Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: June 11th, 2006
Rich what’s up today?
Brian, Rockeyez, just kickin' back, just getting lazy.
How’s everybody enjoying the album?
Great! Everybody’s digging it. My son sent me the link for Amazon and we were one of the top sellers. It’s getting there.
So when did you start singing and what was the name of your first garage band?
What the hell did we call ourselves… Dynasty. I was about fourteen when I started messing around with them, but actually didn’t start singing until I was eighteen in Adams County in Ohio.
Do you remember the first concert you attended and first record you owned?
It was Humble Pie, Edgar Winter and Gentle Giant. Humble Pie was cool as shit dude.
What was the first record you ever owned?
The album by Led Zeppelin with “Whole Lotta Love.”
What kind of kid was Rich Lewis in high school?
I was pretty much an asshole (laughing). Always in trouble but my grades were good. I just got bored with school.
You were in Ravencraft with Jeff Young of Megadeth, tell me about that band?
Those guys were from Dayton, Ohio, and I am from Cincinnati. They were called Black Widow with some chick singer… I guess she kept losing her voice and there was a booking agency that I worked with and those guys worked with at different times. He calls me, and said “Man, I have this perfect band for you to work with; these guys are from Dayton. They are playing Bogart’s tomorrow night go check them out.” So I checked them out, and they were doing Iron Maiden and Priest and that kind of stuff. These guys rocked. That was about 1986.
How long did you stay with Ravencraft?
It was only for about a year, because the manager at the time was dumber than shit. He made really bad choices and I was ready to do originals and so was Jeff. So we went our separate ways and Jeff hooked up with Megadeth and I ended up with another band and left them too.
So Ravencraft never did any originals?
So after Ravencraft did you go to Big American Dog?
Some of those guys from that same band, we had a different manager and he was flying us to New York to record and then moved us to L.A. I was there for about six months before I realized that band was really not going to do anything. I was with Animal before Big American Dog. It was wired; I read a thing that said Randy was out of W.A.S.P. I said “Man, that guy would be perfect for me to sing for.” So I started tracking him down and found out he was playing for Alice Cooper. So, I moved back to Ohio to visit some friends and an old bass player friend of mine auditions for Randy. He plays the demo which I sang on and Randy said “That’s the singer I want for my band” (laughing). That’s how that came about.
So did Big American Dog with Mike Roach of T.S.O.L. release anything?
No, we had demos and offers. But crazy shit started happening and everything fell apart. It was a shame because it was a kick ass band.
So when you met Randy what was your first impression of him?
Good guy. Although he put a lot of pressure on me, the first day I got over there, I walk in and we talk for a little bit. He put this song in the stereo and says write something for it. I said damn dude get the fuck out of the room so I can concentrate, (laughing).
Were you a W.A.S.P. fan at all?
I liked five or six songs off the first album, maybe four off the second one and a little bit of “Headless Children…” not much.
The early incantation of Animal was with Chris Holmes and Tony Richards of W.A.S.P. What was your impression of those two guys?
Those two guys weren’t in the band yet. It was me, Randy and some guy named Shredder. We still hadn’t gotten a bass player and drummer.
But you did eventually play with Chris and Tony?
Yes! Chris is one crazy motherfucker (laughing). A lot of fun but at times he could be a pain in the ass. Tony Richards is a great guy but at the time his Hepatitis C was coming on and he had to go through the shots and everything. So he was having a real hard time but he is all over that now and doing real good, he’s a great guy.
“900Lb Steam” was not that successful. Did you think there would be a follow up CD after that release?
You never know. It was kind of weird because once we released that then Chris Laney started to get a hold of us. For some reason I got a good feeling about him and once “900Lb Steam” fell apart everybody went their separate ways, but Randy and myself kept talking. I said to Randy “I think we should contact that dude Chris Laney, but how the hell do you get a hold of him?” Then all of a sudden he e-mails us.
Chris said he wanted better production out of the next album. Is that how it all went down and why he wanted to be part of it?
Yeah! He basically wanted to be the producer. Randy and I said “Fuck this being the producer-you should be a part of the band.” Chris is a great guy.
Did you ever think about branching out on your own?
Not really anymore, maybe back then, there was a time… but you really can’t find guys to work with and write together. I worked with some years back but nothing like Piper-he just happens to be the best, and Chris Laney is fucking awesome.
How much does Randy let you ad lib with the vocals?
I do what I want. Piper’s never been like that, we’re bro’s. It’s not like I work for him: it’s not like that at all, and he’s my buddy. He’s like a brother, we had our ups and downs just like brothers, but we get over it.
Yeah. Randy called here and my wife picks up the phone. He talks to her for a half hour and then my wife says “Do you want to talk with Brian?” Piper says, “No, you have a better voice.”
(laughing) Yeah, that’s Randy.
Let’s get into some of the new CD “Violent New Breed”. Who is that on the cover of the album?
I don’t really know. I told Randy it kind of looks like him, but it also looks like Blackie
(laughing). I think the guy who designed it just took a face and screwed it up and it kind of looked like Randy.
What are some of your favorite songs to sing on the new CD?
I guess “B.O.O.M.” because it was totally different for me. It took me a little time to get used to: never done anything like that one before. I really dig “Violent New Breed”. “Look in the Mirror,” believe it or not... I like the whole thing. It kind of sounds prejudiced but I am proud of the whole thing.
What’s the next step for the band?
Get over there and rehearsing, get things rolling. It’s looking like people are digging it and it’s time to go out and play live.
Where are you going to rehearse?
It will probably be in Sweden, because more than likely the tour is going to start over there.
When do you think the tour will start?
The plans are in October.
Tell me your impression of Chris Laney?
One of the nicest dudes you can ever meet, and one of the easiest guys you could work with. Out of all the producers and engineers I’ve worked with, he blows them away. So easy to understand and we got along so good. He’s also a great songwriter.
What about Randy?
Randy is the real deal. A real down to earth person and once you meet him, he’s your brother. He and I have always been close.
Do you think there will be a follow up album to this one?
Oh yeah!!! I actually think it will be even better because we will get to hang with each other more as we’re writing it.
Did you talk about the use of any props for your stage show?
We are going to have something. But not the crazy shit W.A.S.P. did. But there will be something exciting.
Do you have any endorsements right now?
No not yet. I use Sure 57.
If you had to tour with someone who would that be?
I think Velvet Revolver would be cool. I think our music would click together and Steven Adler and I are good friends.
Do you see a US tour coming?
So what are your plans after that?
When we’re on the road, we have some song ideas already in the tank. We have a lot to choose from-this way the next album kicks ass. Hopefully we get to go on a long tour and get to meet lots of people and get people interested and then put out the next album.
Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Yeah, go buy the “Violent New Breed.” You will like it. See you later brother.