Former WHITE LION Singer MIKE TRAMP: 'There Will Never Be Another Classic Rock Album'

Steve Mascord of Hot Metal recently conducted an interview with former WHITE LION singer Mike Tramp. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the artists that are now considered to be "classic rock" and whether any current acts have the potential to achieve that kind of longevity:

Tramp: "What a lot of people forget is that what was then will never, ever come again. There will never be another classic rock album. That ended in 1991. From any band — there will be no great, big albums that will live on. It just doesn't exist. There'll never be classic rock. Classic rock belongs to the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. So, in reality, you're keeping the dinosaurs alive even though their skin in peeling and they've got arthritis and so on. What is coming in the future will be here today, gone later today."

On WHITE LION's commercial and artistic decline:

Tramp: "I don't know if it was record company pressure but you've got to realize that, like somebody said, you've got your entire life to write your first album and you've got a week to write your next. That's sort of the situation with 'Big Game' [1989] and 'Pride' [1987]. We'd played 'Pride' for three years in the clubs before we'd even recorded it. Then we went on tour for two years on the 'Pride' tour and we just kept going and going and the album kept selling and selling. Then the time came to do the 'Big Game' album and … even though we had some ideas floating around, we basically wrote that album in three or four days. Obviously, that's not the way it should be. We didn't have the guidance from the record company or management to say, 'Hey, let's do this the proper way, let's really set this up.' Instead, it was rushed, we were told we had to get back out there and support the new album. The album was released half a year after we had just finished a two-year tour and we were back on the road. There were a lot of great songs on the 'Big Game' album, but it's an unfinished album."

On WHITE LION's 1991 album, "Mane Attraction", which failed to make an impact on the charts, leading to the band's breakup:

Tramp: "I don't know where you've read the band went bankrupt — it was quite the opposite. We were doing quite well. It had nothing to do with anything other than me looking over at Vito [Bratta, guitar] backstage, when a technical problem happened, and we stood behind the amps and said, 'Vito, when we play Boston next week, it's gonna be the final show.' He just said to me, 'Yes, OK.' And no words were ever spoken for the next 15 years about it. It was just the feeling that the record company had abandoned us in (comparison to) the way it had been in the past. I saw the changes happening in the business. I didn't feel right anymore. James [Lomenzo, bass] and Greg [D'Angelo, drums] had been replaced by two other guys and Vito and I's friendship — if we ever had a friendship besides writing songs together — was not existing. It was two people living in two sides of the house. It's not the reason I got involved in rock 'n' roll."

On his former bandate and songwriting partner, Vito Bratta:

Tramp: "I don't think he's a multi-millionaire by any means. The man has not stood on a stage, written a song, recorded a song or done any interviews since… '91. I really cannot speak about his behaviour. He chooses to do what he does, I choose to live."

On the 2008 album "Return Of The Pride", which was released under the WHITE LION name:

Tramp: "I really love the album but it's just not the sound of WHITE LION. I never really wanted to record under the name of WHITE LION again because so much of the sound and the songwriting came between Vito and I. It's a different thing being up there, playing the old songs note for note. But writing new material in 2012, keeping in mind that the band came from 1983/'84 … the band has not grown, the band ended in '91. I just really think it's important you reflect how you feel. This is not making a new 'Star Wars' movie where there's already a concept and you know the actors and the characters have to be within certain parameters. Writing a new album is not sitting there and baking bread. The idea has to come to you. That works well when it's Mike Tramp writing new songs. But WHITE LION has restrictions. It's know for an image, for a sound and so on. You're limited already and that's tough when you go in to do that. I don't want to be that as a songwriter. Then it becomes a pre-fabricated product, then you get KISS. That's not what I want to do in this case."

"I'm not recording any new material under the name WHITE LION or FREAK OF NATURE. That's only going and playing the classic songs. There's a big difference between going up and playing classic WHITE LION songs and presenting new WHITE LION songs. WHITE LION isn't there. The sound of WHITE LION when it came to songwriting was Vito Bratta and Mike Tramp. That can't be changed and that will never happen again."

Read more from Hot Metal.


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