m going to be out with KXM.” They say no way. That ain’t going to happen, so we have to get creative. As far as, not to dance around too much, but as far as T&N we missed the boat last February, or last fall actually, we actually had intended to be on the road. Jeff had carved out the time with Foreigner and then things did not happen as they should have, so we had to drop the tour last fall. It was crushing for us because we really wanted to go out and support the record.

But we’re not going to let that happen again, so we’re making, we’re getting on it way early this year and we’re making plans to go out next fall, late summer, early fall, and then again in the spring and possibly summer of 2014 in supporting the second record and both records. So we will be out on the road. As far as KXM, it’s too early to say, it really is, but I have to say that everybody in the project is very excited and want to take it out. But I don’t want to cry wolf and say I’m going to do something and then end up not doing it, which happens all the time.

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Mayhem Music Magazine:  Getting back to Slave to the Empire, there are no filler tracks on this CD. No two songs sound the same either. You must be actually really proud of this CD.

George Lynch:  Yeah, we are, but it’s so far in our rear view mirror. We’ve been working on the record at least 18 months, sporadically, not at all one time. When you’ve worked on something for that long it’s just sort of like “Well, I know these songs kind of backwards and forwards and I’ve done three or four others records since then.” It was kind of funny, I don’t know if it’s funny or sad, but we were just finishing up a video for Slave to the Empire, the title track, and when we went in to record the video at Sound stage with Brian and Jeff and there’s never been a band that’s actually sat down and practiced these songs and we wrote them in the studio a long time ago, so, like a year and a half ago, whatever, so I had forgotten the song. It’s got a really involved guitar solo which I came up with, I worked on really hard in the studio, but then I walked away and I can’t remember exactly what I played and it was pretty difficult to figure out, so yeah, there’s that. I got it right eventually, but it would be nice to have a, that’s my hope that someday I can have one of these projects that actually it feels like a band where you rehearse and you do a record and then you tighten up and you learn all the music and then you go out and play it live, you know? That would be a luxury at this point, but I would love to do that with T&N or KXM.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  You’ve been such an incredible guitars for years, I mean, from the days in Dokken through Lynch Mob, through the different projects you worked on, what truly keeps you passionate about music?

George Lynch:  Well, I would say the main thing is the kind of voice in your head thing that you have a sort of ideal aspiration musically, which I do, I think with talking to the musicians, a lot of us have that, if not all of us. When you kind of hear this kind of never-ending soundtrack in your head, which I can remember from when I was a kid, playing songs with my teeth and imagining all these fantastic songs and riffs and solos and you’re always chasing that dragon, you know? And then when you actually, when the tire hits the road and you actually have a band and you’re writing and you’re playing and you’re doing records,that’s what you’re trying to get to, that ideal that’s running, that soundtrack in your head, but you never get there, you know? At least I have never gotten there, and so until you achieve that, that thing that you’re reaching for, you keep trying, you know? If that makes any sense.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  What do you think of rock music and the music industry of today as compared to in the industry when you started? How do you feel rock music is holding up?

George Lynch:  Well, I think that’s a very complicated question because you’re talking about generations. So, I think it’s the job of every generation to discard the previous generation of platitudes and attitudes and ideas and music and fashion and everything and that’s healthy so it’s hard for people of previous generations to speak for a younger generation unless you’re maybe Neil Young or somebody that transcends time, you know?

An artist of that magnitude which I think I’m not, but then again, I think you can run into this trap as you get older of sort of remembering the old days fondly and forgetting the bad things about the old days. I mean, a lot of guys I talk to, my age, they’re just “Oh man” and ”Music of the ‘60s and the ‘70s, that was the only rock and roll” and on a certain level I totally agree with that, but you’ve got to remember, because I was there, there was a lot of stuff that wasn’t so great about that too. I think I’m a better player now. I think I’ve learned how to write songs better now and gear is better now. I can get tones now that are closer to what I’m hearing in my head. So I guess what it really comes down to is if you live in the moment and your music relates to the moment, then the music is genuine. You’re not trying to anticipate the next style of music. You’re just being true to yourself and continuing on your path. You’re not looking back and you’re not looking forward. I think that’s all you can do and you let everybody else figure it out too and keep it simple and that’s what I do.

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Mayhem Music Magazine:  I think it’s important to also mention that you are working on a documentary called Shadow Train. What would you like to tell us about the project?

George Lynch:  It’s a complicated project but I’ll try to explain. I’ve always sort of been an outdoor person in the sense that I’m an environmentalist and I’m politically aware and active to a certain extent, more so recently, and I’m an avid backpacker and things like that. I never intended to be a musician and I never thought it would be a career, anything I could make money at, so it happened that I did become a musician. But that other part of me has never gone away and that’s really who I am. I think I’ve sort of come full circle in my life where those things that are important to me I’ve been able to incorporate into my music. I would use the music of Shadow Train, the film of Shadow Train, the music of T&N and so forth as a vehicle for a message. That lends a lot more weight to the music, for me, because, again, going back generationally, music that I remember in the ‘60s and ’70s, late ‘60s, early ‘70s was revolutionary and dealt with issues like the Vietnam War and civil right and social and economic injustice and was a vehicle for change and that’s what I ideally see myself being involved with is music that matters at that level. Not that music in itself isn’t just as profound and important, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have both.

Bands like Rush and Rage Against the Machine and many others that have, you know, Crosby, Stills and Nash, who speak truth to power and serve to educate, identify, and reveal truth. So getting back to the movie, I wanted to do something not just musically but visually and it should be much more powerful. I had no idea how to make a film, things kind of just lined up and I was on a plane with a guy who I did not know was a documentary filmmaker and I was talking about these things. We started talking about him and he revealed that he was a documentary filmmaker that worked for the Documentary Channel and we’ve become best friends and we’ve been working tirelessly together now for going on two years and making this film.

The way that I like to explain the film, the film is an exploration of human nature through the lens of the Native American experience. So it’s philosophical, it’s spiritual, it’s political, it’s historical, but it’s many other things as well, and we have some profound interviews in there. I’ve interviewed Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at MIT; Tom Morello, who’s obviously a soldier for labor, the labor movement, who’s an expert in Armenian genocide, who’s an advocate for human recognition of Armenian genocide and we make that parallel between that and American genocide.

I’m going out next month to interview Ted Nugent at his Spirit Ranch. He’s obviously extremely far right in his politics which I think will make for a very interesting conversation if I can survive it. So there’s a lot going on there, it’s been an unbelievable experience because we go out, we camp out, we bring generators with us, we have a band called Shadow Train. We’ve done the soundtrack for the movie, so we have a record, and we improvise quite a bit. We befriend Native American musicians out in the desert in beautiful places and we go on adventures and film it and just amazing things have happened to us. At the end of the day we’ll sit there around the campfire with our guitars and we’re talking about the day, having a few drinks, whatever, and the day does not go by where you just were exhausted but we just had these days just full of adventure. If you have time I could tell you a story which is just fascinating.

Dwayne Cavanas & George Lynch back in the Dokken Days

Dwayne Cavanas & George Lynch back in the Dokken Days

Mayhem Music Magazine:  Please do.

George Lynch:  We were out in a place on the Laguna Indian Reservation. A very remote place, and this little village you really can’t go to unless you’re invited and it overlooks this gigantic decommissioned uranium mine, now it’s a super-fun cleanup site. Very radioactive and poisoned the air and water and the ground and it’s been closed for decades and it looks like the Grand Canyon. This little village just hangs up in the mountains and it overlooks this mess. We went down into this mine, one part of this mine. It was all closed off and we weren’t supposed to be down there so we had to cut through barbed wire and razor wire and snuck down, this two mile hike with a film crew and there was all this boulder hopping, it was really tough. So we’re down there and we got to the spot where they actually dug up the uranium, where the uranium came from it went into the bombs that they dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, very powerful, and the Indians call it the Temple of the Serpent because there’s a naturally-occurring rock formation. It’s about 35 feet long, it looks exactly like a coiled up anaconda snake and it’s the Anaconda Mine so it’s just very ironic that this is just there and nobody put it there.

So we made this trek to this spot and talk about it and I find a piece of glass there and I carved it later into an arrowhead and then stuck that into the butt of a guitar. I carved it into the butt of a guitar that I was building, because I build guitars, and that’s one element of what I now called the Shadow Train guitar. It’s very meaningful, having this piece that’s from this spot, the epicenter of, the culmination of World War II, which is one of the most horrific events in human history and the inhumanity of man which is what the film is about. Another thing that I included, another element of the guitar, is a silver eagle talon, and the guy that has this little adobe shop up there overlooking the uranium mine is named Greg Lewis. He’s a former American Indian Movement Leader, and he was on the first boat to Alcatraz in 1969 and occupied Alcatraz along with Dennis Banks and all these American Indian Movement guys and fought a war with the government for occupation. So they were kicked off, and when they were finally kicked off they went to Nevada and they ceremoniously killed an eagle for his feathers and his talons and so forth. He had these eagle talons, these four eagle talons and went back to San Francisco to his dad’s jewelry shop, and his father made jewelry for Hendrix, by the way, which he has a Polaroid of him giving Hendrix a belt buckle in 1967 or something, just traded. So now he’s a jeweler and he made a casting for these eagle talons back then in the early 1970s and he has that casting in his shop. I said, “I’ll go buy the silver and the gas and let’s cast these talons and I’ll embed them into the guitar all along the edge of the guitar” which we did and we filmed that. There’s many other elements to this guitar that relate to the film and to what the film is about and I’m calling it the Shadow Train guitar. I’ll have them sell it or they auction it off to help fund the movie or something like that.

That’s a long story, but some of these things just happen. We’re out there and these things come to us and we’re not looking for it. We don’t have a plan, not necessarily. And in the evenings we usually just go into the little adobes or outside around the campfire, we were invited to eat in with the families, and we make lifelong friends, and one thing leads to another, and the movie just kind of creates its own path and its just been beautiful as well as on a personal level.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  How is this going to be released to the public?

George Lynch:  We’re going to continue to film up through the summer. We will hopefully have a final concert, Shadow Train, the band with guests. We can do Sturgis or play at Wounded Knee. I think we’re going to be doing the Taos Solar Festival, New Mexico, in June. We’ll film one of these concert events and that will be sort of the culmination of the movie, the end of the movie. Then we go into hard editing in late summer and that takes about two months and we were trying to time this so we can get Sundance and South by Southwest Film Festivals and hopefully garner the interest that we need through publicity and the film festivals to get this out to the larger public. Maybe Documentary Channel will want to be involved, maybe, the Smithsonian has expressed some interest in being involved. There’s a lot of ways we can go. The hardest part of making the film is being in the office and getting funding and distribution and figuring out how to get things to happen.

Mayhem Music Magazine:  I do know there is also a direct link to view the progress of the documentary.

George Lynch:  Yeah, people can check out the link to the movie site at:

Mayhem Music Magazine:  George, it was great talking with you again and catching up on all your projects.

George Lynch:  Thank you so much.

*Since this interview, the documentary name has been changed to Shadow Nation.

We hope you enjoyed this interview with George Lynch.  Be sure to check back for more music interviews.

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About The Author

I've been a part of music industry as a concert photographer for over thirty years. At an early age I hit the road shooting for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Quiet Riot, Ted Nugent, Twisted Sister, just to name a few. My love for music has never wavered. I started Mayhem Music Magazine as an outlet to share both established and new artists with others who truly love music.

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