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RICHIE KOTZEN Says THE WINERY DOGS Writing Process 'Went Surprisingly Smooth'

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Jeffrey Easton of Metal Exiles recently conducted an interview with Richie Kotzen of THE WINERY DOGS. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. Metal Exiles: The three guys that make up THE WINERY DOGS is an amazing musician in his own right. How did you make room in the songs for each one of you to stretch out? Richie Kotzen: That is the interesting thing with this record, is that nobody lost their identity. It could have been really easy to get into the studio and everybody starts fighting for space, and there is a few reasons why it worked out the way it did. One, it is a three-piece and I am comfortable in a three-piece; it's all I ever do when I play with my band. I think Mike [Portnoy, drums] wanted to try something new, so let the cards fall where they may, so to speak. He is being Mike Portnoy, but he realizes that it's a three-piece, so he is listening and understands we are playing off of each other and playing on a smaller kit as well. Billy [Sheehan, bass] and I have played with each other for years, so we knew how to play together. Also, I think it had a lot to do with the way the material was written. We have songs on there that were written out of jams, just sitting in a room together and all of the parts just locked together. There were a few songs that I had written previously that I thought would be good for THE WINERY DOGS, but even on those songs, it was pretty well mapped out what was going to happen. The third thing that tied it together is that we have been musicians for so long that you learn how to work with other people. Metal Exiles: As musicians, you have had very diverse careers from each other. How did you make all of this diversity come together in the writing process? Richie: For the blues-based thing, you have to find a common ground and for anybody that knows me knows I am not a blues guy by any stretch, but my influences, even though they were rooted in rock, were heavily blues-influenced. For me, this record was not a stretch stylistically, but when you compare the other guys and their influences, they all have the same influences; they are just getting it from another place. We can sit down and talk about 20 bands and there might be 10 that we completely disagree on, but then there are those that we can connect on like CREAM, LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO and the list goes on. So with me being the guitarist, singer and primary songwriter, in the end I am going to push us in that direction. Metal Exiles: I know you have worked with Billy many times in the past but this was your first time with Mike Portnoy. Were there any growing pains in the studio while doing this record? Richie: It went surprisingly smooth, and I honestly thought there would have been some hiccups here and there, but there weren't. There were a few times where one of the guys was excited and trying to convey an idea and one of the other guys was trying to get his idea through, but that shit is normal in that environment. There were no problems; everybody gave the right amount of space. Those guys trust that I am the singer and guitar player, and although the door is open for ideas, eventually you have to let someone do their job. If I write a song, I am going to suggest a certain drumbeat because a song is written around a drumbeat, but it's your job and I am not going to tell you how to do your job. I dont want to do that; I don't want to tell you how to play because I do not want someone to dictate how I play. Metal Exiles: The album is out and it did really well the first week. Do you think it did well because of the names on the album or the music itself or a combo? Richie: I think it was combinations of that, but remember, they had plenty of time to hear the music because the record was out a month and a half in advance in Japan. People have followed the band on YouTube because we have three videos out and then you have the elements of the names, because they know who we are and they are curious. They want to know what we are going to do. Are we going to make a record where I can listen to the songs or is it going to be chaos? Let's be honest, people were wondering what it was going to be like. In the end, when you hear the record, you say, "Cool, these guys made a musical record where you can hear some crazy playing but then you have songs you can listen to and remember." Read the entire interview at Metal Exiles.

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