One of the coolest feelings in the world is getting to meet someone from a band you have always loved. It's even more intense when you get to really sit down and have a conversation, not just about the band's history, but about the person's history.
I was insanely honored when I was asked to sit down and do this interview. Complete hang time with Eric Stacy of Faster Pussycat. Now, I'm used to ten to fifteen minute quick sessions usually; so when I was invited to sit down and just chill, I decided to not write anything down. This wasn't a before/after a gig meetup or even something over the phone where I could be in my pajamas. This was real hang time with the bassist of a band that I listened to as a child and into my teenage years; the bassist of a band that I still enjoy when I'm at home cleaning or getting ready for a gig or just wanting to have fun.
ZR: How did you get involved with all of the guys in Faster Pussycat?
Eric: I was playing in a band called Darling Cruel, which later got signed to Polygram. Greg Darling was this guy who was a super talented musician out in L.A. I don't remember how we met, but I've known him since 80-81. He can play just about anything. So, he and I started Darling Cruel, and he had came to me and said he'd met Vicky Hamilton. He said she loved our demos and she was a manager. Her forte was taking local bands and getting them to the point of getting signed and then letting a bigger manager come in and take over. She had already established herself by doing publicity for Motley Crue, and then she managed Stryper and Poison and got them their record deals. So, she became known as the girl who, if she came to your shows and liked your band, could get you a record deal. She was a real mover and shaker.
In 84-85, the L.A. scene really became happening again. She began managing Darling Cruel as well as Guns N Roses, when no one knew who they were, and then began managing Faster Pussycat. So, all of us got to know each other really well. In mid 1986, she was having a barbecue at her house. She was just finishing up getting Guns N Roses signed to Geffen and was working on getting Darling Cruel a record deal as well as getting Faster onto Elektra. So, at this barbecue, everyone from the scene was there, and the end of the night comes so I'm saying my goodbyes, and the Faster guys were getting ready to go off to rehearsal. Kelly Nickels was playing bass for Faster at the time (he later went on to join L.A. Guns), and he got on his motorcycle and the rest of the guys got in this car. So, they went off to rehearsal and I just went home. That night, I got a call from Vicky and she said, "I'm on a three-way call and have Taime and Greg from Faster, can you talk to all of us?" So, of course I say yeah, what's up? "Well, on the way to rehearsal, Kelly got hit by a car. He's in the hospital. He has a compound fracture in his leg and Faster Pussycat has some shows coming and Elektra is looking at them." Initially, I was asked to fill in for just a few weeks. We had a show booked together a week and a half later. So, I talked to Greg and Taime and they gave me songs to learn and told me to come hangout at Cathouse. So, I joined temporarily and it went way passed two weeks; two weeks turned into two months.
So, we are playing the Roxy one night and Peter Philbin from Elektra went up to Vicky and said "You know, I've been wanting to sign the band. I've seen them at least six times this year, and the one thing that I thought was lacking was that the rhythm section was not that tight and cohesive. This was the first show I saw with Eric, and they are really tight. I am ready to sign them." They came to me later that night and said, "Kelly isn't getting any better. Peter Feldman wants to sign the band and likes having you in the band." They felt bad about asking me to join permanently because they had a loyalty to Kelly, and I felt bad too. I used to visit Kelly in the hospital and hang out with him, but it got to the point where the reality was that they didn't know if he would walk again. When he got hit, the doctors were asking Taime to sign a form to amputate his leg because they couldn't get a hold of his family. Taime was like "No fucking way."
ZR: How old were you guys when this all took place? I mean, you all were pretty young.
Eric: Yeah. I was 22 at the time. That's about where we all were at. Eventually they saved his leg because they couldn't get a hold of anyone, but he was in the hospital for months. So, after about six months they asked me to join the band and I basically told Greg Darling, "Look, I have a chance to get a record deal." Vicky pulled me aside and said, "You know, Greg was talking about replacing you." I don't know if that was said to persuade me to sign with Faster, but she was like "He's not being loyal to you, so fuck him." I don't know to this day if that was true. She said in her book that that was the case. So, yeah... That's how I joined, was unfortunately through Kelly's accident. Eventually Kelly was able to walk with the use of a cane and got into L.A. Guns. I felt bad that I had to take the gig, but if I hadn't, someone else would've. So, might as well have been me.
ZR: So, you're kind of the reason for Faster Pussycat in a way.
Eric: I don't want to say that! That's sinking far too much credit.
ZR: Well, maybe for some of the success at least?
Eric: Well, put it this way... I started on drums when I was 7 years old and I played piano and went to Berklee College of Music for a Summer session. So, I was always a serious musician who was trying to always be the best I could be. I would sit with my bass for hours and listen to Iron Maiden trying to learn Steve Harris' lines. The reality was, when I met those guys, I'd been playing for a long time. This isn't my words, this is a friend of mine named August, but he went to Faster's first show, and he was telling me about it and when I said, "How's the band?" he goes, "Well, they're like the New York Dolls. I would say they sound like a bunch of guys who saw Johnny Thunders a year ago and said, 'I can do that.' and picked up guitars." So, I'd been playing for like thirteen years and these guys had literally started playing two years prior to the band. They were punk rock guys that evolved into glam. So, I don't want to take credit for them becoming whatever, but I was further along as a musician. So, when Peter saw them with a bassist who could keep a solid anchor, it helped. I don't want to take credit, but it was what was needed.
ZR: So, after Faster Pussycat fizzled out, what did you do from there? You guys had good success.
Eric: Yeah, we did! It was kind of funny because when Vicky got Faster Pussycat signed she had just gotten Guns n Roses this major deal with Geffen. Slash's mom was really good friends with David Geffen. They knew they were going to make Guns n Roses huge. It's funny because she got them this deal where Geffen was going to make it happen no matter what, and we got signed to Elektra. In her book she talks about this, and Elektra really liked us, but we got signed with no expectations. It was just when the L.A. thing was starting to happen. So, they thought we were a cool mix between Aerosmith and The Stones, but they were like "We're not going to give them a huge deal, because we don't think they're going to sell a lot of records. So, we'll either take a loss on the books or they'll exceed our expectations which will be a pleasant surprise." So, when we got signed, the offer was $75,000 to sign Faster, but before they signed us they were going to come see us. So, we were set to do a show in Phoenix, Arizona. It was like a celebratory last show before they signed us to celebrate the signing. So, we did two nights in Phoenix. The first night the band kicked ass, but the novelty of being "on the road," at least out of L.A. It was a night of being a rockstar. There were girls all over us and stuff so we partied our asses off for like 24 hours. So, when the next night came, we were all so drunk and tired and already spent. That's the show Elektra showed up at, and we sucked. Vicky said it was the worst show Faster Pussycat had ever done. Elektra was unsure of signing us! Vicky spent the whole night saving our record deal, but what started out at $75,000 by the morning was down to just $35,000. So, we lost half the money in one bad show. We really exceeded expectations with the record. We worked really hard and toured for a year straight with Alice Cooper, Motorhead, David Lee Roth, etc. We opened for Guns n Roses on their first tour of Europe. It was a big deal. What's funny is when we went out to Europe, we were higher on the charts than Guns n Roses. It was right before "Sweet Child O'Mine" came out. So, when we came back they just shot up the charts. We did it the old fashioned way. We worked hard and shook hands, and by the end of the year we had sold 250,000 records. Elektra would've been happy if we sold 50,000. So, the next album they really pulled out all the stops, and that's when we did Wake Me When It's Over with "House of Pain." We had great tour support and had our own headlining tour, and when we came home we went straight out with Motley Crue. Every band wanted the opening slot on the Dr. Feelgood Tour. Warrant got the first leg because they were selling really well. The second leg was coming to L.A. I don't want to take credit for it, but I was living with Nikki Sixx the year before Dr. Feelgood came out.
ZR: That must've been interesting...
Eric: Yeah it was. I grew up really close to him. At one point we had both gone through rehab together. I didn't have anywhere to live so he invited me to live with him. What started out as just a couple months became like six months. He gave me the spare bedroom in this huge house. We became really good friends, and he was really like a big brother to me. My parents came over for Thanksgiving dinner that year with Nikki, and we went through a lot of cool shit together. So, we got the Dr. Feelgood tour because we were selling records, but also because Nikki and I were good friends. We'd talk a lot on the phone when they were on tour, and he'd say "I'm going to take you guys out!" I thought it would be great, but I didn't expect it. So, when we were in Europe and our manager said, "You guys got the Dr. Feelgood tour." It was like, "Fuck." Every night we were playing to 30,000 people and they had like 15 semis. "House of Pain" was out too which between that and the tour pushed it over gold.
Anyway, getting back to what you said, we exceeded a lot of expectations and sold a lot of records. Eventually our first record, within the last 10 years actually, went over the gold status. So, our first two records were over gold, and combined we've sold a couple million records. "House of Pain" was the number one video. We sold out two tours in Japan and a couple in Europe. For a while, we were the band that got all the good tours. On the Wake Me When It's Over tour we opened for Motley Crue, Whitesnake, KISS, etc. We had a great manager as well which helped. Even when the grunge thing was getting bigger and the glam scene was dying out, we still sold a decent amount of records and got out on the No More Tears tour with Ozzy. We did a lot of great shit, but by the time 1992 rolled around, the Seattle thing was huge. L.A. was yesterday's news. Monday everyone wanted to be in L.A. and labels were signing everybody, but then the Seattle thing got big. We were out with KISS when our manager called and said, "Enjoy this tour guys, because it's your last. You just got dropped by Elektra."
Some guys in the band were in denial and thought we'd get home and get another record label. It had been going on for eight years, and we were all making good money. I had bought a $300,000 condominium which in this day and age is like $3,000,000. We thought it would last forever. I saw the writing on the wall though. I knew it was coming to an end. Taime was getting into the whole industrial thing and got sucked into the Seattle sound, and he started demoing these songs on the bus without any input by us. He'd invite guys from Elektra onto the bus and be like, "Let me play you some of the cuts off the next record." and I'd hear this stuff he was playing and I'd think to myself, "Not with me. I'm not part of that shit." It just wasn't good. Taime was trying to do everything himself and he fancied himself like a Trent Reznor kind of guy, and I didn't say anything to anyone. I kept it inside, but I'd sit in my hotel room with my guitar learning like Keith Richards tunings. Everyone else wanted to be whatever the day's flavor was. Whenever we'd come home to write a new record, our musical tastes would grow. Wake Me When It's Over took like a year to write. Brent was listening to a lot of funk, Greg was listening to Metallica, I don't even know where Taime was, and I was wanting to pull it back to what we were originally. So, by the time we were being dropped, I was like, "I just want to play rock n roll.", and it didn't seem like Faster was doing that. Musically, the last record we did was a good one because we'd all grown together leaps and bounds as songwriters, but we also went over the heads of a lot of our fans. That's why we sold 250,000 on the first record, 700,000 on the second, and then our third was only 300,000.
So, I just wanted to go back to playing rock n roll. I was really good friends with Brian Damage from Kix. "The cool guy of Kix" I'd say. I had been friends with him for a long time. Even when the KISS tour was going on, I'd call Brian up on the phone and say, "Listen, times are changing and Faster is at an end, and I think Kix has seen better days too. Let's start a band." He thought it'd be cool since we listened to the same kind of music. So, when Faster Pussycat broke up, well... not really broke up. When we did our last show with KISS in Miami at the end of 1992, everyone flew back to L.A. and I think the plan for the rest of the guys was to take time off and figure out where to go and get a new deal. I didn't see it happening... Unless you were Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, or Nirvana at the time, you weren't going to get a record deal. It was all about grunge. So, when everyone flew back to L.A., I got on a plane the next day and flew to Baltimore and spent a week at Brian's house. We began writing together and immediately were playing great songs. So, I had a condo back in L.A. with a spare bedroom and I told Brian, "Why don't you leave Kix, I'll leave Faster, and we'll start a really cool Stones-y, bluesy kind of band." So, Brian quit Kix and moved out to L.A. with me, and we started the Rhythm Slaves. We got Patrick Muzingo from Junkyard on drums. So, it was kind of like an All Star band. Then, we went out and found this young, unknown singer, Rail White. Then we got a keyboard player from Billy Preston's band. We kind of sounded like Black Crowes or Humble Pie. I'll admit that I didn't leave Faster on the best of terms. I could've gone back to L.A. and had a meeting to let them know I was leaving and wish them luck... I admit that instead I went back to L.A. and at the time was doing a lot of drugs. It's not that I didn't care, but there had been a lot of fighting and I was over it. I remember me and Greg got in a physical fight, Taime was throwing bottles of Jack... It wasn't fun anymore. So, I just stopped showing up for everything. I stopped talking to everyone. We had been home for a month from the tour, and I got a call from our manager asking what the fuck was going on and I said, "I just don't want to do it anymore." I think some of the guys were pissed off, and I understand that. They were going out and doing interviews saying that they fired me. So, things got really bitter. Taime was really hurt by it, and it was like, "Fuck you. How dare you do this to me. How dare you leave this way." He took it the worst and made it really difficult for me to leave. There were fights over songwriting credits, they didn't want to give me my gear, etc. So, I had to go and get a lawyer finally.
I got an attorney from Polygram named Donna, and I needed a manger for the Rhythm Slaves, so we had grown really close and heard the demos and wanted to manage us. So, I thought, this might work because I figured she could eventually get us a deal with Polygram. We were doing really good. We began selling out a lot of big shows in L.A. and did a demo, which I still have. The last show we did was at the Whisky. Donna was getting very close to getting us a deal with Polygram, and then things got really ugly. It's an ugly business, and I'd been through a lot of ugly things, but this was one of the first. Long story short, Rail got to the point where he had a problem with it being me and Brian's band. At the same time, Donna was talking to Polygram and wanting to run the show so she basically got the band together, and I guess she convinced them to get rid of me. So, after we played the Whisky that night, they fired me. I felt really hurt that Brian stabbed me in the back, and we all had a falling out. They ended up changing the name to Catfish and lasted like two months before falling apart. That's the business though... It's a fucking ugly business full of people who will stab you in the back. Without naming names, it's happened to me in Vegas recently. It's just always been that way.
ZR: What came next in life after such a big falling out?
Eric: I was so hurt by the whole experience that I bought a one way ticket to New York City. It wasn't just that though. My band hurt me, my relationship with the girl I was with for 6 years was falling apart, and it just seemed like L.A. had reached a dead end. So, I moved mainly because I wanted to just get the fuck out of L.A. It was dead and dying. The scene got lame, the bands got lame... It was so watered down. I always loved New York City. A friend of mine bought me a ticket to just do a 10 day vacation, and 5 days into my vacation I called my girlfriend because we hadn't talked and asked if everything was okay. She informed me she didn't want to be with me anymore and had changed the locks on MY fucking place and told me when I got home to pack my shit. So, I flew back home and had my parents put the condo on the market. I gave my keys to my truck to my Dad and had him sell it and send me the money and said, "I'm moving to New York tomorrow."
ZR: What did you do during your time in New York?
Eric: It just so happened that New York in 1993 was starting to become what L.A. was in 85-86. I felt the vibe when I got there. There were all these cool clubs like the Continental, the Scrap Bar, and the Lion's Den. It was so alive when I moved there that I felt reborn. I literally moved there with 600 bucks in my pocket, but I didn't care! I ended up moving in with these two brothers. One played drums, I think his name was Louis, and the other one sang or played guitar. So, they invited me to live with them and maybe start a band. I had literally met them on vacation. They lived on the fifth floor, and it was total Manhattan living. The apartment was so small that you would walk in to the living room and be in the shower AND the kitchen. Like, next to the kitchen was the fucking shower door. I shared the bedroom with Louis. He had the bed and I just slept on this little couch thing. Unfortunately, at the time when we did our first rehearsal, it was not that good... I felt bad because I stayed there for a couple of months and then was like, "Look, guys, I need to move out. I can't be in a band with you because you have a little ways to go." I think they were hurt, but they got over it. I ended up moving into Hotel Seventeen for 276 bucks a week for a room the size of a slab of concrete... It was all club kids, junkies, hookers, and then Keith Richards' kid. He lived there too which was pretty cool to me. I moved there in October of 1993, so it was as cold as balls, and I had to use a blow dryer for heat! Eventually I moved into a "double", which was basically just one more tiny square of concrete, and got this South African drummer who later went on to play with Deborah Harry. I figured we could split the rent and fit two beds in there. The first day he moved in, he set up his full drum kit in what was left of the room and began playing! I told him, "Dude, you can't play your drums in our apartment. If I was our next door neighbor I would shoot you." It was a great time in New York though. Such an awesome time. Through Sami Yaffa, I got an audition with Little Steven for bass guitar. I never did audition or meet him though. I got hooked up with Ricky Byrd of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. He happened to be looking for a bass player as well, so I got involved with him and his band, The Byrd Dogs. It was a really good three piece. We played all over New York. We even played in Staten Island opening up for Peter Criss (ironically, ZRock'R's Dominick Muzio played that show as well. Small world, eh?). It was weird times, weird events, and weird gigs, but it was so much fun.
It was a lot of near misses...
ZR: So, how did you end up back in Los Angeles?
Eric: After a while, as much fun as New York was, I ran out of money. It's expensive. You have to have a steel set of balls on you to survive in New York. It's not like, scary how people make it out to be, but it's so super expensive. It's hard to survive. So, I came back to L.A. My dad owned a really successful printing company and offered to help me start over. It didn't take more than a couple months for me to decide it wasn't for me... For a few years I bounced around bands, and then in 1998 I hooked back up with Brent Muscat, who had gotten to know Phil Lewis. Phil had a band called the Liberators he was starting. So, I got involved with them for a little bit until Phil kicked me out, haha. In my life I have played with, met, or known everyone from different scenes... This is just a drop in the bucket, haha. If I told you everything, we'd be here all night.
ZR: So, fast forward. You moved to Vegas and now have a new band called Angels in Vein, right? How did that all come together.
Eric: Just after David Bowie died I was trying to put together a Memorial jam of sorts, but it ended up not panning out. Regardless, we had a core band learning everything, and one of those guys was Stacey Blades. It was really cool working with him again, and then Vick Fox out from L.A. committed to playing the show. We needed a singer for it, so Stacey mentioned that Chris Van Dahl was a friend of his and would ask if he wanted to do some songs. Sadly, it all fell through, but I had our core band with Stacey and Vick and Chris. Stacey asked if I had thought about doing the cover band thing to make decent money with the band, which I had. So, he called up Chris to see if he would be down for that, but he said he couldn't, and Stacey told him, "I've been talking to you for a year about getting a project going. You always say you have this record you're doing. What is so special that you can't commit?"So, Chris played him a couple Angels in Vein songs that he and Taz had been working on for two years, and Stacey called me up and said, "Listen dude. I heard Chris' original shit, and it blew me away. It is so fucking amazing! You have to hear it." He already had a guitar player named Taz, and when I heard it, it knocked me out. It was so fucking awesome. It sounded like Velvet Revolver's first record. So, me and Stacey met up with Chris and wrote some tunes, and he and Taz already had half a record recorded. Taz ended up coming up from Texas and we had a big barbeque and all got along great. We had our video shoot booked over at Desert Moon, but a week prior, Vick pulled out of the band. He unfortunately was unable to commit. I always loved Troy Patrick Farrell's drumming, and it was funny because when Vick quit he said, "You know, there's this guy in Vegas named Troy Patrick Farrell, and he'd be a great drummer for the band!" Vick had contacted him, and it was funny because I had thought about Troy the whole time in the event that Vick pulled out. The really nice thing about Angels in Vein is that we all have other projects and no one is being asked to go and quit everything else. We're all able to do our own thing. We decided we were going to keep it under wraps until we were ready. So, we decided to all bombard Facebook and the world with our teaser, logo, and our individual logos at 1:11. The next day at the photo/video shoot, someone said, "Angels in Vein is trending on Facebook." By 4:00 p.m. we had 10,500 people talking about us. In just a few days, the response was amazing and everyone freaked out over it. It is truly a special band. I've been doing this my whole life, and I feel like the potential is truly there... Even in this day and age where it can be shitty for rock n' roll, there are still bands who can go out and do it. Even from the outside looking in, if I looked at this band I'd go, "That's a band I'd want to be a part of." People are freaking out about it in a positive way, and it's awesome.
Aside from Angels in Vein, Eric Stacy will be playing out this summer with Jetboy! Either way you slice it, this guy is pure rock n roll.
There you have it, folks. An up close and personal with Eric Stacy. It was really cool getting to sit down and learn so much about the past, and what will be coming up for the future. Trust me when I say you need to keep your eyes and ears on Angels in Vein. I've heard what they've released so far and definitely agree with the comment that these guys are putting rock back into rock n' roll. It's raw and real. Rumor has it they may be coming to a town near you soon 😉 You can get all of the scoops on their Facebook .
All photos provided by Eric Stacy and used with permission.